"Your father made it pretty clear, all the why and what nots. I don't need you to repeat it." I snap a little too tetchily, and instantly get hit with a wave of sadness, maybe regret, as it moves over me, and I pick up on his feelings. I glance up and see he is marginally closer, and I guess that's why I can now feel what he does. In our separation I couldn't feel much except my own misery, I guess that's the only positive about being apart. Now I'm carrying both of our emotions.

"I need to explain my reasons. I don't blindly do what he says… I have my own mind. Please don't be like this. I'm trying to do something to move us forward." He too slumps down, on top of a rock not far from me, and mirrors my pose, dropping his legs over the edge as we sit facing one another across the clearing, in what seems like a huge gulf between us. All my hopes of reuniting with passion and lust dying a hefty death and depressing me all the more.

"So, explain, and let me go back to my exciting solitude and imprisonment. I'm totally missing out on the adventures of the day meeting you here." Its sarcastic and drenched in bitterness that even shocks me, and I flinch at how nasty and cold I manage to sound, but it's purely frustration at the predicament we find ourselves in. Realizing my hurt feelings are getting the better of me, I try to swallow it back and throw him a wary look fleetingly. I catch him out of the corner of my eye frowning, then looking down at his swaying feet, regret all over his face that pains me all the more for my hostility.

"I'm doing what's best for the future of the pack... all of them. You included. I care what happens to all of us. My father was right, and my mate needs to be worthy to lead by my side one day. We need a strong Luna, with pure blood. A warrior who can rise in battle if needs be, and we both know that's not you. The vampires won't stay down forever, they'll rise in my reign, if not before. I need to think of our kind and not what my soul craves. Distance is best, and in time, maybe we'll learn to live without it consuming us the way it is now. We have to be practical and think of the responsibility I bear, with who I am. It's a heavy weight I've carried my whole life…. it's not yours to share. I need someone like Carmen, with strong gifts and a thirst for blood when the time comes. She's a warrior… you're a land child. Your family were growers, gatherers… not hunters. Not killers. It is what it is." His whole manner and tone are low, and apologetic, a slight rasp to his voice and he can't seem to look me in the eye. I can't speak as his words choke my throat to almost closed, my eyes fill with warm fluid that blurs everything in front of me. Wounded by something I already know as factual, in being weak blooded and nothing close to a leader, but it still stings to hear him say it so directly.

I've never been more ashamed of my bloodline than in this moment. My heart aching painfully with stabbing throbs and my insides clench with the sharpest of pangs as he verbalizes exactly what I have known was coming, deep down inside, but too afraid to actually believe.

"You're rejecting me as your mate." I point out croakily, fighting myself to get the words out, through the shards of broken glass caught in my throat, and dying a little inside. It's almost unheard of for your mate to reject you after imprinting... in fact I don't think it's ever happened. No one challenges the fates in this way. I should have known it would happen to me, though, I mean, not even a regular wolf wants to shackle himself to a reject as a mate. That kind of shame tars a family for generations. And he's hardly regular.

I knew this was how it was, if I stopped and really looked at the bigger picture, but somehow, it's different having him say it instead of Alpha Juan. I guess, I held a small candle of hope that Colton would feel as strongly as me within our bond and deny his father's commands. As stupid as I know that is, I wanted to believe I was worthy of someone, and maybe the fates were telling me that. I've always known the importance of his position among us. It's why he has spent his life acting like royalty among us and avoiding my kind completely. This shouldn't be a shock.

I instantly break and sob at his use of the pet name used by my family, so long ago. Turning away from him and sliding off the log to move so he can't see my tears. Stinging my face with their invasive appearance, another sign of my weakness and flawed lineage. I cry when everything goes wrong.

Then why bring me here for this? Why not tell me this back in my room and avoid this agony?

It's sent mentally, defying him on his stance of linking anymore, unable to say what I need verbally as I stagger away from him and break into a run. Knowing leaving is a knee jerk reaction, but I have no space in me for this kind of pain right now, and I don't want to stay and drag it out for what is next to come. I can't handle it; I need to go back to my room and never let him close enough to feel ever again. He wanted me here for one reason only…. he has to declare his rejection of me to make it final. Screw him.

Lorey, wait. Please. Don't go.

me desperately, struggling to breathe as I break into a super run and try to put distance between us. Sprinting and then hitting full stride as I skim over the landscape and clear fallen trees easily. Caught in my need to flee and focused on nothing else. Reverting to all fours as my body aches to transform and set me free, but I reign it in and shake it out of my head. I don't want to be in wolf form when this distraught. That kind of loss

mid jump, and hauled backwards to tumble into a mossy patch in the forest floor with a thud, rolling and landing on all fours and instantly bristle defensively. Breathing heavily as I square up to my pursuer aggressively, a new feral kind of instinct I've

"I had my life mapped out. Chose a mate I loved, and thought I knew what the future held. I didn't think this could ever happen and now, I spend my every waking second wanting you, needing you, and thinking about you, until

name, the words coming from his mouth, making me irrationally furious at him once more. Heartbreak

as best I can. Literally swallowing my tears and gagging on the acid rising in my throat. Standing up to tower over him in his crouched position, adopting an air of 'I don't care anymore' and will him to be done already. "I didn't want this either. I was leaving, I had a plan and it was thousands of miles away from all of you. Especially your kind. Santo! ….. You've despised us for a decade, treated us with disdain and shunned us to the shadows of that damn orphanage. I spit on your family and all they are. You're the last person in this world I would ever want to imprint on, so go.... go mark your mate and follow your destiny because it sure isn't me. Go be with your chosen one and leave me to find one of my own. My heart will

slowly, too exhausted for anything else and unable

her anymore, Lorey. There's just us. We imprinted and got to know one another in a split second, the way a lifetime of being together would. I feel like I've loved you that long, no matter how

therefore, I've known him intimately that long. It's insane, and he's right. We can't break it because we were never in control of it. Fate did this, dealt us a hand and a cruel

where this is coming from, this detached cold bitch, as words spill

you, even if what you're saying sounds honest. I am what you need, and you're what I need. Fate made it so… When you strip everything else away and it's just us, here and now, with no one else to think about.... we need each other to feel sane. To stop this eternal agony and emptiness we're both harboring. We don't need to pretend it's any other way. There should never be lies between us." We both

things happen and the energy which sizzles between us is incomparable. Lighting my body on fire and I burn to be completely joined to him, aching with need that makes my legs turn weak. For the first time since this began, I'm at peace instantly, and every pain and torment, all the confusion I've been through, quiets

my ear. Leaving a hot tingling path where he connects with me. The heat drawing down deep inside my soul

want nothing more right now than to unify our bond and mark you. Believe me when I tell you, that if I was anyone else's son... you would already be bearing my mark and know what it is to have me inside of you. The union would be complete. I love you, Lorey, in ways I didn't know I could love anyone. I thought I knew what it was to commit my soul to my mate, but I was wrong. I need you to know this isn't what I want. … That I'm sorry… but I have no other choice, and I have to reject....." Colton falters, his raw croaking tone breaking, then he swallows hard, bringing back all the anguish from before and a solitary tear rolls down his cheek and drips onto mine to continue its painful journey. Wounding me with its searing burn. His pain evident and for a second his anguish and confusions flows through my soul too, telling me he can't do it alone. My heart is already turning to ash as he destroys me with his words, but we have to be

way, and hearing it may kill me,

shamed bloodline who all fell in battle, and we don't have a right to stand up by an alpha's side to tar his name. I don't have it in me to lead, and I'll be nothing but a weight of shame hanging around his neck, his weakness in battle, and the demise of his bloodline. I can't

knows my acceptance is in my silence. My pain is his, my distraught agony in knowing this is over before it began is all around, and in between us. He knows what to do. His breathing gets heavier, labored, as he struggles to compose himself and push the last of the words out in a voice I barely recognize; low and strained. Ravaged and hoarse. He clears his throat and

of the reigning Santo pack, and future alpha of Mount. Radstone...... I'm sorry, baby, don't hate me for this ..... reject you as my chosen mate and deny the bond of imprinting. I set you free...... to...." He swallows hard again, voice wavering, choking on his own tears, pulling me into his embrace, crushing me with strong arms to find the will to carry on. Wrapping me up in his body as though he wants to

see fit, as will I, with no interference, … even if it causes pain. … My word cannot and will not be broken, and I will not intervene should you find your path… This cannot be undone… I set you free, for now and all eternity. May the fates be kind and give you a pass to a better future." His words are barely audible, his voice so much lower, breathless, as he binds me against him almost cruelly, with the force of his passion. The sound of blood rushing through my ears

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