“If you all are done,” Vasile said as he motioned towards the side of the mountain they had climbed up. “Let’s finish this.”
Romanian Proverb #17
Pui migdale în nasul porcului si el spune cã e o ghindã.
Honey is not for the ass's mouth.
Four long years after exile.
“When was the last time you heard from your brother?” Alina asked Sisily as they sat with their feet dangling in the river at their usual spot. The water was cool, bringing them a measure of relief from the hot summer day.
“It has been over a month,” Sisily admitted.
“Same for me as well, which is strange since he is usually the one who helps with the weekly questioning, and of course, he comes by my house to check and see how I am,” Alina said as she rolled her eyes. “All he is really doing is trying to see if he can tell if I am mated with Vasile.”
“Maybe he is trying to smell him on you. Maybe he thinks you are seeing Vasile secretly,” Sisily said in a dreamy voice, her romantic notions of danger and intrigue getting the better of her.
“If only,” Alina sighed.
“It is getting more painful, isn’t it?” Sisily asked.
Alina nodded but did not look at her friend.
“Is there something wrong other than you missing Vasile?”
Alina never was good at hiding things, especially not from her closest friend. She leaned over so close that her mouth touched Sisily’s ear and whispered as softly as she could. “I got my markings.” Alina was ready for Sisily’s reaction and slapped a hand over her mouth pulling her close. “You have to act normal,” she whispered quickly. “If Emilian finds out I am as good as dead.”
Sisily nodded and Alina released her. She looked at her friend and could see the tightly controlled excitement. She let out a low laugh as she snatch up a piece of grass and began playing with it. “I discovered this rash yesterday,” she began hoping that Sisily would catch on to what she was really referring to.
“Oh, so it is a relatively new rash?” Sisily asked.
“Have you discussed the rash with anyone?”
Alina nodded. “My mother, of course. She seemed to think it was nothing to be concerned about. She just told me to make sure to keep it covered from the elements.” Alina could tell her friend wanted to ask more about the markings and to actually see them. But if there was someone watching or listening, she didn’t dare risk raising her shirt to show off her back out in the open air.
“So you are turning twenty in two days.” Sisily smiled but it did not reach her eyes.
Alina’s stomach sank as she thought about what this birthday should mean. It was to be when Vasile could finally bond with her and complete the Blood Rites, but instead it would be another night that they spoke through their bond, and for the fourth year in a row, he would wish her happy birthday from across the chasm of his exile. She was not mad at him. She was mad at the situation and, of course, at the one who had caused all of it, Emilian. The very name made her sick and had her wolf clawing to get out. She was actually, along with her parents, surprised the wolf had lasted this long. With so many dominant males out of control, losing their tempers at a whim, and getting in fights like maniac dogs, it was a wonder none of them had challenged Emilian yet. And due to the lack of control she felt over her own wolf, she was beginning to believe that she might just be more dominant than Emilian. How riotous would that be, she thought.
It was two days after her time with Sisily at the river when the calm before the storm that seemed to be building for four years finally broke. It started out like any other day. Alina had woken up with the constant ache in her body, the growing need to see Vasile was getting worse, but she still managed to smile and talk at all the right moments. Her mind was preoccupied with the conversation she had had with Vasile the night before. She knew he had been near the territory, attempting to gain pack members to his side. He was like a ghost, and though there were rumors that he was there, no one could catch him, and no one admitted to seeing him. She found herself looking into the forest, her eyes darting around, hoping with everything inside of her to catch a glimpse of him. He had caught her thoughts several times and scolded her, though not harshly, pointing out that it would probably look very suspicious if she simply stood stock still staring off into the trees. That did not stop her from hoping.
It was hotter than usual on that particular morning and so her mother had her doing chores inside to stay out of the heat. Because she was inside and not out where males would see her, she had only wore her shift with a skirt over it so her arms and shoulders were bare, as was the back of her neck. Her hair was pulled up and fixed into a bun, allowing air to get to her back. Because she had no plans to go outside and her mother had already seen them, she hadn’t given her markings a second thought. She had been burying the thought of them deep in her mind, away from Vasile, because she knew that he would quite possibly lose control once he knew about them. It was Vasil’s biggest fear that Emilian would learn that he and Alina were true mates. Without the markings it would be almost impossible for Emlian to prove her mateship with Vasile. But now there would be no denying it.
She had wondered why Vasile had not mentioned his own markings changing, as she had thought that both the male and female markings changed at the same time. But then she thought that perhaps because he was living in the forest he did not have a looking glass to see his reflection. On the other hand, surely one of his warriors would have noticed the change and told him.
But for that morning, because it was her birthday and her mother and father were trying so very hard to make it a good day, she pushed the worries of the markings away. She attempted with all of her might to ignore the ache of being separated from her mate and simply enjoyed the fact that she had two parents who loved her, a safe home, roof over her head, and food to eat. Mistake number one, she forgot herself―forgot the danger of her situation.
She was humming, though a somewhat subdued tune, as she swept the floor with her back to the only door of the cottage. She did not notice the figure that filled the entry until the low growl reached her ears. She jerked around releasing the broom and grabbing the blouse that lay across the back of the chair. Pulling it on quickly and buttoning it up, she looked up at a very angry, snarling Serghei. His eyes glowed and she could tell by the way he held his mouth open slightly that his canines where lengthening.