"You have a plan?" Sally asked as she and Jacque joined the group.
"You bet your furless ass I do." Jen's eyes nearly glowed.
Marianna looked at Jen apprehensively. "Should we be afraid?"
"As long as you're standing on this side of the Jennifer Adams treaty line, you're safe.”
"Can y'all find out?" Jen asked again.
Marianna nodded. "I think I can. There's been a male eyeballing me. I think a little reciprocation might go a long way."
Jen's smile grew. It was beginning to become a very unnerving look.
Decebel felt groggy as he awoke. Shaking his head, he ran his hands across his face.
In a mad rush, memories flooded him and he jumped up with a snarl. But there was no one to respond, only four stone walls. Decebel walked over to the one with a door. He grabbed the handle and pulled. It was locked. He turned, taking in his surroundings. The room wasn't large but it was nicely furnished. A large, plush four poster bed with a deep green comforter and elegant gold drapes around the frame stood against the far wall. Across from the bed were two wing-backed chairs in the same green as the comforter. Above the chairs was a large mirror framed in antique gold with a wolf head carving at the top. There were no windows in the room.
Decebel growled. A gilded cage, he thought.
The mirror drew his eyes again.
"Why would a prisoner need a mirror?" he wondered out loud. The closer he got, the more he allowed himself to use his wolf eyesight. Finally, his face inches from the glass, he realized it was double paned glass. Someone was watching him.
Decebel snarled and hit the glass so hard that a small crack formed where his fist connected.
"Beta, calm down."
Decebel looked up as he heard his Alpha's voice. The speakers in the ceiling became obvious.
"Why am I locked in a room, Alpha?" Decebel growled.
"You aren't controlling your wolf."
"Control my wolf when those mongrels lust after my mate?" Decebel snarled, interrupting Vasile.
"You have no visible proof she is your mate. Let me handle this, Decebel."
"How is locking me up, keeping me from protecting her, handling it?" Decebel sneered.
Suddenly the door was thrown open and Vasile walked in. Decebel felt his Alpha's power pushing him to submit.
"I understand that you are only my Beta out of choice, not lack of strength. You chose this, Beta. You will submit to me, you will not disrespect me." Vasile's voice was deadly. "I love you like a brother, Decebel. I understand your need to protect her, but you have got to trust me. You don't have to like it, but you will obey my commands."
Decebel was shaking with rage. He was torn for the first time in his life. His wolf's only thought was to get to their mate, protect, claim, bond. But Decebel the man could use logic. He finally sunk to his knees and bared his neck. Vasile let out the breath he'd been holding and walked over to him.
"I'm not trying to defeat you, Decebel, I'm trying to protect you. You are strong, my equal, but I doubt either of us could take on four Alphas and their packs. Which is what will happen if you attack their males for ogling your pack mate."
"MATE," Decebel snarled.
"To us, yes, she is yours," Vasile said calmly. "Not to them. She doesn't carry your scent in her blood, she doesn't bear your marks or your bite, there is no mental bond. All of those things are strikes against you two."
"Perform the Bonding Ceremony, Vasile. Allow me to complete the Blood Rites. Then everyone will see that Jennifer belongs to me."
Vasile shook his head. "Allow me to speak with the other Alphas. There have been three true mates found today – maybe they will be willing to allow you and Jen some time to explore this without any other males in the picture."
"Why is it their business?" Decebel snarled. "What say do they have in my or her fate?"
"Normally, they wouldn't. But we came to a gathering where wolves are specifically looking for their true mate. The Alphas are looking out for the best interests of their males. If you keep Jen from the other males and she isn't your mate, then you might be dooming one of their males to a dark existence." Decebel started to interrupt but Vasile stopped him. "They don't see her as your mate, therefore they won't let you keep her to yourself. It's as simple as that. You claiming that there is some feeling between you and her is not enough for them."
Decebel's shoulders slumped in defeat as reality sunk in. He understood now why his Alpha had him locked up. Regardless of what the other Alphas thought, regardless of the lack of mating signs between him and Jennifer, he and his wolf had claimed her. No mated Canis lupis male would stand for another touching, ogling, pursuing, or flirting with his mate. He couldn't be trusted around the others. At the same time, the idea of Jennifer out there without him, as his mate would say – that is so not good.
"What of Jennifer?" he asked Vasile.
"She's with Alina and the other females. We will protect her, Decebel."
"I don't want another touching her. Can't you keep her from participating in these stupid activities?" Decebel spat the word as if it were the most repugnant thing.
"I'll see what I can do," Vasile relented. "I need you to get control."
Decebel nodded once. He didn't look up as Vasile left.
After several deep breaths, Decebel finally stood. He began to pace just as his wolf paced inside of him, thinking, plotting. The wolf was cunning and would not be caged, would not be kept from his mate.
Jen lay in her bed, staring up at the ceiling. She was restless, angry – No, she thought, I'm pissed. Angry doesn't begin to cover what I'm feeling.
She turned from side to side, repositioned her pillow a hundred times, and tried counting every animal that'd come out of the Ark. Nothing helped. She couldn't sleep, not when she knew Decebel was locked up. Vasile wouldn't tell her where. Smart wolf , she thought. Surely he wasn't in some dungeon or crude prison. Vasile would never allow one of his to be treated that way. But still, wolves were meant to be free, to run and roam. Decebel wouldn't handle being caged well.
Growling out loud, Jen reached for her iPhone. She plugged the headphones in and put them in her ears. Without scanning through her music, she just hit shuffle and waited. She grinned when Jason Derulo's "Fight for You" came on. Her grin widened when she thought about the plan she was putting into motion.