Jen, for once, shut up. This wasn't the time or the place.

Jacque looked over at Fane and whispered, “Does it seem like everyone’s emotions are running a little high?”

Fane nodded. “Stress, love. The males of our species don’t handle the idea of their mates in danger very well. Seems like we can’t keep you guys out of it and it’s very frustrating.”

“We’re all alive. That has to count for something,” she told him as she took his hand.

“Just surviving is not the life we want for you all. We want to give you the world.”

Sally looked at Costin and smiled, then she glanced over at Fane. “Just think, Fane, if you guys take out Mona and her evil hoard, you will be giving us the world – literally.”

Everyone smiled at Sally.

“See? That’s why we keep you around.” Jen grinned. “When the rest of us are all ‘life sucks, we’re all going to die', Sally’s all ‘everyone hold hands and sing Lean On Me'.”

The entire room stared at Jen.

“What? I’m just saying.” She slumped back into her chair with a huff.

Vasile cleared his throat and attention returned to him. For her part, Sally thought the man had the patience of a god. With the addition of these American girls, things didn't run smoothly – or, well, professionally.

“Listen to me,” Vasile said quietly. “All jokes aside, what we're about to face is deadly. Please take some time to consider that and prepare yourselves. We head out the day after tomorrow. Any questions?”

When no one spoke, Vasile dismissed them, a somber mood beginning to descend upon them. Jen wasn't having that. As they all began to stand and file out, she loudly said, “Long live the fellowship of the ring.”

Jacque shook her head. “We were so close.”

Jen rolled her eyes. “Oh, give me a break, you were all thinking it.”


“Wadim,” Vasile addressed the historian, “you stay.”

Wadim nodded and returned to his seat.

Once the room was empty of everyone but Alina, Peri, Wadim, and himself, Vasile sat back down.

“Whatever information you have, Wadim, I don’t feel like the pack needs to know right now,” he explained. “Now, please tell us what is so important that it seems to make you want to crawl out of your own skin.”

Wadim took a deep breath and let it out slowly before he began to speak. The first words out of his mouth had everyone sitting up much straighter.

“The Great Luna came to me in a dream.” He paused, letting that information sink in. “She’s not happy that the Fae aren’t willing to help in this realm,” he went on, looking at Peri.

“I didn’t realize that she would act so quickly. And of course she isn’t happy about that,” Peri snapped. “They’re being spoiled brats and need their butts beaten.”

Vasile looked at Peri. “You petitioned her?” His voice held the awe that was written across his handsome features.

Peri nodded. “You have been good to me, Vasile, good to our people. It is the least I can do. But I do hope to do more.”

“Thank you, Perizada of the Fae. This act will not be forgotten,” Vasile said formally.

Wadim cleared his throat, regaining their attention. “Well, she has a solution to that problem.”

He began telling them all of what the Great Luna had revealed; her knowledge of what Mona was up to; her plans to bring Fae and Canis lupis together; her desire to let her creations know that she was pleased with them. When Wadim had finished, the room was quiet.

Peri was the first to speak.

“Damn, when sista decides she’s going to take action, she goes balls to the wall.”

Everyone turned to look at her.

“What?” She shrugged. “Blame Jen. She’s the one who teaches me these un-ladylike and totally out of character statements.”

Vasile focused on Alina, who had tears in her eyes.

“Finally,” she whispered. “Finally our wolves will have mates. The males will no longer be consumed by the darkness that relentlessly pursues them.” She looked over at Wadim and smiled gently. “She honors you to come to you.”

Wadim blushed under his Alpha’s gentle compliment.

“Did she indicate when these new mates would appear?” Vasile asked.

“No, but she did say it would start with our pack, because of our faithfulness to her and the others of our kind.”

Vasile’s head snapped up to meet Peri’s stare. “If you had to guess, which Fae do you think would first be chosen as mates?”

Peri rolled her eyes. “Do I really have to answer that, Alpha? You know as well as I do who will be chosen. She will pick the ones who are already loyal to you. Then, when more come to help their kind, the most faithful and pure of heart will be picked. I’ve only been blessed by the presence of the Great Luna one time – she is very wise and very calculating.”

“Mina,” Vasile reached for her hand, “I need your counsel in this. You are more attuned to the emotions of our pack. Do you think we should tell anyone, even my first four?”

Alina thought about this for a moment before speaking.

“At this point, it would just be one more thing to distract them. Leave it be for now. If it happens between the two we believe it will happen with, then we will cross that bridge.”

Vasile nodded in agreement. He thought about the consequences of what Wadim had revealed and, for the first time in a very long time, felt hope. Hope for his species to continue on; hope for the males to find love and be relieved of the consuming darkness; hope that he would get to have grandchildren and watch them grow up; hope that they would finally find an end to the darkness that had begun to consume their world.

Chapter 9

“There are over twenty two thousand, four hundred different mixed drinks known to man.  You might think that learning their names and recipes would get a little boring. That’s because Costin isn’t your teacher. For some reason he just makes everything more fun. Well, and he’s kind of nice to look at. And touch. And smell. And – gah! I’m turning into Jen.” ~ Sally

Costin took Sally by the hand after the meeting broke up and led her to the room they'd been in the first time he showed her all his mad skills as a bartender. He pulled her behind the bar in the game room and grinned.