She continued to sit staring into the night, a lone sentry guarding her friends. Part of her was eager to go to sleep hoping to hear from her mate again, but another part of her dreaded hearing the desperation in his usually calm, secure voice. He needed her just as badly as she needed him and here she sat unable to do a damn thing for him. Jen growled in frustration and gradually all the ugliness of her reality set in and took root in her heart. She bowed her head and closed her eyes giving into the monster of defeat, if only for a little while, she would let herself be weak, let herself fall apart while there was no one to watch.
“I pride myself on my ability to hate indiscriminately. Truly, I look at the world from a viewpoint of total equality when it comes to the depths of my abhorrence. If life were fair, I would be honored for my impartial treatment and lack of favoritism. But, life isn’t fair. Life is cruel and dysfunctional. It kicks you in the ass and then laughs as you crash into others, taking them down with you as you fall. And, that is why I love to be alive. It means I get to watch all of you suckers go down and rest assured, I will wish equal amounts of pain and disfigurement on each of you. If I’m lucky; I will get to be the cause.” ~Desdemona
“Tell me why I should believe that you are willing to betray your race? Why should I trust a Fae?” Mona glared at the cloaked figure that stood across from her.
“Perizada has been a thorn in my side for too many centuries. I am done standing in her shadow. I am done taking orders from a god that cares only for wolves and has no respect for my people. She expects us to jump up, rescue her weak children, and it is time for someone to do something about it.”
“And that someone is you?” Mona crossed her arms. “If you are so brave, then why won’t you reveal yourself to me?”
The Fae laughed. “You honestly believe that I would show you all of my cards at once? I am no fool. Think about what I have told you and decide quickly. You are not my only option.” And then the Fae was gone.
Mona closed her eyes and reached out with her will attempting to follow the path that the Fae had taken, but there was no trace left. From the moment the person had appeared in the cloaked guise, Mona had been subtly attempting to unmask her. But, this was one of great power, able to block her attempts. That in itself told her something very important. If one, so high up in the Fae council was seeking her out; there was no doubt dissention among the Fae. A weakness had been exposed and it was only a matter of time before that weakness brought everything crashing down.
Mona laughed out loud. “I don’t even need to lift another finger to destroy my foe. They are going to do it for me with their lack of loyalty.” If there was one thing Mona knew, it was even the strongest defense could fall if a tiny crack emerged.
Costin closed his eyes and reached for Sally, his Sally, not the imitation that sat before him, broken and afraid. He didn’t know how long he and his pack mates had been in their own personal hell, but it was getting harder and harder to have moments of clarity like the brief glimpse that he was experiencing now. The only thing that had allowed him to gain this insight was remembering the first moment in which he had felt her. It had been like a drink of water in a dry, parched land and it had brought him a minuscule amount of relief. Then it was gone. With every moment that he was forced to endure the unrelenting torture of watching his mate die, be tortured, raped, ripped apart, and taken from him, he prayed for one second of his mate’s real presence. He knew that he was fighting not only for his life, but for hers as well. It was a fight he refused to lose.
He pushed out with everything in him, reaching through the bond, thin though it was, to draw her to him. Costin held his breath as he waited for her to answer him. One beat, two beats, his heart pumped in his chest and then, she was there. His brown eyed gypsy and all the gentleness that she possessed.
“Sally mine,” he whispered, through cracked lips.
For a moment, he imagined that he could hear her calling out his name. He strained his ears, listening for the sound of her voice.
There it was.
“I’m here Sally,” he spoke even though he knew it was an impossibility that he was truly speaking to her. If this were all he could have, then he would take it and run as far as he could.
“How can I hear you?” She asked him.
“You’re not real,” Costin, answered.
Costin heard the Sally before him, the one he knew to be false, scream. He squeezed his eyes closed and clenched his jaw as he tried to focus on his mate’s, calm, un-tortured voice.
“I am real my love. Real, scared, and so empty without you.” He sounded desperate even to his own ears, but to hell with his pride. He was scared and empty. It was futile to deny it.
“We’re trying to figure out a way to get you all out and we’re doing it as quickly as we can. I love you Costin. I love you and I need you to fight.” Sally pled with her mate, though she knew that she might be asking the impossible.
Costin struggled to hold onto the connection between them, but it grew ever weaker. The tortured Sally lying before him, once again, began to take over his reality and his Sally. His whole, sweet Sally was slipping away.
“NO!” Costin shouted into the bleakness of the In-Between. His eyes opened and he stared at the horrific sight before him, telling himself over and over that it wasn’t real. It wasn’t enough to convince him. His wolf struggled to get free, to rescue their mate and Costin knew the battle raging inside him was becoming too much. He was losing and no matter how hard he fought, the will of his wolf was growing stronger and more insistent. Costin couldn’t make the wolf understand that what they were seeing wasn’t real. All that his wolf saw was their mate, broken, devastated and terrified sitting before them, reaching for them, begging them for help. He threw his head back and a soul piercing howl ripped from his chest, but there was no one to hear him.
Sally woke with a start. Her breathing was rapid and despite the cool morning air, her forehead was dotted with sweat. Once again, she had heard his voice, heard his desperation and once again, there wasn’t a thing she could do about it.
It was several moments before she realized that it was quiet, too quiet and her vision cleared as she blinked away the painful dream.
“Good morning sleeping beauty,” Cynthia smiled over at Sally. The cool early morning air caressed her face as she tried to sort out in her mind between reality and the dream. She remembered Costin’s agony and it was beginning to become her own. She looked over at Peri who was helping to gather their packs so they could continue on.