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Chapter 47 – What Happened? – Raine's POV

The warmth of the sun enveloped me as I made my way toward Loki's enclosure. Every step closer helped calm my fragile nerves. I entered a large enclosed paddock area with a poured concrete floor, wood walls and brick structural accents. Lining the walls were several occupied animal stalls with steel gates.

There were a few vampires milling around and working. A short, stocky man approached and extended his hand toward me.

"Princess Raine, welcome, my name is Gregory. His Highness Alaric mentioned you would be stopping by and gave instructions to assist you with whatever you needed. He said you would be taking Loki out today?" he murmured the last part more as a question then a statement. His eyebrows knitted together. The uncertainty on his face was transparent.

"I appreciate your helpfulness, thank you," I responded.

He said anxiously, "Certainly, I will just get his gear and we will have a handler coax him into the paddock with some fresh meat."

"Oh, I do not need his collar or leash," I assured him. Both were unnecessary. It seemed as if Loki and I understood each other perfectly. I had no explanation for the connection I felt to him and the rest of the big cats as well. It just felt natural, instinctual.

Gregory glanced up and down my small frame. The worry in his expression was unmistakable. He asked apprehensively, "Are you quite certain you do not want his collar or leash?"

I smiled at him and answered wryly, "If he were going to attack, would having the collar and leash help me?"

He shook his head pensively. "I see your point. Okay, just give us a moment to lure him in with some food."

I walked past him, toward the large opening that led to the enclosure and said, "That is unnecessary. He will come to me when I call him."

The vampires stopped their work and looked at me in surprise, and then quickly resumed their tasks when they realized they were gawking. Their attention didn't bother me. I had been equally shocked when I realized my unusual talent for the first time as well.

I released a deep call from the back of my throat. Almost immediately, I heard Loki reply with a soft roar. I waited as the large animal came into sight and walked over to me eagerly. I wrapped my arms around him and buried my head in the soft fur of his neck. He purred loudly.

I lifted my head and whispered, "Are you ready to go?"

From the corner of my eye, I could see Gregory staring at me with his mouth open and then snap his teeth shut, murmuring quietly to himself, "Never seen anything like it..."

..........

Loki and I made our way uninterrupted to the gardens. We walked through the tall hedges along several paths, until we came to a wooden bench in the rose section. I inhaled sharply. I had thought it was pretty at night, but the sunlight revealed every shockingly beautiful facet of the large trellises covered with climbing full-bodied blooms, in just about every color.

I sank down onto the beautifully aged hardwood bench. It was more comfortable than I had expected. Loki sat at my feet, and placed his large furry paws on the bench next to me.

The instant we stopped moving, the reason I was here and the reality of my situation came crashing back to the forefront of my mind. A deep sob ripped from my throat. Loki pushed his head in my lap anxiously. I wearily dropped my head on top of his and held him tightly as my tears flowed unchecked, soaking his fur.

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