Chapter 4

Malcolm walked into his house and cursed violently under his breath. He kicked his flip-flops off, sending them into the corner of the front hall.

“Problem, sir?” Davis put the offending footwear in the closet.

“I thought for certain once I saw her in person she’d have some kind of recognition of me as her mate. Something. Instead all I got was her irritation at my presence.” He sank into the large armchair. Staring into the fireplace, he visualized a roaring fire, and instantly one came to life before him.

“Well, sir, at least your power seems to be strengthening. That’s something, then isn’t it?”

“I suppose,” Malcolm said quietly. “I had gotten a glimpse or two of Sam yesterday through the windows, but when I waved at her, she ducked away like a frightened child. Her reactions are perplexing to say the least.” He let out a small laugh. “She obviously has no idea of what kind of power she possesses.”

Davis puttered around the couch and rearranged the pillows. “Well sir, there has been no one to show her who she is or the ways of the Amoveo, until now of course.”

Malcolm rubbed his tired eyes, and his mind wandered to the dream they shared last night. He had finally made the connection that had eluded them both for so long. Unfortunately, their first true contact in the dream realm had not been what he’d hoped for.

“Did you have any success connecting with her yet?”

Malcolm’s eyebrows flew up in surprise, and he turned to look at Davis. The crafty old bird knew exactly what kind of trouble he’d been having but was doing his best to be polite. Davis had been with his family for so many years, and so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he’d seen right through Malcolm’s charade.

“Am I that transparent Davis?”

Davis said nothing but just kept straightening out the already neat living room.

Malcolm smiled. “Well, some success yes. At full strength, I can control the entire environment of the dream realm, but last night’s encounter proved I’m not there yet.”

“How do you mean, sir?”

“A seagull manifested out of nowhere and interrupted us before we could finalize our connection.”

“A seagull? That’s odd.”

Malcolm made a small sound of agreement and stared into the fire. Last night reminded him that he wasn’t up to par yet. Just having Sam close had given him so much more of his strength back, but until they were bound by the mating rites he was only running on half strength. Still, the seagull was disturbing more than startling. When it flew at them, it had a look of death in its eyes, and it was directed straight at him.

“Might I make a suggestion? She is a contemporary woman who knows nothing of your ways or traditions. You cannot expect to court her the way you would court a traditional Amoveo female. It seems to me you’ll have to court her like a human.”

“Don’t say it! Don’t even think of saying it,” he bellowed, putting his hand up to silence him.

“Very well, sir.” Davis turned to leave. “Do you require my services anymore this afternoon, sir?”

“No, Davis.”

“Good day, sir.” He quietly left the room.

Malcolm sat in silence for some time, staring into the fire. After what seemed like an eternity, he walked out the French doors to the deck overlooking the ocean. He wandered around the porch, which wrapped around to the front of his house. The sun slowly set over the marsh, casting a fiery glow over the reeds and pools of water. Malcolm watched the great white egrets as they gracefully walked through the marsh waters. He envied them and the simplicity of their life. He leaned on the porch railing and closed his eyes to better hear the sounds of his new home. However, as much as he tried to, he couldn’t block out his frustration.

He kept going over and over the dream in his mind. He replayed that look on her face. It was a look of longing, desire, and then fear. It broke his heart to have her look up at him with absolute terror and scream the way she did. All these years he’d been searching for her, but when she saw his truest form, it horrified her. What if she refused him? What if she refused to accept what she was or what her destiny was? He hated to admit it, but it seemed Davis was right. This was all going to be much more complicated than he thought.

He heard what Davis had said. Court her like a human. It’s not that he didn’t know what to do; after all he’d lived quietly among them his entire life. He saw the ridiculous mating rituals they invested in. To Malcolm it seemed like one big dance of bullshit, pretending to be a modified version of who they really were. Never showing their true self until it was too late to turn back. They kept that side of themselves locked away for so long they were afraid of being rejected for who they really were. As he thought about it, he realized he was actually doing the very same thing.

Sam didn’t know that shapeshifters existed, let alone that she had that gift inside of her. If he blurted it out, she’d think he was insane. Great. He ran a hand over his face. It looks like I’m courting her like a human male after all. He knew he’d have to gain her trust before he could tell her who she really was. As he went back in the house, he reminded himself he owed Davis an apology.


In the amber light of the setting sun, Sam put the finishing touches on her studio. She took one last survey of the space, and after moving a few things around, decided it was exactly how she wanted it. Nonie had a date for a bridge game at Millie’s, so she could eat out in her studio guilt-free. She salivated at the thought of the leftover chowder in the fridge. As she ran into the kitchen, Nonie was just putting on her jacket to go out.

“Don’t wait up, dear. You know these games can go on into the wee hours.”

“How much playing do you really do? I think it’s all about the Chardonnay and the gossip,” Sam teased as she warmed her chowder in the microwave.

“I’m quite sure I don’t know what you’re talking about, dear.” Nonie walked out the door.

Sam smiled and shook her head. I hope I have that much fun when I’m her age, Sam thought. She walked out to the studio with a steaming bowl of chowder and a simmering excitement. What would she paint first? Nonie wanted a portrait of the house, but she needed full sunlight for that. A sunset or a landscape would probably make the most sense, but one image had haunted her all day. That yellow-eyed eagle from her dream had been floating around her brain since she woke up that morning. Mystical was the best description for that bird. Mystical and a little bit scary. Sam liked to put the things that scared her onto canvas. It helped take away the fear. She hit play on her iPod and Amy Petty’s song “Sleepwalking to Dreaming” filled the small space. Sam smiled. How fitting.

Her gaze danced over her materials, deciding which medium to use, finally settling on charcoal. She set out to sketch the very same eagle she’d seen in her dream. She had it soaring high over the ocean with a large pearly moon looming behind it. She smoothed edges and lines with her fingers, massaging the image to life before her eyes. She intently crafted the curve of the graceful wingspan. With painstaking detail, she carved out the intricate pattern of the feathers. Sam spent a significant amount of time on the piercing eyes, which seemed fixated on her even from the canvas. She was completely entranced, almost possessed by the creation of this portrait.

Finally, after several intense hours, she stopped. Her gaze remained locked on the eyes of the bird. Her breath came in a heavy rush, and her heart began to race. She realized that the eyes weren’t quite right. She searched the various bits of chalk and found a bright yellow piece, needing to add this one color. Carefully, she blended the bright yellow hue to the intense eyes. She stepped back to get a fresh perspective at the work before her. “Yes. That is one cool bird,” Sam said under her breath.

“I would have to agree,” Malcolm murmured from the doorway.

Sam practically jumped out of her skin, letting out an undignified yelp. “Jesus Christ. You scared the shit out of me.” She clutched her chest as though she were about to pass out.

“Sorry, I seem to be doing that a lot today.” Malcolm couldn’t seem to take his eyes off the portrait, and at the moment she was grateful because in all likelihood she looked like shit.

“What are you doing lurking around my studio in the dark, Mr. Drew?” She suddenly felt very self-conscious. She realized her hair was a messy bun, falling out all over the place. Her hands were covered in black charcoal, and it was probably smudged all over her face. God I must look awful. She pushed sweaty strands of hair off her face with the back of her black-smudged hands. Sam was wishing she had on something other than old khaki shorts and a charcoal- smudged tank top. She barely knew this guy. Why did she care how she looked? Probably because he was the most attractive man she’d ever met.

“I wasn’t lurking, Ms. Logan. I came over to ask you out on a date.” His smile was sexy. He was definitely trouble.

“A date? Are you serious? You don’t even know me.” She narrowed her eyes. “Besides, how do you even know I’m single?” Sam crossed her arms tightly over her breasts. This insanely handsome stranger was knocking her off balance. A dark cloud passed briefly over his face. He’d looked angry for a moment, but it passed as quickly as it had come. Sam shook her head. She must have imagined that. Why would he be angry?

His eyes narrowed, and his voice dropped to almost a whisper. “You are single aren’t you?”

Sam straightened her back defensively. The mere memory of Roger was enough to raise her hackles, and the last thing she wanted to do was revisit any of her time with him. “Well, yes…I mean I am now—uh, recently actually.” She fumbled and rolled her eyes. “I was dating someone, but it didn’t last long.” She shrugged.

A small smile curved his perfectly formed lips, and he hooked his thumbs into the pockets of his jeans. “I know.”

Sam smiled in spite of herself. “Oh, really?” She shook her head with a soft chuckle and instinctively touched the bit of silver at her neck. She should probably be pissed at his overly confident attitude, but that smile of his completely disarmed her. Her eyes flicked down the length of his body. Perfectly formed…everywhere. A slow burn crept up her belly as she imagined what he looked like out of those clothes. She cleared her throat and forced herself to look him in the eye.

Uh oh. That wasn’t any better. Worse in fact. Or better. Shit.

“Davis is something of an informant.” He smiled, and those big brown eyes flashed mischievously. “He did let it slip that you just moved here to live with your grandmother—alone. You’re alone. I’m alone. So why not check out the nightlife together. Besides, you could show me the hot spots since you grew up around here.”

Sam burst out laughing. “Nightlife? Hot spots? Boy, you aren’t from around here are you?” Shaking her head, she turned and put her charcoals away. “Other than one or two seafood places on the water and the local movie theater, there’s not much nightlife around here. The closest thing would be one of the Indian casinos, but I’m not much of a gambler.” She turned around to find that he had closed the distance between them. Her breath hitched, and her throat went dry. She looked up into those yellow-gold eyes and froze.

“I’m not much for gambling myself.” He delicately brushed a stray lock of hair from her face. His eyes stayed locked on hers, and he tucked the soft strands gently behind her ear. “However, I do like seafood. Are you game?”

Sam had trouble finding her voice because she could swear he was going to lean down and kiss her. This man she barely knew was about to kiss her. What was worse was that she wanted him to. She couldn’t look away from him and those mesmerizing eyes. They were so familiar to her. Finally, she found her voice and managed to croak out, “Yeah, sure that would be great.”

He leaned in slowly. Sam’s eyes widened. However, to her relief and disappointment, he placed a very warm kiss on her forehead.

“I’ll pick you up at seven o’clock tomorrow night.” Then he walked out as quickly and silently as he’d come in.

Sam absently touched the spot on her forehead where he kissed her and felt the lingering promise of more to come.

Sam closed up her studio for the night and went to take a very long, very lazy hot shower. She loved the sensation of the water running over her body and the steam enveloping her. As purifying as it was, she couldn’t manage to scrub Malcolm out of her mind. She was obsessed like some love struck teenager. She barely knew the guy, and her imagination was running wild with things she wanted to do with him and to him. She kept thinking about those eyes of his, as well as other parts of his body. Sam finally got out of the shower and wandered back to her room. She opened the window and let the warm breeze waft through the room. She closed her eyes and unfastened her robe, loving the feel of the salty breeze over her naked body. She felt alive for the first time in years.

“Music is all I’m missing.” She went over to her iPod station and pulled up some Santana. “Perfect.” Sam swayed to the Latin guitar while she brushed out her wet hair. She closed her eyes, feeling completely relaxed, and realized it had been far too long since she’d felt this good. Peaceful, tranquil, happy—and turned on. Sam hated to admit it, but Malcolm Drew, who she barely knew, had really flipped her switch.

Suddenly, Sam got the eerie feeling of being watched and knew she was no longer alone in her reveries. The small hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. She froze and clutched her robe closed. She swallowed hard, afraid to open her eyes. Sam cursed silently at her silliness and slowly cracked one eye open. There was no one in her room. The door was still closed. I’m being ridiculous. Just as she let out a sigh of relief, she heard a clicking noise behind her. She slowly turned around, and her body froze at the sight before her. Perched on her windowsill was the exact same bird she’d seen in her dream, identical to the one she’d drawn on her canvas. Samantha stood there with wide eyes, uncertain what to do. “Holy crap,” she whispered.

The giant bird puffed up, bronze feathers glinting in the light. It shook its head as though displeased with her response.

“Sorry. Nice, birdie,” she said through a strained, almost hysterical giggle.

The giant creature didn’t move.

It just sat there staring at her, silently watching her with glowing yellow eyes. Sam didn’t know what to do so she stared back. Eventually her artist’s eye began to study the specimen before her. Her fear soon became replaced by curiosity. It was a mammoth bird of prey, an eagle, she thought, but reminded herself she’d have to look it up later. Its feathers shone with bright streaks in varying hues of browns and bronzes. They glinted brightly in golden flashes with even the slightest movement. She eyed its large taloned feet and sharp, hooked beak. Sam shuddered at the damage they could likely do.

The eyes were the same piercing yellow she remembered from her dream. They didn’t move from her face. As she stared into the eyes of her feathered visitor, she got the oddest sense of familiarity. She felt like it was intentionally sitting there so she could study it, like some kind of bizarre introduction. Feeling an unusual bravery, Sam slowly reached out to touch it.

Their odd meeting was abruptly interrupted by the slamming of the front door. They both jumped at the loud noise. In a blur, the eagle popped up, spread out its enormous wings, and swooped out into the night.

“Sam, I’m home. No need to call the police,” Nonie said with a courtesy knock and entered Sam’s bedroom.


“I know I’m late. I hope I didn’t worry you, dear.”

“No.” She went to the window looking after her unexpected visitor, but it was nowhere in sight.

“Are you all right? Sam?”

“Huh? Oh, yes. Sorry, Nonie.” She closed the window.

“Nonie, have you ever had any trouble with birds here at the house?”

“What, you mean like seagulls? Usually just when I’m trying to picnic out at the beach. You know how pesky they can get with food around.”

“No. I mean like bigger birds. Eagles maybe?”

“Eagles.” She chuckled. “No, honey. The closest thing to that might be an osprey, but they stay away from the houses. Not too fond of people you know. Why do you ask?”

“No reason. I thought I saw something, but it was probably just a big seagull.” She waved dismissively.

“Okay, dear, whatever you say. I’m bushed, so I’m going to turn in. Anything big on your agenda for tomorrow?”

“Well actually…I’ve got a date tomorrow night.” Sam sat on the edge of the bed.

“A date! You’ve only been home for a day, and most of that time has been here at home. What? Old Davis hit you up for some fun?” She sat next to Sam on the bed, giving her long hair a playful tug.

“Close. Malcolm Drew.”

“Really,” she said hesitantly. “Well, that should be interesting. I’ve never actually met one of the Drews, so you’ll have to get all the dirt and fill me in. Is he handsome?”

“Handsome? I don’t think that would cover it. In fact, I’m not sure there’s an adequate word to describe him. However, his beauty is tempered by the fact he is clearly arrogant.”

“Nothing wrong with a little confidence.” Nonie patted Sam’s knee. “I think it’s great you’re giving him a chance. I’m sure he could use a friend, since he’s new and all alone. Good night, dear.” She placed a kiss on Sam’s head.

“Night, Nonie.”

After Nonie left, Sam went over and locked the window before crawling into bed. She lay there fiddling with the cross at her neck. Sleep eluded her as she tried to concoct a logical explanation for the giant eagle in her window.

Eventually she drifted off to sleep, but not a dreamless one.


Her dream was filled with the yellow-eyed eagle. It was flying alongside her as she ran on the beach with the waves crashing around her. Again, she was the large gray wolf running down the beach, the wind whipping along her fur-covered body. This time she wasn’t afraid of the eagle. She was running with it, as though they were in complete unison. It was a liberating feeling to run with such abandon while the eagle matched her speed.

The two of them connected as though they’d done it a million times before. They stopped once they’d reached the jetty. The massive eagle landed directly in front of her on the rocks. The salty spray from the waves misted over them as their gazes locked, unwavering. They both stood breathless from their race. Sam felt a connection to something she couldn’t quite put her finger on. It was a feeling of belonging, of coming home. The spell was abruptly broken by the same large, black-backed seagull. It dive-bombed the two of them, shrieking loudly. Swooping down between them, it herded Sam away from her yellow-eyed companion.


Sam was once again torn from her sleep by a shrieking alarm. This time, however, her heart sank with disappointment that the dream was over. She slapped the snooze button on her alarm and threw her arm over her eyes, wishing she could go back and recapture the dream.