Chapter 51: Back in Pack
“ELLA! OH MY LUNA ELLA!!!” I looked up from where I had almost faceplanted on the neatly trimmed lawn to see Olivia’s glossy black mane hanging down from her face. She was looking down at me and grinning madly. I heard a growl behind me, looking quickly I saw Charlie was about to shift and rip her off me. “CHARLIE! Stand down. She’s a friend.” The Alpha command hit his wolf and he immediately stilled, then his wolf retreated and his shift stopped. I hugged Olivia for all I was worth. “Oh man, am I glad to see you!”
There was a rumble of feet and two young ones joined the pile. I barely recognized Tina and Tony, they had grown so much since I last saw them. It was all one rolling ball of laughter, tears and hugs until we could finally break apart and I could get up again. I looked over to see Rose Stormwater standing in the doorway, grinning widely. I gestured Charlie over to join us, nobody was letting me go even though I had gotten up. “Alpha Rose, I can’t thank you enough for what you have done for my Pack. I am in your debt.”
She waved for me to come in, and eventually we all made it onto the couch in her living room. Her Beta and Head Warrior introduced themselves, and we were served refreshments. “So, Alpha Ella, where have you been hiding the last two years? Your mate has been beside himself with worry.”
I smiled, imagining just that. “I was captured by police outside Minot, then given over to military control. I spent the last two years at Fort Detrick as a lab rat, that’s where I met Charlie here.” I gave the young wolf a hug. “He was force turned and captured, and put in the cell opposite mine. I was able to calm his wolf, and he’s now part of my Pack.”
“Oh my. What do you know of what has happened?”
“Almost nothing,” I said. “I had no access to news during this time. It was only after Black Ker arranged for me to be released that I heard anything. I know my mate and children are alive, and they took refuge here. Other than that…” I looked at her, pleading for a good answer.
“They are all safe here, Ella. In fact, your Pack has grown a bit since you left.” She looked at Olivia, who was blushing. “You want to tell her now?”
“Mark and I had twins as well, six months ago. Both are werewolves, they are home with him.”
“Werewolves? But you are… he is…”
“He’s a wolf now, Ella. Craig bit him to give him the change. We decided that one of us needed to be able to shift to protect our Pack and family. Twin girls, Elanor and Elizabeth.” She pulled out her phone, and showed me the photo.
“Oh wow, they are SO cute!” I looked around, then looked at Rose. “When can I go to my Pack?”
Her eyes glazed over for a second, then her men got up and left the room, heading out the back of the house. She looked at Olivia. “Dear, will you do the honors?”
She grinned. “Oh, I’d love to.” We got up and followed them through the house to the sliding door leading to their large backyard. I stopped for a second at the door, the lawn was filled with adults and children; the grills were fired up, music was playing, and games were being played. There were hundreds of people here, but my eyes locked onto one.
The music stopped and all of the people turned to look at the house and their Alphas.
Our eyes locked on each other.
And I ran to him and jumped into his arms. “CRAIG!!!” I crashed my lips to his, his mind hadn’t caught up to real time yet so he was still staring at me, trying to convince himself I was real. I kissed him, hard and possessively, as the sparks ran down my arms and from my lips. My body was on fire for him.
His wolf pushed forward, and he shifted, tearing his clothes as his big black wolf appeared before me. I hugged him tight, his tail wagging and his tongue bathing my face as he shivered in his excitement. He knocked me to the grass and stood over me, letting out a joyful howl that was picked up by members of both Packs.
Before I could get up, I was engulfed in the arms of two little boys, their chubby little arms on my neck. “MAMA! MAMA HOME!” I hugged them tight to me, putting kisses on their heads and faces as they squealed and wiggled in my arms. Tears were flowing down my face, the relief was evident as was the joy.
I had my family again.
Craig shifted back and someone tossed him a pair of shorts; he pulled them on, then pulled me back into his muscled chest. His arms stayed wrapped around me; it was like we were a pair of rare earth magnets, pulled together so strongly it would be almost impossible to separate us again. He was kissing my head and neck, sniffing both as he reassured himself that I was really here. I reached down and pulled each of my boys up by one arm; like little monkeys, they climbed up me and held tight as we stood there. No one wanted to let go, least of all me.
The Pack had given us a little time for ourselves, but they couldn’t be held back for long. I went through the mental list as I saw everyone, marveling at how the children had grown. Mark came up, holding the baby girls, as Olivia and the twins hugged their legs. “Oh Mark, I’m so happy for you guys!” If Craig hadn’t been holding me up I swear I would have collapsed. I set the boys back on the ground, where they immediately grabbed at my legs. Charlie saw some kids his age and ran off, and I let him go as he needed this so much.
Olivia took one of the babies, dressed in a pink onesie with flowers, and handed her to me. “This is your niece, Elanor. I named her after you, I mean, you saved me by leading them away from the gas station, and we… I mean…”
I hugged her tight, crying as the baby fussed in my arms. “She’s so beautiful. You guys make great babies together.”
Mark smiled, and I handed Elanor back to Olivia as he handed me the other. “This is Elizabeth, and I want to thank you, Ella. I don’t know all of what you went through, but I’m so happy you are back!” We hugged, causing Craig to growl lowly and pull me tighter back to him. I glared at him, Mark was mated and family, but I could tell Craig’s wolf was on edge. “Are your parents here?”
“No, they are still back home,” Olivia said. “I can’t wait to tell them you are back!”
“No phone calls,” I said. “In fact, Craig, send out an Alpha command. No one outside these two packs is to know I have returned, and no use of phones or electronics with my name. The danger isn’t over for me.” He nodded and I looked at Alpha Stormwater. “Rose, could you do the same for your pack? I’ll explain more later.”
They did, and the reception line continued. Marge and Mabel were next, they had been crying since they saw me and they were so happy right now. Jacob and Melanie were next, they were holding a baby that looked to be about a year old, a little boy named Chance. I was surprised to see Nadine and Natalie; her daughter had grown into a beautiful young woman, and there was a native American man by her side, hugging her tight. Oh, and Nadine was obviously pregnant. The girls each gave me a big hug before stepping back. “Ella, I’d like to introduce my mate, Robert Stormwater.” He shook my hand, and I raised my eyebrow. “He’s Rose’s nephew. We met shortly after we arrived here.”
I pulled him into a hug. “I’m so glad she found her mate, I can see you make her happy.”
“That’s tougher now that she’s pregnant. Do you have any idea how tough it is to get her a Dairy Queen hot fudge sundae at three in the morning from the middle of the reservation?” He feigned injury as she elbowed him. “Of course, I’d do anything to make her happy.”
“But how… I mean, Nadine, you lost your mate.”
“So did Robert, shortly after they mated she was killed by a drunk driver. We got Luna’s favor, she granted us a second chance mate and we couldn’t be happier.” I hugged her again, then Natalie ran off to find her friends. Craig took the opportunity to guide us to a nearby table, where he sat down and placed me on his lap with the boys perched on each of my legs. It wasn’t comfortable, but none of us wanted to sit apart.
“Where are the Spencers?”
“They went back to Canada a few months ago, they finally made contact with their old Pack. Things have settled down enough at the border for them to return. It also didn’t help that Josh has been causing so much trouble, I decided it was best to get him out of the country for a while.”
“He’s having too much fun?”
“You wouldn’t believe it. They don’t know his name yet, but his alias is on the Ten Most Wanted list.” Craig smiled at that. “During the coldest part of winter last year, he and his buddies led a coordinated attack on sewage and water treatment plants across the United States. It was hugely successful from our end, but for the tens of thousands of people who had sewage back up into their houses when it was twenty below out? Or who didn’t have water to flush for a week? Not so much.” I laughed at that, it was perfect. The boy was a menace, I was so glad he was on OUR side.
The Elders and children from the Johnson pack were next to come up. I was happy to see Estelle Whitfield and Michael Campbell still alive. “We prayed for your return every night, Alpha Ella. The moon joins our celebration tonight!”
“Thank you, Estelle. Do you have any news from the Johnson Pack?”
She frowned. “Nothing good. Your cousins are still alive, but things are tough for them. The military has declared the whole territory a human no-go area, and it’s a free fire zone inside it. They are fighting back, them and a few other Packs. It’s been a standoff. We evacuated some injured for them, that and helping to resupply them is all we can do for now.”
I started tearing up, I was so happy to know they had survived thus far. I knew I couldn’t see them, though.
I hugged the next man, and he wrapped his upper arm around my shoulder. “I’m so happy to see you again, Ella.”
“You too, Jimmy. Are you keeping busy?”
“Of course. I’ve taken over logistics for the Pack. I never knew it was so complicated to keep people supplied with food, clothing and weapons. I also run supplies to the allied Packs.” He carried himself with pride now, he was no longer a wounded warrior shuffled to the side, he knew he had value.
“Move aside, Jimmy, you’re holding up the whole Navy here.” He gave her a glare. “OK, I wasn’t in the Navy but my Dad was, and it sounds bad.” She pushed him out of the way and leaned in to give me a hug, her two-year-old son on her left hip. “This is Doug, I named him after our Alpha.”
“Oh my,” I said as he hugged me, “such a strong little boy! Are you good for your mama?” He nodded to me as he ate the chocolate chip cookie in his gooey hand. As we talked, another little girl, a little older than Doug, ran up and grabbed her leg. “And who are you?” She was a cute little one with bright blue eyes and blonde hair.
“This is Laurie. I adopted her after you left.”
Oh Luna, she was so adorable, I thought back to the baby we took in and she was so much bigger now. She looked at me with her big eyes. “Can Darryl and Mitch play? They have a bounce house.” My boys looked up at me, their eyes pleading as well.
“Sure, go have fun.” They jumped off and ran, holding hands with Laurie, as Maggie mouthed to me that she would watch them.
“What about Theo, Reggie and Ryan?”
“They are here somewhere, the elders have taken them in as surrogate grandparents.”
“And the triplets?” I was sure I would have seen identical five-year-olds around.
“Tom and Shelley adopted them. We tried to get them integrated with our Pack and it didn’t work. Their wolves were damaged from the loss of their parents and they were becoming uncontrollable and violent. We didn’t have a choice. We gave them the wolfsbane and killed their wolves.”
“They are alive, Ella, and happy. Tom and Shelley are wonderful parents to them, and they can live safely among the humans. They don’t even remember their wolves now.”
I spun around in his lap, straddling his legs as I cried onto his shoulder. He held me tight, and the tingles energized me again. I pulled back and kissed him deeply, as the catcalls and shouts of ‘get a room’ echoed through the back yard.
“Keep it PG, we have kids here,” Rose teased.
I looked over at her. “How… how did you pull this all together in such a short time?”
She laughed. “When I got the call, I was shocked. I decided to keep everyone in back until I verified it was you, and that you were all right.” She smirked a little. “I figured Olivia was safe to have out front since she and the twins are human. And when we went out back? You should have seen your face. I’m glad I got photos.”
“Thank you. Oh Luna, I’m so happy right now!” The rest of the night was a blur of introductions and congratulations as I wiggled around on Craig’s lap, teasing Craig Junior to the breaking point. Marge and Mabel came by with the sleeping boys, saying they would take care of them until tomorrow. Since Charlie had already been invited to run in wolf form with the juveniles then sleep over with his new friends, that meant it was just us.
I think Craig figured it out at the same time. He jumped to his feet, tossing me over his shoulder as he yelled “Thanks everyone!” and ran through the yard towards his house down the street. I squealed and tried to get down, but he wasn’t having it.
“You’re only going one place, and that’s in bed with me. We’ve got two years to make up for.”
Yes. Yes we did.