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They went over to his sand bed, and Adam scooped out a place for Jillisa an arm's length away from him. When it was done, and they were both settled in, they wished each other a good night before he turned off the light. Jillisa closed her eyes, yet despite that she was so tired sleep would not come. The soft sand was really not all that soft. She twisted and turned, but could not get or find a soft comfortable position. “Adam, are you awake?” she asked in the darkness. “Yes I am awake now,” a sleepy voice said. “Can I come and sleep with you? I mean, well not to come and make out, I mean just to come over and sleep,” she said. “Sure come on over,” the sleepy voice said. He turned on the light, and they made his sandy bowl bigger. When that was done he turned off the light. Jillisa snuggled in close to him resting her head on his chest with her tail covering his. She was finally comfortable when she whispered to him, “You make a good pillow.” “And you make a good blanket,” he whispered back. They both giggled, then fell asleep for both were tired from swimming all day.Jillisa had the most amazing dream, or so she thought. She dreamed that she had spent the night with a handsome man holding her in his arms. Sleep began to fade from her eyes, so that she was able to open them. She looked not upon her bedroom of her apartment but instead into the face of the sleeping man she had dreamed of. This startled her, and she jerked a little away. This caused Adam to wake. As his eyes met hers he said, “Morning.” “Good morning to you too,” Jillisa said to him, then asked, “So what is for breakfast?” She had not moved to get out of his arms, and he had not unwrapped his arms from around her. They were both enjoying the closeness of each other. “I was thinking about running down to the store, want me to pick you up anything?” he asked. “A blueberry muffin would be nice, and a cup of coffee,” she told him. “I think they are fresh out. How about some shrimp, kelp and to wash it down a nice tall glass of sea water,” he told her. She wrinkled her nose. “Is that what you really eat in the mornings?” she asked. “Naw, I usually skip the kelp,” he told her with a grin on his face. “But I do need to get up if you want something to eat,” he told her. “I think I will see if Steve brought anything down to the beach. Raw shrimp just doesn’t sound that tasty for the first thing in the morning,” she said to him. “Ok, you go to the beach, and I will run down to this kelp forest I know of, round up a few shrimp, and meet you there for breakfast. How is that?” he told her. “Sounds like a plan,” she said.Jillisa crawled out of his arms, then looked around. Light showed through a crack in the ceiling of the cavern, allowing her to see the cavern in better light. There still was not much to see - the bang sticks, three watertight plastic suitcases, a 43-inch rubber power spear gun with two rubber bands and a reel just ahead of the trigger, a small spear gun that looked like a pistol version. This spear gun didn’t have any rubber tubing on it. Which was on a flexible rubber dive belt. She was later to learn it was powered by a piston inside. A 63-inch-long spear gun with a reel ahead of the trigger. Next to this spear gun was a carbon-fiber pole spear, which was just a carbon-fiber pole spear that was connected to a bit of rubber tubing. All of the spear guns were made of either aluminum or carbon fiber. A short handle 2-foot oval fisherman’s landing net with a 2 1/2-foot-long fiberglass pole and neoprene gloves sat along another wall. In another spot were different sizes and shapes of scuba mesh wire bags. On the plastic suitcase that Adam had taken the lamp off of still rested the dive knife, but she could see that its sheath was attached to another rubber dive belt that had a few anodized aluminum carabiners belt clips on it. A wet sharpening stone was in front of the knife.“What is with all the spear guns, are you some kind of underwater gun fanatic?” Jillisa asked.“The medium size one is my basic one and has a range of 18 feet with the 2 slings, or rubber bands you might think of them. The big one has a range of 35 feet, and has three slings on it. The small pistol one has a range of 6 feet. The pole spear also has a range of few feet. I mostly use the medium size one for most of my hunting for fish, but some days they are spooky, or am after bigger fish, then I use the biggest spear gun. The pole spear I use when among the rock, and the fish are close. The small pistol gun I use if I miss with the pole spear, or am hunting smaller fish in the kelp forest. “What is the small net, and small rod for, and the gloves?” she then asked.“You have never hunted for lobsters, so I will tell you. Most often the lobsters are in the rocks. When they see something or someone wanting to make a meal out of them they go even deeper. I use that smaller fiberglass rod to tickle the lobster out of the rocks. When they do come out they are almost impossible to catch by hand. I use the net guessing where he is going to come out. With skill and luck she swims right into it and there is you lobster for dinner,” he explained to her. Other things puzzled Jillisa about the other equipment. “Why do you need belt clips, and why a rubber belt instead of a nylon belt like I have seen those divers on TV use? Why also for all those different size mesh bags over there?” she pointed as she continued to ask Adam. “Have you ever wore one of those nylon belts on your skin? It feels like they are made of rough sand paper. There is no give to them, and they are so rough I lost a few scales the first time I tried one. I knew of these rubber belts, so gave them a try, and they have worked out fine. The clips I use to attach those mesh bags there, or my smaller bang stick, or other equipment. The mesh bags I use to put some of my catch in, or things that I find and want to take back. I plan to take one of the smaller catch bags to put my shrimp breakfast in,” he told her. The mention of food, even if it was raw shrimp, reminded her how hungry she was. “I’ll hungry, I’ll meet you at the beach,” Jillisa said over her shoulder as she made her way to the waters edge and dove in. She didn’t need a light to make out the tunnel, because she could see the light shining at the far end of the tunnel. A few fish swam around the entrance to the cave, she noticed as she entered the open sea. Knowing that the beach was to the south she swam along the shoreline till she was over the sandy bottom that she had seen when did her first swim as a mermaid. Jillisa surfaced. There on the beach with a sun umbrella over it was a red cooler this time. Jillisa swam as far as she could, then did what she had decided to call the mermaid shuffle, or perhaps it could be call the sea lion waddle, up the beach to where the cooler sat. She opened the cooler. Inside on top of the ice were a few apples, pears, and some grapes. Under them and buried in the ice were the sandwiches. She wondered why no oranges or bananas, but then realized that those would leave too much of a mess with their peelings. Steve must have wanted to keep his beach clean. Even the sandwiches were in containers that could be reused. After her breakfast of fruits she waited under the sun umbrella for Adam to show up. It was well over a hour wait when his head popped up out of the sea 30 feet from shore and spotted her. When he came in out of the surf he had a blue mesh catch bag that seemed to have some things alive in it along with some green leaves of some sort. Adam also did the mermaid shuffle until he was alongside Jillisa in the shade. He took out a live shrimp, and right before her eyes broke the tail off, picked out the meat, then threw both off to the side in the sand. It didn’t sit long there, for a seagull had landed, gulped it down, then looked at Adam for more like a pet cat or dog waiting for scraps from the table. Jillisa thought she would be sick. She said to him, “You just killed and ate that thing alive!” As she said this Adam was reaching into the bag for another one. “Yup, say haven’t you ever eaten sushi? About most if not all of the seafood they have in it is raw, and besides these shrimp are pretty tasty,” he said to her. He brought the shrimp out, tore the head off, and tossed it to his new friend who caught it in the air. Adam broke open the shell, took out the meat, then offered it to Jillisa and said, “Want to try some, it's good.” “No thanks, I prefer my shrimp cooked, besides I already ate,” she replied to his offer. “OK, your loss. You don’t know what you are missing,” he said to her as he threw another remain to his winged friend, but as it was raising its bill to grab it another seagull took it away and ate it. Now he had two seagulls begging for more. Now and then he would take out one of the leaves he had with the shrimp and eat it also. “What is that?” she asked. “Kelp, the salad leaves of the sea. Would you like to try some of this? At least you don’t have to worry about it moving around in your hands while you are trying to eat it,” he told her with a bit of a smile. “Maybe later. I am just not yet ready to try anything that is not cooked,” she said to him.To get off the subject of eating sea animals raw she said, “Why did you become a merman? Why would you give up family, friends, TV, real food, and everything that is great to live here in California or anywhere else to come and spend the rest of your life in the sea?” Adam finished off the last shrimp and threw what was left to the seven seagulls who had gathered since he threw the first bit of shrimp remains out to them before he answered her as he looked out to the sea. “I grew up loving water. It didn’t matter if it was fresh or salt water. My family has always loved to fish or hunt around one kind of water or another. I used to think that if someone cut us that we would bleed water instead of blood. When I felt hurt or sad the sea or lake or river always seemed to comfort me. When the offer was made I had been working a 9-to-5 job five days a week. I lived for the weekends, but sometimes even that came to be a boring routine. After a while it didn’t seem like I was living, but rather existing. In the ocean I felt alive, like I really mattered. I felt at home there, like I belonged to something. I didn’t feel this way on land. When I was changed this watery world that I have always loved was opened up to me more than I had ever dreamed up. I could swim and never come up for air. There are such wonders in the sea that most people can't even imagine. A few times I did have thoughts of being human again when Neptune asked me if I wanted to stay this way, but when it came time I just could not go back to my old way of life so here I am. I will admit it has been lonely. The only person I can talk to is Neptune, and while he is a nice guy (or whatever he is) I have been hoping that I wouldn’t be the only mer-person on the West Coast. If you want to be back to being human when you give Neptune your choice I will respect that, but do hope that you might come down for a visit if that is your choice,” he told her. “If I don’t chose to become a mermaid I promise I will still come down to visit with you,” she promised him. “So what are our plans for today?” she then asked. “Oh I thought that we would go and hang with some friends, but I have to go and get the 12-gauge bang stick just in case a great white happens along. While in this area that we will be going to I had a great white swim into the area looking for a meal. I know that some people like swimming with sharks, but when in scuba gear people don’t look like their natural prey, but as mer-folk we sort of look like large seals. As I was visiting my friends my friends let me know that there was one around. We ended up having to sit on land until the shark got the hint that none of us were planning to let ourselves be an afternoon snack, so the shark moved on to look for a meal elsewhere. I have to admit it was a beautiful beast, but it was 12 feel long, and moved with such speed that he almost got one of my friends. It was after that I began to carry the large bang stick,” he explained to her. They entered the water, then swam to the cave where Adam went in, then came out with a five-foot carbon component pole with a metal tip on the end. She really wasn’t fond of the ideal of having the weapon along, but she trusted Adam. They swam up the coast. As they swam they enjoyed their under water realm, Adam would stop and show her things. It was was as they were swimming when some thing poked her in the butt. She turned, but all she got to see was a glimpse of something brown shooting away. As she tried to see what it was some thing very lightly brushed her shoulder. Again she turned only to find nothing there. “What the heck is going on Adam?” she asked. When she looked at him she found him laughing. “My friends want to play tag and you are it, but so far I think you are losing,” he told her when he finished laughing. “Here let me introduce them to you." Adam then make what sounded like a seal barking, only under water. Two sea lions suddenly appeared on either side of him looking like 2 young puppies ready to please their friend, and full of energy. “This is Sammy and the Missy. I once went to Sea World, and seen this great seal act. The seal was named Sammy. When I first bumped into these two the first thing that hit me was seal act, so I began to call the male of the pair Sammy. The next time I ran into him he had a friend along that for some reason I felt was a female, so I called her the Missy. They are part of a colony of sea lions along the coast here.” The two seals darted about her looking at her as if inspecting her to see if she was worthy of their trust and friendship, yet always friendly. One of them poked her with his nose, then swam off looking behind him. The game was on, so she sway after the seal, yet the seal was so nimble he could easily keep out of reach while doing twist, turns, and barrel rolls. The other seal joined it, and it seemed as if the three of them were almost dancing as Jillisa tried to copy their moves. They were so graceful and agile as they moved in the water. Jillisa found herself giggling like a school girl as she copied the seals in their underwater dance. Now and then the seals would have to go up for air, then race back down to join her as they danced. Time lost meaning as they rolled, spun, and twist in the sea. The seal both went to the surface, and this time stayed there. Jillisa surfaced near them. They barked at her, so for fun she barked back. She could have sworn that they smiled at her as they dove, but this time they didn’t turn to play, but swam off into the murk. She spotted Adam near by watching her. Jillisa swam up to him. “Why did they leave? We were having so much fun,” she asked. “When we happened upon they were on they way off to hunt for fish, but since you were the new fish around here they took time to enjoy your company for a bit. All that play made them hungry, so off they went,” he explained to her. “By the way, you were beautiful as you swam with them. I thought I could move, but as I enjoyed their company I have been never able to move like the way you did. I’d say that you were a natural underwater performer.” Jilisa blushed, “Thank you,” she said. “Why didn’t you join us?” she asked. “I wanted you to enjoy swimming with Sammy like I did the first time. It was incredible wasn’t it?” he said with a smile. Jillisa beamed at him as she said, “It was amazing!” Jillisa beamed at him as she said, “It was amazing! I felt like a little girl playing with a couple of puppies. I think I could have played with them all day, are they always that way?” “Only when they are not looking for food, or sunning themselves on rocks. It is just who they are when they are in the water. Playing tag with them also helped me to figure out a bit more about swimming with a tail. A mer-person can learn a lot swimming with seals. Would you like to check out the colony? It's not too far,” Adam told her. “Sure, why not,” she answered him. Again they swam to the north for 15 minutes. They began to see more and more seals, but these did not wait to play with them, as they swam by on their way to hunt for fish. Adam began to head to the surface, Jillisa followed behind him. When they broke the surface they were facing a rocky shoreline. On and among the rocks were hundreds of seals, some sunning themselves on the rocks, some nursing seal pups, and in one or two places a couple were fighting, disturbing those around who were enjoying the sun or feeding the young. In the water close to the rocks young seals were playing in the shallow water. Adam and Jillisa swam closer. The young seals spotted them, and swam out to check them out. Adam and Jillisa dove. When Jillisa looked around she, and found seals swimming everywhere around her like eager little kids, and like curious little kids she swear she could hear them all asking questions like, “What kind of seal are you? Why is the fur on top of your head so long? Where did you come from? Who are you? Are you some kind of a fish, because you do have a fishy tail. How come you don’t have fur like mine? You want to play?” and they all seemed to be ask all these questions at once. Jillisa laughed, it wasn’t often she was the center of attention by humans or animals, and these were all playful. She was having the time of her life. Suddenly a seal shot by ignoring her as it made for the rocks, then another. Adam touch her to get her attention, and yelled to her, "Get to rocks NOW and get out of the water as fast as you can. I will be right behind you.” The seals about here were suddenly gone, Adam was right behind her. She climbed onto a rock, the seals all about them seemed to be in a panic, and others were still racing to get out of the water Adam was 15 feet away also on the rocks, his bang stick in one hand, the other grabbing the smaller seals out of the water. Jillisa began to do the same. A large fin appeared cutting the surface of the water. A few times it chase a seal in that was still coming in to the rocks, but the seals were able to get on land in time. It was a great white shark. The shark came close to shore, within 10 feet of Jillisa. So far this was the biggest sealife she had encountered. It was as Adam had said, when it came close she could just feel it, the danger of something dangerous and hungry coming close. Jillisa felt its black eyes of death looking at her as it passed so close. It had to have been 11 feet long. When it got to Adam he had his bang stick ready, yet made no move to the shark as it went by. It swam along the shore looking for any seal that had not made it out of the water. A few times the shark darted after a seal with amazing speed, but the seals just barely got away from it onto the shore. It came by Jillisa and Adam a few more times, then disappeared father up the shoreline. No seals made any move to enter the water, so far it looked like all of the seals had made it to safety. On this day the shark went away without a meal. “Now you see why I carry a bang stick when I come here, and why I don’t often come to the colony. I think it is safe to enter the water, but we better not stick around here very long.” Adam said to her. “I think I will stay here for a little while,” Jillisa said, shaken by the encounter with the shark. Adam understood why she didn’t want to enter the water, so he told her, “It is a nice day to sit and enjoy the sun.” The seals began to enter the water, just one or two at a time. When nothing happen more and more jumped into the sea. Soon it was as if nothing had happened. “You know the first time I encountered my first great white, I was pretty scared, yet also taken in by their beauty,” Adam went on to tell Jillisa, but she looked at him like he was nuts, so Adam went on. “You have to admit as it swam by you could almost feel the power of the thing, like it was not afraid of anything and would take on about anything if it felt like it. Most of the time they are just curious. They don’t have hands, so to investigate they might come up and grab a hold of whatever has its attention. Whatever tastes good he eats it if he feels like it, if it don’t it might take a bite and spit it out, or might simply let go. You just never know what they will do, but one thing you never do is turn your back on them. Many times divers have been able to fend off a hungry shark with just a long stick or rod, but when they are hungry and looking for food they will attack about anything. Like when that little guy came along here, if a diver had been in the water among all its natural prey most likely it would have went after him. In the open sea it might have simply swam around him a few times, try to take a bite if it could when the diver had it’s back to it, then eventually swim off. Now look at the seals now. None are rushing out of the water, so most likely the shark has left the area, but it might come back, so we won’t stick around here. What do you say we go back to Neptune’s Cove and see if Steve has brought anything for lunch.” Jillisa was starting to feel better, and the young seals were back to playing in the shallow water. She asked Adam, “Is that the name of the cove? I never did ask him about what it was called.” “Nope, just came up with the name just now. To me it was just another cove, yet there are so many other coves around here, but it is the place where we both became mers, and Neptune does seem to own the place, so it seems fitting that it should be called Neptune’s Cove,” he said. When they returned to Neptune’s Cove they found the cooler had been refilled while they had been gone. As Jillisa and Adam ate some of the sandwiches from the cooler Jillisa started to give some thought to staying a mermaid. She had seen and done some wonderful things, but was she really ready to give up everything on land? Rocky road ice cream, the feel of a soft bed under her, staying up late watching movies, the taste of a steak cooked just right, and was she willing to give up her apartment to go and live in a cave? On the other hand she would be giving up work at a job she didn’t like, traffic jams, noisy neighbors, waiting for hours or days to repair something in her apartment like she had just a few months ago. Was she willing to give up months of non-stop presidential ads, and ever depressing news on the TV. It was clear that she need to give more thought this matter. When they had finished their last sandwich Adam suggested that they rest a bit before showing her the kelp forest. Jillisa agreed, because everyone knows it is not a good ideal to swim right after eating a meal. As she laid in the sun feeling it warm her for the second day she thought that she could get used to this. After a hour of soaking up the sun they made their way back into the ocean. They swam to the south, for how long Jillisa didn’t know. It didn’t seem to matter anymore, because the more she swam as a mermaid the more she enjoyed it. Time and distant she could see a wall that stretched from the bottom of the ocean all the way to the surface like a far off green mountain. When they got closer she found that it was the kelp forest. Kelp grew from the ocean floor reaching for the surface. Schools of fish swam at the edge and among the kelp like flocks of birds. Jillisa slowed to a stop, Adam beside her, as she took it all in. The place had a peaceful feel to it. The different kinds, and colors of fish swimming about the forest reminded her of pictures she had seen of a tropical rain forest. It was simply beautiful. Leave of the kelp swayed in the current like leaves on a soft spring wind. “Follow me closely. The forest is like a maze in there,” Adam told her as he took the lead. Jillisa found that the forest wasn’t a huge solid mass as she thought it was. There were places where it was thick, but in some places it thinned out to where there was even open areas. There were even what seemed like lanes or paths if it could be called that, only these paths didn’t have ground that you walked on, only openings through the kelp. Fish seemed to be every where, and of every size. The smaller fish moved though the leaves like insects, and there were insects here because every now and then she saw shrimp on some of the leaves. Some of the fish she could see picked at the leaves, other she saw used the kelp as shelter to hid from bigger fish. At one point she got a glimpse of a school of tuna chasing some bait fish ahead of them at a intersection before the kelp hid them from view. A 2 and 1/2 foot furry creature darted ahead of them heading to the surface. Adam motioned her to follow him to the surface where the creature had done. Before they reached the surface they could hear what sounded like a rock tapping on something. Above them they could see the outline of the furry creature. Adam swam where he would be 10 feet off to the side of it when his head broke the surface of the water, Jillisa beside him. This furry creature she could see how was a sea otter, and currently it was hammering away at a sea urchin ignoring the 2 mer-people watching it work on it’s meal. “You ever ate any of that?” Jillisa asked Adam. “Sure, but there are other things in the sea that taste better,” he told her. They dove letting the otter enjoy his meal. They swam among the kelp once more. If Jillisa wasn’t right on Adam’s tail she would have surely lost him. They found there way into another clearing in the kelp. Adam swam up to one of the plants and pulled off 2 leaves before he turned and offered one of them to Jillisa. “What do you expect me to do with this?” she asked, holding it with distaste. “People on land eat it all the time. In Japan they used it with their meals all the time, but is not good to eat it every day. The stuff is not bad,” Adam said, then took a bite out of the leaf he had. Since he didn’t gag on it, or spit it out, but took another bite, Jillisa brought the leaf to her mouth and took a bite herself. It wasn’t too bad. It had its own taste, but it wasn’t something she could stand to eat every day. “So what do you think of it.” He asked her. “Its OK, but would taste better with some ranch dressing on it,” she told him. “Oh you get used to it. Use some of it to wrap up some raw fish, and it is even better,” he said. She looked at him not quite believing that raw fish would taste better raw before she said, “I’ll just take your word on that.” Adam picked more leaves, then guided her through more of the kelp forest. Now and then he would see something on a leaf or branch of kelp, but he moved so quickly she didn’t get a chance to see what it was. She began to notice also that he seemed to be working on something as they swam when he wasn’t looking for what ever was among the kelp. He would let it drop, but what ever it was some fish in the kelp would dart out and eat it as it fell towards the bottom. The ocean shadows were getting long, meaning that night would be coming. “We better be on our way home before it gets too dark. At twilight is when fish often like to feed including sharks, and I think I have enough for the both of us for supper tonight,” he said, referring to the kelp leaves bundles in his hands. As they made their way through the kelp she did notice that it seemed that the fish were more active. An 8-foot nurse shark and a large brown fish swam 10 feet under them causing her to worry, till he assured her that they were harmless, unless to fish. The kelp open before them like a curtain being drawn aside, and they were once more in the ocean sea. They made it to the mouth of the tunnel of the cave. Adam with his hands full was not able to handle the flashlight, so had Jillisa used it and led the way into the cave. When they were at the huge cavern Adam used his elbows and fishy tail to pull himself to the chest that had the battery-powered lamp as Jillisa seal-walked beside him with the flashlight showing the way. Once there Adam deposited his kelp wrapped treasure on the make shift table. When his hands were empty he turned on the lamp, then had Jillisa turn off her light. “Since we were not able to get to your cooler I thought that tonight I would make up our supper. All I am asking is that you just give this a try and let me know what you think,” Adam said as he handed her one of the kelp wrappings. She was about to unwrap it, when Adam stopped her saying. “No peeking, just take a bite and trust me on this.” “OK, but only if you have one with me,” she said. “Deal,” he said, then picked up one of the other wraps. He brought it up to his lips, but stopped when he notice that she had made no move to eat hers. “No cheating, come now at the same time we both take a bite. Lets say that we take a bite at the same time.” Jillisa brought the wrap to her mouth. “One, two, three,” Adam said, and they both took a bite. It was a little mushy but the taste of the kelp and what she knew now was shrimp combined well in her mouth. After she had swallowed the tasty morsel she exclaimed, “That was delicious!” “While swimming among the kelp I spotted some shrimp I collected what I could see, and cleaned them as we swam,” he explained to her. “This is really good. Are you some kind of sea chief?” she asked him. “Nope, just ate a lot of sushi, when I was a kid I worked at a sushi bar, and picked up a few things,” he said. They sat eating the shrimp wraps finding out more about each other till they both were tired.


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