Chapter 20: Changes
I slept most of the way home, arriving in time for a late dinner that Marge had prepared. I was feeling a little down for a couple of reasons; Remi was leaving for home in the morning, the events of today, and the decision to hold off on the wedding. It was a lot to take. I figured that since October, my life has been a constant fight to stay afloat.
I got an email just after nine PM from Alpha Charles Jennings of the Vermillion Pack; he and Alpha Nicholas Anders of the Battle Lake pack had been the Alphas brought in to officiate the challenge. His Beta had made a recording of the proceedings, so I went to the theater room to set things up while Marge made popcorn and drinks. Some might think this was morbid, dancing on his grave, but to the werewolf mentality it was celebratory. We were going to watch a cancer among our people being removed, and justice be done.
I forwarded the email to Uncle Doug while I was waiting, I knew he would want to see it and talk later. I gave him a quick phone call to let him know it was there for him. Aunt Remi had already talked to him at length about the adventure we had over lunch.
When everyone was comfortable in the theater seating, I dimmed the lights and started to play the file. The cellphone video showed the Pack gathered in the dining hall of their house, with their Alpha standing at the front. Alphas Jennings and Anders were in the middle, with Alpha Coleman on their other side. They had a projection screen behind them, and Alpha Jennings stepped forward with the microphone to start.
“A challenge has been made to Alpha Scott Tanner by Alpha Dennis Coleman of the Winnepeg Pack. Alpha Anders and I are here to officiate the challenge, per Pack law. For those of you who have not been involved in this before, the process is simple. Alpha Coleman will be given the opportunity to present evidence of violations of Pack law to this body, and Alpha Tanner will have a chance to present a defense. At the end of the testimony, questions may be taken from the Pack or we may ask them. When complete, the guilt of the accused will be determined by majority vote, with each of the independent Alphas having one vote and your Pack having the third by secret ballot, majority rule.”
He looked around and there were no questions, so he motioned to Alpha Coleman. “Alpha, you may begin.”
Dennis took the microphone and looked over the audience before starting. “I lay the following charges against Alpha Scott Tanner. Aiding in a forced mating of a female to a man not her mate, two counts. Failure to declare war prior to an attack on another Alpha, one count. Attempted murder of a human, one count, and murder of a female pack member, one count.” The reaction of the Pack to the charges proved they were not aware of what was happening; I saw shock, outrage and disbelief among them.
“Your plea, Alpha Tanner?” Alpha Anders looked over at the brooding North Shore Alpha.
“Not guilty.” I noticed he wouldn’t look at his Pack members, only at the other Alphas.
“Very well,” Anders said, “You may proceed with your evidence.”
“Thank you. I would like to start with the events that brought this mess to my attention.” He turned to the screen and started to play the video conference call I had made with the surrounding Alphas. I watched the Pack reaction to my story on the screen, my eyes filling with tears as I replayed the events again. All you heard was growls and shouts as the tape played on. When it was over, some Pack members were yelling at their Alpha while others had to leave the room to calm down. “Are there any questions?”
A man in the front row stood up. “Is Alpha Ella available to speak to this proceeding?”
“She’s human now,” said Alpha Anders, “and as such we cannot compel her to appear, nor was she willing to enter your land. I can contact her if needed.”
The man shook his head. “That will not be necessary, but please convey our sympathies. This shouldn’t happen to any female, much less an Alpha’s daughter.” He sat down to general agreement in his Pack.
An older woman stood next. “She said that Alpha Tanner did not claim the wolves that attacked their convoy as theirs, and did not claim the bodies.” She started to cry. “My son was one of those wolves that died. What happened to him?”
“First, I’m very sorry about your loss,” he said. “Since they were considered rogue, their pelts were removed and their bodies burned in a trash fire.” The woman screamed and collapsed in her chair, several others did the same. “Ella gave the pelts to me to return to their families.” With this, another Beta walked in carrying a stack of skins, laying them out on the table. The Pack was horrified, and the proceedings stopped for a few minutes while the families claimed all that was left of the two sons that died.
One of the women pulled a fur from the pile and shook it at Alpha Tanner in outrage. “HE WAS YOUR SON!” She walked over and threw the fur in his face. “Your own blood, and you left him to THIS?” She stormed back to her chair and sat again.
Finally, Alpha Coleman took charge and asked people to be seated so he could continue. “I verified personally with Alpha Doug Johnson that these nine were killed in the attack on Ella, Luna Remi and her daughter, an attack that killed Ella’s only remaining Beta. As to the remaining charges, I call Luna Kayla forward.”
“Kayla? She’s dead!” Alpha Tanner had let the Pack know she was killed meeting with Ella when he had felt the bond break, and his men had returned emptyhanded.
“Not dead, you bastard, but my wolf is.” The entire Pack turned around as Kayla stormed into the room, followed by Carol and her mate Al. Some of the Pack broke down crying, others touched her to see she was still real. They made a path for her to come to the front, and she grabbed the microphone and looked at her Pack again. “My mate took me forcibly all those years ago, just because he wanted me and I wasn’t fated to him. He swung a deal with the other Alphas to mate our son David with Ella so he could take over their Pack, and you saw what happened there. He also told our son Stephen how to forcibly mate Alpha Coleman’s daughter.”
“SHUT UP, KAYLA!” Several of the visiting Betas had to restrain Alpha Tanner as he tried to get to her.
“Your Alpha command doesn’t work when the wolf is gone, Scott. You may have commanded her, but you can’t command what I am left with.” She turned to face the Pack. “I asked to be injected with a lethal dose of Wolfsbane so I could end this madness. You were told Kim committed suicide after her mate died. The truth is, she was ready to leave this Pack and go home. Your Alpha knew his command would break as soon as she left, so he killed her and made it look like suicide.”
She handed the microphone back to Alpha Coleman before returning to sit by her daughter in the Pack chairs. “Alphas, I have nothing further.”
Alpha Anders looked at Alpha Tanner. “Alpha, you may present your defense.”
He took the microphone angrily. “I did what was best for the Pack. Kayla got to be a Luna to a strong Pack. Ella would have had a strong Alpha mate for her Pack, and Kim was next in line to be Luna. It was best for them too.” He looked at his Pack. “As for the rest, I did what I did and I regret nothing.” He tossed the microphone back to Alpha Anders.
The recording took a time step, and the vote was unanimous. “Alpha Tanner has been found guilty of all charges presented by Alpha Coleman. As such, he has opened himself up to challenges for his position. Alpha Coleman will be first, as he brought the formal challenge. Any Pack Beta or above may challenge next, if he survives. We shall move now to the challenge field.”
The field was a grassy area behind the Pack House; it sat in a small depression and the challenge circle was outlined by boulders set in the ground. The circle was quickly surrounded as the two Alphas stepped in. The fight was long and bloody, but one sided. Alpha Coleman was not just a stronger wolf, he was out to make him suffer, and he did. In the first minute, he had hamstrung his back left leg. Darting in and out, he slashed his sides and back repeatedly until Scott’s fur was coated with his blood. His front left leg was next, his teeth crunching down and breaking the foreleg before tearing it free with a vicious growl. Unable to rise again, Scott tried to fight but it was just a matter of time. Dennis refused to end his suffering, circling him until he bled out in the grass and his eyes closed in death.
Alpha Anders gestured for some Pack members to remove the body. “As victor in the challenge, Alpha Coleman is now Alpha of the North Shore pack. If any wish to challenge him for this position, step forward now.”
The Pack looked around, then made a hole as a man walked into the circle. “I will challenge him for Alpha,” said Al Coleman, leaving Carol at the edge of the circle.
“Very well.” Al removed his clothes and shifted, he was an impressive wolf for his age but nowhere near the size or experience of his father. It didn’t matter, when they walked to the center Dennis rolled on his back and exposed his neck. Al took it in his teeth for a moment, then released it and howled in victory.
Changing back to human form, he dressed and pulled Carol next to him. “This Pack will no longer act as your previous Alpha did. We will work together to honor each other, our Pack and our species with our actions. With my true mate Carol by my side,” he kissed her briefly, “we will be the kind of Pack Luna desires. Violations of Pack law will be dealt with quickly and decisively.”
“Any other challenges?” No one stepped forward. “Then I congratulate Alpha Al and Luna Carol Coleman of the North Shore Pack!” The recording ended.
I looked at Remi, then Marge and Mabel. “Wow.” They nodded. “I have my revenge on that Pack, since I have forgiven Kayla and Carol, and the rest were not involved. One down,” I stood up, “Three to go.”
Everyone but me was going to go to bed early, expecting a long trip home tomorrow. I had to talk to Mark and explain what was going on. His next class wasn’t until Monday afternoon, so he agreed to stop by.
We sat in the kitchen as I made hot cocoa for us and I worked up the nerve to tell him what I thought. He beat me to it. “I’m sorry, Ella. I should have known I was moving too fast, and I shouldn’t have pushed it.”
I poured two cups, added some mini marshmallows and walked over to sit by him at the table. “I’m sorry as well. I haven’t done a good job talking about us, and what I’m thinking either. I did practically attack you in that hotel room.”
“That was the best night of my life, Ella. I finally got to be with you.” He took my hand in his.
“I know, but now that I have a chance to think, it was more like me grabbing a life ring than making a lifelong decision. I wanted to feel normal, to feel loved. I wanted to put my rape behind me and live again, and I trusted you.” I leaned against him and put my head on his chest. “I’ve never even been on a date, Mark. I’ve never had a relationship, never thought about what it meant to be with someone. My whole life was about waiting for my mate, and then everything would go at once. When I realized I was committing to spend the rest of my life with you, I asked myself why.” I looked into his eyes, my unshed tears pooling up. “It’s easy to say love, but I don’t know what true love is outside of a mating bond.”
“What about our baby?” His hand moved down to my lower stomach, I put my hand over his.
“A baby isn’t a reason to get married, really.” I looked around the house. “I’m not your average teenager, and you don’t have to worry about an angry father with a shotgun. Angry housekeepers, maybe,” I giggled, “but I don’t need a marriage license to raise our baby. I’m rich now, independent, and I’m not even enrolled in school so I don’t have to listen to girls talk about me.”
“I’m not ashamed of you or our baby, Ella.”
“No, but I am. This isn’t the life I was planning for. I thought I’d graduate from college, go into my parent’s business and find my man, and only then I’d have children.” He continued to hold me as I listened to his heartbeat.
“It’s the life you have, Ella. You can’t change what has happened, but you have choices going forward. I want to be one of those choices you make. Plus, I need a chance to do this right. I didn’t even have a ring for you.” I laughed. “We have all the time in the world, just don’t push me away. I don’t know if I could handle losing you.”
I sat up, groaning as I reached for my back. I stretched, hearing the bones pop. “Come on, I need to relax a little.”
I moved towards the deck, where the hot tub sat under its insulated cover. I loved sitting out there in the winter, watching the wildlife in the back yard while staying toasty warm. “My back hurts from the drive, I want to sit in the tub for a while.”
He pulled his hand towards him, turning me around. “Are you crazy? You can’t go in there!” I looked at him blankly. “Raising your body temperature in the early weeks of pregnancy can cause birth defects or fetal abnormalites. Doctors don’t recommend it, and certainly for not more than ten minutes. Didn’t you read up on this stuff?”
I rolled my eyes. “Sorry, I’ve been a bit busy.”
He pulled me down the hall. “Good thing I’ve been doing the research. I’ll get you some books tomorrow, and we can go through this together.” I rolled my eyes. “Meanwhile, I’ll take care of you. Hop up on the bed and strip down to your panties.”
I pulled my shirt off and unfastened my bra, tossing them both in the hamper, as he disappeared into my bathroom. I took my jeans off and tossed them on the chair in the corner, then sat down to wait for him. He came out, his eyes darkening with lust as he looked over my near naked form. My lips parted, and my tongue licked them before I realized what I was doing. He had a container of lotion in his hand and a towel; moving past her, he laid the beach towel down on top of the comforter and waited for me to lie down on my stomach.
He moved over me, his knees trapping my thighs between them. I closed my eyes as he put lotion on and warmed it in his hands. I pulled my hair out of the way as he started working from my neck down, his fingers doing wonderful things to me as he massaged the tension out.
“Mmmmm… you’re hired,” I said.
“You can’t afford me, but you can have me anytime,” he said back. My back was cool with the feel of the lotion as he came back up to my neck, his fingers massaging up to my hairline and ears before moving down again. He worked down my spine, his thumbs pressing down and working the knots in my back as he went.
It was heaven.
Twenty minutes later I felt like an overcooked noodle, just limp. He had to roll me over as he started on my front. He did the same there, paying particular attention to my breasts. which were aching for his touch. My arousal was peaking as his hands worked down, and when he pressed his lips to the front of my panties I just about came right there. I squirmed under him as he slowly ran his tongue over the lace, from the bottom to the top, and then sucked hard.
I grabbed his head and pulled him close as I exploded in bliss. He waited until my hips were back on the bed before he reached up and pulled my panties down, slowly, kissing and licking the exposed folds as they became available. He lapped up my juices as his hands moved them down over my feet before he threw them aside. “Mark… please… I need you inside me.”
He got up on his knees and pulled his shirt off, then sat back and removed his jeans and socks. He stood by the bed as he dropped his underwear and his cock sprang out, hard and ready.
He took ahold of the towel and pulled it and me until my butt was at the edge of the bed. He leaned over and captured my mouth in a passionate kiss as I felt his tip pushing into my wet folds. We both moaned in pleasure as he slowly pushed himself in. I held his hips in place as I adjusted to his size, and when I was comfortable I started to tilt my hips up. He got the idea and began a slow torture, withdrawing to the tip and then slowly pushing back in.
He was in no hurry, and this time the buildup to orgasm was long and pleasurable. I moved my legs to his shoulders when he finally started moving with speed, changing the angle so it hit me in different parts. I urged him on, squeezing my breasts with my hands as he flicked his tongue across my nipples. He finished by pushing my knees up to my chest, leaning forward and pounding me down into the bed until I came hard. I squeezed him hard, and was rewarded by the feel of his hot cum shooting deep into me.
He caught his breath and pulled out of me, cleaning me with the towel before he laid on the bed and pulled me to him. I enjoyed the closeness, but we didn’t have time for more. He rolled off the bed and went to the bathroom, coming out dressed. “I’m sorry, I have to get home,” he said.
“I know.” I pulled my clothes back on as well, and we went to the door where we put our jackets on. I followed him out to his car and kissed him again before he drove away.
I was watching the taillights disappear when I caught movement in the treeline. The moon wasn’t very bright, and I missed my wolf vision, but I was sure something was in there. I moved back to the porch, and looking back once more I saw him at the edge of the floodlight beams from the front porch.
He was a magnificent black wolf, young, strong and proud. He was staring at me, and I could just make out his eyes. Bright green eyes.
A white streak on his chest. A white tip to his tail.
It was him, the tenth wolf, the one that stopped and didn’t attack me.
I stared at him, he did the same, his head cocking slightly as he looked me over. “You’re not going to hurt me, are you?”
He chuffed, then slowly moved forward. He circled me, then moved forward. I touched his fur around his ears, and he pushed his head into my hand for more. I could see his eyes, there was so much emotion swirling in them I didn’t know what to do. I was frozen, the tingles from the contact moving up my arm towards my heart.
He moved his head down, pushing up the front of my coat and taking a deep sniff at my crotch. He growled loudly, then whimpered as he moved away. I could see the pain in his eyes as he walked away, then ran.
I stood there like a statue watching him go, tears streaming down my face. He reached the top of the hill and stood there in the moonlight, howling to the moon. It was a howl of pain, loss and anguish.
The pain of a wolf who had lost his mate.
I watched until he disappeared into the trees. Remi and Marge had run out, ready to shift, but I put my hand on her chest and held her back. “Are you all right?”
I turned and buried my face into Remi’s chest as the sobs came out. “No… I’m not.” She pulled back and looked me over, but I wasn’t injured.
“Who was that?”
“That was my mate.” I fell to the ground, clutching myself as my world fell apart again.