"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.