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|Blood Rites(Grey Wolves #2) by Quinn Loftis|
As Jacque stepped up to the entryway and looked into the hall, she saw that it was dark. As she continued to watch, one by one small lights lit up on the floor. She realized it was candles being lit and they created a circle. All around the circle were people. She could see the first couple of rows but then the rest of the faces faded into the darkness that the light of the candles didn't reach. She also saw that in the center of the circle was a chair, a basin of water, and towels. But the most important thing standing amidst the soft candle light was Fane.
He was wearing relaxed jeans and a white button down shirt untucked, the long sleeves rolled up, showing off his strong forearms. And he was barefoot. She could see his tattoos like a vine crawling up from beneath the collar of the shirt, hugging his neck and face in a loving caress. Jacque took a deep breath and then walked into the hall. With every step she took a candle was lit on either side of her on the floor, creating a lighted path. It was quiet, unlike a wedding there was no music for her to enter in to. But that didn't matter because all she could hear was her heartbeat getting harder and harder until she was standing in front of Fane. She looked at his handsome face and a big grin broke across it. Jacque giggled, remembering how he had told her he would be the one with the big goofy grin. Only he didn’t look goofy, he was breathtaking.
“Hi,” she whispered breathlessly.
“Hello, Luna.” His voice was a caress across her face. Fane took her hand and then turned to face Vasile who had been standing there the whole time, but Jacque only had eyes for Fane.
“Fane, Jacquelyn,” Vasile began, his voice strong and deep, “you are here today to complete the mate bond. Though fate has brought you together and destined you for one another, you have both chosen of your own free will to be here to profess your love and commitment to your mate.”
“We have,” Fane answered for them. Jacquelyn looked up at him and he squeezed her hand in reassurance. “As the Alpha I will answer for us as a mated pair. When my father addresses you directly, then you will speak.”
Jacquelyn nodded her head once in acknowledgment to his thought. Fane returned his attention to his father just as Vasile said, “Fane, it is time for you to recite the formal vows to your mate. Jacquelyn, you will sit in the chair while Fane recites the vows and while doing so he will wash your feet. This symbolizes his willingness as the leader and Alpha to serve you, his mate. To care for your most basic needs no matter how big or small, and to give you the honor you are due as his Luna. Once she has answered you, Fane, you may stand and recite the vows you have written.”
Holding her hand, Fane led her over to the chair for her to sit down. Jacque pulled her dress up, baring her calves and feet. Jacque watched as he brought the basin of water and set it on the floor next to her. Next he removed the slippers she had been wearing and took one of the towels and placed it under her feet. She watched in awe as he took a small cloth and dipped it in the water, picked up her foot and began to wash it with the cloth. As he washed her feet he spoke, “On this day I kneel before you, as a servant to my mate, to ask if you will make me whole. Will you give yourself to me? Finally calming the beast inside, bringing order to chaos, shining light where there has been only darkness? Will you bind your life to mine, your fate to mine, and your soul to mine and in doing so complete the mate bond?” As Fane waited for Jacquelyn’s response he rinsed her feet and began to pat them dry with the final towel. When she finally did respond it knocked the breath out of him.
Jacquelyn got down on her knees so that they were face to face. She placed her hands in his, holding his gaze with hers and recited the response that Alina had taught her. “On this day I kneel with you, my mate. I will make you whole as you will make me whole. I will give myself to you, calming the beast, bringing order to chaos, and shining light where there has been darkness. I will bind my life to yours, my fate to yours, and my soul to yours and complete our mate bond. I will take you for my own, my mate, and my Alpha.” Fane couldn’t breathe and for a moment his mind went blank as he stared into the face of his own personal miracle. He realized he had been quiet too long when Jacque squeezed his hands to get his attention. She waited patiently for him to read the vows he had written to her. Neither one of them stood but instead remained on their knees, staring into each other's eyes. He cleared his throat and then he spoke.
“Jacquelyn, Luna, Mate. You have many names. Each of them holds a special meaning, but the only thing I want to call you is mine.” Fane paused briefly, watching the emotions play across Jacquelyn’s face. He wanted to look into her mind and see what she was thinking, instead he continued to look into her deep green eyes. “I wasn’t sure how to tell you all that I feel for you and the depth of those feelings, but someone very wise helped me and so I pass on her words and add some of my own. I don’t know if there is any way to explain or truly understand the bond between mates. It’s not human; it’s beyond the realm of reason and that makes it hard to believe it is even possible. I know I haven’t known you long. I know we are both young. But we will grow closer faster than either of us can imagine. You will become my best friend, my lover, and I will become yours. Even now I know you feel it, that no one in this world will ever love me as you will and no one will love you as I will. We were born to love each other and that love will grow stronger as time goes on. I worry that I won’t make you happy,” Fane’s voice was so soft, laced with tight emotions, “but that wise voice helped me see that I will. I will also make you mad, sad, annoyed, and probably a little claustrophobic at times.” Jacquelyn grinned at him, full of adoration and he pressed on encouraged by her response. “But I will do everything in my power to make you happy. My wolf will step in when my human side steps out of line. The wolf only sees black and white. All he understands is that you are our mate. He will love you, protect you, provide for you, play with you, and make you content while my human side fills in the gaps of emotions the wolf does not understand. You will make me a better Alpha, a better man. I will give you what no other man ever could, the other half of your soul.” When Fane finished he saw that Jacquelyn had tears running down her cheeks, her eyes full of love. He reached up with the hand that was holding hers and gently wiped the tears away.
“Jacquelyn, it is time for you to recite the vows you have written to your mate,” Vasile told her gently, mindful of her emotions.