She did not know what to say to that. She wanted to believe her mother, but she could not. Her soul continually cried out for its mate, her wolf howled in despair for him to answer her, and still he did not. His silence spoke much louder than her mother, and it told her that he could live without her, that he would live without her.
Romanian Proverb #10
Nu întinde ata cã se rupe.
A bow too tightly strung will break.
“She should have come,” Petre grumbled neither for the first nor the last time. Georgeta kept close to her mate as they joined the rest of the pack in the great hall of the castle to honor the dead Alpha pair. She kept pushing him forward, wanting to get as close to the front as possible. “You are not going to talk to him,” her mate muttered under his breath. “Our village knows not to say anything regarding Alina, and you heard what Ion said as we arrived―they want to protect Alina until any unrest is settled in the pack. They do not want anyone near the castle to know he has a mate.”
“Why does that mean I cannot talk to my Alpha?” she asked innocently. “I simply want to give him my condolences for his loss.”
Petre snorted. “Is that all you wish to give him, mate?”
“Petre, I cannot believe you would doubt my sincerity.”
He stopped and turned to look at her. “Believe me, Georgeta, I do not doubt your sincerity. But I do not think it is the loss of his parents you are speaking of. You are a she-wolf whose pup has been scorned by the man she loves. He will be lucky if there is anything left when you are done chewing on him.”
“I always knew you were a wise male.” She smiled up at him but the anger that had been in her eyes for five days had not abated in the least.
“Try to remember that your daughter loves him,” he urged her as he took her hand and continued to get closer to the front of the room.
“I will not forget, my love. That is the only reason that I am not going to skin him.”
Vasile looked out over the full room. The entire Eastern Romania pack was together―all to honor his dead parents. There were many with tears in their eyes as they remembered the centuries that his mother and father had led the pack. It was obvious that his parents were loved and that they would be missed. He should be mourning them as well. He should be hurting, and he was, but the pain that ruled in his heart was not for the loss of his parents. He had accepted that their time was over. Everyone dies, though it might take death longer to find those of his race. As his eyes roamed restlessly over the faces and the eyes that met his only to drop instantly, he wondered what they thought of him. Did he look sad? Did his face convey the loss that they were all experiencing or was the anger that nearly matched the hurt revealed in his expression? He should care, but all he could think about was her. He told himself he would not look for her, and his wolf had made it clear that he would not tolerate that decision. He had never been at odds for so long with his wolf, and it was leaving him unbalanced and short tempered. He knew that the beast did not understand why the man was so angry. His wolf only understood that their mate was not with them, physically or emotionally, and that was not acceptable. He was not angry with her like the man. He simply wanted her; he wanted to know she was safe, healthy, and with him where she belonged.
His eyes finally landed on Alina’s parents, and his heart sped up as he looked around them, expecting to see her. She was not with them. He felt a growl rumbling up in his chest as he continued to search in the general area of her family because he knew that her father would not let her stray far from them. No matter how hard he searched he could not find her. The idea of her not being there hurt more than seeing her and not being able to go to her. To know that she must have chosen to stay away only made the darkness gain more ground. See how she does not miss you as you do her, it whispered to his soul. Some part of him knew it was a lie, but he was not listening to reason at the moment.
He stood with his top four wolves at the front of the room on a raised platform. To his right, Anghel and his mate stood and, like so many others, grief filled their eyes. He wanted this over. He silently asked his father for forgiveness for his haste as he stepped forward drawing the attention of the crowd. The torches on the walls that lit the large hall flickered, causing shadows to dance across the faces now looking up at him. He took a deep breath and drew on the control that he was so well known for, but which he felt none of inside.
“Thank you, all of you, for coming to honor and to wish your Alpha pair farewell as they travel on to the other side. I had the privilege of being the son of a man who loved, with his whole heart, any who were considered his pack. I was blessed to be born of a woman who would sacrifice for any in need and did so frequently. This pack, all of us, are better because they led, cared, loved, disciplined, sacrificed, and served. They will be missed but not forgotten.” His voiced carried to the very furthest corner of the room, and as it died out he threw back his head and let his wolf out enough to release a mournful howl. The air filled with the howls of the pack as they bid their former Alpha’s farewell.
After the formalities were complete Vasile released the pack to go on the first full pack hunt in many years. He waited as people gradually left the room. Once there were only a few left milling about, he noticed Georgeta and Petre still standing in the same spot they had occupied while he had addressed the crowd. He could see the frustration in Petre’s face and the anger in Georgeta’s and knew a confrontation was unavoidable. He stepped off the platform and walked towards them, his shoulders pulled back and his head held high. He would not act ashamed. He was Alpha and he had only done what his mate had asked of him; how could they be upset with him?
“Alpha.” Petre bared his neck as he addressed him and Georgeta did the same although she did not address him verbally. She did, however, continue to glare at him, being careful not to meet his eyes.
“I appreciate you coming all this way to honor my father and mother,” Vasile told them cordially. The lack of emotion in his voice did not go un-noticed by his mate’s fuming mother.
“Are you not even going to ask about her?” She finally spoke to him.
Vasile’s jaw clenched at the accusation in her voice. “How is Alina?”
“She is unwell. She has not eaten in five days; I can barely get water in her. She has nightmares when she sleeps, if she sleeps. She is a shell of the woman she was only a week ago,” she finished, short of breath from her tirade. Describing his mate’s condition did nothing to calm her down.