Dark Wolf Page 12

How could he stop her? He didn’t want her in the hands of the Lycans. Despair swept through him when even in his worst moments he hadn’t considered, not for one moment, helping the silver to move through his body faster. He had known he could get the suffering over, but he would never leave Skyler alone, not if there was a chance. But to save her life . . .

Don’t you dare even think about leaving me! Pure fury edged the trembling fear in her voice. If you choose to go, I will follow. I won’t be understanding about it either, Dimitri. We have a pact, you and I, we made it a long time ago when everyone else wanted to decide our fate. We decide together. You. Me. Together.

I cannot stand the thought of you in danger.

It is only because you suffer . . .

Suffering does not matter. The silver does not matter. Death does not matter. You have no concept of what drives me. I cannot have you in danger.

Her voice changed completely. The fear and anger disappeared. Her tone was musical. Soft. Red velvet brushing over every inflamed nerve ending with a soothing touch. My love, no one, not even an ancient so courageous and strong as you could withstand the lack of sustenance. You need to feed. You have been chained for over two weeks, and you’ve suffered agonies no one else could have endured. The combination would drive anyone mad.

At times he had felt mad. His mind wandered. Before Skyler had come, he sometimes couldn’t think clearly, but . . .

You have to trust me. I am your lifemate and I hold you close in my heart. You’re the other half of my soul. Trust me to do this right.

The sad truth was—Skyler had a point. Days and nights ran together. He was left outside and at times he was helpless, caught in the Carpathian paralysis, yet unable to sleep. The sun beat down through the trees, nearly blinding him, burning his skin until he was blistered, but fortunately, the thick canopy—and his Lycan blood—kept him from the death most Carpathians feared.

The silver burned continuously, his insides on fire, his skin and bones feeling as though he was being scalded and scorched endlessly. Hunger beat at him, until he didn’t know which was worse—the need for blood, or the ceaseless agony in his body. Now, all that meant little when he knew Skyler was in danger.

Dimitri. The way you feel about me . . . That is the way I feel about you. We belong together and I cannot go away and leave you alone like this. It would break my heart. I would rather risk everything on the chance of getting you back than know you are suffering and I did nothing.

Call Fen. He will come and I’ll know you’re safe.

He felt her sigh. She was worn. The edges of her mind were stretched thin. She was shivering with cold. He couldn’t see where she was, but he could feel that much.

My love, you and I both know he will not get here in time. The silver was inches from your heart. Even now, I fear resting, afraid something will go wrong. Let me do this. For you. For us. Let me do this, Dimitri. I can do this.

There was no denying Skyler. He knew he was fighting a losing battle. Both of them needed to conserve strength.

Tell me your plan, sívamet.

He felt her love surrounding him. He tried to keep his body as still as possible, but the silver twisted through, burning along every nerve ending until he thought he might go mad. Before, in the darkness surrounding him during the endless days and nights, he had wanted to end it all, but the thought of what that would do to his lifemate kept him trying to be still to keep the poison from finding his heart. Now, with her love, with her courage, he felt lifted up. How could he not stay alive when he had a woman like Skyler fighting for him?

He felt her hesitation and found himself scowling. Skyler was no “yes” woman, and he loved that about her, but more than anything, he wanted her to be safe. His heart contracted painfully. She was going to do something she knew he would never approve of.

Josef has provided us with the best papers possible, three students conducting a study on wolves in the wild. He used your organization and we look very legitimate. The boys are setting up camp now. It should pass any inspection.

That tells me nothing.

It tells you we have planned this carefully. We don’t want a war, we just want you safe and back with us. Tomorrow I’ll go walking in the woods and get lost. I’m human. Someone will find me. One of the Lycans. I’ll have a turned ankle, Josef is quite good at providing such things. The Lycan will escort me back to the camp if for no other reason than just to check out my story. I will plant a tracking device on him. That will lead us straight back to you.

Dimitri closed his eyes. It sounded so simple. Sometimes the best plans were the simplest, but Skyler would be in the deep forest, far from civilization, where real wolves and Lycans both inhabited the woods. Not all men were good—Lycan or human. Of all people, Skyler should know that.

He kept silent, knowing she did know. She had nightmares often. She was risking her life, along with her hard-won peace of mind and she had to be terrified, but she was doing it for him. The thought made him feel humble.

You would do the same for me.

He was an ancient warrior, she was so young and vulnerable. He could feel how exhausted she was. Under any circumstances, healing was difficult. Given the distance and the fact that she’d been drained of all energy the preceding night, he was surprised she could function at all. There was no use in arguing with her.

If anything goes wrong and you get in trouble, swear to me you will call for Gabriel. He capitulated, but his heart pounded and the silver twisted through his body that much faster. He could feel the burn worming its way through his rib cage.

Have no worries, my love, I will be shouting at the top of my lungs.

Skyler reassured her lifemate, honesty ringing in her voice.

I love you and that doesn’t begin to describe what I feel for you. There were no words, Dimitri decided, that had ever been invented that could ever express the all-consuming love he felt for Skyler.

Please be safe, Dimitri. Stay very still. I’m with you, she whispered, tears burning in her eyes as the connection between them abruptly ended.

Skyler hated letting that thread between them go. He was so alone, in such bad shape, far worse than she could have ever imagined. Her Dimitri was so strong, so very powerful, it didn’t seem possible that he could be a prisoner, tortured and near his life’s end.

She felt tears on her face. She couldn’t move, she was just too exhausted, but staring up at the canopy overhead as the branches swayed and danced to the music of the wind, she realized how lucky she was. Dimitri was alive. He was close enough that she could reach him and he could connect to her. They would find a way together.

“Sky, I’m going to give you a few minutes,” Josef said, “and then you’re going to have to try to eat something. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us and you have to be in shape.”

She nodded, content to lie in her hammock and listen to the sounds of the forest. The continual drone of the insects seemed familiar to her and yet not at all. Wings fluttered overhead as birds flitted from one tree to the next. Marmots scampered and mice infiltrated the vegetation on the forest floor. The forest was alive with life.

She turned her head to watch as Paul set up a safety zone. There were predators in the forest and, although they had Josef with them, they needed to prepare just in case. She lay in her hammock, thinking about their last line of defense, should everything go wrong. If they were discovered and the Lycans attacked them, it was up to her to provide a safe shelter for them all. Dimitri would be weak. If there was no time to give him blood and heal him, they would be tasked with finding a safe place they could defend while he went to ground to recover.

Paul strode over to her, holding a water bottle. “Here. Can you sit up?” He already had his arm around her back, helping her. “Drink this. We’re nearly set up here. Josef has everything in order. Even our findings will stand up under scrutiny. I can’t imagine that the Lycans won’t buy our cover.”

“Josef said the simplest plan was the best, and I think he’s right,” Skyler admitted. She had to lean against Paul to sit up enough to drink the water. “I’m so tired, all I want to do is sleep.” She looked up at him, frowning. “He can’t go to ground or get out of the sun. The last time, the distance was so great I couldn’t see anything around him or even get a sense of what was happening to him. The pain was so awful, but this time . . .” She trailed off.

“He’s strong,” Paul assured her. “He’ll survive.”

“I know how very fortunate I am that he loves me. Knowing he didn’t deliberately move and squirm to allow the silver to pierce his heart when he’s been tortured all this time just to stay alive for me, is an amazing feeling. I don’t know that I could have withstood that kind of agony as long as he has.”

Skyler took another long, slow drink. The water felt good on her parched throat. Dimitri hadn’t fed for over two weeks. What would that do to him? She looked around for Josef. He was busy with the fire pit. He’d always had a thing about fire.

“If Dimitri hasn’t fed in a long while, Josef, what does that do?”

Josef turned slowly, the flames from the fire pit casting eerie shadows. “That’s not good, Sky. He’ll be starved. It’s best that, when we rescue him, I give him my blood first, not you.”

She didn’t like the sound of that. Josef could be quite adult at times, and he sounded very serious—and concerned.

“Can you get up, Skyler?” Paul asked. “We’ve got a chair for you and the fire is warm.”

“I don’t know.” That was dishonest. If she tried to stand, she’d fall on her face.

Paul scooped her up without asking, carrying her straight over to the fire and placing her in a chair facing it. “Josef remembered the marshmallows and chocolate,” he added.

“Sounds fun,” she replied.

Josef came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her shoulders, putting his chin on the top of her head. “Do you think you’re up for this tomorrow? Should we give it another day so that you can recoup?”

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