"Here we go," they heard Jacque mutter under her breath.
"How can it surprise any of you that love could break the curse?" Sally addressed the group, her eyes moving from person to person. Then she stared at the phone as if she could see through it. "You, whose very genetic makeup forces you to love so deeply that you can't even survive without your mate? It's no coincidence that the saying is 'love conquers all'. It's a tale as old as time."
Jacque snorted. "You've been waiting to use that line."
Sally chuckled briefly. "I finally got my day." Then she sobered and her eyes returned to Costin. "There is nothing simple about something that can fill you with the greatest joy you've ever known. It can make men build cities, crush enemies, seek out ways to move mountains, and bring even the greatest to his knees. There is nothing simple about something that can rip the very seams of your soul in half, shred every amount of dignity you've ever had, and strip every inhibition from who you are."
Costin leaned forward and reached out toward the girl who had become a woman before his eyes.
"Sally," he whispered.
She turned away from him in a rare show of severity, ignoring his hand, looking back at the phone. "Fane, do you think that curse would have worked on you? Do you think you could have forgotten your mate?"
Fane shook his head. "No. Not with the Blood Rites being fulfilled and the bond between us being complete, but I suspect the curse wouldn't work without the love between the two. You're right, Sally. There is nothing more powerful than love. Jacquelyn's and my soul have been made one through our bond. No darkness can conquer the light love sheds."
"Okay, I'm with you." Jacque agreed. "But how do we get a man who doesn't remember his mate to remember he loves her?"
"He's going to have to bond with her," Peri spoke up.
All heads turned to look at her.
"It's the only thing that will restore the severed bond and, ostensibly, draw Decebel's memories forward."
Cynthia leaned forward in her chair, leaning her elbows on her knees. "Vasile, it won't be hard to convince Decebel's wolf to do the blood rites, but Decebel is another story. He wants to remember Jen, he wants to love her. Wanting and doing are two different things."
"Sally. " It was Alina's voice they heard this time.
"Yes?" Sally answered.
"You need to talk to Decebel. You might be able to reach him."
Suddenly they heard a deadly snarl and the sound of something hitting the floor hard.
Sally started in the direction of the room but Costin caught her around the waist.
"You aren't going in there with an enraged wolf."
"Costin, let go. That is my best friend in there. Decebel won't hurt me."
"Sally, what's happened?" Vasile's voice thundered through the speaker.
Cynthia picked up the phone and started talking as she headed in the direction of the room, following the struggling Sally and pissed-off looking Costin.
They entered the room and Cynthia nearly dropped the phone. "Alpha, we're going to have to call you back." Before he could answer she ended the call and stared, horrified by a blood-covered Decebel and a lifeless Jen.
Sally rushed forward, shoving Decebel out of the way. She put her hands on Jen's chest and closed her eyes. She pushed with all her might, magically looking into her friend's fragile body. Sally gasped – Jen's lungs were full of fluid. She was drowning in her own blood. Sally didn't know how she did it, didn't understand it, but she thanked every being she could think of for the power she had flowing through her. The blood in Jen's lungs was being absorbed into her body, emptying gradually until none remained. Sally pulled her hands back and opened her eyes. Still Jen did not breath.
Sally laid her ear on her chest – no heartbeat. She turned to Costin. "Put her on the floor, now. I need to do CPR and I can't do it on a soft surface."
Costin obeyed, ignoring the snarls from Decebel, who was being restrained by Cynthia.
Sally tilted Jen's head back like she had learned in their health class and pinched her nose. She pulled her chin down opening her mouth and then placed her mouth over hers. She gave two short breaths, watching as Jen's chest rose. Then she placed her hands just below her diaphragm and began compressions. Sally could barely see through the blur that her tears caused. She continued alternating breaths with chest compressions, getting more desperate as time went on. Jen remained unresponsive.
Decebel finally broke free of Cynthia and landed with a hard crash on his knees next to Jen. He leaned down, and when Sally finished the fourth round of compressions it was him who placed his mouth over hers and breathed life-giving air into her. Sally saw that his eyes were no longer glowing and realized that Decebel, the man, had overcome his wolf. She continued the chest compressions and listened as Decebel whispered in Jen's ear.
"You will not die, Jennifer. I won't allow it." He kissed her cheeks, her eyes, her nose and then her lips, so gently. "I want the chance to love you. Baby, don't rob me of that by giving up."
Decebel used the endearment that he'd used in the text messages he shared with Jennifer before the curse. After feeling how strongly his wolf felt about this woman, there was no doubt in his mind that she was his mate. He refused to lose her.
But she still did not breath. Decebel breathed for her again and the tears from his eyes dropped onto her face. Blood covered her lips.
Decebel looked over to the Fae, who stood calmly though concern-filled her eyes.
"What do I do? I won't lose her."
"Give her your blood. If you are her mate, your blood will give her body strength."
Without hesitation Decebel's canines lengthened and his eyes glowed. He tore into his wrist, biting down hard until the blood flowed freely. After placing a hand under her neck and lifting gently, he pressed his wrist to her mouth. Sally began to rub her throat to get it to go down.
When Decebel pulled his wrist away, the room was completely silent as all held their breath, waiting.
Sally felt like her heart was going to beat out of her chest as she stared at her best friend. Breathe.
Decebel pressed his forehead to Jennifer's and squeezed his eyes shut. The tears wouldn't stop and his heart felt like it was being torn in half.