Crina, Cynthia, and Rachel were shaking their heads with small smiles on their faces. Sally was covering her face in embarrassment and Jacque was rolling her eyes.

"Jen," Jacque started.

Jen held up her hands. "I know, I know. Always with the ‘don't talk about sex, Jen', ‘keep your clothes on, Jen', ‘be a boring square, Jen'."

"Did you hear me, baby?"

Sally jumped again. "Oh, crap, I forgot he spoke to me." She stood and walked away, turning her back on her friends. "Yes, I heard you. Sorry, I was distracted by the girls."

"Hmm, I must not be doing something right if your friends distract you better than I do. Guess I'll have to remedy that." She heard Costin chuckle in her mind and felt warm breath over her neck.

She shivered. "Was that you?"

"Yes, Sally mine, that was me. Now, are you coming to the meeting room or do I need to come and carry you over? Which would be completely fine with me."

Sally giggled. "We are on our way."

"Fine, have it your way. No worries, love. I will find another way to get you in my arms."

Sally was blushing when she walked back over the others.

"Um, Sally, you do realize that we can't hear you talk to him right? You don't have to walk away for privacy like you're on a cell phone."

Sally's blush deepened. "But if I try to talk to him while I'm in front you guys you will tell me that I look constipated."

The room erupted into chuckles.

"Oh, Sally girl, I wouldn't say you look constipated," Jen placated.

"Oh, okay." Sally smiled.

"For all I know you might look like you have gas, or maybe you look like you are in the throes of -"

"Jen!" Jacque cut her off, trying very hard not to laugh. When the others lost their composure Jacque gave in herself.

Sally tried to give them a stern glare, but she was to giddy to be upset. A wide grin spread across her face as she thought about Costin.

"Jennifer, Costin said you all were on your way." Jen hear her mate’s voice.

"We're heading that way. We had girl things to discuss. Tell Costin not to get his tail in a twist, his little healer will be there in a sec."

"Costin isn't the one asking, baby. I'm asking. And what girl things?"

"Oh, well, in that case I won't tell you not to get your tail in a twist because I think your tail stays in a perpetual state of twisted-ness. And none of your business."

She heard Decebel growl at her. She laughed. "Love you, my furry fur ball."

"Promise me you will never call me that out loud, in front of anyone."

"Now baby, you know I can't make a promise like that. You're bound to piss me off at some point and I need all the ammunition I can muster."

"Just get your butts in here." He was growling again which only made her grin bigger.

"Now, now, I will not stand for you talking about other chickadees' bums."

"Jennifer," he warned.

"Fine, jeez," she relented.

"Come on, girlies. Decebel’s yapping in my ear about getting all our butts to the meeting room."

"I don't know how you put up with his bossiness," Crina commented on their way out the door.

Jen snickered.

"If he was easy, compliant, and tolerant of her, she would turn him into a wolf rug and walk all over him," Jacque explained.

"Seriously," Jen added. "I can't French kiss a rug. Well I could, but then people would think I'd passed from mildly demented into full-blown off her rocker."

Sally cut a sideways glance at Jacque and raised her eyebrows. Jacque gave a slight nod in agreement with Sally's unspoken skepticism.

"Sally, Jacque, I will not hesitate to put super glue on your toilets, so wipe the smirks off your lovely faces."

Crina, Cynthia, and Rachel listened to the girls' banter, shaking their heads and laughing when Jen made a typical Jen statement.

As they walked, Jacque reached out to Fane. “Hey, wolf-man, I’m feeling a little left out here. All the other men are jumping all over their mates to get their butts to the meeting room.”

Jacque heard him chuckle and then he sent her a mental image of the two of them.

“I will be happy to jump all over you. However, I assure you it will be for a much different reason.”

Jacque laughed out loud and received knowing looks from the others.

“Have I told you lately that I love you?” Jacque asked.

“Yes, but I never get tired of hearing it. Now hurry up and get your butt in this meeting room,” Fane teased.

Jacque grinned to herself and somehow, even after the bonding and marriage, she still got butterflies at the idea of walking into a room knowing she was going to see Fane’s all-too-handsome face.

When they finally arrived at the meeting, the heaviness that cloaked the room brought their laughter and easy banter to an end.


The girls walked into the quiet room. The men were sitting in a circle. There were empty seats next to Decebel, Fane, Costin, and Gavril. Each mated female made their way to their respective places while Cynthia and Crina took the empty seats next to Sorin and Drake. Vasile and Alina sat near the front of the room with Peri sitting to their left.

Jacque saw Wadim next to Sorin and smiled.

"Hey, history boy," she teased. Fane growled and she elbowed him as she continued to talk to Wadim. "So you're being dragged into this mess too?"

"How could I possibly miss the end of the world as we know it?"

Decebel and Vasile snarled at Wadim’s words.

"Not appropriate, Wadim," Vasile warned.

"My apologies, Alpha. I'm just feeling a little overwhelmed by the information I need to share with you," Wadim told him.

"Let's get started," Peri interjected.

Vasile stood and began to walk slowly around the circle as he spoke.

"Decebel and I, along with our Betas, Gavril, and Costin, have been discussing how we should proceed. We have decided that we cannot wait for Desdemona to strike first.  It would be better to be on the offensive instead of the defensive. This means we need to be taking steps forward to figure out Mona's plan and how we can keep that plan from bearing fruit." He paused, waiting to see if anyone had anything to say at this point. When nobody spoke up, he continued.