“I wish to go,” she responded sweetly. She heard the chastising groans behind her from the other two males. Though it was hard, she managed not to roll her eyes.
“You know who I am,” he stated firmly.
“Yes, Alpha,” she said as she lowered her eyes and tilted her chin up revealing her neck, admitting her submission even though what she really wanted to do was stomp his foot as hard as she could and then run. Bearing the vulnerable places to a predator was always a risk. He darted forward and bit down on her neck not hard enough to break the skin but enough to capture her full attention. She held very still. Her wolf stirred, she smelled him, and he called to her. Alina fought her wolf for control refusing to allow her to purr at his attention or flop on her back bearing her belly like a love sick puppy.
She still was not convinced, despite the connection of their minds, that he was her mate. He was the Alpha, royalty, and lived in a whole different world, despite living in the same territory as her. How could she ever measure up to all of the grand things he had probably been exposed to all of his life? How could she compare to the she-wolfs who did not scrub their own laundry but instead hired pixies who had been shunned from their realm to do it? They did not have dry skin, or chipped nails, but she did. She could not be his; there had to be some mistake. No matter how much she had wanted this very thing, seeing him here in all his glory and power, she knew that she was not his equal and mates were always equals.
After several seconds that felt like hours passed, he released her and stepped back but was still closer than he had been. She could not look at him, not after all that she was sure he had seen in her mind. Though she was fully dressed, she had never felt so naked, so vulnerable, in all her life. His warm hand under her chin lifted her face until she had no choice but to look at him. His eyes glowed and she swallowed hard as she stared at Vasile’s wolf.
“Yes,” he growled. “I am Alpha, but I am more than that to you, Alina.” His head tilted ever so slightly to the side. “How old are you?” His eyes seemed to travel down her form and the obvious intimacy in his stare heated her cheeks.
She shook her head as much as she could with him holding her chin. “I am nearly sixteen. So you see there has been a mistake. I cannot possibly be what you are suggesting; I am not of age.”
Her experience with the males in her race had taught her that when they began to snarl, growl, and slam things around, it was best to leave them be. The dominants especially lived on the edge of violence at all times as the beast inside of him yearned to take over. But as she watched the male in front of her go very, very still, she realized that there was something worse than seeing a male lose control. She knew without a doubt that the carefully contained rage before her was much more dangerous than any growling or snarling he might do.
“Vasile,” one of the males called out. “You are frightening her. Is that what you want?” She figured he must have stepped closer because his voice was louder though he had not raised it. When Vasile’s head snapped up to pin the wolf with his gaze, Alina nearly groaned. Surely, this male knew his Alpha better than that. Surely, he understood that when the wolf is peering out of the man’s face it's typically not an invitation to have a reasonable conversation.
“Nicu, do not come near her,” Vasile said coolly, not raising his voice, not snapping his teeth but with completely composed wrath that promised reprisal if not obeyed instantly.
Nicu must have submitted because the Alpha’s attention was once again on her. Fabulous, she thought.
“You will not deny me, Mina. I have waited a century for you. You are young, but not so young that you do not know what is happening. Sixteen? Many human females are married with a babe on the way at this age.” Her eyes widened in surprise at his bluntness. “However, we are not human are we? We are Canis lupis; we have one true mate designed solely for us. Some of us wait hundreds of years before they find their mate. I can wait a little longer if I must. Do not use your age as an excuse to avoid what is. You are mine. Something tells me you are not a fool, but if you think that I will let you go, then a fool you have become.”
“You certainly know how to make a woman feel revered,” Alina bit out. Her tone of voice shocked him, and it gave her the opportunity to knock his hand away and step out of his reach. He started for her but stopped when her father’s voice boomed through the air.
“Alpha! Welcome.” Petre and his wife walked over to where Alina and Vasile stood. They both bared their neck to him and then were careful to keep their eyes anywhere but on his. “I see you have met our daughter, Alina.” When Vasile did not answer, her father glanced up to his face, blanched, and quickly looked away. “Perhaps, we will take your warriors in and give them a drink.”
Alina started to call out to her father but her mother caught her eyes and shook her head one time. The stern look and tight lips told her that her mother meant business. As she watched her only hope of getting away from the wolf at her door, so to speak, moving further and further away, she bit her lip trying to think of an excuse to follow them. Her thoughts were interrupted when a large, warm hand enveloped hers. She looked down and saw her fingers interlaced with Vasile’s, and it felt so good, so right. He pulled her over to a bench where she and her mother often sat to talk after the day’s work was done. He sat and nodded for her to sit next to him. So she sat; what else could she do?
“Tell me why you do not want me,” he said bluntly.
Her brow drew together as she looked up at him. “I never said I did not want you. I am just young.”
“That is not enough of a reason to turn your mate away. Tell me the true reason you deny me?”
She looked away, not wanting him to see the shame on her face. She wished desperately that it was not there. “We are not the same,” she finally admitted.
“I would hope not,” he chuckled. “I very much like our differences and hope to enjoy them more in the future.”
She blushed at his insinuation. It was as improper as it was bold.
“It is not improper for me to desire my true mate,” he told her hearing her thoughts. “Bold, perhaps, but not improper.”
“You should not say such things to me.”
“I assure you that it is better at this point that I say such things instead of do such things,” Vasile said smoothly.