"Costin, you will need to carry Jen," Peri told him.
Costin saw the feral look in Decebel's eyes. "Sorry, fairy lady, not going to happen. He will rip anyone's head off if they touch her."
Cynthia took a step toward Decebel. She got on all fours and crawled with her head bowed. She stopped about five feet from him and made sure her head was lower than his.
"Beta, we must move her and you are too weak. Please let me carry her."
"Mine," Decebel snarled.
"Yes, she is yours. None of us mean her harm. You know us, wolf, you can smell that we are pack. Trust us to care for what's yours."
Decebel looked at Jennifer, who was struggling to breathe, then back at Cynthia. "Only you and the healer may be near her."
Cynthia let out the breath she had been holding and waited for Decebel to stand. He stepped aside so she could get to Jen. As gently as she could, she lifted her, inwardly wincing at how light she was. Jen had lost a significant amount of weight and felt so frail.
When Cynthia turned to face the others, she tensed as Decebel took a step toward her. But he simply laid a soft hand on Jen's leg, so gentle with his broken mate. Cynthia realized then that he didn't plan to leave her side and that he might not even take a hand off of her for a second.
"Let's go," Peri said as she once again lifted her arms, causing the air to shimmer. "Stay close."
As they passed through the veil, Sally felt a warm tingling sensation. When it disappeared, she looked around and realized that they were right where they had been.
"Did we go anywhere?"
Peri nodded. "No matter where you enter Farie, it will mimic the same climate and image to humans."
"Wicked," Sally murmured.
"We aren't going far. Just keep up," Peri snapped as she took off at a brisk walk.
They had walked for about fifteen minutes when they came to a two-story stone house. Moss had grown over the house on one side, and tree branches arched over it like a protective barrier. Several chimneys towered from the pitched ruff and smoke danced from each one, floating off into the sky. The front door was arched and very tall – there were round windows on either side of the door.
The closer they got to the house, the more Sally felt like she was entering an enchanted land. When they got to the door and Peri opened it, Decebel let out a low growl.
"Costin, enter and make sure this is safe for the females."
Costin nodded and stepped past the surprised Fae.
Peri rolled her eyes. "I've forgotten how annoying the males of your species can be," she told Sally and Cynthia.
Cynthia chuckled. "Annoying is being nice. If Jen were awake she would give you a very colorful description of what she thinks about the males."
"I think I'm going to like this Jen." Peri smiled and her face seemed to light up when she did.
"Coast is clear." Costin stuck his head out the door. He reached out for Sally's hand and didn't wait for her to accept his, he just grabbed her and pulled her into the house.
As soon as they stepped inside, they were in a giant living room. A huge stone fireplace was on the far left wall and a warm fire crackled and popped. The pitched ceiling was open all the way to the second floor and there was a railing which allowed one to look down upon the living room.
There was a kitchen at the back of the room with all the necessary appliances, and it seemed so strange to Sally to be standing in a house in a different realm, looking at a seemingly normal kitchen. There was a large couch and several overstuffed chairs close to the fire in a circle and on the far left wall were tall shelves full of various sizes of books. On the back wall, across from the kitchen, was a door that opened into another room.
"Cynthia, take Jen into that room there," Peri instructed as she pointed to the door.
Cynthia took her precious burden, with Decebel still holding onto Jen's leg, and laid her on the bed in the room. It was a surprisingly large room with a sleigh bed. When Cynthia laid Jen down, she noticed how soft the comforter was – and plush – as it seemed to wrap around Jen as tenderly as a lover. There were several chairs in the room, a large armoire, and another fireplace. The room was warm and, despite its size, very cozy.
Cynthia watched as Decebel stood next to the bed, looking at his mate, his hand still on her leg. She grabbed a chair and pushed it toward him. "Beta, you need to rest." She motioned to the chair.
Decebel's wolf still looked out through his eyes. He nodded once to her and sat, never losing focus on Jen.
Cynthia left him there without disturbing him more. She saw that the others were sitting in the chairs and couch around the fire. Sally had placed the phone on the round coffee table in the center of their circle. She realized Sally must have called the others as she listened to Sally explain about Jen and Decebel. Her face was grave when she described how battered her friend looked; tears were sliding down her cheeks. Costin placed a comforting hand on Sally's lower back and Cynthia noticed his eyes were glowing. Obviously he did not like seeing Sally so upset.
"I've never seen anyone look so close to death, Jacque." Sally hiccuped through her tears. Costin finally had all he could take, and he pulled Sally into his lap. He whispered words of comfort and caressed her hair gently.
"It will be okay, Sally mine," he told her gently.
Sally looked into his hazel eyes and though she knew she was probably going to regret it, gave in and leaned her head against his chest. Costin let out a contented sigh and pulled her tighter.
"Decebel is with her?" Vasile's voice came through the phone.
"Yes," Peri answered. "His wolf recognized his mate. He won't let anyone near her."
"That's good," Vasile said, then amended, "Good that his wolf recognized her."
"So there's been no change even though they've been brought together? Can a wolf love – I mean, would his love be able to break the curse?" Jacque questioned.
"Love is what will break the curse?" Costin asked, having missed that conversation. Sally nodded against his chest "How can something so simple break something so powerful?" Costin shook his head.
"Simple?" Sally gasped as she sat up abruptly and turned to look at Costin. " You think love is simple?"
Costin's eyes widened at the fierceness in her eyes and the firmness of her voice – a deer caught in the headlights.