"Yes, love. Just let your instincts guide you."

Jen turned in his lap so that she was facing him with her legs wrapped around him. Decebel raised an eyebrow at her.

"What? This is just more comfortable than turning my neck." Her eyes were wide with innocence, but Decebel saw the slight smirk on her lips.

Jen leaned back slightly as Decebel grabbed the hem of his sweater and pulled it over his head. She tried not to drool on her mate when she looked over his ridiculously toned body. The markings that covered the right side of his chest, shoulder, and arm, all the way up his neck, were undeniably sexy.  Jen was forced out of ogling when Decebel cleared his throat.

"Like what you see?" He waggled his eyebrows at her.

"Like is putting it mildly," she admitted boldly. The look in Decebel's eyes grew intense and Jen felt a shiver run down her spine.

"Complete the Blood Rites, my love," Decebel whispered as he turned his head, baring his neck to her.

Jen leaned into him, holding one side of his neck with one hand and bracing herself on his shoulder with the other. She breathed in his scent and when her lips touched his skin, she felt his breathing quickened. She kissed his neck and then opened her mouth. Something deep inside her stirred. Like when she awoke in the morning and stretched, so she felt her wolf awakening and stretching. Then her focus became her mate. Jen felt her teeth lengthen – she wanted to be a little shocked at that moment, but the wolf that had been buried deep inside her had one thing on her mind and that was to mark their mate, to complete this age-old dance of their kind.

She opened her mouth wider and struck. Her teeth sunk into his flesh with no resistance. She felt warmth and wetness flow into her mouth and Decebel's arms wrapped around her, one hand resting just inside her dress over her marks, the other at the nape of her neck, holding her to him. As if she was going anywhere.

Jen couldn't believe how good he tasted. Sweet, but indescribably so. She sunk her teeth deeper and heard Decebel chuckle.

"Greedy little thing, aren't you?" He tugged on her hair gently as he spoke. "Jennifer, baby, it's enough."

Jen pulled back and, as he had done, licked the bite mark. She was grinning from ear to ear when she opened her eyes and looked at him.

"What are you smiling about, beautiful?"

"That was freaking awesome."

Decebel chuckled at her and gently rubbed her back. They were sitting quietly, enjoying each other, holding each other, when suddenly Jen felt a pull inside of her. Her eyes opened wide as the void that had been present since Rachel had severed their bond was suddenly filled with pulsing light.

Jen could feel their bond knitting itself back together and her eyes met Decebel's – their connection was restored.


He pulled her close, breathing her scent in.

"I hear you, baby. I feel you."

Jen let out a huge sigh of relief as she slumped against him and began to feel whole again.

"Do you feel it? The bond?"

"Yes," he answered. "I can feel your presence in my mind."

Jen felt nearly intoxicated with emotions as her own mingled with Decebel's. She smiled at him and whispered, "Let's do it again."

Decebel's brow furrowed. "Do what again?"

"You know, the biting and what not." Jen grinned wickedly. "I can only imagine it's probably way more intense when you can feel each other's feelings. I think, as my mate, you owe me the most wonderful Blood Rites experience ever."

Decebel was shaking his head, a smile across his face. "We can't do it again, love. Everyone needs to know you're alive and I -"

Before he could continue, Jen interrupted him with a frown. "Don't you dare tell me you have a headache."

Without thinking, Decebel threw his had back and laughed. His body was shaking and Jen had to wrap her arms around him to keep from falling off his lap.

He continued to laugh while she glared at him.

When the door was thrown open, Decebel's laugh cut off abruptly and – in a movement born into him as a wolf – he instinctively pushed Jen behind him and took up a protective stance in front of her.

Jen leaned forward to whisper in his ear, "Now look what you did. And don't think I won't forget you denying me. Remember, my sweet mate, payback's a bitch." Jen sent him an image of what she had in mind and laughed when Decebel snarled.

"Quit distracting me, woman."

Chapter 23

The only sounds in the large room were stifled sobs, and soothing noises coming from those trying to comfort. Cynthia and Crina sat on either side of Sorin and he held them both close, a pack mate offering comfort to two women he loved like sisters.

Alina was wrapped in Vasile's arms, sitting in one of the larger chairs close to the fire. It had been a long time since Vasile had seen his mate lose control and it broke his heart.

Fane and Jacque sat on the couch on one end while Costin and Sally sat on the other. Though each were wrapped in strong arms they had reached across the couch to each other to grasp hands.

Sally had buried her face in Costin's chest and though she knew she should pull away she couldn't. His arms were so strong, so safe. His words whispered in her ear poured over her like healing rain. At one point she had felt his hold loosen and she thought he was releasing her. She'd wrapped her arms around his neck in a vice grip and pleaded for him not to let her go. His response had been simple yet absolute: "Never," he'd whispered against her ear. That of course made Sally cry harder, because he would leave her. Just like Jen, he wouldn't have a choice. He would find his true mate and there she would be, broken and crying again, no strong arms to hold her.

Costin's heart had broken during the same scene – he wanted to howl because he didn't know how to comfort her. So he just kept holding her, kept telling her he would take care of her. For now, that was all he could do.

Jacque looked up at Fane and he wiped the tears from her cheeks.

"I'm so sorry, Luna. I'm just so sorry." Fane was on edge and his wolf was even worse knowing his mate was hurting so badly and knowing there was a very dangerous threat to her on the other side of that door.

"I'm going to have to call her family." She buried her face in his neck and out loud in a broken voice she cried, "What am I going to say to her parents, Fane? What can I possibly tell them about how their eighteen year old daughter died?"

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