Thank you so much for the reviews, Mrs . Vendetta and Kirennuchiha1. Glad to see that some regular readers are still following this story. :D This chapter doesn't change much and the next one should not be either. I don't know when it will be update because I will be busy.

Still, if you are kind enough please tell me if you like this version or not because very few people comment about it at all. Thanks and goodnight.

It was a little over afternoon and the trees had grown thinner as they made their way up the hill that lead toward a rocky mountain. If they made good times, they should reach the other flatland side by sunset. Rin had excused herself and walked into the forest, Ah-Un and Jaken were with her. Sesshomaru and his new companions waited patiently for her return.

Sesshomaru still remembered the surprised look on her face when he announced the news. Of course it would surprise her. If anyone told him two days ago that he would be taking a mate, he would have killed them there and then. Insolent, he would say. He himself did not know. He never thought he would until he met Katsumi.

For decades, he had heard about the demoness' beauty. Many had declared Katsumi, daughter of the Northern Demon's Tribe to be unrivaled when it came to a woman's beauties. She was the most fair of all.

Foolish, he always thought. Those lowlife demons could think of nothing but women. There were more important things to do than being obsessed with women and their looks. Sesshomaru paid no mind to beauties. He had seen enough women in his long years but never surrendered to one. He only cared about powers, and how to make himself stronger. Never had he thought the day would come when he was captured by beauty. Yet, when he laid eyes on the demoness, he could not deny that words failed to describe how beautiful she truly was. She was breathtaking, elegant, and captivating. He wanted her. He had to have her.

Once her mouth opened, he knew that there was more to her than looks. She was clever, her bright eyes spoke of intelligence, her words were wise and hosen with caution. She had ways with words the way she persuaded him and her father. She was not much different from himself, he realized, cold, sharp, calculative, aloof, proud, and ambitious. She analyzed her position with just one glance.

When he asked her to be his mate, for a moment she hesitated. He could see the battle within her, whether or not to accept it. She wanted to turn him down, he could see that, but thought the better of it. It was not like she had a choice once his decision was made. Her only two choices were to come with him willingly or to be forced to come with him. She was not too foolish not to see that.

She had good eyes, saw what he was and what he could do. She also had good judgment and would not fight a fight she could not win.

It was good to be proud and strong, but not stupidly proud. That would only get you killed. Smart people knew when to retreat and when to fight. He liked that about her.

She was his perfect match, he mused. She feared him, he knew, yet faced him with dignity. Never once had she looked away from him, or lost her brave mask, the skills the Lady of The Western Land required accomplishing.

But the look in Rin's face… it made him feel…uncomfortable.

He was not blind. Her face that looked as pale as paper after the announcement told him more than she needed to say. She was unhappy with his marriage. Terrified by the idea even. He knew it came as a surprise because they never expected it. She must be questioning her position with him now that he was taking a mate.

Did she fear that he would abandon her?

That Katsumi would mistreat her?

Or that he would send her away at the demoness' request?

If those were her fears, she could rest easy.

Rin always had a place beside him for as long as she desired to stay. He was not so ignorant to deny the fact that the girl was important to him. She was the first being he wanted to protect, to keep her safe and… content. The only person he was willing to go to any length, following her to any dangerous place to bring her back to his side. The only person that he dare to admit he cared about.

Those facts would not change just because he was taking a mate. Rin would never be neglected. He would make sure she was well taken care of and made sure she got all and only of the best. He was a man of action and his actions would soon assure her that she was important and not forgotten.

Rin was a smart child. She understood him better than anyone. It would not take her long to see that he cared. He closed his eyes, kept his senses on alert, and listened for dangers. Listened to his ward inside the forest.

Published (Jan 8-13)

Revised Monday, March 24, 2014.