“I got to her just before the fire reached her bare feet. Mercifully she passed out just as I phased back to my human form. I untied her as quickly as I could, pulling her away from the flames that seemed to come alive, reaching with arms, seeking out their prey. I carried her, never looking back. I took her to the pack village, to my home, which would now be hers."

Cynthia stopped there and looked up from the papers. "I’m going to skip ahead to after she awakens and they begin to interact. He describes his feelings towards her and I think that might be helpful for you. Then I'll read what he believes kept him from recognizing his mate and what it took to pull her dormant wolf to the forefront."

Decebel nodded, his only acknowledgment of her words as his brain processed what she had already read.

"Rachel isn’t shocked that I’m a Canis lupis. I couldn’t believe she knew all this time. Her family has been adamant about passing down their history from generation to generation. I met her over a year ago. She is the daughter of a gypsy healer, Melinda, who comes to the village to help with minor illnesses. I knew that her mother's family had served the pack as healers for generations, but what I didn’t know was that Rachel’s great grandmother had a brief affair with a pack member. As a result, a little girl had been conceived. Rachel is a fourth generation dormant Canis lupis, which is virtually unheard of and certainly never mated.

“Rachel has been with me a week now. She has been surprisingly accepting of our circumstances. I think it’s because she has been around the pack and, unbeknownst to me, had known about true mates and the pull. I find the more time I spend with her the more I crave her. We haven’t completed the Blood Rites. I haven’t even kissed her, although I find myself needing to touch her, a brush against her as I walk by, a brief hand on her back, a light caress on her face as she sleeps. She needs my touch, I feel it in her though she tries to block her thoughts from me. When I do catch bits of them I am amazed at the insight she has into why it took so long for the mating signs to happen between us. I've finally decided to talk with her about it. I feel if I don’t resolve this and claim her soon no one will be safe.

“I asked Rachel about her thoughts on our mating. I thought I would have to coax it from her, but she was surprisingly forthright. She said she had spoken with her mother about it and the experience her mother had as a healer is what helped her devise her theory, one that seems to be playing out as I write this.

“Melinda believes that because the wolf blood is so diluted in Rachel that something had to happen to trigger that animal part of her, something intense. She said it's like what little amount of wolf lives in her was buried so deep that only something happening that required the help of her wolf caused it to come forth. Rachel had been in trouble when the bond connected us. I asked her what had happened that people she knew would do such a horrible thing to her. Rachel told me that even though she is a dormant, one trait appeared once she became a woman. Her eyes had begun to glow. Anytime she was scared, or angry, or even excited her eyes would shift from blue to glowing azure.

“Rachel's best friend had seen it happen and promised to tell no one. She broke her promise. She told her mother that she thought Rachel might be a witch. That was all it took. Cry witch and the righteous will emerge shouting their indignation and pointing their damning fingers.

“The villagers had taken her from her home while her mother was away and sentenced her to death. To death, with no proof. That was when I found her. Her dormant wolf had known they needed help and had pushed forward to cry out to their mate. Melinda is convinced that had Rachel and I not known each other or had contact for the past year – in other words, had her mate been a stranger to her – she would not have been able to reach out to him, to me.

“Melinda also asked if I noticed the bond growing stronger now that Rachel and I are together all the time. I explained to her how I was feeling and how the emotions and needs are growing stronger. For an unbonded Alpha, that is dangerous. She told me to be honest with Rachel about my feelings, the bond, the Blood Rites, all of it.

“Rachel and I completed the Blood Rites last night, and completed our mating. It was the final link from my wolf to hers, dormant or no. This morning the mating marks appeared on her back. They're beautiful. My marks have changed as well. She teased me and told me they were very manly.

“Despite Rachel's dormant Canis lupis blood, I don't think our bond is weaker than other full-blooded mated pairs. From talking with my other mated males, Rachel and I experience the same intense feelings as they do, when apart…and together."

Cynthia finished reading and the room was silent. Decebel looked straight ahead, thinking of all the possibilities, outcomes, and yes, even the dangers that came with this information.

Vasile was the first to break the tense silence. "Do you see why Cynthia feels this is a dangerous situation?"

Decebel didn't respond at first. Finally, he gathered himself. "My options?" He looked directly at Cynthia.

Cynthia took a deep breath and leaned back in her chair. "Create some intense reaction from Jen or leave it alone."

"Neither of those is acceptable," Decebel growled.

Cynthia actually laughed. "Leave it to a dominant wolf to expect someone to pull a solution out of their -"

"Cynthia," Vasile cautioned, his eyes narrowing.

"I beg your pardon, Alpha," she submitted. "What I meant to say was, acceptable or not it is what it is."

"What are your reservations about pursuing her?" Alina asked him.

Decebel looked at Vasile. "I don't want a mate."

Cynthia's eyebrows drew together. "What?"

Alina continued to hold Decebel's stare, and as an Alpha in her own right, she would not back down. Decebel eventually relented out of respect, not a lack of dominance. He let out the breath he'd been holding.

"I had a sister, a long time ago. I failed to protect her. I decided then I did not ever want someone else relying on me for their safety."

"But Vasile and I rely on you every day. The other wolves, the ones you train, the unmated females all rely on you to protect them. How is having a mate any different?" Alina questioned.

"I have backup when it comes to all those you just named. You know as well as I do, Alina, that when it comes to your protection Vasile is the end all. If you are left unprotected, if your protection fails, Vasile will be the one responsible. That's part of being mated, bonded. Vasile alone considers himself responsible for your safety. I don't want that responsibility again."

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