I wake to the feeling of warmth and safety leaving my body. It only takes a few moments for me to realize DoJo is leaving me. I reach out to grab her hand, but barely brush her finger tips. I quickly scramble to my feet and get in front of her.
DoJo's eyes are half closed. I tell her, "You need to wake up!"
DoJo tries to walk through me, but when our bodies collide the tingles erupt. Our faces brush against each other. My lips tingle. I can nolonger resist. I move my head just slightly and allow our lips to meet.
Alastair, who has been rather quiet, comes rushing to the front. "Not yet."
I don't have time to think about his statement. Our lips barely become fully pressed together when DoJo's eyes pop open, and she deepens the kiss. All sense of time or even thought, disappear.
I knew it was risky to put a shield over Jonez. But I couldn't risk losing him. Part of me refused to admit that it would put him in danger of losing me; that part wanted desperately to believe I am strong enough to protect us both, even in my sleep.
The sadness found its path to me in my more vulnerable state of mind. I needed to find the one causing it. To make them stop. Make the pain manageable again.
One moment I'm seeking the source of sadness. The next my body is consumed with tingles, they're emitting from my lips, spreading everywhere else in a fraction of a moment. I open my eyes to happily discover Jonez kissing me. I sense a slight hesitation on his part, but this officially makes him the robber, and in this moment: I need this to continue, so I grab him and deepen what he started.
Whenever we get around to stopping the sun is starting to warm the side of my face, while we rest our foreheads against each other. My ability to think about anything other than tingles and the lips of Jonez slowly returns.
Jonez leans in for another kiss. It rips my heart to do it, but I pull away, stopping him, hurting him. I quickly reach down and grab his hands. Then I explain, "There's too much going on, we can't indulge ourselves, not when it can cost us our mission."
"You're right." Jonez whispers before gently kissing my cheek, and then stepping away from me.
I look into the cave, trying to get my emotions under control. Sort out what's mine, and what's not, but I've never struggled so hard to tell the difference. I stare at the light invading the cave slowly as I struggle to bring order to the chaos inside me. "How dark was it when you kissed me?" I ask Jonez in a hoarse whisper.
He looks at me and replies, "Completely." Never adding the: "why?" his expressions ask.
"This was his attempt to get me in there before our time, when he is strongest, and we might have a disadvantage." I answer with a grin, and add, "You thwarted him in a most pleasant manner."
Jonez blushes, and I find it adorable.
We decide to wait until the cave is completely bathed in light, and pass the time grabbing a quick bite from the food we packed.
Once the cave looks like a bright hallway of stone: we enter cautiously, well aware that an enemy still awaits us, and that's just what we know about. Even so, it doesn't take us long to find the four prisoners, looking exactly like in the dream.
The light shines through the amber stone like trap, and shines against the wall. I'm drawn to the writing that fills the illuminated area. "It can't be." I shake my head, staring at the wall. "It's got to be impossible."
Jonez asks, "What's wrong?"
"I didn't see this in the vision with Alastair." I answer without looking at him.
"It's just gibberish to me." Alastair explains, "I can't remember details of gibberish enough to bring them with me into a vision experience."
"What's the big deal?" Jonez inquires, looking worried.
I reply, "When I was fifteen I created my own tribe, with my friends. It never went anywhere, but I invented our own writing code. No one else bothered to learn it. I haven't hardly thought about it in over twenty years."
Jonez nods his head with each piece of information. When I stop talking he asks, "And?"
I point at the wall full of symbols illuminated in amber light. "That's written in the code I invented."
"Then you can read it!" Jonez states excitedly.
I nod my head, and then shrug my shoulders, as I say, "Theoretically."
"What do you mean, theoretically?" He snaps.
I face him and point out, "How well are you going to remember something you created forty five years ago, haven't thought about in twenty, and never got to use with anyone else?"
"You remember it enough to recognize that you're looking at it." Jonez counters with a confident grin.
I find myself sucking on my bottom lip as I look at the wall again.
"I remember some of the symbols, but not all of them." I admit.
"Start with the ones you know, and work from there." Jonez states as he gently places his hand against my back. Instead of tingles I feel like I'm filling with confidence and concentration.
I look through the symbols and state, "This part here is about mates, and this last part has the instructions for releasing the four, something to do with a mate bite."
"We need an exact translation." Jonez points out.
I shrug my shoulders. "Then get me a stick."
Strangely enough he doesn't ask any questions, he just runs back to the mouth of the cave, letting his fingers graze across my back as he moves away.
I smile, no one has ever effected me like Jonez does, and I'm not sure how to handle it.
In mere minutes he is back beside me, slipping the stick into my hand. I smile gently at him, resisting the urge to kiss him again. Then I bend down and start writing the alphabet in the dirt. Jonez watches silently as I do, and then as I begin to fill the spaces below each letter with a symbol, not in alphabetical order, but as I recall them.
I then move to a blank spot and begin writing the translation of the wall in the sand. When I've translated all the letters I read, "Things become confusing when your _nd mate comes b_ your _st _ If you want to release the _ the new mate must give you the _st bite_"
"What are the blank spots?" Jonez quietly inquires.
I point to two identical symbols, one at the very end. "My guess is those are periods, ending the sentences." I point to another set of two identical symbols, next to translated st on the ground I put the number one. "It's the only number that ends with st. That leaves two symbols left." I needlessly say as I put a two next to the nd. I stare at the last symbol. "Only one thing makes sense." I add a four after the b, and where the matching symbol is.
Jonez reads it again, "Things become confusing when your 2nd mate comes b4 your 1st. If you want to release 4 the new mate must give you the 1st bite."
Jonez stares at the translation, "You must have messed something up, this doesn't make sense."
I chuckle and turn in his arms, so I can whisper in his ear, "The bad news is you're not my second chance mate." I feel him slump in the split second it takes for me to add, "The good news is you're actually my first mate."
Jonez grabs me into a tight embrace, and grins. "I was afraid I was reading that wrong, or we had to go find someone else."
I kiss his cheek.
"But, what's the first bite?" He asks after kissing my cheek back.
"The mate bite, for first mates it goes on the right side of the neck, second chance mates bite on the left, out of respect for the first." I explain, "The Alpha and I never bothered with that ritual, because we had the soul marks, that were on us regardless of our form." I point to the black kiss on my hand.
"I thought that was a tattoo." Jonez admits.
I shrug my shoulders.
"I can't access my wolf." He points out. "How am I supposed to do a mate bite.
"I'm pretty sure Alastair knows what to do." I whisper while nuzzling the crook of his right shoulder and neck.
"I do." Alastair growls in my head.
Moments later his mouth covers my own crook, teeth plunge into my flesh, and I instantly respond by returning the favor. The two of us transition from pain to pleasure together.