“That’s okay. I was in my own little world.”
“What are you reading?” he asked, motioning to the book in her lap.
“Oh, this is a book that Peri gave me about the gypsy healers.” Sally blushed as she realized he might have been listening to her read.
“Well, don’t stop on my account.” Costin grinned as he leaned back, stretching his legs out in front of him and crossing them. He folded his hands in his lap and stared at her.
“You’re just going to sit there and watch me read?”
“Sally mine, I could sit and watch you stare off into nothing, as long as I got to gaze on your sweet form.”
Sally blushed again, feeling the heat run up her neck clear up to her hairline. She shrugged her shoulders, recognizing a lost cause when she saw one. Costin was going to sit there whether she was embarrassed or not. So she turned back to the book and picked up where she left off.
“The gypsy leader was skeptical at first, but then the first of the healers was chosen. The young gypsy girl met her mate in the market one day. There was nothing that would keep them from being together; the pull was too strong. So the leader went to the girl and explained her dream to her. She asked her mate to show her his wolf form to confirm what she was telling the girl. At first the girl was a little frightened, but the love she felt for the male Canis lupis helped her overcome her fear. The gypsy leader continued to watch descendants of her tribe become healers until she was called to the next life.”
Sally felt Costin's fingertips begin to gently trail over her back. She unconsciously leaned back into his touch, as natural as breathing. She understood the pull that the book described. She feared the intensity of their bond, but knew in her heart that she could never walk away from him. Though the markings had appeared on her skin, indicating that she was indeed his mate, the mental bond had yet to appear. Sally was beginning to think that maybe it was because of the doubt and fear that she held in her heart.
“I hope that one day I can stand before the Great Luna and thank her for the gift she has given our kind through our true mates.” Costin's words were soft, but she felt them in her very soul. “Even in the short time that I have had you in my life, I cannot imagine it without you.”
Sally turned to look at him and felt his hazel eyes peering into her, searching for the feelings that she was unable to express.
“It’s okay, Sally mine, I can feel what you feel for me. And I look forward to the day when I hear the words cross your lips.”
With that, she leaned into his side and settled close as he wrapped his arms around her. Oh, how it felt so right to be there with him, his body heat seeping into her. She closed the book and decided she could read more later. For now she was going to just enjoy being close to Costin.
“Will you tell me about your life?” she asked hesitantly. “I mean, you’re sixty years old, right? Surely you’ve done some pretty cool things in the course of that time. Uh, but I don’t want to hear about your escapades with other girls.”
Costin chuckled at her. “That is a conversation for later.” He squeezed her briefly. “Okay, so you want to know about me. Let’s see, I was born here in Romania in 1951.”
Sally interrupted with, “That is so freaking weird.”
“I can see how that would be weird to you,” he agreed.
Sally sat up, quickly pulling from his hold, and turned to look at him straight on. “Costin, where are your parents?”
Costin brought his hand up to her cheek and brushed his fingers lightly across her cheek, then dropped his hand as he answered her.
“My mother died in childbirth with my little sister. She was stillborn. You see, there was no healer in our pack. And my father died with my mother since they were bonded.”
Sally took his hand and held it to her chest. “Costin, I am so sorry.”
“It was a miracle that she conceived after me. Most Canis lupis only have one child and it’s very rare for the child to survive if there is not a healer in the pack. My parents were so filled with joy when they found out she was pregnant.” Sally watched Costin’s eyes take on a faraway look as he remembered a time long past.
“I think as the pregnancy progressed my mother knew that it wasn’t going to end well,” he continued. “She was beginning to get things in order for me to be on my own. It was a sad time, but I am glad my father followed her. A male Canis lupis is a dangerous one if his mate passes on without him – which, of course, can only happen if they are unbonded. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain I would feel if you went onto the next life without me. I would follow you.”
Sally gasped. “You would take your own life? Costin, you cannot. If that happens, please promise me you wouldn’t.”
“Sorry, love, that is a promise that I can never make to you. Where you go, I go. Simple as that.”
Before Sally could respond, a voice reached out to them from the front of mansion.
“I hate to bust up this declaration of utter devotion, love, and dying for another blah, blah, blah,” Jen’s loud voice penetrated the peaceful garden, “but we have been called to an emergency meeting, so save the make out session that inevitably follows such declarations and get your to the meeting room.”
Costin stood up, pulling Sally with him. His face had morphed into the intense one that Sally was beginning to recognize as his “it’s time to kick some major butt” face. She followed as he led her out of the garden and into the meeting room.
As they entered the room they saw that a conference call had been set up. A large screen sat on a stand in the front of the room. Staring back at them from the screen were the faces of Vasile, Alina, Sorin, Fane and Jacque. Decebel stood at the head of the table and Jen stood next to him, leaning on the chair in front of her. The table and the chairs to their right were empty. Costin headed toward them and pulled out Sally’s seat for her. Across from Sally sat Drake, Decebel’s third, and next to him Seraph, his fourth. Farther down the table sat more dominants that Sally was beginning to get to know, and around the room in chairs against the walls sat other members of the Serbian pack. Peri stood to Decebel’s left.
The room quieted as Decebel cleared his throat.
“Perizada of the Fae has brought us troubling news. Listen to what she has to say and when she is finished we will decide what course of action we need to take.” He made a motion for Peri to take over.