Chapter 6: Minefield Ahead
I jumped off the boulder, shifting to human form as I ran to the water’s edge. Mary was behind me, still in wolf form, and growling at the wolves on the other side of the river. There were about forty of them, they were all big and intimidating, clearly warriors and above. I could head Moose charging down the hill towards us, his low growl rumbling across the valley as his big paws thudded on the soft ground.
To my shock, the wolves on the other side just sat there. Some had cocked their heads, their tongues out the sides of their mouths as they panted, seemingly unconcerned with what was going on. I shifted my view from them to the boiling water and thrashing limbs on my side of the river.
A man stood up, trying to get a struggling Nancy to hold still as he wrapped his arms around her torso and arms. He was a big man, he dwarfed her five-foot-nine frame by at least a foot, and he had broad, strong shoulders and big arms. Despite his physical advantages, he looked more like a kid in the greased pig competition at the county fair. Nancy was using every trick in her book to get loose, but every time an arm worked loose he’d wrap it up again.
A few of his men had shifted as well and were hooting and hollering as he struggled with the young woman in the river. “About damn time,” one of the men yelled. Another shouted out, “You got her on the line, but it doesn’t count if you can’t get her in the boat!” More men shifted, all laughing and pointing at their Alpha as he struggled with his new mate.
A Luna that wasn’t going to be dominated by any man again.
She stilled as we all watched, and he pulled her up his hairy chest. “I’ve finally found you, love, and I’m never letting you go,” he said in her ear.
Nancy’s head fell forward, and she started to cry. He naturally loosened his grip at her distress, and that was all she needed. She whipped her head back into his nose, breaking it and causing blood to spray onto his face. He yelled and when his hands reflexively went to his face, she dropped into the water and immediately shifted into her wolf. She didn’t waste a second as she raced out of the shallow water and tore past me and the others, disappearing in the woods.
His men were roaring with laughter, but the man was roaring in shock and anger. He started to run after her, ignoring me and the others, and that was all I needed. As he ran past, I jumped up and caught his neck with my right arm. I bent my arm as my body swung around to his back, and before he could react I had him in a chokehold. The mood of the others changed instantly, they went to charge but I was the Alpha here, not him. “Tell them to stand down, we need to talk,” I said into his ear. “Chase her and you’ll lose her forever. She’s not like other she-wolves, she never can be again.”
He held his hand out to stop his men, and relaxed under me. “I mean you no harm,” he said as he went to his knees so my feet could touch the ground. “You are right, we do need to talk.” I let him go and he turned and faced his men. “Stand down and shift,” he told them, “and bring us some clothes!”
One of his men had already pulled on shorts, and he grabbed one of the waterproof satchel bags used by traveling wolves and came across the river. He tossed me a large T-shirt, which I pulled over my head, and a pair of basketball shorts and a T-shirt for his Alpha. I looked over at Mary. “Go follow her, and make sure she’s all right.” She whined, looking at me then the wolves across the river. “I’ll be fine, she needs you now.” Mary chuffed and ran off, following the trail Nancy had left through the trees. Moose stayed in wolf form near me, not trusting them yet, and he was intimidating enough for now.
Now that we were all calmer, the formality of the situation came into play. The man bowed his head to me, since he was on my territory. “My apologies for the intrusion, Luna. My name is Alpha Kirkpatrick, of the Cascade Creek Pack in Washington. My Beta, Kurt Miller.”
I held out my hand and shook his. “Luna Catherine Rigby.”
His eyes widened in shock, and his Beta audibly gasped. “Luna Catherine? Of the Whiskey Creek Pack?” I nodded. “But… you were… he… I mean, Alpha Kendrick would…”
“I’m fully aware of what Alpha Kendrick would do, I’ve lived through it for the last eleven years. Alpha Kendrick is no more. I killed him and his entire senior leadership. This land is now mine,” I told him with steel in my words.
He gulped, looking at me with newfound respect. I could see the reaction of his men as the word was passed; one at a time, the men across the river bowed their heads in respect and those in wolf form lowered their head to the ground. When the moment passed, he looked at me, then behind me to the huge wolf. “Perhaps if your Alpha would change, we can formally talk.”
I laughed at him. “This walking carpet is my personal guard, I am ALPHA.” Moose growled in annoyance and I reached back and scratched his ear. “Now that the introductions are over, you can tell me why you and your men are on MY land without permission.” I could hear the thunder of paws coming my way, my own Pack was coming to back me up, and he could hear them as well.
“I’m here because I got word my cousin’s pack was attacked, and they said it was Alpha Kendrick.” I didn’t miss the subvocal of anger when his name was mentioned. “I would appreciate it if you would escort me to their Pack lines so we can provide them assistance.”
“Please, sit down,” I said as I gestured at the boulder I had been sitting on.
“Please, it would be better if you did.” He did, his Beta remained standing by his side. I took a deep breath. “Two days ago, Alpha Kendrick attacked the Red Moon Pack. The Alpha was killed, and Luna Kirsten was taken as his trophy.” I watched his shoulders slump, and tears started to roll down his face. “She was brought back to his Pack house; what you heard happened to me, to the others, it happened to her too. She suffered it all to protect those who were left of her Pack.”
I watched as this strong man turned into a sobbing mess, his face in his hands as the anger and sadness flowed through him. It was his worst fear come to life, he was too late to save her from that cruel fate. He looked up at me, his red eyes pleading. “Can you take me to her?”
I shook my head no. “I’m sorry, she lived to see her revenge on Kendrick and his men, but yesterday she returned to her home. She stabbed herself over the body of her mate. We burned her and all the others her Pack lost last night.” I put my hand on his shoulder. “I’m so sorry. I barely got to talk to Kirsten, but I knew from Luna Vivian the kind of wolf she was. We all miss her.” I walked away with Moose following me, giving him a little privacy. While I walked, I linked my Pack members, telling them to stand down and return home as the wolves were allies.
A few moments later, Beta Kurt approached me. “My apologies, Luna Catherine. I just want to be clear, there is no one still alive for my Alpha to take his revenge on?”
I nodded. “I broke a gas line in the kitchen, the whole Pack house exploded. All the senior leadership and unmated warriors were killed in the blast, and anyone who survived was tossed into the fire if they had participated in rape of a she-wolf. The members remaining from his Pack are mostly low ranking, and none are bad wolves.”
He looked at the mountains with worry. “So you have basically no warriors or Betas left, and you are holding all of Alpha Kendrick’s territories?”
I growled at the name. “I’d appreciate it if that bastards name never crossed your lips again. And yes, that’s a fair assessment. I do have something no other Pack has, though.” He raised his eyebrows. “I have five Lunas who have been through hell with me and we will do anything for each other. Well, four with me if your Alpha can find a way to make her his mate.” I smiled a little at him, he was walking around to calm down. “It’s been a shock or two for him, hasn’t it?”
“You’re not kidding,” Kurt said. “When that scent hit him, we all were excited. He’s been searching for his mate since he came of age, no other woman interested him. We sure didn’t expect him to find her now.” He looked at his Alpha and friend. “We all feared the news of Luna Kirsten; all of us knew her from her visits to our Pack. She will be missed.”
Mary’s voice broke into my head. “I’m holding Nancy now. She’s scared, she knows he’s her mate and she’s not dealing well with the idea.”
“Just keep her calm, her mate is Kirsten’s cousin, he’s a good man. We’ll find a way to introduce them on more controlled terms. Take her back home and get her to bed, I’ll be there later.” I took Kurt’s arm and we went back over to Alpha Shay. “Alpha, any family or friends of Kirsten are welcome in our Pack. Please have the rest of your men shift, and I’ll take you to their former Pack territory where my Pack members are.”
“And my mate? Is she all right? I mean, I don’t even know her name!”
I pulled him into a hug. “She’s fine, scared but fine,” I whispered in his ear. “And her name is Nancy. Luna Nancy Stone.” He stiffened, he had heard that name and as his body shook in anger I knew he knew exactly what that meant.
His mate had been a Slave Luna.