**Warning: Contains Spoilers. Do not read if you have not yet finished Book I**
"Ylvana, can you hear me?" Jay's voice was beneath a whisper that could not be heard three feet away, but Ylvana's Shifter ears caught it across the room.
"Yes," she whispered back.
"You know the female guard?"
"Yeah - the one who keeps eyeing you like a piece of raw meat?"
"Do you notice what she wears in her hair?"
"...Yes? What are you thinking, bird-brain?"
"I'm thinking we can get a lock-pick, but I need you to play along." He walked towards the cell bars and cleared his throat. When he spoke, his voice turned unnaturally low and raspy. "Excuse me, guard."
The brunette girl was quick to look up, and just as quick to hide her excitement with a half-hearted "what?"
"Come over here, I wanna talk for a minute."
At this point, Ylvana had turned over in her bed of hay to watch what was going on. Jay was leaning against the bars with one arm over his head and the other in his pocket. He had scuffed up his hair a bit to fall dramatically across his forehead and highlight his eyes, which were intensely locked on the guard. It took all of Ylvana's will not to burst out laughing at his dramatic performance.
The guard stopped just beyond the reach of the cell. "We can talk from here."
"We could, I just figured you wanted to get closer. I noticed your eyes on me."
"That's my job, I have to make sure neither of you are trying to escape."
"Bet you're enjoying it." He tossed his famous uneven smile her way.
A hint of red stained the guard's cheeks. She looked away, only to meet Ylvana's eyes. Venom crept into her voice as she said: "Not very wise to say such things in front of your girlfriend."
"She's not my girl," Jay answered sternly. "She's obsessed with me. Putting us in separate cells was the most merciful thing that's happened to me for months. Do you really think I betrayed the King willingly?"
Ylvana's face scrunched in confusion. A slight raise of Jay's brow was all the answer she needed. This was what he meant by 'play along', of course! The allure of an attractive 'bad-boy' act was pretty strong, but spite was stronger. Used correctly, it could make a person do anything.
Problem was: Ylvana wasn't nearly as good an actor. "Give it a rest, Jay! This... scum-bag is way below your lead! You know it's really me you want!"
'Scum-bag?' Jay silently asked.
Ylvana didn't have an answer besides a shrug.
The guard huffed indignantly, walking closer to Jay and flipping her hair as she turned her back to Ylvana. It's working.
"Mm, is that lavender and jasmine?"
"Um, it's my perfume."
"It's amazing," Jay said, breathlessly.
It was incredible. Ylvana had never seen a more hopeless, cheesy performance, and yet, as the guard subtly pressed herself closer to the bars, it was clear she was long gone.
"There's nothing special about her perfume, it's literally just flowers. I gave you flowers the other day! C'mon, man!" Ylvana cried.
"You probably know my name, so tell me yours, love."
"Brown hair, brown eyes. It's probably just as plain as the rest of her," Ylvana moaned.
The guard defiantly lifted her chin. "Ali."
"Ali," Jay repeated in that husky tone that had Ylvana covering her mouth and holding her breath. "You know, I've never seen the Wolf Princess so flustered. She's jealous of you, and she doesn't get jealous easily."
Ali tilted her head. "Well, wolves tend to be frivolous and shallow."
Ouch. Ylvana physically winced. The guard wasn't acting.
"Ugh, you have no idea." Jay pushed his hand through his hair, purposely slow. "There's not a day that goes by that I don't curse my own blood."
Ali gave him an uncertain once-over. "You did betray your own people."
"That's what they say." Jay lazily stretched his arms over his head, pulling up the bottom of his shirt a little. "That's what you get for trusting a wolf, and now I'll never be able to prove my innocence."
"Well, I believe in second chances."
Jay smiled, his alluring eyes taking the tone of a kicked puppy. "Not for me. Any minute, my father will have a noose strung up for me. I'm probably down to my last days. I don't suppose you could help me with me my last, small request."
"Maybe," Ali whispered back to him.
"You see... I'm kinda embarrassed to ask but... I've never kissed a girl before. I could only dream of being with someone as beautiful as you."
Ylvana scoffed loudly. "Nice try, but you'll never get her to kiss the likes of-"
Without warning, Ali reached through the bars and pulled him towards her by his shirt collar. From her perceptive, Ylvana couldn't see their faces colliding, but she could hear it, which was enough to make her gag. She could, however, see Jay's hand sneak its way up her shoulder, her neck, and into her hair. It must have been a minute that passed. Ylvana was considering breaking them apart to make sure they were still breathing, but the two pulled away on their own account.
"If you let me out, I bet we could find a place more private," Jay whispered breathlessly.
It was a mistake that made Ali realize the real reason for his admiration. Ylvana heard a loud thump before she stormed off to her post at the front of the cabin.
"OH MA POOR FOOT!" Jay squeaked through the pain.
"You're lucky that's all she did to you," Ylvana mumbled.
As he limped back to the bales of straw, he let her catch a glimpse of the hairpin in his hand.