Chapter 22

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Dante took out his anger on the punching bag again, but once his anger had subsided, he had to fight out his lust. She was beautiful, and the image of her sitting in the bath tub was driving him crazy inside. He was teasing about getting in with her, but he actually really wanted to. He thought about how he wanted to kiss every inch of her body, and how he wanted to explore every curve with his hands. He wanted to taste her lips, and... and then he broke another punching bag.

"What is she doing to me?" he growled out loud to the empty gymnasium. Again, he cleaned up the mess, and then went upstairs. This time, he listened intently before entering the bathroom. He wanted to make sure she didn't just happen to be in there when he was. After listening, he knew she was in her room, and could hear her slow and steady breathing, and he knew she was asleep. So he took his shower and went to bed.

The next morning went as usual, breakfast included Jade, Dante, Jackson and Evelyn, Jimmy the Delta and Peter. Everyone cheerfully chatting and eating, like old friends without a care in the world.

"Are you heading over to the training grounds again this morning?" Jackson asked Dante.

"Yeah, I need to update a few of the trainers on some tactics we might be using soon, so I want everyone to be on the same page" was Dante's reply. "Do you want to come with me, Jade?" he asked turning to her. She nodded in agreement. "Ok, but no ogling me like you did last night" he said to her with a wink. Her cheeks instantly flamed with color and he continued. "She tried to seduce me last night" he said to the group around the table. "Practically pulled me into the tub with her" he finished.

Jade was completely red at this point, staring around the room, but also trying to avoid eye contact with anyone. As though trying to protest her innocence, but non-verbally.

"Alpha Dante Greyson" Evelyn spoke, as she glared at Dante. "You better watch yourself, Sir. None of that talk at the table. You're going to send this poor girl running for the hills. Now, apologize" she commanded.

Nobody, except for Jade, was surprised at Evelyn's outburst. She was quite used to taking a motherly tone with her Alpha, and making an effort to correct his behavior, even though she wasn't really any older than him. Everyone chuckled and awaited Dante's obedience to her instruction.

Dante took Jade's hand in his, which she reluctantly allowed, and kissed her hand. "A thousand apologies, by sweet mate. I see I've embarrassed you, and for that, I'm sorry..." and he looked over at Evelyn, "sort of..." and he kissed Jade's hand again, which she then immediately took back. She looked up at him a frowned, and then ignored him for the remainder of the meal.

Dante and Jade walked to the training grounds together after breakfast, and unlike the last time they were out, he held her hand. She honestly didn't know if he was the affectionate type or not. His behavior toward her seemed to be so erratic, she really never knew what to expect. There had been several times, when he would touch her or look at her, that she was sure he was about to kiss her, but he never did. But then he frequently took her hand and held it in his, and would kiss her hand or her forehead. Then there were the times that he would call her his mate, and sound like he sincerely wanted her, and only her. But then there were times like this morning, when he would tease her mercilessly, as if he got a sick pleasure out of seeing her blush and uncomfortable. His behavior toward her definitely confused her, and fed into her insecurities about her worthiness of being his mate.

Once they reached the training grounds, Dante participated this time in some of the exercises. He was working with some of the trainers, showing them some of the changes he was making to their formations, and the way the different groups would work together. Then they would train the groups they each worked with.

While Dante was with the team leaders, Jade wandered around the training area, mostly just watching as everyone sparred with each other. She interacted minimally with a few of the pack who were waiting their turns to fight, smiled at everyone and was actually beginning to feel comfortable around so many strangers. She had just gone taken a drink from one of the drinking fountains on the far side of the fields, and when she stood up straight and turned to walk back, she bumped right into the blonde she-wolf she had seen wave to Dante the other day. She raised her hand in an apology, bowing slightly as if to complete the apologetic gesture.

"So, you must be the mute slave we're expected to call our Luna?" the blonde said to her.

Jade was completely taken aback. Whatever she might have expected this woman to say to her, it wasn't that. Jade continued to just stare at her in astonishment.

"You may think you've got your hooks in him for now" and then she paused as she took a drink of water. "But he clearly hasn't marked you yet, which must mean the mate bond isn't very strong between you. And if that's the case, he'll soon see that you're a poor choice, and will reject you. It's just a matter of time." And then she walked off, without another glance in Jade's direction.

Jade knew the tears were coming and that she wouldn't be able to hold them back, so she just ran. She went straight back to the pack house, without stopping, and threw herself onto her bed, sobbing uncontrollably. The blonde's words hurt. They stung because Jade felt she was correct. Dante was barely showing interest in her, and if he felt the mate bond anything like she did, why hadn't he even kissed her yet? And she knew she wasn't worthy anyway, and when she considered that, she cried a fresh set of tears. She was kidding herself to think that she would be someone he would choose. She didn't speak, she was weak, she had been a slave, and most importantly, she felt like a coward and that there was no way she could be the Luna that this pack deserved.

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