I snuggled into Adam’s broad back, my chin on his shoulder and my hands wrapping his waist as we pulled out of the parking lot. We were dead center in the column, on the shoulder side, with Azazel covering us on the left. We were right behind my father and his new (shocking) girlfriend Mia, and behind us was Abaddon and his equally shocking new girl, Meghan. I giggled a little as I thought about all the cover these new relationships would give me when we got back to the Clubhouse. Meghan looked happy, and I was glad she finally was able to act on her feelings.
Growing up with the Knights, I hadn’t known any of them to be distracted by women. They always attracted attention when they rode with the Club, and many a woman at the party or bar went away disappointed when the handsome men turned them down. The rumor I’d heard was that they were a homosexual-only biker gang that made their money as male strippers.
I guess a bunch of werewolves on bikes who lived like warrior monks of Luna was too strange a truth, but it was. They were always there for me, sometimes more than I wanted, but I trusted them. The events of the past week had shown me the folly of not trusting them. Tucked into the formation, I felt as safe as I was.
“Are they always like this,” Adam asked me over the Bluetooth-enabled earpiece I was wearing under my helmet. “Overprotective and paranoid?”
“Not always, but the threats from that Alpha and the changes, it makes them nervous. When they are nervous, they circle around me.” I looked around, enjoying the view of the North Shore of Lake Superior. “I miss the Pack bond, it saved me before and it was SO convenient at times.”
“Gabriel was your Alpha?”
“He had to be, my Dad and the Club are all human. I needed to be in his Pack so they could talk to me, feel when I was in danger. I’ve never known different until now. I can understand why the others are so upset, and then to lose your wolf?”
“That shocks me too. I don’t know what Luna is thinking.”
“Nothing shocks me anymore, Adam. My whole life I’ve been told I have this grand destiny, this purpose to find you and break the curse. You would think that everyone would be able to rally around the survival of our species, but at every turn the Alphas have taken the wrong path. Killing each other, sanctioning forced mating, wanting to capture me for their own or just because it would give them power to control me. I didn’t want anything to do with them, and I was scared to death in Chicago.”
“That’s where they presented you to the unmated, right?”
“Yes. If I had been mated to one of them, especially an Alpha, I would have been taken back to his Pack and treated like a prize brood mare.” I shook my head, shivering just thinking about it. “Instead, I go back to my mother’s Pack and find you. If none of this had happened, we would have grown up together, found each other when I was of age. How different things would have been.”
He drove without saying anything for a bit. “We were too young to change anything, and I’m glad it worked out this way. You had a Pack, I didn’t, but now we have each other. The real question is what do we do now.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I work at a lumber mill, I live in my brother’s house, and I refuse to live without you at my side. How about you?”
I laughed. “I live in a room on the upper floor of the Clubhouse, I don’t have a job, and I make money doing custom artwork for motorcycles.”
“I think we need to build a place of our own.”
“I think so too. I’d like to build my grandparent’s house again, to see it return to the glory of their time.”
If it was only us, we would have driven with maybe one stop, but it wasn’t. I could tell Mia was having a tough time, and when we stopped south of Duluth, I had to do something. “Mia, you can barely move,” I said to her as we made sure everyone had gas in the tank. “Why don’t you lie down in the back of the Expedition for a while. We have plenty of room.”
She looked at Snake, and he nodded his head. “It’s time for your medication, and the next two hours is straight freeway,” he said. “Please, take a nap, you’ll feel better.”
“You’ll wake me so I can ride the rest of the way home?”
“We promise,” I told her. She took the pills with a water and after kissing Snake, crawled into the back of the truck.
“She’s taken the whole werewolf thing well,” I said as I waited with Snake for everyone to be ready to leave again.
“Very well. I know it’s been just a short time, but I know, you know? The first time I looked into her eyes I knew.”
“I had that once,” I said. “It’s normal for a werewolf with his mate, the bond snaps in place and everything else works out. I’m happy for you, my friend. You deserve it.” I looked over and saw Eve hand in hand with Adam as they came out of the Super America market. “I’m happy for them, too. Hang on, I need to try something.”
I walked over to Adam as they were getting ready to get back on. “Adam, if you don’t mind, I’d like to find out if this works.” I got down on one knee, bowed my head and said, “I accept you as my Alpha and request to be in your Pack.”
“What do I do?”
“You say, ‘I accept you into my pack’ and put your hand on my head,” I said. He did, and nothing changed. “It didn’t work,” I told him.
“I’m not an Alpha, never wanted to be,” Adam said as he climbed on his motorcycle, Eve behind him.
“I didn’t feel it in you either, but I had to try. Now I know that Luna has taken away the Pack bond from everyone, it’s not being restarted under you.” I walked back to my motorcycle and started it up, everyone else was doing the same. We pulled back onto the road and onto I-35 south, not stopping until we were closer to the cities. As promised, at the rest stop we woke Mia up so she could ride the rest of the way on Snake’s motorcycle. “We’re going straight to the Clubhouse, once our charges are safe there, the Knights will meet at our place. We’ll join the Riders for dinner and church,” I said.
Snake had called ahead with our arrival time, and the entire Club turned out to greet us. Eve was hugged and congratulated as she introduced Adam to everyone. Kelly was thrilled with him, and even the injured Viper couldn’t stay mad when he saw how happy she was. We left when they all went inside, back to our place. I gave everyone time to relax, then we met in the rec room. I had been making phone calls for an hour, checking in with allied Alphas and even some that weren’t as friendly. “Boys, it’s a whole new ballgame,” I said. “Pack bonds are gone everywhere, even in Russia and Canada. Good Alphas are holding things together, but Alphas that ruled with fear and command have lost their men, even lost their own lives. I know of two Packs already where the senior leadership was turned on and killed by the men.” There was shock at this, Alpha command wouldn’t allow such a thing to happen before. “We are also hearing about high numbers of suicides and sudden deaths. Every other Pack, the men have lost their wolves as well.”
“What does this mean,” Muriel asked.
“I’m not sure, as you may have seen, even with our wolves the Pack and Alpha bonds are gone. The only bonds left are those that come from family, and the commitments we make to each other. I was thinking about the Northwoods Riders on the way down. We’ve always considered them to be like an allied Pack to us; similar structure and leadership, but theirs are elected and the club is run with voting and friendship.”
“They are one big family,” Abaddon said. “That’s why they are so close, they treat each other like brothers and sisters, they even raise their young ones in cooperation.”
“I think that is what Luna is doing here.” It had been gnawing at me for a while. “We all know the Alpha Male thing doesn’t happen in real wolf packs, they are family units. I always thought Luna gave us the bond and the link because our human side needed the structure, not our wolves. I guess we find out now.”
“How?” Michael looked at me, I could see the wolf behind his eyes howling at the loss of the link.
“Meditation and prayer,” I said. “We have an hour before Church with the Riders. I’d ask each of you to search your hearts and talk to your wolves about what to do next. We need Luna’s guidance and wisdom, we’re in all new territory here.” With that, the guys filtered out. I went to the spot I normally go, a small garden area on the rooftop. Ignoring the sounds of traffic and the city, I sat back in the chair and closed my eyes, seeking out my wolf in my mind.
A while later, I knew what I wanted to do.
I sat at the table downstairs, watching the food fly out of the kitchen now that Snake was back. He’d told the prospects what he needed, and they had run to the store to pick everything up before the group arrived. I’d barely had a chance to meet his Mouse, she went back there with him and started cooking up a storm herself. “They make a good team,” Kelly said as she brought over our plates and sat down.
“He looks happy,” Andrew said. He had arrived home yesterday on leave from boot camp, where he had excelled. Of course, he couldn’t do things the same way as we did. No, he decided to join the Air Force and was selected for their Special Forces. He would spend the next two years training to be a Combat Air Controller, a combination of fighter, spotter and air traffic controller. He had put on some muscle in boot camp, his eighteen-year-old frame now filling into his six-foot-two body. “Eve does as well.”
I looked across the room, they were sitting with Hammer and Teri, laughing and holding hands. “I’m glad she got to have her destiny,” I said. “He seems like a good guy. Now Meghan and Abaddon? I thought Hammer was going to blow a gasket.”
“They are good for each other,” Kelly said, “and despite the age difference and the whole can’t have kids thing, it’s a good match. Teri would kick his ass to Wisconsin if he messed this up. She’s been trying to get Meghan interested in men for years.”
“Lots of changes,” I said as I sat back. My foot was still throbbing, and it must have shown on my face. I reached into my pocket and pulled out the pills, it was time again. “I’m getting too old for this,” I said. “When do we get to sit on the porch in our rocking chairs and watch the grandkids play in the yard?”
Kelly leaned into me. “Soon, I bet. Eve will go into heat, we’ll have grandbabies by next summer.” We continued the meal, it was something simple and fast. Spaghetti and meatballs, salad, garlic bread. I could tell Mouse was in the house, the sauce was amazing. She didn’t use canned stuff, she made it fresh and if she had time, she said she would have made her own pasta too.
The dinner conversation was lively, especially when the Knights arrived. They were reeling from recent events as well; we had been briefed on what had happened to them and the Packs. When the tables were cleared, and the children sent upstairs to sleep or watch a movie, we closed the doors and went into Church. Our club meetings were normally just voting members, adults who could ride and were patched, but this time everyone was here. Gabriel, Abaddon and Eve all told the stories of what had happened, but what concerned me was that Adam, and to a lesser extent Eve, were still in danger. The packs were gone, their wolves were gone, but the blame was going to Eve.
“I kind of expected this would happen when she found her mate,” Snake said. “Once the curse was broken, her mate would become a target because if he is killed, another can take his place. We must continue to protect them, they need to bring forth the next generation.”
“My men have considered this. Our sacred vow to protect her, and now Adam, that will continue on. The Knights will ensure the survival of our species. It’s the only reason we could come up with that would have kept Luna from taking our wolves as well.”
“Unless it is a reward for faithful service,” I said. “You men have sacrificed half your lives to protect Eve, you’ve lived like monks and given up everything. I am so thankful that you came alongside us for this time, and for the honorable men that you are. I love you guys like brothers,” I said before I sat back down. The rest of the Club felt the same and let them know.
“How can this work,” Eve said. “Adam and I have talked; our old Pack lands are still available to us, as the three of us are the only survivors. Alan said we could use the money in the old Pack accounts and rebuild up there. The funds have all been held in trust until survivors from two families or more would come forward. It’s beautiful, good for wolves and it’s where we belong.”
“I can’t leave here,” Moose said. “Sheri still has her bar, some of us have businesses here as well.”
“And some of us want to move south for the winter,” Tiny said. “I’m getting sick of the cold, my arthritis can’t handle it. The children have all moved out, we’re thinking of moving to Jacksonville and retiring.”
The discussions went on for ten more minutes, it all seemed to be falling apart. Finally, I smacked the table and there was silence. “First things first,” I said. “When the Knights showed up, they stayed separate from us because they were a Pack. Now they aren’t, but they are still the same fine men we’ve ridden with for two decades. I would like them in our club, fully and completely. I propose a Patchover.” A patchover in the motorcycle club world was where a smaller club was absorbed into another, changing their patches on their cut.
“Seconded,” Hammer said. “I don’t want my daughter marrying a guy in another Club,” he said as we all laughed.
“Under our bylaws, a Patchover requires a unanimous vote of both our club and the club being brought in,” Tiny said. “It’s a secret ballot of members.”
“Fine, the Knights can remain out here, the Riders will go to the conference room. Patched members only. We’ll vote and reconvene in twenty minutes.”
“Good, I could use some help getting dessert out,” Mouse said as she headed for the kitchen. The prospects and some wives moved to help her.
Twenty minutes later, as the homemade chocolate-dipped cannoli were being passed out, we emerged from room. The vote had been quick and unanimous, what hadn’t gone as quickly were the announcements that followed. New and bigger club, it was time to step down. I announced I would be resigning as President and calling for a Club election as soon as the patchover was completed. Tiny resigned as well, followed by Moose. We were ready to pass the baton to someone else, we would have a whole new leadership in the new Club.
The Knights were unanimous as well. “The patchover ceremony and party will be tomorrow night,” I said. “Sunday we will hold elections for new Club officers. Those interested can put their names on the ballot by talking to Tiny.” I smiled as I looked out at what was to be my new, bigger club. “The party is going to be epic. Invite your friends, I’ll invite representatives from the other Clubs.”
“Lots of women,” Azazel said. “When we renewed our vow to protect Eve and her mate, we decided not to include the whole forsaking all others thing. If Abaddon can find a woman, we can too.”
“What about when Eve’s daughters grow up? You are the only male wolves left in the world, Luna may have left you this way because your mates are among her daughters!” Snake looked at them in horror.
“We’re getting older, and Eve can only have so many daughters,” Abaddon said. “We will not stand in the way if one of us finds love as I have with Meghan.”
“Oh God, I could retire selling women tickets to this party,” Sheri said. “Do you have any idea how many hot women have thrown themselves at these guys only to be shot down?” She gave herself a big smile. “Leave it to me, this party is going to be EPIC.”
There was a lot of change coming, and I was looking forward to it. The Northwoods Riders would pass to the next generation in good hands.