Once she was mere feet away from the three beings she came to an abrupt stop, as if she had hit a wall. And when she heard the voices in her mind she felt the blood run cold through her body.
“Jennifer Adams, daughter of Jeffrey and Michelle Adams, former resident of Coldspring, Texas, mate to Decebel Anghelesco, former Beta of the Romanian pack, now Alpha of the Serbian pack. We are the Fates and have called you to stand before us to honor your debt.”
“I knew I shouldn’t have gone through that door,” she muttered under her breath.
“Your life was to end at 18 years of age. Your time on the earth was done.”
“Are you kidding me?” Jen interrupted. “My life was – is just beginning. How can you say that at 18 my time is done? I haven’t done anything. Don’t you have to have done something in order to be done?”
“SILENCE!” All three voices reverberated in her head.
“A simple 'shut it' would have sufficed,” she grumbled.
“Perizada of the Fae interrupted your life cycle. She took your death from us. The price for that is a life. So it has always been – a life for a life. Since your death was not collected, then another’s must be.”
“Do you three always talk about yourselves in the third person? Because if you’re going for creepy, you have far surpassed it without adding that little weird quirk.” Jen couldn’t help the sarcasm that seeped out of her mouth.
Once again, she thought, my nerves have turned off the valve that filters the wise statements from the “going to get bitch slapped” statements.
“The life cannot be just anyone's. It has belong to someone to whom your soul calls out. The price is great for the choice you made and our decision is decided, the life has been chosen, and will be taken henceforth.”
Jen felt like the air had been knocked from her lungs. Someone to whom your soul calls out. There was only one that qualified for that and it was her mate.
“NO!” she yelled. “You will not take him – you can have me! I will accept my fate. But do not take his life for mine.”
“You misunderstand, Jennifer, mate to Decebel. Your fate was changed the moment Perizada took you from us. Your choice has consequences and you must face them.”
“But I love him. He shouldn’t suffer because of my choice,” Jen said firmly.
“The one who will fulfill this debt is not male, nor has her life begun. Your offspring has been chosen as the price. In nine months’ time the debt will be paid.”
Jen felt her legs crumble beneath her as she hit the floor. Even in her dream she felt the pain radiate through her. She tried to suck in air but her lungs wouldn’t work. Her body began to shake and she felt herself falling into a black hole. Darkness wrapped her up like a blanket. Her brain did not want to believe what they had told her – her heart was already breaking for the life that she had not, until moments ago, even known existed.
Her offspring, they had said. Decebel and she had created a life. She allowed herself to feel the joy of that revelation briefly but squelched it just as fast. How was she going to tell Decebel, the father of their baby, that she had essentially killed their baby? Not male, the Fates had said. A daughter – she had killed their daughter. How could he ever forgive her for that? And how was she going to live after losing the one they had created out of love?
She felt tears pouring down her cheeks and her body being shaken by someone. A familiar voice broke through the darkness, a voice she was not ready to hear.
“Jennifer! Wake up, baby. Please wake up.” Decebel’s voice was deep and filled with worry.
Her eyes reluctantly flicked open and she saw his tightly drawn face through her tears. He pulled her into his lap and held her close as she continued to cry and shake. She wasn’t ready to talk, she just needed to be held. She needed to have this time with the man she loved with every fiber of her being. Because once he found out that she was pregnant and that their daughter was destined to die because of her, he would never want to hold her again.
After a while, Jen finally began to calm down – that or she was just out of tears. He pulled back so he could look at her face. Jen was not allowing herself to think of what she had learned in her dream. She was burying it deep beneath a lie.
“Baby, did you have a nightmare? Are you okay?” he asked her gently as he wiped the tears away.
Jen nodded. “It was a nightmare. I..I was just dreaming about the worst outcome possible for all of this. I’m worried about Jacque and how we haven’t heard from them, I’m worried about Sally and Costin, and I’m worried about Sorin and Elle. I guess everything caught up with me and it’s just a lot, ya know?” She couldn’t believe the ease with which she told him the lie, but she knew that in that moment she would not be able to handle the his disgust if she told him the truth.
“I’m okay now.” She tried to pull away from him but he wouldn’t relent.
“Jennifer, you were shaking and crying. At one point you said, 'he’ll never forgive me'. Who were you talking about? Who won’t forgive you?”
Jen closed her eyes, pulling her mind back from his, and felt his breath hitch at the pain of it.
“Why?” he growled.
“I just need a minute, Dec. Please let me collect myself. It was a very realistic dream.” She shifted against him. “Let me go wash my face and then I'll show you what I dreamed, okay?” She tried to keep her voice gentle.
He nodded and let her pull away from him and stand. She walked to the bathroom and shut the door behind her, then she turned on the sink and locked the door. Pushing reality to the back of her mind, she thought up some of the fears she had regarding the coming days. She thought about the plan that Mona had set in motion, about the possible outcome for her pack, for their future. She splashed water on her face and pulled herself together.
Jen didn’t know who she could talk to about this. She was so ashamed that her child would pay the price for her selfishness. How do you tell your mate, your best friends, your pack something so horrific? No, she had no idea what she was going to do; she had no idea how she would survive this. She did know that she would do anything it took to save the life of their child. Whatever it took to see what she imagined as the amber eyes and dark, thick locks on their daughter's face, she would do.
Once she'd completely pulled herself together, she opened the bathroom door to find Decebel on the phone. Her stomach dropped when she saw the look on his face. She walked over to his side and sat down and waited.