Timeline: February, 2009
Rey sat at the table in her cabin, a slowly cooling bowl of stew in front of her. She hadn’t eaten any of it. Her stomach was churning, and her thoughts miles away.
“Tell me what is bothering you.” Gray said as he replaced the cold bowl of stew with a fresh warm one.
“I’m a human who’s the alpha female of a pack. I betrayed the trust of my best friends. I have until June to try and figure out a way to stay Lupa and avoid getting beaten to a bloody mass when Lyla challenges me, or stand by and watch as she does something horrible to Ironclaw. And I have to run a criminal organization for three months, trying to find some way to get control of it without Lyla fitting me with concrete shoes or hiring someone to put a bullet in my head.” Ignoring the stew, she rested her forehead in her hands.
“You are strong enough to do this or I would never have suggested it.” Grey said. “Take things as they come, you’ll be fine. But not if you don’t eat.”
She looked at him. “You planned for me to win?” she asked in amazement.
Grey laughed. “No one could have planned that. No I was referring to your maneuvering into the criminal stuff.”
“Maybe, but I don’t have any of the contacts, respect or status she has. The only thing I have is the fact Lyla’s introduced me as her right hand, and that I speak for her. I don’t know if that will be enough.”
Grey heaped two big spoons of stew into his mouth as he listened to Rey. “You’re going to have to learn if it is enough. If you can’t be strong enough to make it happen then things could get messy for you. You have three months to work on it while they are gone.”
She took a spoonful of stew, but grimaced before she set it back down. Pushing her chair back, she went to the stove and put the kettle on to boil water. “Want some tea?” Rey asked, setting a mug on the counter and putting a peppermint teabag in it.
“Sure, and some more stew. If you’re not going to eat I will have to eat for you.” Grey said between spoonfuls.
She brought the pot over to the table after getting another mug from the cupboard. “I can’t rule by strength, and I don’t want to rule through fear. For me to stay as Lupa, they’ll have to respect me, and believe I’m the best one for the job. If I can do that, and find out what they care about and control that in some way, I’ll have them.
“Ironclaw explained to me why it’s important, and how control and being controlled is different for the Uratha, but…” Rey walked back to the stove and poured the boiling water into the mugs. “I know it has to be done, and why. It just doesn’t sit well with me.”
Grey arced an eyebrow as he looked at Rey. He set his spoon down. “A lupa is a caregiver. She protects her pack. If you are good to your pack they will respect you and work with you. Lyla did that, her and Ramiel both helped provide for this pack and in return this pack has grown to care for and respect them both. Even if they can’t see it all the time. But they are young, and that is the way of the young, sometimes the larger picture is not in focus.”
Grey stood beside Rey and put his hand over hers. “You should find your own way if you wish to stay Lupa. But I would advise against manipulating and trying to dominate over the pack. Be a provider, caregiver, to all the pack, especially Lyla.”
“I can do that,” Rey said. She lifted Grey’s hand and brushed her cheek against it.
The young Lupa picked up her spoon with her free hand, not wanting to lose physical contact with him, and scooped up some stew. “What can you tell me about Rose and Selene? I’m going to have to talk to them soon, and I’d like a bit more information about them before I do.”
Grey looked lovingly into her eyes.”Well they both work at the bar with you. Neither one does much with me. And ummmm…I spend most of my time with the spirits and they don’t.”
As he spoke, Rey ate the stew on her spoon then set the utensil down. She stood, never letting go of his hand. “So, as the pack’s Lupa, it’s my job to care for and provide for the pack. Is there anything I can do for you?” Her voice was playful, and he noticed she carried herself with more confidence.
It was difficult for him to focus at the moment. Images of her writhing beneath him filled his mind. Yeah, be a good Lupa, and dont’ get killed, he thought. “More stew please.”
With her free hand, she grabbed her bowl of stew then led him over to the couch in front of the gently crackling fire. “Let’s share what’s left in my bowl,” Rey said with a smile, and tugged on his hand so he’d sit on the rug next to her.
He followed her lead and set next to her. “You have a pretty full plate right now, but I am here for you. Even if I don’t have the answers you need.”
She set the bowl on the floor. “I know.” She rested her right hand on his chest, over his heart, and leaned in to kiss him. It started tender and loving, but he soon sensed the passion that burned so hotly in her.
Grey returned her passion with his own. Their bodies entwined, they indulged in each other until the fire was but embers, and dreams consumed them.