Chapter 14

With the directions sent to him by Tiberius, Ramius held Belle to him and flew with her to one of the cavern pools. The feel of her body next to his caused his beast to roar within him.

"You could release me and let me follow you through the caverns."

"I do not wish to release you. I want you beside me, within me and around me for all time, lifemate."

"Is that so." She wrapped her arms around his neck and nuzzled him just behind his ear, her fangs scraping gently across his skin.

"If you keep doing that, we will not make it to the springs." Ramius was at the end of his control. After hoping three thousand years for his lifemate and coming so close to the darkness, he was done with waiting. He hoped he could remember to consider Belle's innocence.

Belle knew she should exercise restraint and wait until they arrived at the cavern with the pools, because that was the way she was taught. Young ladies in the mid-1800's were expected to let their men lead them and not be aggressive. But Belle had witnessed so many changes in the way society viewed relationships and had no compunction about touching her man.

The fact that she was in his mind and he in hers gave her the confidence to follow her desires. With a thought she divested them both of their clothing. When he felt her skin next to his, Ramius nearly fell out of the air. Belle wrapped her legs around his waist and captured his mouth with hers.

They barely made it to the pool before collapsing together on the ground. In a moment, they were entwined, mind, body and soul. Ramius' recitation of the binding words as their bodies joined the first time united them for all eternity. One could not continue without the other.

It was nearly dawn when the two of them rested in the pool. Belle sat between Ramius' legs with her back against his chest, his arms around her. She was weak with exhaustion, and completely relaxed. Ramius' sigh of contentment was proof that he felt the same way.

After the first round of lovemaking, Ramius had sent his awareness into her body to make sure she would not be sore. The feel of his spirit inside her had incited another passionate interlude, and another after that.

Belle picked up the hand that rested on her abdomen and kissed the palm and each finger.

"Now I understand," She thought.

"Understand what, my love?" Even his mental voice sounded tired and content.

"I understand the need of lifemates to join together." She felt his question in her mind. "Oh, I knew about sex from reading the minds of humans and I had discussions with Deborah and the other women. But nothing prepared me for the reality." He nuzzled the top of her head with his lips.

"Is the reality all that you expected, Beloved?"

"The reality is so much more than I could have imagined. I don't think I will ever get enough of you Ramius." She turned in his arms and straddled him, feeling his growing hardness. "I thought you were tired."

"I think I am having a second wind." He pulled her close, covering her mouth with his and, again, filling the cavern with sounds of love.

The sun had barely set when Belle woke. She moved the soil from the top of them and extended her arms above her head, arching her body in a luxurious stretch. The feel of someone watching her caused her to open her eyes. Ramius lay with his head propped on his hand gazing at her. A small smile turned up the corners of her mouth and he bent his head to gently kiss both corners. He lifted her from the soil and laid her on a sheet he quickly created from the surrounding materials. Several hours passed before they were able to control themselves long enough to get dressed.

"Your hunger is beating at me lifemate. We must leave this place and feed."

"Ah, yes. Perhaps we can find a nice young couple." She closed her eyes as if imagining something incredibly delectable. "You can have the female and I will feed from the male. I can already smell the blood rushing through his veins."

Silence.

Belle opened her eyes and turned to her lifemate, only to see a predatory look on his face.

"Lifemate, I do not think I like the idea of you feeding on another male." Ramius was shocked at his own reaction. "Please forgive me, but the very thought makes me want to tear out the throat of this male, who ever he is."

"Ramius, are you jealous?" Belle asked. She remembered Blaine providing for Deborah, and realized she hadn't seen Deborah hunting on her own since meeting him.

"It seems I am." A look of chagrin crossed his face. "Perhaps it would be better if I went hunting and came back to feed you."

She smiled inwardly. "If that's what you wish, Ramius." Belle was not a submissive woman, but feeding from Ramius was an experience she enjoyed very much. "However, I think I will go with you so you won't have to come back here."

"Do you not like this chamber, Beloved?"

"The chamber is wonderful, Ramius, but we need to return to the others. I want to see if Deborah and Blaine and the children are well."

"You could simply call them on the common path."

"Ramius, I want to see them." She sent him all her love along with her determination to see her family.

"Very well my love, let us be on our way."

They found several young men in the city. Ramius' possessiveness was romantic but was becoming annoying. Belle remained unseen in the shadows at his request. After he fed from all of them, taking just a little blood from each, he turned to Belle. As she sank her fangs into his chest, they both wished they were back in the caverns.

Deborah rushed out to meet them when they arrived at the house, with Selene in her arms. The damage from the battle had been repaired.

"Tiberius fixed the house," said Deborah, after Belle asked about it, "I think he felt guilty for making such a mess. It was nearly off the foundation."

"I do not think he feels much at all, since he has not found his lifemate," said Ramius, "But I am glad he fixed the damage."

"It was only fair that he do so, little sister," said Blaine from behind them. Belle threw her arms around him. Ramius raised his eyebrows.

"You should not be embracing other men, Belle."

"Oh stop, Ramius. He's family." Belle glared at him. Deborah snickered.

"You were hurt, Blaine." He had marks on his face and hands from healing cuts, but his neck was unmarked.

"The armor Natalya and her aunts designed protected me and the others, Belle. Without it, I might well have been killed, as well as some of the other men. One of the vampires got through my defenses and went for my heart, just as you saw in your vision. Some used swords in an attempt to behead us."

"I have been so frightened for so long," Belle said, "When Tiberius grabbed me, I had one more vision that showed the battle going in our favor. Everyone else is well then?"

"Yes. Gabriel took the most injury but has nearly recovered. Sergey attacked him as he escorted Francesca and the children to the cavern. I believe he did not expect Dimitri to be nearby watching over Skyler. Gabriel is embarrassed at allowing himself to be ambushed."

"I should have been there for the battle as well," Ramius said, "I apologize."

"What you were doing was important, Ramius. You needed to rescue Belle from a perceived threat and a male fighting the darkness would have to be much stronger than any of us to refrain from claiming his lifemate when he's found her. We all would have done the same. I believe you showed amazing restraint as it is."

Belle took Selene from Deborah and held her to her shoulder. Her little body was so soft and cuddly. Belle gently rubbed the tiny head with her other hand.

"Our child will be lifemate to Tiberius," she said. Blaine looked at Ramius, who nodded.

"Are you sure?" Deborah asked. Belle nodded.

"I did a reading for him and the threads of his life seemed to be reaching for us." A shadow passed over Belle's face. "There is darkness though. The road to their joining will be very rough. I hope he is strong enough to make the journey."

"Tiberius has endured for over three thousand years. He will make it a few more. Just knowing there is hope will give him the strength to last until his lifemate is available."

Deborah spoke up. "When he was here, Selene connected with him. She seems to have a talent, even as an infant, to ease the darkness in our unmated males. He seemed more at peace when he left."

"That is a rare and wonderful gift," said Ramius.

"It is said that Ivory has the gift, or did many years ago," said Blaine, "After all that has happened to her, I don't know if it is still active."

"We can hope it is." Ramius changed the subject. "I wish to speak with Mikhail to find a suitable place to build a home for my lifemate. We are enjoying the caverns where we have been staying, but I think she would like a real home."

Belle smiled up at him. "Home is where you are, Ramius."

"You are welcome to stay with us until you get settled," Deborah said.

"That's sweet of you Deborah, but you and Blaine need some privacy, even if Samantha is still living here. I'm afraid we will get on each other's nerves eventually."

"Why Belle, don't you really mean you and Ramius want privacy?" Blaine asked. They all laughed.

"You know me too well," she said, laughing.