“I am fine, love. It is you that I am worried about.”
For the next half hour he told her all that had happened. How Emilian had brought his parents bodies to the courtyard, bared his mother’s marks for all to see, and used what Stefan and Daciana had done as a means to get the pack to question Vasile’s honesty and ability to lead.
“I would not step down; I would not leave if there were not lives at stake.” He sounded as though he was trying convince himself as well as her.
“Where are you going to go?”
“For the moment I am going to give Emilian’s hunters a chase they will not soon forget. He has declared that I cannot live; I am too much of a threat to him. And since dying is not on my agenda at this time, I have to make sure that he does not succeed. Then I will have to work in secret to find those in the pack who still support me as Alpha. With numbers behind me, my chances of victory increase.”
“You could not defeat him in a challenge?” Alina asked.
“I could defeat him; of that I have no doubt. But I am not foolish enough to believe that he would fight fair. The vulnerable in the pack still need protection. Just like he did at the castle, he will attempt to control me through others.”
She understood his reasons, but that did not make it any easier to accept that he would not only have to leave but that he would running for his life as well.
“Not running, Mina, simply avoiding,” he teased. How she had missed his teasing. But in the next instant, his lightheartedness was gone, and she felt something much heavier coming through the bond.
“We must be very careful now. Until you bear my marks, those who support Emilian will not believe you are my true mate. And if I claim you now, you will be in great peril. I cannot let them believe that you are any more to me than another female in the pack. Because of that I have to stay away from you. Please do not be upset. My wolf is howling with rage at the idea of leaving you behind, but I honestly think it is the best way to protect you right now.”
“You will keep the bond open?” She hoped that he didn’t hear the fear in her voice as she thought about losing contact with him again.
“Never again will I close the bond, Luna. All that I am is yours. I am going to need your strength, and I am going to need to know that you are safe. I do not know how long this will take, but please know I am coming back. I will always come for you.”
“I believe you. Please be careful. I know you are Alpha, and your drive to protect those under your care is paramount, but please consider how I will feel if you make reckless choices and are taken from me forever. I love you. I am not ready to lose you again.”
She felt his lips on her forehead, and then she felt his words sear themselves into her heart. “There is no other before you, Luna of Mine. You will always come first. When I consider my words, my deeds, my emotions, or my health, you are always at the forefront of my mind. I want a life with you, Alina. I want to complete the Blood Rites. I want to share with you all the joys and pleasures that come with being bonded true mates. I want to see you glowing with the radiance of being with child, my child, and then I want to watch our child grow up with you by my side. You have nothing to fear because I will not let anyone or anything stand between me and the life I want with you. I adore you, Mina. I treasure the gift that you are, and I love you with every fiber of my being.”
“Thank you,” was all she could manage to reply because of the emotions overwhelming her.
“Get some rest, love. I will be right here on the other side of our bond, and I will never fail to answer your call.”
Alina lay down, feeling a measure of peace that she had not felt in months. There was still fear, but it was for a different reason. She feared for her pack and what the future would hold with someone other than Vasile as Alpha. She feared for Vasile, that Emilian would succeed in taking her mate’s life. She knew that she was going to have to take all of her fear and stuff it away deep inside of her. If she was indeed going to be the female Alpha of their pack one day, then she would have to learn to endure difficult things with grace and dignity and confidence. She might be only sixteen, but she was not helpless. She could fight; she was fast especially in her wolf form, and when it came to protecting those she loved, she was quickly finding that she could be as ruthless as she needed to be.
Vasile kept his mind open and their bond firmly in place as he felt his mate drift off to sleep. His wolf was practically clawing to get out, to run to her, and to wrap himself around her and never let her go. He had not realized just how much the wolf, as well as the man, had missed her. But the man knew that going to her would only endanger her. For now he would have to stay away.
He, Ion, Nicu, and Alin were in their wolf forms running, putting as much distance between themselves and the Romanian pack territory as they could. After the confrontation in the courtyard, they had all gathered the bare minimum of their belongings. They carried one pack a piece clutched in their powerful jaws with a single set of clothing to adorn themselves once they returned to their human forms.
Before they had left, Vasile had pulled Louise aside and asked him to ensure that his parents bodies were returned to their resting place. He would have rather stayed and handled this task himself, but with the lives of the females in the hands of Emilian, he would have to let go of the emotional attachment he had to what was left of his parents. Their bodies had merely been a vessel for their souls. Without that, they were just empty husks. Thinking of them in that way was the only way he had been able to walk away from them.
Vasile had decided that the best way to thwart Emilian’s wolves would be to go somewhere that they would not be allowed entrance even if they could find it. It would take several days to get to the furthest veil to Farie that he knew of and that was if they did not stop to sleep, which they did not. They hunted when they were hungry, stopped to drink from any water they came upon, and then kept on running. He knew that he was probably pushing the others too hard with the speed at which he demanded they go, but his wolf was relentless with the need to get the three males who had committed themselves to him to safety.
Night had fallen on the third day of their journey when they finally made it to the veil, nestled into the mountain directly behind a waterfall that poured off of the side of the cliff. The veil could only be located by those who knew it was there. Untrained eyes would look right over, even gazing directly at it. Vasile phased and dressed quickly. He waited as the others followed suit and once they were dressed he walked towards the waterfall. Vasile stood on the bank of the small river into which the waterfall crashed. He narrowed his eyes and looked closely until he saw the slight shift in the air that told him the veil was indeed present.