Yes, he would be victorious. He would take back his pack and help them heal. He would claim his mate and bond her to him. He would secure a future full of hope for all of them. He had to believe that the Great Luna had not created him to be Alpha only to have him fail before he ever truly began. He had to have hope because the absence of hope meant his enemy had already won.
“I want you to remember something, Alpha,” Peri interrupted his thoughts. “On the darkest of nights, when you cannot see the stars or even the moon, when you do not feel your Creator, when your enemies are closing in and their victory appears imminent, and you are sure that all those you love are lost to you, remember that true defeat only comes when those who are able to act, stand idly by while those in need are cast down by evil. Do not forget that. If you do, I will come and kick you in the head until you remember it.”
Vasile let out a huff of laughter. “I had forgotten how eloquent you were with words.”
“I strive for truthfulness; eloquence is for liars and thieves. Both of which I have no tolerance for; remember that as well.”
“Anything else you would like me to remember, oh great high fae?”
She tilted her head slightly as she looked at him, mild amusement glinted in her pale green eyes. “As a matter-of-fact there is, if you do fail and all those who do not need killing end up dying because of your failure, know that I will drag you back from the grave so that I can torture you myself. Because I will probably be the one who will have to clean up the chaos and mess that will result in your defeat. Moral of the story, Alpha—do not die.”
Romanian Proverb #14
Nu e trandafir fãrã spini.
No rose without a thorn.
One year later.
“Mina,” Vasile said staring up at the night sky as he reached for his mate. It had been two days since he had been able to truly speak to her through their bond. He was constantly engaging Emilian’s wolves and when one would fall another would take his place. And he was not the only one being distracted by Emilian. Alina had informed him that Emilian was growing more and more paranoid by his inability to kill Vasile. He was constantly sending out warriors into the villages, questioning pack members, convinced that someone was assisting Vasile. He was also beginning to give weight to the possibility that Serghei’s claim that Vasile was not mated was a lie. A mated wolf was stronger than an unmated male, and Emilian could not believe that Vasile was still more powerful than he since he was no longer Alpha. The only way that could be was if he indeed had a mate.
“You live another day, Alpha of Mine,” Alina teased as she answered him.
In the past year his mate had already begun to come into her own. Her confidence had grown; he could hear it in her voice and felt it in her teasing and occasional flirting. Circumstances had played a part in how quickly she had had to grow up, refining her already self-assured nature. She had an old soul, one filled with the need to care for others. When there were so many in need of her care, there was nothing she could do but answer those needs. He knew that he did not help her burden because he needed her most of all and she gave of herself freely to him. Her heart was always overflowing with love for him, and her mind was an open book so that he could see just how much she missed him, needed him, and wanted him. Vasile was quickly learning that to know he was needed, wanted, and desired by the woman he loved made him feel as though he could move mountains.
“I have indeed, and it is a good thing since today is one that I could not possibly die on without having the chance to tell you happy birthday.”
He heard the surprise in her voice and wished so deeply that he could be with her to stare into her eyes so that she could see into his soul and know that there was nothing about her that he could ever forget. “How could I ever forget the best day of my life?”
She laughed. “You were not even there when I was born.”
“Perhaps not, but the day you were born was the day I was guaranteed to be loved by the most incredible woman I have ever had the privilege to know.” And he meant those words with every fiber of his being.
“Thank you, my love. Perhaps, next year you will be able to say those words to me as you hold me in your arms.”
Vasile’s heart clenched in his chest as though her fist had wrapped around it and squeezed. How badly he wanted that. “If I could be with you now, if it was safe, I would be by your side before the dawn.”
Romanian Proverb #15
Mâta blândã zgârie rãu.
Dumb dogs are dangerous.
Two years after exile.
Alina watched as yet another two males tore into one another over something as simple as who would carry the message to Emilian that their village had passed this week’s inspection. The fights among the more dominant males were becoming more and more frequent. Not only that but the violence behind them was escalating as well. It was only a matter of time before someone killed one of their own pack mates. The constant harassment of their Alpha, searching their homes and questioning them weekly on the whereabouts of Vasile and the warriors who had left with him, was agitating the pack members. Wolves did not like their loyalty questioned. A dominant Alpha, one more dominant than all the males in the pack, would be able to question his wolves and keep their wolf under control. Being able to keep the violence of the beasts inside the males under tight reign was part of why having a powerful Alpha was so important.
Alina’s father was growing more concerned every month that Emilian was not as dominant as he had first led them to believe. Somehow he had tricked the more dominant males into thinking challenging him would be foolish. When the truth was there was a very great possibility one of the males in the pack could defeat him. If that were true then they were in more trouble than they had originally thought. They were two years into his rule as Alpha and the health of the pack had not improved. Instead, it was slowly deteriorating.
On top of all of this chaos was the ongoing pain and emotional turmoil that Alina dealt with because of her separation from Vasile. Their bond had only grown stronger in the time they had been apart. She found it increasingly difficult to hide the raging emotions inside of her and worried even more about it now that Emilian was trying to determine if Vasile truly did have a mate. Obviously, she was number one on the Alpha’s suspect list. She found herself longing for nightfall when she could lie down in the quiet of her bed and listen to the sound of his voice as they talked through their bond. She could tell that the constant fighting of the warriors Emilian sent after him, the repeated killings, was taking a toll on him. Vasile was dominant, a natural Alpha, and that meant he would kill to protect. But that did not mean he enjoyed it, and she had a feeling the only thing keeping his wolf from enjoying it was there nightly mental talks―the connection they were able to make and the balance she brought to him.