“I trust you have been told what to do in any outcome?” Vasile asked her very softly.
Jacque looked to Alina, asking with her eyes if Vasile knew about Sally and Jen. Alina gave the tiniest turn of her head indicating he did not, so Jacque simply nodded, not trusting herself to speak.
“Good. Now, my wolves will stay around you and Alina for the duration. I want you all to back up about five paces and do not move.” Vasile said those last three words with his eyes once again locked on Jacque.
Am I really that bad at following orders? Jacque thought. Then she mentally nodded. Yeah, I most definitely am.
They collectively stepped back the five paces and stopped. Jacque realized that Alina still had her hand, and when she saw Fane step out from a curve in the circle, she was really, really glad because Jacque took an involuntary step towards him. Several things happened all at once then. Every wolf around her put a hand on her to pull her back. Fane’s head turned and looked straight at her just as all the hands were descending. Fane let out a snarl and his course of direction changed, coming towards Jacque. A huge growl came from Fane’s left, causing him to stop.
“You know, Prince, that if you so much as speak to her before the challenge begins you will forfeit, and I will be able to kill you without a fight.” Jacque realized it had been Lucas who let out the huge growl, and Lucas who was talking now.
Fane growled back, then looked to Jacque. He did not take another step towards her, nor did he speak to her, instead he looked to the other wolves and his mother.
“Restrain her if need be for her safety, but there is to be no mark left on her body, not a single scratch or bruise,” Fane told them. The other wolves in turn lowered their eyes and nodded once in recognition of Fane’s orders.
Jacque looked at Alina and whispered, “Sorry, that was so my fault.”
“It’s alright, Luna. The wolves are tense. Anything will set them off, so let's just be as still as possible,” Alina whispered back.
Jacque nodded and turned back to look at what was happening in the circle. Vasile was standing in the center and Jacque could feel power coming off of him in waves. All of a sudden, every wolf suddenly fell to their knees. Jacque looked all around her and thought to herself with a shrug of her shoulders, Huh, that’s different.
Jacque turned and saw that Alina was still standing, as was Vasile. That’s when she realized that Vasile must have done his 'Alpha voodoo', as Jen would say.
“I stand as Alpha over this challenge,” Vasile began speaking. “All rules will be followed, the penalty for any not followed is death at my hands.” Vasile paused and looked around the circle at each wolf that was kneeling, none met his eyes, none so much as moved. Jacque could tell that some wanted to fight the orders that Vasile was giving, but he was more dominant and he was Alpha so they had no choice but to obey.
“Lucas Steele, come forward,” Vasile said, looking straight at him. “Fane Lupei, come forward.”
Both men came to stand in front of Vasile. Neither looked him in the face.
“Lucas, you challenge Fane for bonding ceremony to his mate, Jacquelyn Pierce. Is that correct?” Vasile asked the Alpha.
“Yes,” Lucas growled, still under Vasile’s control and not liking it.
“Fane, you accepted this challenge understanding that it is to the death?”
“Yes.” Fane’s voice was steady, no growl, no sign of weakness. It made Jacque want scream at how unfair this all was. She shook it off and tried to focus.
“You will fight in wolf form, and you will receive no help from your pack. Neither of you can choose to submit and live. If you submit, your opponent will still kill you. Do each of you understand the rules as I have laid them out in the presence of these witnesses?” Vasile asked them.
Both wolves spoke at the same time.
“I understand the rules as you have laid them out. I understand that should I choose to defy your orders I will be put to death by your hands. Let it be as you have said, Alpha.”
Vasile nodded and walked towards the edge of the circle. Then he turned and gave the wolves a look. It must have meant something because they stepped apart. and in a matter of a few breaths where men had been wolves stood.
The first thing Jacque noticed was that Fane was the larger wolf. But then Fane was a large guy, so it would only fit that he be a large wolf. Fane’s fur was pitch black while Lucas’ was deep brown. They were both beautiful, and they were both snarling. Their hackles were raised, heads low towards the ground. The picture they made was terrifying.
“Begin,” she heard Vasile say, and her heart felt like it had moved into her throat.
For a few moments all they did was circle one another. Every so often one would take a step forward, causing the other to snarl and snap their teeth. Alina still had Jacque’s hand and Jacque was squeezing it so tight she hoped that she wasn’t hurting her. Suddenly Jacque heard a sound to her left.
“Come on, Alpha. He’s just a pup,” one of Lucas’s wolves yelled. The words had barely left his mouth and then he was on the ground, whining in pain. Jacque turned to look at Vasile, and sure enough, he was looking straight at the wolf and power was once again radiating off of him. All the other wolves took steps back, realizing that the Romanian Alpha was not playing.
As all that was taking place, Lucas had taken advantage of the distraction and lunged at Fane. But Fane was ready and moved before Lucas could get near him. Lucas turned to get Fane back in his sights and Fane circled around, snapping at Lucas’ back leg. The bark that came from Lucas made it clear that Fane had hit his mark. Fane backed up quickly before Lucas could react. Jacque watched them circle and lunge, nip and bark. It looked like a dance. She realized, once she started feeling light headed, that she was holding her breath. Taking a couple of good, deep breaths, she tried to relax her stance. Yeah, fat chance that.
Suddenly, Lucas was on Fane. He'd managed somehow during their dance to get a good grip on Fane’s rear right leg. Fane snarled and turned hard, trying to bite at Lucas. Lucas hung on with a death grip. Fane shook his leg violently. When that didn’t work, he began to roll his body, twisting his leg at the same time. Jacque froze. If he kept that up he was going break his leg. Jacque felt Alina tense, and when she looked at her face she could tell that Alina realized the same thing. Jacque started to say something but Alina growled, so Jacque put her hand over her mouth as a physical barrier to keep quiet. But just as soon as she covered her mouth, she wanted to cover her ears because the snarls and whines coming from Fane were breaking her heart. Finally she heard a crack and a whine, mixed with a growl. When she looked up she saw that Fane had managed to get free of Lucas, but he had done it at the price of his leg. He was now fighting with his leg held limply off the ground.