Costin flashed that heart-stopping grin and winked at Sally as he answered Decebel, "These American women do not submit, Beta. You might want to get used to the idea."

"Then how are we to protect them? How are we to keep them from doing asinine things?"

"Well, you are mated to Jen." Sally chuckled. "Her middle name changes from day to day. Her staples are “nympho”, “impetuous”, “too smart for her own good”, “smart-ass”, and all too often, “asinine”. You've got your work cut out for you."

"So you don't think it's dark magic?" Decebel asked, changing the subject.

"No, definitely not. But it is magic." Sally looked over to Cynthia. "You said this Rachel is a healer? Could she have worked some sort of magic?"

"Honestly, Sally, I don't know. I don't know enough about healers and the magic that they invoke." Cynthia thought for a moment. "It might be Fae. If this Perizada is what Vasile says, she might know Rachel, might have helped her do this."

Sally was up, pacing. Costin watched her every move.

"Why would Rachel sever the bond if she's one of the good guys?" Sally was thinking out loud, trying to reason through the possibilities.

"Maybe they've been in hiding," Costin suggested.

"That would explain why no one has heard from them in centuries," Cynthia agreed.

Sally continued to walk around the fire, her mind turning over and over. "If they were in hiding, they would probably worry about Jen being able to tell Decebel things that might reveal their location." She looked at Cynthia, who nodded her agreement.

"Surely she would understand that there are consequences to severing the bond of true mates." Cynthia shook her head in disbelief. "Unless she thinks that it won't affect them a lot, or even at all, since they haven't completed the Blood Rites."

"Whatever the reason, we need to find this Peri character," Sally huffed. "If what I felt happening to Decebel is happening to Jen, then they are both in trouble."

Decebel's head snapped up. "Jen could be feeling this?"

"More than likely she is enduring the same thing. Your bond with Jen is unusual, from what I understand, for an un-bonded pair. You both are so intense. We need to try to move fast tomorrow. "

Each of them laid their blankets close to the fire. Costin and Decebel agreed to take turns keeping watch. Decebel took the first. He was in too much pain to sleep anyway. And knowing that Jennifer was possibly feeling this as well made his gut clench. His wolf was restless and angry. Decebel kept getting the feeling that his wolf remembered their mate. If his wolf did, why didn't he? Whatever the reason, until he was reunited with Jennifer, his wolf was dangerous. He was dangerous.

Chapter 11

Jen laid on the bed, tears slowly leaking from her eyes. She felt the wetness trail down the side of her face, across her ears, and onto the pillow. She couldn't explain why she was crying. She was Jennifer-freaking-Adams, she didn't cry.

Yeah, well think again, She-Rah. Apparently you do, she thought. She was hurting. Her body was sore and aching, but she had always been able to handle physical pain. These tears were caused by something un-named, undefined.  She thought back to Rachel and Gavril's words about the consequences of the bond being broken between her and Decebel. They'd explained that they had gone and talked to this Perizada character and had agreed that, at this point, it was best if Decebel and the others didn't know the things Jen already did. Jen's response naturally was why the hell not? Rachel wasn't used to such crassness and kept giving Jen looks that said she thought she needed her mouth washed out with soap. Rachel had told her that Perizada, who was a powerful Fae, said that it had to happen this way, the fates deemed it necessary for Sally and the others to come see her first – something about not wanting Sally to know about healers and werewolves just yet. Jen still felt like Rachel and Gavril were batting for the home team, but that didn't mean she wasn’t upset about them interfering with her and Decebel, especially when her mate didn't even remember her.

Night had fallen and the house was quiet. Jen closed her eyes and listened to the sounds of the night, calming her mind. She could hear the howl of the wind outside, the occasional hoot of an owl, and even once the howl of a wolf, which brought goose bumps to her skin. She clenched her jaw as another round of pain ran through her and her mind reached out for something, something that wasn't there any longer. She felt something in her stir, something in her growl. Jen clamped her mouth shut, refusing to let loose the snarl that threatened to come out.

"I will not lose it," she said into the darkness. "I'm in pain, yes; I'm scared, yes. I want to see my friends and my mate. YES! But I will not lose it. So put on your big girl panties, Jennifer, and pull it together!" Jen was grinding her teeth by the end of her little pep talk. She let out a deep breath and closed her eyes. She'd won the battle. Tonight. But the war wasn't over and she had a feeling this was just a skirmish compared to what was coming. Her eyes closed and darkness poured over her. She tried to open her eyelids, but they were heavy. She felt herself being pulled under, her last thoughts about battles, wars, and love.

"Is she awake yet?" A gruff voice rumbled as Jen began to wake from the deep sleep she had finally drifted off into late last night.

"It's been a week since we saw Peri." It was Rachel speaking now. "And every day she looks weaker, paler. I'm doing everything I can for her injuries, Gav. It's not working. She isn't getting better."

Gavril walked over to the girl who lay in their kitchen. Her face was pale even as it glistened with sweat. He pressed his hand to her forehead and watched her eyes squeeze in pain. Did his touch hurt her?

"She's responding to touch," he told Rachel.

Rachel stood next to her mate and watched as Jen's face grimaced. Suddenly Jen rolled over,  a loud groan escaping her throat. She flung her head over the side of the bed, vomiting violently. Rachel rushed forward and pulled Jen's hair out of the way.

"Gavril! Get some cool wet towels, please." Rachel's tone was firm and in control.

Jen felt Rachel rub her back gently, murmuring in some language that she was pretty sure wasn't Romanian.  The heaving finally stopped and she was able to catch her breath, but that was too good to last. Just as Rachel started to help her back up the nausea rushed through her again. Jen doubled over as something metallic filled her mouth. Her eyes widened as she watched bright red liquid hit the floor. Blood.