Fane looked at his mate, and found her face nearly as red as her hair.
“Do you have personal experience with this field?” he whispered in her ear.
Jacquelyn slapped him on the leg, hard. “No, you possessive cave man, and you already knew that,” she growled, forgetting briefly that she had an audience.
“She’s a feisty little thing, isn’t she?” Fane’s father commented.
“Aveţi nici o idée (you have no idea),” Fane answered.
“Will there not be kids out at this field?” Vasile asked.
“Nope, they have it fenced off and gated. So we would have to do some B and E, if ya’ll are ok with a little law breaking,” Jen offered.
“What is B and E, love?” Fane asked Jacquelyn.
“Breaking and entering,” she answered.
“That’s not a problem,” Vasile told her. “Okay, good. Location is determined. The next thing I need to discuss is the challenge itself and how werewolf law works.” He paused as Sally walked back into the living room with mugs of hot chocolate and handed them out. Once she was seated on the floor next to Jen, Vasile started speaking again.
“Jacquelyn, what I’m going to tell you now is not pleasant, but it is our way and our law. It is going to be hard for you to understand and to accept, but I tell you now as your Alpha, and yes I am your Alpha as you are my son’s mate, you must abide by these laws and rules. Are we clear?”
Jacquelyn looked at Fane. He could see the panic in her eyes.
“It is okay, love. He is only trying to keep you safe. Trust me,” Fane told her.
She held his hand and turned to look at Vasile. “Crystal,” was all she said.
Vasile nodded his approval and continued. “The rules permit that an Alpha who challenges another wolf may bring his first four wolves, but the rest of his pack must stay away.”
“What do you mean by 'first four'?” Sally asked
“A wolf pack is a hierarchy. You have the Alpha, the Beta, then your dominants and your submissives. From there they are put into order of their rank, usually just the first four are acknowledged. An Alpha’s first is basically the next in command, he is the next most dominant after the Alpha, and it goes from there to the second, third and fourth, each one descending in their level of dominance,” Vasile explained. “Does that answer your question?”
“Yeah it did, thanks,” Sally answered. Vasile tipped his head to her in appreciation.
“Now, the rules also allow for the challenged to bring his Alpha and first four, which is why I brought three Pack members, Sorin makes four. My Beta Decebel is back home, so Dorian has taken his place. The only others allowed in attendance are the Alpha female and the female over which the challenge has been issued. No others will be permitted,” Vasile said resolutely. “I realize that each of you wants to be there with Jacquelyn, but I must make you understand it would be too dangerous. There are going to be ten wolves in a small area, two of them fighting for the right to take a mate. This will make the others edgy – women tend to do that to us males. If Fane is not the victor, it will be me and my wolves against Lucas and his wolves. It will be easier to protect Jacquelyn if our attention is not divided.”
Fane did not miss the way Jacquelyn’s face fell when his father mentioned the possibility of Fane not winning. He realized then that this next part of the conversation was going to be bad, very, very bad.
Jacque had to look away when Vasile mentioned that Fane might not win. The thought made her sick to her stomach. She was also scared beyond belief knowing that she would not have her friends or her mother there for support. Granted, she would have Alina and she was thankful for that, but she couldn’t help suddenly feeling very alone.
“You okay, luminita (little light)?” Fane asked her.
“No, wolf-man, I’m not,” she answered.
“Jacquelyn,” Jacque turned her attention to Vasile when he called her name. “I need to make some things clear to you that I imagine my son has not because of the ugliness of it. We are not human. Some of our ways follow the way of the animal we carry inside us. When I say this is a fight to the death, that’s exactly what I mean. If Lucas gets Fane by the throat and submits him, which is to say that Fane stops fighting, Lucas will still kill him. Some fights are fought until one wolf submits or is killed. This fight is not that way because a wolf will not give up his mate, so if another wants an un-bonded, mated female he must kill her mate.” Vasile paused to gauge her reaction and continued when all Jacque did was stare at him.
What else can I do? she thought. How am I supposed to just stand there and watch another kill him? Jacque felt like she was about to be sick.
“If Fane loses, you and your mother will come to Romania under my protection. Lucas will not give you up; he will expect you to become his mate. The only way to avoid it is to leave. Do you understand that?” Vasile addressed both Lilly and Jacque.
Both nodded solemnly.
“I’m sorry to speak of this so bluntly. Please do not mistake it for lack of care. He is my son, remember that. I am going to have to watch my son fight and maybe die and there is nothing I can do about it. Even though I know I could save him, I am not permitted to, so I do understand your fear and pain. As your Alpha, though, I must make sure you understand the possible outcomes and results of those outcomes.” As Vasile finished, there was a small sniffle and when Jacque turned in the direction of the noise she saw that it was Alina crying. Jacque’s heart broke and her own tears began to spill.
Jacque got up and sat by Alina, wrapping her arms around her. She didn’t know what to say because she knew there was nothing that could be said that would ease the fear. So she just hugged her and cried with her. The room was silent other than the soft cries from the two women who loved Fane so much. Jen and Sally both had silent tears streaking their faces. Lilly’s eyes were closed as she tried to suppress her own tears, hating that her daughter was going through this.
Several minutes later, Alina and Jacque were able to pull themselves together. Fane got up and walked to his mother and knelt down in front of her. He touched her face gently and whispered to her, “Va rugam sa nu plânge mama, mi se rupe inima (please don’t cry mother, it breaks my heart).”
Alina kissed Fane on the forehead. “I’m your mother, it’s my job to cry. Now comfort your mate before your Alpha begins to think you aren’t taking care of her,” she teased him. Then she turned to Jacque. “I can see already I am blessed beyond measure to have you as my son’s mate.”