Louise motioned for Vasile to step aside and then leaned his head in close for him to hear. “Most of the pack does not even know yet, Vasile. They are going to need reassurance that things are going to change. Maybe the best way to accomplish this is have you step aside for a time. Not for good,” he quickly followed. “I do not think Emilian is the answer, but I think the pack needs time to heal, and you are simply a reminder of what caused the wound.”
Vasile motioned for Ion, Alin, and Nicu to back down and they did so reluctantly.
“I will give you an hour to get what you need out and leave.” He stepped close to Vasile, leaning in and speaking very low. “Then I will give you a day’s head start before I start pursuing you.” Emilian’s eyes narrowed. “I might have said I would let the females live, but I never said I would spare your life. I cannot let you live, Vasile.”
Vasile actually chuckled. “You treachery knows no bounds, Emilian. Of course you cannot let me live. You will never be able to hold onto this pack while I still draw breath, and until I am dead you will constantly be looking over your shoulder wondering when I will be coming for you. You will be sleeping with one eye open, and peace will forever allude you because you know deep in your soul that your life is already forfeited. It was lost the minute you threatened the lives of the precious females.”
Vasile looked one more time at his pack―the pack his father had loved despite his failings and the pack that Vasile still loved despite their decision now. “Things will get worse before they get better. I am stepping back now to protect you, but I will not stay gone. I am still and will always be your Alpha until the breath is ripped from my body one final time.”
He motioned for his top three to follow him and headed back into the castle for the last time in how long he did not know. He had always believed that there was a time for everything. A time for war, a time for peace, a time to stand up and speak out, and a time to step back and wait. He would step back but he would not wait idly by. There was still work to do and still things he could take care of until the time was right for him to strike and take back what was his.
Romanian Proverb #13
Nu încap douã sãbii într-o teacã.
When two ride on one horse, one must sit behind.
“I think Serghei has lost his mind,” Alina told her parents as she sat in their small living room holding a cup of tea her mother had made. “He was going on about showing me that Vasile was a liar, and he tried to take me with him—by force.”
“Serghei has let his feelings for you remove his good sense. He is too young to be a male who has struggled over the years wrestling with the darkness and is getting desperate for a mate, but that is exactly how he is acting.” Her father’s brow furrowed as he considered the young male’s action.
“What about Vasile’s parents?” Alina asked. “Does it really matter if they indeed did lie to the pack about being true mates?”
Her mother let out a long breath and leaned back in the chair she occupied. “It should not. Unfortunately, the sins of the parents often haunt the child or children left behind. There will be some who will want to see Vasile endure the punishment for their deceit because Stefan and Daciana cannot.”
“That is preposterous,” Alina huffed.
“While we agree with you, more than likely the majority will not feel as we do,” Petre explained.
“What will happen to Vasile?” Alina did not try to hide the worry and fear that boiled up inside of her. He was hers, and she was stuck there unable to help―unable to ensure that he was well.
“He could be challenged by other males for position of Alpha, or he could be usurped by the Beta who brought all of this out to light. If the majority agrees with the Beta, Vasile would have to step down.”
“He would never do that,” Alina shook her head adamantly.
“No, I have a feeling the only way Vasile would willingly step down is if there are lives in danger. He will not sacrifice others for his place.”
When night fell and Alina’s parents had retired to their room, she still sat where they had spent most of the day pondering what was happening in their pack. A single candle burned casting soft shadows that hopped around the room onto the walls. She watched the dancing images without really seeing them. Her mind was focused solely on her mate. Her mind was as open as she could possibly make it, hoping that he would reach out to her. And as if he had heard her, suddenly, he was there.
“Mina.” His voice was rough with emotion and she could tell how hard he was fighting to keep them under control.
“Are you alright?” she asked him, but what she wanted to say was how much she missed him, how sorry she was, and that she had not understood what she had been asking.
“I am so much better now that I hear your voice and feel you in my mind.”
She waited because she knew he wanted to say more, and she did not want to interrupt him.
“I do not know if you can ever forgive me for how I have behaved. I let my pride blind me and instead of thinking about how you felt and what you needed, I only thought of myself. I am so very sorry, beloved.”
Alina’s heart was beating so hard she could hear it. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she let the love he was pushing through their bond wrap around her and reassure her that he wanted her, that he missed her, and when she looked deeper into his mind, she could see how broken he truly was over his actions. Maybe she should have be angry after the months of silence, but she did not want to waste another second being upset over something that could not be changed. It would not be the last mistake she or he made in their relationship; she did not see the point of dwelling on it.
“I forgive you, Vasile. I will always forgive you because my love for you is unconditional.” Relief flooded through the bond. He had been afraid that he had gone too far, that he had lost her. “You cannot lose me. I belong with you and because of that I cannot belong anywhere else.”
“I do not deserve you, Mina, but I praise the Great Luna that she gave me you.” She felt his fingertips on her face, and her eyes fluttered closed under the assault on her senses. If only he was there, really touching her she would finally feel whole.
“It is going to be awhile before that can happen,” he told her, obviously picking up on her thoughts.
Her eyes snapped open; his touch was forgotten as she remembered the fear and worry from the day. “Why? What is going on? Are you alright?