Peri watched in part horror and part awe as the Alpha female put her foot down. She was doing the right thing. The males were too far gone, they hadn’t made it in time, and if they continued on this path, their wolves would take over. Words would no longer penetrate the darkness to the man’s mind; the only thing that might work would be to take action that the wolf would understand. Though Peri wasn’t a wolf, she had learned something about them as she had been around them for more centuries than she could count. She had come to realize that the man was protective, possessive, and utterly devoted to his true mate, and the wolf was even more so. What Alina was doing would result in one of two things, the males pulling their heads out of their asses and allowing their females to be what they were meant to be or the darkness would consume them and they would all die. That would suck, she thought. She stood a little straighter as she watched what was unfolding before her and her mouth dropped open. She began to gather her power knowing that it was a big possibility that she was going to have to use it.

Sally was the first to move after the shock of Alina’s words had frozen them all. She looked at Costin and searched for any indication that he would deny Rachel or Alina’s words. She saw and felt his shame at hurting her, but she also felt his resolve that it was the only way to protect her. That was enough for her to make her decision, though it nearly made her knees buckle as she turned and walked away from him. Her heart threatened to beat through her chest as it pounded inside her. Despite the cold air, her hands were sweating and she felt sweat trickle down her back. She swallowed against the pain of her choice, but knew deep inside of her that it was the only option. The thought of not touching Costin, of not feeling his touch, took her breath away and as she reached Alina’s side the Alpha wrapped an arm around her to help steel her composure.

“Sally,” Costin growled. “Come back.”

She could hear the anger and pain in his words and she nearly ran back to him. She didn’t want him to hurt but she wanted her mate back more than she worried about the temporary pain that the separation would cause.

“No,” she answered defiantly, not even giving him the intimacy of their bond. His eyes narrowed as he caught the subtle defiance in refusing him access to her mind. “Your touch is uninvited,” she told him with eyes full of unshed tears. Sally finally looked away, not down, as she would not show submission, but away because watching him shake with rage was too much.

Jen was next to move. She didn’t say anything as she walked away from her mate, not until he reached out and snagged her arm.

Jen rounded on him and the fury pulsing from her gave her the strength to pull her arm away.

“I would repeat everything Alina just said,” she snarled, “but it’s just too damn much. So, I’ll just say the parts I do remember. You know that you’re hurting me, and frankly, that makes me want to stab you with a spoon, and still you just continue on your path to self-destruction, uncaring of how it’s affecting me. You know that I am what you need to get through all this crap and yet, you deny me that privilege, and you deny me of my right to meet YOUR NEEDS! As a self-declared nympho this is the most painful thing to willingly endure,” she took a deep breath and let it out just as Decebel whispered, “Don’t.” She ignored him. “Your touch is...”

“Don’t do this, Jennifer,” Decebel interrupted and though his words were controlled and quiet, it was scarier than if he had been screaming like a crazed maniac.

Jen let out a low growl as she started again. “Your touch...”

Again, he interrupted, louder this time. “DO. NOT.”

Jen threw her arms up in the air in exasperation. “Bloody hell, would you shut up! I am not doing this Dec, you are. This is all you babe, so suck it up and deal.” Jen knew there must be some formal reason that Alina had been so formal with her words, and so she squared her shoulders and looked into his narrowed, glowing eyes- and spoke quickly. “Yourtouchisuninvited.” The words ran together as she tried to get them out before he could cut her off again. Decebel took a step back as if he had been slapped. Jen’s eyes widened slightly at the action and slowly walked backwards keeping her eyes on his shocked face.

Decebel’s face suddenly was wiped clean of emotion, his stone mask in place. His jaw tensed as he spoke. “I warned you from the beginning Jennifer. You are mine. I will not let you go. I will not allow even you to keep yourself from me.” His eyes narrowed, dangerously. “I consider your actions a direct challenge to me. I will only say this one more time. Don’t do this.” When she didn’t move, or speak, Decebel shook his head in resignation. “So be it,” he growled, softly.

Fane hadn’t realized that Jacquelyn had left his side while everyone’s attention was riveted on Jen and Decebel. When Jen finally arrived at Alina’s other side, he turned back only to realize Jacquelyn was half way across the path that was quickly becoming a dividing line. He lunged forward to grab her, but was stopped by an invisible wall. His head jerked over to the only one he knew powerful enough to conjure such a thing. Peri stood looking innocently at him, but he saw the twinkle in her eyes.

He tried to reach Jacque’s mind, but she was blocking him rather effectively and he was sure it had something to do with what Rachel had revealed about them. The males were keeping their mates out. It was instinctive to protect them, to not want them to be tainted by their darkness.

“Jacquelyn,” his voice was barely above a whisper as he clenched his jaw. She turned to look at him and she saw the tears gathering in her green eyes. He had caused that and he had pushed her to take this desperate measure as his mother had said.

Jacque swallowed hard before she finally spoke. “Your touch is uninvited.” Sally and Jen wrapped Jacque in their arms comforting her, but knowing that it would not give her what she truly needed. Only Fane could do that.

Something in Fane snapped as his wolf realized that their mate was mere feet from them and yet he could not get to her. He pounded his fist on the invisible barrier as his claws emerged and his eyes glowed bright blue. He watched the girls holding her, and he snarled jealously. It was his right to touch her; she was his.

“You are mine,” Fane growled.

Jacque pulled away from her best friends and looked at Fane. “Yes, I am, and I’m not leaving you.” She turned and met the eyes of the other males. “None of us is trying to leave any of you.”

Tags: Quinn Loftis The Grey Wolves Young Adult