“Are you well, Mina?” He tried to keep the pain he was feeling from their distance out of his voice, but he knew that he would not be able to hide it all. He felt her surprise at hearing him, and it brought a smile to his face as he pictured her eyes sparkling with her mischievous grin.
“I am, and you?” Her voice was like a summer rain after months of hot, dry days. It flowed over him and through him quenching the already wilting places inside of him.
“No more than a couple of hours have passed from when I last saw you, and I find myself struggling not to run straight back to you,” he admitted without shame. “How will I survive this, Alina?”
Alina could feel his turmoil as if it were her own. The frustration that laced his words dug deep into her soul adding to her own torment. It was not as simple as missing the one you loved. It was a desperation born of being unable to breathe without them near, as if your lungs would not function because of your love's absence. She leaned against the door of their cottage she had been about to enter when she heard his voice. Her hands trembled and her heart was pounding so hard she was sure it would leave a bruise on the outside of her chest. She did not know what to say to him or how to comfort him when she, herself, ached with the pain of the hole inside her.
“You will survive because you have to,” she told him in what she hoped was a stern voice. The only thing she knew to do at that point was to appeal to the dominant in him, to draw on the sense of obligation that an Alpha felt towards his pack and bring that to the forefront instead of the agony of their separation. “We both have things we need to do; focus on those things, Vasile. You need to be an Alpha right now. You need to restore our pack so that we will thrive. I am not going anywhere. I will be right here where you left me when it is time for you to come for me.” The next words that came out of her mouth shattered her already broken heart, but it was the only thing she knew to do that would keep them both sane. If they continued to feed off of each other's hurt and grief, eventually neither of them would be able to function. “I completely understand how you feel, Alpha mine; I need you to hear that. Not even half a day has gone by, and I am being incapacitated from the waves of emotions that are not only flowing from my own soul, but yours as well. I cannot live like this, Vasile, not for two years. I need some space. I am not abandoning you,” she quickly added when she felt his temper flare. “I am asking you to help me endure this by keeping the bond narrowed so that so much of our emotions do not flood the other's mind. I know you will not admit to it, but you need the space as well.”
“For how long,” he bit out.
“Until we are able to control our own emotions, we need to accept the situation, and our wolves need to accept the situation before we will be able to tolerate the pain.” She waited for his response gritting her teeth to keep from begging him to come back for her.
“This is really what you want?”
Her mind screamed, “No!”
“Yes,” she answered ignoring the snarling wolf inside of her. “I want what is best for us, and I think for now this is what is best.” She knew she was using his own words against him, but she was desperate for him to agree so that she could close down the bond enough that he would not feel her fall to the ground in a mess of sobs.
“So be it.” His voice was cold as if he had removed the emotions from the equation and was now simply an observer. “I love you, Mina, and I will be coming for you sooner rather than later.” Despite the words he had just confessed, she did not feel comforted by him. She felt him pull back from the bond, felt the walls go up, and then she was alone. She had done what she had set out to do, and as she slipped to the ground, biting her bottom lip to keep from crying out, she wondered if she had just made a mistake that would be irreversible as was as irreparable.
Vasile pictured the walls going up in his head as he shut the bond down between them. Not even a day, hell not even half a day, and already a chasm had been ripped open between them. Something had happened inside of him when his mate had told him she wanted space. All the darkness she had chased away rushed back in like a tidal wave and instead of fighting it, he embraced it. He pulled it close and pushed away the hurt, the desperation and the need of his true mate, and instead accepted the one thing that had yet to abandon him. His brother had left him, his parents had left him, and now the one person who he needed more than any of them had told him to narrow the bond. He snorted in disgust at her placating words, narrow the bond, as if she did not mean shut the damn thing down because I cannot deal with your anguish. She was young, and he probably was not being fair to her, but in that moment all he knew was that she had let him go because it hurt too much to deal with him. She wanted space, fine; then he would give her all the space in the world; and when she turned eighteen, he would continue to give her space; nineteen, more space. And when the magic number of twenty hit, he would claim her, he would bind her to him, and then once the bond was cemented between them, he would tell her that he needed some damn space. Let her feel what she had just done to him. Let her wonder if he truly wanted her. Remind her of the day she rejected his soul because it was more than she could handle.
He sat in the chair that was once his fathers. His breathing became harsh with the rage that was beginning to wrap itself around his heart squeezing what little compassion remained. A knock on the door drew his attention, and he looked up to see Ion standing just inside the office.
“Yes?” His voice, calm and smooth, was a complete contradiction to the fierce storm building inside of him.
“I take it that you do not trust Alin since you did not tell him of your mate,” he said as he watched Vasile carefully. Ion had known him all of his life and knew him quite well. It would be tricky to hide the darkness from him, but not impossible; after all he was born of two deceivers who were masters of their craft.
“The only ones that are aware that she is my mate besides you and Nicu are in Alina’s village, and I spoke with her father to ensure none of them would speak of it. As of right now there is no mate.” He saw the surprise and then suspicion in his third's eyes and added, “For her safety, of course. Until we are sure that all in the pack have their needs met and once again feel as though they matter, we will not give them anything they could use against me.”
“If that is what you think is best for her,” Ion said slowly.