She closed her eyes and sighed, knowing she had to stay calm, no matter how badly she wanted to scream for someone to show her where Jacque was.  From what she could tell so far, she didn’t think this King Cypher meant her any harm, but Mona had called Lilly his mate. The way she understood “mate” meant a long-term relationship, as in the rest of your life long time. So at this point she needed to assume that Cypher had no plans to let her go. He didn’t seem evil, but then again he was working with Mona, and she was most definitely evil.

She jumped when there was a soft knock on the door.

“Lilly,” she heard his voice speak through the door, and the way her name rolled off his tongue sent shivers down her spine.

That’s just rich, Lilly.  Your crushing on your warlock captor. Nice one.

“Is everything alright? I know you must be distressed and I will explain all that I can if you will please just trust me when I say I don’t mean you any harm.”

Lilly unlocked the door and pulled it open slowly. She looked up at the towering man – well, not man, but male. His face said he was maybe in his late thirties or early forties, but his eyes said he had seen centuries and centuries. What stories he must be able to tell.

“I would definitely like you to explain.”

He held his hand out to her, a silent request of trust. She stared at it a moment before she finally placed her smaller hand in his. His hand was much larger, and warm. So very warm that she felt heat move up her arm.  She wanted so badly to not feel that warmth, and even more she wanted so badly not to enjoy it. But it had been so long since she had felt any warmth from, well, a man’s touch. And though the term man applied loosely to the king, he was all male. And all that maleness was focused on her.

Cypher took her hand and led her to the smallest sitting room in the large mansion. He didn’t want to give her the opportunity to put too much space in between them. He was struggling with what to tell her. He had been excited at the idea of having a mate, but, truthfully, he hadn’t expected to be so attracted to the female that Mona had promised to bring him. Not just attracted to her appearance, but to her spirit as well. She filled up a room when she entered it. The fire in her eyes was enough to stop a male in his tracks. It had sure stopped him.

There was something about her that was so good, so real and so fresh. He hated to dirty that with the truth of what was to come. Maybe he could just give her an overview.

“Desdemona is a powerful witch,” he started. “She came to me with a proposition, and when she mentioned that she could bring me a mate, I couldn’t turn her down.”

Lilly stared up at Cypher as he spoke and watched the way his unusual eyes never left hers, nor did he ever blink. It was a little unnerving.

“Forgive me if I seem a little confused, but why would she have to come all the way to the United States to get you a mate? I mean, it’s not like you are hard on the eyes. Surely she could find you someone closer to home. And why don’t you find a mate that is a warlock like you?”

“You think I’m handsome?” Cypher asked her, pleased.

Lilly rolled her eyes. “Out of all that, that’s all you got? That I think you are good looking?”

“It’s been a long time since I have been with a woman. You will have to forgive me if I do not know the protocol,” he replied stiffly.

“Protocol?” Lilly repeated incredulously. “So you have protocol for having a witch abduct a woman to be your mate? Man, this ought to be good. Please do tell, what exactly is the protocol for such a thing?”

Cypher cleared his throat and considered her response to him. He had obviously upset her.

“I didn’t mean protocol for Mona taking you. I meant for talking to a woman, for being a gentlemen.”

“Well, for starters, you don’t kidnap her.” Lilly shook her head in exasperation. “Just saying.”

Cypher let out a low growl as he stood abruptly. Lilly flinched at the quick movement.

“My people are dwindling. We have no females. The magic in this world is failing because the Fae have locked themselves behind their veil and refuse to be bothered. It is the only hope of my race. I’m their King. A King with no Queen, and no heirs. I need you. I will not harm you. You will want for nothing. Those things I can promise you.” Cypher was breathless, his nerves on edge because he didn’t understand the feelings he was having toward a human woman he had just met.

“What about my daughter?” Lilly raised a single eyebrow at him. “What can you promise me about her?”

“Who is your daughter?” Cypher asked cautiously. He had a feeling he wasn’t going to like the answer.

“She is the mate to Fane Lupei, the son of the Romanian wolves' Alpha.”

Cypher let out what sounded like a hiss.

“Vasile.” He whispered the name like an accusation.

“That’s correct,” Lilly confirmed, not picking up on the rage that had begun to cloak Cypher.

Desdemona had not bothered to tell him that the woman she'd singled out to be his mate was the mother of the Alpha’s daughter in-law. This was not good.

“I don’t know anything about your daughter,” he told her truthfully. “I know who Vasile is, and I met him once, many, many years ago. How does Mona know of your daughter?”

Lilly shrugged as she stood and began to walk around the room, looking at her surroundings. “When Mona called me she was pretending to be Alina,” she glanced over her shoulder at Cypher, “Vasile’s mate. She told me that they wanted to surprise Jacque and bring me to see her here in Romania. I knew something was off, but I played along anyway.”

“Wait,” he interrupted. “What do you mean you knew something was off? You knew she possibly meant you harm and you came with her anyway?” Cypher knew his voice had taken on a rough quality, but it angered him to think that Lilly had knowingly placed herself in danger.

“I will do whatever I have to in order to protect my daughter. If that means getting on a plane because a witch pretends to be inviting me to see her, then I will fly on the damn plane if I need to.”

Cypher didn’t respond. He simply watched as she continued to look around the room. He was lost in thought, finally realizing exactly what Mona had gotten him into. He did not want to be on the bad side of an Alpha, especially not one as powerful as Vasile. Cypher himself was powerful, there was no question about that, and if it was just Vasile against him, that might be an equal battle, but add Vasile’s wolves into the mix and the scales tipped. Besides, Cypher had nothing against the wolves, he just wanted a mate. He hadn’t planned for the two to intersect.

Tags: Quinn Loftis The Grey Wolves Young Adult