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|Out Of The Dark(Grey Wolves #4) by Quinn Loftis|
Sally and Cynthia gathered twigs while Decebel and Costin broke tree branches to build a fire. Sally couldn’t remember a time when she had ever been so cold. Once a strong fire was burning, the four sat around it as close as possible. Each was wrapped in layers of clothing, hats, scarves, gloves, and blankets. Decebel passed out the jerky and bread that the tavern owner had provided them. Protein and carbohydrates and water. Amazingly enough, Sally knew from her tenth grade health class that the body could sustain itself on even less if need be.
"How are we going to know when we've gotten to where we are supposed to be?" Cynthia asked no one in particular.
"Vasile said she would find us. That we just needed to get farther into the mountains and eventually Perizada would make herself known." Sally looked at each of her friends, her pack mates – odd as that sounded, it felt right.
They were all quiet while they finished their food and drinks, each staring into the red, yellow, and orange flames that danced before them. The silence was broken when Sally turned to Decebel.
"I know it's a private thing between mates, but I would really like to know how Jen is doing. Has she been communicating with you?"
The three watched as Decebel visibly tensed. His face grimaced, almost as if he were in pain.
"I -" Decebel began, but stopped. He ducked his head briefly trying to shake off the feeling that something was very wrong, "I can't feel her. When I try to reach out it's like the bond that linked us has been severed."
Sally shook her head. "Why didn't you say anything?"
Decebel growled at the accusation in the healer's voice. "And what exactly would you have done?"
Costin let out a low growl and moved to sit in between Decebel and Sally. "I know you are my Beta but you will not speak to her that way."
"Costin," Sally's voice was soft, "he's hurting, he doesn't understand. Cut him some slack."
Costin turned and looked into Sally's honey brown eyes, which were full of gentleness and understanding. "I understand he is hurting. But you are a healer and mine to protect."
Sally took in a sharp breath. "Yours?"
Costin closed his eyes for a moment, cursing himself at the slip. "The pack's. But I'm here, I'm pack, and I will protect you even from one of our own."
Sally gently laid her hand on his arm. "Thank you. Decebel isn't going to hurt me. I need to see if I can figure out what's going on."
Costin nodded but stayed where he was.
"Um, Costin." Sally raised her eyebrows at the handsome – yet exasperating – wolf in front of her. "That means I'll need to get close to Decebel."
When Costin didn't move, Sally stood up with a huff and mumbled, "Jen was totally right. Damn stubborn, bossy fur balls."
Cynthia snickered as Costin's eyes widened at the gentle healer showing her claws.
Sally took a seat next to Decebel, "Can I touch you?"
A low growl from across the fire.
"Costin," Cynthia warned. Costin didn't acknowledge her, but he did stop growling.
Decebel nodded to Sally that it was okay. Sally laid her hand upon his chest and closed her eyes. She felt so ignorant when she tried to use this so-called “gift”. She didn't understand how it worked. All she could do was open her mind and let whatever magic that seemed to be inside her do its thing.
Sally felt energy flowing into Decebel as she sought out the bond that he'd spoken of. She felt like an intruder knowing that the bond between mates, from what Jacque had explained, was very intimate. Her mind searched through his, finding the connection the Beta had to his Alpha and to the pack, an intricate web. Finally she came upon what looked like a gold cord, strong and glowing. Following its path, she nearly pulled back when she saw the severed end. It looked frayed, like a rope that was unraveling at the ends. Sally noticed that the end and several inches of the cord were no longer gold, but blackened, dead. She reached toward the darkened part. As soon as her consciousness touched it she felt herself being thrown out of Decebel's mind and back into the present.
Sally was gasping for breath. She opened her eyes to see Decebel's face covered in sweat, his mouth tight in pain, and the agony that was so obvious on the inside was bleeding out through his glowing amber eyes.
"Sally," Costin spoke with a low growl, "move away from him."
Sally ignored him and instead moved around until she was kneeling right in front of Decebel.
"Your bond with her has been severed. It's dying."
Decebel closed his eyes, squeezing them tight. Maybe if he closed them tight enough and long enough the healer's words wouldn't be true. He didn't remember Jennifer; he didn't remember her scent, her touch, or the beautiful face he had seen in the pictures on Sally's phone. But he wanted to. He wanted to have the chance to know her again, to love her again.
"How?" His voice came out hoarsely.
"I'm not really sure, but it feels like magic. Not dark, though. Not like the witch's magic."
"What did Jen tell you, back when you were able to speak with her?" Cynthia asked.
Decebel realized then that Cynthia didn't know about Rachel having Jennifer. He looked up at her, remembering the night in her office with Vasile and Alina. Sitting there, listening to her read about a dormant named Rachel. He couldn't remember why she was telling him about the dormant, but he felt like it must be important.
"She told me that Rachel and her mate Gavril rescued her from the cavern."
Cynthia jumped to her feet. "What! How is that possible?"
"You said yourself when you were reading the history on them that their bodies were never discovered. Apparently, they lived."
Cynthia continued to look at Decebel like he was speaking a foreign language and she was searching desperately for the translation in her mind.
"Did she say where they are, or where they have been for the past three centuries?" Her tone was somewhat sarcastic.
"She wouldn’t tell me anything about them. She was protecting them."
"From what?" Sally asked before Cynthia got the words out.
"I don’t know," Decebel growled. "She refused to tell me. She refused to submit to her mate."
Costin tried to disguise the laugh that forced its way from his chest with a cough, but was unsuccessful. Decebel glared at him. "What are you laughing at, pup?"