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|Just One Drop(Grey Wolves #3) by Quinn Loftis|
"Yeah, as in The Fabulous Five." She motioned to herself, Sally, Jen, Jacque, and Marianna.
Decebel, Fane, Costin, and even Sorin coughed their laughs into their hands. Crina shot them a look that promised retribution if they didn't cease and desist.
Vasile smiled at the name she'd derived for the group, and at the friendship that had grown. It meant that there was camaraderie, which was vital to a healthy pack. He knew that a pack with vehement females carrying petty jealousies could be ripped apart.
"Crina, as silly or ridiculous as it seems, these activities are designed to keep from having idle wolves with nothing to focus on but beating the competition for a mate. We can't very well stick you all in a room and allow the males free reign."
"Talk about a 'mate fest'," Jen joked.
Sally and Jacque grinned.
"I so did not need that visual, Jen," Sally admonished although the smile never left her face.
"Oh, come on. You know you all were thinking it," Jen whined.
Costin smiled and winked at her. "Guilty as charged."
Decebel shook his head at the young wolf. Was I ever that goofy? he asked himself, then answered his own question. No, definitely not.
Vasile continued, ignoring the banter among them. "The point today is that you will get to meet other males but your time will also be put to good use. You all need to learn self defense and we've killed two birds with one stone."
When no one else objected, he went on. "If you are so blessed to find your true mate, I would ask that you come speak with Alina and I immediately. This setting is quite different from ours, and the pair will be required to prove their mate status."
"What kind of proof?" Decebel asked, an undercurrent of something very dangerous in his tone.
"The most obvious would be the markings." At Vasile's words, several of the unmated males – including Costin and Decebel – spoke up.
"You can't be serious," Decebel growled. "How dare the Alphas ask us to parade our mate in front of them like she's a piece of meat. And to ask to see what should be for her mate's eyes only – they cross the line, Alpha."
Alina touched her mate's arm and Vasile looked over. "You would never have allowed them to see my marks."
Vasile was silent as he observed the faces of his pack. The males were all tense, ready to react at a moment's notice. Even the mated males were appalled at the idea of anyone seeing a female's markings. He took a deep breath. This gathering was truly going to test his leadership and the loyalty of his pack.
"I'm not saying I agree with it, nor am I saying I would force you to comply. That is why I ask that you come to Alina and I first."
"Why can't they just have one tell what the other is thinking?" Marianna asked.
"Because they claim that the pair could simply plan beforehand what they would say, therefore making it appear that they have a mental connection when they do not," Vasile explained.
Sally raised her hand to speak. Vasile smiled at her warmly. "Sally, you have a question?"
"Um, yeah. Why would someone pretend to be true mates?"
"You know of our longevity. You have seen the extent some males would go to have a mate through what Jacque experienced." Vasile paused and Sally nodded her agreement.
"There are females who are just as desperate for a mate. There are some who think that if they both consent then they should be allowed to be together, regardless of the consequences. What they don't understand, or don't remember because they have been alone for so long, is that no one on this earth, human or Canis lupis can fill the hole inside them. No one, no matter how you may love them, can give you the other half of your soul. And should you choose to take one who is not your true mate and your true mate comes along, there is nothing that can stop you from going to them. You will walk away from any life you have built, children you have sired, and person you have married without so much as a glance back. It is our job as Alphas to protect our pack. As a parent guides his child, so an Alpha guides his pack. The Alphas that have brought us all together want to make sure that no one makes the mistake of thinking they can find what they are looking for in someone who does not truly belong to them. That is why they insist on proof."
The room was quiet when he finished speaking. Vasile knew that understanding the why of it didn't necessarily make it any easier to accept. His pack would just have to trust him.
Decebel looked across the table at Jennifer, imagining her with his markings. Then the thought of another seeing them. Quite simply that just wasn't going to happen. He would be dead before anyone saw Jennifer's back.
Feeling his eyes on her, Jen looked up and saw the intensity of Decebel's stare. She figured he was contemplating the idea of her bearing his marks and the possibility of someone else seeing them. She wasn't completely sure but she guessed that Decebel's answer was a big, fat “when hell freezes over.” His eyes were glowing, his jaw tense. He'd crossed his arms across his chest and she could see his muscles flexing. Yep, pretty sure pigs would have to fly, hell would have to freeze, and George would have to sell his oceanfront property before another person saw her markings.
If they ever come, she thought solemnly.
"If no one else has anything to say..." Vasile waited. When no one spoke up he dismissed them.
Jen sat in the gym with the rest of the TFF – she had to admit she loved Crina's designation of their little group. Dorin and Cami were on one side of the room and Anton and Delia were on the other. Their eyes roamed the gym constantly, waiting to see if any of the wolves would become a problem.
Jen had the feeling some of the mated males were itching for a fight and wouldn't mind if taking down a wolf or two. To the far right sat another group of unmated females. Some looked eager, eyes wide, scoping out the males on the floor. Others looked as if they'd just found out they were headed to the taxidermist.
Decebel and Fane were sitting a couple rows behind the TFF on the bleachers, scanning the crowd with equal concentration. Even with his eyes roaming over the room, Jen knew Decebel was acutely aware of her. He would know if she moved an inch from where she sat now. He would know if her breathing changed at all, or her heart rate increased. She smiled to herself, thinking how nice it was to have the one she had been pining for, how nice it was to have accepted this thing between them.