"But shouldn't they have let that be my decision?" Sally tensed in his arms. As if he knew she was going to pull away, he grasped her tighter.

"Maybe. But it's done now. I don’t think they meant to hurt you or make you feel alienated."

"How do you know that's how I feel?" She ducked her head back to his chest, not wanting him to see the vulnerability in her eyes.

"I don't really know how to explain it." Costin raised his hand to run through her hair. Then he lowered his head so he could speak directly next to her ear. "Something inside you calls to me," he whispered softly. "It's like my soul is reaching for yours and, like a magnet, you draw me to you. My wolf has claimed you and is tuned in to your every breath. I feel your hurt, I feel your discouragement, and all I can think about is how to make you feel better, or who to kill to make sure you don't ever feel this way again."

"That's a pretty good explanation." Sally smiled against his chest. She appreciated his candidness.



"Are you not worried about these feelings that are between us or why they're there?" Sally pulled back again so she could look into his eyes when he answered.

He brushed the hair away from her face and smiled. "No, I'm not worried."

"Why not?"

"Nothing in this world seems to be set in stone. Fairies, werewolves, witches, and the like exist, meaning anything is possible. So why couldn't you be mine?"

Costin's eyes began to glow. She shuddered when she asked, "But what if I'm not?"

Costin pulled her close and leaned down just a little to look into her honey brown eyes. "Until the universe tells me different, you are."

Sally laid her head back on his chest and tried to breathe normally. Her heart was beating rapidly and her stomach was in knots. She wanted to be Costin's, she wanted that more than she cared to admit. She closed her eyes and took comfort in his arms as she worried for her friends and their mates, and for this quiet moment in this enchanted land, she pretended that she was his and he was hers.

Peri stood just outside the room Sally and Costin were talking in. She had come to check on Sally, knowing she must be worried and upset. When Peri heard Sally ask Costin how he felt about their feeling toward each other, she was curious to hear Costin's answer. Costin seemed like a very content spirit, a comfortable person to be around, one who set others at ease. He was a good match for the healer. She was not surprised to hear him tell Sally that he wasn't concerned about what seemed to be going on between them. Peri imagined Sally was confused because, from what she knew, only Canis lupis could mate with each other. She didn't know about the gypsy healer loophole. It wasn't time for either of them to know.

Peri wanted to speak with Jen to see if Rachel had divulged that information to her while she'd been in Rachel's care and, if so, to make sure that Jen didn't tell Sally or Costin. Peri knew the consequences would be severe if Costin tried to claim Sally before it was time. She eased away from the door when they grew quiet and left them to comfort one another as only they could – though, they didn't know that yet.

Decebel pushed himself faster, feeling Fane just behind them as they ran through the dark forest. The snow glistened wherever the moon hit it through breaks in the tree cover. His breathing was even and he could see his it fog into the air as the heat met the cold. Upon starting out from the tavern, he had called on his wolf to use his sight, hearing, and speed. They had been running for hours, and though Decebel imagined he should be tired, he wasn't. All he could think about was getting to Jennifer. He could feel her when he reached out for her mind, but he didn't want to distract her in case she was having to battle the witch's minions. Peri had said she would make sure that Jennifer and the others would have help and, although Decebel's wolf still wanted to eat the Fae for binding him and allowing their mate to run off, he trusted her.

"How are you holding up?" Decebel spoke low, knowing that Fane's wolf hearing would catch his words.

"Will be better when my mate is where she belongs."

"Shackled to your side?" Decebel teased, only somewhat joking.

Fane chuckled. "And just what do you plan to do with Jen?"

Decebel growled. "I haven't decided yet, but so far none of the things I've thought of would be approved by our Alpha."

That brought a snort of laughter from Fane, which was abruptly cut off when they saw a flash of light fly through the air. Decebel and Fane came to an abrupt halt and listened.

"Do you hear that?"

"Sounds like beating wings. Lots of them," Fane answered.

Decebel took a deep breath in through his nose. His eyes snapped open and a loud howl broke free. He lunged forward and Fane was right behind him. The two wolves hit the ground in stride and headed toward the sound of battle and the scent of their mates.

"Bloody hell, if I never see another bat again it would be too soon," Jen snarled as she sliced another black-winged devil from the sky. Her arms were aching from being raised and her head felt like lead weight on her exhausted neck.

"Seriously," Jacque agreed breathlessly.

Elle and Adam were steadily doing the fireball thing and still looking as fresh as the moment they had walked into the small cave nearly twelve hours ago. Periodically, Rachel, Jen, and Jacque would take turns running into the cave and resting. Jacque and Jen would run past each other and slap each other's hands, joking about tag teaming. Rachel kept giving them looks that made it clear that she wasn’t sure if Jen had retained any brain cells through her ordeal. Gavril continued to fight in his wolf form, and Jen and Jacque had both made comments to Rachel about him having amazing stamina for his age. To their surprise and Jen's absolute delight, Rachel responded with a sly, "You know what they say about a wolf's stamina in battle..."

Jacque had choked on her laugh and Jen had winked at Rachel and said, "I don't know what they say but I'll bet it has to do with s-e-x." She had spelled out sex in a singsong voice. Rachel had blushed but smiled and returned the wink.

Jacque decided that this was all way more humorous to them because they were deliriously tired and aching all over – that, and things often seemed funnier when you didn't know if you were going to live to see the next day.

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