He closed his eyes and curled into a ball, trying shut out the images, but her cries broke through.
Vasile stared at the pond where his only son had disappeared.
Suddenly the water began to bubble and a coughing and sputtering Jacquelyn emerged. Vasile began to go in after her but was stopped by Crina.
“Let me, Alpha,” she told him as she went into the water.
Crina reached Jacque and wrapped an arm around her and under her arms as she pulled her on her back toward the shore.
When she reached it Vasile and Adam helped pulled her up. Rachel ran to her side and knelt down, checking to see if she was breathing and if her heart was beating.
Rachel let out a deep breath. “She lives,” she said as relief poured over her.
Alina knelt next to her daughter in-law and held her cold, wet hand.
“Alpha, where is my son?” she asked emotionlessly.
Vasile’s eyes still hadn’t left the pond. He waited and waited to see if Fane would resurface, but deep down he knew he wouldn’t. He knew he wasn’t dead because he would have felt the loss in the pack bonds, but he also knew that something terrible was happening to his son. He could feel the torment pouring through their bond and there was nothing he could do. He would have to wait until Jacque woke to see if she could reach him through the mate bond.
Something told Vasile that she wouldn’t be able to and knew that it was going to terrify her.
Glancing down, he caught the eyes of his mate and held her stare. “He is gone, but alive. We will get him back. For now we must tend to Jacque and figure out our next step.” Vasile leaned down and picked up his daughter, for that was what she had become to him – a daughter, a pack member, the beloved of his son. She mustn’t die, because if she died so would Fane, and neither of those deaths were acceptable to Vasile.
He carried her and the others followed solemnly back to their camp. All of them were on alert as they walked back through the forest in the cool darkness. The fire from their camp still burned up ahead as if no evil had touched their group this night.
Vasile placed Jacque on a pallet that Alina laid out for her. Adam, after checking that Crina was alright, took watch on the edge of the camp as the others sat around the fire.
“What do you think happened to him?” Alina asked her mate.
“I think Mona has influenced the pixies far quicker and more effectively than I would have thought possible. They are such a finicky race. But I have a feeling it was their spell on the pond, and for whatever reason it called to Jacque. Mona knew that Fane would go after Jacque, so if her intent all along was to get Fane, then all she needed to do was get to his mate. The same will hold true with the other mated pairs.”
“We need to let them know,” Rachel spoke up. Gavril stood behind her, his hand on her shoulder in silent support.
Vasile nodded. He took out his phone and called to Adam.
“Adam, I need a little help with my phone. I would ask you to seek out Peri, but I have a feeling you won’t be leaving your mate.”
Adam grinned. “You would be right, Alpha. Crina will not be leaving my sight.” He reached out and touched Vasile’s phone, giving it a charge.
Vasile dialed Decebel’s number and waited.
“How do you think they’re doing?” Jen asked her mate as she lay in his arms.
Decebel growled. “I think you need to be worrying about what is happening in your own bed, mate, and not in someone else’s.”
Jen laughed. “You certainly have a way with words.”
Decebel rolled her over until he covered her body with his own. He kissed her gently and then placed kisses on her eyes, her nose, her cheeks, down her jaw, and to her neck. He chuckled as she moaned, pleased at her response.
“Do you think everything is okay with Vasile and the others?” she asked him through a gasp as he bit gently on the mark he had left on her from their blood rites.
“Why do you insist on bringing others into our bed, Jennifer? I must be doing this wrong if all you can do is think of others.”
Then, as he continued to kiss her and love her, he surrounded her. Her every thought was centered only on him and she decided very quickly that he was doing everything just right.
Jen opened her eyes slowly and realized right away that she wasn’t really awake. She was in a dream world, a dream world that looked just like the place that Peri had found her in when she died.
“This cannot be good,” she said into the bright, empty space. She turned in a circle, thinking that maybe Peri would show up again, but no such luck. It was just her and the bright space all around.
She began to walk, not knowing where she was going, if anywhere. For all she knew she was walking in place since the scenery never changed. Gradually she noticed the light was growing dimmer around her. Shivering, she felt the air was get colder. She looked down and realized all she had on was the shorts and tank she had gone to bed in. Decebel was like her own personal space heater in their bed – too many clothes and she would sweat all night.
When all of the light had been swallowed and she stood in pitch black, a sliver of light suddenly pierced the darkness and grew larger. She realized it was a door opening and stood there, debating the wisdom of going through that door. After a few moments' deliberation, she decided there really wasn’t another option unless she happened to wake up. She did pinch herself for good measure, just to see if she could draw herself out of this bizarre dream.
Jen walked slowly toward the open door, all the while trying to calm her racing heart. She didn’t want to be afraid. She had already died once, surely a second time wouldn’t be all that bad. As she crossed the threshold of the door, her eyes widened at what was before her.
It was a large room with stairs leading down from the doorway to a platform. On this platform were three beings – she didn’t really know what else to call them. They were definitely not human and they didn’t really have physical bodies, but they were very much alive. They seemed to glow and pulsate as their form changed constantly.
From what she could see, they would hold the form of featureless human and shift to strange-looking animals, then shift to something else entirely. She felt a pull that she could not ignore and it drew her down the stairs. Almost in a trance, she walked slowly, step by step by step. Her mind was screaming out a warning, but no amount of telling her legs to stop was doing any good. So she gave into the pull and let it bring her before the three beings.