“Is it an illness?” he asked again with the monotone voice.
This time, to his surprise, Petre let out a low growl. Vasile did not take his eyes off the bigger threat―the woman who was on the verge of killing him.
“Are you truly that dense or are you just acting like a spoiled brat?” she snapped at him. “You know what the distance, the separation without the bond to connect you, is doing to her. You who are supposed to be her protector. . . .” Her words dripped with accusation as her sharp gaze bore into him. “What kind of male allows his mate to suffer when he can do something about it?”
“She chose this,” Vasile snarled, his careful control cracking ever so slightly.
“She made a mistake,” Georgetta argued. “She is young no matter how mature she acts. The emotions that come with a true mate are overwhelming to those who are centuries old, and she is a mere sixteen summers. Can you not understand how it might scare her to feel so much so quickly? Did you stop to think that maybe she was worried that you would not be able to do what you must if you were dealing with her pain? We do not agree with her request to put space, as she called it, between you but we understand why she did it. I would think that a man of your character would not be so quick to judge.” She paused and rubbed her face. The evidence of the strain of seeing her daughter in such turmoil was written across her brow. “Have you never made a mistake and hurt someone you cared about?” This time her eyes did meet his, and to his surprise she held his stare though he could tell by the shaking of her body that it took great effort. “If this is how you are going to treat her when she falters, then you do not deserve her.”
Vasile was left standing speechless as he watched the mother of his mate storm from the room. Petre gave him one last look that made it very clear that he agreed with his mate and then turned to follow her.
“Do I want to know what that was about?” Anghel asked from a few feet behind him. Vasile had forgotten the Western Romania Alpha and his mate were still there. He had been too focused on the irate female that had been thoroughly putting him in his place.
“It is not something I want to discuss right now.” He looked over his shoulder at the pair and gave them as convincing a smile as he could. “I need to run with the pack. You are welcome to join us, but I will not be offended if you do not.”
“We should be getting back,” Anghel said though his steady gaze made it clear that he would not let the scene he had just witnessed go. “I will not pretend that I know what is going on. However, because I dearly loved your father and I do not want to see you endure what he did, I will share some advice that you may choose to heed or not. It is not wise to ignore your fate. You have seen firsthand how easily our supposedly long lives can be taken. Why waste any moment away from the one who makes you whole? Do not let pride feed the darkness in you. There is a point of no return. There is a place that even she cannot help.”
Alina pulled the door open to her parent’s cottage to find Sisily standing there. Her face was drawn up into a cautious smile, but when her eyes took in the girl before her it fell away.
“You are getting worse,” she said as she quickly stepped into the room and closed the door behind her.
Alina turned and took one of the two seats in the tiny living room that doubled as a bedroom for her. She closed her eyes as she laid her head back against the chair and let out a deep sigh. “It is my fault; why should I not suffer? Why should he not punish me for hurting him?”
Sisily made a coughing sound. “Are you serious right now? The girl I have known my whole life would never believe such a horrid thing. Your mate should never punish you, Alina. If Vasile is ignoring you because he wants you to hurt, then I hope that you will march up to his castle and flog him with a dead chicken.”
Alina’s lips twitched at her friend’s ridiculous scenario. “I am sure he would find me quite mature if I flogged him with dead fowl.”
“Maturity is over esteemed,” Sisily muttered petulantly.
“I am beginning to believe that all the magnificence of finding your true mate is also overprized. If this is what all the fuss was about, then I want no part.” Alina rubbed her chest trying to push the relentless ache away. For what felt like the hundredth time, she wondered how she would survive if he continued to keep the bond closed. She had foolishly thought that she herself had wanted the bond closed and Vasile had been right in telling her no. Now she faced her fears coming to pass―losing him because she had not been enough.
Weeks past and still she received no answer from her mate. She no longer called out to him during the day. It was only at night when she was still. The darkness wrapped around her reminding her of how very dark life had become―only then did she reach for him. By the time she fell asleep, her pillow was soaked with her tears and her lungs hurt from the gasping in desperation for air that would not satisfy. Her wolf pined for their mate. She refused to hunt, and Alina was afraid to phase for fear that her wolf would not let her return to her human form. All in all she was a complete and utter mess. She had lost weight and her clothes hung loosely off her body. She did not exam herself too closely when she bathed, sickened by the bones that stuck out on her hips, shoulders, and ribs.
It was three months from the day of the ceremony for the dead Alphas that her parents could no longer watch her waste away. She saw the look in her mother’s eyes that she knew all too well. It was the look that meant she was far beyond being fed up. It was the look that declared her will would be done come heaven or hell, and no one would stand in her way.
“If that stubborn, foolish male will not fix this, then I will,” she heard her mother’s tense voice through the darkness of the cottage. “I am going, Petre, and you can support me or not, but I am going. I will no longer stand by and watch her suffer. I am done.” Her mother swept through the cottage jerking the door open and then slammed it closed behind her, leaving a deafening silence behind.
“Father,” Alina called out.
He stepped out from their room, the glow of the candle light behind him outlined his large frame. “Do you need something, love?” he asked in the same gentle voice they had been using on her for months.
“Where is she going?”
He started to answer but she stopped him with her hand. “Do not lie to me, not after all that I have been through. I need the truth.”