I’d debated all day what I should wear for the occasion. It was such a silly, shallow thought and I welcomed it; it was better than thinking about the act itself.
So I studied myself in the mirror and felt myself shivering with discomfort. I wore simple white bra and panties, and they were fine on me, but I felt the need to cover up so bad, it was a wonder I’d ever even had sex. It felt like tonight would be the first time.
And maybe it would be, in a sense.
Grabbing the blue robe I pulled it on top of me and then checked myself again. My hair lay in dark waves, barely reaching my shoulders, and my eyes were big and scared. But I knew it was just nerves. I would be all right. Shade wouldn’t let me get hurt. And I was strong enough this time to avoid getting hurt.
The clock on the wall ticked eight and I knew it was time. Walking out of the room, my arms wrapped around myself, I went to the top floor, which was completely empty and wide except for a circular bed, and that bed sat right under the stars. Everything was open there, and when I reached it, the cool wind stroked my skin and created goosebumps in its wake.
Shade was waiting for me there, sitting on the edge of the bed and leaning his elbows on his knees. He looked up and our gazes locked. Taking a deep breath, I walked forward and sat next to him.
He asked, “You’re ready?”
I answered, “I don’t think I’ll ever be.”
He retorted, “Me either.”
We were silent, and then, Shade said quietly, “I took it. The pill. It works.”
My eyes kind of slid down on their own accord, searching for his crotch. And yes, it seemed like his panties were in quite a twist down there. “How does it feel?” I asked, part because I was always interested as to how an erection physically felt – it the curiosity of the healer on me – and part because I was worried not just about me tonight, but him as well.
Shade glanced at me, and his eyes seemed to narrow a bit. “Painful,” he said, “and extremely uncomfortable.”
I could only imagine. “I can see that.”
We were silent for a few moments, not knowing what to do. I then asked, “How should we go about it?”
“I believe we need to kiss first,” Shade aid, frowning in concentration. “Then we should somehow get to the actual act.”
Sighing, I murmured, “This is so awkward.” And weird. And fearsome.
Shade took my hand and I looked back at him. “It might be,” he said softly, “but this is the only way we can overcome it.”
I nodded, agreeing. Sucking in a deep breath, I made a nonverbal suggestion. I wanted us to stop talking or we wouldn’t get anywhere. So rising, I crawled toward the middle of the bed and then lay on my side, facing him and patting the empty place before me. Shade caught on and came to lie in front of me, his face inches from my face.
My heart became a thunder as we stared at each other. I should’ve been the expert in this, but I felt just as much of a noob as him. Still, despite the fear, despite everything else, I willed myself to put my hands on his face, cupping him, stroking his short bristles.
And then, Shade seemed to understand and put his arms on my waist, dragging me closer until my torso was plastered against his. My entire body jerked at that. Then, he leaned closer and kissed me.
Then, it was like all awkwardness disappeared. We kissed our patient, lingering, exploring kiss, and our body seemed to know what to do much better than our minds. So both of us unleashed our most human instincts and let them take charge. There was still no passion, no lust, but we weren’t worried about that. It would come with time. Now... now we needed something very different.
Slowly, he took my robe off. Slowly, I took his shirt off. Slowly, his pants and my bra were gone. Slowly, his boxers and my panties were on the floor. We were now completely naked, and that was way more than Damon had ever allowed in his own sinister bed. No, I’d never been that exposed to him. That was not the problem here.
When I felt his erection against my stomach, my blood ran cold. He felt it, and massaged the nape of my neck with one hand and stroked the side of it with another, trying to help me though the nightmare with the mark he’d given me earlier today. It soothed me enough to relax my tensed body, but in my mind I was still drowning.
Still, I forced myself to look at him, saw the battle in his jungle eyes too. And that made me grab his face and kiss him again, this time fiercely. Neither of us should bring those demons to this bed. It was wrong.
He kissed me back with as much determination and then grabbed my leg and lifted it, putting it over his waist, parting my intimate lips to the cool air. I went taut. He kept on massaging me until I relaxed.
And I understood. This position was the best for us. Neither of us felt like we were controlled, and we had plenty of access to anything we wanted. It also felt incredibly intimate, more than anything I’d ever felt before, and it was kind of disarming.
Hesitantly, I felt his hand leaving my neck and reaching my sex. He flicked a finger against my entrance and I squirmed, letting out a soft squeal. “The lube,” he muttered, feeling my unnatural wetness. He sighed, taking his fingers off and then stared at me. “I’m going to put it in now.”
He was going to talk me through this. Suddenly, I felt like it was an appointment to the dentist. As long as I knew what he was going to do before he did it, I would be ready. And while it was almost neat and cold, thinking of it this way, it was the truth. Small portion of relief poured over me and made me sigh, forcing myself to prepare. I also forced my eyes open so I could see it was Shade who was doing it, and not anyone else unwanted.
“I’m ready,” I said softly. Or as ready as I’d ever be.
He nodded. Then, with us not tearing our eyes away from each other, the tip of his shaft nudged at my entrance. Both of us hissed, the demons clouding around us, creating a shared mental fog. Still, with Shade’s hand on my thigh, holding me open, and my arms around his neck, holding on, he started to push.
Tears burned my eyes as I remembered all those times in the past three months this had occurred. All the times I couldn’t bring myself to even fight. All the times I’d fought and lost anyway. I was crying, sobbing, and not because of the pain; there was no pain. There were only screwed up emotions.
And I wasn’t the only one crying; Shade’s eyes were misty with tears He gritted his teeth and as he pushed himself farther up my tunnel, and I cried out, seeing the memories burning in his mind through his eyes.
I hugged him then, pressing myself so close to him that it was impossible to tell where he began and I ended. “We’re here,” I whispered through the tears and running nose, “we’ve survived.”
His arms went around me as well, and we were clinging onto each other as he pushed the final few inches and buried himself inside me.
Then, I think we both felt it. A spark glimmered within the darkness, a spark that had been missing for so long, I almost didn’t remember how it felt. That spark grew, blossoming inside me, sending warmth all over my body, heating up places that were vacant and cold before.
And I wasn’t the only one on fire. Shade’s skin burned under mine, suffering from the same phenomenon, and we both tightened our hold on each other.
Until then, we didn’t move. We let us get accustomed to the position, to the feeling, to being with each other. But now... now it was different. Suddenly, all that mattered was that he would move. He seemed to think the same way because he withdrew from inside, and then thrusted back to the hilt.
My cry and his groan were different this time. Everything was different, especially the fog in our mind. The memories had been overpowered by something much bigger than I could imagine. Something neither of us could give a name to, even if we could speak. Instead, we let it encompass us completely, until all we felt was each other, our minds almost aligned.
We were in the same position of lying on our sides, facing each other, and when I opened my eyes, his were open too. Our gazes collided, and everything became so much more intense. He then truly moved, retreating and burying himself inside. Everything in me clenched and we both groaned. As though in a Haze, I found myself tightening my hold of him, wanting him to keep going and never stop.
He felt the same way.
It was a slow act, yet much more powerful than everything I’d ever felt or known. I could read it in his eyes as well, the wonder, and it only empowered it all farther. Our wolves were present as well, rubbing at each other through our skin, linking together, linking our very souls...
And then... I something inside me came to an explosive halt. “Shade!” I called, turning petrified.
“Shit,” he growled and his arms tightened around me and his lips sank into the mark he’d left on my neck, “shit, shit, shit – “
Everything exploded. Light blinded me and I swear I could see the stars. Shade was no better; he kept on trembling and shaking, buried so deep inside me I could feel the head of his shaft kissing my womb. I tried to ride the spasming and shivers that took over my body, but Shade seemed even more uncontrollable, like he didn’t know what to do.
My heart a drumbeat, I grabbed his face and kissed his forehead. “It’s okay,” I whispered, feeling wetness on his cheeks. Tears escaped his eyes, it seemed. And now tears were escaping mine. “It’s okay, baby.”
He wouldn’t stop shivering, however. He was lost in sensation, unable to understand it. Before everything went to hell, I knew what orgasms were, felt them too, but Shade was inexperienced in pleasure. He’d known only pain. At least I’d known pleasure before the pain.
“Open your eyes, sweetheart,” I prompted softly yet firm. I needed him here with me, not only for him but for me too. “I need you to open your eyes and look at me.”
Some part of him must’ve listened because he opened his eyes and stared at me, his jungle eyes watery and his expression completely, utterly shattered.
It broke my heart to pieces to see him this way, but I knew I could make it better. I would. “You just came, baby,” I told him, only now realizing fully that we did it, we had sex, and came out of it almost sane, and even pleasured. That was more than either of us hoped for. “We both did. It’s completely natural. It’s okay. It’s healthy. It’s okay.”
He nodded, and slowly, his shivering stop. Agony still swirled in his eyes, and I realized just how much deeper his scars went that I’d previously thought so. His had a long time to deepen, to mar his mental state. Mine were fresh, figuratively easier to mend. It was a wonder we’d made it so far.
“Talk to me,” I said a little brokenly, “please talk to me, let me know what’s on your mind – “
“Did I hurt you?” his voice was rough, growly.
The question made my heart break farther. How come he was worried about me right now when I could see him battling whatever demon surfaced in his head now? “I’m fine,” I told him vehemently, “but I need you to be fine too.”
“I don’t know if I can,” he said, the words raw with shame and guilt, and suddenly it was as if I was talking to the old Shade. I could practically feel his control coming back, grabbing his demons under cold, unnatural control, building the walls around him. But he didn’t let me go, and it didn’t seem like he was pushing me away. He’d promised not to, after all, and that he was keeping it even now when instinct overrode his good sense, it meant more than words ever could.
Yet while the old me would’ve accepted it, the me now was different. “Don’t,” I growled, my wolf in my voice, “let yourself feel. You need to feel this pain in order to heal, Shade. You need to feel lost and confused and scared. You need to stop caging your emotions.”
He growled back, his eyes flashing with irritation that came to hide his vulnerability. Fuck it. Dominant males were picky about being vulnerable. It wasn’t in their nature to show it. That he did made him feel weak.
“You’ll be weaker if you get all cold and distant again,” I told him harshly, and clumped my inner muscles around his still-buried shaft. He tensed. “If you’re strong, you would break down and let it all out.”
“I. Can’t.” He growled louder this time. “I can’t. Not here. Not before you.”
That was it. I slapped him. His eyes widened in shock. “I love you, you fucking fool!” I found myself yell. “I don’t know how or when or why but I fucking love you! You can and you will let yourself break down or I’ll fucking strangle the shit out of you!”
He now seemed dazed. “Say it again,” he murmured, and then I could see all of his walls crumbling down. My heart rate picked up. “Say it, please.”
“I won’t, because it’s a total cliché to repeat such a thing,” I snarled, so angry, so furious, like I hadn’t been for so long. I embraced it now. I needed to feel this. “But I will tell you to spill it all out. I want you to get better as much as you want me to. You closing off on me won’t do – “
“If I hadn’t realized I loved you already, I would’ve probably fallen for you now,” he said, and before I could do much more than gasp his lips were on mine and suddenly he was everywhere, touching and kissing and licking and biting. I couldn’t do much more than let him do whatever he wanted, because it was me who was dazed now.
Shade loved me. He actually loved me back.
And in my mind... As he bit my mark, the mating bond snapped into place.