Conclusion: Emma gets her reward and her revenge.
"Ava," Rafe called, putting as much authority into his voice as he could muster. Perhaps she would respond to the fact that he was an Alpha. It was at least worth a try.
Skittish eyes turned toward him, and for a moment he thought he would get through to her, and then, her gaze turned inward again, and a sinking tightness settled in the pit on his stomach. He really didn't want to be put in the position of performing a mercy kill. He would if he had to, but there had to be a way to save the wolf, there just had to.
"Ava, this is Rafe, the Alpha we told you about."
It was only when the blond vampire spoke that Rafe paid any attention to him. It wasn't that he hadn't known he was there, because he was aware of everything around his pack. He just knew that this was Joshua. Caleb, and Demetri and Pietro had all vouched for him, so, there was no need to be concerned about his presence. He was a friend.
The woman backed into the vampire's chest, clutching at the child protectively. "Home," she whimpered, her fear escalating. "Tali needs to go home."
Things were going from bad to worse, and Rafe didn't know how to countered Ava's rising terror. Her big eyes were beginning to lose the small spark of sanity they contained, her grip on the child becoming harder as the little girl exclaimed in pain. He would have to protect the child at all costs. If that meant ending the she-wolf then so be it.
"Move out of the way, Joshua."
The blond vampire stiffened at the female voice, spinning around defensively as Liam and Thereasa joined the group. "I thought you were dead, Thereasa." His tone was conversational, but his stance was tense.
"Sorry to disappoint you," she countered, a half smile on her face. "You've travelled a long way for a hat," she remarked, alluding to their meeting not so long ago, when she had slipped inside his mind in Europe, to steal the fedora that contained the vampire scent she'd needed to track the V__rcolac stateside. From his expression it was clear he was still annoyed about it, though she didn't appear too bothered.
"Step aside, Joshua. I will not hurt your charges. If anything, perhaps Liam and I can save the wolf before she loses whatever semblance of sanity she still retains."
It was clear he didn't trust her, and Liam fought to keep a scowl from his face. It was difficult enough in their pack for Reasa to earn any trust. He was unhappy that a stranger could come onto their lands, and get away with questioning her too.
"Let Liam and Reasa do what they can," Pietro del a Rios called as, he too, arrived in the meeting area. "I never did get a chance to thank you properly for all you did for me in Europe, Joshua. Please come to our home and meet my mate Cassia." He qualified his statement by standing side by side with Thereasa, smiling at her to show that they had come to terms with their previous difficulties.
Pietro's appearance seemed to sooth the other vampire, and his defensiveness lessened a bit, though he still cast a sceptical glance in Thereasa's direction.
"A lot has happened since Europe," his friend continued, beckoning him to follow him to his home. "Let's get you caught up on the developments before Caleb drags you away for a debrief."
"They are safe with us, Joshua." Rafe nodded his agreement. "I give you my word on that."
With such strong positive reinforcements, it was hard for the European vampire to continue his distrustful stance, so he finally relaxed, turning to Ava and giving her a reassuring smile. "These people will help you, sweet one. Do not be afraid. You are safe and Tali is safe here. They will care for you until you are well enough to return to your Alpha."
"Home," Ava gasped out, the little girl giving a pained cry as she gripped her a bit too hard.
Rafe took an involuntary step forward, but Thereasa intervened first.