“Don’t take your incompetence out on me,” the Fae snapped back.

Mona froze. Very few beings would dare to talk to her that way and live to tell about it. She turned slowly to face the figure. Her hands itched to work their magic and the darkness swirled inside her pulsing, pushing to be released.

“I told you that I could help you Desdemona. I also told you that you were not my only option. I bring you this information to show you that I am telling you the truth when I say I want Perizada stripped of her power, kneeling before me knowing that her death is upon her.”

Mona couldn’t help the shriek of laughter that bolted out of her. “Damn, I thought I was blood thirsty, but I’m beginning to think that some of you so called good guys are even nastier than little ‘ole me.”

The cloaked figure stepped forward and the darkness around it slowly faded as the hood fell away. Mona laughed as she saw who stood before her.

“You have got to be kidding me,” she clapped her hands with glee. “This is just too much. Does Perizada have any idea that you, Lorelle, are so hard up for her demise?” Mona watched as a small flash of emotion passed over the high Fae’s face and was gone just as quickly as it appeared.

“I feel the element of surprise is much more satisfying when plotting the demise of one’s sibling, don’t you?” Lorelle’s eyes filled with a hatred that Mona fully understood, though she didn’t know one of the Fae was capable of such loathing.

“Thurlok is still at the bridge, though he is cowering under it in hopes that you will not find out what he has done.”

Mona turned and glared out of the window into the poor, tiny village tucked away in the mountains, untouched by progress or time. She had been surprised when Lorelle had asked her to meet in such a place, because it was not a setting that most Fae would choose to spend time, owing to their disdain for anything quaint and opulence free. Had she any semblance of caring she might have thought the village charming, but as it were she could care less if it burned to the ground.

Mona turned back to Lorelle, “You have tracked them?”

“Yes, she keeps us informed of their progress. She believes that we all have truly seen the error of our ways and are fully on board with the Great Luna’s plans.”

Mona’s skin crawled at the mention of the deity who created her foe.

“Where are they?” She snapped.

“They are making their way back to the Romanian stronghold. They are moving quickly through the forest and it seems that Peri is able to influence the plants and animals to aid them. They are drawn to the light she and the healers represent.” Lorelle explained.

Mona’s eyes narrowed as the she bared her teeth. “Well, we will just have to remedy that, won’t we?”

Though Lorelle had allowed her selfish desires and quest for her own power to twist her intentions into something evil, she still shuttered under the feral violence that surrounded Desdemona. It enveloped her completely, leaving no space for compassion, sympathy, or regret. Even now, something in Lorelle still opposed the idea of hurting her sister. But, she could see that Mona would gladly tear the wolves, limb from limb, reveling in their screams of agony, and then casually eat a meal afterwards without a second thought to the lives she'd just destroyed.

If she were honest with herself, she would admit that she didn’t want her hate of Peri to twist her that far, but somehow honesty just wasn’t her strong suit.

Chapter 11

“I watch her sleeping. I can’t tear my eyes from her for even a second, for if I do I will see her battered, broken body. She’s so worried about me. I try to put on the smile she needs, but I know she sees through me. My desperation to touch her, taste her, and smell her are complete giveaways to what is really going on inside of me. I can feel it from the other males, even Vasile. The effects of the In-Between run much deeper than we could have ever imagined. Though we are free from the physical prison, I fear that it could still be what destroys us.” ~ Costin

Sally stood breathless from the brisk pace that Peri insisted they keep. They had been pushing through the forest for two days and still the males teetered on the edge of violence. The once unified wolves that had trusted each other were leery and edgy around one another. Their eyes darted, constantly waiting for the danger they seemed so sure would come. The males wouldn’t let their mates more than a foot from their sides, Costin included. Sally would have laughed at their ridiculous possessiveness, but the fear in their eyes crushed any humor.

Costin walked up to her. He was not out of breath she noticed, irritably. His hand reached up and brushed away hair that had escaped from her pony tail while they were running. His touch was tentative and gentle and she hated that he, who had once been so confident and bold in his pursuit of her, was now hesitant to touch her—his mate.

“Not for the reasons you think,” he told her as he held her eyes.

“Then why?”

She could feel his need to protect her and, though she appreciated it, in that moment it enraged her. She knew that she was his and he felt an unwavering, all powerful need to protect her, but he was hers too, dammit. How could she protect him, even from himself, if he didn’t let her in?

“You feel the tension, especially because you are a healer. The darkness that we all have kept at bay, the control we have kept on our wolves, is all but gone. We are fighting what we have always feared would destroy us.”

“Why? I thought your true mates balanced that darkness. I thought we helped you keep control. I know you all have been through hell. I know you have this insane need to protect us, but you have us back. The physical touch is there and the mental bond is strong. Why are you not in control?” Sally’s voice broke the silence. She was desperate for an answer, and hopefully one that she could fix. Costin, being so distant and yet possessive beyond reason, was beginning to scare her. The others turned to watch them and Costin tensed at all the attention. His head bowed as he broke eye contact with her and Sally felt shame running off of him like a turbulent rain storm, hell bent on wearing away his resolve as rain from the storm would wear away earth and rock.

“They won’t let us be what they need.” Rachel’s voice broke the pin dropping silence. Sally’s head snapped around to the other healer.

“What do you mean?” Sally asked.

Gavril stepped up beside his mate and placed a hand on her face gently pulling her to look at him.

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