Chapter 1

“You know I will look ridiculous in that, right?” Jacque asked Sally while staring at the red dress her two best friends had hanging on the back of her bedroom door. “I mean, why don’t you just sew a hood on it, put a basket of cookies in my hand and send me off to see grandma?” Jacque asked sarcastically, if not somewhat dramatically. She didn’t understand why Sally and Jen insisted that she wear a dress for the bonding ceremony. She had repeatedly reminded them, and would again, that it wasn't a wedding. Since the challenge everything had been moving so quickly that she didn’t really have a chance to veto their decision and nobody else seemed eager to jump to her defense. So, alas, she stood in her room with her two best friends wreaking havoc on her life, trying to tell her she was going to put on this ridiculous red dress.

“So how did things with Fane go last night?” Jen asked, pulling Jacque out of her thoughts.

That simple question reminded Jacque that the challenge had only happened yesterday. It felt like it had been days ago, but it had merely been hours. Last night after the challenge, Fane had come to her to plead forgiveness for making her believe he had died during the challenge. He'd really thought that she would not understand why he made that decision. Jacque was not going to deny the fact that it hurt, but she understood the reasoning behind it, and if it kept Fane alive that was all that mattered.

“It’s all good,” Jacque said nonchalantly.

The two girls stopped simultaneously and stared at Jacque in disbelief.

“I chewed Fane up like a chew toy and spit him out. Sally about smacked him into next week. And that's all you have to say to us? Hate to break it to ya, wolf princess, but that ain’t going to cut it.” Jen folded her arms across her chest and began tapping her foot. It was very obvious that Jacque would not be leaving this room until she gave up the goods. She figured they did deserve it after all they had done for her. Go on, Jacque, throw them a bone she told herself.

“Fane came to my room and sat on the side of my bed while I was still sort of asleep. I woke up to him kissing my cheeks, my nose, my chin, and then my lips. I was sure I was dreaming, but it seemed way too real. Then I freaked out. I decided I must have jumped off the deep end after the week from 'folk lore stories come to life' hell. I was seeing my dead mate sitting on my bed.”

Before Jacque could go on Jen interrupted. “Ok, that’s all fine and dandy, but I want the main course, not the before-dinner rolls. Main course, Jacque, get to it.”

Jacque rolled her eyes. “I have to build up to the main course or else it’s not really the main course. However, for the sake of your sanity I will speed it up. After I realized he was indeed real, he hugged me and I accidentally groaned in pain.”

“Oh, hell. He went into possessive, jealous, I-no-longer-have-a-brain mode, didn’t he?” Sally asked sarcastically.

“Point to you. He saw the bruise on my stomach and nearly went all werewolf kung-fu on his pack. I can’t believe ya’ll didn’t hear him yell. But I got him to pipe down when I pulled out the 'I’m bruised because you played dead' card. Works every time.” Jacque winked.

“Nice,” Jen and Sally said, bumping fists.

“Then we kissed. A lot. Yep, there was a lot of kissing. Oh, and there was purring. But all clothes stayed on, Jen, sorry to spoil your fantasy.”

“You are so not sorry to spoil anything. At least tell me if he’s a good kisser,” Jen whined.

Jacque looked at her, emerald eyes narrowed with a wicked gleam. “My sweet, sweet Jen, he’s a good everything.”

“Ok ladies, both of you back into your corners. Jacque's getting hitched today so there has to be a cease fire.” Sally indicated the corners she wanted Jacque and Jen to stand in.

“I am not getting hitched, there is no ring involved.”

“Says the wolf princess who’s never been bonded to a werewolf before,” Jen pointed out.

“Details, details,” Jacque quipped.

She suddenly felt claustrophobic, like the room was beginning to get smaller. It reminded her of Alice in Wonderland when she eats the cake and begins to grow until the room is so small she is squished into it. She needed air. Jacque walked over to her window and jerked it open. She felt the summer heat hit her face, and even though it was blazing hot, it was refreshing and helped clear her brain from all the worries that were slowly stacking up on shelves in her mind. Each deep breath she took felt like it was slowly pushing each stack of worry into a trash bag. Breathe-she pushed worry about leaving Coldspring into the bag, breathe- next was worry for her mom, will she come to Romania or stay here, breathe- worry for her friends, breathe- worry about the bonding ceremony, breathe- worry about the blood rites, breathe. Finally the shelves were clean, and there in her mind amongst the empty shelves was Fane.

“Hello meu inima, doing some spring cleaning?” Fane asked her, using their bond.

Jacque couldn’t suppress the smile that followed; she should have known he would be listening. Especially since she was more emotional than usual. Well, that was really not a fair statement because she had been emotional for the past 5 days. Meeting your werewolf mate tends to do that to a girl.

“Just needed to put things in their place, how are you?” Jacque felt the warmth he was pouring into her mind, the love he wanted her to feel and it only made her want to be in his arms more.

“Soon, love.”

“You keep saying that wolf man, when does soon become now?” Jacque teased him. “Now go away. Isn’t it bad luck to see your mate before the bonding thingy?”

She heard him chuckle.

“No meu inima, you’re thinking of it being bad luck for the groom to see his bride before the wedding. I can see you all I want. In fact I could come rescue you from those two if you want.”

“That’s okay, they mean well, they are just a little rough on the execution. What time is this shin-dig starting?” Jacque asked.

“It starts as 1:00 p.m. I’ll see you there Little Red.” Fane’s voice faded out of her mind and she could feel his humor. Oh wasn’t he just too cute, picking up on her two best friends’ idea of a sick joke, to turn her into the little girl who almost wound up as the wolf’s dinner.

“My, what big eyes you have, wolf-man,” Jacque said out loud, unable to stop her sarcasm from boiling up.