Chapter 26

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Jade's heart continued to race for several minutes, even after Dante left her room. So much had happened in just the last half an hour. She had never been kissed like that before. She'd had a boyfriend when she was in high school. It was just a teen fling, and had never gotten serious, but they had made out several times. But not once had any of those kisses compared to what she had just experienced with Dante. It had been more than just the mate bond, although that helped. It had been as if all of the feelings of inferiority, fears and uncertainty had all been extracted from her and replaced with passion and hope. The feelings she felt for Dante were indescribable and consuming. He was her mate, but he had also become her friend and her protector. She felt weak just thinking about how much she cared for him, and how broken she would be without him.

Dante and Jackson spent about another hour going over details and plans for what they needed to accomplish over the next several days. It was late when Dante finally headed upstairs to bed. He desperately wanted to go back to Jade, and to hold her in his arms. He looked forward to when she would finally be willing to spend the night with him, even just sleeping. He wanted her next to him all the time. Dante considered seeing her before going to bed, but when he approached her door, he could hear her breathing and knew she was asleep, and he didn't want to disturb her, so he tumbled into his own bed, and quickly succumbed to the slumber of a very tired man.

"Good Morning" Jade said quietly to Dante, as he met her at her door, as they prepared to go downstairs for breakfast.

"Good morning, Beautiful" he said to her with a large grin, gently kissing the top of her head, and putting an arm around her as they walked toward the stairs.

Jade smiled at him and snuggled next to him, with his arm around her, and they walked into the dining room together. She had planned to say good morning to everyone in the room, but she panicked and wasn't able to say anything. She just looked around, and smiled and nodded, as she often had before, and didn't utter a sound. She was disappointed with herself, and argued that there was nothing to be afraid of. They were all friends here, and would be accepting of her efforts, but she still couldn't force herself to say anything. But for everyone else, the usual morning chatter filled the air as everyone ate.

"So" began Evelyn, turning her attention toward Dante, "Jackson tells me you're headed out of town to meet with the Council for a few days? Just let me know what dates you're looking at, and I'll get your flights scheduled."

Jade looked up quickly at hearing this, and looked from Evelyn over to Dante. This was the first she'd heard about him going anywhere, and the thought of him leaving caused her a little panic. She also felt a little disappointed that he was going to see the Council, and hadn't said anything to her about it, and she realized that she really had no idea what was going on with the pack, why he had been so busy, and what could have been so important that it required him to meet with the Council in person. All of these thoughts and questions swirled in her mind as she continued to look at Dante, hoping for some sort of an answer.

"Soonest I can go would be best" Dante responded to Evelyn, completely unaware of the angst that Jade was feeling. "If you could even get something scheduled for today, that would be great. And soonest available return as well. I'll only need a few hours with the Council, so I'd like to come back immediately. We have a lot more work here we need to get done."

Dante then turned to Jade, "I've just got some business to discuss with the Council, I shouldn't be gone long" he said to her. "I only just found out last night that I would need to go."

Jade was pretty unsatisfied with his explanation, but knew this wasn't the time or place for her to try to find out more, so she just nodded in an attempt to seem understanding.

"I know you'll miss me" he then said, and Jade could feel the blood rushing to her face, because she could tell by the smirk on his face, that he was about to tease her again, in front of everyone. "But I'll be back soon, and you can take advantage of me then."

"Dante" Evelyn warned, giving him a glare.

"You should have seen her last night, Evelyn" Dante argued, winking at Jade as he spoke. "She couldn't keep her hands off of me." Jade's face turned a bright red as she glared at him. She was beginning to get used to his teasing, but it still caused her to blush in embarrassment.

Dante had plans to go to the training grounds again for the morning, and asked Jade if she would like to accompany him, but she declined. She didn't want to see the blonde again, at least not yet. When she was with Dante, she felt comfortable and hopeful of their future together, but when he was away from her, all the fears and insecurities returned, and she didn't want to be around the blonde who had been so successful at making her feel weak and unworthy. Instead, she opted to go downstairs to the gym to continue working out and building her own strength.

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