"Okay, Sorin," Jacque said, cocking a brow at him. "Lead the way to the archives."
Fane took Jacque's hand, pulling her with him as they walked into the mansion. Crina followed silently, still tired from their drive. They traversed the long corridor where Vasile's office was located. When they reached the end of the corridor, Fane opened the last door on the left.
"I always wondered what was in here," Jacque murmured as she watched Sorin enter a code on a keypad located on the wall just inside the room – which ended up being a closet…or was it?
"Niiiiiice." Jacque grinned. "You didn't tell me this place had secret passageways."
Sorin shrugged. "You didn't ask," he responded dryly. After the code was entered, Jacque watched as what appeared to be a solid wall at the back of the closet began to slide to the right, leaving an opening that revealed a descending stone staircase.
"That is pretty wicked. Did you know about this?" Jacque asked Crina.
"Jacque, I'm 27 years old, unmated, and although I'm a dominant, they don't tell me jack around here." Crina winked. "So, no. I didn't know about this."
"Alright, then. Well, we learn something new every day," Jacque rambled as she followed Fane through the opening.
"I have a feeling we are going to learn more than something today," Fane said as he turned back to look at Sorin. "You should lead. You've been down here before, right?"
Sorin nodded. "Yes. It's easy to get lost once out of the main room, so stay together."
The group descended the stone steps, which spiraled downward. Jacque noticed the wall sconces that lit the way. The passage was narrow, with stone walls following the spiral of the stairs. The air was kind of stale and cool, and even with the lights, it seemed to grow dimmer the farther they went.
After reaching the bottom of the staircase, Sorin came to a stop in the center of a large rectangular room. Along the far left wall was a large desk. There were computer screens, Jacque counted 6 in all, on the wall in front of the desk and paper was scattered over the top, halfway covering a keyboard and mouse. On all the walls of the large room were shelves packed with books and objects. There was a plush couch and two overstuffed recliners directly to the left of the stairway. Across the room on the far wall were several archways that led into darkness. In front of the arches there were several round tables with chairs around them. Jacque could tell there was something on the tables, but she was too far away to see what exactly it was. Stepping past Fane and Sorin, Jacque's moved closer to the tables and realized what was on them, or in them rather.
Carved into the tops of the tables were scenes. Each table had a different carving. The first one was of a pack of wolves running together through a forest. The crafter had given it so much detail that she could see where the wolves kicked up snow behind them. Their faces all looked light and carefree – no burdens or shadows in their eyes. The next table was a scene of two massive wolves locked in battle. Around them stood other wolves looking on, waiting. The two wolves fighting one another were on their hind legs, each attempting to slash their enemy. Both sets of teeth were bared and saliva dripped from their mouths. Jacque shuddered as she studied it; she could almost feel the tension the on looking wolves must have felt.
The third and final table held a much calmer scene. It was so touching that Jacque could feel a pull deep inside her, a longing for what she saw. A massive wolf sat tall and proud. His head was turned down, looking at the smaller wolf pressed closely against him, and pressed against her was a small pup. The she-wolf stared up at the proud male wolf in wonder, while the look in the male's eyes held intense emotion for the two in his care.
Jacque was amazed at the detail depicted and the amount of emotion somehow carved into the faces of these wolves.
"It's who we are, who we've been, and who we want and need to be." Jacque heard a voice coming out of one of dark arches. She turned back to look at Sorin, Fane, and Crina. Fane walked over to where she stood and pushed her behind him.
"So this is the prince's mate?" the voice spoke.
"Quit being dramatic and come out, Wadim." Sorin rolled his eyes.
"Sorin, did you just roll your eyes?" The voice, now named Wadim, asked.
"I've been with American teenagers for months now. I've learned a lot more than just eye rolling."
Jacque and Crina laughed out loud but abruptly stopped when a figure emerged from the middle archway.
Jacque attempted to step around Fane to get a better look at the guy, but Fane kept moving with her.
"Fane." Jacque's voice was stern as she spoke to him through their bond.
"Don't move from my side," he told her as he relented and allowed her to move next to him.
Jacque cocked her head to the side as she looked at the new male. "You're not old and dusty?" The man before her looked to be in his early thirties, tall, wavy black hair. He is totally rocking the Aragon look, Jacque thought to herself, comparing Wadim to the Lord of the Rings character.
"Is that wide-eyed wonder I hear in your voice, Jacquelyn?" Fane had obviously heard her thought.
"Chillax, wolf-man. I only have eyes for you."
"Good, I would hate to have to find a new historian." Fane's voice was a growl in her mind.
"Feeling possessive today, are we?" she teased.
"I'm hearing that a lot lately from you." Jacque gave him a mental picture of her smiling graciously at Wadim.
Okay, so maybe that wasn't the brightest idea, she realized as Fane once again pulled her behind him. She let out a loud huff but settled for standing on her tiptoes and looking over his shoulder.
Wadim was wearing a faded gray t-shirt. Printed on the center was, "I can only be nice to one person a day. Today is not your day…tomorrow doesn't look good either." He had faded blue jeans and black converse sneakers. This was the pack historian?
Really? Jacque thought.
Wadim chuckled at Jacque's skeptical expression. "Old and dust? That depends on who you ask," he teased. He looked back at Sorin and smiled. "It's been a while, old friend."
Sorin nodded. "It's been a busy few months, as I'm sure you know."
"Knowing is my job, so please feel free not to share." Wadim pulled out a chair from the first round table and sat down, facing the group.