"What do you mean protect?" Jen asked.
"Gypsy healers don't just use herbs. There is magic in what we are, in who we are. Fate made it nearly impossible for Canis lupis to procreate, but it did give them one advantage—the healer. That's why there has to be a gypsy healer in existence at all times. Without one, the chances of a female caring a pregnancy to term is much, much, lower. Not saying that it doesn't happen, but a healer guarantees a successful pregnancy."
"Hoooooollllly crap," Jen ground out, "I didn't even pay attention, but there are no children in the Romanian pack. I mean, none, as in zilch, nada, zero, not one iota," Jen stopped when she realized Rachel was looking at her like she had grown a second nose, "Sorry, my vocabulary tends to get out of hand when I'm stressed."
Rachel nodded with raised eyebrows but smiled at Jen.
"So now you know. That's why we are in hiding."
"How did you find me?" Jen's brow furrowed.
"Gavril was out gathering herbs for me. He heard you, and then he smelled your pain. So he came and got me. We had been watching the area because of the disturbance in the air.
"What kind of disturbance?"
"When you get a group of werewolves together that large, especially with multiple packs involved, the air becomes electric. It's been pulsating for the past few days. I knew something was up. There hasn't been a gathering of that size in quite some time."
"So what now?" Jen let out a breath and laid an arm across her face, covering her eyes.
"I need to ask you, have you been communicating with your mate?"
"I did briefly when Gavril was carrying me. But now," Jen shook her head, her voice full of frustration, "now he's blocking me."
"Maybe something has happened and he's trying to protect you," Rachel offered.
"No, it feels like something is ‘off’ inside of him."
"Jen, I have to tell you that while you were in that hole, that witch that I was telling you about attacked the mansion. She set it on fire."
Jen nearly fell off the table trying to sit up, "WHAT!" Rachel went to help her just as Gavril opened the door.
"Something isn't right out there Luna," Gavril's face was tight with worry, "Something foul and evil laces the wind."
"She searching," Rachel's voice was grim as she looked towards the front door. Her eyes bore into it, as if, if she stared hard enough, she could see straight through it. "We have to be careful. But we need answers Gavril. We need to see her."
Gavril shook his head, "It's too great a risk."
"See who? What risk?" Jen was trying to keep up, but the pain from sitting up so abruptly was beginning to make her dizzy.
"Perizada, she will know what is going on. If what you say is true and your friend really is a gypsy healer, then she is the one Perizada spoke of. She is the one who must help me defeat the witch."
"I can honestly say that of all the things that I could ever see Sally doing, going toe to toe with the wicked witch of the west was not on the top ten list." Jen laid back down closing her eyes once more as Rachel and Gavril looked at her with what Jen was sure had to be 'what have we just drug into hour house' faces. Yeah, well my mom asked herself that every day, healer, so it's not a new look to me. Jen was laughing at her inner monologue until she felt a light caress across her face bringing in a sharp breath. The she heard his voice as he said her name.
Mona's eyes were closed as she stood at the edge of the forest. Night turned into day, and snow had began to fall. The cold mountain air whipped her midnight hair around her face; her body was relaxed, but her focus was relentless. While she had been casting the spells on the Romanian wolves she had felt it. A current of power. Not dark power, not witch power. It had been centuries since she felt the smooth, cool tendrils of Fae magic, but she had felt it early this morning while the moon still shown and the fire roared through the silent sky. She had felt Fae power, and beneath that was something even more subtle. Gypsy. And this wasn't a young, new gypsy like the one in the Romanian pack. This was old blood, powerful magic.
Mona continued to send her will out into the trees and over the snow-covered mountains, over rocks, plants, dirt, and the lives of the wildlife seeking shelter there. As she sought her query, she thought back to the last time a gypsy healer was known. Three centuries had passed since then, nations had risen and fallen, civilization had grown and evolved, all manner of technology now ruled the world. But even with all those changes, some things remained the same. Gypsy healers would always be where Canis lupis roamed. She knew that Melinda's daughter hadn't died. She had felt when Melinda had been slain, felt the life force drain from her body. But not Rachel.
Mona had searched for decades without so much as a wisp of power. She had come to the conclusion then that the Fae must have helped the gypsy and her mate out. No mere gypsy healer could stand against Mona's power. She was the most powerful witch her coven had ever seen. When the Fae came in and wiped out the covens that were scattered over the Eastern world Mona had done what any smart predator does – she took to ground to bide her time.
The Fae had decided that the witches were becoming too powerful and needed to have their population downsized. It worked better than they anticipated. Mona knew of no others that had survived beside herself.
After her people had been wiped from the earth, Mona had found refuge with the Serbian pack. The Alpha wanted the healer from the Western Romanian pack, wanted her bad enough to hire a witch, and by doing so isolated himself and his pack from the other Canis lupis.
Mona had agreed to his terms. She would get him the healer and he would protect her from any foe until she could regain her power. She was still powerful, even after the Fae, but she had been cloaking herself for so long and it was draining her.
What the Serbian pack Alpha didn't know was that Mona had her own reasons for wanting the gypsy healer. Reasons that had nothing to do with the Alpha and everything to do with making her the most powerful witch ever to walk the earth. Mona was old. She'd been old three centuries ago. She remembered things long forgotten about the supernatural beings, remembered why gypsy healers were prized not only by werewolves but witches and Fae alike.
"Where are you, little gypsy?" she whispered. "You can't hide forever." Mona opened her eyes, scanning the forest.