Chapter 11: Queen For A Day
I woke up early, something that I couldn’t seem to shake. Last night was rough; Vivian had a bad nightmare about 2 am and Mary and I spent almost an hour talking and hugging her through it before she finally slept again. I was tired, but I was always tired. Habits learned in eleven years in harsh captivity don’t go away in a few days. I still slept lightly, waking at any abnormal noise or shift. I still clung to my girls for comfort. I still didn’t trust men.
I went downstairs where I found Abigail making a bunch of food for breakfast. She had been the housekeeper for Kirsten’s family before the attack, and now she was serving me. She was a kind old wolf, her husband was in charge of vehicle maintenance, and they lived in an apartment in the basement of the big house. I had taken to her immediately, she was like a grandmother and her food was amazing. “Come sit, Alpha Catherine, I’ll make you a plate.”
I was soon digging in to a big plate of pancakes and bacon as we talked about her old Pack. There were tears involved, many good wolves had been lost in the attack and afterwards. She and her husband weren’t fighters, they had renounced Kirsten and felt bad about it. “You did what you had to do to survive, Abigail, don’t feel bad about that. Kirsten did the same, she did what she had to do for you to survive. The blame lies with him, and we killed him.”
She wiped a tear. “I know, but every time I look down the hall I expect to see that little girl come running down here for breakfast before school. It’s hard with her not here, with Thomas gone. She was looking forward to raising a big family in these walls, and it’s all gone now.” She sat down in the chair across from me and took my hand. “I’m glad it is you now. The world needs a few women in charge for a while to get things right again.”
“I hope so, but I’m worried that I may have one of the shortest reigns as Alpha ever.” I sat back in the chair and thought about all the threats my small pack and large territory had.
“Not if I can help it,” a deep voice said. I looked up and my jaw dropped; walking into the kitchen was the largest wolf I’d ever seen. He was older, grey streaks were in his black hair and his temples, and his hairline was starting to recede, but those were the only concessions to age. He had a well-trimmed beard that couldn’t draw attention away from his sparkling blue eyes. He was simply massive in human form, bigger even than Moose or Shay. He was wearing a Husqvarna T-shirt that was stretched tight over his shoulders and arms, faded blue jeans, and work boots. My wolf was of two minds as she felt his power; part wanted to roll over and expose her belly while the other wanted to race up and sniff him deeply. My human side just gawked as I looked at him, my beta Craig could barely be seen behind him.
“And you are?” God, I’m awkward.
“Elder Seamus Kirkpatrick,” he said with a smile as he moved over to stand next to the table.
By Luna, no man that big should be able to move that quickly or quietly, he’s like a damn cat. My wolf was fascinated by him, so was I, so much I had to shake myself back into the moment. “Alpha Catherine Rigby.” His hand reached out to shake mine, I hesitated for only a moment before I shook it.
A spark jumped between us and I felt a tingle rushing up my arm. For the third time in twenty seconds, my jaw dropped open as I felt him squeeze my hand a little tighter.
He felt it too, he must have.
It was a feeling I hadn’t felt for eleven long years, and I dropped his hand like it was hot. My mind was racing, it couldn’t be, it wasn’t possible, and I sure as hell wasn’t ready for what it meant. A little flushed, I fell back into the manners my parents had taught me. “Welcome to my Pack, Elder Seamus. Please, join us for breakfast.” I motioned for him to take the seat next to me, and Craig took one across from us.
“Thank you, it looks wonderful.” Abigail quickly made up two more plates, giving me a chance to get my thoughts together. Craig was staring at his food, not wanting to get involved as he could sense the tension between us and didn’t want to interfere. All my girls were still sleeping, and Abigail disappeared after making sure we all had plenty of food and drink. I’m sure she didn’t miss the interaction between us, and no wolf could mistake the scent my body was betraying me with.
My wolf and my subconscious were battling to see who could put the most lurid, depraved image in my mind. Thoughts I hadn’t had since that day, desires long buried were pushing up at the breakfast table and I sure wasn’t ready for them. It was time to divert and delay. “So, Elder Seamus, what brings you here?”
“You do.” I dropped my fork, it banged off my plate and dropped to the floor, and I stared at it for a moment before picking it up and taking it to the sink. No one said anything until I sat down again with a new one.
“Well, when I heard about the attack on Kirsten’s pack, I was in Alaska. Beta Kurt called me after they arrived and told me she was gone and what had happened. I’m sorry for all that has gone on here, Alpha. I can only help those who ask for it.” I nodded, it was the way of Elders- they could only go where they were invited. “I was coming to pay my respects to Alpha Jackson and Kirsten, she was my niece. I was thrilled to hear my nephew found his mate here, so I have that as well. And now, it appears, I have every reason in the world to stay.”
“Only if I ask you to,” I growled. “Of course, family is welcome to pay their respects. So much damage was done by that man, so many good wolves lost. We can never adequately mourn their passing.” I thought for a moment. “You knew Kirsten, did you also know Luna Vivian?”
He smiled. “Of course I did. What happened to these women, to you, it goes against everything Luna wanted for us when she gave us her gift. I did what I could to help, even though it wasn’t much.”
A new voice joined us. “You did what you could, Seamus. No one was strong enough to stop him.” We all looked up, Vivian and Mary were coming down the stairs, both dressed in shorts and T-shirts with bare feet. Vivian rushed to the table as Seamus stood, and she jumped into his arms and hugged him tight. “By Luna, I’ve missed you,” she said.
“And I’ve missed you, but not all the trouble you cause!” He spun her around and set her down, and she sat on the other side of him. Abigail appeared from out of nowhere, piling more food onto plates and setting it down for the two. “How are you holding up, Vivian?”
She shrugged her shoulders. “I’m alive, he’s not. I’m going from there.” She grinned at him as she gobbled up a strip of bacon. “Are you here to help?”
“I’m here as long as I am welcome,” he replied with a smirk before he winked at me.
“We can use his help, Catherine. With him and Shay here with us, we can put up enough of a fight that the other Alphas will think twice before attacking.”
Seamus looked at me, so I explained what was going on around us- how Sheri and Tandy had taken over the Black Death pack, how all the lands Kendrick had held were now virtually unprotected, and the surrounding Packs- including the Bighorn Pack which I was most worried about. “Word is getting out, and you know how Alphas think. Unprotected territory is vulnerable, and female Alphas are weak and easy pickings. They’ll be lining up to go against me, if they aren’t already coming. I’ve barely got enough wolves to defend this area, much less the whole territory.”
“You’re right,” he said as he put his fork down. His chair creaked a little as his huge body sat back from the table. “That’s exactly what they will do, unless you show them you are not to be trifled with.”
“How? Do we challenge them like Sheri and Tandy did?”
He laughed. “By Luna, I wish I could have seen that fight. Zane always had an ego that was too big for his body. No, you’ll never win this one on defense, and you can’t beat them all. You have to do this politically, with allies and the Law behind you.”
“Politics? How the hell will that save us, we don’t have time to wait for all the Alphas to agree on something.” I looked at Craig, he was staring at his food like it was the most interesting thing in the world, and Vivian and Mary were focused on eating. “What can I offer politically other than land?”
“A narrative.” I looked at Seamus like he had a horn coming out of the middle of his head. “Think about it. A cancer among our people, this Alpha who ruled by fear and intimidation, who desecrated everything Luna stands for. None of them could stand against him, and fear- fear of him and of what would happen to THEIR mates- fear kept them from doing anything for over a decade. Somehow, from the lowest position anyone could be, you ladies wiped out his whole Pack and took over. You’re turning it back to what it was supposed to be, and you’ve taken out his closest friend and ally as well. You’re fucking heroes, that’s what you all are, you’re LEGENDS. All you have to do is get your story out, and the good wolves will rally to your cause.”
“And how do I do that?”
“You’re Queen of the Lunas and you don’t even know it. There isn’t a she-wolf in this Continent who wouldn’t do everything in her power to help you. Most of the Alphas will too, they owe you.” He put his hand on my shoulder, I wanted to flinch away but I wanted to lean into it too, especially when the tingles started. “And I can help with the political side. I know most of the North American Alphas, I can help you arrange treaties and alliances. There are more ways to hold a Pack and a Territory than just brute force.”
I picked up my last piece of bacon, chewing on it slowly as I thought over what he said. When I was done, he offered me one of his. I was a little shocked, but I bit from the end as he held it for me. The significance of his offering and my acceptance was not lost on the others, it was something mates did for one another. It was the first thing I had done to indicate I was willing to act on what I felt between us, and he smiled as I took another bite.
I really didn’t have time for this right now. “So what would you suggest I do?”
“Invite all the regional Alphas here and solidify allies before enemies can act,” he said. “Send messengers immediately, and invite each Alpha and one Beta here at noon tomorrow. Invite their mates as well, this is a new world.”
“Will they come?”
“To see the Luna who took out Kendrick? You’re goddamn right they will. They will want to meet you and size you up as a friend or enemy.”
I stood, and Craig and my girls stood with me. “I’ve got a lot to do then.”
He reached up and took my hand in his, sending those shocks thought my body. “You’ll have help. Shay and I will do whatever it takes, we both want you to succeed.” He brought my hand to his lips and placed a kiss on it, causing my wolf to swoon in my head. “And I just want you to be safe and happy.”