by Kacey Musgraves.
I wake up wrapped in Nik’s arms and I feel so at home. He stirs beside me but doesn’t wake. I think of what happened last night and smile brightly. I think about waking him up to repeat last nights events but pause when I remember something. I can now read his emotions and thoughts. The packs too. I try to create a presence in Rylin’s mind to test my ability.
Rylin, Rylin, can you hear me?
Momma bear? Are you alright? Wait....I can hear you. Whoa.
Focus Rylin. I am testing my abilities.
Gross, you and Nikan did it!
Get out of my head!
Block me then.
It take some practice but I am finally able to shut him out and pick through his thoughts. I feel him nudging at my mind but he can’t break through. The deeper I get the more I feel his terrible pain at not being able to be with his mate. I apologize for intruding and I leave him be.
Nik is still sleeping so I try to filter through to him and it actually works. He’s dreaming of the days we spent as children playing in the woods. He jolts awake and pulls me closer.
I see you’ve already been picking through my brain.
Sorry, I just wanted to know what you were thinking about.
In an instant he’s letting me have full access. Images of the night before, the day he found me in the woods, moments as kids, all his thoughts focused on me. Bits and pieces are of trying to find the cure or moments with the tribe but most are about me. I want to cry at the love that overwhelms me.
“I love you more than life itself Nik.” He smiles a shy boyish smile and we spend the morning tangled beneath the sheets. Rhiannon has to drag me out of bed at some point.
“You guys are so going to be worse than me and Koda. We spent the first three weeks of our relationship locked up in our house.” I laugh.
“Seriously? I don’t think Nik and I will do that. He and I both have responsibilities.”
“Yeah, well Nik has already told me that for the next two months I’m in charge of patrols and anything considered ‘not an emergency’. Her finger quotes make me giggle.
“Alright let’s get started. You need to learn what we call the soul binding dance. It’s your wedding dance and it’s a big deal to the elders so no pressure but you can’t mess it up.”
“Great..” I huff nervously. After several hours she finally relents and says she’s done all she can. It makes me even more nervous until I read her thoughts and realize she’s messing with me. She laughs when I figure it out.
“Kinda sucks that you know my thoughts now. It’ll be less easy to mess with you.” She takes my hand and we head to the kitchen. I cook while she sits on the counter and teaches me more about mates. She’s become like a sister to me.
Today is our marriage ceremony and I can’t help the excitement in my heart. I can feel Nik’s too and my heart explodes with joy. The excited energy seems to have rubbed off on everyone.
I spent the night back at home per moms request since it’s a tradition she practiced where the bride doesn’t see the groom until the wedding day. My mother and Nik’s help me get ready. Nik’s mom creates a braided updo and she brings in a few school children to place red chrysanthemums in the braid as is the tribes tradition.
Mom and Mackenzie do my make up and help me into the dress grams passed on to me. Grams cries happy tears and I hug her.
“I always hoped you two would find your way back.”
“Thanks for meddling grams.” I tease and she laughs.
Rhiannon enters in her red floor length tribal dress and holds something in her hand. She hands it to me and I examine it. It’s a simple piece of paper. I unfold it and instantly know who it’s from.
“Meet me in the woods?” I smile and cherish the meaning behind this simple note. I quickly finish dressing and burst through the door. Mom tells Rhiannon to catch me but she pretends I’m faster than her and I make it outside. I step into the tree line and there he is.
His black tux hugs his broad frame. His tie hangs loosely around his neck. A flood of emotions hit us both and I jump into his arms.
“I had to see you. I couldn’t sleep last night. After marking you my wolf gets on edge if you’re not around. You look stunning by the way.” He hugs me and I run my fingers through his dark hair.
“I missed you too. You look amazing.”
Almost as good as you did the night of your ceremony. I think and remember he has a direct line to those images in my mind.
“Ellie, you’re killing me. Good to know how hot you think I am though.” He laughs and I feel no shame.
“Okay you two, that’s enough for now. We’ve got to get you to the ceremony before you start making my great grandbabies.” Grams yells as they all head into the woods.
Mom insists Nik carries me so my dress isn’t ruined and he happily obliges. Koda carries my father who isn’t strong enough to walk and Rhiannon brings his wheelchair.
The ceremony begins and it’s like a dream world in the meadow. We have a view of the lake and it’s a perfect spring day full of flowers and love. Dad helps me down the makeshift aisle with Raza’s help and gives me away. Nate performs the ceremony.
Nik creates a small nest we stand in made of cedar to symbolize our building a life together. He, Koda and Rylin perform a special dance and then we begin our vows.
“Ellie, I can’t put into words my love for you but I’ll try. You’re the center of my universe. You’re the air I breathe, the water I thirst for, the taste I crave is of you. I would blame it on fate or being a shifter but that wouldn’t do. I’ve loved you since I was seven. When I was just me and you were just you. Before our world shifted, when it was pure. It was you and always will be you. I will protect you with every breath. I will cherish you always.” I try not to cry at his beautiful words.
“Nik, I always hoped I would find you again. I wanted to be part of your world and be loved by you. In you I’ve found my best friend, my protector and the other half of my soul. Fate smiled on me when she put us together. I’ll always protect you, this tribe and our families. And I’ll always have hope because of you.”
Nate ties our hands to represent the soul bond and Nik and I get lost in our kiss. Rhiannon has to drag us to the place where Nik must light the bonfire and we dance the night away under the twinkling stars.
Tonight is a reminder to all that hope is a force that can create miracles. Tonight is the end of something and the beginning of everything.