Chapter 8: I Love You
“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
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 have no choice, Lorey.”
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
Lorey, wait. Please. Don't go.
I ignore his mental pleas, coming at 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 of control can be devastating and
I run with blurry vision, washed almost blind with my own tears and gasp when I’m suddenly yanked
back, 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 never felt before, full on fierce initiated. I calm
instantly when faced with Colton, his eyes glowing amber and equally poised for battle. We stay
separated, panting, staring one another down, mere feet apart, closer than we should be, and fueled by
pure painful emotion.
“You think this isn't just as hard for me? That doing this is going to cure me of everything?” Colton’s
desperate plea shines through his own broken words, breaking down my anger and shattering me into
tiny pieces. “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 it drives me insane. The love I had for Carmen died, the second I
imprinted on you, and I can't get my head around any of this either. This isn’t a cure… it’s a necessity.
For the good of our existence, our pack. No one will follow an Alpha or respect one who shackles a
shamed wolf to his side.”
Anger overtakes me as jealousy twists my heart around at the mention of her name, the words coming
from his mouth, making me irrationally furious at him once more. Heartbreak and sheer hatred for this
situation coming out of every pore.
“Just let me go. This is pointless and you telling me these things, they don’t help. Just go away and
leave me alone. I don't want you near me ever again. I get it… reject me, say it, and be done with it.
Save your precious pack and your honor and go to hell. I was never one of you anyway!” I snarl at him,
wipe the sodden mess from my face with the back of my hand aggressively, full on faux bravado and
put on the tough girl act 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 heal from whatever this was, faster than you can
imagine, and you can stop pretending you don’t want her. I don’t want you either!”
It's said in anger and heartbreak and I can’t conceal how much pain is ripping through me anymore.
Turning, this time to walk away slowly, too exhausted for anything else and unable to maintain a run as
fatigue overtakes me. All my energy is going into pulling on this hard outer shell and showing him, I
don’t give a crap anymore.
“I love you. No matter what I do to try and break it; I can't stop, and the thought of you being with
another, kills me. There is no 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 insane that sounds.” His words stop me in my tracks, and I inhale sharply. Stunned that
he just came out and said it but saddened that he verbalized what the agony I have been suffering is
called. Love! And the why, the fact it does feel like he’s been in my heart since the day I was born.
Imprinting messes you up royally.
It made me love my mate as soon as it happened, because it makes you relive every second that came
before, in your head within your own memories, with that person’s intwined even though they don’t
belong to you. I have his life in my head; 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 joke and fate doesn’t like defiance. Knowing he feels as I do doesn’t make it any easier though. It
doesn’t change a thing.
“It doesn't mean anything. Your father was right when he told us to stay away and break the link. I can't
ever be what your father and the pack need, and you can't ever be the mate I need. So, we shouldn't
do this again, it's only torturing us more than we are already. Just say the damn words already, I don’t
care.” I don’t know where this is coming from, this detached cold bitch, as words spill out of my mouth.
It’s the exact opposite to what my heart craves and I turn to face him to further drive it home that I’m
not playing, wiping my expression as clean as I can to show him nothing of how this is killing me. My
words die on my lips when our eyes meet, and Colton looks as openly broken and disheveled as I am.
“You can't lie to your mate, Lorey. I can feel 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 stand in hopeless silence as he gets up to stand too,
towering over me by at least a foot, yet we’re still at least three apart. He doesn't hesitate and closes
the gap, pulls me to him by the waist, gently, his touch searing my skin, even through my clothes and I
can’t deny that I do need him. I can’t fight it.
Bringing his forehead to mine, he places us together so his breath fans my face, impulsively, I close my
eyes and inhale his scent. Our connection only drives home that we are meant to be like this. It’s
familiar, safe, and home… Where skin touches, amazing 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 to absolutely nothing. Just him and
I, and a sharing of every feeling. Highlighting the peace we can find in a touch.
We both let go of our held breath, and breathe out in unison, as though finally finding where we need to
be for just a moment of serene. A second of calm in the stormy seas which has been thrashing us
around since I awakened.
Colton lifts his hand slowly and strokes a single finger across my cheek, brushing away my hair and
tucks it behind my ear. Leaving a hot tingling path where he connects with me. The heat drawing down
deep inside my soul to bring warmth to the coldness dwelling within.
“I 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 stronger.
I know what he has to say, that it has to be done. Know why. It’s how it is, we can’t change it, or fight it,
or do this any other way, and hearing it may kill me, but I have to let him do it. There’s no alternative
and as much as I want to scream and stop this, I understand. I can’t hate him for it.
I’m no Luna. I’m a Whyte wolf from the family Dennison. A 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 be the reason he loses the respect of the packs and upturn his entire life.
I say nothing, just stay deathly still, silent tears escaping from my closed eyes as they begin to pour
down my face. Warm, bitter, stinging, rivulets of despair. He can feel me and hear my thoughts, so he
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 swallows loudly again as
though to pull himself together.
“I..... Colton Juan Santo, son of the alpha 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 shield me from what he is doing and memorize the
feel of me for an eternity. I can feel everything, know his emotions as if they are my own, and it kills me.
His regret, his anguish, his overwhelm at the pain and being the one who delivers the wounding blow to
“.... find a chosen mate as you 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 blots the
world out as I spiral into a complete emotional breakdown, tearing my mind to shreds.
I blurt trough the head link, knowing he has to. I can’t stand this any longer, I need the words to stop,
for it to be over, and for this to be done. His touch is my torture and his voice my final blow. Colton
shudders in my arms, his face wet too and he buries a hand in the back of my hair as he cradles me
against him tightly. Almost like he can stop it hurting me if he crushes me to him and melts our bodies
to one form.
“After today, the link will be closed, our bond ignored, and we should never cross paths again. That is
my command …. It’s done. We’re done…. Forgive me, Lorey....... I'm sorry. I love you, and I wish this
could be different.” With the final words they deliver the crushing blow I knew they would, and I feel like
my heart gives out and refuses to beat. My mind blanks and my tears still with shocked numb, too
much heartbreak for my mind to deal with anymore.
The fates will pay no heed to his request, but by wolf law, I’m no longer his mate or bound to be. His
father will rejoice when he tells him. He’s set me free and we’ve chosen to live with the pain of
severance against the imprinting. No matter how much it hurts.
We stand for what feels like the longest minute, holding one another, broken inside, and crying silently
in our own and combined personal hell. My face buried against his shoulder and his face in my hair, on
the top of my head, arms entangled and fully fitted frontally so every curve and line meets, right down
to our ankles. We inhale, we cast one another’s scent to memory and when I don’t think I have the
strength to let go, he finally leans back and lifts my chin to his, pushing me to open my tear flooded
eyes so I fall into those chocolate browns for the last time.
“I love you.” He utters hopelessly, anguish in his stare, the tensing of that square jawline, and yet all I
hear is goodbye. A raspy farewell, one I will never be able to cleanse from my memories or how he
looks while saying it to me. He’s too beautiful for words.
“I love you too.” I mutter, so quietly, it’s not even a whisper, but it’s impulsive and raw and honest. He
leans in and gently kisses me on my lips, so softly it’s feather light but it ignites that all-consuming
agony that only he can cause. A brushing of warm damp softness, a grazing that destroys what little is
left of me and tears unleash with fervor once again. It’s so perfect it hurts.
As though casting my face to memory, he stares at me long and hard, pain etched on his face and his
own eyes wet with the evidence of his regret. He kisses me one last time, on my forehead, tenderly,
holding there a moment and fighting all the need and desire inside of us. The fire burning despite the
fact we’re denying it.
He lets me go, backs up several steps and then turns on his heel and runs. No looking back for a
second time, no torturing himself with one last lingering look, leaving the heavy air of sorrow floating
He makes it only a few feet before he jumps a log, turns in mid-air, his clothes disintegrating into wispy
pieces of fabric, left floating down to earth, so silently destroyed. That flash of midnight black wolf, so
beautiful and strong, and a sight to behold.
He's gone at the speed of light. Leaving me to stand alone in the forest, abandoned and desolate,
unwanted. I break down and crumble into a pit of despair and wracking sobs into the moss under my
feet, no longer wary of my surroundings as a broken heart consumes me.
The sounds of distant, painful wolf howling, pulls me to stare up into the emptiness of where he was, as
my mate no more, fills the forest air with the wails of his own misery and despair. It’s the worst noise in