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“They can’t do this!”

Scarlet eased her ear from the handset. “Apparently, they can.”

She wanted to say “duh”, but refrained. They should have been prepared for this, should have had some sort of plan. Like, Operation: What the Fuck to do When Forced to Parade Ourselves in Front of Mate Hunting Wolves When We Hit Thirty. Instead, Scarlet had pushed the eventuality from her mind, conveniently forgetting that particular law. Apparently, Gabby had done the same.

She fingered the unmarred invitation. “I’m pretty sure Mom covered all this during the whole ‘What to Expect When You’re Marked’ lessons.”

“Quit being rational and logical,” her sister snapped. “I’m too busy for this, Scarlet. You need to do something. Go…do what you do.” She imagined Gabby waving her hands around, fingers fluttering, and she smiled. Her sister in a tizzy was something to watch.

Her mongrel cat Burger came sneaking over and twined around her ankles. While listening to her sister rant and rave at the injustice of their summoning, she fed her sweet boy. Scraping out the rest of his organic, homemade cat food, she stood and placed the empty container in the sink. She’d have to make him more food for the pet sitter before she flew out to the Gathering. Mentally, she ticked through the contents of her freezer. He tended to like the shrimp and salmon more than—

“Are you even listening to me?” Gabby’s screech nearly blew her eardrum.

“Not really.” She stared down at Burger. “Do you think I’ll have to get rid of my cat?”

The thought poked at her heart and deflated it. She’d rescued him when she first graduated from college. It’d been her and Burger against the world.

“Scarlet!” She heard her sister panting and gasping with rage.

“What? I mean, Burger’s a cat, they’re wolves. I don’t want them eating him.” Silence met her. “Just sayin’.”

Scarlet understood Gabby’s feelings, sensed her sister near the edge of sanity, and there wasn’t a damn thing she could do about the situation. She was as freaked-the-fuck-out over the slip of paper as her sister, but she dealt with things with humor. Humor few people appreciated.

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