Costin loved her, poured that love into to every kiss, every touch. He whispered to her in his language and hers how he adored her and loved everything about her. He shared with her what he longed for and loved the blush that covered her skin when he told her how he longed to be wed to her, so they could share in the enjoyments of a married and mated pair. Sally expressed her apprehension and fears. She told him all the things that she had been so afraid to tell him, all the emotions she had been so hesitant to express for fear of enduring a broken heart.
Sally decided it was the best night of her life and, as she curled into his arms, her head resting on his chest, she finally felt whole and complete.
She drifted off to sleep to the sound of Costin whispering words of love in her ear.
Costin waited until he knew that Sally was asleep before he gave into the emotions that had been building inside him. He felt the tears trail slowly down his cheeks as he let go. He had never felt such love, such peace as he did in this moment. She was his, finally. She bore his mark, his scent, and forever would. He had nearly begged her to let him make love to her as he listened to her tell him how she loved him, how she longed to be with him, and could sit all day just being in his presence. At one point he had rolled her onto her back and laid his body over hers, allowing his wolf to relish in the touch of their bodies, in the rightness of her being surrounded by him. She had stared into his eyes, innocence staring back at him through hers. So trustingly, she had ran her fingers through his hair and smiled up at him, giving herself to him and only him.
“I love you, Sally mine. I love you today and I will love you more tomorrow,” he whispered to his mate as he let sleep take him.
“There is no greater torture than watching as your love, your reason for living, breathing, existing, sinks into oblivion. Your heart stops as no matter how you try to get to her, she just gets farther and farther away.” ~ Fane
Fane watched his mate sink into the murky water. He yelled her name over and over but Jacquelyn never responded or even acknowledged that he was there. He ran into the water, splashing and trying to grab for her. The more he tried to get to her, the farther away she seemed to be.
He heard his name being called but ignored it. All he could see was his mate. She was drowning and he could do nothing to save her. Suddenly Fane felt something wrap around his leg and a powerful tug began to pull him under. He was okay with that and didn’t fight it. If he could get under the water he could get to Jacquelyn, he was sure of it.
“FANE! Fight it! She isn’t drowning! FANE!”
The last thing Fane heard was his name being called over and over, but he couldn’t respond as his head was covered with water, and he was pulled even deeper. Darkness enveloped him as he continued to try to reach for his mate. He reached and reached but it was in vain.
Suddenly the water receded and he found himself in a dark, cave-like room. He stood up and looked around. He tried to brush the water from his clothes and skin but looked down in surprise when he saw he wasn’t wet.
Looking for any sign of Jacquelyn, he called out, “Hello?”
He heard a cackling laugh and backed up when a figure materialized from the darkness.
“Hello, princeling,” Mona said to him as she circled him.
“You’re not real,” Fane snarled. He rushed her, only to go straight through her.
She laughed again.
“Right you are. This is simply a projection of myself. I decided I want to explain to you where you are so that you can fully appreciate my ingenious plan. You cocky wolves thought you had a chance against me.”
“Where is my mate?” he barked at her.
“Oh, don’t get your tail in a twist. Your mate is fine. I don’t care about her; she is no threat to me. You, however, you and the other males are definitely a threat. I knew the sure way to catch you was to threaten your mate. How predictable you are. You really should work on that – after all, variety is the spice of life.”
“What is this place?” he spat at her.
“I’m so glad you asked. This is the In Between.” She watched Fane’s face pale.
“Ah, so your father has been filling you in. Excellent. Then I won't have to spend much time on this. So, all you must do is think of your greatest fear and you will get the intense pleasure of living it over and over and over again. Don’t try to not think of it, because now that I have said it, your little pea-sized brain will automatically have the images dancing through that little head of yours.” She watched as Fane’s face slowly began to morph into panic.
“My work here is done. I have other lives to ruin. Tootles!” And before Fane could blink she was gone.
Fane put his hands over his eyes and tried to push the images away.
“Not real, not real,” he said over and over, but the images of Jacquelyn’s death poured into his mind. He watched as her body was attacked by the wolves from the battle between them and Mona. She was ripped limb from limb and Fane could not reach her no matter how quickly he ran. He sank to his knees and screamed in agony.
Then she was standing whole before him. She reached for him.
“Why did you let them kill me Fane? Why didn’t you save me?” she asked him, her eyes full of pain.
“I tried my love, I tried.” Out of nowhere Fane watched Mona aim her hands at his mate and saw Jacquelyn crash to her knees, screaming in agony. She called out to him, begging him to rescue her.
“FANE! Please, I need you! Please come, please, please.” Her cries became weak and feeble as Mona continued to torture her. Fane tried to crawl toward her. He reached for her, watching blood begin to flow freely from her nose, eyes, and ears. He closed his eyes, trying to tell himself once again that it wasn’t real, but it didn’t matter how often he told himself. All he could hear were the anguished cries of his mate.
Tears streamed from his face as he cried for her. “I’m here, Jacquelyn. I’m here, baby.” She did not acknowledge his words.
He watched her bleed to death, watched as she was crushed time and time again by his enemy, watched as she was taken by Lucas Steele, violated and beaten. He screamed and screamed to no avail. The images continued to come and continued to rip at his soul. He wanted to die, he wanted her to die, once and for all so that she never suffered again. He knew he would break before this was over. He would not make it out of this hell a whole man. His love was being tortured and killed before his eyes and he couldn’t save her.