Chapter 2: Meeting the Alphas
I wasn’t the only one deeply sniffing the scents being carried along by the light breeze. Several of the young men lined up were also leaning their heads back and taking deep breaths, trying to pick up on whether the newcomer was their mate.
My wolf yawned in my mind. Nothing.
I would live for another day!
I smiled and joined my parents as they walked to the host Alpha family, taking my place behind my parents. Alpha Goodwin was in his sixties, and was as old fashioned a wolf as they came. “Thank you for having us, Marvin.” My Dad introduced Emma, who he had met shortly after she and Dad were mated, then they moved down so he could shake my hand. “And this is Ella, our Alpha heiress and soon to be college student.” I smiled and gripped his hand firmly as I had been taught, glancing at his eyes then lowering them so as not to present a challenge.
“Pleased to meet you, Ella. You’re as striking as your mother, those eyes… ah, they remind me of my late wife.” He gestured at his family next to him. “This is my son and heir Hunter and his mate April, and my son Curtis.” The older pair made a cute couple, while the younger one looked at me like a piece of fresh meat on the grill. I was polite but gave Curtis the “not interested” look I had perfected in high school. “Have you found your mate yet, young lady?”
“No, sir, I haven’t come across him yet.” I tried to look disinterested.
“No matter, a woman of your breeding stock shouldn’t have to depend on chance. I’m sure your parents can find you a suitable match.” I mind linked my father, who explained that Alpha Curtis looked for decades for his mate before settling for Michelle Anderson, younger sister of the Brainerd Pack Alpha. She died about a decade ago, he said, and Curtis kept going only because his boys weren’t ready to take over yet.
“I’m not in a hurry, Luna has a plan for me I’m sure.” The group moved down to the next family.
“This is Michael Anderson, Alpha of the Brainerd Pack, and his heir Matthew, son Nathan, and daughter Olivia.” The greetings went quickly, except the boys lingered a little as they looked me up and down. I could see their disappointment that I wasn’t theirs. The Alpha was younger, in his late thirties, and in good shape. They had time to find their mates, he wasn’t going anywhere.
“Michael, where is your lovely Marie?” Emma was disappointed, she liked her and they kept in touch occasionally.
“She couldn’t make the trip, Craig had a soccer tournament. Craig is Olivia’s twin brother.”
I embraced Olivia quickly, not missing the look I got from one of the other Alphas. “Are you going with us this afternoon?”
“Of course,” she said, “I don’t need to stick around for boring talks. Curtis said we could use their speedboat, we can get some skiing and tanning in.” I nodded as we moved on.
The next Alpha was dressed sharply and was younger, in his early thirties, and alone. “May I introduce David Lewis, the Grand Forks Pack Alpha. David, this is Mitch, Emma and Ella Grey.” He gave my wolf the creeps, she just wanted to move on. As we did, we overheard him telling Olivia that she was not to be on a boat with any unmated male. I shook my head, he was trying to control her already. We would definitely talk about this on the boat.
“Last but not least, the Alpha of the North Shore Pack, Scott Tanner, his mate Kayla, heir Stephen and mate Kim, sons Frank and David, and daughter Carol.” We moved down the line of huge men, they looked like cartoon lumberjacks with their plaid shirts, barrel chests and rippling muscles. Scott was in his mid-forties, and had to go six foot six and two hundred sixty pounds. I shook his hand, his grip was just like him, strong and intimidating. His mate was Werewolf Barbie, all hair and nails and huge tits pushing out from the too tight dress. My wolf wasn’t impressed. The heir and his mate were nice enough, he was a carbon copy of his father. Frank and David both seemed way to interested in me, and David was openly flirting as he took my hand.
“I hear you are going to college next fall, Ella? What are you planning to study?” The Alpha’s voice was deep and powerful.
“Business, I plan to work in our Pack business after graduation sir.”
“Excellent. You should consider the University of Minnesota-Duluth; it’s a much better school for a werewolf, no huge city and close to our huge Pack lands.” Frank smiled broadly. “I’m a junior there. I’d be happy to show you around if you like.”
David cut in front of him. “Yes, but I’m a freshman there so I could introduce you to some friends more our age, and we have the best parties. Why don’t we go out tomorrow, I’m sure your parents can spare you for a day.”
My father pulled me towards his side. “Sorry, but we already have a full weekend planned and appointments at several universities.”
I smiled weakly. “Yes, and Carol here has today booked solid.” I hugged her as she approached. “You look great, girlfriend!”
She pressed her cheek to mine and then stepped back. “You too! Did you pack a suit?”
“Of course. When are we going?”
She looked back at the group that was now headed to the Pack House. “We have a big lunch get together, then us unimportant ones get to leave for the afternoon. We have to be back in time for dinner, though.” She hooked her arm in mine and led me to the front door, her single older brothers were following us. I just ignored them.
We were led through the house to our rooms where our overnight bags had already been set. Mine was next to the other girls, away from the boys at least! It really didn’t matter, we usually ended up in the biggest room and watching movies and talking boys half the night. Carol showed up at the door, pushing me to get ready. I freshened up quickly and we headed out back where the welcome barbecue was set up.
One thing about Packs, I thought, was that we knew how to barbecue. The smells of the meats were making my mouth water, and there was no shortage of food. I looked around, a little shocked at how much they had done. “All this for us?”
“Not just you, but yeah.” Carol laughed as we stood in line, the Alphas having gone through first so the guests were next. “We usually get together one time in the spring and once in the fall, it’s good for Pack relations that way. Having you guys visit was just a bonus, it’s the first time you’ve joined us you know.”
My father had explained why; we didn’t really like the Alphas, and we were isolated enough that we didn’t have borders to defend from other Packs. We did have decent relations with some Packs in South Dakota and Montana, but the distances were enough that it was easier. “Well, me going to school had something to do with it, I’m sure. My Dad would never let me attend without a friendly pack or two around.”
Olivia nodded. “I know what you mean, Alpha Lewis is nervous enough about me going to school at the University of North Dakota, even though it’s in our territory.”
“And that is only after he’s got you marked and mated,” Carol said. “Until then he’s going to be nervous and protective, and so is your father.”
I looked at Olivia with a bit of pity. “Doesn’t your Dad want you to find your mate?”
She got a frightened look on her face and immediately changed the subject. “Oh, I’m just happy to be mated. He’ll be a good husband and father.” Clearly, we needed to talk in private, and there was no privacy with other werewolves around. “So what schools are you looking at this weekend?”
“We’re visiting the University of Minnesota, they have the Carlson School of Business which is very good. Then over in St. Paul, we’re visiting St. Thomas University, they have a Top 100 business school as well.”
Carol nodded, she knew both were good. “I’m surprised you didn’t decide to go out east to some Ivy League school. You guys are loaded, right? It’s not like you couldn’t get in.”
“Dad? How much should I talk about our Pack business?”
“A lot of it is public knowledge, Ella. I’m sure they already know about how big Alpha Holdings has become since the Bakken oil boom started. Just don’t brag.”
I looked back at her. “I suppose so, but I really don’t want to leave the Midwest and I have no desire to ever live on the East Coast. By Luna, can you imagine being a wolf out there? You’d have to drive for hours to take a run. Going to the Twin Cities is pushing it, but I have to in order to get a good school.”
“Well, the good news is that we will still be able to get together. My Pack is only three hours north, and Olivia will be on your way home. They are at least buying you a car, right?”
I snorted. “My parents don’t believe in just giving me stuff, I have to work for it. They will match whatever I save, so there is that. They are paying for my school and room and board, but I have to earn my own spending money.”
“That sucks, I thought you’d be rolling in it.” Olivia looked over at her intended. “One advantage of becoming Luna is that I won’t have to worry about money.”
“It’s not so bad. Really, our family and Pack isn’t like that. I mean, we’re in the middle of Nowhere, North Dakota. It’s not like we have to out-do the Rockefellers there. Plus, we don’t pull a lot of cash from the business, almost all of it is being reinvested. The oil boom can’t last forever, so Mom has us diversifying into other investments that will be more stable.”
We finished up our meals and looked for the exits; we got our respective parent’s permission to leave and headed back to the rooms to get changed. I put my favorite red bikini on, then pulled up jean shorts and put on an Australian Pink Floyd concert T-shirt. I grabbed a windbreaker just in case it got cold on the water, slipped on sandals and was ready to go.
I met the girls down at Carol’s car, we were going to meet Curtis at the lake. He and a few of the other boys were taking another of their boats fishing, while we girls were going to ski and maybe catch some sun on one of the deserted islands in the large lake. As soon as we were on the road, I looked to Olivia. “Spill, girl. Why are you giving up your true mate for Alpha David?”
Her shoulders dropped a little before she pasted on a fake smile. “He’s a good man, I like him. He’ll be a good mate to me.”
“Good, but not the true mate that Luna made for you. Don’t you want that?”
She sighed. “Not everyone has the luxury of being able to chase their dreams, Ella. Sometimes you have to give up something for the good of the Pack. This arrangement helps both of us, and I get an Alpha for a mate. And have you seen him? He’s great in the sack, too, but don’t tell my Mom that.”
I put on my shocked face. “You’ve already slept with him?”
She grinned. “My Dad came to me when the negotiations were nearly complete, but he hadn’t agreed yet. He had a couple hundred acres of land my Dad wanted but he had refused to let go. My Dad thought a ‘try before you buy’ would help, and it sure did. He’s a great lover, best I’ve ever had, and he signed the agreement the next morning. We just couldn’t bite each other yet, you know, to keep up appearances.”
“Is he…” Carol moved her hands on the wheel until they made a big circle.
“Of course,” Olivia laughed. “Everything is bigger on an Alpha. He’s packing major heat, far more than any of my other lovers.” I raised my eyebrows. “Not everyone is cloistered away like you, Ella. I turned in my V-card at fifteen, and I’ve had humans and werewolves. None since David, of course, he would kill me and them if he found another man’s smell on me now. I’m so looking forward to graduation, then I won’t have to sleep alone again.”
I shut up and looked out the window for a while. She acted like she was happy, but what about her poor mate? To have your one and only mate another, not even trying to find you?
Not me. I would wait for him, and I would save myself for him. I want it all. I want the fairy tale.