"Seriously," Costin added, "it had to have been Alina who packed for us. No man would have thought of all the things that we have packed into these bags we are lugging on our backs.

Jacque had suggested taking a horse or donkey, but Vasile said even if they could find one it would just be one more mouth to feed. So, without a pack horse/donkey, the four were on their way.

They all fell silent as they walked along. The crunching of the snow beneath their boots, and the occasional bird or scurrying animal were the only sounds.

Decebel was lost in thought. After Jennifer had blocked him, and he had taken some time to calm down, he had gone to Vasile. He let him know that Jennifer said that the people who had rescued her were Gavril and Rachel – an Alpha and his mate thought to have died three centuries ago. Vasile was surprised but not completely shocked. He had told Decebel that in light of Jen's circumstances, going to see Peri was the best course of action for Sally.

When he'd awoken this morning he knew something was wrong. He couldn't feel her at all. It wasn't like when she blocked her mind; even then he could still sense her but now there was just nothing. He had decided that maybe she was unconscious, and although he hated the idea of her unconscious, it was a better thought than other possibilities. He hadn’t mentioned it to anyone because he didn't figure there was anything that could be done about it. The longer he went without her presence the weaker he began to feel, and the darkness creeping into his mind and soul intensified.  Now he was thinking maybe it would have been a good idea to mention it to Vasile. If it got worse, he decided, he would talk to Sally and Cynthia.

Cynthia Steele couldn't believe where she was, or what she was doing. If someone had come up to her a year ago and said, 'Hey, next year you'll be in Romania hiking through the forest looking for a fairy,' she would have told them to quit sniffing those permanent markers. But here she was, in Romania, hiking in the freezing cold looking for a fairy. She had known the Fae existed at one time. Cynthia liked to keep up at least a little on their history and the history of other supernatural beings. However, she hadn't been as diligent in the past few years and didn't know that the Fae were still a part of this world. It was amazing.

There was no doubt she regretted what she had done to Jacque, but at the same time she was so glad that she was here, able to help her own kind.

Sally was trying to focus on where she planted her feet in the snow to keep from stumbling, but her mind kept wondering to the too-hot-for-his-own-good wolf walking behind her. She didn't understand the ache inside her when she looked at him. What she could understand was her attraction to him – he was freaking lickable. Sally smiled at the words she'd heard Jen use so many times before. Jen – that was where her mind should be. And it was, but it was also on Costin.

See, Jen? I need you Sally thought. You would tell me to pull it together, and if I happen to get groped in the process, then lucky me. Sally snorted out a laugh at that. It was exactly what Jen would say. Sally pulled her shoulders back and stood a little taller. Whatever was going on or not going on between her and Costin would still be there once Jen was safely home. Vasile had sent her to find answers about how to help Jen. He had pulled her aside before they left and explained all about Jen and Rachel and her mate. He felt very strongly that Perizada would have answers and be able to help them. Her response was: “And what if she doesn't?”

Vasile had frowned at her question, then a mischievous smile played across his handsome face as he told her; "If she gives you a hard time, which you need to expect, just ask her if she would at least please make sure fairy dust hits your butts, along with the door, on your way out."

"How are you doing up there, brown eyes?" Sally was pulled from her thoughts by the sound of the deep, playful voice behind her.

Cynthia had stopped a few feet ahead and was taking a drink of water. Sally turned to look at Costin. She wished she could say her heart didn't stutter when he grinned and winked at her, but she would be a liar. Sally was many things: coward, shy, awkward, but not a liar. So, yeah, her heart stuttered and her palms were as sweaty as a stuffed hog.

"I'm good. Well, really I'm just trying really hard not to fall on my ass," Sally slapped a hand over her mouth just as the word ass slipped out. She knew her face was turning bright red from the heat burning off of her. "Sorry, um, Jen has rubbed off on me. Well, that's the excuse I'm using anyways."

Costin chuckled. "Well, don't try to keep from falling on that beautiful backside for my sake. I will make it my mission to make sure I'm where you land." Costin's smile was beautiful and so big that a dimple appeared in his right cheek. Sally had to laugh at his flirtation and cockiness.

"Does that line work with all the girls?" she teased back as she turned to continue following the now-moving Cynthia.

"Don't know, don't care. There's only one girl I'm concerned with it working on." Sally's head turned back of its own accord at the sound in Costin's voice. All playfulness was gone, the cocky grin only a memory. Her eyes landed on a dominant Canis lupis who had found its prey. Sally's breath quickened as she realized just how serious he was. Costin gently nudged her forward but didn't say anything more.

Costin watched as Sally turned back in the direction they were going. His words had obviously hit home. He hadn't intended to scare her but his wolf was pushing him to make it perfectly clear that he was claiming her. Costin agreed with his wolf, but he didn't understand how it was possible when Sally was one hundred percent human. He watched her flip her brown locks behind her shoulder as her eyes wandered over the landscape of his homeland, wonder filling them. She smiled when a rabbit scurried across their path, then gasped when a hawk grabbed the critter in his talons, swooping him up and off into the cold crisp air. And when Sally Morgan turned back to look at him with glistening eyes, the sadness of seeing an innocent little one taken in the circle of life he knew he would tear down mountains to take that sorrow from her. Human or not, Sally Morgan was his.

Chapter 10

Post-Fire Day 2

It was mid-afternoon when they finally arrived back at the mansion. Jacque stretched as she climbed out of the Hummer.  Although she was stiff from the long drive – and hungry – she was eager to start digging through the past of the Canis lupis to figure out a way to break the curse on Decebel and stop the witch.

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