Kemena stopped along the side of the mountain road and took in the view of Landeck, Austria, and the Inn valley, situation about eight hundred feet below. Penny and she had been hiking up the road for about an hour after being dropped off by a drive, who said he’d come and pick them up when they called. And it was a good day for a hike, with the sky clear and temperatures in the low 80s that still made the mountain air feel just a touch cooler than the same temperature would feel back home.
She looked back down the road at her hiking partner who was still about fifty feet away. “Come on, Ariel.”
Penny stopped and exhaled hard. “I wish you wouldn’t call me that.”
“Well, it would be easier not to if your mother’s genes didn’t decide to take over your hair.”
Penny looked up at the locks hanging in her face. “True that.” In the last five years since they married, Penny’s hair had begun turning from the dirty blond she’d had as a child into a luxurious mane of cascading red locks. Leigh told daughter during last year’s visit to the pod that this sometimes happened and there was little anyone could do.
As Kemena had also remarked on a few occasions, the red hair made Penny’s gray eyes look that much more incredible as well as imposing—and also a lot more alluring.
Penny finally pulled alongside her wife and turned her gaze out upon the valley below. After a suitable amount of time she sighed. “That is so beautiful.”
“It is, isn’t it?” Kemena gave Penny a kiss on the cheek. “Thank you for bringing me here, my darling.”
Penny shrugged as she wrapped an arm around Kemena’s waist. “Last couple years we went to the Bahamas and to the Keys, so since you been asking to go the mountains for a while, I figured this would be a good place to spend our fifth anniversary.”
This was something that Kemena loved greatly, that Penny had made arrangements nearly a year before so they could spend a vacation in the Alps, and that in three days time they would be having an anniversary dinner in Vienna before going to the opera.
It was all part of the Grand Adventure…
Since marrying Penny had never given the slightest hint that she was interested in anyone else, nor that she ever wanted to return to the pod. Kemena was aware that another five to ten years from now they could be a different story, but she didn’t believe that to be true. Penny was dedicated to her and loved her tremendously, so she felt no fear that The Calling would take her love from her.
She wasn’t even concerned with the six-week visits Penny spent every summer at the pod. She understood the need: her mother and family lived there, as well as a few of her mermaid friends, so every June she traveled to the Oregon coast with her wife to see her off, and would be there with a rented boat to pick her up when it was time to come home.
And while she was aware of the possibility that Penny might decide to bond with one of her friends while visiting the pod, she didn’t consider it important. Any it explained again and again how mermaids were not monogamous, and that if someone wants to bond with you it’s an indication that they love you more deeply than they love the other members of the pod. Kemena knew that Singing Nymph and Curious Squid loved her wife tremendously and given that neither of those mermaids would ever come to Albuquerque and tried to take her wife away, she was of the opinion that what happened in the pod could surely stay in the pod.
All this knowledge meant Kemena was secure in her relationship with Penny. She knew her wife loved her, and she loved her little mermaid dearly.
Kemena leaned in to Penny. “Can we just sit here for a while and look at this? I want to remember this moment.”
“Sure, why not?” Penny led her wife to the edge of the road where they found a large rock to sit upon. They held hands as they sat and gazed upon the splendor before them. “It’s not like were going anywhere soon…”