Decebel walked over to Jennifer and pulled her into his arms. He pressed his nose into her hair and breathed as deeply as he could, taking in her unique scent.
“Why won’t you talk to me?” he whispered. He didn’t try to use their bond because she had kept it locked up tight since she'd awoken from her nightmare.
Jen squeezed her eyes shut at the sound of pain in his voice. She wrapped her arms around him and squeezed; she clung to him as if her life depended on him.
After several minutes of silence, he finally let her go. He tilted her face up to look at him and brushed a finger softly against her lips. She was beautiful and she was his, but she wouldn’t let him in and it was killing him.
He dropped his hand and turned to help the others unload the van. He didn’t see the pain that flashed in her eyes as he turned from her – he didn’t hear the catch in her breathing as she tried not to reach out and grab him to pour her soul out, to beg him for his forgiveness. Jen had been so focused on Decebel that she hadn’t realized Cynthia was standing next to her.
“Take a walk with me?” Cynthia asked gently.
Jen stared at her a moment, then nodded.
Cynthia called out to Decebel. “Alpha, we need to use the little girls' room. Jen and I are going together and privacy would be appreciated.”
Decebel began to step toward them.
“I can go with her.”
Cynthia held up her hand. “It’s me who needs to pee and I don’t really want you or any of our males going with me.”
It was obvious that Decebel didn’t like the idea of them going off in the dark by themselves, but it wasn't not like he could force them to pee with a male around.
“Fine, be quick,” he growled.
Jen rolled her eyes and let Cynthia turn her and lead her into the forest.
Cynthia walked until she felt like whispering would be safe from wolf hearing. She stepped back from Jen, giving her some space so she wouldn’t feel pressured.
“Jen, something is wrong. That much is clear,” Cynthia stated matter of factly.
Jen nodded her agreement.
“Have you talked with anyone about what it is? With Decebel?”
“No.” Jen’s bottom lip trembled as she tried to hold back the tears that had been threatening to spill over all day.
Cynthia didn’t go to her; she didn’t offer comfort. She knew that Jen needed to get this off her chest and she would do that better if she wasn’t being coddled.
“I’m a doctor. Even now, though I don’t practice conventionally, I’m still a doctor and my oaths still stand. Patient confidentiality, Jen. I’ll take it to my grave.”
Jen’s head snapped up and her eyes met Cynthia’s. Cynthia saw in Jen a desperation that she had never seen in the usually confident young woman.
“Do you hear me? Are we on the same page?”
“Yes,” Jen whispered. “We’re on the same page.”
Jen found a fallen tree limb and sat down on it. Cynthia moved closer so that Jen wouldn’t have to speak too loudly.
Without any preamble Jen just started talking.
When she finished, Cynthia closed her eyes, wishing all of this away.
The first thing that came out of Cynthia's mouth was, “You’re pregnant.” When she opened her eyes she saw that Jen had tears sliding down her cheeks.
“I killed my baby, Decebel’s baby. I killed her.” Jen’s breathing was getting sporatic and Cynthia knew if she didn’t calm her down, Decebel would crash through the woods for her any moment.
“Shh, Jen. Pull it together or your man’s going to be tearing down trees to get to you.”
Jen wiped her tears away as she tried to compose herself.
“Why haven’t you told your mate?” Cynthia asked.
Jen wrapped her arms around herself, another sign of how vulnerable she was feeling.
“I can’t stand the thought of seeing the disgust and anger in his eyes once he knows I’ve killed our child. If only I had just died....it was my time.”
Cynthia was shaking her head before Jen even finished speaking.
“If you had died Decebel would have destroyed the world. He would have lost it and then taken his own life. This isn’t your fault, Jen, it’s the damn Fates'. He will not hold you responsible nor will he be angry. He will be hurting for you, hurting because he is going to feel all of the guilt in you. Jen, you know Decebel, you know how he feels about you. You have to trust that he will love you through this, that you two can work through this together..”
Jen looked at her hopefully. “Do you think there is a way to keep the Fates from taking her?”
“I don’t know, but I do know that Decebel would move mountains, destroy nations, call down the wrath of the gods to see you happy.” Cynthia pulled Jen up from the limb.
“You’re going to have to tell him. But I want you to take it easy and don’t push yourself too hard, okay?”
Jen nodded. She took a deep breath and let it out. She didn’t feel great, but she felt better. She needed someone to know, needed someone to understand. And she knew Cynthia was right, she couldn’t keep this from Decebel for much longer. She was hurting him and it wasn't fair.
They headed back to the group in silence. Once there, all of them followed Decebel into the forest, the moon their only guiding light.
They walked for an hour, just as Decebel had said, and then made camp. Costin and Drake got a fire going while, in wolf form, Sorin did a check of the perimeter. When he came back to the camp site he couldn’t help but preen for Elle, who was watching him in awe.
Elle laughed at Sorin’s obvious pleasure in her watching him. She waved him off, telling him to go get dressed. He tilted his head in a charming manner and headed back into the forest to gather his clothes.
Once they were all gathered around the fire, they sat in silence, watching the flames eat up the wood. They each felt the darkness that hung over the forest and didn’t want to draw attention to themselves by speaking. Soon, one by one, they laid out their pallets and went to sleep. The males took their turns keeping watch and when morning came, they each woke up breathing a little easier. Things, so far, had been uneventful.
Costin looked at Decebel as they journeyed deeper into the forest. “Did you feel that last night?”
Decebel nodded. “We’re being watched. I feel it even now.”