“Do not look, Alpha.”
The anguish in the warrior’s voice held Vasile’s attention.
Alin was looking anywhere but at his face, and Nicu’s jaw was clenched so tight that Vasile was sure it would shatter at any moment.
“Answer me!” he snarled.
It was Ion who spoke through clenched teeth, his voice deep and rough. “They have your parent’s bodies.” Ion had made his way over to the window while Vasile had been questioning Nicu and was staring out at the described scene.
Vasile’s head snapped around and he moved using the speed of his wolf to the window. His heart stopped in his chest as his eyes took in the mob, and in the middle, lying in the caskets they had been buried in, were his parents.
The temperature of the room seem to drop several degrees as Vasile’s voice crooned out in the calm, contained fury he was known for. “Anyone who was the least bit involved with this is sentenced to death.”
Alina jumped as the door to the small cottage flew open and then slammed. Her father stormed in growling and muttering under his breath about stupid, high strung males.
“Is everything alright?” she asked him as she stood from the chair where she had been mending one of Serghei’s shirts.
Petre’s eyes snapped up to meet hers and widened slightly realizing that he had an audience. Alina took a step towards him and could smell the anger, fear, and worry flowing off of him.
“What has happened?” she asked and even as the question left her lips she felt a twinge of anxiety. But when she tried to reach for where it originated, it dissipated like fog rising as the cool morning air warmed.
“It is not anything you need to concern yourself with,” he told her in that infuriatingly placating tone that set her teeth on edge.
“I am not a child, Father; you do not have to protect me from all the bad things in this world,” she bit out.
“I know you are a child no longer, Alina, but I will always do everything in my power to protect you. That is what a parent does.” When he saw that she was not going to be swayed, he let out a deep breath. “There are some males from our village that are joining with other males from other villages in our pack to go listen to some lies regarding the former Alpha’s deaths. Emilian, the Beta of the Western Romanian pack, supposedly has proof that Stefan had been lying to our pack for centuries.”
Her thoughts immediately jumped to Vasile and the things he had shared with her about his parents. If what her father was saying was true, then there was definitely need to worry. Was he safe? Were they going to do something to him? She wanted to ask him, but she had given up reaching out to him. She had accepted that for now, at least, he wanted the space she had so foolishly requested. “What kind of proof? And why? Why would they accuse someone who is already dead and gone?”
“I do not know. Serghei would not say. As for why…well, ambition will make a man do many things. If Emilian is the one behind this, then it means he is looking to be Alpha. If they have proof that Vasile’s parents were not honest with the pack, then the pack will not trust him to lead.”
Alina’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “Serghei is a part of these fools? Why on earth would he want Vasile overthrown?”
Petre watched his daughter closely for any reaction to Vasile’s name but she did not bat an eye. She had not talked about him for months now, and he could tell from the tired look in her eyes that he was still keeping the bond shut tight. It had been nine days since Georgeta petitioned the fae, and despite seeing his daughter in pain, he agreed with Perizada’s decision. It was not wise to interfere with fate, and Vasile and Alina were fated for one another. As much as he did not want his daughter to hurt, he wanted her more to grow and mature. Unfortunately, more often than not, pain was a part of that process.
He watched as her brow furrowed even lower, and he could tell that she knew something that she was not sharing. He hated seeing the weight of so much on her shoulders and missed the easy going smile that use to be so readily given. But Alina was going to have to learn to be tough if she was going to be mated to someone such as Vasile―a wolf who held so much dominance, power, and strength. Maybe this experience would prepare her for the many trials she was sure to face as an Alpha female.
“Serghei is young and easily swayed by the excitement,” he reasoned.
“You sound like you are describing a puppy rather than a grown man,” she shot back.
He wanted to freeze time in that moment, to hold it still, so that he could treasure the flash of anger in her stormy, grey eyes and the tightening of her lips that betrayed the emotion that never seemed to show on her beautiful face. He had hated seeing her hurt when Vasile had closed their bond, and it had made him appreciate her spirit that he, at one time, found utterly tireless. “Whatever proof this Beta claims to have is probably a farse, and all of those who chose to follow him will realize they were fooled.”
She nodded, which was her usual form of communication. Petre watched her walk to the door struggling to think of anything more to engage her. She pulled the door open and looked over her shoulder at him. “I am meeting Sisily by the river for a little while. I will be back for supper.” Then she was gone along with their fleeting moment of reconnection.
Alina stepped around the side of the cottage into the cover of shadows and the forest. She pressed her back against the rough bark of a tree and closed her eyes as the last rays of the sun slowly began to fade. The lingering warmth did nothing to thaw the cold inside of her. She imagined she could stand within touching distance of the sun and never feel warm. Vasile had explained to her just how dangerous things would get it the pack found out that his parents had not been true mates. The trust that had been so severely damaged in Stefan’s last decade or so as Alpha was bleeding over into Vasile’s reign. If someone had indeed discovered that Vasile’s parents were not true mates, things were about to get a whole lot worse. She wished she could be there for him―wished she could lend him her strength and encouragement. Perhaps he did not need her. Maybe she would only serve to be a distraction during a time in which he would need all of his wits about him. She was sure his top wolves would protect him, not that he would ever accept protection from another. He was a dominant among dominants after all, but nonetheless she had a feeling those wolves would give their lives for him whether he wanted them to or not.