Author's Note: Hey guys! The summer is almost over, so I'm posting another chapter before all my free time is gone, gone, gone. I'd like to thank everyone once again for all their support, kind words, and input. You all have helped me grow so much as a writer and I thank you for that from the bottom of my heart. Once again, if you have any questions or comments about this or any of my other stories, feel free to ask. I don't bite. I do not own Twilight or any of Stephenie Meyer's Characters. Thank you again. Happy reading/writing and much love!
Devastation hit me hard. It had been days since she called me by name. Days since she gave me an order or a chore to do for her. I was now worthless in her eyes. Unworthy as her slave as I was unworthy as a man. Days since she even looked at me and acknowledged that I was even alive. And through all that time, she and her privledge seemed more happy than ever. It was as if everything caddish I had seen him do was just an old memory.
You are not alive, Edward. You do not belong with the living. You do not belong with the dead. You are caught in the terrible cusp in between. Things have changed between your mistress and Jacob now. It seems you have served your purpose in this relationship with Lady Isabella, and you would do well to stay away from her.
My rational head was talking. Odd. It sounded much like Carlisle. Where had my reasoning been when I had entwined my mistress into my arms and spoke to her like a lover when I was fully intending to take her life? The night was quiet. As quiet as any night, to a vampire. Of course I could hear the small mouse scurrying about in the kitchen. I could hear the girlish chatter of the slave girls in the room beside mine and the loud, slow breathing of Emmett deep in his slumber. I could hear the wind rustling through the trees and I inhaled deeply to smell the trees and grapevine hills in the near distance. I remember the first year of my change. When my emotions were raw and high. Every smell and sound thrilled me into exaltation. To be undead but still feel so alive and free…I sighed. Those were less difficult times. Things had changed from bliss to misery very quickly, and the time of misery could be measured by the duration of years spent out of Carlisle's careful discretion. But I couldn't help but wonder…Would Lady Bella like it? What if it didn't have to end when I drained her? If I could show her the civil and exciting life that I lived so long ago. Yes, I wanted her blood. I wanted her until it ravaged me to madness. But it would be such a shame if that beauty…that mind, were to go to waste. How would she feel if she woke up tomorrow morning, shining in the rays of the sun, only to view her reflection staring back at her with eyes as red as her bloodstained nightgown, and skin as pale as alabaster? If I could manage to stop drinking before her heart stopped beating and deliver her to Carlisle after converting her to a vampire, would I have less guilt or more?
Such confusion! I stared down at the yellowed leaf of parchment that lay before me. Lady Bella's face stared back Her eyes were steady. Careful. But still -unlike her mind- her eyes said too much. I could see something in those eyes. A bird with clipped wings. An unloved soul. Lost. Like me. Her brows, proud but prominent and straight. Her forehead smooth and seemingly worriless despite the hard life she led. The bridge of her nose, a perfect, leading valley from those haunting eyes to those sanguine lips. My breathing began to grow uneven and the picture shook slightly in my trembling hands.
Her lips. I could never get them right. I brought the small stick of charcoal to the parchment again but found myself at a loss when I realized I had no clue how to fix the imperfections of the picture. They were so perfect in reality but- I clenched my teeth in frustration and settled for adding a few wisps of dark hair. Making it curl slightly at the nape of her neck.
Annoyed at yet another failed attempt at capturing the Venus' likeness, I tossed the parchment and the charcoal aside. Drawing the string of my pants tighter around my waist, I walked to a chair in the corner of my room and found a thin, grey tunic to pull over my head. No time was wasted as I ran my fingers roughly though my hair and made my way to my door. I had to get out of here before I drove myself insane. The soles of my worn shoes told no tale as I crept through the marble halls of the house. Closing my eyes in thought, I listened to the night once again and made sure I heard the sweet and soft sleep of my mistress' breathing before departing from the house. By the slow beating of four hearts outside the door, I could tell that the guards had once again fallen asleep on duty. Hopefully the ones out back would come around to find them asleep and take care of that after I left. Someone had to protect the sleeping goddess when I was gone. Though it made me uneasy, I had to leave. I had to feed.
In Rome back then, there were three types of slaves. There were the ones that were guarded. Denied the freedom to leave their master's grounds for fear of them running away. Most of whom got caught. All of whom wished they hadn't tried to run in the first place. The fate of runaway slaves was a poor one. One of pain and humiliation. They branded you, with fire and iron as a sign of ownership or they strung you up for all to see in the heart of the city forum. Citizens were not very kind to runaways. There were slaves with privilege who were trusted enough to leave the home to run errands or even spend some free time walking about the streets of Rome. Some even made small wages for their work within the home. Then there were the free slaves. The name says it all. Slaves who were released from their position by their master. Usually as a last gesture before the master's death, for a heroic act, paying for their freedom with their hard earned denarius, or fighting for it in the gladiator arenas. Lady Bella was indeed a kind master. When Jacob left on business, it was even better. Everyone walked about the house and cooked fine foods for themselves, talked, and tried their best to forget that they were someone's property. She did many of her own chores. Especially in the garden. It was a wonderful sight to see her amongst all the flowers, herbs and berries she tended. But I could only watch from afar. I couldn't spend my free time out in the open like the others because I wasn't like them. My sparkling flesh in the daylight would raise too many questions. I would have found myself hunted and burned on a pyre in moments. So it was moments like these in the after light, when I stole away like a shadow to do what it was in my nature to do.
After killing two wolves in between the thick of the forest trees, I was at a loss for what to do with myself. I had my fill, but my head was full as well, and I was not ready to return home. I listened to the air for any interesting detail. As always, I heard the awake
activity of the city forum. I heard music and laughter. I heard drunken thoughts, and philosophical debate. For a moment, I could close my eyes and almost think I was at home, hunting in Greece. With a smile I followed my senses. I ran free and fast through the trees until I reached the heart of the town. The whole street was light brightly with candles and torches. There were people playing music and singing, and men playing a high stakes game of datum (dice). It was like a midnight festival. Tavern shop doors were open in invitation and I could smell the wine wafting from the doorframes. I followed the sound of the tambourine and lyre in harmony and walked into an open tavern. A couple of eyes turned to my direction as my presence filled the room. I did not like the attention, but soon enough their survival instincts sunk in and the men quickly averted their eyes and resumed their previous conversations. This was pleasant. I liked this. I remembered the days I used to sit in places like this at home in Greece. Carlisle, a few of his friends and I would sit, pretend to drink wine, and observe the humans with such interest and fascination. People didn't amuse me much anymore.
That is a lie.
Ah, yes. Bella. There were exceptions. I took a seat in the darkest corner of the room and slunk myself low in my chair. There were beautiful dancers all about the place. Dressed in brightly coloured skirts and bells upon their ankles and waists. They gyrated their hips in time to the percussion. Slave girls, with pretty tanned skin, darkened by the sun. From under my lashes I watched. And seemingly looking around with curiosity, I was actually scouting the room for thoughts. Then I heard a familiar one.
"-If she's still sleeping. I told her I'd be home late. If I come home early tomorrow, the bitch'll probably make a big fuss. We don't even have sex. What does she want me home for? Cuddling?"
A mental laugh. I hissed. A scantily clad woman worked her way into the man's lap and began to gyrate against him.
"I'm perfectly fine forfeiting cuddle time for this."
I stopped listening as the thoughts became dirtier, and turned my face away in disgust. Everything looked fine at home. On the surface. Me being the only one in the house with the ability to read minds, I alone knew the truth to the lies Jacob told. He hadn't changed one damn bit since the night he struck Bella or the morning he apologized. He was still running his games. The man whistled loudly and two more women joined the first in the seduction of Jacob and his friends. He was out here whoring himself when the beautiful Bella slept, unawares? A low growl built in my chest. I would not have this. I fixed my eyes determinedly on the woman working Jacob's lap. Her head was tossed back in arousal and there was a smile on her face. Not for long. I knew that once she felt my calling, she was defenceless. I cast out a silent order across the room, just for her. To notice me and come to me. At once she stopped her fluid, snakelike motions and slipped herself off of his lap and made her way to me. Jacob reached out and roughly took hold of her hand. Just as quickly, one of the other girls took her place, and Jacob let her go without another thought. She reeked of sex, this woman. Her hips swayed of her own accord. Her eyes were husky and deep hazel, rimmed with the blackest black. Her pouty lips were stained with the remnants of her deep red tints. Her breasts were full and low. The beautiful square of her face was framed by long, curly tendrils of hair. And I did not want her.
She began to give me the same dance. Her hips swayed, her fingers tangled in her own hair and her face wore a mask of passion. I closed my eyes and held up my hand briskly. At once she ceased. She frowned deeply and waited for me to speak. Her body knew I had called her to my attention and she would not leave until I was ready for her to. I reached out a hand for her and she slid her fingers into my palms. I pulled her swiftly into the seat beside my own. I moved my face close to hers and she stopped breathing. I smiled. I could see the goosebumps rise on her flesh and her heart rate soar.
"Pretty one.." I mused lightly. The girl smiled at my flattery. Good. The more comfortable she felt around me, the better.
"Handsome?" She smiled dazedly and inched closer in aim for my lips. I held her away firmly but gently.
"That man over there. Do you know who he is?" She smiled deeply.
"Why, of course. He is Lord Jacob Black. Everyone knows him." I nod.
"Then you know that he has a woman at home waiting for him." I say carefully. The woman laughs lightly.
"You aren't from around here, are you, pale sir?"
"Is my Latin that bad?"
"No. But you don't seem to understand. Every man here has a wife. Every man in here comes looking for something. Yes, their wives at home know, or have some clue about their husbands…but what can they do? A woman in Rome is marked by her silence. She is to take everything she is dealt, good or bad and do it with a quiet smile on her face."
Not my Bella. She is better than this. She's so determined. So feiry.
I thought back once again to the slave house when she saved me from that Roman Guard's torture. Then I looked back over to Jacob, keeling over in his drunken stupor with a woman's hand running up and down his chest.
But her fiance seems determined to put that fire out.
"A woman is not fee to speak or think! We are not persons. We are as low as slaves. Poperty. What we feel, it does not matter. We do not matter. Myself and my girls, we dance, and we make profit. If we get a fuck from a handsome Patrician in the mean time, even better. We just want their purses." She smiled. "And Lord Black is known for spending money on his women. Lots of it. Everyone has to make a living. Can you blame us for trying?" I gave her a hard look and the smug smile fell from her face. Her heart began to pound again. In fear this time, rather than arousal.
"Why do you do this?" I asked harshly. My eyes bored into hers, forcing a response. The woman looked down to her lap.
"My husband- He used to come to places like these…" She sighed. "I got lonely. I wanted- I wanted him to miss me."
Of course the man wouldn't stand for his wife leaving at all hours of the night to go dance for his buddies from work, just to make him a little jealous. Word of mouth spread and the guy probably left and took her dowry with him.
"You are casting upon other women, the misfortune that was bestowed upon you." I hissed. "Go home, and stop wrecking marriages."
The calm anger in my voice was all it took to send the dancer running from the seat and through the door. Satisfied with the additional information acquired, I rose from the dirty, wooden table, and strode -unseen by Black- outside. A new determination filled me and I knew exactly what had to be done. I ran with haste back to the Swan house. I moved at the speed of wind, swift as sound to make it back to the house quickly. My mind was set. My resolve, final. Tonight, I would take Lady Bella into the land of eternity. I could raise her myself. Leading her in the opposite paths than the ones I had taken. I would tell her words told to me by my father so she would turn out better than I did. I would listen to all she had to say and respect her for it. She would be a person to me. She would not become that dancer in the tavern. She would not become a poor slave in this hot and brutish world of men. Hell, I'd do whatever it was that she wanted me to do. Because she was my mistress and I was her Edward. That's the way I wanted it and that's the way it would be.
When I reached the side of the house, I listened below her high window. Her breathing was deep but restless as she slept. Once again, her mind was closed to me, so I could not know the monster who dominated her sleep. I growled as I realised I could bet my half-life on Jacob being the cause. At once, with ease, I jumped into the air and came down until I was crouched on the stone cil. I groaned. She was a sight for the gods. Her pale face radiated it's own glow, as she lay between the soft white sheets. Her dark hair splayed around her head like a mane. I growled as her scent hit me like a wall. So much time away from Bella and her room, and I had nearly forgotten how much it hurt to breathe her in.
I can't do this.
She looks..she smells..I'll kill her!
You mustn't! Look how beautiful she is, and she will want you when all is said and done. Why would you destroy all that?
But that was what I was about to do as I leaped silently from the distance of her window, to the floor. I would bite her and drink -just a little- before letting her come back to me as an immortal. See, not many people understand the connection of blood and vampires. Blood is lust and it is life. Once that connection is made, there is no turning back. Oh yes, Carlisle bit me, but the feeling in the blood was different. Yes, he was my father in heart and blood. But if I were to sire Lady Bella, she would be my very own. I would be her friend, her father and her companion. I would be all she'd ever need in this world, and I would never let her down. As the heart circulates blood through the body, so we would be. Forever. Eternal. Neither of us could run from one another unless the other decided to let them go. I know what you may be thinking, my dear reader. I'm imprisoning Lady Bella the same way her fiance, Jacob Black has. But that is where you are wrong. She would not be my possession. I would be hers. I could love her, I think. And that is more than Jacob could ever give. I began to frown as Bella started to toss her head back and forth. Her breathing was uneasy and it made me nervous.
"Jacob.." She whispered in her slip. "Jacob, no. Please." I clenched my teeth. That bastard. Even in her dreams she couldn't escape. "I'm sorry…" She pleaded.
No more of this. I was ready. I was careful as I approached the bed and gazed down upon her. Her eyes were moving behind the lids and she looked frightened, with her eyebrows knotted together. I tried harder to read her. Still a void. I sighed. Perhaps our blood connection would make all the difference when she was turned. Only time would tell. I sunk my knees slowly into the mattress of the bed, moving over her like prey. Carefully, quietly, until my legs were on either side of her, straddling her hips. My breath hitched in my throat as I realised the suggestive position we were in. Strange, how much it thrilled me. Before I could think on it too much, she began to whimper again. Her body was beginning to grow hot, and she was sweating. I fixed her so that this would be as fast and clean as possible. Her hair was brushed away from her neck. Her chin was turned so I would have more access to her veins, and I stroked blushing cheek. Just for good measure.
Set her free now. Set the both of you free.
Swiftly, so she wouldn't even feel the motion in her rest, I parted my lips, bared my teeth and sunk them into her flesh. In one moment of shock, Lady Bella's body jerked. But soon her dreams took her away, and my bite was just a momentary prick. By the time the real pain began to kick in, it would be too late. Her blood rushed over my tongue and my eyes nearly rolled back into my head, but I pulled away. A sip was enough. Still in my hovering position, I looked down at her with such care. Sleeping. Sleeping, Bella. But I could pinpoint the moment she began to feel the pain. Her pretty lips twitched, and her fingernails curled into the bed sheets beneath her.
Soon, M'lady. Soon.
Her breathing picked up and the sweat began to run again. She whimpered.
"Gods, Jacob please! No. It hurts. You're burning me- Stop!"
The pain in her voice made me panic. I didn't like it. I shushed her. Gently stroked her face to calm her, but it didn't work. I knew. I knew how painful the change was. It wouldn't stop for now. Part of me wanted to wait, and let the venom run it's slow course until she was with me, but her cries of agony were becoming louder and more desperate. I waited. Maybe it would stop soon. Maybe. No. Tears began to stream from her face, and I couldn't breathe. She was crying because of me. And if she grew any louder, a guard or another slave would burst in, putting an end to everything. My head spun. I raked my fingers through my hair roughly and growled loudly in anger with myself. This was so selfish of me. I couldn't have her yet. Not like this.
I leaned into her again and placed my hollow lips around the small wound I had made. Making no contact with my tongue, I began to siphon the tainted blood and my venom from her veins. This would hurt too, so I pinned her arms down into the bed to restrain her thrashing. She cried out in pain again and it nearly killed me. But then she began to calm. Calm. And then-
She was- sighing. Sip, by small sip I pulled some more venom from her neck, but I couldn't help but be aware of her short and sharp gasps and sighs. I felt a churning low in my belly but continued the task. I had to get all the venom, or this could be very painful and deadly for her later. But her blood was intoxicating. It made the simple task so much harder than it had to be. I had to remind myself that I would stop when the venom stopped. At this point, I didn't know if I could. A long and low moan ran through her lips and her hands threw themselves around me. Her nipples hardened beneath my chest and then I was a goner. My eyes popped open wide in surprise, but closed again in bliss as her nails raked hard, down my back. Now I never wanted to stop.
I buried my face deeper into her flesh, hoping to elicit another sound from her. Another sigh. It was so erotic. So tempting and wrong. It was amazing. I'd heard stories of the Succubus and the Incubus. Seductive vampires who lived off of blood. And when they bit you, you sunk so far into bliss, you were smiling when death came. I had always thought it was myth. Now I wasn't so sure as the innocent goddess began to buck and writhe beneath me. Her pants for air and scent of arousal were filling the room. It seemed that the nightmare she had about Jacob was taking another turn. She began to get more vocal as she ground her pelvis up of the bed, and into mine. From sighing to gently crying out. I grunted unintentionally at the contact and forced myself to be gentle and finish the job. It was a hard job. I had never had sex before, but I had an idea that this was something like it. The closeness. The sounds. The heat. The feel of a woman's small and soft body squirming delightfully beneath you…Once I tasted the last drop of venom, I forced my lips away from the hole I made. Carefully, so not to wake her, I reached behind me and uncurled her fingers from my tunic. When I lay her back down on the pillow, her face was pink, her chest was rising and falling rapidly, and considering she had just been bitten by a vampire, she was exceedingly calm.
Such a strange girl.
And you ruined your chance with her!
No. All is not lost. When the time comes, she will decide to come away with me.
You will not have the courage to tell her about yourself and the world of immortals.
She is a smart girl. When the time comes, she will find me.
The next day, I received invitation through Rosalie, to go to Lady Bella's rooms and play the lyre for her as she readied herself for the day. She hadn't called for me to play for her since that night I nearly killed her the first time. I wondered what could have changed her mind. I froze. Last night. Could she know? No. How could she possibly? Maybe though…on some subconscious level. Gods, I was going insane with paranoia. With the bronze wrought lyre, I walked barefoot to her room and stood at the open doorway with my head respectfully bowed.
"Edward.." She whispered.
I looked up once I had been acknowledged and gazed upon her beauty. She looked much more pale this morning. Just by the looks of her I could see that the was slightly unwell. I frowned. It was probably due to the shock of the bite, and the loss of blood. But she would never know this. I noted that she must have awoken this morning and looked in her polished mirror to see the wounds on her neck, for she now wore a crimson red scarf around her neck to match her tunica. The brilliant red against her white skin made me yearn for one more moment like the one in her bed last night. Only this time she would be awake and well aware.
"It has been a while since I have had music." She he was warm with me once again. The cold distance was gone. But it still was not the same. She was careful. She never came too close or looked at me for too long. Perhaps she did not need me at all. Perhaps she did not need me saving her. "Please you play something for me this morning." She smiled her guarded smile and I nodded.
My fingers plucked lightly against the strings until the room was filled with music. She sighed lightly as she sat at her table and began to pin her hair until every soft and perfect lock was tucked away on top of her head, with only a few pretty wisps of baby hair refusing to go into place. I licked my lips as I saw her dab lavender oil behind her ear, and powder her collar bones lightly with perfume. This was the type of thing most Patrician women had their slave girls help them with. Not my Lady Bella, though. No. She was so self sufficient. It was riveting to see her sitting before her mirror, and carefully touching various areas of her own body to ready herself for the day.
At that moment the slave Alice waltzed to the doorframe and let her presence be known before entering with permission. She smiled a light, friendly smile at me, which I returned before she went off in the room doing her duty. She ensured that Bella was satisfied with her hair and clothing, before gathering last night's gown and throwing it into a large, washing bin. She moved to the bed and did the same to her cover sheet. I bit the inside of my cheek nervously, but then she did notice the pillow, splotched with small dots of blood that my eager mouth had missed.
"Uh- M'lady?" She asked as she held the sham of the pillow up. Lady Bella looked over to her, but did not look as nervous.
"Oh, Alice. It is the strangest thing! I woke up this morning with the strangest cuts on my neck. I think I was bitten by a bug last night or something. I'm sorry. I hope the stains won't be any trouble."
"Not at all M'lady." Alice gasped at the horror of the but that bit Lady Bella. "Mistress, are you well?" She asked in sincerity.
"I think so, Alice. I am just a little bit tired this morning. I don't think I got much sleep last night."
Alice nodded. "I'll go boil you some tea leaves." She said hurriedly. Alice loved her mistress. That much was apparent. Anyone who looked after Lady Bella was good, in my eyes. My mistress smiled in thanks after Alice as she hastily departed. I continued to absentmindedly play the lyre, but my thoughts were elsewhere. The way she moved about the room about me so casually, I'd never have thought she knew I was in her room last night. Her explanation to Alice seemed so oblivious and believable. But I had to know.
"M'Lady?" I said gently as my fingers continued to play of their own accord.
"Why was your sleep last night so unrestful? Did you feel unsafe?" I asked casually, but with a tone of care. I wanted her to tell me everything.
For your fiance should have been at home last night in your bed, protecting you from wanton creatures like me.
"No, nothing like that.." She breathed. A red flush began to dominate her face and I had to look away. Temptation was wearing me down.
"Just…strange dreams." She said with a slight smile. Something in me purred in delight as I could see that she remembered the sensations that caused her to cry out last night. The corners of my lips twitched though, as I wondered if the man behind her eyelids causing those sensations were me.
"Dreams of what, M'lady?" I questioned boldly. Her face grew redder.
"Why do my dreams fascinate you so, Edward?"
"You fascinate me." I said boldly.
After that time I took her in her arms and tried to sway her mind from her unfaithful companion, I was aware that I was now, greatly overstepping my bounds. That she could send me out of this room, for another seven days, another month, another year, without another sweet word from her. But after last night, and feeling her writhe in my arms, and her ambrosia blood on my tongue, I was beyond caring. But graceful as Bella was, she took my advances in stride and much to my disappointment, brushed them off with a sly smile.
"Dreams are what they are. Merely dreams. It does not do to…dwell on them." She said with a small tinge of regret in her voice. I lowered my head.
"How else are they achieved?" I insisted.
Silence. She said no more as she walked past me with a smirk to the basin that was filled with the dirty clothes. For her, I continued to play. All was steady and calm as I basked in her words of dreams. When I heard her deep and sorrowful intake of breath and the atmosphere changed, I stopped and turned around. In her hands she held up Jacob Black's cream coloured cloak from last night's outing. The hem of the collar specked with a smudged, plum shaded tint. I tried not to look as Lady Bella brought the linen up to her nose and smelled. I could already smell it heavy with a woman's perfume. Her heart began to pound erratically and I could smell the salty tears in her eyes. At once I arose from the chair and approached her. She looked faint. I reached out to hold her before she collapsed, but she nudged me away with the palm of her hands. She clenched the cloak tightly in her fist and paced in a tight circle.
"Mistress-" I began. Her breathing was sharp again. But it wasn't nice like last night.
"Silence!" Her body shook furiously and I was nearly relieved when I saw little Alice re-enter with the tea. Perhaps that could calm her.
"Alice?" Bella choked out at once. Alice, feeling the tension in the room, froze up.
"At what hour did my Lord Black arrive home last night?" Alice was hesitant. I closed my eyes tightly. Sensing the impending tribulation.
"My Lady Swan…" Alice said carefully. "His Lordship Black did not arrive home until early this morning." She said with her eyes on the rug beneath her. "He is sleeping in his chambers now."
The silence was thick. I heard two hearts pounding in that room and all this anxiety was caused by the man snoring peacefully a few doors away from here.
"Go, now…" Lady Bella whispered. Her voice was distraught. She dropped the cloak back into the bin and Alice immediately set the cup of tea aside before scooping the laundry basin up into her arms and speeding out the door. I stayed.
"Leave!" She cried. Tears sprouted from her eyes and fell from her cheeks. I stayed. She turned to me and her eyes were wild with despair.
"That…" she gasped. "is…" another gasp. "an order!" She cried. Gods. She was inconsolable. I walked and stood before her. Taking her forearms into my hands and holding her gently but firmly as I was now accustomed to.
"You do not want to be alone right now…" I whispered. She looked so lost, staring up into my amber eyes. She began to sink. She slid down my body and melted into the floor. I kneeled with her and took her into my arms. Soon my tunic was wet with her tears.
"Why?" She gasped. "Why can't he just…love me?" She pleaded.
Because he is an unworthy fool who will not realise you for more than your beauty until I have taken you away.
I stroked her head gently and rocked her in my arms. I held her until every sob subsided. Then she pulled herself from my chest and looked up at me again. I released one arm from her waist so I could wipe the tears from her eyes. She drew in a shuddering breath.
"He won't ever change…will he?" She asked. My lips hardened into a line. I did not answer. But I knew. She knew. Even the dancer at the tavern last night knew. A wolf couldn't change his howl.