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|Just One Drop(Grey Wolves #3) by Quinn Loftis|
"As a matter of fact, I am going somewhere. Not that it's any of your business." Jen raised one eyebrow as she folded her arms across her chest. "So if you would kindly leave, I can be on my way." Jen couldn't believe the pain that pierced her heart as she told Decebel to leave. It took everything she had not to flinch at her own words.
Undeterred by Jennifer's haughty attitude, Decebel stepped into the plane. And unless Jennifer wanted his chest pressed to her, made her take another step back.
"I have to disagree with you. I consider it very much my business when it concerns you."
Decebel watched the emotions play across Jennifer's face, so transparent to him. He waited for her to respond, knowing it would be quick-witted and sharp, one of the many things he admired about her. She did not disappoint.
"Funny that," she began. “If I'm so much your business, where have you been for the past two months? If I am so much your freaking business, then you must have a phenomenal excuse for not even coming to my eighteenth birthday party." Jen couldn't hide the hurt behind her words. She ducked her head, biting her lip to keep from crying. It didn't work.
Decebel took a step forward, drawn to her for reasons he didn't yet understand. All he knew was that standing there seeing her hurt was unbearable to him. He placed his fingers under her chin and raised her face to look into her tear-filled eyes. In that moment he was in a different time and place. He looked into a face with green eyes, not blue. A face with dark chocolate locks framing it instead of blonde. He watched as he held her fragile body in his arms, her life draining away. He held on until her form was still, only a shell left to wither from the earth.
"Decebel." The sound of Jennifer's voice brought him back to the present, but the memory of that lifeless body reminded him what happened when he cared about someone, what happened when he was unable to keep those he loved safe. He dropped his hand from her chin and took a step back, not missing the hurt that flashed across her face.
"You are my business because you are my prince's mate's best friend. As Beta it's my job to keep you safe," he answered, his demeanor suddenly much more formal.
"Well, I'm relinquishing you of that job by leaving. So no worries, Dec. I'm perfectly capable of sitting on a plane by myself." Jen turned to go back but didn't get far before she felt a strong hand close around her arm. Decebel turned her to face him and she could see emotions running across his handsome face. For the life of her she didn’t know what they were.
"You aren't leaving, Jennifer. Jacque needs you and Sally right now. For some reason I thought you weren't the type of friend to bail on those who depend on you." Decebel figured the easiest way to get Jennifer to cooperate would be to piss her off and present her with a challenge.
Jen jerked her arm from Decebel's grasp. She pulled her shoulders back and stood up as straight as she could. Then she took a step forward and he swore that there had to be steam coming off her skin. She jammed her finger in Decebel's chest as she glared at him.
"First, you don't know a damn thing about me so don't you dare tell me what kind of friend you think I am. Second, I would never, ever bail on one of my friends. Unlike one furry canine that I know, I don't take off without dealing with whatever my friends need. Jacque knows I need to go back to the States. She has Fane and Sally."
"Is that so?" Decebel challenged.
"Yes, Cujo. That is so." Jen's jaw jutted forward as she ground her teeth together.
"If Jacque is so understanding, then why did she go to Vasile to have him call me to come get you?" The look on Decebel's face when he finished talking was that of a cat who had just caught a little birdie. He watched as Jennifer's jaw dropped open at his words. He stood silently and let the information set in. Finally, she looked up into his eyes again – the only one other than his Alpha allowed to get away with it – and rubbed her hand over her forehead.
"Is that why you came, because Vasile sent you?"
Decebel could tell that his answer had the ability to crush her and possibly push her away, making it easier to keep his distance. He stared into her blue eyes, eyes that pleaded with him for the truth, painful or not.
"Vasile called me." Jennifer's face fell, so Decebel continued quickly. "But he did not order me to come get you."
Her head snapped up at his words, her eyes searched his face for any hint of a lie. Decebel was sure she would ask why he came but instead she took a deep breath. She suddenly looked tired, defeated.
"Fine, I'll stay. But not because you said I have to. I'll stay for Jacque." Jen went to step around Decebel and head out of the plane exit. As she pushed the door open and felt the cold December air and the sun on her face, she turned back to the wolf who watched her silently. "I'll stay, but you need to make sure you stay out of my way. I don't need you thinking I need a big brother to watch over me and tell me what to do, so don't." She stepped out of the plane and the crisp, frosty air burned her lungs. Sorin stood with the passenger door held open for her.
Decebel stared at the empty space that had been Jennifer. He closed his eyes and took in a deep breath through his nose, relishing her scent. Shaking his head, he opened his eyes.
"Jennifer," he whispered her name reverently to the empty plane. "I most definitely don't see you as a sister, and I don't think I could stay out of your way even if I wanted."
Jen sat in the garden behind the mansion, still wearing the parka she had put on hours ago. It was late and cold, but she didn't want to be inside just yet. She didn't feel like answering the questions she knew her two best friends would undoubtedly bombard her with. She lifted her head up to the clear sky, marveling at the thousands of stars that lit up the darkness.
A twig snapped on the ground to her left. Jen turned in the direction of the sound to see Alina coming towards her, wrapped in a heavy coat, carrying two coffee mugs. She couldn't help but smile at Alina as she took the offered mug. Jen felt the heat from the steam rise and caress her face as she drew the cup to her lips.
"So, tweedle dee and tweedle dumb sent you, I see." Jen indicated to the hot chocolate she was thoroughly thankful for.
Alina let out a small laugh as she sat down on the bench next to Jen. "Guilty as charged, I'm afraid."