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Out of The Dark (The Grey Wolves #4)(7)

By:Quinn Loftis

Fane chuckled as he tugged a strand of her hair in mock retaliation.
Meanwhile, a semi-circled formed around Vasile and Alina at the front of the room. As everyone got settled in, Costin took the wall directly behind Sally, looking every bit the role of sentinel. A fire burned directly behind all of them in a large stone fireplace casting shadows over the room adding to the mystery that held them all captive.
As the room quieted, the popping of burning wood and crackling flames filled the heavy silence. Vasile stood, but remained silent as he looked at each member of his pack, each member that he had chosen because of their fierce love and loyalty for one another. Not that others in the pack wouldn't give their all, but Vasile knew this group had grown close. That's what happened when people went through the fire together. Like heated metal, they began to soften, and when pushed together, their emotions and loyalty became soldered, no longer separate pieces. As they left the fire, cooling, that joining was permanent and unbreakable.
That kind of bond was what it was going to take to get through this. Vasile was under no illusions that before the end, tears would be shed, pain would threaten to tear them apart, and blood would coat the walls. Yes, it would take the bond forged in fire to walk through the hell they were going to soon face.
Very soon.
"I've been thinking over the situation. I'm going to explain this and then we will decide how to divide our resources." Vasile paused to see if anyone had anything to add. No one spoke, but every eye fixated on him. 
"We have three dilemmas,” Vasile continued. We have a missing pack member and mate to our Beta. All we know is that she is lost on this mountain somewhere. Second, Decebel's been cursed, twice. Thanks to Sally we understand the nature of these curses, however, we don't know how to break them or who performed them. Which leads me to our third dilemma: there is a witch, a very powerful witch, assisting the Serbian pack. We need to know her identity. There is power in possessing the name of an evil being, drawing it into the light, exposing it. That is when weaknesses are found."
Vasile began to walk around the room. The movement helped his wolf settle, allowing him to better work through the problems.
"Fane, Jacque, Costin, and Sorin. You will be returning to the pack mansion." He turned and addressed Sorin. "You are to seek out Wadim. It's time to look into our pack's history. I think if you dig deep enough you will be able to uncover something about the witch or why the Serbian pack has attacked us."
"Who is Wadim?" Jacque asked.
Sorin answered, "Our pack historian."
"Ooh, the pack historian. Do you keep him in a dungeon or something? I've never seen him."
"Something like that." Sorin smiled.
Vasile continued. "Sally, Cynthia, Crina, and Decebel, I am going to send you to a friend of the pack's. She is not a healer, but she has lived among them and kept records of their history. I normally avoid seeking her out. Few know of her connection to the gypsies, and I don’t want to expose her. If Thad knew of the knowledge she possesses, he would do anything to get his hands on it." His eyes crinkled in the corners as he looked at Sally and smiled. "I think you will be pleasantly surprised."
Sally returned his smile, although she was wary of the look in her Alpha's eyes.
"Alpha," Costin cleared his throat as he spoke. "I would like to go with Cynthia and Sally." He gave no reason for his request, just waited to see what Vasile's response would be.
Vasile looked over to Alina, who gave a nearly imperceptible nod.
"Don't meddle," she told him through their bond.
"Mina." His voice was a teasing reprimand. "You hurt me to say such things."
"Let fate take its course, Alpha. If he's requesting to be with her maybe his wolf knows something the rest of us don't. I don't know that Costin is completely aware of the possessive and protective behavior that he has been exhibiting. Grant his request, my love."
"You make me a better man, a better Alpha, Alina mine." Vasile caressed her face through their bond.
"Don't you forget it," she teased.
Vasile groaned aloud. "Bloody Americans rubbing off on my woman," he grumbled.
Alina winked at the confused-looking Sally and Jacque.
Vasile conceded, "Alright. Costin, you and Crina switch places. You may go with Sally." He heard his mate growl at him for adding that last little bit. After all, he didn't have to point out that Sally was the reason for Costin's request, but then sometimes deliberateness was the best course of action…especially for an Alpha.
Costin didn't respond to Vasile's jab, simply nodded and returned to his sentry position.
Vasile turned to Sally. "Her name is Perizada but she prefers Peri." He watched Sally's face and knew that her gypsy blood would intuitively understand the meaning behind the name.
Sally gasped. "Oh, they can’t be real?"
Vasile smiled again. "Werewolves exist, don’t they" he said in answer.
"Yeah, but that just seems normal now."
"Is who real?" Jacque puzzled, cocking her head and looking at her best friend."Perizada means fairy-born." Sally grinned at Jacque. "I'm going to meet a Fae."
“You mean with little wings and pixy dust?” Asked Jacque.
“Something tells me that there won’t be any pixie dust,” responded Sally gleefully.
"Ah, man," Jacque whined. "She gets to meet the Fae and I have to go to a dungeon to talk to some old, reclusive werewolf scribe who's probably as worn and dusty as the records we'll have to sift through."
Sally looked at Vasile and then back to Jacque. "That about sums it up, Red." Her grin remained in place.
"That is so not cool, V. Not cool at all." Jacque glared at her father-in-law.
"Still with the V?" Vasile asked.
"Yeah, well, just because you're Alpha doesn’t mean you are exempt from nicknames. Although, I could call you A, but it would be too tempting to add the word hole behind it."
The room erupted in much needed laughter.
Sally fist bumped Jacque. "Score."
Vasile growled at the two girls, but softened it with a wink. "I suppose I prefer V."
Jacque gave him a nod. "Good choice."
"Thank you, Luna," Fane whispered in her mind.
"For what?"
"Bringing laughter. There will be little joy in the coming days and we must grab it when it comes. You gave us a gift." He was absently tracing the markings underneath her red curls.
"Thanks, wolf-man. But you're not out of the doghouse yet. Don't think your sweet words will sway me."
Fane chuckled. "I can think of several things that could sway you."
Fane sent her images to punctuate his words. Jacque gasped and slapped his chest.
"Fane, quit flirting with your mate. Pay attention," Vasile growled, though he was trying not to laugh.
Decebel watched from across the semi-circle. The easy way in which Fane and his mate interacted, the obvious love and affection they shared... I had that, he thought.
How could I forget having that? Did she tease me? Did I look at her in adoration as Fane does at Jacque?
Decebel's mind wandered. He puzzled through the idea that if he did indeed have a mate, he'd more than just forgotten her—her face, the color of her eyes or hair. He hadn't just forgotten the feel of her skin or the feel of her body against his. He had forgotten all that they had shared. He felt a sharp pain rip through his chest. Did I hold her? Kiss her? He closed his eyes, squeezing them tight, trying so hard to find something, anything that would confirm that she did exist. Jen, his mate. But nothing, there was nothing.
He growled as he felt his wolf stir. His wolf knew something he didn't. Maybe his wolf remembered her – or maybe he just remembered having her and now knew there was something lost. He looked across at Fane and made eye contact, a silent request to talk later. Fane nodded, his lips tightened in something that looked like sadness. 
Vasile cleared his throat, bringing everyone back on task. "Alright, those are the plans. I chose you all because you have been through much already and triumphed. Make no mistake, this will not be easy. Dealing with a witch is dangerous, especially one that we know nothing about. Rely on each other's strength. Protect one another. Pay attention to any emotions or actions that seem out of character for yourself or another in your group. If you notice someone acting odd, it could be dark magic. You must fight it."
The group was quiet as they thought on Vasile's words. Then Sally broke the silence with a giggle.
"What's tickled your fancy?" Jacque asked her dryly.
"I feel like we should all stand together in a bunch and Vasile should announce -"
Jacque caught onto Sally's train of thought and they both said at the same time: "We'll call you the Fellowship of the Ring."
Both girls began laughing and high fiving each other.
Decebel looked over at Alina.
"Yes, they are always like this," she answered his unspoken question.
Decebel let out a deep breath, shaking his head at the giggling pair.
"Man, Jen would have so rocked that." Jacque laughed.
"We should record this stuff so when she's back we can play it for her."
"Sally, I think Jen would tell you that your recording privileges were revoked at the hospital," Jacque teased.
Sally looked over at Decebel and Jacque saw her wheels turning.
"No." Jacque shook her head emphatically.
"It might spark something. I mean, she was butt freaking naked," Sally reasoned.