Beyond the Ocean's Depths (Not an Average Shifter Romance)

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Chapter 36: Truce

TORIN

She tentatively opened the door, peering through the crack before opening up all the way. Her face was tear stricken and her eyes were red, and my heart ached that I was the cause of her distraught emotions.

“I’m sooo sorry,” she whispered without coming out of the stall and I felt even worse guilt than I’d felt as of yet in regards to her. She shouldn’t be apologizing to me!

“No. No, please don’t be sorry,” I pleaded, looking her in the eyes. “It was my fault, and you were well within your right to say what you said.” I swallowed hard before continuing. “If I’d acted half like I’d done with you towards my wife, she would have been so mad at me. She never would have stood for it and she’d be so disappointed that I’ve treated you like this. It’s me who is sorry.”

She sniffled a little and nodded, then finally said shakily, “I’ll forgive you if you forgive me?”

My heart was already beating heavily with fear that I’d really hurt her, and now it beat with hope. I smiled a little and nodded in return, “Deal.”

Hoping to get her to open the stall door all the way, I extended my hand.

“Truce?”

She sniffled again and smiled back as she stepped out of the stall and slowly grasped my hand in a firm handshake. “Truce,” came her soft, yet steady reply.

I then grew serious again. I knew that things had come to a head now, and there was no turning back. Rainie was right, I was hiding away trying to escape from reality and my emotions, and I was doing more damage to my own family and people like October than I’d realized.

Even worse, I knew Sandy would be disappointed in my actions and emotions. She wouldn’t want me to hole away from the world. And if we had traded places, I wouldn’t want her to spend the rest of her life depressed and lonely, just waiting for life to be over.

As I shook October’s hand for that brief moment, really concentrating for a change, I knew I felt the pull. The soul mate energy. It was more apparent now than it had been when I’d taken her hand to dance last night, for I was still trying to cage my soul away then. Now that I had my face proverbially slapped by her words, I’d suddenly awakened from my shielded stupor. I knew I had felt her pull from the beginning, but now it was different - stronger and more vibrant.

It went well beyond a deep sexual desire and had ripened into a warm secure emotion. I knew she was the one, and suddenly I truly lost my will to fight her or deny her hold over me. I didn’t realize how tired I was of fighting it, and a great weight seemed to lift from my shoulders.

Would Sandy be okay with me taking a new soul mate? Probably, I determined - she was the most understanding woman I’d ever known, and a true romantic. If anything, she’d probably like October, for Rainie was right - this woman was awesome. She was obviously intelligent and strong, was a good mother, and kind to both my daughter and mother, and was beautiful. Lastly, as Rainie had put it so well weeks ago, she liked dolphins and knew more about the species than most humans.

I looked the woman standing in front of me in the eye, and for the briefest second I could see her recognition of our connection as well. While she probably didn’t understand it, being a pure human, it was still there.

“October...” It was almost a whisper. She waited for me to continue, “I really do like you. You’re a good mother, and my mom says you’re a great person to work with.”

I gained strength and conviction as I pressed on, “And even when I treated you terrible, you were quick to forgive me when I apologized last night at La Azteca. And even today you tried to be nice. You have always tried to be nice. But I’ve tried my hardest to push you away.”

“Why?” She asked sincerely.

I knew I couldn’t tell her that we were soul mates - as a pure human she would be scared off by the idea of biological soul mates, and would probably think I was a lunatic if I told her about my dolphin. I was going to have to take this real slow and meet her halfway if this were going to work.

“Well, at first it was because of your job and the aquarium. But, as you know, I have come to realize that the rehab isn’t the same place that it used to be and that Rob and you and the others are going to make it something great.”

She smiled softly at this, and I continued, “After Sandy - my wife - died, I didn’t think I could open myself up to anyone ever again. I didn’t want to face the world without her, and I’d even partially shut out the people I cared most about. Rainie and my mom.”

I sighed trying to formulate my words. “I don’t know how to say this...” Then nervously I blurted, “Okay, October, you’re the first woman I’ve looked at since Sandy’s death five years ago, and it scares the hell out of me to think about moving on. I’ve felt so guilty about liking you that I’ve treated you like crap, and I’ve probably caused too much damage to recover any chance of making up for that; and for that I’m sorry.”

October’s eyes were wide at this point, not in horror as I thought they might be, but in surprise, and I could see a hint of a blush rising on her cheeks as she tried to keep her own emotions steady and be attentive to what I was saying. I knew she unknowingly felt the soul mate energy, but was it possible she actually might have liked the idea of me liking her? Could there even be the possibility that she might like me just a little?

There, I’d said it - I’d spilled the truth, at least as much as I could without freaking her out, and now I didn’t know what else to say. She could sense my loss for words and started to open her mouth when the door to the bathroom opened and in started an elderly lady with a cane. When she spotted me standing in the middle of the restroom, she paused, looking up at the women’s symbol on the door she was still holding.

Scowling at me, she said firmly, “You shouldn’t be in here! I’m reporting you to the manager!”

And with that she abruptly turned and hobbled out of the doorway and back into the store, grumbling something about police officers these days.

October giggled quietly from behind me, “You’re in trouble! She was serious.”

I scratched my head as I turned back to see her now-broadly smiling face, and I felt relief flood over me. “Let me finish up in here and I’ll meet you out front?” She asked, giving me even more hope.

“Yeah!” I said, happy that she wasn’t just kicking me out of the restroom with no more to say. “I better get outside before they ban me from shopping here!” I teased and poked my head out the restroom door to be sure the coast was clear before nodding to October and going outside to wait, my heart was beating like crazy and my mind had officially been blown.

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