As soon as Jacque put the microphone down and the music resumed, the crowd was back in motion and the murmur of conversation filled the air.
Sally looked up at Costin as they continued into the room. "Well, that was interesting," he said softly and grinned.
Sally was wrapped in a tight hug before she could respond to Costin's remark.
"You look amazing!" Jen squeezed her, apparently haven gotten away from Decebel.
"Jen, you saw me before I came down." Sally told her with raised eyebrows.
"That's not the point. It's all about presentation. You walk up in here in this yummy black dress with yummy, furry eye candy plastered to you... Jeez, you are very striking together."
Sally tried to put some space between her and Costin after being referred to as “plastered” to him. Costin tightened his hold on her and pulled her close. The move did not go unnoticed by eagle-eye Jen, who raised a single eyebrow at Sally and smirked. Sally was very tempted to kick Jen in the shin or give her the one finger salute that Jen tended to throw around when she was in a particularly nasty mood.
However, Sally decided that the birthday girl should probably not act that way. She did note that her inner Jen was all for the kicking and saluting.
Sally, Jacque, Jen, Crina, and even Cynthia spent most the time on the dance floor. They bumped and ground and gyrated all over, earning them applause and laughs from both packs and growls and frowns from their mates. Crina, of course, loved rubbing in the fact that she didn't have to worry about a mate dragging her off the dance floor.
Finally, after an hour or more of dancing, Jacque announced the entry of the birthday cake, which was beautiful, but Sally did not understand its shape. Perizada stepped up next to the table on which the cake had been rolled out.
"I can tell by the look on your face that you don't know what your cake is supposed to be." Perizada smiled at Sally.
Sally looked at the three round maroon cakes that were pushed together, forming a circle.
Peri chuckled. "No, healer. This is a gypsy rune symbol. It indicates a bonding when thrown during a casting of the future, or can link situations together when used properly. This cake was chosen due to what a little bird -"
"Jen," Jacque coughed, trying to disguise Jen's name as she interrupted Peri, who continued on as if Jacque hadn't spoken.
“- who told me that you have experienced a bond. Am I correct?"
Sally froze at Peri's question. She knew she couldn't hide her and Costin's mating signs forever, and she knew that they would have to complete the bonding ceremony – eventually. What she didn't know was how to face a room full of Canis lupis and discuss her love life.
Before she could speak Costin stepped forward, and as he said he would, he had her.
"We are here to celebrate Sally turning eighteen." Costin's voice rang firmly over the room, and the dominance he so easily hid was very evident now. "At this moment there is nothing more important than celebrating that on this day, eighteen years ago, Sally Morgan came into the world. Thank you, Peri, for the explanation of the cake. I for one am ready for Sally to blow out the candles so I can have a piece."
As Sally stepped forward to blow out the candles, Jen eased over next to Costin.
"Well played, lover boy. Well played." Jen nodded her approval at Costin's protection of Sally and continued past him toward the cake.
After Sally had opened present after present – with the help of Jen's incessant commentary – the night began to draw to a close. Sally was breathing more easily. Costin had graciously side-stepped a formal announcement of their mate signs and Jen had kept her clothes on. All in all, it was a successful party. In fact, she had been having so much fun with the girls that she had pushed her and Costin's bonding to the furthest part of her mind. It wasn't until she pulled her hair into a pony tail that the hell that she'd hoped wouldn't break out...did.
Jen, Jacque, and Sally sat on the far side of the great room, pretty much oblivious to everyone else as they reminisced about things from high school and how, if a year ago someone had told them they would discover the existence of werewolves, they would have busted a gut laughing. Then they started laughing over the things Jen had pulled over the past year once they all had gotten their driver's licenses.
Late one night, two weeks after Jen had gotten her license, she took her new found independence in her new Honda Civic and used it to wreak havoc on the good people of Coldspring. Jen – and, of course, she dragged Jacque and Sally along – made the rounds to each student or teacher that fit into her “waste of perfectly good oxygen” category. Depending on the amount of oxygen the person wasted, according to Jen, determined the intensity of the prank. Some got their cars saran-wrapped so they couldn’t open the car doors; some had their yard forked, which was very time consuming and utterly annoying to the prank-ee when it came time to mow the grass; some got Vaseline put on every visible handle of any kind. After that night, Sally and Jacque had wholeheartedly agreed that allowing Jen access to a vehicle was definitely not in the public's best interest.
"I can't believe your parents thought it was a good idea to let you have a car," Jacque said, then cocked her head to the side. "Speaking of parents, when are you two going to call dear old mom and dad and give them the news of your change in circumstance?"
Before either Jen or Sally could answer, Sally felt a finger brush gently against her back, directly over her spine. She knew instantly that it wasn't Costin because the sensation of ants crawling all over her skin rippled over her. Jacque's eyes looked like they were going to pop out of her head as her mouth dropped open and Sally just had time to hear Jen mutter under her breath before a deafening snarl ripped through the room.
"Guess I'm going to have to strip after all." Jen stood, motioning to the DJ by bumping her thumb in an upward motion, indicating she wanted him to increase the volume. As she climbed up onto the table, she watched Costin, who was now glaring at the young Serbian pack member who stood behind a terrified looking Sally.
Everything seemed to move in slow motion from that point on.
"Shit," Jen breathed out as she watched Costin lunge and phase in mid air. Only a few in the back of the room had realized what was going on, so Jen took the opportunity to jump across from table to table, like a frog on lily pads, until she landed on the table closest to the dance floor – and in one of those rare Jen moments, the DJ started The Black Eyed Peas' "Let's Get it Started in Here".