“Real? All those “dreams” weren’t dreams, they were real?” Cara thought to herself. “All the touches, the kisses, the love bites she’d given him? ALL of those were real!”
She swallowed hard, her heart pounding. She was almost hyperventilating with embarrassment at the things she’d done because everyone knows you can do anything you want in dreams!
Wamblee moved closer to her, reaching out his hand to caress her cheek.
At the touch of his hand, her heart calmed instantly, as if by magic.
“As soon as I changed forms that day in the woods, I knew you were mine,” Wamblee explained. “I needed to strengthen our soul-bond though because at that time I was the only one who could feel it. Touch is the quickest way to strengthen it. So, I needed to spend time with you, touching you. I needed you to feel the soul-bond before I could admit to what I am, otherwise you would never have accepted it, accepted me.”
“Why make me think I was dreaming though? Why not just…”
“Touch you in public? At work perhaps?” He asked. “Because I thought it would be easier on you Cara. You are a very shy person, would you have accepted me coming right out and suddenly touching you all of the time, because that’s what I wanted to do.”
“I don’t know…” she whispered.
“I do, you would have run from it,” he said. “I was there when Ramona teased you about meeting your boyfriend for lunch, I saw your reaction, how much it flustered you to have someone pry into your private life. Think how much more they would have teased if I had come up to you every time I was in the same room with you and kissed you, or held your hand, or wrapped my arms around you and nuzzled at your neck everyday day? That is what I longed to do Cara, but I couldn’t. So, instead, I came to you at night and loved you the way I couldn’t during the day,” he concluded. Then he added, “I don’t regret it.”
“I don’t either Wamblee,” Cara whispered. Then, clearing her throat she asked, “The soul-bond?”
“The soulmate bond that every shifter feels. It is what helps us find our soulmate and know without a doubt who they are,” he further explained.
“So…it really was real,” she whispered. He’d said it was, yet she still felt the need to have him clarify it. “All of it was real, even the times in my room?”
He nodded, and she huffed out a heavy breath.
“That does explain why my sheets and pillows always smelled of you,” she whispered. “Your scent is so addictive, and it seemed as if my room was filled with it. I would wake up and expect you to be with me,” her face reddened even more, “wanted you to be with me. I didn’t understand the feeling, yet with every “dream” I had of you, the feeling grew stronger.”
He cupped her cheek in his hand and leaned in. “Don’t be embarrassed, it is a normal feeling to have as the soul-bond strengthens. I love you, and I love the way you are so passionate when we touch. I struggled to leave you, always wanting more. I’m glad you felt the same, even if you didn’t understand why.”
“You love me, truly?”
“Truly. I would not have done any of those things with you if I didn’t,” he told her, his voice filled with emotion. “Cara, you make me feel so much…”
“Kiss me,” she interrupted him to beg. She needed his touch, needed to feel his love now.
Wamblee moved over to straddle her legs, moving closer. Then he cupped her cheeks in his hands and gave her a scorching kiss she felt all the way to her toes.
The feelings that moved through her, had her hands tangling in his long hair and a moan rising from deep within her. When he pulled back, she whimpered, her eyes fluttering open to gaze into his.
“Cara, I want you, badly. I want to make you mine, claim you in the way of the shifter. I want to keep you with me and never let you go again, but I’m not sure you’re ready for that yet,” he told her.
She searched his eyes, before asking, “What do you mean “claim me in the way of the shifter”?”
His hand continued to caress her cheek, making it hard for her to focus.
“When a shifter meets their soulmate, the bonding must be completed. It is believed that we are born with only half our soul, the other half is given to our soulmate. So, the bonding is when a marking and a vow is given, which will bind the two halves together as one. Once this is done, the two are considered married in the eyes of the supernatural. It is said, that the only way to break this bond is by death. If a shifter loses his soulmate, they also die, because they can no longer live with only half their soul.”
“Oh, so a vow…like marriage vows?” she asked him, just to clarify.
He nodded. “Yes, to me that is what it would be. Once I have given you my vow, in my eyes, you will be my wife as well as my mate.”
“O-Okay, and the marking? What exactly is that?” she asked then.
“Every marking is different for each kind of shifter. Most shifters give a bite to the neck which leaves a bite looking mark behind,” he explained.
“Um…but eagles don’t have teeth, just a really wicked looking beak!”
Wamblee chuckled. “That is true.”
“So…are you going to peck at my neck or…something?”
“No, winyan (woman, pronounced: wee-yah)! I am not going to peck at your neck,” he said as he continued to chuckle. “I’m just going to…” he stopped and frowned, staring into space. “Well, that sounds even worse when I think about it.”
She cocked her head. “Do I even want to know?”
He returned his gaze to her. “Well, I will have to mark you, for the bonding to be complete. I just never really thought about how it would work if my soulmate was human. My father told me long ago how he marked my mother, but they are both eagle, so it was done in eagle form.”
“But…since I’m human?”
“Because you are human, your marking will be different,” he answered gruffly.
Then he sighed before getting up and quickly dressing. Once he was finished, he pulled her up onto the couch and sat next to him and pulled her into his arms, holding her tightly.
“Cara, I will have to use my claws as part of the marking process and I fear it might hurt, but I don’t actually know,” he told her softly.
“Oh,” she whispered, thinking of those sharp claws of his. “They do look as if they would hurt me.”
“Tell me, where would the mark go? You said most mark the neck. Am I going to look as if I was attacked by a wild eagle when you get through with me?” She asked as she looked up at his face.
He glanced down. “No, your marking will be on your left ankle, mine will be on my left wrist.”
“Yours? How will you have a mark, since I can’t mark you in return?” she questioned, now totally confused.
“When I mark you, a mark will appear on me also. The female never marks the male, at least female birds don’t,” he explained. He then added, “I have heard the female wolf marks her soulmate though.”
Cara hummed a bit, laying her head back on his chest.
He became silent, allowing her time to take in all he’d told her.
Finally, Cara spoke up, “So, this would be like a wedding of sorts. Are the vows and marking given in front of family and friends?”
“It can be, though most prefer it to be private. My father though, because he was already Ithanchan when he met my mother, theirs had to be done publicly.”
“Okay,” she said. Then, clearing her throat a bit she said, “Well, speaking of your father. Is the fact that I’m human going to cause even more problems between the two of you?”
She heard Wamblee take a deep breath, letting it out slowly.
“He probably won’t be happy, but then he rarely is with me anymore. It matters not though, because I have chosen to accept you,” he answered.
She sat up straight, so she could look at him fully. “Oh, Wamblee! I don’t want to cause problems!” she exclaimed.
“The problem was already there my sweet winyan,” he informed her with a loving look, “you didn’t cause them. Now, let us not talk of my father, I would much rather talk about us. What will your father say if you move in with me?”
Cara gave a heavy sigh and leaned back into Wamblee. “I don’t know. He’d probably have a fit, he’s old fashioned but I could deal with that though. The name calling I’d get from my sister though…? Ugh!”
“I believe you told my eagle she and Becky are friends?”
“Yeah. I’ll need to make sure and avoid Robyn tomorrow morning since I’m sure Becky called her about whatever you told her,” she told him.
“Mm…you do know I plan to fire her, don’t you?”
“Peggy said you were,” she agreed.
“Ah Peggy, what would I do without her?” he asked rhetorically.
Cara laughed. “I don’t know. Watching the two of you is so funny. You’re like two squabbling siblings sometimes, yet at other times completely professional.”
He leaned his head back, relaxing as she played with his hair. “Yet our mothers never saw that. All they saw was a way to join our families. They kept telling us how we were both eagle and would keep the bloodlines pure.
“At first, we listened to them, and we tried to see if we could learn to love each other. We were seventeen and tired of fighting the constant push for us to be together. So, we began to date like any other couple. Our friends told us it was weird to see us together as anything but friends, but for the sake of our families we gave it a shot.
“We’d been going out for a couple of months I suppose when I decided it was time to put it to the ultimate test. You see, a shifter usually finds their soulmate early in life. By the time a pure shifter couple is twenty, they’ve usually bonded and have little ones on the way.”
“Oh, oh my,” she whispered, stunned.
He nodded. “I have a friend who met his when she was only nine. He was already sixteen but had to wait until she was old enough to recognize the soulmate bond. I remember it was so hard on him, to know she was his, yet having to stay away. When she turned fourteen, she started dating a boy and my friend wanted to kill the guy when he caught them kissing.”
“He didn’t though, right?”
“No, he managed to walk away, with some help. I just want you to understand that the bond is a powerful force to be reckoned with,” he told her. “I, and my eagle, have bonded with you. Him by visiting you in his form, and me by coming to you at night.”
Not sure what to say, she just nodded.
“Anyway, I decided it was time to see if there were any sparks between us. So, I took Peggy out to the open plains and we flew in our eagle form for a long time and hunted. Then we lay on a blanket staring up at the sky as we talked. I remember turning toward her and gazing at her body. I felt nothing, but I wanted my father to be proud of me for something, so I leaned in and kissed her. It was my first kiss, so I knew it wouldn’t be the best, but I figured it was hers too, so maybe it would be okay.”
“What did she say?”
He chuckled. “She told me that was the grossest thing ever and there was no way she was ever having sex with me unless she was in a coma. Then she changed into her eagle and flew away. Needless to say, that was the end of our dating. In fact, she ignored me for months after that.”
“Has she found her soulmate?”
“She says not, but she’s been sneaking off a lot recently,” he said. “When she’s ready, she’ll tell you. I know she thinks of you as a good friend.”
“I think of her as one too, her and Ramona. I know Ramona is older, but she’s a good person and I really like her,” Cara said. She yawned then and brought her legs up onto the couch, curling into a ball at his side. “I had my first boyfriend when I was fifteen, but he was only using me to get to my sister. I gave up then because it was like none of the boys in school could look past Robyn and see me.
“So, I didn’t get my first kiss until I was nineteen. I had a job working at a grocery store stocking. Clint had been asked to show me the ropes and we found out we had a lot in common. He was older then me, but only by a couple of years.
“It started out innocently enough, just talking at work. Then one day, he asked me if I’d like to go out for a bite to eat after work. I agreed and soon he was asking me out quite often. We’d been seeing each other after work for a couple of months when he kissed me. That’s when we both realized we were better off as friends. Oh, I enjoyed the kiss, but there wasn’t really any passion, not like when you kiss me,” she told him.
“Well, we are soulmates. They say that amplifies the feelings,” he murmured against the side of her head.
“Mm…I guess. The thing is Wamblee, it was my first and only kiss,” she told him.
He lifted her chin then to look at her. “While we’re confessing things…I’ll tell you kissing Peggy was the only time I ever kissed anyone either. I made up my mind then to wait until the right woman came into my life, and I have. You were my second kiss, but you will be my first in everything else.”
She swallowed hard. “I-I can’t believe…but…I admit it makes me feel good that you waited. Most wouldn’t have you know.”
He nodded. “I know, and I had more then one person try and convince me when I was in college to play the field. They said it would be better to sow some wild oats, get it out of my system, but that just wasn’t me. I didn’t want a repeat of mine and Peggy’s kiss.”
“I’m glad no one else has seen the awe-inspiring body you’re rocking,” she told him, then yawned.
He chuckled, “Awe-inspiring. You’re going to give me a big head winyan.”
She laughed. “It’s alright, I think I can handle you with a big head,” she said with a sly innuendo.
He winked at that, and she yawned again.
“I should take you home, it’s getting late,” he murmured, even as he hugged her closer to him.
“I don’t want to go home though, I want to stay right here with you,” she told him as she held on to him just as tightly.
“I know, and I don’t want you to leave either, but for now this is best. Soon though, I will claim you completely and I won’t be letting you go anywhere but home with me,” he said. “I want to give you time though, time to think about everything I’ve told you tonight. I want there to be no question in your mind that we are meant to be, do you understand?”
“Yes,” she answered.
“Good, now come on winyan, let me get you home,” he said, as he pulled her to her feet.
Walking out the door and to his truck, he took her home, though it was the last thing he wanted to do.