“I don’t know what I’m doing.” She finally claimed, throwing her hands in the air and for the first time since we’d reached the cabin, stopped pacing like a panther.
“Of course you don’t. I hope you don’t.”
“I’ve only ever kissed one other guy besides you. And he certainly wasn’t looking for me to bite him on his…”
I made no attempt to hide my smile. “His what? Come on give me some clue.”
She froze in front of me. “You’re enjoying this? You are, aren’t you?”
I took her waist in my hands the way I had when we’d first met and dragged her hips against mine. “I’m not enjoying seeing you like this—no. Am I enjoying having my female to myself? Absolutely.”
Circumventing her mouth, I brushed my lips on her neck, just under her soft earlobe. It ended her ranting and raving and in their place blossomed her growing love.
“I can’t think when you do that.” She choked on the words.
“That’s the problem. You’re thinking about this too much. Let nature take its course. We were made for this. We were made for each other.”
Her breath hitched as I moved further down, across her collar bone.
“Your hip.” She croaked out. I’d heard her loud and clear, but I wanted to hear it again.
Plus, I loved to torture her.
“Your hip. She chose your hip”
Skittering my lips north, they landed on her ear so I could make her shiver. “You chose my hip, love. Say it.”
She shook her head.
“Say the words, Dahlia. There’s no embarrassment here. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s just you and me.”
Squaring off her shoulders, she gathered her bravery. Her walls reinforced themselves.
“I chose your hip. The second time we shifted together. That’s where I want your mark. And that’s where I want you to bite me.’
A little nudge and my girl flipped her courage on like a switch.
“It’s your call. You tell me when you’re ready. I feel like I’ve been ready for years, but it’s your choice, love.”
“Are you just saying that or do you mean it?”
I knew that calling her love would become an issue sooner or later. I wanted it to become an issue. I wanted her to ask.
Creator above, let her ask the question.
“Do I mean what?”
“You call me love. You can’t love me already. You don’t even know me.”
A laugh rumbled through me. I knew her. She just didn’t know it.
“I know you. I know that only a female of worth cares about her family as much as you do. I know that you treat my mother with the utmost respect. I know that your sisters look up to you and your father is hesitant to let his little girl go. All of those things make me know you. I might not know the little things, but I know you. I know your soul. And that’s enough for now. It’s enough to know that I love you and I’m not afraid to say it.”
“I’m afraid to say it. But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel it. You can hear her. Your bear can hear its mate, right? You know how we feel.”
Taking her face in my hands, I paused before covering her lips with mine again. “I know you love me. Take your time in saying the words, but I know you love me and that’s plenty enough for me.”
I didn’t allow her to answer. This time wasn’t like the others. She was sure of what I was offering, my complete and unfiltered love through that kiss. Nudging her lips open with my own, I began a slow torture that was enough to lull us both into oblivion.
With her hands on my chest, she gently pushed back from it, taking a second to recover.
I loved that she had to recover from me.
“I’m ready. I have to do this now before I lose my courage.”
“Okay. I’m taking my pants off, but that’s it.”
“I had to pick that spot, huh?”
“Yeah, you did. You might thank yourself on the night of our mating ceremony.”
I held her gaze and never let it go while I disrobed in front of my mate. It wasn’t a big deal for me. We shifters stripped in front of each other all the time to turn into bears, but Dahlia wasn’t used to that kind of life.
“Shit.” Her hands were shaking and I had to take a second to calm her once again. “I don’t know the effing words.”
“Hey, just speak from the heart.”
She whooshed out a breath that held the world on its shoulders.
“Reach down deep, Dahlia. Close your eyes and let your bear take over. She knows the words that you want to say. Let her take over.”
I watched the transition happen before me. She closed her eyes slowly. Her shoulders relaxed at once and the tension lines on her face diminished.
And when she opened her eyes again, the glitter in her stare was purely her bear looking back at me. She and her bear were the same. We often referred to them as two different entities, but really, in the core of things, they were the same soul, torn between two very different bodies.
Like the sky that was pulled between night and day.
“I am yours, Tarrow. And you are mine. I place this mark on you to signify our eternal bond and the promise that one day we will be mated. You love me, right? Tell me please.”
“I love you Dahlia, heart and soul, I love you.”
“Then accept my mark as my love for you.”
She bent down and before I could process what was going to happen, teeth broke through skin and only stopped when they hit bone. The pain lasted only seconds and the joy of her mark triumphed any lingering agony.
She raised up and wiped away the trickle of blood from the side of her mouth. She had a skirt on and I wouldn’t propose she take it off, I would just pull it down as much as I needed to.
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