Timeline: January 30, 2009
Ironclaw met Grey at the old, hollow tree locus. His old friend was exhausted from the healing he’d done for Gillian. She’d gone home to rest some more, but Grey had stayed at the locus and tried to recoup some of the massive energy he lost in the healing. Fights within the pack were always expensive both emotionally and in terms of resources. He leaned tiredly against the rough wood of the interior of the tree and warmed himself by the fire he’d made. Ironclaw took off his snow-covered work boots and sat down cross-legged.
The big man shook his head morosely. “I hated that.”
Grey opened one eye at him. “You did what you had to do.”
Doubt plagued the big Ulfric. “Did I? How sure are we this was the right thing to do?”
Grey sighed. “You know she’s out of control. We didn’t have a choice.”
“Chaska is very upset.”
“We’ll talk to him, try to get him to understand.”
Ironclaw took his turn to sigh. “It’s not going to be easy. He’s involved, too.”
“He’s a very reasonable person. I’m sure he’ll see it our way.” Grey took a breath and prepared to go over it again to reassure his Ulfric they were doing the right thing. “Rey will handle it; she’ll find a way. I know it’s hard, but I know her. She won’t give up what she’s won, she’ll try to hold onto it. And to do that she’s got to get Lyla under some kind of control.
“Lyla’s in real danger, James.” Grey used his friend’s birth name sometimes when they were alone. He was probably one of only a handful of people that even knew it. “The thing that’s in her is driving her lust toward more and more power. The spirits say that it will devour her, just as it will devour Ramiel, himself.”
“The spirits also said that in order to stop what’s coming, they had to give in to the demon inside,” said Ironclaw.
“True. But they did not say we had to lose our friends before it’s time. There is a demon inside her and if we let it rule her, it will ruin her and possibly drag the pack down with her. Rey is human but that might be her greatest strength as she is also Lyla’s friend. I can’t believe that Lyla would hurt Rey on purpose. You saw her tonight. If she’d bitten Rey, Rey would be in the hospital with possibly Rose and Selene to follow. She didn’t. She held back.”
“And if Rey pushes her? What if Lyla finds a way to get rid of Rey?” asked Ironclaw.
“I can’t believe she’d do that. I don’t believe Rey would push so hard that she’d drive Lyla to come after her. We’ve got to trust that Rey’s instinct for survival will help her find a way to curb Lyla’s ambition.”
“If she doesn’t, Lyla will be consumed by it,” finished the ulfric. “And I still hate what happened with Chaska.”
“I know. But we couldn’t snare the Lupa without also catching him in the same net.”
“Ex-lupa. I’m worried the pack will be weakened by having a human lupa,” Ironclaw said.
Grey shook his head. “It won’t be. What does a lupa do? She backs up the Ulfric and takes care of the females. This is not something that requires supernatural power. It only takes loyalty and willingness to care for the pack. Rey is perfectly capable of both.
“If Rey hadn’t become Lupa, we would still have been fine. All the women of this pack are dedicated, even if the old Lupa was being consumed by ambition. We have not acted too late. Any of them will perform the job well. We simply would have had to approach Rey about getting some kind of reign on Lyla’s extra-pack activities separately. That she won is even better for us. Rey will step up to the challenge and she will try to help her friend. Lyla is stuck at the pack bottom for a while, but realistically I doubt anyone would really abuse her. She’s too powerful. Everyone knows she won’t be the omega after June. It’s not in her nature.
“I shouldn’t even have to ask, but I know you,” Grey continued. “If you want to use her as an Omega for –“
He shook his head. “No! No, I’m with Dark Sun now, and I’m serious about the commitment. Anyway, I don’t think she’d be understanding if I went to someone else for sex.” He did not smile. He had no intention or thought of betraying Dark Sun’s trust. Besides, soon enough she would make him a father.
“Good. Then all we have to do know is wait. And hope.”