Chapter 18: Fargo
Morning came WAY too early. I reached for my alarm clock, knocking it on the floor, then I rolled out of bed and fell on my hip when I was trying to reach it. “Hell of a start to the day, Ella.” I untangled my legs from the sheet and limped my way to the bathroom. My hair was a mess, I had bags under my eyes, and I was still a little sore in a good way down there.
I did my best to clean up but gave up on the hair. When I got downstairs, Remi was reading on her laptop, Marge already had breakfast made and I asked Mabel if she could braid my hair while I ate. “Sure honey,” she said. “Now what did that boy tell you last night? It must have been good for you to come home with that smile on your face.”
Clearly, the teasing wasn’t going to stop after last night, they knew exactly what I had been doing. “I told him I was pregnant. He was shocked, of course, even more when I told him I didn’t know if it was his or David’s. He was concerned for me, but once he found out I was keeping the baby, he told me he would be by my side for everything.” I looked down at my stomach and put one hand over it. “I have to say I’m glad I had that night with him. It makes the pregnancy much easier knowing it is most likely his.”
Marge came over and gave me a hug while Mabel finished up. “He is a good boy, just like his Daddy. Very loyal.”
“He is, and I’m falling for him hard. Once I got past the idea of having a mate to wait for, I saw what had been in front of me the whole time. He makes me happy.”
“That’s a good start for any man,” Remi said. The moment was broken up when Jimmy and Melody came into the room hand in hand. “Good timing, food’s on the island. You need to be on the road in thirty minutes to make sure you get there early.”
I was just about done with my food, there was enough time to get dressed. I looked over at Jimmy. “You brought the pelts, right?”
He nodded. “I thought you were going to make those into a rug or something, don’t you want them in the house?”
“No, I’ve got other plans for them now.” Remi was just closing her laptop. “Sooo… how should we handle this, Aunt Remi?”
She put her laptop in her bag. “The goal of today is to find out what it is they want, and see if there is advantage in that,” she said. “You’re essentially meeting under a truce flag, so it wouldn’t be good for your reputation to do anything to her. Also, we don’t have to agree to anything. I would prefer you didn’t, at least until we can bring Doug into the decision. Since he is protecting you, you need to respect his position too.”
“I am, that’s why I asked him for the pelts in the first place. They need to stay in the back of Jimmy’s car, we can’t risk them scenting them beforehand. I’ve got two private security guards who will be in the restaurant, they will look like a normal couple and are both human. They know what I look like, other than identifying me they are not to do anything unless someone tries to hurt us. I was thinking we have Jimmy inside and leave Melody outside watching the parking lot? She can link you two if anything seems wrong.”
Remi nodded. “I’m not worried about Luna Kayla, but I wouldn’t put it past Scott to try something if we don’t agree. He’s getting desperate.”
“You really think he’d endanger his grandkid and risk war with your mate?” I couldn’t believe someone would be that stupid.
“We have to assume so. He’s lost three sons to stupid already.” She looked at Jimmy. “I want you guys within three cars of us at all times. We have to be ready.”
We got on the road on time, Aunt Remi was driving. Other than a comment about her recommended leather cleaning product, she didn’t say anything about the smell- which was noticeable even to my human senses. She did have the window down for a while despite the cold. I pretended to ignore it, reclining the seat to take a nap. We got to the steakhouse thirty minutes before the meeting; we stayed in my truck until Jimmy had cleared the lot and the inside. We asked for a table with some privacy, and were escorted to a booth with high back benches in the back.
The waitress took our drink order as we told her we were waiting for a guest. By the time the drinks arrived, so had Luna Kayla. And next to her was her daughter and my former friend, Carol. I was glaring at her, ready to rip her face off, but Aunt Remi was holding the back of my blouse so I couldn’t stand up.
“Luna Remi, Ella, thank you for meeting us,” Kayla said as she motioned for Carol to slide in so she was opposite me.
“I wasn’t aware you were bringing your daughter, Kayla,” Remi replied with a soft growl. “That wasn’t in the agreement.”
“She’s my security,” Kayla said. “She asked to come because she needed to say something to Ella.”
I slammed my hand on the table, startling them all. “Why in the hell would I listen to anything this deceitful bitch says to me?” Remi rubbed my back, and I sat back down.
“I’m sorry for what I did,” Carol said quietly as I glared at her. “I shouldn’t have betrayed your trust like that, it was wrong to drug you.”
“How… how could you do that knowing what your brother was going to do?”
“I thought… well, I thought that if I could just get you to sit there and think about how it would be good for you and the Pack in the long run, you’d be all right with it and I would have you as a sister in law.”
I leaned forward. “You thought I’d be all right with losing a chance at my true mate and being raped by your brother? Having to chew my thumb off to escape? Losing my wolf? What part was I going to be ‘all right’ with?”
She was crying now, and couldn’t look me in the eyes. “I didn’t think any of that would happen. Dad said once you were marked, that your wolf would take over and everything would be all right. I didn’t think my brother was capable of doing that.” She looked up into my eyes. “I know you probably won’t forgive me, but I had to say that.” She moved her Mom out of the way and walked quickly to the ladies room. I watched her, making sure Jimmy was watching as well. I didn’t want any Godfather moments where she grabs a gun from behind the toilet and comes out blasting.
Carol came back and Kayla moved until she was opposite me. She was about to say something when the waitress arrived with menus and took their drink order. “I’m starving,” I said, “and the food here is supposed to be good. We may as well enjoy the meal.” We put business on hold until she left with our food orders.
“So,” Remi said, “What is it your mate wants?”
“He wants to protect his grandson,” she said. I looked at her like she had grown a third eye. “The alliance we have with the St. Cloud, Brainerd and Grand Forks packs isn’t as strong as you might think. We know Alpha Goodwin made a side deal with you, then he broke it by allowing us on his territory to try and kill you. The man has no scruples, and with our sons gone he smells blood in the water. Any treaty he has with us is worth just as much as the one you signed.”
“I can’t argue with that, the man has no honor.” I despise that man.
She took a drink and continued. “The other two packs, both lost men in the latest attempt on your life. My mate declined to pay the money he had agreed to when they supported David’s mating to you, since it never happened. As a result, both packs feel betrayed. They fear Doug, but that won’t last forever. I talked to their Lunas, both said the Packs are furious the bodies weren’t returned, and they blame you.”
I snorted. “I guess the Alphas weren’t real forthcoming with what we told them, then.” The two looked surprised.
Remi squeezed my leg and spoke up. “After the attack, we suspected your four Packs but didn’t know who the wolves were. My husband called your mate and asked if he sent them. He denied it, so we said in an hour we would skin them and throw their carcasses on the trash pile if no one claimed them.”
Kayla put her hand over her mouth in shock. “And he…”
“He didn’t say shit,” I said. “I could tell the other Alphas were not aware of the offer by their reaction to the video of us doing that to them.”
Carol broke out sobbing. “Stephen… Dad said he had been buried out there.”
“No, I’ve got his pelt out in my truck along with the others. The ashes from the bodies, though, we didn’t recover those. They were destroyed along with the trash.” Both of them were in shock now. “Your mate hasn’t been honest with you, either. How many other Pack members were lost in the attack?”
“Two. Our next Beta and a warrior. Oh Luna, what do I say to their parents?”
“We’ll come back to that,” I said. “What did your mate want to propose to me?”
“He wants you to come to our territory to have the baby, where we can protect you,” she said. I had to say, they man had some balls. “We’ll make sure you get top medical care, you’ll have everything you need, and once the baby is born we will be happy to raise it as our own.”
“That’s your offer? Protect me until you get your precious male heir, then what?” They didn’t say anything, they couldn’t. “That baby is my only protection right now. I’ll prove paternity, but there is no way in HELL I’m stepping foot onto your territory, or granting you custody. I don’t trust you, your Alpha or your friends.”
Kayla nodded. “I thought you would say that. I tried to tell him that you had family, money and protection already, but he insisted. I just want my grandbaby to be safe, and to be a part of his life. I was hoping that you might grant me that.”
I sat back in the seat, I knew what I wanted to say but Doug’s words echoed in my head, I had to hide my true goal. “I can’t answer that right now. I’m still trying to get my head around being pregnant.”
The food arrived, and we ate it in silence. I could see Kayla and Carol linking each other, but their facial expressions didn’t change. As we finished dessert, I broached the final subject. “The pelts… I’m willing to give them to you, but I want something in return.”
Kayla’s eyes brightened. “What? Please, I want my son’s remains back.”
“You answer a question for me. It’s a yes or no question.” I paused and looked at Remi, who nodded, before I looked back in Kayla’s eyes. “When Stephen found Kim, was she force mated like you tried to do with me?”
I could see the answer in her eyes well before it made it to her mouth. “Yes.” She looked down at her lap. “Stephen called home, he said he met an Alpha’s daughter at school he was interested in, but she didn’t want anything to do with him. My mate told him that didn’t matter. He went to his office and finished the call, but two days later he brought her home.”
“Thank you for your answer, that should be enough.” I paid the bill. “Come on, we can put the pelts in your car now. I trust you will get them back to the families?”
She nodded as we got up and put our jackets on. We walked out together, and I told them to pull their car behind Jimmy’s so we could move them without being too suspicious. They were focused on the transfer, and when Stephen’s pelt was handed to them, they both started to cry. They placed it reverently in the back seat.
Their grief was so strong, they didn’t pick up on the scent or see the two large men until they were standing in front of them.
“Did you hear everything, Alpha Coleman?” I smirked as Luna Kayla looked at the father of her son’s mate, a man still reeling from her suicide, and his oldest son.
“I heard everything I needed to hear, Ella. Thank you for getting me the answer, even if it was the answer I feared.” He was staring at Kayla
It was then I noticed that his son Al was frozen in place and staring. I looked to my right and saw Carol staring back into his eyes. Al finally broke out of the trance, moving forward and pulling her to his broad chest while his nose was buried in her hair. “MATE,” he said.
“MINE,” she replied.
“LIKE HELL,” Alpha Coleman said as he tried to pull him away.
“You’re shitting me,” Remi said. I pulled her away, whatever was happening next I wanted no part of.