“I'm so doped up I can’t feel jack right now, so lay it on me,” she told him with a weak grin.

Fane leaned forward as gently as he could and placed one arm around her waist. He laid his head on her shoulder, effectively placing his lips right against the bend in her neck to her shoulders. He kissed her as gently as he could and felt his wolf rumble in contentment.

“I missed you,” Jacquelyn told him in a strained voice.

“I messed up, Jacquelyn. I left you unprotected, I could have lost you. It is inexcusable. How can you even want me near you?”

“Fane, this is not your fault. Don’t go all Alpha on me right now. I need you more than ever,” she told him without shame at her own dependence on him.

“I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere.”

The door to the room slid open and, true to his wolf nature, Fane took up a defensive posture in front of his mate. Okay, so maybe he was going to overreact for a while, but everyone would just have to deal with it. Lilly walked in with Dr. Steele at her side.

Lilly let out a shuddered breath and tears tumbled down her cheeks as she looked at her daughter. She walked forward as Fane stepped aside to allow her access to Jacque.

"So nice of you to return to the living," Lilly teased, even though her voice quivered.

"Yeah, well, you would be lost without me so I had to come back." Jacque leaned into her mom as Lilly kissed her gently on the forehead.

"I love you, Jacque."

"I know you do, mom," Jacque responded with her usual remark to her mother's words; it was an inside joke between them. Lilly always said that Jacque was too big for her britches and Jacque continued to prove her right. At the sound of Dr. Steele's voice, Lilly turned away from Jacque to look at the doctor.

“Good, she’s awake,” Dr. Steele acknowledged. "Jennifer has woken as well, about an hour ago."

"How long have we been out?" Jacque asked apprehensively. Somehow she knew it hadn't been only a few hours.

"A month, Luna," Fane told her gently as he brushed some hair from her forehead.

"A month?" Jacque's eyebrows rose with question in her voice.

"I have had it arranged that she will share a room with her friend, Jen. Lilly has consented to that. Jacque, is that okay with you?" Dr. Steele asked her.

“Nothing would make me happier,” she told the doctor, a weak smile joining her words.

Fane and Lilly stepped out of the room when transport arrived to move Jacque to the room she would share with Jen. As she wheeled past, she gave Fane a quick wink and challenged, “Race you to the room.”

Chapter 8

Dillon was joined by his Beta, Logan in his office to go over the weekly update on how Jacque was healing. It had been four weeks since the accident and finally Logan had some good news to pass on.

"Jacque has awoken from her coma," Logan informed him.

"Do you know anything else about her well-being or just that she is awake?" Dillon's voice was gruff with emotion despite the wreck having been a month ago.

"From what I can gather she is healing rapidly, nearly as well as a full blooded wolf."

Dillon couldn't help thinking for the thousandth time how Fane could have left her, or any of them for that matter, completely vulnerable especially after the challenge he had taken part in. Then a thought that he kept coming back to occurred to him again. He spun around, glaring at Logan. “You were there, why didn’t you help her?”

“I was going to, Alpha, but Fane got there so quickly and he would have known what I was had I revealed myself. I realize now Jacque’s safety should have been my first priority, not my cover,” Logan told him, eyes down, neck exposed in submission

Dillon appreciated the gesture as he was hanging on to his wolf by a thread and any defiance on Logan’s part would surely forfeit his life.

“I was going to stay out of this. I was going to trust Lilly to know what was best for our daughter, but these past weeks the more I go over it in my head, I just can't, not now. Jacque could have been killed and all because her supposed mate, who is little more than a kid, didn’t protect her as is his responsibility.” Dillon knew in the rational part of his brain that maybe he was being too hard on Fane, but he couldn’t help it, that was his daughter, and had she died he would never have had the opportunity to know her. That was unacceptable in his book. Jacque was still a minor, he could invoke his rights as her Alpha, that he take her under his care until she was an adult. Lilly would probably hate him for it but she would eventually see that it was better for Jacque this way. She was too young to mate, and worse, Fane was too young to be her mate. He didn’t understand what it meant to be a mate, the responsibility that came with it.

Dillon turned to look at Logan. “You said there were four wolves besides Vasile and his son?”

“Yes, Alpha.”

“Get the pack's first four, with you and myself that will make six. We will be walking in with an even number of wolves so as not to appear like I am challenging Vasile, but enough to show that I have support. Also have Colin charter a private plane, I want to get there as soon as possible.”

Colin was Dillon’s assistant, for lack of a better word, and took care of any pack business and acted as a liaison to other packs. Because of his Omega status, he wasn’t considered a threat or a challenge to other packs, nor was he a submissive which would allow other packs to walk on him.

Logan nodded at his Alpha’s request and turned to go.

“We leave in an hour,” Dillon told his retreating back.

His plan could not be working out any better, Logan thought to himself. Although he hadn’t wanted Jacque to get hurt, how was he supposed to know that a simple blown tire would cause the car to roll, and then catch fire? Logan’s heart had been in his throat when he had watched Jacque’s still form being pulled from the burning SUV. He had nearly rushed forward to help but he had picked up the sound of the other wolves' vehicles and had gotten in his car and driven across the median to the opposite highway. He had been driving the opposite direction as Fane and his family. They'd never even looked his direction, their eyes only on the wreckage. Logan had thought that over the past few weeks Dillon's anger would abate, but much to his dislike it had only increased.

Dillon walked into the pack defense room where he knew the 4 top members of the pack would be this time of day. Each was in various states of cleaning their assigned weapons and monitoring the parameter of the mansion on the various TV screens that were wired to the cameras all around the grounds. It seemed like an archaic thing to do as they had not had another pack attempt to challenge them on their territory in over a century. Old habits die hard, and as Dillon told them you can never be too prepared.

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