"Well, a little less talking, my fairy friend, and a little more action."
Peri walked up to Jen and put her hands on either side of her face. She was speaking a language that Jen didn’t know. Suddenly Jen felt like her body was being eviscerated and then she was falling. She tried to scream, but no noise would come out.
Then she stopped. She felt warmth envelope her and air fill her lungs. Her eyes flew open and she gasped as she sat up, knocking something hard from her lap. She looked down into the completely shocked eyes of her mate.
"Decebel?" Jennifer's voice was hoarse, like it hadn't been used in a while.
Decebel thought he might be hallucinating, but then remembered that he didn't care. He had thrown rationality out the door.
"Jennifer." Decebel opened his arms to reach for her, but before he could get there she flung herself into them. She pulled him so tight against her.
"Are you -" He tried to pull back so he could look at her. "Are you real?"
Jen snorted a laugh. "Do you want me to show you how real I am, big guy?"
Decebel smiled and stroked her face. "You are, aren't you? But -" He stumbled over his words as he stared at the woman he thought he had lost for good. "You came back to me."
"Nothing could keep me from you, Decebel. Not even death."
He took her face in his hands and kissed her deeply, then he picked her up and sat her in his lap, lowering himself onto the bed. When he finally pulled back all he could do was stare at her, stroke her cheek, her hair. He leaned his head around to her side where the dress she still wore revealed her markings. They were there, unchanged. Decebel ran his fingers across them and pulled her tight. "Mine," he whispered in her ear.
"Always." She kissed him on the nose and giggled when he returned the gesture.
"I can't believe you're alive." And over and over as he kissed any part he could reach or touch, he whispered, "I love you. You're mine. I'm never letting you go."
Jen let him hold her and do the things he needed to reassure himself that she really was here, in his lap, breathing. She could imagine what it must have been like for him to watch her die and then to realize he had lost his mate, his other half.
Finally when he seemed to have calmed down and gathered himself, she stroked his face as she looked at him.
"Shouldn't we go tell the others that I'm not dead?"
Decebel nuzzled her neck and kissed the spot where he had bitten her. "I'm not ready to share you just yet." He kissed her neck again and Jen flinched.
"Why does that hurt?"
Decebel actually looked guilty. "I kind of bit you."
Jen narrowed her eyes. "'Kind of' bit me? How do you 'kind of' bite someone, fur ball?"
"I didn't want you to go to the other side not bearing my mark. And I wanted to taste you." he confessed reluctantly. "You're my mate, my wife. I couldn't let you go without having a part of you in me. At least for the little time I was going to be here. I planned to follow you within a matter of days."
Jen gasped. "What? What are you talking about?"
"I won't live without you. I can't. I'm dangerous without you. I would have killed anyone, Jennifer, ANYONE – Jacque, Sally, Vasile – if they had tried to take your body from me. Do not look at me with anger, love. I would be protecting the world from my wrath."
Jen could see that Decebel was really hurting by her reaction. She didn't want to be the cause for anymore of his pain.
"I'm sorry, baby, I didn't realize." Jen ran her fingers through his hair and pressed her cheek to his. "I won't live without you either. I do not hold it against you."
Decebel let out a deep breath. His hand ran up her bare back, reminding him of what she had worn to their bonding ceremony.
"Hmm?" Jen nuzzled closer and Decebel closed his eyes, letting his senses take over and fill him with his mate.
"Why is half your dress missing?"
Jen chuckled. "I figured it would give you less to have to take off."
Decebel growled and she felt the vibrations in his chest.
"I would have missed that so much." Jen ran her hand up his chest and curled it around the nape of his neck.
"Missed what, love?"
"The growly, chest rumble thing."
Decebel chuckled. "I will do the growly, chest rumble thing anytime you want."
Jen smiled. "I will hold you to that, you know. So if we're standing in line somewhere and I suddenly have the urge to cuddle, you better be ready to rumble away."
Decebel pressed a kiss to the top of her head.
"I really don't want to open that door. I want to keep you in here with me. I want to finish the Blood Rites – with you alive this time," he said pointedly.
Jen leaned back so she could look into his eyes. "We aren't opening that door until the Blood Rites are complete. The other can wait, but not the Blood Rites."
Jen pulled the neck of her dress down over her shoulder and leaned her head back to give Decebel access.
He growled and his grip on her tightened. As he leaned forward Jen felt his tongue run across her skin and then a sharp pain that was gone as quickly as it had come. She wrapped her arm around his neck, holding him tightly to her. She had expected some pain, maybe not horrible pain, but at least some. This felt...good. She knew that Jacque had said that the exchange was intimate, but she never explained the immense pleasure that also came with it. A breathy moan escaped Jen's lungs as she felt Decebel pull her closer. His mouth was warm and, though firmly attached to her, gentle. When he began to pull back Jen was completely unashamed when she whispered to her mate, "Don't stop."
Decebel chuckled. "We aren't blood suckers, baby. We only take enough to complete the Rites and leave our mark."
"Well, if it feels like that when the blood suckers do their thing, then we are seriously underestimating the value of being a blood sucker." Jen's head lulled back on her neck as Decebel licked the bite clean.
"Are you alright?" he asked her gently.
Jen grinned. "Better than alright."
Decebel kissed her. "Are you ready?"
She nodded, then asked, "I have to actually bite you this time, don't I?"