Vasile wrapped Sally and Jen in hugs as soon as he saw them, ignoring the growls from their mates. They weren’t his daughters, but they were as good as. They were pack and their friend had been hurt while under his protection.

When he released them, Decebel and Costin pulled each of their mates into their arms.

“Where is she?” Jen asked.

Vasile stepped out of the way and they saw Alina and Rachel sitting next to a very pale, very still Jacque.

Sally and Jen both rushed over. Rachel and Alina stood and backed away, letting them get close to their friend.

Sally wiped a tear away as she took Jacque’s hand in hers.

“Why won’t she wake up?” Jen asked.

“We don’t know. I think it might have something to do with their bond,” Vasile told her.

“What do you mean?” Sally’s head snapped up.

“I can feel Fane’s agony. Wherever he is, he’s in pain. I think it’s affecting their bond. He may have shut it down somehow or he didn’t and she’s stuck enduring what he is.”

“Isn’t there anything we can do?” Jen asked desperately.

Sally reached out and placed her hand over Jacque’s chest. She closed her eyes and reached out for her friend. She didn’t know how she did it but when she sought to get inside someone she was touching, she was able to see them, see inside their body and their mind.

She saw that Jacque’s mind was covered in a haze. Something was keeping her unconscious. She tried pushing against the haze – she forced her will into it. The force with which it pushed back shoved her out of Jacque’s body and physically onto the ground. Costin was at her side in an instant, kneeling so she could sit on his knee.

“What did you see, love?” he asked.

Sally tried to focus her eyes and clear her thoughts. The haze had tried to attack her mind. She felt violated and shuddered in Costin's arms. He pulled her closer.

“Something is keeping her under. I tried to push it away but it’s wrapped around her mind, encasing it.”

Rachel walked over to her, her eyes wide and mouth opened in wonder.

“You can get inside?”

Sally nodded. “Can’t you?”

Rachel nodded. “But I’ve been a healer for centuries. You are but a babe.” She looked over at Peri, who smiled with pride.

“She’s powerful,” Rachel told her.

“Very,” Peri agreed.

“Okay, not that I don’t care that Sally is like super healer, but can we get back to Jacque and how we can help her?”

“We can’t. She needs her -” Rachel was interrupted by a now standing and snarling Jen.


“Sweetie,” Sally said calmly, “you’ve already lost it.”

Jen growled but stepped back. “I’m sorry, but I’m just really sick of the only answer being 'she needs her mate'. How can we be so dependent on you guys? I mean, seriously, what the hell makes you so special that you can fix everything? And how vain is it that you think you are the end all? Jacque is strong without Fane. She doesn’t need him. We don’t need you.”

Decebel snarled and the sound that came out of him was more like a lion than a wolf. Everyone but Vasile took a step away from the enraged Alpha.

“You think it makes you weak to say that you need me? Is that what your problem has been, that you don’t want to need me?” Decebel’s eyes glowed as he held his mate’s stare.

“Why should I need you? You don’t need me. You are strong without me. You can take on anything, deal with anything, but I’m weak. That’s what you think, that I can’t handle it when it get rough. You think that we will all just curl up and die if you weren’t there to rescue us!” Jen’s breathing was erratic and her heart was racing.

Cynthia stepped forward, keeping a wary eye on Decebel. “Jen, you need to calm down.”

Decebel snarled at her. “Who are you to tell my mate what she needs?”

Cynthia stepped back, ducking her head and exposing her neck in submission.

Decebel’s head snapped back to his mate. He was trying to control his wolf, but it was becoming more difficult the more she spouted this nonsense about not needing him and him not needing her.

“Where is this all coming from, Jennifer? How can you say such things to me? TO ME? When you died my life was over. I NEED YOU and I’m not ashamed to admit that. It doesn’t make me weak to need you, it doesn’t make me any less of a man. You make me stronger, you make me better. Why is it so horrible to need me?” Decebel had taken several steps toward her, but she took the same amount away from him.

She watched his anger turn to pain as he looked at her.

Jen’s shoulders crumbled in defeat, all the fight gone. She was tired. She was scared.

“If I need you, if I can’t be without you, then I will die when you leave me – I will cease to exist without you. I can’t need you, I can’t. If you are the air I breathe, if you are the rock I stand on, if you are what makes me whole, then I’m going to be a shell, empty and dry once you’re gone.” Tears slid down her face.

“Jennifer, I will never leave you, how can you say that to me?”

“You don’t know. Once you will hate me.”

Decebel took another step toward her. This time she didn’t move back.

“Tell him, Jen. Trust him.” Cynthia spoke softly, her eyes still on the ground and her neck exposed.

Decebel’s eyes widened. “You told her before you told me, your mate, your husband?”

Jen cringed at the hurt she saw in his face.

“I’m sorry,” she sobbed. “I’m so sorry. I just don’t think I will survive if I see the disgust in your eyes when you hear it. I can’t lose you, Decebel – I can’t lose you because I need you.”

Decebel moved quickly to her before she could back away and he knelt down. He placed both hands on either side of her face and held her stare.

“Baby, there is nothing you could do that would ever cause you to lose me. I am yours – good and bad, I am yours.”

Jen’s eyes filled with more tears.

“But this is so bad, Dec. It’s so bad,” she whispered through her sobs.

Decebel wiped her tears away with his thumbs and because he couldn’t stand it any longer, he pulled her into his arms. He held her shaking body, pouring his warmth into her.