Mara felt the same sense of power and fullness as when she’d received the confirmation of her oath. Stunned, mouth agape, she gasped and then looked up.
Dixon appeared equally shocked. “I thought you said you—”
“I did!” she interrupted.
“But then, how could—”
“This be? I don’t know. But I swore an oath for the girls’ protection and I received a confirmation. Just now, when you swore to protect them, I had the same feeling as when I gave my oath.”
“Can you describe it?”
“Well,” she said, her hand to her throat, “it feels like I’m full of emotions—of all kinds. Happiness, sadness, fear, longing, desire . . . I want to sit silently, jump in joy, sing praises. I . . .”
“Yes?” he prompted.
She exhaled audibly, struggling to find the right words to convey her feelings. Tears welled in her eyes. “I feel I’ve been filled in places I didn’t know were empty. It’s like music just broke open within me.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“And you? What are you feeling now? How can this be if I’ve already been called as Oathtaker to the girls? If I’ve already sworn an oath for their protection?”
He frowned. “I know what the confirmation feels like, Mara. I’ve experienced it. You’ve described it beautifully . . . and accurately. Just now, I felt the earth shake, but I didn’t get those same sensations.”
“But what does this mean?”
“I don’t know. If I had to guess, I’d say the Good One acknowledged my promise, but not as the girls’ assigned Oathtaker. From what you just said, from the description you gave, there’s no question. You are their Oathtaker.”
She got to her feet and went back to the campfire, Dixon following. She sat down, cradling the babies. “Well there certainly are a lot of questions to be answered. Even so, I can’t go on like this. I feel I’m always walking on eggshells around you and . . . I refuse to do it any longer.” She pursed her lips and shook her head. “If you really want to help, if you really think you can do this, then something has got to change.”
“Perhaps if you told your story, you could put your demons at bay. Then maybe, just maybe, we can call a truce. I am not your enemy.”
He moved as though to speak, then hesitated. “Fair enough,” he finally said. He was quiet for a minute. “Goodness, where do I begin?” he asked with a sheepish grin.
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