Sitting in front of the fire, Jayne's body rest between Gabriel's legs while he leaded against the edge of the sofa, they watched as the flames licked the logs.
They promised each other that to begin both of their healing processes, they tell their stories of how things had started, when their lives had gone wrong.
Unfortunately, neither of them knew where to start. So far they'd managed to fill the silence with lunch, but they knew soon enough one of them would have to say something.
Taking a deep breath, Jayne opened her mouth.
"Growing up," she said, her eyes focused on the glowing blaze, "we all knew that on out sixteenth birthday, the Goddess would grant us our wolves. They would become our second half, our best friend, a protector and confidant.
"But," she sniffed, allowing emotions she usually forced down to surface, "my birthday came and went. No wolf. No one in my pack had ever experienced anything like it. The best advice the elders could give me was to be patient. That maybe my wolf was shy in letting herself be know, so I did.
"I waited, and waited, and waited, but there was nothing to wait for. She never arrived.
"Before my birthday I had tons of friends, even a boyfriend that I was sure I would be mated to when we turned eighteen," she continued, letting long suppressed tears flow, "but when it became apparent that I was never going to have a wolf, everyone started to change.
"My friends began to distance themselves, acting like I had a contagious, incurable disease. One day Allen told me point blank that he didn't want anything to do with me anymore.
"Of course he waited until after we'd had sex to say this," Jayne laughed without joy. "In school, I went from being head of my class, a teachers pet, to being the butt of every joke, the subject of innumerable and painful pranks.
"The worst of which was when Allen sent me a note asking me to meet him after classes to talk about our relationship. When I showed up, it wasn't just him waiting for me. Five other people I'd once considered my best friends were there.
"They beat me up, called me horrible names, spit on me, tore my textbooks and notebooks to shreds before throwing me in the cafeteria dumpster.
"When I tried to tell my principle, he said I made it up because I wasn't getting any attention anymore. My parents just told me to keep my chin up.
"They reminded me that without a wolf, I could be kicked out of the pack, so I needed to just keep my mouth shut and learn to bare the teasing."
Understanding how mean werewolves could be to non-pack members he could picture the way Jayne had been treated.
Wrapping his arms tighter around her waist, he placed a kiss on her temple.
Pausing to enjoy the feeling of his caring support, Jayne felt like a huge weight was being lifted from her soul.
"Things never got better," she sighed, "my mom started treating me like a china doll, fragile and not to be touched. My dad couldn't even look me in the eye, and my brothers started telling people that I wasn't their sister, that I was adopted.
"I think that's when I started to hurt myself. I was so angry and sad and lonely, it became my escape. With the pain, I could control it. It brought a clarity to my mind, made it easier me to keep going.
"After I graduated, I applied for a human college, wanting to be as far from a pack as humanly possible," she chuckled, finding her Freudian slip amusing.
"So, there you go," she sighed, wiping the tears from her cheek. "A lifetime of pain in a nutshell."
In truth, Jayne felt better than she had in years. To have Gabriel's arms wrapped around her as a shield against the past, it didn't hurt as badly to think about it as it used to.
After the end of her story, Gabriel couldn't help but feel anger at her mistreatment and the ensuing anguish.
Reaching down, he moved Jayne's body around until she was cradled in his arms like a child.
Once settled, he felt her arms snake around his neck as she nuzzled her face into the crook of his neck.
Rocking slowly, he let her cry off and on for the rest of the evening until her tears dried up and her sniffles stopped.
How could anyone hurt such a beautiful soul? he wondered.
Sitting up, Jayne cupped his face, turning his face to his, her lips brushing his cheek.
"Thank you Gabriel," she whispered, giving him a small smile. "Thank you for taking care of me, for caring."
Nodding, he returned her kiss, his arms pulling her into a hug.
Both of them sighed in a rare moment of complete contentment.
Rising with Jayne still in his arms, Gabriel scooted back onto the sofa cushions.
Lifting her head, she saw her laptop still sitting where he'd dropped it yesterday.
"Hey," Jayne exclaimed, suddenly excited, "do you want to see something?"
Gabriel nodded, wondering what had made her so happy.
Reaching over, she pulled her laptop onto her lap and opened it.
After typing away feverishly, only pausing to curse twice, she soon turned the screen so he could see what she was looking at.
His eyes widened when he saw several small windows showing wolves.
In one window, he watched a young wolf playing with three small pups.
"That's the nanny," Jayne explained, making the picture bigger. "She's left behind to take care of the pups while the rest of the pack goes hunting. She's most likely a young hunter too inexperienced yet to go with the others, so she stays behind and starts the pups training through play."
They watched the quartet, laughing occasionally when the boldest of the pups attempted to sneak up on his nanny only to have her put him in his place.
Making the picture small again, Jayne searched the other windows until she saw movement on another screen.
Opening it, they watched as the rest of the pack stalking something off screen.
"Look at that," Jayne whispered, sounding happy, "see how the female is leading?
"In the wild, it's always the female that leads the hunt because she smaller and less likely to be spotted. She uses her body language to communicate to the rest of the pack when it was time for them to move."
Gabriel listened intently as Jayne prattled on and on about the different behaviors she'd managed to capture. Some of the things she talked about he already knew, but most of it was incredibly interesting.
They sat like this, reviewing video after video while Jayne became more and more excited by the behaviors she was seeing.
By the time she was done, night had fallen and it was time for dinner.