Dark Wolf Page 20

Sívamet. Dimitri spoke the Carpathian endearment tenderly. His heart always seemed to grow bigger and fuller when she was near. Sex is not making love. There is a difference. I will show you the difference and you will no longer fear us coming together in a physical way. There is no need to worry. When you’re ready . . .

I am ready. That’s the point. I want you to claim me. Right now. Please claim me right now. Her heart pounded in her chest. She wanted him in that moment. Not just in her head. Or her heart. She wanted their souls to be woven back together as they were meant to be.

Dimitri’s entire body reacted. For one moment all pain was gone and there was only Skyler—his lifemate—reaching for him. Offering herself to him in his weakest moment. How could he possibly resist her? She was everything to him. Yet here he was, hanging from the branch of a tree, pierced with silver, wrapped in silver chains, helpless to even aid his lifemate should she run into trouble. What did he have to offer her? Even if they managed to get him free, they would be hunted for all time by the Lycans.

He had no idea what his mixed blood would do to her during a conversion. He didn’t know if children were possible, or if so, what they would become. He loved her with everything he was or would ever be, but what right did he have to tie her so closely, an unbreakable bond . . .

Dimitri’s silence frightened Skyler. Surely he felt the same way. She knew the drive to claim one’s lifemate was primal, strong, nearly impossible to ignore—and Dimitri had managed to ignore it for years. Was he as worried about her inability to commit to a physical relationship as she was? That stood to reason.

He was rejecting her. Pain sliced through her like a knife. She pulled her knees into her chest, drawn into the fetal position. She’d waited too long. She had made him wait forever, thinking he would always be there for her.

Dimitri felt her instant fear, the pain of rejection, and cursed himself for such clumsy handling of her tremendous gift. And it was a gift, a treasure beyond anything else she could ever offer him. His mind felt slow and sluggish. He could barely breathe, his lungs laboring, and the agonizing burn of the silver hadn’t allowed his brain to function in the way he needed.

Sívamet, you are my heart. You are, Hän ku vigyáz sívamet és sielamet—keeper of my heart and soul. Above all else, I want to bind our souls together. It is my greatest wish. But, Skyler, you cannot tempt me this way. I’m weak and you’re vulnerable. We’ve both been through so much. You cannot tempt me, he reiterated again, hoping she understood what she meant to him, but that it was his duty to protect her.

She heard the urgent need in his voice, every bit as strong as it was in her, maybe stronger. Her heart settled. Fluttered. Filled with joy. She took in the fresh air. I know it’s the right time. Our time. We need to be strong together. Bind me to you, my love. This is what I want.

How could he possibly explain to her the peril his life choices would put her in? He wanted her to be permanently his, bound so that no other could ever take her from his side, but they weren’t in a safe place where he could surround her with his love and hold her close to him, reassure her if she became fearful. He didn’t know if he would even live out the night. He couldn’t even give her that reassurance.

I can’t hold you in my arms and do it properly. Once this is done, it can’t be undone.

Skyler found herself smiling. More than anything else she was certain of what she wanted, and she wanted to be Dimitri’s lifemate in every sense of the word. She was merged with him and him with her. The connection between them was so strong. It had been growing since their first encounter. How could she not fall in love with him? How could she possibly want anyone else in her life?

Once we met, my love, we both knew our connection could never be undone. I want this with all my heart. I want you with all my heart. I know I’m ready. I would follow you anywhere, Dimitri. I would walk on fire to get to you.

How can you be so certain?

Skyler crossed her arms over her chest and stared up at the branches above her head. The forest was preparing for nightfall and the birds were returning to their roosts. She was fully prepared to take the next step in her life—her biggest step.

Today I met a stranger in the forest. I was alone with a man I didn’t know. He was big and strong and looked very tough. Before I actually saw him, I felt his presence and knew he watched me. For a moment, I was that terrified child again, helpless and hopeless and wanting to slip deep into my mind where no one could harm me.

Sívamet, I am so sorry. Dimitri wanted to shake down the very trees holding him prisoner to get to her. His Skyler. She deserved to always feel safe.

No, it was a good thing. I knew who I was. I’m Skyler, lifemate to Dimitri. I knew then that I could brave anything—even my past—in order to get to you. I am your lifemate, and I will be all things you need as you already are to me.

She knew she was committing to a physical relationship with him—that was part of being a lifemate. She meant what she said, she would brave anything for him, learn anything for him. He was already part of her. She had found on this journey of awakening that she was beginning to know the signs of physical attraction.

When he spoke to her, his voice was like thick molasses moving slowly through her body, touching nerve endings she’d never known she had. That attraction had been building over time. Sometimes she found she just waited for that one note in his voice her entire body reacted to.

Dimitri turned her argument over and over in is mind. Everything she said was true. They were already connected. No other pair of Carpathians could span the distances they could. They already needed to touch one another’s minds continually. He tried to block out the pain, to think clearly, so in this, he could do the right thing. Explain everything to her. Let her see the truth of what their life together could be before she made the ultimate decision.

You have to be certain, and before you make up your mind, there are other things you need to know, reasons the Lycans have condemned me. Those reasons will affect you as my lifemate. I am no longer Carpathian. I have become more. Something different.

Whatever you are, I will be.

That is your loyalty to me as well as your youth talking. You need to know the consequences. You need to have all the facts before you make up your mind. Please. Listen to me and then really give it thought.

Skyler watched a leaf floating to the ground. A journey. The leaf had lived out its existence one way and now was free-falling, trusting the next journey would be the right one. I am listening, my love, with an open mind. Please keep your mind open as well.

The Lycans call what I am the Sange rau. The literal translation is “bad blood.” One such as me is very difficult to stop—or kill. The thing about this transition, Skyler, is that it continues to mutate. I don’t know what will happen if I try to convert you. I doubt I will take that chance. Someone else may have to bring you fully into my world.

Skyler frowned, her fingers idly drumming on her thigh as she turned the information he’d given her over and over in her mind. She could see why Dimitri would be reluctant. He had no idea of the future or what he was offering her. Male Carpathians didn’t like other males around their women much, but their relationship was different and had been different almost from the beginning. Dimitri accepted her friends, Josef and Paul, treating them as younger brothers. He knew how she felt about them; she held nothing away from him when she opened her mind to his.

I know many Carpathians, Dimitri. I’ve been given two blood exchanges. One more will be enough for a conversion. Gabriel and Francesca feared, because our presence drew the vampire, that I would need to be saved in an emergency. I’m not afraid of the conversion, she assured him with absolute confidence.

Lifemates exchange blood. It is part of our physical relationship and one we cannot deny. Eventually, over time, you would become as I am.

Do you really think that frightens me?

No, because you do not yet know what can happen. The Lycans all believe that the Sange rau must be destroyed. They very well could be planning a war right now over this issue. You will be hunted and hated. The Carpathians call us Hän ku pesäk kaikak. The actual translation is “Guardian of all.” That distinguishes the Carpathian/Lycan from the vampire/wolf. The Lycans refuse to acknowledge a difference. They believe that no chances should be taken and anyone with mixed blood should be destroyed.

Why?

A single Sange rau nearly wiped out their entire species, centuries ago.

Skyler studied the leaf as the wind gusted, taking it first one direction and then spinning it in a different one. The leaf appeared to be dancing. She lifted her hand idly and began to direct the dance rather absently, the sound of the breeze playing through the leaves creating music.

Xavier, the most hated and yet powerful of all mages, nearly did the same to the Carpathian species, she reminded him. And yet, do you know what I found out, Dimitri? I feared that side of me. I often tried to deny that he was related to me in any way. In fact, so much so that I have avoided any real relationship with my birth father, Razvan, because I couldn’t bear the knowledge that mage blood ran in my veins. But I found, through this entire event, that being mage is a good thing. Having those gifts to be used for good is a gift. What you are is a gift to the entire world.

It is my Lycan blood that allows them to torture me.

It is your mixed blood that has kept you alive when no one else could have possibly survived this long. They expected you to die long ago, Dimitri, you know that’s the truth. They would have done better to kill you outright. What you are is a testimony to what can be used for good.

There is uncertainty of the future.

Skyler laughed softly, sharing her amusement with him. The leaf still continued on its journey, its brief dance only delaying the inevitable—as Dimitri was simply delaying the inevitable.

The future is always uncertain, my love. Especially now. I want this, Dimitri, now, before whatever happens tonight, whether we succeed or not. I will follow you wherever you go. We cannot be undone. Please make me yours. She meant every single word. She was certain. Absolutely certain that this was the right time for her—for him. And if they were killed in this rescue attempt, their souls would be bound.

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