Dark Wolf Page 21

Dimitri had envisioned an entirely different scenario. He would have held her in his arms, in front of her parents and best friends. He wanted a celebration for her, a moment in her life that transcended every traumatic event. He wanted elegant clothes and her favorite flowers, a party of dancing and laughter, their joy shared with their families. It was more of the human tradition, but she talked of such things with her school friends.

He didn’t want to be hanging in some tree like a criminal, his body torn and starved. God only knew what he looked like—or would look like if she managed to get the chains off of him. He would never again be that elegant, handsome man she had grown so used to. He didn’t want to be far away from her with Lycans surrounding him or have her in danger while sneaking through the woods in a rescue attempt, certainly not when he bound them together.

He searched her mind. There were no doubts there. No regrets. She was different—a grown woman—and she was coming to him as a woman. This was her choice. He had promised her long ago that it would always be her choice.

Skyler knew the exact moment he capitulated. She felt his heart race. Swell with love and pride. The warmth of his love surrounded her, swamped her, filled even that dark space in her mind where she hid when she couldn’t stop what was being done to her body. He was there, seeing it all, healing her. Sharing her worst moments and holding her in his arms while he did. He was Dimitri, her private phenomenon.

You have always been mine, Skyler Rose. Always. Te avio päläfertiilam. He translated the ancient words for her. You are my lifemate. Éntölam kuulua, avio päläfertiilam. I claim you as my lifemate.

Her heart gave a leap of joy. She placed her hand over her chest, directly over her heart. Did you feel that, Dimitri? Even my heart is aware of you. She knew those ancient words were the words she had pleaded for. She felt them, tiny little threads weaving her soul to his.

Ted kuuluak, kacad, kojed. I belong to you. I do belong to you, Skyler. From the moment I saw you, you were not simply the lifemate I had waited centuries to find, but you became my world as well. I love and respect you.

She felt the truth of that each time his mind merged with hers. Even now, when he was so tortured, his first thoughts were always of her and her well-being.

Élidamet andam. I offer my life for you.

She loved that part of the vow, because she would offer her life for his. She knew each word to be the absolute truth.

Pesämet andam. I give you my protection. His amusement was warm in her mind. At this very moment, csitri, I think you are giving me protection rather than the other way around.

Isn’t that how the whole thing works? she asked. We love and protect one another. Because she knew he felt a fierce desire to ensure her health and safety and she felt that same tigress-like need to take care of him.

Uskolfertiilamet andam. I give you my allegiance. You have always had my allegiance, but we’re making it official.

She had known she had his loyalty and faithfulness from the moment their eyes met. She couldn’t imagine her life without him.

Sívamet andam. I give you my heart. Her heart changed rhythm, matching his. A steady, strong beat in spite of the fact that he was still nearly starving.

Sielamet andam. I give you my soul.

There it was, that tie she had been waiting for. He had her heart. He gave her his. Now he tied his soul to hers.

Ainamet andam. I give you my body. Sívamet kuuluak kaik että a ted. I take into my keeping the same that is yours.

She took a deep breath and let it out. There was that, his body. So strong. So much stronger than she was. She would never be able to stop him if anything he did frightened her. For a moment, one terrible moment, she felt her heart go out of rhythm and her breath exploded from her lungs. He waited as he held his breath, but he said nothing, letting her absorb what he said, what that commitment actually meant. It was a vow, like all the others.

She let her breath out. Felt her heart settle. Dimitri was a man of honor. He loved her, and she always had to trust in that love, just as this night, he would be trusting in her love.

I have no doubts, Dimitri. You are my other half and together we’ll get through anything.

Again there was that burst of heat, bathing her mind in his love. It surrounded her and lifted her up as nothing else could.

Ainaak olenszal sívambin. Your life will be cherished by me for all my time. Skyler, you know I have cherished you always, but this means so much more. Te élidet ainaak pide minan. Your life will be placed above my own for all time. I would never hurt you, or frighten you or ask you to do something you are uncomfortable with. Do you understand?

Of course she understood. She’d always known, on some level, that Dimitri was a man above men. He allowed her to work her way to him on her own. He never once had tried to make her feel guilty or to push her toward him faster. He gave her room, and yet he was always there when she needed him. How often had she leaned on him in the middle of the night when the nightmares were too close? He’d never asked for anything in return.

I understand. His loyalty to her, his complete regard for her past and her feelings made her want to be what he needed all the more.

Te avio päläfertiilam. You are my lifemate.

She loved that word. This binding ritual was the equivalent of a human marriage, but more. The vows could not be broken.

Ainaak sívamet jutta oleny. You are bound to me for all eternity.

They could follow one another from one life to the next. They were bound, heart and soul. She felt even closer to him. She knew those threads weaving their souls together had done their job.

Ainaak terád vigyázak. You are always in my care.

It was done; they were tied together for all eternity. Dimitri sent her one last burst of love before he allowed the connection to fade. I love you, Skyler, with all my heart. Be safe for me.

Stay alive no matter what, Dimitri, she responded. I am coming for you.

7

Skyler had done everything she could to prepare for the night, other than the most important one—their fall back plan. Josef was definitely a strategist. He believed in backup plans. His backup plans had backup plans. She and Paul liked to tease him about it, but it was the meticulous care he paid to detail that always made everything work—like the swelling and bruising on her ankle. A Lycan such as Zev would never have bought her story if she hadn’t been truly injured.

“It’s almost time, Sky,” Josef pointed out. “It’s now or never. Can you do it? We need a safe place to retreat to, one the Lycans can’t enter. This is their territory. They know every cave, every rock. I can go to ground, so could Dimitri, but you and Paul can’t, so in the event of an emergency, we have to have a safety zone.”

“I know.” Of course she knew. They’d discussed it a million times. She was 75 percent certain she could do it. Okay, maybe it was more like 50 percent now that she actually had to produce something.

“If we’re caught and given the opportunity to run, some—or all—could be wounded. We won’t be able to outrun a pack, not with the shape Dimitri is in.”

Skyler glared at him. “You’re not making this any easier. Just give me a minute.”

She’d thought about this moment a long time. She had to completely embrace who and what she was. She was Dragonseeker. Her birth father was from a powerful Carpathian lineage, one with great honor. Not a single Dragonseeker had ever turned vampire. Her father had been tortured for centuries, and still he refused to give in to the darkness that would have freed him from Xavier’s terrible prison. That blood ran in her veins.

Her birth father was also mage, grandson to the most powerful mage the world had ever known. She was Xavier’s great-granddaughter. That blood also ran in her veins. The more she’d used her abilities, the stronger they had become. That power was there, running beneath the surface, calling to her. It didn’t have to be evil. Evil was a choice—like the giving up of one’s soul. She could use her gifts for good as they were meant to be.

Her birth mother had been a very powerful psychic. Her ability to cross such long distances telepathically had come not from Dragonseeker or mage, but from her human mother. More, her mother had been the one to have a connection with Mother Earth. She could grow any plant, and sometimes, plants responded just to the sound of her voice.

Skyler knew her strongest connection was with Mother Earth both from Dragonseeker blood and her human mother. She would need everything she was in order to create a safety zone where no Lycan could cross—unless, like Dimitri, he had Carpathian blood as well.

She had chosen her spot well. Just a few miles from where they set up camp was a clearing. They could see anything coming at them from any direction. The soil was rich so Dimitri and Josef could go to ground and no harm could come to them. Paul and she would be exposed to the sight of the Lycans, but the wolves wouldn’t be able to get to them. If they reached that safety zone—and it worked—they could simply wait the arrival of her father and uncle.

She winced, thinking about facing her father. He would be very angry, which she could take, but he’d also be hurt and that was far worse.

“I picked up the exact location from the tracking bug you dropped in the Lycan’s pocket,” Josef said. “We’re good to go. Get our fail-safe up and running and I can take you close to the camp. Paul and I will be waiting to cover your retreat.”

Fortunately, her chosen clearing brought them a few miles closer to Dimitri. Paul and Josef walked with her to the spot, neither trying to hurry her, both sensing this was a difficult task. Each part of that shield, above them, below them, surrounding them, had to be sealed.

She stood in the middle of the clearing for a moment, feeling the welcoming earth beneath her feet. She was surrounded on four sides by the cool of the forest. Slowly, she began to walk clockwise. As she moved, she sent out a brilliant stream of light ahead of her, to clear and cleanse the clearing.

I call upon you, powers of air, bring forth your breath to guard this circle.

I call upon you, powers of fire, witness this rite, bring forth your flame.

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