When I was a child, I was easily fascinated by the idea of mates. Plainly, it might have seemed like just another love story—how a mate discovered their other mate and they fell in love—but I liked it. Probably because I was always waiting for my own time to come—for the day when I could stare straight into my mate’s eyes and let myself fall in love.

 It was certainly considered weird of me for liking such things. Little boys did not usually like these kinds of things, but I would always wait patiently for my mother to tell me another mating tale.

 “Honey,” Mom said, “why don’t you join your brothers?”

I wondered why she asked that because I knew that my mother knew me so well. She knew I wasn’t into video games, soccer or any of the stuff my brother and their friends did.

“No,” I said, “I want to know what happened to Estella.”

She sat down on the chair in front of me and stroked my ruffled hair back and forth. I looked up to her as she smiled and said, “Where did I stop, sweetheart?”

“Estella. She found her mate—Jared, the beautiful schoolboy? But she hides from him, and things go wrong.”

“Yeah,” Mom sighed. “Are you sure you want to hear this? This is quite a sad story for you, Jordan.”

I could only nod enthusiastically.

“Let me make sure you get this straight,” Mom said. “This story is not actually made up. It’s your Grandma Stella's, Jordan. She hid from your grandpa before they met.”

I couldn’t believe this. My grandparents were like the sweetest couple I’d ever seen. Even now, after decades of marriage, they were like young lovers (Mentally and physically—since, immortals didn’t really age.)

“Poor Grandma,” I said. “But she and Grandpa made it. To marriage, I mean.”

“Yes, but she regretted everything she’d done. She even told all your aunts to not do the same because hiding from one’s mate has terrible consequences, darling.”

I let the silence pass before I asked Mom another question.

 “But Mom,” I sighed, “there wouldn’t be much difference even if Grandma Stella didn’t come out of hiding, would there? They were still meant to be together.”

“No, sweetie. If our mate knows our presence, there will be lots of differences. Once the males acknowledge their mate's presence, the bond will develop. This is how mates are connected. It also depends on how strong the mate bond is between the two. If it isn’t strong enough, the male mate may not know at all that the female is actually near him. You know that some shifters are mateless, don’t you, sweetie?”

Mateless was a term we used for any werewolf who hadn’t found their mate for a very long time. Being mateless was considered the biggest misfortune to befall immortals, especially among the shape-shifters. Since werewolves contained two separate halves in one creature, we believed that we bear half of our mate’s soul while our mate held the other half of ours. Some half mortal/half immortals, like half-human half-vampires, held the same beliefs. This also explained the mate bond. Our life would not be considered as complete until we had met our mate who held the other half of our soul. An immortal would also be considered mateless if their mate died. If your mate died, you would never be able to live the same way because half of your soul would be missing.

“So if my mate hides from me…I’d be mateless. Is that true?” I asked.

“It depends on how strong your mate bond is. Most of the time mate bonds cause a strong attraction—a deadly tie to your heart. This bond will usually drive you to find your mate.”

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