Sally interrupted Jen’s commentary with a loud shout. “SHUT IT, JENNIFER!”

Jen’s mouth snapped closed as her eyes widened, staring at Sally in surprise. “Wow, kitty has grown some claws,” she muttered.

"The point is not for me to enjoy the show, Jen,” Sally snapped. "The point is, if you strip, you would keep the attention off me."

"It's your party, you goober smooch. The attention is supposed to be on you."

Jacque snorted out a laugh. "Did you just call her -"

Jen interrupted her redheaded friend. "Yes, a goober smooch. It is completely warranted at this point in the conversation. Also, I don't think you two understand the wrath that I would endure from the Alpha of the Serbian pack for even taking off my shoes and wiggling my cute little toes at everyone."

This time Sally and Jacque laughed together.

"Man, that would totally be a Mastercard moment – priceless."

"Who said your toes were cute?" Sally added.

"Don't be brash, Sally." Jen rolled her eyes. "You just asked me, me of all people to take my clothes off in front of at least 50 people, maybe more."

"Jen, you played strip poker with the enemy. You flashed your not-quite mate in front of the other males of our pack, you -"

Jen snapped her fingers together in front of Sally's mouth with a, "Shh!"

"That was the old Jen. This is the newly improved, mated Jen," she said, the look on her face daring them to contradict her – and, of course they did.

"Do you really want me to get into the fact that I saw you running to your room in the middle of the night just a few days ago…in your underwear?"

Jen clapped her hands together, laughing. "Oh, man, you guys should have seen his face. I thought he was going to kill me."

This time, Sally and Jacque crossed their arms across their chests, giving their own smirks back.

"Okay, okay. So maybe I still have a tendency to run about in less than acceptable attire. Still, this is a major, seriously owe me, like, name your first child after me request."

"That's okay," Sally said enthusiastically. "The chances of me getting pregnant are slim to none, so I can go with that. And of course, if it's a boy, I won't have to name him after you."

Jen clucked her tongue at Sally. "Oh, you naïve, sweet thing.  You think a little thing like the sex of your child will get you out of naming him after me if I do this for you?" She shook her head as she took slow steps toward the brown-eyed healer.  "Oh, no, gypsy woman. You will name him after me. I don't care if it's JenBo, JenBob, or JenJakifer; I don't care if it's as blatant as YesIAmABoyNamedJennifer. But know this: I will sign my freedom away by simply suggesting that I'm going to undress. I will have to watch my oh-so-possessive mate stare daggers at me  while I dance on a table. Then I will have to tuck my furry little tail and run for my life from said possessive mate. For  all this, you will owe me."

Jacque let out a low whistle. "Man, Decebel must be tying her up whenever she steps out of line. She's usually jumping at the opportunity to get freaky in a crowd – the bigger, the better."

Sally was looking at Jen with her mouth dropped open, but nodded, acknowledging Jacque's words.

Jen stepped back and clapped her hands together with a grin. "So, now that that's settled, when does this hoedown get started?"

Chapter 1

"In the event of some sort of gathering, if one of the bossy, overbearing, possessive fur balls has not flipped his switch and attacked some poor young pup in some misguided attempt to protect his woman's virtue, then the night is not over." - Jen

Costin paced his room like a caged tiger after having stood in front of the mirror for an hour, staring at the markings that now encompassed more than just his right shoulder and right shoulder blade. The markings had moved up the right side of his neck to behind his ear and down his right arm. There was one swirl that came just an inch over his right shoulder, close to his collarbone. He was more surprised by that than anything. It meant that he had the potential to be an Alpha. The right-sided markings revealed his dominant status, but only Alphas had markings on the front of their bodies.

His natural inclination after seeing them was to head straight for Sally's room and demand she bond with him – now. But, surprisingly, his wolf had stopped him and reminded him that she wasn't a wolf, she was human, and wouldn't totally understand the need for him to claim her. So after pausing to think about it, he realized that after all these months of seeing Sally and her friends interact, she would need them as she discovered that they were indeed mates and with the physical evidence to prove it.

Of course, that made Costin want to jump up and down like a teenage boy who had just landed a date with the girl of his dreams – which, to some degree, was exactly what had happened. Only this date was going to last a lifetime. He had no problem with that, but he had known his whole life that he would be mated to someone the Great Luna had made just for him. Sally wasn't from his world, despite having lived in it for nearly six months. Humans chose their mates; Canis lupis had one perfect mate out there that carried the other half of their soul.

With those thoughts running through his mind, he decided to give her some time.Well, until her party started. Then she had to face him. A wicked grin spread across Costin's face as he pulled a deep green dress shirt over his head and buttoned it up, leaving it untucked. He rolled the sleeves halfway up his forearms. Then he slipped on a faded pair of well-worn, loose jeans and grabbed his brown steel toe boots.

He looked in the mirror one last time and ran his fingers through his dark, messy hair. Shrugging, he thought that for a bartender he looked pretty good.

Good enough.

Finally, whistling a random tune, he headed out of his room – dimpled grin and all – to hunt down his mate.

Sally tensed at the sound of the knock on her door.

She had tried to leave her room with her two best friends, but they'd insisted she wait for Costin. Her response was, “What if he doesn't come and get me? How dumb would I look?”

Jen and Jacque's responses were identical, with a snort, rolled eyes, and a, "Yeah, good luck with thinking that your mate won't always come find you."

She walked over to the door and smoothed the simple black dress she wore. It was knee-length, and flared out from the empire waist; just below the bottom hemline was one inch of black lace – a small black bow was tied at her left hip. It was the dress that she had planned to wear to her senior prom. It had a small V back that ended just between her shoulder blades. If her hair was down, it covered the markings on her back, which Jen and Jacque had been adamant about. Covering them in public was important, but it was actually good that the dress showed a little of the marks. Sally had asked why and Jacque had explained how important the markings were to the males and that Costin would want to look at them.