When the trio arrived the conversations slowly died down to silence. Devon’s gaze moved around the room and it was heartbreaking to take in the scorch marks that marred the walls. The furniture had all been removed and would be replaced with others when it became available. Devon walked his mate through their allies both lycan and dragon as he made his way to the small makeshift platform that had been erected at the front for them.

Without letting Eva go, Devon addressed the gathering, “Brethren and friends alike, this evening we come together as Packs and Clans to celebrate our treaties of peace that will prevent a repeat of what happened here. We are thankful to each of you that were able to attend and we welcome all of you to feast, dance and enjoy yourselves tonight. When you return to your homes always remember that like we celebrate together this night – we are one and we will answer the calls of each other during times of unrest and emergency in like manner.”

There were cheers and growls in agreement from all over, a few claps here and there.

Zenlial remained back from the platform, but at the wall behind the Alphas. She tried to keep herself from looking for a certain, fellow warrior. That was very difficult. Soon enough, her eyes began to meander the crowd.

At the back of the gathering Twilight stood with her mate. She was dressed in a dark colored skirt and a matching blouse that would fit the event though she didn’t care much for it. To her the pieces were too revealing, but she was following custom for Kieran’s sake so that he would not be embarrassed. Her wild black mass of curls were loose except for the two braids she had in place one for her mate and the other her warriors braid. “Don’t ya want to go up there with him? It’s your right to stand with your Alpha son is it not?” Her blue eyes looked up to hold his gaze.

“It is, but not unless he wishes it. I’ll never overstep my place with Devon again.” He was proud and he was proud of his son. But he had been rightfully shown his place a long time ago by this son and though he had claimed the right as Alpha in this world for his pack’s sake… to drive out Ethan and his cronies… things had been set proper now. He no longer would need to take the title. He showed his respect for both Devon and that title in not going forward unless he was wanted.  He held Twilight’s hand in his own, letting her presence soothe him.

Catching sight of his father, Devon waved him over to join them.

“This victory wouldn’t be possible without lycan to dragon seeing it through, but it took the courage of another to bring the deceit and corruption that was going on within this very Pack out into the open. Even then it wasn’t until precious lives were lost that change was possible – things could have been much worse without him.” Devon wanted his father recognized for his part in all of this.

Twilight nudged her mate and tugged him into motion. Kieran was being summoned and didn’t even realize it. Kieran jumped just slightly, but followed his mate’s urging. He felt like this was some sort of dream.

“My father Kieran Weylyn made this victory possible and I want to acknowledge this before all of you.” Devon waited for his father to join them. When he did he let Eva go to turn and face the elder lycan.

Kieran bowed his head slightly, in respect for Devon. What had just been said? It was everything. It told his people that he was no longer just a lost soul, a raider, a ruffian, a pretender. His son had just given him all of his honor back. The old lycan wasn’t sure he could speak.

“And while I am still Alpha of Weylyn, I’ll need someone here to be Alpha for the Pack that has chosen to remain here while we return to our family and the rest of the Pack.” Devon withdrew the cuff and while everyone watched he placed the Alpha cuff on Kieran’s upper bicep, “I have another coming in a few days that will go with it. “I want you as Alpha here. I know no one better suited or that I trust more for this.”

Kieran watched every movement as if it were surreal. There were gasps and sounds of reverence and even “awwws” out there amongst the crowd watching. His son was replacing his honor and his position? He had proven himself; redeemed himself in the eyes of the very person who had banished him so many years ago.  

“I…I accept the duties of Alpha. You have my word that I won’t let ya down or this pack down… ever again.” Kieran took his son’s arm.

Eva walked to stand beside Twilight. She held the beads and reaching out to take Twilight’s hand, she turned it palm up and let the beads drop there. Her smile was bright. “Alpha to Alpha” she whispered.

She’d been shocked to hear what Devon had said, then as Eva had placed the beads in her hand she’d wanted to say something but found herself speechless. Slowly she smiled and stepped to her mate. When he turned to her and knelt, Twilight carefully braided his hair and slid the Pack bead along with the Alpha bead on it.

“Congratulations my mate.” She kissed him and stepped back to join Eva.

Kieran turned to his son, a growling request made. When Devon nodded, Kieran turned excitedly to the rest of the crowd gathered in the big hall.  

“As first order of Alpha, I say we get outside these walls to the waiting bonfire and celebration! We have peace, my friends! Let us not take it for granted ever again!” He raised his head and howled. Others joined him in that howl before doing as he said.

Zenlial stepped back a bit and then hopped to the back of the dais so as not to get trampled as people were moving very suddenly and very quickly. She giggled, for they were all very much ready to be done with official business and sadness and have a happy night.  

At the very back of the room Wulf had stood in the entryway to watch the presentation and was now turning to leave it before all the noise started up. He didn’t feel like mingling and smiling with the others. He was going to return to his room when he paused at the sight of Zenlial. The way she dressed was breathtaking and she fit in well with the lycan and dragon around her. If he was going to approach her, he should at least look like he belonged here. He looked down at himself and turned to leave again.

Once outside the drums began and the fires were lit. Food was spread over four long tables for everyone’s enjoyment and several barrels were tapped for the occasion. Someone offered Kieran a mug, but he refused. No, he’d learned his lesson. Dancing soon began and Devon led Eva out to join in even as Twilight did the same with his father. Who better to start things off then the Alpha’s and their mates? Kieran truly relaxed with Twilight on his arm and the cuff back where it belonged. They were home. There was no war. They could finally truly think about things other than strategy and survival.  His eyes belonged only to her this night and he’d not share her or his joy with another soul.

Zenlial found some of the comrades from the trails and laughed and talked with them. There was at least one other female warrior among them, so she didn’t feel entirely out of place, at least. Her dress was definitely getting complimented, despite it being sewn together last minute. It was oddly different, being in this setting. She toasted a few drinks with them while always letting her eyes wander in hopes of finding Wulf.  

An hour into the festivities one more made his appearance. Wulf was bare chested with a few braids in his hair that signified him as a warrior with battles under his belt and deaths on his hands.He was not marked with designs as others were, he was simple and plain. It felt odd to walk amongst a celebration again after so long. He greeted those that stopped him to say hi. He had almost talked himself out of coming back several times. He saw the Alpha’s dancing and several of the others, but no sign of her. Perhaps she had returned inside. But then he saw her and she was smiling and talking with several others. She looked very happy with the attentions of the other males.. He turned to leave and ran right into one of the females he knew very well.

As the others laughed at Jaysson’s joke, Zen finally saw the missing warrior. He’d tried to braid his hair it seemed, though she couldn’t see anything but the black beads and were those battle beads? Now that she knew the significance, she understood. He had no markings. She stood up on the table’s bench and Jaysson instinctively reached out to catch her by the waist. He wasn’t sure if the elf was tipsy or not to make such a move and didn’t want her to tumble.

“Whoa, gal! Watch it!”

Zenlial didn’t hear her friend, because her focus was on the female moving to Rory right then. She had just enough moonwine in her that she felt a bit of fire build up in her passion. She wished she could throw the daggers she was glaring.  Devon’s warning came back to her and she did her best to shove the sound of his voice away.

“Wulf! I didn’t expect to see you here! Come lets dance!” Faith had her hands splayed upon his chest and then she reached down for his hand.

Instead of letting her drag him out, Wulf pulled his hand free, “Nah, I’ll watch thanks. You go on and dance gal.”

Looking past him at the elf that was glaring at her, Faith shrugged her bare shoulders, “Suit yaself.” She pranced away to get lost in the other dancers.

He hadn’t joined the lycan female. That brought a grin to the elf’s face.

“Let me go,” she tried to tug from Jaysson, who was trying to keep her from falling on her face from stepping right off that bench!

“Well damn, Zennie! Calm ya horses! I was just tryin’ ta help!” Jay chuckled as the others around them laughed at the sight. However, he definitely did as told. They had all been witness to how deadly their little scout could be – with a weapon and without. He didn’t feel like losing an eye or his balls tonight.

Once she hit the ground, she was on the move, directly to the one she wanted to be near. She wanted him to know he wasn’t alone. She wasn’t sure how to bridge the subject, but until she figured that out, why not enjoy each other’s’ company as they had been for the past few days?

“You made it!” she said excitedly once she got to him. Why did she suddenly feel so nervous?  Was that all she could figure out to say? “Did you, uh… not want to dance?” She looked off in the direction of the girl Wulf had just sent away. “Because I had wanted to, but if you don’t we can always find other things to do.”

Wulf turned to look at Zen and smiled. “It’s a celebration.. We can dance if ya want to.” He looked down at her and back at the others that she’d left. “Ya looked like you were enjoyin’ yourself so I didn’t want to interrupt.” He held his hand out to her and when she took it Wulf pulled her smaller frame close as they walked towards the dancing.

Jay and some of the others held up their cups in a laughing toast to their fellow warrior and scout as he took the elf’s hand.

“They were just being polite and talking to me and drinking with me like we did out on the trails. They knew I was waiting on you.” She squeezed his hand and once they reached the area with the dancing, she turned to face him. “I don’t know much of these dances, but I can try. I hope you’re not disappointed.”  

That made him chuckle, “Don’t worry about that. It’s easy to follow along with.” Wulf placed his hands on her hips and showed her by swaying with her. After a few minutes he spun her so that Zen’s back was to him and he could rock and sway with her. He put his face to the side of her neck and breathed her in as he slid his hands down her arms to clasp hands with her and pulled one up and back to wrap around his neck. “Feel it.. Let it guide ya and it’ll tell ya how to move.”

She closed her eyes and for once let her body use other senses to guide her. For an elf, sight was the main sense, but that’s not what she needed. The moonwine helped her relax and being in Wulf’s arms did so all the more. Her fingers held him by the neck, where he had placed her arm upward. Her other hand held his tightly. Her body pushed back into him and she moved in perfect sync to his body. They fit like glove to hand and did so through the song being played. The world disappeared. She thought she could feel not just his body, but his heartbeat. She could smell him all around her.

When she turned her head to his face, she felt his beard there and when the beats of the music stopped she had turned enough to place a chaste kiss on his lips. Her eyes opened to see his reaction as the next drumming began.

There was a rough rumble from his chest as Wulf tasted Zen on his lips. His own gaze was heated for her and the way that he was breathing would tell Zen just exactly what kind of reaction she was getting from him. “Ya smell good and taste even better.” His voice was low and deep as Wulf leaned in to kiss her again. He didn’t succeed as the others dancing around them ended up making it very difficult. The music picked up again.

She wound up being turned to her side against him as others built up on the drumming for the next dance. Her hand reached around his neck to keep close, but she wasn’t sure about staying in such a crowded space.

“Want to go sit somewhere and talk?” He wasn’t drunk or even the slightest bit buzzed. But he had noticed her attire as well as the scars when her back was to him. He felt that maybe they both needed to talk.

“Yes, please. I would like that very much,” she spoke loudly since they were being drown out. “I would mind speak, but… might hurt you. Had some moonwine,” she smiled and a blush lit her cheeks. She let him lead her wherever he needed. She trusted him completely and not once did she realize they were being watched.   

As Wulf led Zenlial away from the commotion towards the tables, Devon watched as he danced with Eva. He would still make sure that she wasn’t hurt. Wulf helped her sit down before taking a seat beside her. “You look beautiful and I don’t think I’ve ever seen ya so exposed.” He grinned as his hand lifted to rest on her shoulder a moment. He did lean forward then just to kiss her lightly again simply because he needed to taste her again.

“Well, you all don’t mind showing your skin… who you truly are? So, I felt like the shedding off my cover was in order for the night.” She enjoyed the kiss she had suddenly been blessed with and let her hand move upon his chest as he leaned in. He was more than she had imagined, like this. Either the wine or their proximity had Zenlial quite heated.  “I wish, I could be this way every night.” She had not felt like this near anyone save her dragon… and that thought brought to her the resolve she needed to continue.

“I also wanted to be open about what is behind me. I wanted to share that with you.” She wasn’t sure how to say it properly. “If here is not acceptable, we can go somewhere quieter and less…public.” Her palm had remained over his heart.  

Looking around Wulf rose to his feet again and took her hand to help her up. He led her away from the celebration all together. While it wasn’t conventional Wulf took her back to his room. He had a small table and two chairs along with his bed with its plain Jane bedding. There was nothing on the walls and no decorative little touch to say it was his. It could have been and guest room with how it looked.

Wulf pulled a chair out for her and held it for her so that she could sit at the table with him. “Nothin’ fancy but it’s private.”

“Why? Not the fancy… but the you…” she looked at him with unbridled curiosity. Considering what Devon and Eva had told her, she was finding this man to be more and more of an enigma. “I know you’re not fancy. I know that you are private. But, I also know that you are playful, you enjoy scouting, you let slip that you enjoy agricultural pursuits… farming… building…and yet, you choose to be in this space?”

“It’s peaceful and I get no troubles.” Wulf looked around the room, “I don’t need much.” He wasn’t sure where she was going with this line so he answered the only way that came to mind. Wulf really looked lost as he watched her, “Maybe I am not understandin’ right, I’m sorry, I’m not very good at talkin’ about myself..” He moved to grab the pitcher of water and two glasses for them to use.

“Is it the same reason you don’t like your given name, which is very becoming of you, to be honest… the same reason you didn’t tell me you were a royal?”

There was a pause as he filled one glass and he set the pitcher down so that he could press both palms flat on the table. “They shouldn’t have told ya. It’s my past and it’s not me. I’m not like Devon or Kieran…or my father. I’m just Wulf and I’m alright with that. No one gets hurt that way.” He lifted the pitcher and filled the second glass with water before setting it aside and picking up one of the glasses to drink down.

“Except you.” The elf got up from her seat and stood in front of him.  “You hurt yourself daily by being someone you are not.”

“I’m not hurtin’ myself trust me.” Wulf was anything but pleased with the way that this conversation was going.

“Do you not see that most people have part of their life that they wish to forget? You cannot pretend it away. You can accept it, so that you can move on.”

Did she really think that he didn’t accept what he was? Or that he could forget? Wulf took a breath to calm himself as he listened to Zen tell him about herself.

“I am Zenlial Nedian. I am not just an elf. I am an Avar of the Alpine Reach, kindred to Rheagal who claims no clan. My wings granted me the ability to heal and to fly. I refused to aid my people in the transition to this world. Many died because I refused to accept my place with them, even for a short time.” She turned from him, so he could see the scars there upon her back. To be sure, she undid the laces. The sides fell so he could see how large they were.  “Once the elven nation had established itself here, it took on a more isolationist view, began becoming something it had never been. And… they remembered my selfish, traitorous actions. They came for me. My dragon would not let them take me, even… even though we both probably could have lived, we fought. Rheagal was enraged. If they hadn’t killed him, he would have taken them all out and taken all that he saw. I couldn’t stop it. Not at that point.”

“I accept who I am, even though I made bad decisions and hurt people. They took my wings… to remind me. As if I needed reminding.”

Wulf felt for her pain and what she had been through. His hand lifted and his fingers traced over the scars lightly. She shivered under his touch. Carefully he lifted the ties to tie them back into place and his hands rested on her shoulders keeping her from turning back around. “I heard when the attack began and I woke my parents. My father raised the alarm, but it was too late the elves had taken out all the sentries so there was no one to alert the warriors. By the time they realized what was going on the place was overtaken with elves. My parents stuffed me in a cubby in the wall of the throne room and I stayed there as the elves rushed in. My parents shifted but still.. There were too many of them against just the two. I wanted to help, but I just couldn’t get my body to move.”

“You were but a child, Rory…”  

“Most of the Pack lay dead or dying all around the main house and I stayed in that spot for two days before I forced myself out.” He took a breath and his thumbs rubbed against her skin in a rhythmic motion. “I ran off scavengers and rolled my parents in the rugs they had died on. Not many know it but my mother was carrying my sister when they were killed. I walked from our home until my feet were raw and bleeding. I didn’t stop until Devon found me. Kieran and several others went back to give my pack and my family a proper send of to the fields.. I didn’t even return to help them with that.”

Letting her go, Wulf stepped a pace away so that Zen could move as she liked.

She turned to him, see so much more of who he was, how he had dealt with his guilt and shame. Where she had been punished, it seemed Wulf punished himself.  

“I’ve been the ragtag orphan Wulf ever since. No one forces this upon me and no one has taken my birthright from me, Zen. I remain because every time one of the stragglers make it here, I look in their eyes and see the loss, the pain and the suffering. I tend them, clothe  them, feed them and help them find new homes. I owe that to them.” He wasn’t ready to do more and though he could see reclaiming herself had strengthened Zen, he wasn’t so sure it’d do the same for him.

“That is fine and well, but they have a leader, someone who could share their pain and you’re not allowing yourself or them…” Zenlial whispered, but he stopped her.  

“Zenlial stop..” Wulf took another step back from her. “If you came out tonight to try and save me from myself, you’re wasting your time. But if you came out tonight to spend time with me and not my past then I’m all yours.” Maybe he’d piss her off and she’d slap him and leave. Maybe that was best.. He’d have to thank Devon for this moment. Wulf just stood there and waited while looking right at her. He didn’t like sharing his past and hadn’t spoken of those events in almost two decades going on three. But he had shared with her not because he wanted to change things but so that she knew him, the real him.

“I want to spend time with you, because I know who you are and who you have been and I want to know who you will become. I wanted to spend time with you tonight to share those same parts of me, with you.” She stepped up to him and took his hand. This was so very difficult. Why was this so very difficult? The little elf had not felt such emotions in so very long that she had forgotten how difficult they were to digest.

“And if this is it? If this is all that I’ll become?” He waved his free hand around the sparse room as he squeezed the other, “Will you be okay with that?” Elves tended to have high standards, but she wasn’t like any other elf he’d ever met before. He was just trying to see if she was looking for a fling or a long time lover kind of thing, either he was okay with, he just needed to know where he stood with her.

She looked around at the room. Then she looked at him.  “No.” Taking the step that brought her closest to him, she hopped on her toes to grasp some of his hair and pull him down to kiss. She knew she had confused him, but she wanted to be sure to taste him one more time, just in case that was all she got.

The kiss was warm and the taste was exotic, but it was over just as it really started. Wulf looked confused and he couldn’t help it. “What do you mean?”

When the kiss finally ended, she whispered, “I am not some heated lycan girl who wants you for your sexual prowess or for a dance.  Others may think I have misjudged you. You may think I have misjudged you. But I have not.” She stepped back and took him in completely. “You are tired of prowling, but there have been none here that inspire you to be more than this. So you have continued to pretend you are the same person you became – in order to forget about your perceived failure. You’ve fooled most of them – maybe all of them. But I am not them. I met you when you were your true self. I met you and fought beside you in a pure place. I rested with you, laughed with you, let down my guards with you and you did the same with me. Being your true self, is what you want and what you need.”  She swallowed and closed her eyes for but a moment before opening them again and facing her own tune. “And on my journey, I am so very tired of being lonely. I do not belong with the elves and yet I have nowhere else to be. I took the duty of Councilor so that I could either find my missing sister or help put her soul at ease. And yet, when the first opportunity to flee that duty appeared, I took it. I am no longer that person, that compliant slave to a Court who never cared about me or my family. I have found someone while on this adventure that I truly care about. My heart is quick to grab hold – which is thrilling, but also frightening.”

“Wulf – if that is what you wish to be called, so be it. But I know who you are. I am the one who wants you as a mate.  But if you can’t move past where you’ve decided you’re comfortable – pretending? I can’t…” She took a deep breath and let it out, her eyes on the floor before him as she thought about what she was trying to say exactly. She couldn’t put the words together right. There was a much more eloquent way, she was sure, but what she could muster when she looked back up was, “I am a mate. And a mate would never allow the other half of her soul to just stop trying to be his truth. As a mate  I cannot watch you pretend and therefore, never heal.”

Zenlial looked at the door, then looked back at him. “I have a duty to accomplish in seeking my sister that I have put off. I will be joining Devon and Eva to take the pups to the other side. I want to continue to help care for them. After my official duties as Councilor are done, I will be returning to report to the Elven High Court that I am done with their civil service. I would love to be part of your future. But only when you’re ready to keep moving forward with me.”

Just when Wulf thought this was over, Zen would toss a wrench into things. He raked his strong fingers through his hair and the beads clicked together with the disturbance. His eyes moved over her. Challenges were rarely ever met. No one in his life had ever been worth the effort. Suddenly he was supposed to drop everything and change? And yet, he didn’t refuse. He took a deep breath.  

“Then we’ll wait and see what happens between now and then.” He held his arm out to her. Something told Wulf that it was time to return to the party.  

It wasn’t the stuff of charming stories of lovers that she had heard or read. But it was what she had to accept. Had she scared him? Maybe. She took his arm and let him lead her back to the sound of the drums. Neither of them were perfect. In her heart, though, she felt like they were perfect for each other. But only if he was ready. She found herself moving her fingers to entwine with his as they walked. She wasn’t sure he felt the things she felt, she could only hope he did. Especially after she had put him on notice like that.

They made their way back to the dance happening around the bonfire and she turned to put her hands on his shoulders. She felt him pull her to him and they resumed the broken moment from before. But this time, she felt even more, for she knew who he was… all of him.  

Wulf drew Zen close and breathed her in. He loved the feel of her body being pressed so close. He lifted her up off her feet and laced his fingers beneath her bottom so that she remained close. He could look in her eyes this way. They weaved and spun with the others and he never once thought about letting her down as their gazes held.

She showed him that she was willing to accept him. When he lifted her up, she let him and they spun like the others. When it was time for her to come down, she wrapped her fingers around the back of his neck and stayed there as long as he’d allow. His scent was all over and she wanted to remember it.

As the music slowed, Wulf finally relented and let her body slide down his. He felt Zenlial’s fingers at the back of his neck and he simply leaned with her until her feet were touching the ground. His hands were resting on her hips as they swayed together so close.

When he helped hold her lithe form up, she let her fingers move into his hair and she smiled before nuzzling his face with her own.

“Things are getting a bit hot over there,” Eva pointed out the couple to Devon.  “Reminds me of the first time you and I danced.”

Devon was standing behind his mate with one of his arms over her shoulder and resting diagonal over her breasts. “Mmm I remember that.” He nuzzled the side of her neck and chuckled as they swayed in the spot they were in. “Would you like a repeat?” Devon grinned and rumbled softly.

“Absolutely…”  Eva turned and waited for her mate to take her to the dance properly.  

Devon had Eva in his arms and they were moving to join the others dancing. But it wasn’t to last long as they caught sight of the scene that was unfolding. “Looks like our fun may have to wait abit darlin’.”

“What in Goddess’ sake, Wulf?!” Faith had seen the lycan and the elf dancing, had taken note of the way the elf had enjoyed company of the other lycan guardians and scouts earlier and didn’t like any of it.

“They want ta enslave us so you gotta dance with ‘em? It’s bad enough them fools over with Jaysson want ta drink and frolic with her, but you? I thought you was better than that!”

She reached out and before the girl could touch his arm, Zen had turned and caught her wrist, pressing the nerve centers to cause a bit of pain.

“Esse na.”   

“We don’t speak elvish here, little…” Ahhh…” the lycan growled and started letting her claws grow a bit more on her free hand.

“I said, Esse na – He is. He is better than all those who would judge without knowing.” Zenlial shoved the girl’s wrist back toward her and waited for the next action… “Or would you prefer lycan?” Zenlial made her voice push outward and growled and snarled the words with similar meaning to the girl in front of her.

Faith snarled right back and she lunged at the elf, eyes sparkling dangerously. This time her arm was caught by Wulf and her gaze shot up to connect with his.

“Enough…” Wulf rumbled softly as he stayed between the two females. “I do what I want with who I want. If ya got a problem with it then entertain the others and forget me.” He let go and slid an arm around Zenlial to draw her close in a protective fashion. Zenlial, in return moved as close as she could to Wulf – not because she needed the protection, Goddess knew had that lycan finished the swing of her arm, Zenlial would have shoved a hit into the girl’s pit, dislocating her shoulder and then would have grabbed her by the other arm and rolled her.

She could have protected herself. But, no. She moved closer to Wulf, not because she needed his protection, but because she needed him.

This caught Devon’s eye and he lifted a brow as he looked at his own mate. The Alpha’s had to step in when it seemed that others were being stirred to action by Faith’s outrage.

“Alright settle down, all of ya. We are supposed to be enjoyin’ this night. Save the growlin’ and claimin’ for full moon night.”

“Everything was fine until she showed up.” Faith snarled.

“Enough of the negativity. This is a night of peace. No fighting, for any reason!” Eva’s fierce eyes were on Faith and her clique. She growled low, a growing whine telling them that as females, they were her responsibility and she had had… enough of their shit.

“All are welcome,” Devon reiterated.

“We were gettin’ kinda tired anyway. I was just about to walk Zen to her room.” Wulf was surprised by not only Faith’s outburst but by Zen’s reaction to it.

“Apologies Devon and Eva,” the elf deeply bowed her head to the couple, but did not leave Wulf’s side. This was his place and she would allow him to lead this moment…just as she had not continued the fight, once he had stepped in.

Wulf gave the power couple a slow nod in respect as he then led Zenlial away from the fire and back towards the palace. The walk to her room was quiet and at the door Wulf wanted the evening to end on a better note. He kept Zenlial between himself and the door as he leaned down to press a kiss on her lips, he followed it by nuzzling her and drew her scent in one last time. “Sleep well Zen and I’ll see you in the mornin’.”

“Promise?” she whispered, her hand moved over his opposite cheek.

It took everything he had to actually step back away from her so that Zen could open her door and slip inside.

She didn’t want to leave him. She knew that it was part of their culture not to actually claim one another until they were truly mated unless they just wanted to play around. Zenlial didn’t just want to play around, and he knew that. She had self-respect and that had her closing the door and leaning back against it instead of inviting him in.  They had talked about this. He knew where she stood. As difficult as it was to separate from him this beautiful night, she needed to know where he would stand before moving on.

Eva kept her keen eyes on the troublemakers, even as she and Devon continued to dance. She hugged into him, her face going into his hair, near his ear. “Has he returned? I’m so curious…”  Devon knew full well that his mate was a busy body when it came to romances and drama. This? This had turned from just a fun night into something very… VERY interesting.

“No, probably won’t either. I was told by some of the others that Wulf’s come ta hate these things.” Devon’s hands slid down to rest on his mate’s hip and bottom. “Unless ya think he’ll come back to put those pups in their places, but that’d ruin the evenin’.” The beat was a nice rhythm they could dip and sway to. It looked like a mix between tribal and salsa or even lambada dancing – if you had to compare it to something from the other side. For the lycan, it was highly erotic.

“He used to not hate them. He used to prowl them, remember? I suppose a lot has changed since we went away, my mate,” Eva moved to the musical rhythm and slid easily against him. She was quite certain that their earlier tussle would not be their only one this night. A lot had changed. She watched as Kieran danced with Twilight and the loving adoration in both of their eyes for one another was a welcome sight. Most were coupled up at this point or they were gathered nearer the tables playing games of chance or drinking. The packs were mixing and mingling.

Peace truly was at hand.

(It’s not completely edited, but I wanted to go ahead and post it before my medications kicked my ass.  Sinus and ear infection. Wish me luck getting rid of them!) 

~  Rachel Diane Adams and Dawn McClellan © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2018