Sally looked like she wanted to protest but Jacque quickly butted in, all the while giving Jen a “this conversation is not over” glare.

Chapter 20

Desdemona rarely lost her temper, but this was one of those rare moments. She had felt the curse break, so powerful that it had knocked her on her back. When she stood up her eyes were swirling like the sea in a storm and her hair whipped around her. A mutt had bested her. She grabbed the first thing she could reach and hurled it at the wall. A jar of goat hearts – no big loss, those were a dime a dozen.

She took several deep breaths, attempting to regroup. She would not let her emotions control her. Emotions were weakness, and there was no room for weakness in her black heart.

Someone had to be helping the wolves. There was no way they were more powerful than she, and no way they would have known what to look for in order to break the curse unless given a push in the right direction.

"So it seems the Fae have come out of hiding." A wicked smile crossed her beautiful, cruel face. "I wonder if they remember how to play. I dare say they will not find me the easy prey I once was." Mona was speaking into the wind, fueling her will, her anger, and the wrath she would rain down on those who attempted to stand against her. "Perizada," she spoke on the breeze. "You think I don't know that you are assisting the wolves? You think you can hide from me? Hear me now, Fae of old. I will tear your heart from your chest and feast on it while it still beats."

The laugh that poured from her chest caused grass to wither and animals to hide from the evil flowing from her mouth out into the night.

"Well, the first thing you need to do is write your vows." Jacque handed Jen a pen and paper .

"Come again?" Jen raised her eyebrows at Jacque.

"You remember Fane and I reciting the ones we had written along with the traditional ceremonial vows, don't you? Were you paying attention at all at my bonding?"

Jen tried to think back to that night and remembered being somewhat distracted by a certain, brooding wolf.

"I might have been a tad preoccupied," Jen confessed, honest without remorse.

When Jacque and Sally simply stared at her as she held the pen and paper, her eyes bounced from one to the other. "What?"

"Get to writing, you only have two hours and we still need to get you all cleaned up and beautified."

Jen blew out a deep breath, then stared at the blank piece of paper. Vows, she thought. What am I vowing exactly? Jen closed her eyes and thought about when she had finally seen recognition in Decebel's eyes – the moment she'd realized he remembered her she had lost all control. Every bit of anger, fear, pain, love, relief, and joy had wracked her body.

Now she knew what she needed to say.

One hour and fifty minutes later…

Jen stood with the assistance of Jacque and Sally, and stared at herself in the mirror.

"I'm not going out there like this." The look on her face and the steel in her voice made it very clear that someone was going to have to drag her out of that bathroom.

"I look like Mary-Kate Olsen meets Jennifer Love Hewitt."

"Okay, I understand the Mary-Kate reference, " Sally's brow furrowed, “'cause you've lost a lot of weight, but I don't get Jennifer Love."

Jen rolled her eyes. "You see how skinny I am?"

Sally nodded.

"Okay, well look me up and down and tell me which of these things is not like the other?"

Sally's eyes scanned Jen over and over and her face was still blank. Jen blew out an exasperated breath. "Boobs, Sal. I still have big boobs," she said dryly.

Sally's face lit up like a light bulb had gone on. "Got it. Skinny like Mary-Kate, but stacked like Jennifer. Sorry, I kind of took the steam out of that, huh?"

"Well, when you have to explain the sarcasm then, yes, it sort of loses it's umph. No worries, I've got plenty more to go around."

Jen looked again in the mirror at the simple black dress that, from the front, was deceivingly modest. But the back, well, there wasn't one. It was open clear down to just above indecent. Peri had brought it to her and when she put it on the Fae snickered. When Jen turned in a circle to see why the woman was snickering she nearly choked. Not only was it backless, but it scooped in just a little on the sides, enough to show a few of the swirling marks that branded her right side. Decebel was going to be pissed. And that thought brightened Jen right up.

"Why are you grinning like the Cheshire cat?" Jacque asked as her eyes narrowed.

Jen raised her arm slightly on her right side so Jacque could see the marks peeking out.

Jacque rolled her eyes. "You really do want him to have a coronary, don’t you?"

Jen shrugged her shoulders. "Serves him right for being a punk earlier. I can't let him think that just because I'm bonding with him I will suddenly be this little submissive chick who is like, 'yes, sir' and 'no, sir'. He needs to understand that it will still be, 'let me open the door for you, sir, since you can't walk straight because I kicked you in the -"

"That's enough ranting, Jen, we get it." Jacque chuckled. "He has no clue what he's in for."

"If he did he'd be wishing his memory had never returned," Jen joked.

Jacque's face smoothed out and intensity filled her eyes. "Are you ready?" she asked Jen.

Jen thought about it for less than a second. "I've been ready for him since before I was born. I was created for him."

Jacque smiled. "I love it when I get to see these rare glimpses of the softy that's under all that nympho tough girl crap."

Jen rolled her eyes at her red-headed friend. "If you bust out in 'Lean On Me', I swear I will take what little energy I have and punch you in the eye."

Jacque tsked at her friend as she began to drag her out of the room. "My, my, Jennifer Adams."

"I know, my bitchiness knows no bounds."

"I was going to say I think you're hungry and sexually frustrated, but if you want to go with that then I'm down."

Jen stopped dead when she saw Decebel standing across the open room in front of a large fireplace. She didn't notice Cynthia, Crina, and Alina standing to her left or Sally and Jacque to her right. She didn't see Fane, Costin or Sorin sitting in various chairs around the room, watching, waiting.  She didn't even notice the two beautiful Fae that stood to next to the fireplace.