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

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Chapter 64: Reciprocation

TORIN

October Davis’ lips had uttered the kindest words I’d heard in a long time, and I knew she meant every bit of it. The way she said the things she did about me was so heartfelt. I wasn’t one to cry easily, but she came this close to breaking me. To me, she all but said she loved me, or at least she appreciated me as a whole--the good and the bad and everything that was part of my life.

Words couldn’t express my appreciation of her and so I did the next best thing and kissed her. Soft, tender, yet honest, just like she was. I’d kissed her twice before, and both times it had felt extraordinary and beautiful, but this kiss was different.

Purposeful and simple, with my soul laid bare for my soul mate, who for the first time since meeting her had completely opened herself to me. I knew she’d been leery of letting herself go, and rightly so knowing the little I did about her past. But I had no idea how nervous she’d been all this time until this moment as she completely peeled back her shell, expressing her true feelings about me without reservation.

As my lips touched hers with a tender caress, the world around us disappeared. The falling rain coming down in loud crescendos became the sound of my blood coursing through my veins. The crackle of the driftwood fire was the erratic beating of my heart as my fingers found their way into her golden locks, now dry, but slightly matted with the salt and sand of seawater.

She tasted of the ocean, something close to my own essence as a Shifter, and it only served to heighten the passion I felt welling inside. But the question was whether she felt it, too. And so I withdrew, just a bit, fighting both my human and animalistic instincts.

With her breath heavy on my lips, I watched her brows momentarily knit as she struggled with something internally. Opening her eyes again, she searched mine with fervency, and to my surprise, hesitated no more. She took the leap I hoped she would and pulled my face back to hers. Suddenly submerged in the sea of her kiss, I was ready to submit myself to the depths of her ocean.

It was the first kiss she’d ever initiated and I was more than thrilled that she wanted to take the lead. To have her make a move on me for a change felt good in all the right ways.

Her lips offered small, easily appreciable kisses--hungry, but not starved. Propped up on the rocky steps of the cave floor was an uncomfortable place for such passion, so I reached around her, uprighting us a bit more as I pulled her body close. Meanwhile, she grasped my bicep with her own free hand, slowly sliding her fingers up to my shoulder, mercilessly sending sparks of electricity through my bare skin. Her touch was addictive and exciting, yet gentle and soothing all at the same time. What was it going to feel like when we mated for the first time? The thought excited me mentally and physically, and I deepened my end of the kiss, trying to enhance the incredible euphoria I felt being this intimate with her.

Like the waves rolling onto the shore, my tongue slid against hers and to my delight she reciprocated. Our mouths burst with the seductive dance of give and take as our mutual breathing grew heavier with our thirst for one another. Somehow my fingers fell from her hair and my palm was at her chest, wishing she didn’t have that cumbersome Gulfside Rehab polo shirt on, as it was obscuring my access to her surely soft and supple breast underneath.

Her mind must have read mine as she moved, her hand quickly finding the hem of the dark blue, semi-damp garment. My hand found hers as she began to pull herself up and off her hip and rise to her knees. Wanting her equally as close, I took both her hips in my hands with surety, lifting her slightly just before her breath hitched--not in a pleasant way.

Damn! Her ankle! How could I be so careless? My lips left hers as apologetic worry filled my mind, eyes, and mouth. “Sorry, sorry, sorry… Here, sit down. God, I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

Sucking in a large amount of air through her teeth, October’s expression was a mix of irritation and pain as she tentatively rolled herself back to a seated position. Leaning against the rocky step, she ran both her hands through her hair and took a few deep breaths with her eyes closed. Despite my internal anger at myself for not thinking about her injury before my pleasure, the lack of her touch had left me feeling cold and lonely inside. Now, watching her with apprehension, I wasn’t completely sure she was simply willing the pain in her ankle away. Did she feel as frustrated about the situation as I did?

Moving things along in an attempt to diffuse the sexual urges I still had pumping through my body, I quickly shifted back to first responder mode. “What can I do? You really need some ice. But maybe...”

She interrupted with a somewhat throaty laugh, as she opened her eyes again to look me in the eye, grasping my hand in hers. Then she turned a bit red in the cheeks as her humor cooled with embarrassment.

“Torin. Shhhh.” She soothed lightly, ushering a small laugh. “I’ll live.” Then, biting her lower lip in obvious contemplation, she continued--her signature humorous tone seeping through. “There’s so much I wish you and I could do right now. Though when you say I need some ice, I’m left wondering if you’re trying to say I need to cool down a bit or if you’re insinuating that we do something a little more… uh, suggestive?

I felt my eyes dilate all the way to my toes at her unexpected and appealing twisting of my words, and it was my turn to redden a bit. She wasn’t talking about her ankle at all, and my already heated imagination quickly came up with a few enticing things I could do to her with some ice. Who was this hot-blooded woman and where had she been hiding all this time? Oh yes, that’s right, I didn’t let her even think about introducing herself for the first several weeks. I laughed a good belly laugh before taking her in with wonderment. My worries were pushed aside just a bit as she had said a lot. She was a survivor, had a sense of humor in the most dire of situations, and was definitely into me.

I instinctively licked my lips. “Ice, huh? I’ll have to keep that in mind for when we get outta here.”

She smiled with partial mischief and another half shyness, the topic of future bouts of pleasure apparently getting the best of her. My better sense told me to change the subject while we were ahead, so I moved to get some more driftwood for the fire. “If anything, we should get our feet dry. If you give me your other shoe and sock, I’ll get them set out to dry by the fire.”

October seemed to ease back to her normal self as she complied, handing me her soggy sneaker to put with the one I’d already removed from her swollen foot a little while ago. I lay my uniform blouse across another boulder to better dry, then contemplated the necessity to dry the rest of our clothes. Where was my patrol unit? They should’ve been here by now--hell, a long time ago. Surely, they’ll get to us before it gets any darker.

Deciding that we’d be involved with our impending rescue soon enough, I passed on the suggestion that we strip to our underwear as I again sat down next to October. After all, the rest of our garments were far from sopping wet at this point. Not that I wouldn’t give the shirt off my back to see her in nothing but her bra and panties.

Instead, without thinking, I leaned my back against the rocky step behind me and raised my arm. As natural as can be, October leaned into me, allowing my arm to rest around her, as I pulled her close. Words didn’t need to be spoken as the simple comfort of one another enveloped us in a warmth of understanding between us. She tucked her head into my chest and sighed comfortably, laying her arm restfully across my middle. I found myself stroking her hair, while all my cares slipped away with the downpouring rain.

“Thank you, Torin--for saving me. And for everything,” she quietly said and my throat constricted. She had no idea how much she meant to me and that I would have crossed more than a few knots of ocean to rescue her if I had to. In reply, I simply lowered my lips to her hair, kissed her gently on her crown, then settled back with my head against the rock.

Silently, I watched the flames lick at the sun-bleached driftwood as night slowly set in on the world outside of our little cave. The hole in the roof above the tidepool eventually disappeared in the dark and only the fire emanated with light as the night sky was surely filled with black storm clouds. October’s breathing became slow and steady and I didn’t need to look at her face to know that she had finally fallen asleep.

I could hear the wind outside pick up and my heart dropped just a bit knowing that for safety’s sake, the patrol would have been called off for the night and wouldn’t resume searches again until daylight. If my memory served me right, the storm wasn’t supposed to dissipate until mid-morning tomorrow. Would the boat wreckage still be out there? If not, how would they find us?

October shifted uncomfortably in her sleep, probably due to pain, and my thoughts went back to my soul mate unawares. I was going to have to tell her about Onyx soon. There was no way we were leaving this cave in anything other than a serious relationship. I smiled to myself, my heart bursting with the thought. Contemplating our future relationship, I suddenly realized how wrong it would have been to have coupled with her this evening, despite any physical feelings on both of our parts. I frowned at my own stupidity. What was I thinking? If she were a Shifter, she’d have been aware that as my soul mate having sex with me would officially mate her to me. There’s no marking or imprinting on one another. The pure and simple act of making love or mating is all it takes, for dolphins are sexual creatures, seeking pleasure through the act of foreplay.

Not having had such a conundrum with my first soul mate, in the heat of the moment, it had been far too easy to forget that she wouldn’t understand the ramifications of our actions. Sandy and I knew what we were getting into from the start, but I highly doubted October would forgive me if I mated her without her permission. While the sex would be consensual, the ‘marriage’ of our souls would not. I sighed again. No, I was going to have to broach the subject--shifters and soul mates--with her very soon if I was going to avoid a very awkward and undesired platonic relationship with her from here on out. The question was, how?

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