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|Just One Drop(Grey Wolves #3) by Quinn Loftis|
"Well, okay then," Sally finally spoke. "I think talking about Jacque's sex life has really shed some light on things. Don't you, Jacque?"
"Some light? Crap, my sex life has illuminated a whole stinking football stadium."
"Who knew?" Jen shrugged innocently.
"What's the plan, Jen?" Sally asked soberly, "We all know you have one, so spill."
Jen stood up and started pacing again. "I've got to find my mate, I've got to stay away from B, and I've got to pull it together." She blew a breath out, ruffling her bangs.
"Okay, operation MAP starts now." Jacque grinned.
"Operation MAP?" Jen asked dubiously.
"Um, wolf-princess, would you please elaborate on the title?" Sally prodded.
"M, mate, A, avoid, P, pull," Jacque explained.
"Ooo, MAP. Like we're mapping out her future. I like." Sally winked at Jacque.
"I know, right? It fits, like we're making a map out of this mess," Jacque added.
Jen smiled and nodded her head enthusiastically, "Oh, I've got one," she said, joining in. "It's like you're making a map to lead your crazy asses out of my room."
"Hey," Sally said indignantly.
"Hey, if the shoe fits, Sally. I'm just saying, if it fits all you can do is wear it to the best of your ability. Let me tell you, you are doing some wicked justice."
Jacque laughed and Sally's head snapped around as she glared at her.
"You have to admit that was pretty funny."
Sally thought for a minute and then grinned. "Yeah. I guess she deserves props, but I'm still calling it operation MAP."
"Fine, crap. Let's get this op in the works," Jen relented.
"Yes!" Jacque and Sally said at the same time, giving high fives.
Jen shook her head at her two best friends. Loyal, yes. Giving, for sure. Crazy as loons? Without a doubt, she thought as she grinned while Sally and Jacque both talked at the same time, gradually getting louder as they talked over one another. Jen decided to try and make the most of them as they came. She had a feeling they were going to get few and far between once at The Gathering.
Jen, Sally, and Jacque spent the next four weeks learning about different packs that were going to be present at The Gathering. They learned the names of the Alphas and their mates, if they had one. They learned about the different pack traditions and practices. Jen found it interesting that though there were some things that were universal in the Canis lupis world, packs were very individualized.
It was now two days before they left for the Transylvanian Alps and they, along with three other unmated females and eight unmated males, were in the large gathering room of the mansion to learn to dance.
"I don't need lessons on dancing," Jen muttered under her breath as she stood with Sally and Jacque against the back wall.
"I think Vasile wants the dancing to be PG rated," Jacque teased.
Jen faked indignation. "Excuse me, but my clothes stay on."
"Mostly," Sally mumbled, erupting a laugh out of Jacque.
"Oh, COME ON! That was one time!" Jen groaned. "I swear, lose your clothes at a party one time and they never let you live it down."
"Ooo, now this sounds right up my alley." Crina, the wolf who had spoken up at the pack meeting, came bouncing up with another girl. "Hey,we haven't formally met. I'm Crina and this brute is Mariana." Both girls gave friendly smiles.
Although Mariana wasn't really a brute, she was very tall. Standing next to the pixie Crina, she did qualify as classification brute.
"Hi, Crina. I'm Jen. These two yahoos are my best friends, Sally and Jacque."
Both girls bared their necks briefly at Jacque. It had been explained during one of their lessons that, although Jacque held no real power right now, the pack would show her respect for her place with signs of submission, such as baring their necks.
Jacque gave a single nod in acknowledgment of their submission.
"So, you ready for Mate Fest 2010?" Jen asked them.
Crina smiled. "Mate Fest?"
"It seemed so much more twenty first century than The Gathering."
Crina nudged Mariana. "I told you they would be cool, didn't I?"
Mariana smiled. "Yeah, boss. You told me." She looked at Jen conspiratorially. "She said anyone who could get Decebel all in a tizzy the way you do has to be cool."
Jen didn't just laugh at that, she cackled. "He makes it too easy."
Crina smiled with her and added, "Just so you know, I don't know what is between you two, but neither I nor Mariana have designs on him."
Jen sobered and looked at both girls. It hadn't dawned on her until that moment that there might be others in the pack who had an interest in Decebel. Before she could stop herself, she let out a low growl. Jen watched Mariana's and Crina's eyes get big and heard Sally's intake of breath, but before she could turn, a strong arm came around her waist and pulled her away.
"What the -" she started, but was cut short when a woman in the far corner hollered:
"Grab a partner!"
Jen was turned abruptly and found herself face to face with Decebel.
"Hello, Jennifer." He grinned unrepentantly.
"Decebel, so nice to see you. It's been what, three weeks since you've graced me with your presence?"
"Ahh, yes. About that – please forgive me for my absence. I've been working out your security detail."
"My what?" Jen asked cautiously.
Decebel took Jennifer's left hand and placed it on his shoulder, took her right hand in his left, then wrapped his free arm around her waist, drawing her close.
"Your security detail," he told her again, now much closer to her ear. "Vasile has placed me in charge of your security while at The Gathering, so I have been back and forth between here and Transylvania working out the kinks."
Jen made an “oh” motion with her mouth but said nothing else. She was actually in a small state of shock after not seeing Decebel for days on end. To suddenly have him here in front of her, this close, was a bit overwhelming. Although there was no way in Hades she would ever 'fess up to it.
They danced in silence for several moments before Jen blurted, "You're a really good dancer."