"Well, I can't stay forever, but I really, really like you Raymond. I wish I could stay, really I do, but I have to go back tomorrow, one way or the other. So, we can be really good friends and I can visit often, but I have a home, in a different world, so nothing more than that. That's why I'm apologizing."
"Except it's not just your fault. It's your father's, yours, but mine too. I really, really like you too, Aqua, even now."
"Really?" I breathed.
"Really," he answered me certainly.
I noticed it was definitely night now and the music was starting to slow down from The Last Splash. Raymond noticed too.
"Can I still stay for fireworks, now?" he asked. I smiled and nodded yes. But then, he surprised me.
"Is it cold…that water?"
"No…. Why?" I asked, confused, tail swaying from side to side but happy. He looked at it, just smiled, and then slid in next to me. I laughed, amazed.
"Is that okay?" he asked.
"It's fine." I laughed.
"Look," he pointed out. The fireworks were starting. I saw, also, Hailey and Claire riding off, heading back home. So they had stayed to see what happened. Oh well. I didn't care. Raymond knew the truth now and he didn't care either.
"Have you seen fireworks before?" he asked suddenly. Then added, "I meant it when I said you were a very pretty mermaid earlier, but in this light, really, that blue-green is stunning."
"A few times," I answered his earlier question, but blushing to both parts of his response. I was so happy right now. That Raymond knew, that he wasn't alone watching the fireworks, like he would have been, that we were watching them together and that we still had the night together, instead of alone. He nodded, then smiled, splashed me and dove underwater.
"Hey!" I laughed, and chased after him. We came up together, laughing. Then he got the oddest expression on his face, abashed, almost.
"May I have this dance?" he asked. The song "One and Only" by Teitur was playing with the fireworks.
"Yes you may…if you can stay up." I laughed, blushing again. Could this night get any more perfect? Yes, actually, I realized-if I didn't have to leave tomorrow, if I could stay with him forever. I stopped that thought right there, though. I wouldn't think about it, not right now. This was as good as it could get for me right now and I was just fine with that, looked like Raymond was too. He laughed also, and we danced/swam together until the song ended then swam back to the entrance, just staring at the fireworks and each other with smiles. Then there was a huge bang and pop as the show reached its finale.
"You're very graceful too, even for a mermaid." Raymond commented when we'd finished our dance.
I smiled. I had always prided myself and been commented on the finesse of my movements. It was even better to hear it from Raymond, though. I really do think I loved him. But, that's for him to tell me and I wasn't going to have us end on a tense note. As if on cue, though, Raymond stated the inevitable.
"I guess I better go. I can't sleep in the water," Raymond answered regretfully.
"You could just sleep right outside on the balcony," I hoped to him.
"Someone might see me, and then we'd both be in trouble." He answered sadly, "Can I see you again? Tomorrow, before you leave?"
I nodded, "Meet me at the pier, noon. If you want, we could have lunch before I leave." He nodded as well, climbed out, smiled at me, at then started climbing down the ladder to the tower.
I was glad Raymond knew the truth now and it was really nice to enjoy the fireworks with him. The next morning I met Hailey and Claire at their house and we just hung out together one last time before I had to leave, eating popcorn and playing video games. I told them they could meet me at the pier at around 1:30, probably. I told them I was having lunch with Raymond, and then leaving, if they wanted to say goodbye. Lunch was simple at the Capri Club and Raymond and I talked a bit, about our days together, and my life back home. Then all too soon it was time for me to go. Raymond walked with me to the pier to say goodbye too. Hailey and Claire were waiting too.
"Well, this is it, I guess. I'll miss you guys. You've been so nice." I said sadly.
"Aqua, wait," Raymond said. Before I could ask, he hugged me close and gave me a kiss and said, "I love you, Aqua."
"We love you too," Hailey and Claire rushed in and hugged me too.
I'd nearly forgotten. I was crying now, I would miss them all so much.
"Thank you. So much, all of you. I miss you, but I'll visit as often as I can too. Probably right after I return those wedding presents. You just proved that love exists. I love you guys too. I'll see you soon."
They nodded, all of us except Raymond with tears in our eyes. Then I turned and dived off the pier. Once I hit the water, I looked back to see them all smiling and gave them a big wave goodbye, smiling also.
"Goodbye! See you!" I called, and then dove under to return home after their calls.
"Goodbye! See you soon! Miss you."
Back home, my father was waiting for me, astonished and apologetic. I accepted his apology and we got to work on sending back wedding invites and presents. I wondered what would happen now. If only Raymond could have been a merman. Well, you never know. I guess the future will see and I would visit Hailey and Claire and Raymond very soon indeed.