“Waiting sucks. I can’t think of a time where waiting is fun. Wait, I take that back, but if I get into that Dec will have an aneurysm. But those of you grinning, and you know who you are, know what I’m talking about. But I digress. Right now we’re sitting here twiddling our thumbs while we wait for this psycho warlock to go all crazy on us. I mean, seriously people, there is only so much hot chocolate I can drink. All I’m saying is I’m pregnant, bored, and ready to kick some warlock ass. Can I get an amen?” ~Jen
“Jacque, it’s been two months. If this dude doesn’t make a move soon, I’ll be too big to kick him in his baby making parts and that just won’t be cool,” Jen grumbled as she slumped down on the couch in the library of the Romanian mansion. She had been travelling back and forth between the Serbian and Romanian packs, mainly because she hated being away from Jacque and Sally. Since Sally was working with Rachel and Peri, Jen was stuck by herself at the Serbian pack mansion. Of course, there were pack members in and out all of the time talking to Decebel, but it wasn’t the same as having her girls with her. Not to mention, she was so emotional these days that most people could hardly stand her. She alternated between gushing about how glad she was to know her friends or raging because she couldn’t control her emotions. Each passing hour was a toss-up.
“This is one of those rare instances when you say making a move and you don’t mean a guy going for the bases,” Jacque told her best friend with a quick glance and then turned back to the book she had been reading.
“We all know that I don’t have to complain about Dec not making a move. My man has plenty of moves. But if I tried to kick him in his baby making parts, he would just get more excited.”
Sally laughed. “When you first told me you were interested in Decebel, I honestly thought that there was no way you two would ever work. But man, you are both such freaks, I honestly don’t think anyone else could put up with either of you.”
“Or keep up with us.” Jen winked.
“Ugh,” Jacque groaned, “Jen please. The
more your little baby bump shows, the weirder it is for you to talk about your sex life with your mate. I mean, seriously, we just don’t need the mental image.”
“Speaking of sex lives,” Jen pointed at Jacque, “how are you and your fur ball?”
Jacque’s head fell back against the chair as she closed her eyes. She blocked her thoughts from Fane, despite the fact that she would hear about it from him later. But she didn’t need him listening in right now, and she knew he would be.
“He talked to me after Sally went and spoke with him.”
“That was all your father-in-law,” Sally interrupted quickly.
“I told you I was cool with it, Sally, and I meant it. Fane knew I was at my breaking point.”
“Sooo,” Jen prompted her to answer her previous question.
“He’s still distant, but he’s trying. I’m just at a loss as to what to do to help him.” She looked down at her hands and bit her lip to keep from crying. She hated crying.
“It’s just going to take time, Jacque,” Sally told her gently.
“How much more time? He still won’t go anywhere near Costin.” Jacque’s eyes narrowed as she felt the familiar spark of anger ignite in her. She and Fane hadn’t even known each other a full year yet and so she had never seen him like this, so angry and almost out of control.
“Vasile is going to step in before too much longer,” Sally warned but tried to soften the harsh-sounding words.
“Maybe he and Costin just need to have a go at it and get it out of their systems,” Jen suggested.
Jacque’s eyes snapped over to Jen and fear flashed in the emerald orbs quickly and was gone just as fast. “They would kill each other, Jen.”
“Naw, not if there were Alphas there to keep things in check. You know how guys are, Jac. Sometimes they just need to get it beat out of them.” Jen threw her head back and laughed. “There I go again. I swear I need a notebook for all the awesome innuendos I come up with.”
Sally coughed and Jacque shook her head at her nympho friend.
“Okay,” Jen continued, “I’m serious. They need to just beat the living crap out of each other and then they will be able to move past this.”
“I’m not about to suggest that to Fane,” Jacque shook her head. “I honestly don’t know if he could stop himself from doing something he would later regret, when he…,” she paused and took in a shaky breath, “if he ever gets back to normal.”
Like an indolent cat stretched out for an afternoon nap, Reyaz sat lazily on a large tree branch. He leaned back against the trunk of the ancient tree with his legs stretched out in front of him and his hands behind his head. Though his body gave the appearance of being languid, his eyes were ever watchful and vigilant.
For two months he had roamed the Balkan Mountains, observing his brother’s kingdom and listening for any information of what the supernatural world was planning now that he had revealed himself. But that was not all he observed. He also had paid special attention to the human woman his brother had taken a shine to, and, if he wasn’t mistaken, planned on taking for his mate.
His upper lip lifted in a snarl as he thought about his brother having something that he did not, something that had been ripped from his hands so very long ago. Yet the wound left behind was as raw and bloody as it had been the day she died. Thea, his love, his reason for living, was gone and it was Cypher’s fault that she was no longer by his side. In truth, he should be glad that his brother had found a mate, because now he had something to take from him. Something that would be equal what Reyaz had lost.
The leaves rustled in the trees and the entire forest shuttered with awareness of his malice, but he ignored it and continued his waiting and watching. His time was coming, and when it finally did, he would rain down his fury in an eruption of destruction unlike anything the supernaturals had ever seen. And he would destroy anyone who got in his way.
Lilly Pierce stood in what was known as the throne room of the warlock castle. The castle itself was built into the mountains, hidden from any who didn’t know exactly where to seek it. She watched as Cypher paced around the large chair that sat at the front of the great room. He had been restless for weeks, and though they were still getting to know one another, she was beginning to understand the responsibility he had to his people and the passion he felt for them. He wanted what was best for them. He wanted them safe. But most of all, he wanted to know that they had a future in this world. That wasn’t the only thing bothering him, however. Lilly could tell he struggling with something else, but she didn’t feel as if she had a right to ask him about it. They hadn’t discussed moving forward in their relationship, and even though he claimed that she was his mate, he had yet to pursue anything more with her. They spent time together. He was affectionate towards her and she could tell that he cared deeply for her, but something was holding him back and now she was unsure as to where she stood with him.
She hadn’t decided how long she would stay at Cypher’s mansion. Jacque and the girls had wanted her to stay with them and she had for a few days after Desdemona’s death. But Cypher had needed to get back to his people, and she had felt at the time that she needed to be with him. It was weird to think of her daughter as a grown woman with a husband and no longer needing Lilly’s constant guidance. Her first instinct had been to stay at the Romanian mansion, but she knew deep inside it wasn’t where she belonged.
Now she didn’t really know where she belonged. After everything that had happened, after everything she had experienced with Cypher, she couldn’t imagine going back to her life as a bookstore owner and single middle-aged female with a grown daughter and a broken past. She wanted more. She needed more and she thought that more had been here with Cypher.
“Lilly.” The deep voice made her stomach clench in anticipation just as it had been doing for the past few months. Cypher held his hand out to her, beckoning her to come to him.
She walked slowly across the room towards him and nearly melted under his heated gaze. Good grief, Lilly, what are you seventeen? He’s a man, not a freaking Greek god. She silently chastised herself, even as she thought that Cypher probably resembled exactly what a Greek god might look like. The closer she got to him, the shakier her breathing became. Once again she wanted to kick herself for acting like an infatuated adolescent, but then, why shouldn’t she be affected by him? He was incredibly handsome, strong, caring, and surprisingly gentle for such a large man. There would have to be something seriously wrong with her if she wasn’t affected by him at least in some way. Well at least I’m not defective, she shrugged inwardly, deciding it was okay for her to swoon like a school girl…sort of.
“I’m sending you back to your home.”
Lilly’s stomach dropped to the floor and her heart clenched painfully in her chest. Damn, didn’t see that one coming.
“Have you heard any news?” Decebel asked Peri.
“Nothing definitive,” she told him through clenched teeth. “The forests are restless; nature knows when evil is among us. He’s out there. He’s not hiding out behind another veil in another land or hunkered down in a hole somewhere.”
“Did you just say hunkered?” Jen asked with a sly smile.
Peri’s eyes snapped over to the female alpha. “I find that being around you humans is expanding my vocabulary. And unfortunately, it’s not in ways that make me sound intelligent.”
“We aim to please, Peri fairy.”
Peri snorted. “Judging from the look of your expanding belly, I would say you must be succeeding.”
Jacque spewed the water she had been drinking out of her mouth as laughter bubbled up.
Jen patted her rounding stomach and grinned over at her mate. “What do you think B? How’s my aim?”
“Jen,” Jacque was still laughing as she tried to talk, “your aim is not the one you should be worried about.”
Jen paused as she thought about Jacque’s words and then a wicked, wicked grin spread across her face. “Good call, Jacque. Alright, I’ll revise my question,” she looked back over to Decebel. “B, how’s your aim?”
The room erupted into laughter. Decebel bared his teeth at his mate. “I would say it’s spot on Jennifer,” he growled through their bond.
“Dec says it’s…,”
“Jennifer,” Decebel interrupted her and she was laughing too hard to continue.
“Can we please get back to the matter at hand?” Vasile asked as he rubbed his forehead. The group gathered around Vasile had been chosen months ago, chosen to lead, and chosen to stand as examples to each of the races. Vasile had called this meeting to discuss what could be done about their mutual enemy. The only ones not present were Sally and Costin. Decebel had told his second that he thought it best that he stay away for now. Costin had not been happy about it, but then he could not defy his alpha.
“Well, in this case, no news is not good news,” Peri said as her eyes met Vasile’s.
“I’ve been trying to go through the archives to see if we have any information on this Reyaz character,” Wadim spoke up from where he sat on the floor.
“Have you come up with anything useful?” Decebel asked.
“Not much, just that he’s the warlock king’s brother and that they had a falling-out. But the records don’t go into the history as to why.”
“It’s obvious what we need to do then,” Peri glanced around the room.
“Please tell me it has something to do with eating,” Jen muttered.
Decebel placed his hand on the back of Jen’s neck from where he stood behind her.
“I’m not going to let you starve, Jennifer,” he teased her.
“You know I get cranky when I’m hungry.”
“When are you not cranky, baby?”
“Not the point, B.” She reached back and smacked his hand away, but he just chuckled and put it right back where it had been.
“As important as your appetite being satisfied is to all of us Jen, it’s not quite the top priority,” Peri’s voice was gentle as if she was talking to a child.
“It should be. That’s all I’m saying.”
“Noted,” Peri nodded. “What I was going to say before the pregnant woman enlightened us with her needs, and surprisingly enough they were not carnal in nature, is that we need to get Cypher over here to explain just why his brother is…,”
“Mad cow disease crazy?” Jacque interrupted.
Peri grinned. “That’s one way to put it.”
“MCDC,” Jen piped in, “awesome acronym, sounds like a band.”
The room let out a collective groan as they all looked at Jen.
“Jen, get a clue and read Wadim’s shirt.” Jacque told her dryly.
Jen glanced over at Wadim who, oh so helpfully, pulled his shirt out so that she could read it.
In black bold letters it said, “No really, I’m a werewolf and you’re a human, which essentially translates into a steak with legs.”
“Are you implying that Wadim’s going to eat me, cause I don’t know how Dec would feel about that.”
Decebel rubbed his face as he let out an exasperated breath. “Jen, Jacque, hush. Wadim, quit encouraging them with your stupid grin.”
“I will get in touch with the warlock,” Vasile continued as if the banter between Jen and Jacque hadn’t taken place.
“I think I should go, Alpha,” Peri spoke up. “It will be quicker and I want to check out what’s going on in his forest. From what I’m hearing from some of the warlocks I’ve spoken with, there seems to be a lot of turbulence in the air.”
“Fine, do it quickly. Tell him I’ll expect him tomorrow.”
Peri nodded at him and then was gone.
“I so wish I could do that,” Jacque said looking longingly at the spot Peri had just occupied.
“As for the rest of you,” Vasile stood as he addressed the group, “I know it’s easy to get complacent as we wait to see what our enemy has planned, but you must not let this happen. Females, you need to be training for combat, except Jen,”
Jen snarled at him, but Vasile just kept going. “The healers need to continue to learn and do whatever it is they can to prepare to help the injured, wolves and fae alike. Decebel, it would be helpful if you would stay in touch with the Alphas that have returned to their packs. We need to continue to build the relationships that we have started; we must stay united. Males, I have asked Thalion, prince of the elves, and Adam to train with you. We are strong and fast, but they are faster. It may well be that we need to learn a few new fighting techniques ourselves. They will also be teaching you archery. We need to be prepared to fight back in whatever form the attack comes.”
All of the males nodded and murmured their agreement.
“Alright, we will meet again tomorrow when Cypher gets here.”
“This means I get to eat now right?” Jen smiled as she stood up.
“Oh my goodness, someone get the girl some food so she’ll shut up.”
“I heard that, Jacque.”
“I meant for you to hear it, you dork,” Jacque told her.
Jen looked over at Fane who was standing just behind Jacque. His eyes seemed dull, no longer the bright blue they had once been and his lips were tight.
“Fane, you need to control your woman.”
Jacque’s head snapped up as her eyes collided with her friends. They were wide and were giving Jen the what the hell glare.
Jen shrugged. “It’s time he got his head out of his butt and joined the rest of us back here in the living.”
Fane didn’t growl; he didn’t even acknowledge Jen’s words. He just placed his hand on the back of Jacque’s back and began to guide her from the room. Jacque continued to glare at Jen until she stomped past her.
Jen looked over at Decebel. “I don’t get it B. Our baby is scheduled to die on the day she’s born and you don’t see me walking around with a perpetual scowl, looking ready to kill everyone in my path. Don’t you think it’s time for Fane to snap out of it?”
Decebel met Jen’s gaze and reached out to caress her cheek. “Not everyone is as resilient as you, baby.”
Jen’s eyebrows creased together as she watched her mate. He was hiding something from her; she knew it without a doubt. But she couldn’t find out what it was because he was keeping his mind shut from her. He kept their bond open just enough for them to feel each other, but he didn’t give her the open access as he once had. As he stared at her now, the look in his eyes confused her, but she knew that if she asked, he would just deflect the question.
Jen finally turned away from him, knowing he would follow her. She paused and glanced back over her shoulder at him and raised a single brow. “You can’t hide from me forever, Dec. At some point, you will let your guard down. And when you do, I won’t be kind and give you your privacy. I will take what is my right to have, your complete trust and openness with me. So you can continue to delude yourself that you can keep things from me, but I always get what I want. And I’m not just talking about information. Don’t think I haven’t noticed that you seem too distracted at night to take care of your husbandly duties and it’s pissing me off. A girl has needs, B. Put that in your beef jerky and chew on it.”
Decebel followed behind his ticked off mate and tried not to smile at that last comment. “Did you just say husbandly duties?”
“Shut up Dec.”