Bridgette had never been stunningly beautiful. She wasn't plain either, of course, but she'd never make it as a top model. That was fine by her because she had no such intentions. Bridgette was (or had been) a department secretary in a small business. That was before the inheritance. Uncle Charles had decided for some inscrutable reason that because she was the only surviving relative that had actually managed to get and hold a job, she should have his fortune. The fight in the courts lasted only long enough to prove the will genuine (and that was plenty long enough). Some three years after he died, his estates were finally settled. After the lawyers took their cut and the parade of relatives she'd never met stopped coming (being in a secure building helped in that regard), Bridgette decided she'd enjoy her new wealth.
Some she spent on favorite charities but a lot was spent on long term contracts for secure apartments such as the one she was living in and the second one she maintained in the Bahamas and business investments. Bridgette was surprised at how well she did on the stock market. She managed over the space of a few years to increase the estate's value by nearly 50% even with all her expenditures.
But there were other things that began to nag at her. She'd always worked hard and would likely continue to do so to keep the estate up. She decided she'd like to enjoy the wealth a bit. Cruises and trips were exciting and she traveled extensively for a few years. After a while, though, she curtailed the trips to three or four a year. Despite the excitement of seeing new places, there was a sameness, too. She craved something different.
One morning, while surfing the Internet, she ran across an unusual company ' Body Shapers International
'. It seems they'd adapted the medical shaping nannite technology to the pleasure suit business. If their website could be believed, they'd make a suit that would turn you into anything. Centaur, cats, dogs, snakes, mermaids even plants were among their offerings. Bridgette had always had a fantasy to be a mermaid and wondered whether the company could really deliver what they seemed to promise. She had them checked out and soon invested in their stock. They did exactly what they said they could and were definitely a good investment.
While trying to decide what variant of mermaid she wanted to be, she ran across a small note on the company's corporate website. It seemed they were working on suits that that had two settings. Their first line of suits were shiny latex and you had to wear them as long as you wanted the form the suit changed you to. This new line, and it was still in beta test, could be worn that way still but it had a second setting that would allow you to remove the suit once the change was finished. Instead of reverting to your original form, you'd remain in the suit-made form. To get your old form back, you donned the suit once more and it's nannite memory would be used to reverse the process. This was exciting! Imagine being a real mermaid.
She contacted some people she knew in the company and was soon in possession of the sexiest green latex mermaid suit she could imagine. When it arrived, she wasted no time getting to her apartment's hot tub, opaquing the windows and donning the suit. It was far too long, with a loose floppy dolphin's fin that lay like a lump in front of her. The suit itself was also a loose fit and included gloves and a head mask. She decided to not to try those for the moment. Webbed fingers and fin ears seemed a bit much right now but might be interesting another day. She was about to become a bit annoyed at the clumsiness of the tail when she felt a tingle go through her skin and the suit tightened up. She felt the suit begin to change her from inside. At first, the changes were mostly cosmetic. Bridgette's breasts had never been large but the suit seemed to be augmenting her own natural ones. A pair of small floppy sacks at her hips began to inflate as Bridge's body grew a pair of small hip fins to fail them. She could feel her legs stretch to fill the tail. It only took fifteen minutes for all the changes to run their course. Bridge discovered, to her joy, that the suit did exactly as they'd promised. She was a mermaid!
The tail was flexible and, as she found out when she accidentally splashed the far wall, powerful. She decided to book a trip to the private island and spend a few days as a mermaid. Might really cause a stir! She found she could move the fins at her hips, too. She pulled herself from the hot tub and made another discovery. She had a fin in the middle of her back, too. It too could be moved! Her childhood fantasy had become real: she was a mermaid.
Meanwhile, at the test site for BSI, a pair of quality testers were trying a similar suit.
"Okay, Naomi," said Gina calmly. "We've tried the primary pathways. It definitely made you a mermaid."
"Yes, for what seems the hundredth time, too."
"Well, you know cycle testing is critical."
"This is the first one where we've done the change in hot water, too."
"Hot tubs are more common in homes than swimming pools, I guess."
"I suspect so or we wouldn't be doing this new series of suit tests."
"Anyway, the change worked fine."
"I became a mermaid," Naomi said in a tired voice. "Let's get it off. You triggered the reversal change?"
"Yup. Let's pull the exit tab and see what happens."
The pair waited a few minutes for the change to begin. When nothing happened for a long while, Naomi frowned.
"It's never done that before!"
"Hmm. I wonder what's wrong."
"I think we have a glitch."
"A glitch! Again?! Last time I spent nearly a week as a centaur. Time before that, you trotted around on all fours for six days."
"Being a half-horse is okay as long as you have hands. Guess we'd best get the techies in on this one."
The development tech arrived within a few moments and, after having them cycle the suit several times, concluded that the form memory might have been affected by the temperature. They decided to reset Naomi's body using the pattern suit they'd contrived after the first few glitches had left a few employees permanently in other forms.
Gina helped Naomi strip the suit off. Both women were half expecting to see the glistening scales of a mermaid once the material was removed but this didn't happen. Instead, Naomi's tail was human skin all the way to the dolphin tail! Once Naomi was free of the suit, Bridgette ordered a gurney to transport her partner to the reset center.
"You know, we'd best send a quick e-mail to sales in case so that our beta testers get the word to stay out of hot water until this problem is fixed."
"Too right!" was Naomi's reply.
Gina was still relaxing in the pool when her cell phone chimed. She humped her way over to the table to retrieve it and caught the call on the sixth ring.
"Ms. Bletchko?" a worried voice on the other end asked.
"Yes, this is she."
"This is Bradley Cummings from BSI. You're name is on our call out list as being a beta tester for the new line of dual mode mermaids."
"I'm in my mermaid now. I love it. I truly do."
"Um, did you change in a swimming pool?"
"No. My apartment hot tub. Why?"
"I'll send the Emergency Team around within the hour. There's a problem with the betas."
"If you put them on in really hot water, the suit pattern store may partially or totally lose your original form."
"In English please."
"You'll end up stuck in the mermaid form. You can switch between an all skin mermaid and the scaled version but that's the extent of it."
"That's a pretty serious problem."
"That's why I'm sending the Emergency Team out. I'm hoping that they can help you recover your form."
"Okay. Since I won't be able to answer the door, how can I tell the concierge to recognize you?"
"We'll have proper credentials. Full biometrics data is on file with the central registry."
"Okay, I'll have them let you in then."
"Thanks. They'll be there within the hour."
She hung up and called the concierge on her cell phone. After arranging to have the BSI people allowed up and let into her apartment, she wondered what to do next. Deciding she'd at least like to see the tail without the shiny latex suit on, she pulled herself from the water and crawled from the hot tub to her bed in the adjacent room. She smiled at how sexy mermaids were supposed to be on land. Too bad a tail just didn't work well out of water. She soon got the hang of it, pulling herself forward by humping and extending the tail much as a seal moves on land. Finally, she made it into the bedroom. She pulled herself up on her bed and toggled the full mermaid form of the suit. She waited the few minutes for the change to complete. Then she struggled to remove the suit. For a few minutes, the exertion left her exhausted. She lay her head back on her pillows and caught her breath.
She then raised her head to get a look at herself. She was absolutely stunning as a mermaid! Her flukes and fins were smooth young skin. Her breasts were at least two sizes larger. Her tail, rather than being fish scales, was covered with scales the same color as the rest of her body. She felt the transition between her skin and the scales again and again. There was something amazingly sensuous about the feeling. It was almost orgasmic in its intensity. She decided she wouldn't mind being a mermaid for the rest of her life if they couldn't change her back. She had the money to build a real beach house with access to the sea to accommodate this wonderful new and extremely sensuous form.
It took three hours for the BSI team to arrive. She met them on her bed, out of the suit. She no didn't care that they could see her nude. Mermaids were supposed to be nude. The team leader quickly assessed the situation and borrowed the suit. He attached some lines to a pair of nearly invisible contacts at the back of the neck of the suit. After a few minutes, with he and the other two scanning the results and making comments in some kind of technical gibberish, he came around to the side of the bed and pulled up a chair.
"We have a slight problem, Miss Bletchko," he looked worried.
"And that would be?"
"Well, your original body form was lost when the nannite memory overheated in the hot tub."
"And in English?"
"Well, it's like this," he paused, seemingly unsure as to how to continue. "We can't recover your original body."
"I'm stuck a mermaid then?" Bridgette knew she was smiling. He, though, didn't notice and continued on.
"Well, the suit was a beta but we didn't expect this kind of problem," he looked very worried. "I was hoping there'd be enough left in the memory to recreate your body. There's at least twenty others like this. They're stuck in alternate forms of various kinds. We've had to take some pretty extreme measures."
"What kind of measures?"
"Well, we've set up what amounts to a kind of colony for the mermaids and mermen. Not much else we can do. It's on the California coast. We've a specialty team working on reversing the effect. We should have you back to normal in a few weeks at worst"
"And what if I'm happy being a mermaid?"
"Happy? I don't understand."
"This is the sexiest I've felt in years."
"But your work? How will you .."
"I own Mermaid Bath Products. Who better than a sexy mermaid as an owner for a company with that name?"
"But we, uh ..."
"I'll arrange for land to be purchased near your mermaid colony and a house built. In the meantime, I can conduct business from here. Computers let you do so many things without even going into the office."
"You can't be serious. I mean we can't have you staying a mermaid. It wouldn't work."
"Why?" she asked with a disarming smile. I'll sign a waiver against any lawsuit. I want to stay a mermaid."
"I'll have to run this by the head office, you know."
"Run it by whoever you want. I'm staying as I am now."
"And you are positive?"
"Absolutely. Now run along and get me the location of your colony so I can buy some land nearby. Who knows, might even be a cute merguy out there."
The team packed up its equipment and let itself out. Bridgette just lay on her bed, careful to keep her gills closed so they'd not dry out. She stroked her smooth belly and felt again the transition from skin to scales. Yes, she was going to enjoy being a mermaid.
Chapter II The Colony
The next evening, after she'd enjoyed solo play as a mermaid for several hours, she decided she'd like a little company. She knew just who she'd like and Josh soon found himself receiving a phone call.
"Hey, sexy!" he began. "How's things?"
"Couldn't be better."
"You sound positively ecstatic. What have you been up to?"
"A little of this and a little of that."
"Oh? Like what?"
"I got a new costume the other day. Wanna come over and give it a whirl?"
"For me or you?"
"Me, this time, love," she grinned.
"What's the costume?"
"Can I leave it a surprise? I'll be in the hot tub when you get here. Just let yourself in."
"A water costume? This I just gotta see."
"That's why I called you. Knew you just loved water and wet sex."
"I'll be over as fast as I can. In about 20 then?"
"I'll expect you."
She slid herself from the bed to the tub. It never ceased to amaze her how difficult even simple actions were for someone without legs. She'd make sure everything in the new house was completely connected by swimming channels and tunnels. She reached the wall that held the controls and dialed up the water jets. Even pulling herself up a chair to get at the controls was difficult. 'No wonder mermaids stuck near the sea,' she mused. Finally, and with only a few minutes to spare, she got the bubbles going. She didn't want him to see her tail until he was in the tub too. Satisfied, she slid into the tub and smiled at how the tub had started this whole adventure in a way.
Josh, true to his word, arrived about 20 minutes later. He let himself in and, noticing her in the hut tub headed for the bathroom where he'd hung a swimsuit.
"You're not going to make me pull you out of that thing are you?" she said seductively.
"Uh, no. I guess not then," he changed direction and headed towards the hot tub. Quickly stripping his street clothes, he padded over towards her in the tub.
"Nice tush," she grinned at him.
"So what's this special costume?" he asked taking in her naked upper body.
"Look behind you," she lifted her fin from the water.
His eyes became wide as saucers for a moment. Then he caught himself.
"You bought one of those rubber mermaid tails? Off the Internet?"
"Not exactly," she wrapped her tail around his middle. "It started that way. The suit made me a latex mermaid. I was going to call you two days ago to get your tail over here. Something else came up. Suit's a beta. Hot water mucked its memory. It doesn't remember my old form. I'm a mermaid for real now!"
"So your like woman to the waist and fish below?" his interest showed in the inflation of his male member.
"Let me pull myself out."
She pulled herself from the hot tub and watched as his jaw dropped. Though she was still mostly skin colored, a darker blue was developing along her tail's spine and, as promised, she was a fish below. Her skin-colored scales covered her from hips to tail tip. Only her tail fin didn't look fish-like. It was still solid, like a dolphins.
"So what do you think?"
"Damn! You're the sexiest thing I've ever seen woman," his eyes were wide and his breathing was becoming shallower.
To say they enjoyed that evening was the understatement of the century. Bridgette had multiple intense orgasms and so did Josh. It seemed there were real advantages to being a mermaid aside from better swimming performance. The next day, Josh awoke first and had to lift the covers on the bed to make sure it wasn't some kind of dream. He'd always imagined sex with a mermaid but never, in his wildest dreams, ever imagined to experience it.
"It's true. BSI has several other mermaids and mermen in a small colony in Florida. I'm going to build a house nearby to make getting around easier."
"So what about the apartment?"
"I've already given notice on the lease. In six months, I'm moving into my new place."
Josh became very quiet. It was clear the rush of the previous evening had just been replaced by the shock of losing his mermaid.
"Uh. How big is the place you're building?"
"Big enough for two even with all the extra space taken up by waterways for me."
"Waterways?" he paused a second. "Oh yeah. You'll need them to get about. They go right out to the ocean?"
"Of course. That's the only way to get to the colony after all."
"Wonder if there's work down there for a mermaid keeper?"
"Why don't I give them a call?"
She pulled herself off the bed and sat up. It wasn't as easy as the Hollywood mermaids made it seem. The lack of legs made even sitting upright far more difficult than it had been. She steadied herself and dialed the contact number she'd been given. Within ten minutes, it seemed they could use someone with practical skills such as plumbing. Jeff, having just become a Journeyman, had been wondering how he'd get into a company or set up his own. BSI, it seemed, was willing to take him on to help set up the facility. They'd likely even have work afterwards, too. Josh, when he got on the line, took down everything he'd need to send them. After breakfast, he quickly excused himself and headed out to arrange things.
BSI realized the difficulty better than Bridgette realized. She received a call later that day from BSI. They'd gotten on the contractor and had a firm finish date for the new house that was three months away instead of six months. They'd arrange a professional mover for her belongings and a company jet for her. Josh, when he showed up later that day with supper, told her he'd gotten the job without an interview and they wanted him out there to help with the house.
Bridgette hated to lose him even for a few months and arranged to have a temporary room in their mermaid colony until her home could be completed. She arranged to have things put into storage that wouldn't fit in the smaller accommodations of the colony. The pair were met three days later by movers who quickly and efficiently packed everything up. Those things she wanted in the temporary shelter, she marked. Everything else was carefully labeled and sent into storage.
The flight to the Florida colony was amazingly uncomfortable. Aircraft seats are great if you fall into the standard human pattern. A woman with a tail far longer than standard legs wasn't quite standard. She curled this way and that, trying to find a comfortable position. She was thankful that she didn't need to be kept wet like the dolphins she'd seen on television a few days before. That would have been just too much to handle. As it was, five hours in a plane, without being able to get up and move around or even go to the bathroom, was just about the limit of her tolerance. By the end of the flight, she was becoming surly, even nasty. She was nearly overjoyed when the pilot announced they were finally cleared to land.
Relief was felt by all when she was picked up by a cab for disabled people. It was larger and there was more room than any standard car. There was even more relief when Bridgette slipped into one of the canals that linked the houses of the colony. She swam at top speed, leaving the rest behind, to work the cramps the traveling had left in her body. It was more than an hour before Josh watched her swim toward the apartment they'd both end up sharing until the house was complete.
"Have a nice swim?"
"The best! Can't do that kind of workout in a hot tub."
"Makes too much of a mess?"
"That's the truth."
"So what now?"
"Well, everything needs unpacked. We'll have to find homes for your things and my things. Have you checked the place out?"
"Of course," he scratched his head. "Going to be interesting living with a mermaid. All the rooms save the bathroom are half-and-half. Half waterway and half floor. Going to be really interesting to wander around half asleep without falling in."
"I'll save you if you do. Might lead to something interesting," she gave him a wink.
"Most of the big rooms have a shallow ramp that you can pull yourself out on, too. That'll make it easy."
"Sounds like they've put in most of the things I've got in the mansion I'm having built. That'll make it easy."
"Still a pretty tight fit, though. Only a few rooms. Kitchen and dining room are combined. There's only one sitting room and only a single bedroom."
"I'm glad I left most of my stuff in storage then."
"How long until the house is done?"
"Last I heard it'll be about five months but we can head over to the BSI contractor and get a more definite date."
"Tomorrow, I think. It's late afternoon, after all."
"So do we unpack a bit?"
"Sure, why not?"
They spent the evening opening the handful of boxes they'd decided they'd need. Mostly, it was his clothing that needed to find places. Bridgette had decided she'd only wear the few sun tops and bikini tops she had. If people objected to a nude mermaid tail, they could go suck a lobster. They both became tired of unpacking about the same time.
"Bedtime, I think," announced Josh.
"Right!" she tossed the small box she'd been about to open back into the larger packing box. "For tomorrow. I'll see you in the bedroom."
She quickly submerged and made her way through the maze of waterways that linked everything in the house. She beat him to the bedroom by several minutes. It was then she realized that the bed was a single. Her portion of the bed, turned out, was a pullout that was partially in the water. It supported her, not with a mattress, but with hundreds of tiny water jets.
"You going to crawl up here with me?"
"My bed's in the water!" she wondered what sleeping on a water jet bed would be like. This was something she hadn't thought of in the home she'd designed. If she liked it, she'd have to have the master bedroom redesigned before they got too far into the construction.
"Oh," his voice clearly held his disappointment. He clearly had been wanting to sleep with a mermaid.
"We'll get a larger bed moved in tomorrow."
"Okay," he smiled. He quickly stripped and leaned down to kiss her in the water. "Nice. Goodnight salty lady."
"Hmm. Good night, Josh."
She wondered how she was going to turn off the lights but Josh had already thought of that. Before he jumped into his bed, he got the lights, collected a second kiss and got himself wet trying for a hug, too.
"We're going to need a supply of towels in each room," she noted.
"Yup. Can't love a mermaid and not get wet," he said as he stretched out on his bed.
Both were asleep within a few minutes and only awakened when Josh's alarm clock went off at 8 AM. She stretched and rolled off her water jets. It had been the best sleep she'd had in years!
"Why so early?" she grumbled.
"I'm a working man, you know. They need me over at our house to get the main waterway connections started."
"Blast. I should get online, too. I've a business to run."
The days soon settled into a routine. They worked during the day, made friends with the other victims of the suit malfunction during the evening and went home at night. Life was comfortable and starting to become routine. Eventually came the great day that Josh and Bridgette had been waiting for. Everyone in the small colony were there as they took possession of their new home. Josh, who'd been there during the entire construction, commented that it was built like a fortress. This was true, of course, for Bridgette wanted it hurricane proof. The housewarming party lasted in the wee hours of the next day.
Josh and Bridgette took the next few days to get their house settled as much as possible and then it was back to the regular routine of plumbing and business again. Bridgette discovered some of the other victims had useful skills that she could make use of and soon hired them. Mermaid Bath Products soon had a staff of mermaids to match its owner. Bridgette found the entire affair amusing.
That evening, Bridgette came to the realization that, although she and Josh had fooled around a bit, she'd never let him get very far. Of course, she loved him and knew he loved her. That evening, she used all her powers of seduction her sexy blue tail to get her sirenophile to bed early. The evening progressed from fun in bed to more serious lovemaking. Josh was completely exhausted by the end of the evening but Bridgette felt something was missing, something she needed.
Once started, of course, it soon became a regular part of their daily activities. Either she or Josh would start the seduction process after supper. It would progress from hand holding while watching something on their wide screen TV to kissing either in the water or on a sofa. Eventually, it would lead to the two of them on Josh's bed. Sometimes she'd end up on top, sometimes it would be him. The tail, of course, limited the positions they could try but it was always good fun. The hurricane season was soon on them and Bridgette rounded the entire colony up. They spent the time of hurricane Vanessa's transit over the colony safely inside her fortress. Though the winds howled outside, they were barely heard inside. Once the hurricane had passed, the non-merfolk began the cleanup process above the water, while the rest began the process of clearing the waterways. It took several days to get things cleared up and several of the couples in the colony ended up camping in the fortress until their homes could be repaired.
One evening, Bridgette realized what had been missing in their lovemaking. She was a mermaid! She wanted to make love underwater not on a bed! When she broached the subject with Josh, he was reluctant at first. It took several days before he'd try it. It was, of course, a disaster. It was great for her because she could stay underwater but sex is strenuous exercise. He ran out of air far too quickly and, in the end, they decided to switch back to the bed.
The next day, Bridgette phoned her BSI company contract.
"Good morning, Helena," Bridgette began.
"I've something of a special request."
"What can I do for you?"
"Josh and I tried something last night that didn't quite work out."
"I'm all ears."
"Underwater sex. He near on drowned. Can you folks build him a gill rig like mine?"
"It'll take a few weeks. Be easier to fit him with a merman suit."
"He's not into that kind of thing just yet. Sex with a mermaid is great, sex as a mermaid ... not yet."
"I'll see what our guys in design can come up with. Maybe they can create just a top or something."
"I'll pay for it, of course."
"After saving everyone's butts in that storm, I think the company owes you. Let me get on this. I'll phone you back when I know a bit more."
"Any time. We'll talk to you in a bit."
The suit, it turned out, wasn't much of an adaptation on several other products BSI was marketing. In fact, it was little more than an adaptation of a component that was used in their other creations. It arrived a day or so later and Bridgette was anxious to try it out. Even with all her powers of seduction, though, Josh was reluctant to try sex in the water again. It took several days before she was able to convince him to give it a try.
That evening, he put on his gill suit and joined her in the water. It was fun playing chase and tag in the water. The fun was soon in more earnest as it was apparent he was rising to the occasion. She, however, wanted more. She teased him unmercifully and lead him from their house down to the open water. She wanted to make love on the reef. Josh, by this point, was so aroused he'd do just about anything. Unfortunately, they soon ran up against a problem.
Lovemaking, floating weightless in the water, proved more difficult than they'd assumed. Josh's thrusts, though powerful and in earnest, had little effect when the target of his desire kept floating backwards in the water. Try as he might, he couldn't find a position that would keep them together. Bridgette could tell he was becoming frustrated and was just about ready to throw in the towel and head for the house herself when she had an inspiration. Her tail! Wrapping her tail between his legs, she placed her powerful fluke against his butt. They soon had the rhythm down solid: she'd push when he pushed. It was glorious! She could control how deep he went by how hard she pushed. Of course, it soon became less of a game and she, too, felt her ardor rising. Deeper and deeper she pushed him until, in a joint burst of ecstasy, she felt him burst inside her. Her own orgasm hit only moments later and soon the paid of them were drifting languorously side-by-side above the reef.
When they got back to the surface, he looked over at her his eyes still wide.
"I've ... never felt ..."
"Me either ... Josh ... me either."
Bridgette felt warm and comfortable floating there and could easily have fallen asleep. Both knew that the reef at night wasn't a place to sleep so reluctantly they made their way back to the house. Josh pulled himself from the water in their bedroom. She could tell he wanted to spend more time with her.
"My bed's wide enough," she smiled at him.
"You sure?" he asked.
"We'll make it wide enough."
He slipped back into the water as an answer. Though the water jet bed wasn't much more than a standard, they managed to sleep curled up in each others arms. The next morning, the pair awoke rested but a bit stiff.
"That was some night!" he smiled at her.
"Intense," she agreed.
"Very," he breathed.
She rolled over on him and kissed him.
"I got you!" she crowed as flipped her tail and dashed to the other side of the room.
"Not fair. You've got a tail," he gave her a mock pout.
"You could go get one, too, any time you want. See you in the kitchen."
Josh took several minutes longer than Bridgette expected. When he arrived in the kitchen, he got them some breakfast and sat cross-legged on the floor beside her waterway. He was clearly mulling something over in his mind and wanted to ask a question. It was also apparent that he was having a great deal of trouble trying to phrase the question.
"Come on," she prodded him. "We've been dating for two years now and sharing space for a year of that. What could be so bad that you can't ask me?"
"It's not bad. I'm ... well, you see ..." he paused. He got up on one knee and, clearly ill at ease, pulled a box from his back pocket. "Will you marry me?" he blurted.
Bridgette's eyes misted over. She loved him but never thought that he'd ever get up the nerve to ask. It was her turn to get a lump in her throat. When she could talk again, she said quietly, "Yes, of course, I will. When?"
"I - uh - don't know. Soon, I hope."
"We could likely arrange something on the reef in a couple of weeks. I doubt I could get around in a bridal gown as a mermaid anyway. Best I could manage is a veil."
"You'll be a beautiful mermaid bride."
"I know. And you'll be the sexiest merman husband around."
The next two weeks went all too quickly. Her veil arrived and had to be weighted so it would flow behind her rather than floating up in the water. Josh decided he'd show up in the top half of a tuxedo and a dolphin tail, too. No one missed the social event of the season, of course. Everyone had a great time and the partying went on until the early morning.
Chapter III A Large Surprise
The real shock came several weeks later. Bridgette started to put on weight. At first, no one noticed or at least said anything. No one could ignore it after six weeks though. Bridgette had begun to develop a huge belly. She was clearly pregnant. Now everyone was expecting an absolutely normal pregnancy, with a normal term and a normal baby at the end of it. To be sure, though, Bridgette and Josh decided to get an ultrasound done.
From the look of concern on the ultrasound technician, though, something was clearly amiss.
"You haven't been taking fertility pills or anything like that?" she asked.
"No, why?" Bridgette frowned.
"The images are really confusing. It's like there's at least two in there, maybe more."
"Twins? No one in my family has ever had twins," Josh beamed.
"Not on my side either," Bridgette tilted her head to one side. "Are you sure?"
"I've not had much experience with multiple births but I think you're having two at least."
"Is there any way we can be sure?"
"Well, I suspect if we wait a bit and do the ultrasound again, we'll be able to be a little more sure. They're really small right now. Maybe three months or so."
"We could rebook the test in four weeks. They'll be much bigger then. Might even be able to tell you the sexes if that interests you?"
Bridgette shook her head yes at the same time Josh was equally vehemently shaking his head no.
"You sure, hon?" she asked him.
"I'd just like to be surprised."
"Okay. I don't mind. Though knowing what to expect would help in picking clothing out."
"Never mind. We'll keep it a surprise then," she was beaming at him. She really didn't mind not knowing.
In the month that followed though, Bridgette's tummy grew alarmingly. From what would be expected at three months, she ballooned out so that, by the end of the month, she looked easily six months pregnant. When she returned for her second test, her increased girth clearly surprised the ultrasound technician.
"This is unbelievable. I've never seen anyone grow this fast," she sputtered as she positioned Bridgette's increasing huge belly near the machine. After she did several scans, she stopped, made some notes and then called for the head of the department. While they waited for the department head to arrive, she repeated the tests again, saving the images for her to look at.
"I'm Dr. Killaris," a young woman stated as she held her hand out to Josh and then Bridgette. "I'm the diagnostics department department head. We've a really strange result here. I'm not quite sure what to make of it," the technician stated.
"Strange?" asked Bridgette concerned.
"Well, the babies are much larger now than they were a month ago."
"That's good," nodded Dr. Killaris. "What's the problem?"
"My estimate was that she was only three months pregnant a month ago. She looks closer to six months now. Something decidedly strange is going on."
"Indeed!" agreed Dr. Killaris.
She brought up the scans of a month ago and compared them with the current ones. The tiny embryos (and it was clear there were three now) had grown at a phenomenal rate. The heads and upper bodies of the developing fetuses were clearly visible. Try as they might, though, no axis of scan would reveal anything of feet or legs. The babies, normal above the waist, clearly had fused legs.
"You're having triplets," she stated. "But there's some kind of deformity. Sirenomelus, by the looks of it."
"And that means in English?" demanded Josh.
"Your babies have no legs. Or they have fused legs. It may be a very difficult time for you. Sirenomelus is very rare and can sometimes be fixed by surgery."
"If it's just muscle tissue that's fused the legs, they can be freed."
"And if not?"
"Well, they'll have to grow up in wheelchairs. Even in today's modern world, the disabled have problems."
"I see," Josh was clearly angry.
"I don't suppose there's any chance they could end up mermaids like me?" asked Bridgette.
"That's very unlikely. The BSI suit just changed how you look. It couldn't have changed your genetics."
"Could I have been pregnant before the suit malfunctioned?"
"You're growing way too fast for that? I'd guess you conceived only a few months back. Your babies will be full size in three or four weeks at most."
"And then what?"
"We'll get you in here, let you have your babies, and then decide what needs done."
"Will there be problems?" Josh was still a little angry.
"I don't think so. There's no indication that you or your triplets are in any distress. But we'll get you in here every few weeks to make sure, of course."
The news, though welcome, wasn't all they'd hoped. The mere fact that the doctor wanted to check things again in two week's time was worrying in itself. Although she'd never admit it to anyone, it worried her when a doctor became too interested in something. It often meant a problem and she hated problems - especially the ones she had no control over. Her belly, over the next two weeks, continued to expand at an alarming rate. By the time came to see the doctor again, she looked nearly eight months pregnant. The doctor repeated the tests and compared the results to the previous ones.
"It's definite," she began. "You do have triplets. They're much bigger now and much better developed. Unfortunately, it is definite. They don't seem to have legs. We'll have to make preparations to do the leg separation surgery as soon as possible."
"Will that really be necessary? After all, I'm a mermaid," Bridgette protested.
"They'll likely have all kinds of problems if we don't separate the legs as quickly as possible. We'll use some of the BSI technology to do it painlessly and safely, of course."
"And when is she due?" asked Josh.
"Well, I'm not completely certain, of course."
"How can you not be certain?"
"This pregnancy isn't going at a normal rate. In a normal pregnancy, we'd still have to wait six months. As it is, she could give birth any time between now and six months from now. I just don't know."
"Is there someone who does?"
"No one I know, I'm afraid. The effect of the beta suit. I can't say. I could get the head of gynecology in here for a consult but he's not dealt with anything like this either."
"I see. So what do we do then?"
"We monitor things. We'll get you back here in two weeks time to see what changes. Maybe we can predict things a little better then."
"Oh. And that's the best you can do?"
"That's all we can do."
They left the doctor feeling somewhat annoyed and definitely more uncertain. Josh, driving the car, said practically nothing until they got home.
"I'll be all right," offered Bridgette. "I really do feel well. It's not as if me or the babies are in any difficulty."
"But not knowing ..."
"So? The babies will come when they come. Babies do that, regardless. You'll run about getting things ready for me and then drive me to the hospital. I'll go into labor like countless generations of women have before me. It's just I'll have three babies to deal with instead of one. That's when the fun will begin."
"Well, you don't think I'll be able to take care of three by myself do you?" she said with mock seriousness.
"No, of course not," he apologized before he looked at the grin on her face. "There's nothing we can do now?"
"We could pack a suitcase so that we're ready to go."
The suitcase they packed was a tiny one. All the usual things packed in such a case didn't matter any longer. In the end, a few bikini tops and a favorite blanket were all that ended up in the valise. Josh calmed somewhat as they packed. At least they were doing something.
Chapter IV Merbabies
Early one morning, Bridgette awakened with a need to go swimming. She decided not to awaken Josh as he'd not been sleeping well of late. She slipped into one of her tops and quietly left the house. She needed the open ocean and decided to swim out to the reef to watch a sunrise. As she swam, she felt a strange fullness in her belly. It definitely wasn't the pain that her mother had described having during labor so she felt safe. Likely that event was months off as the doctor had guessed. Women had been stuck with nine month pregnancies forever. Being only three months in, it was unlikely she'd change the pattern of millennia.
Once on the reef, though, the eastern sky was not what she found herself watching. She felt a need to find something, a special something, but what that something was, she couldn't say. She swam back and forth along the reef hunting, hunting. Rounding one corner of the reef, she knew what she wanted. For there, stretching for miles was a sandy bottom overgrown with kelp and seaweed. Savagely she attacked one section, pulling them up and scattering the small animals that made their home in the uprooted plants. Soon, she had a clear patch of sand roughly two meters across and a partially denuded section somewhat larger. Without thinking, she used her powerful tail to sweep a depression into the sand, piling the displaced sand in a mound around it.
She paused a moment, clear thought coming back to her. 'What am I doing?' she demanded of herself. The urgency, though, returned and she didn't have time to seek an answer. Having created her nest, she propped herself over its center. The fullness shifted downward and she felt a need to push. Within a few moments, a small rounded object appeared in the opening to her vagina. It wasn't the crown of a child's head though. Instead it appeared like some kind of shiny plastic bag. Gingerly she touched it. It gave slightly so it definitely wasn't a child's head. Then the need to push reasserted itself and the object slid out, and floated down into her nest. She only caught sight of the baby completely encased in some kind of transparent bubble before the need to lay hit again. Again and again, the need hit and before a second egg and third egg ended nestled in the depression in the sand.
Bridgette had heard a great deal of the difficulty of childbirth, of the pain and long hours waiting for contractions. This seemed practically painless. Only ten minutes from start to finish and she had three wonderful children -- in eggs -- but children all the same. She looked down at them in their nest and realized that she'd have to guard them. A reef wasn't exactly a safe place while you were in the egg.
Josh discovered her absence three hours later and launched a search. Everyone available took part. The house, the colony, the hospital, everywhere they could think a pregnant woman might go. But to no avail. She'd just up and vanished. Josh, worried, suggested the reef and a group of boats and merfolk headed for the reef. That's where they found her, five hours later, curled protectively around her eggs. BSI's suit designers were totally at a loss to explain how such a thing could happen. After all, the suit wasn't supposed to alter the wearer's genetics.
Josh, though, had other problems. Bridgette refused to leave her nest for anything. Even the offer to relocate them to the safety of the colony was rebuffed. There was something the babies needed here on the reef that they couldn't get anywhere else. Maternal instincts she didn't know she had (and maybe hadn't had before donning the suit) told her that, despite the reef's dangers, this was where they had to remain until they hatched. Josh contented himself with visiting often and bringing food.
Bridgette's vigil lasted far longer than anyone expected. Instead of a few days (which Josh earnestly hoped), Bridgette spent the next month guarding the eggs. During that time the babies absorbed the huge yolk sac they'd started with and developed into perfectly normal looking babies save for the tail. Bluish in color and exactly the same shape as their mother's tail, it was apparent to all that this was no genetic anomaly to be corrected by surgery. These were merbabies not human babies with a defect. The pediatrician that visited on the reef in scuba gear did a cursory examination through the transparent shell and returned to the hospital. There would be no emergency surgery with the fame (however fleeting) of that media event. No, fame of a different sort. When these youngsters hatched, the media (never far from BSI's colony anyway) would have a field day. In some senses, he was glad that they'd have more than a small amount of difficulty getting interviews. Most, thankfully couldn't scuba and none of them could ask questions underwater.
The blessed event took place with unnerving suddenness. No long drawn out affair. Watching them, Bridgette was sure that they went from inside the egg to outside the egg in a jiffy. She couldn't see any delay. With a suddenness no one could prepare her for, they went from peacefully twitching inside their egg to demanding babies and hungry babies at that. She gathered a pair of them to her breasts, which quieted two of them at least and worked to at least get the third close enough to quiet it. Nearly an hour later, Josh arrived. Two babies were quietly lying in their sandy nest and the third was just finishing it's first meal. At first, he could think of nothing to say. He was glad the hatching had gone well and that his new family was apparently healthy (if somewhat tired).
"Are they boys or girls?" he finally asked lamely.
"I haven't had the time to check," Bridgette replied tiredly. "And I've no idea how to check. All three have got a slit instead of genitals."
"No, nothing like that. Just a slit."
"Oh. But boys show don't they?"
"Well usually it's easy. I think we're going to have to get some professional help. I've no way to tell. Once, this one has finished, we need to gather them up and get them home."
"Then we need to call someone."
"Indeed, but who?"
"The public relations guy for sure. And the pediatrician at the hospital. Can we hold off on the relatives until we know what they are and have names for them?"
"Sure. Though as soon as this breaks, I'll bet my parents and yours will be here on the next plane."
"True enough. Though what they'll say about mermaid grandchildren is totally beyond me."
The process of gathering the sleeping children proved remarkably easy. Bridgette insisted that they return to their home underwater and Josh, wisely avoiding that argument, agreed. He'd arrived by boat and ended up towing it back by tying the tow rope around his waist. He carried one sleeping child while Bridgette carried the remaining two. He'd planned the nursery for three normal babies though and had three cribs set up. He'd need to arrange for three water jet cribs as quickly as possible. Bridgette, though, gave up her bed in the meantime and arranged the three so they'd be comfortable.
BSI made the announcement and put on a big show of arranging the cribs. The manufacturer of the water jet beds quickly adapted on of their units to hold three children by attaching strong plastic frames. Bridgette thanked them all but even she could tell that the cribs wouldn't hold the kids for long. They, like most cribs for normal children, had open tops.
Two hours later, the pediatrician arrived. She'd had to fight her way through the media scrum outside and looked exhausted and annoyed by the time she made it through.
"Same stupid questions all the time," she shook her head. "And I haven't even been inside to find out the answers."
"'Boys or girls? What are their names?' You'd think they had something better to do than ask stupid questions."
"I think some of them majored in stupid questions at college," Josh grinned.
"You're probably right. So let's get at to the task at hand."
"They're still asleep," he told her.
"Just as well. Though that might not last long with what I've got to do."
One by one, she carefully measured them, weighted them and then set to the task of sexing them. As the parents had noticed out on the reef, there weren't any obvious signs just the belly slits.
"Well," she stated as she pulled herself out of the water. "They're definitely healthy."
"Well, I'm going to have to feel around a bit near the slit to figure out their sex. I can't tell by looking."
"Okay," Bridgette frowned. "They're still asleep now. I suspect that now would be the best time."
"I suspect so."
She slipped back into the water and one by one felt around the slit. She pulled a handful of tags from her pocket and selected a pink one. The child soon sported a pink band on its wrist. Popping her head up for a breath, she handed the child to Bridgette
"She's a girl," she stated. "Now for the next one."
Once more she dove down to the crib below. She wondered at how this kind of fame (or would it be notoriety) would affect her practice. Aw well, she had a task to do. The next one received a blue tag on its wrist and this one, too, was handed to Bridgette. Josh, who'd been kneeling at the water way's edge, slipped into the water himself to receive the third one, also a boy.
"Well," the doctor announced. "That's that."
"Thanks, Katrin," Bridgette said smiling. "I couldn't tell out on the reef. How did you tell?"
"Your little guys have testicles just under the surface of the skin. The girl doesn't."
"Oh!" was all Josh could think to say. "They'll descend right?"
"Well, I don't rightly know. Dolphin males keep theirs inside as do most fish. We'll just have to wait and see."
"Okay," he was clearly ill at ease with that pronouncement but brightened as he decided to accept it. If there were problems later on, they could deal with them then.
"You'd best name them and get out to those sharks circling out there. They'll not stay outside too much longer, I imagine. Mind if I announce the sexes? It may be the only way I get out of here intact."
"Go ahead, Doc," Bridgette smiled.
The pediatrician hauled herself from the water again and made her way to the nearby bathroom to change into her street clothes. Josh, still carrying the second boy, saw her to the door. It was definitely going to be a long day. No sooner did he open the door though than did a half dozen microphones get pushed inside. The publicity representative from BSI quickly pushed them back with the announcement of a press conference in an hour.
Mom and babies were on display an hour later in a glass travel tank. Josh stood off to one side clearly annoyed by all the activity. His mother had phoned to make sure that Bridgette got plenty of rest after giving birth. This clearly was nothing like rest. The press conference was limited to only a few minutes, however. Most of the information was given out in the form of a typed press release. Then Bridgette and the babies disappeared into one of the waterway accesses and headed back to the house. Josh wished he could get away so easily. The BSI representative tapped him on the shoulder.
"Envying their quick escape?" he asked.
"Yes," Josh admitted. "I hate these things. Same dumb questions that are all answered in the handout. Why bother asking what you already have answers to?"
"Sound bites for TV news. They're pissed that she got away without saying anything."
"I wish I had a tail and could dash, too."
"It can be arranged. We've one in your size in the truck behind the building. It's parked over one of the waterways."
"You need to be with her not here with these sharks. That's my job."
Josh retreated into the building and then to the truck. Quickly donning the tail, slipped into the waterway and sped as fast as the unfamiliar tail allowed to his house. There he found Bridgette packing things for what was clearly a hasty retreat.
"Nice tail, honey," she noted. "BSI's got a secure site off shore they want us to get to. Mermaid tails are one thing. Even permanent ones due to untested betas can be forgiven. But mermaid children ... they're afraid of the repercussions."
"I believe it. So we just bug out until all this blows over?"
"That's the plan. The media sharks will be all over this place in an hour or so once they discover that we're here. Bill from PR says it's best we get out before then. They don't want too much stress on the babies."
"Or us maybe?"
"That too. You need to come, too."
"I'm planning on it. I'll pack just a few things but stay in tail until it's safe to come back. I imagine it'll be harder for them to track us down underwater than anywhere else. Most of those twits look like they swim as well as a brick floats."
"I hope you're right," she snapped the valise shut on her tops and began packing the carry packs for the babies. "The guys over at BSI have build baby packs for us so that we can keep them under control while we make the dash to the sub and then to the island."
"Surface ship is too obvious so they've hired a sightseeing sub from one of the locals for a huge sum of money."
"Real cloak-and-dagger getaway then."
As it turned out, getting the three kids safely stowed in the back and tummy packs proved harder than getting to the sub once they were safely stowed. The sub had a dive port that gave them access without the sub needing to surface. Three hours later, they arrived at a small island with a smaller building on it.
"We stay in that thing?" Josh was concerned.
"No, there's a cave system offshore. They rigged a small power system. We should be comfortable for at least three weeks until this whole thing dies down to a manageable level."
The camping trip was the stuff of nightmares. Despite the early quiet of the babies as they absorbed the last of their yolk sac, once the yolk was gone they demanded ever increasing amounts of milk from Bridgette. There was many a time she wish for a third breast and arm to handle the last mouth. When they were on the breasts, they were quiet. Off the breast, they were far more active than any child of but a few days old. Swimming came natural to them and they were soon as good at swimming as Josh was. Oft times, it became necessary to rig a net across the exit to keep the three where it was safe.
Eventually, the media storm blew over. BSI's stock's took a minor hit because of the beta but video statements from Bridgette assuring everyone that she chose to stay a mermaid soon had things back to rights. Although they were occasionally bothered by a particularly nosy news hound with nothing better to do, eventually things returned to normal in their household. Jeff took to wearing his tail more and more and eventually only removed it for work. The babies were named Marina, Vince and Thomas and were soon active toddlers playing with each other and their parents.