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Sanda nudged a piece of hot coal with her foot. It glowed with dark orange light in the cracks from where it popped out of the fireplace, hiding dangerous, but useful heat within. Jurisa paced back and forth in front of her as she lectured Sanda about her reckless decision to go after Beryx without telling anyone in the Cold Mountains community first. Dragos stood by her with arms crossed, frowning at his nearly frantic mate. His brother was also present, but seemed to be paying more attention to the quiet Mouse seated next to Garrett and Cami in the lounger, unobtrusively waiting her turn for a lecture. Sanda stepped on the coal beside her booted foot, crushing it into black powder and effectively putting out any potential fire.

At least she wasn't being immediately run out of the pack. Sanda had been afraid of what sort of reaction their little group would receive on returning to the village several days ago. It wasn't nearly as bad as she feared.

Jurisa’s first concern was for any immediate political ramifications of their journey down the mountain. She made certain they hadn’t broken any major tenets of the contract between Lycans and humans. Jurisa was obviously relieved that the humans in the village agreed not to speak of the incident, but Sanda could still see the concern in her eyes when Beryx described Sanda's first change and the havoc it brought. The Alpha didn't say anything on the subject, but Sanda knew then that she could expect further inquiries.

Jurisa granted everyone in their group some time to recover from their journey. They needed it, especially Beryx and Garrett who were both shot.

Mouse used her considerable medical skill to ease everyone's pain and encourage fast healing. Sanda spent those first few days ensconced in bed next to Beryx, curled around him like a protective blanket. They couldn't remain locked away in his cottage forever. Sure enough, everyone had been summoned to the leaders’ home for a grilling and who knew what else. Sanda wasn't well-versed in Lycan law yet. Beryx had been in little mood to discuss the subject during his recovery.

Jurisa stopped in her tracks and turned with a pointed finger at Garrett. “I know you're the one who implemented this plan.”

“I owed a debt to Sanda and the community,” Garrett spoke up. They all knew what he was referring to, his decision to let the human villager go without telling anyone. At the time, Jurisa and the other Alphas were furious. Sanda was in shock over his decision and responded with deep, deep anger. She felt that villager was the only chance she had to get her mate back safely. Looking back on it now, Sanda was ashamed over her treatment of Garrett. She still harbored some anger towards Mouse for keeping it all quiet, but could understand the woman's loyalty towards her friend.

“It wasn't up to you to decide how to pay that debt,” Jurisa said. She shook her head and threw up her hands in disgust over their misadventures.

“No, it wasn't. We did get him back alive,” Garrett said, referring to Beryx. Jurisa had banned Sanda’s mate from the meeting despite his forceful arguments. She hadn't wanted him influencing her decisions.

“He's right,” Dragos said, “they did manage to bring Beryx back and no one is the wiser.”
Jurisa side-eyed her mate. It was obvious what she thought of that statement. Dragos’ brother on the other hand, snorted.

21 November
Chandler Dee
Smashwords, Inc.

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