I saw the color drain from Riley's face. She looked terrified. I guess her childhood phobia was more serious than I thought. Her breathing was all over the place as she paced the floor, and if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say she was having a panic attack.
Instinctively, I reached over and pulled her against me. She was so much smaller than me, she barely reached my shoulders. I buried my face into her soft red hair, stroking her back while she sobbed.
She mumbled against my chest. “I’m sorry, I feel so fucking stupid. I don't usually cry like this.”
Why apologize for crying? Didn't she know that it's alright to be scared?
“Shh, it's alright. We don’t have to go. I’m not going to force you to,” I reassured.
Riley pulled back and looked up at me. Her tear-soaked face making her skin look paler than before, almost translucent.
“No.” She flattened her palms out on my chest. “I have to. I don’t want to." She widened her eyes and gave a small pained laugh. “I’ve got to. Besides, having you with me means that it won’t be as bad.”
Is she saying that she feels safer with me around?
I held the sides of her face in my large hands. She looked like a fragile porcelain doll, a cute one, not like one of those creepy-ass ones my sister used to collect. Those things followed me with their eyes whenever I went snooping in her room.
I brushed her tears away with my thumbs and instinctively bent down to kiss her. She wrapped her arms around my neck. It wasn’t comfortable for me to hunch over like that so I picked her up and walked her into the kitchen, placing her onto the counter, not once breaking the kiss.
“Axel?” Riley snatched herself away from me. “I don’t want to wait. I think we should just go get it over with.” Her blue eyes darted between mine.
“Thanks a lot.” I rolled my eyes with a chortle.
She huffed, softly. “You know what I mean.”
I narrowed my eyes, pretending to be offended. Then I watched how her shoulders slumped and her brows knitted together, all concerned that she’d said the wrong thing and upset me. She was so easy to wind up. Spending years all alone out here didn’t exactly improve my social skills.
“I’m kidding.” I caved in at the sight of her big blue teary eyes.
Riley gave me a look to suggest she was pissed off with me goofing around. I could hear her pulse pounding as her blood raced around her body. Her nostrils flared with each huff. Arms folded tightly in front of her chest and her lips all scrunched up.
“Do you have any idea how fucking sexy you are, right now? Looking all indignant and mad at me. God, the hormones you’re throwing off is going to be the death of me.” I leaned against the opposite kitchen counter, mirroring her stance. My eyes narrowed with amusement, head canted to the side along with my signature smirk playing on my face.
Her expression softened.
“You’re safe with me, Riley. I swear on my life,” I told her.
I could see the trust settling in her eyes, then she nodded.
“Okay.” She held out her hand. “Let's go before I change my mind.”
I clung to Axel as we walked through the woods. He was taking me to some sort of mating ground where all bear shifters take their mates to form the bond. Thankfully it was broad daylight as we ventured through the woods. Axel brought along some camping equipment. He said he had plans to make this like a special romantic getaway and that we could look back on with nothing but fond memories.
We walked for around an hour with me pressed against Axel's side the entire time. Both of us were talking about our families, sharing stories. He succeeded in taking my mind off the fact that I was doing something that would normally scare me shitless.
“Then she said. 'Axel, if you fall out of that tree and break both your legs, don’t come running to me!'” He chuckled as he finished telling me a story from his childhood.
I erupted into a fit of giggles. “Your mom sounds awesome. If that was my mom—no wait, that wouldn’t have been my mom because I was raised by the nanny.”
“You must have some fond memories of when you were growing up?” Axel scrunched his brows.
I thought for a minute. “I do. I remember one Christmas Eve, I thought I heard sleigh bells on the roof. So I ran into my parent's room and they weren’t there. The alarm clock seemed to be stuck on twelve minutes past midnight. I crept downstairs and found my parents putting all my gifts under the tree. Dad knocked back the brandy that I’d left in the glass, and Mom took a bite from the mince pie, even though she hated them.”
I looked up and saw him smiling slightly. “It was at that moment when I realized that Santa wasn’t real. But also it made me realize that my parents did all that just to make me believe that he was. Those were the good ole' days when they actually worked as a team. I miss that.” I wiped a stray tear from my eye.
Axel kissed the top of my head as we walked. “That’ll be us one day. Playing Santa and the Tooth Fairy. I can’t wait.”
We chatted about everything. From what our favorite TV show was, right down to what got on our nerves the most. Before we knew it, we’d arrived. He had brought me to a lake with a waterfall.
“Here we are.” Axel dropped the rucksack he was carrying onto the ground. The sun had well and truly set by now, and the only light source came from the glowing full moon.
“You stay right here. I’m going to catch us supper.” Axel shucked his jeans and pulled his t-shirt over his head. By the time he’d got down on all fours, he’d transformed into a bear.
The moon shone down illuminating everything around us in blue. The lake was as still as glass, mirroring the image of the moon and the outline of Axel’s bear form as he stood proud, fishing from a rock. A gentle breeze lifted my hair off my shoulders and I took the first slow steps toward my bear.
He was mine. All for me.
I watched his magnificent movements with fierce pride. How his huge paws swatted the water, catching fish after fish, picking them up in his powerful jaws and tossing them down onto the embankment. They flipped and flapped around, gasping for water until they stilled.
I pulled off my boots, peeled off the shirt he’d given me and cast it aside. I stepped out of my cut-off shorts and kicked them over to where my shirt and boots were. I stood at the edge of the water in my full naked glory with my toes sinking into the sand.
I looked over to the left of me. Axel stopped fishing and turned to watch me. His ears pricked to full alert, then he turned and pawed at the lake again. The lake rippled with each disturbance in the water.
Axel shook his fur, ridding himself of the water and growled. I turned my attention towards the far side of the lake, admiring the waterfall with awe. It was beautiful, all illuminated in the moonlight, looking a bluish-silver color as it crashed down along the rocks, then turned white as it churned at the bottom.
I saw my reflection in the soft rippling waters, seeing myself as Axel saw me.
My skin gleamed white, contrasting with my red hair that cascaded down my back, blowing slightly in the breeze. My breasts rose and fell with each intake of breath. My nipples pebbled, forming stiffened peaks. The cool gentle breeze covering my skin with gooseflesh.
I dipped a toe into the water, causing me to shudder at the cool temperature. The lake was shallow enough to wade through from where I stood, and I bet I could walk with ease all the way over to the opposite side. I could see the darkened areas further along where it deepened. The water was cool but not cold. Not unbearable. I felt confident enough that I could swim comfortably without running the risk of getting hyperthermia.
I wrapped my hair behind my head in a makeshift knot and walked in up to my knees. Axel growled. I could see his shimmering reflection before me. I took a breath and made a shallow dive into the water. The startling coolness on my skin caused me to gasp and my body to tense. I managed to swim to the rocks where Axel stood and tread water in front of him.
He sat back on the rock and watched me. I felt like a water nymph as I floated naked before him. He watched with predatory eyes as I kicked backward and floated on my back, letting my long red hair drift around me.
Axel clawed at the rocks again, scratching grooves into the stone and reared back on his hind legs. Unable to sit back and watch any longer. His fur rippled and receded. There was the snapping sound of bones contorting, then he stood before me again but this time as a man.
My naked and glorious man. Beads of sweat coated his skin and it glistened in the moonlight. His engorged appendage stood bolt upright with a short thatch of blonde curls around it.
The muscles of his thighs rippled as he took a step back then launched himself forward into a dive, straight in at the deep end. He disappeared under the water for longer than I thought normal. Panic took over me, turning around in a frantic search and scanning the waterline.
“Axel! Axel! Where are you?” I called out.
I squealed as I felt a hand grip my ankle and flung myself backward with a splash. Axel emerged alongside me with a whoosh of water, grinning wildly and clearing his vision. He shook the water from his hair and swam in front of me, his blonde hair dripping over his forehead. My heart fluttered as his blue eyes met with mine.
“Riley, we can’t use protection during the mating ritual. Are you alright with that?” Axel asked.
I nodded. “It's alright. Will I get pregnant though?” I asked, cautiously.
I wasn't sure I was ready to take that giant step.
“We can usually scent when our mates are at their most fertile. You’re not yet, so the chances of getting pregnant are highly unlikely,” Axel explained.
He wrapped his arms around me and drew me to him tightly. He crashed his lips against mine and kissed me with what words could only describe as raw, primal and fervent. He lifted me, wrapping my legs around his waist and brought me down, sheathing himself to the root inside me with one nimble movement that made me gasp with the sheer thrill of it.
Axel kept his arms around my waist as he kicked back through the water. I wrapped my legs around him, clenching my pussy tight to keep myself well seated. He was huge, hard, and filled me completely. My body shivered with the twin sensations of Axel’s throbbing hot cock inside me and the swirling cool water surrounding us.
Then before I knew it, he had us back onto the shore. As he walked us out of the water, I managed to keep my legs wrapped around him tightly as he laid me down onto the wet sand.
“Make love to me,” I whispered, my teeth chattering with the cool night air on my wet skin.
Axel’s eyes blazed. His white teeth nearly glowed in the moonlight as he began to pump and thrust into me, slow and steady. He spread my legs wide with his huge muscular hips. He was hard and hot, my pussy clenched and shuddered as he set the rhythm he needed.
“I love you, Riley,” Axel whispered, as he trailed his lips along the curve of my neck.
Those words shook me to my core. I’d never been in love before, but I knew one thing, when I was with Axel, I felt more alive than I’d ever felt in all my life. I needed him like I needed air to breathe. There would be nothing that I wouldn’t give up for him. Fuck the money. Fuck the family business. My inheritance. All of it. There was only one thing I cared about most in this world, and that was Axel Thorne.
My eyes stung with unshed tears, my throat and my chest burned. But not because I felt sad. No. This was the happiest moment of my life. Gazing down at me with his gorgeous blue eyes was a man who loved me—as in really loved me. And that feeling I got as soon as he told me made my heart swell. That feeling alone, you couldn’t put a price on.
“And I'm falling in love with you,” I replied.
I gasped as he raised my wrists in one hand, placing them over my head, pinning me against the ground. I lay spread open before him as he rocked into me with powerful thrusts. Our breaths ragged, grunting, moaning and crying out with pleasure.
“What have you done to me, Riley?” He said, through each punishing thrust. “I can’t get enough of you. Do you know that? I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I can’t breathe unless you’re with me like this. I need you, Riley, always and forever. I want you to have my cubs.”
“I want that,” I gasped, wrapping my legs around him. “Don’t stop. Oh God, Axel, don’t stop.” I could feel my pulse pounding in my wrists as he pinned me. His body heated mine. With each thrust of his cock, I felt myself open even wider. I bit my lip to contain the sensation.
“Babe, scream as loud as you want,” Axel said, breathlessly. “There’s no one around.”
“Yes! Don’t stop!” I cried as his pace quickened. Axel let go of my wrists and planted his hands either side of me on the wet sand. I clawed at his broad muscular back to brace myself as he kept up his driving rhythm.
His blue eyes changed color to onyx black and I knew he struggled to keep his bear contained. A part of me wanted him to let it go and give it to me. I wanted the bear, just as much as I wanted the man.
“Mark me,” I panted. “I want it, Axel. All of it. All of you. I want to be with you.” And it was true. This was my life now, Axel and me.
The harder we fucked, the more I wanted. I clawed at Axel’s back and thrust my hips upward as he pressed his hands against the ground. Axel leaned down and took my nipple between his teeth. He pulled back as he sucked, letting it go with a pop.
“Yes. Axel. Oh, God. Just like that!” I screamed. I wanted it rough. I wanted him to fuck me, dominate me and make me all his.
He pulled himself out, leaving me with the feeling of being empty. He grabbed my ankles and flipped me over jerking me up on to my knees, then forcing me down to all fours. My pussy was on fire and dripping for him. Oh my God! Axel had turned into a ravenous sexual beast! Oozing confidence and owning it.
My legs quivered in anticipation as he lined himself up to enter me again. He put a hand between my shoulder blades and pushed me down, right down so that my chin was a mere inch away from the ground, angling my ass high for him. He got one knee between my legs and forced me to spread them even wider. The sand moved along with my knees.
“Please!” I gasped again. “Give it to me. Fuck me! Please!” Axel gripped my hips, holding me into position.
My pussy pulsed, waiting to be filled again. He got a scream out of me as he rooted his cock deep inside my high angled pussy.
He buried his cock deep inside me, placing a hand on my shoulder and another holding my waist. I craned my head round to see him. He still looked like Axel but much more primal. His skin rippled and his cock seemed to grow larger inside me. Applying further pressure to my already soaked and stretched walls.
Axel picked up his pace as he rooted himself deep with each thrust. He let go of my hip and reached around, sliding his fingers over my throbbing clit. I cried out from the pleasure of it. Axel growled with satisfaction. A deep rumbling growl that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.
I screamed, giving in to it. I was having the most powerful orgasm ever. I was shameless, wanton, greedy and begging for it. My back arched, my breasts swung wildly and my teeth rattled in my head. Yet I still begged Axel to go even faster. I belonged to Axel. He filled my body as well as my mind.
“Yes!” I cried out.
I couldn’t control myself another second. I came hard and fast, my orgasm tearing through me. I screamed through it, rearing backward. Axel showed me no mercy. Instinct took over and offered him my exposed neck, moving my hair to one side.
Axel let out an almighty roar and pulled my back against his chest. Pleasure and pain engulfed me as his teeth pierced through my skin. Right in the hollow of my neck. Axel's cock jerked five or six times as he filled me with hot pulsating jets of semen. He gave one last deep thrust and I felt his seed shoot straight up into me as my orgasm crested down.
When he was through, Axel helped me stand and turned me to face him. He whispered my name as he lifted me in his arms and carried me back to the lake where he washed us both. He lapped and kissed the wound on my neck. The pain I felt initially ebbed away. Now when he pressed his lips there, heat enveloped me and warmed me from the inside out.
The fur that coated Axel's body began to recede, leaving behind glistening skin. “Have you ever eaten food that’s been cooked on an open fire?”
I shook my head. “No. I’ve never so much as been camping before.” I replied in all honesty.
Axel mumbled something along the lines of ‘Humph! You’ve never lived!’
He managed to get a campfire going within minutes. We had to get off the beach and find a clearing where we could pitch the tent. I couldn’t see past the end of my own nose. Luckily, Axel could.
He cooked us the fish he’d caught. Expertly removing the bones with a single sweep of a hunting knife.
“This tastes so good,” I spoke with my mouth full.
Axel raised his brows as he spoke pleasantly. “See, it's not so bad being out in the woods, is it?”
“Only because you’re with me. I feel safe with you,” I confessed.
His chuckle was sexy, husky and with a hint of amusement. “Don’t worry, baby, I’ll save you from the Blair Witch.”
I swatted his arm. “Jackass!” I grinned.
“You said you were falling for me.” His eyes blazed with pride, captivating me as I gazed back into them.
He squeezed my knee with his large hand, gazing at him like a loved up teenager.
“I am,” I admitted.
I think it had surpassed the falling stage. I had fallen hook, line, and sinker.
“Well, we should get some sleep because tomorrow I’m going to take you somewhere.” His voice was as smooth as velvet as he gazed at me lovingly in the crackling firelight.
I canted my head with curiosity. “Where to?”
Axel stood up and unzipped the tent, holding the panel to one side for me to crawl in. “To meet my parents,” he replied.