Chapter 7: The Visitor
Daytime television sucked.
Basic cable sucked. The hospital had the local stations plus about a dozen cable channels, none of which were of interest. I was bored, my hand throbbed in a way that the pain medicine didn’t help, and I felt all alone in this world.
Lunch was, well, not up to the standards I was used to. As werewolves, we had greater senses of smell and taste, so we were particular about the food we ate. Processed foods, additives, chemicals- all of them were avoided. We liked natural foods, with herbs and spices to give layers of flavor. Marge made the most amazing food, and this stuff I wouldn’t feed to my enemies. I think I would prefer the cardboard it was packed in.
I was also finding the loss of wolf senses to be an annoyance. It was like I was wearing earmuffs, dark sunglasses and pinching my nose all at the same time. It wasn’t just food that tasted different, I could no longer make out conversations in adjoining rooms, or scent people or werewolves approaching. My body was weaker, and I didn’t have wolf speed healing. The surgeon said I was looking at a recovery that could take years, waiting for the nerves to regenerate. If they ever did.
I was watching some local talk show host pan fry trout with a chef when the door to my room pushed open. I looked up expecting to see a nurse, and was shocked at what I saw. The man closed the door and turned the deadbolt to lock it. He walked over while I tried to remember to breathe. He scented the air deeply, shaking his head as he did so. He set a duffel bag next to me and sat in the chair by the bed. “Don’t call anyone Ella, I’m just here to talk. I’m not going to kill you just yet.”
“Alpha Goodwin.” I was fucked. Marvin was the Alpha of the St. Cloud Pack and was the ‘host’ Alpha. Nothing could have happened to my parents on his land without his consent. He was most definitely on the list I was compiling in my head, the one that involved long and painful deaths.
“It seems my Gamma was right, you did lose your wolf. It was confusing for a while, we tracked the police radio and talked to the hospital and we were sure it was you. After all, how many people have their thumb bitten off? Quite resourceful, actually, we found the handcuffs and the blood told the story. You are far more than we anticipated, I’m afraid. It’s too bad you are no longer one of us.”
“Not by choice.” I glared at him. “You knew he was going to rape me and yet you didn’t stop it, in fact you helped kill my parents to give him the chance. Why?”
“Why does one do anything as an Alpha, young lady? Power and influence. If your Pack doesn’t have it, you can’t thrive. We would have kept the peace, extended our alliance and brought new revenue sources in with the mating we had planned. It’s too bad David screwed the whole thing up.” I looked at him like he had three heads. “His timing was all wrong. He was meant to have marked and mated you as soon as the drugs hit, but Olivia moved too soon. We were supposed to present your parents with your mating as a fait accompli. Instead, they freaked out and attacked us. Then the bite didn’t even take.”
“Yeah, that whole seduction thing didn’t go well. Who knew you had to give someone you have tied to the bed an overdose of wolfsbane just so you can rape them?”
He shook his head. “We figured that out as well. Doc said giving you the second shot that early was dangerous, and it looks like it was fatal to your wolf. On the good side, that is the only reason you are going to live past this day. Alpha Tanner was furious, both that you escaped and that you killed his son. He wanted blood, but he’d caused enough trouble in my territory. I sent him home, but if I were you, I wouldn’t visiting the North Shore. Ever.”
“I want nothing to do with that family.” I looked out the window.
“They weren’t the only ones. I wouldn’t travel through Brainerd or Grand Forks, either. Alpha Anderson and Alpha Lewis are not happy you beat up Olivia, plus you cost them their share of the agreement.”
“That doesn’t break my heart. David Lewis can have Olivia for a mate, they are a good pair. Both are without honor.” I had them on my list too. “So they all want me dead, why don’t you?”
“Because, my dear,” he shook his head, “I have to live here. You’ve create a number of problems for me and I need your help to defuse them.”
My mouth dropped. “Why would I ever help you?”
“Because you know it will be bad for our species if we are discovered, but mostly because you still care about those people who used to be in your Pack. I know you gave the order to disband, and most of them escaped before my men arrived. Not all of them, though.” He pulled out a phone and showed me a photo. I let out a gasp. Mabel, Beta Darryl, the Perry family, Isabel, all wrapped in silver chain and sitting in the basement, with warriors surrounding them. “I don’t want to kill them, they have nothing to do with this, but I will if I have to.”
“What do you want?”
“I have a stray German Shepherd that one of my Pack members in St. Cloud will say threatened his child and he had to shoot it. The police will show you a photo, I want you to identify it as the one that attacked you. That will get the hunters and the police out of the woods. Right now we’re afraid to shift because your story made the news, and people are freaked out.” He smiled. “Plus, it will get you out of a painful series of rabies shots.”
“That’s easy. I suppose you need help with the rape suspects? I told them it was a party and I got slipped a roofie.”
“I know, I got a copy of the report. It’s a good cover, just keep pretending you don’t remember much that could be helpful and it will die down soon. I’ve already got people working to destroy the evidence from the rape kit, and my people have cleaned up the cabin.”
“What else?” I knew there was something more than this.
“You stay away from here, forever. Leave this state once you are released and never come back.”
“That’s a given. I’m waiting for what you really want.”
“You don’t know?” He laughed as he stood up and walked to the window. “What I wanted at the beginning. Money, which gives me power and influence. The other Alphas screwed the plan up, they get nothing. I’m not ready to give up yet. I want in on the oil boom in your back yard.” He looked down at his phone. “Your company owns mineral rights in the Bakken fields, and that company is being liquidated according to your Beta. You will allow me to buy 10% of these rights at the price you bought them for, and backdate the transaction to before the recent discoveries. In exchange, you get your people back and a promise to leave you and them alone.”
I thought it over. The rights had gone up in value from a few dollars an acre to thousands of dollars per acre since we started purchasing them in the 1980’s. He’d be buying ten million dollars of rights at current prices for tens of thousands.
“It’s a good deal. I suppose I could wait until they get their distributions and ransom them then, but I don’t want cash, I want the income. Finally, I want you to sign a non-aggression treaty with my pack. I leave you alone, and your Pack gives up any thoughts of revenge on mine for you and your parents.”
“You know I’m not a werewolf, I’m not an Alpha. I don’t have a Pack, a pack link, or even a bond.”
“Yes, but you still have the loyalty of your people.” He put the phone in his pocket. “They love you and still see you as their leader, that is why they didn’t leave with the others. If you agree, they will honor the treaty. I will write it so if they find a new Alpha, he remains bound by it.”
I didn’t have a choice, he had my people. I couldn’t let them die.
“Fine. I’ll have my lawyer send you a list of the purchases with original prices and current values. You select the ones you want until you reach 10% of current value. My side will draft the sale paperwork, you draft the non-aggression treaty. Doc says I can be released Friday afternoon, so have everything ready to sign by Thursday night.”
“I can do that.” He walked over and extended his hand.
“Not so fast. My people aren’t to be held in chains. You let me talk to them, I’ll instruct them to cooperate with your people until the agreement is signed. They stay in my house but they are treated well, not harmed.”
“Agreed.” We shook hands, and I made the phone call. I was furious that Darryl hadn’t left, but he wasn’t leaving until everyone else was gone and some people just couldn’t pick up and leave quickly enough. I was satisfied, and Alpha Goodwin talked to his.
He left, and I pulled the bag up and started looking through it. He had brought my stuff from the truck, so I had my clothes and computer, and most of all my phone. I quickly plugged it in and called Tom Harris. He was happy to hear from me, and expressed his heartfelt condolences.
“Thank you, Tom, but this is a business call.” I explained to him the deal I had made with Alpha Goodwin. He wasn’t thrilled, but he understood.
He said it would take him a few days to figure out how to accomplish it, since it had significant tax and corporate law implications. He did say that he would be sure to structure it so if he ever sold the rights, that “Uncle Sam would get more money from it than he did.” At least there was that. He also updated me on the status of the pack dispersal from the business side. “Ella, what do you want to do with Grey Wolf Trucking? Do you want to sell it or have me find someone to run it for you?”
I thought about it for a while. “Tom, I’ve still got high school to finish, a year of rehab visits and a bunch of other headaches. Sell it. Take the proceeds, pay off the mortgages on my land, and set aside enough. Start looking for adjoining lands. I don’t want to deal in oil any more, I want to have a ranch where my family can roam and be safe.”
“I can do that, Ella. My son will be there tomorrow, he’s bringing more stuff for you. I’m sure you’ll be happy to hear that we’ve contacted your teachers. He’s bringing your schoolbooks and your work so you don’t get bored in the hospital.”
Oh joy. Luna forbid I miss school. “I need him to bring clothes, cash and a new truck. Get me a big ranch truck, one ton dually, regular cab. A red F-350 diesel would be good.”
He laughed. “May as well, you’re going to end up with a shitload of land when this is all done. I’ll have him bring some financials along so he can explain where you sit now and after the dispersal. Anything else?”
“Yeah, have him bring me some food. Barbecue would be good. You wouldn’t believe how bad this hospital food sucks.” He laughed and promised Terry would bring my favorites for dinner.
I went back to my phone; it took me an hour to get through all the messages and emails much less Facebook. I figured the phone would be easier to use than a laptop while I was one handed.
Having all the contacts was a lifesaver. I composed a letter to my former Pack members, explaining what had happened to me and their Alphas and what was now going to happen with the Pack disband. I ended with this:
“I love each and every one of you, and I’m so sorry it has come to this. It was an honor to serve even briefly as your Alpha. I wish you Luna’s blessings in your new Packs and your new homes. The Pack did well on its investments, so you will have enough money to follow your dreams. Send me an email or a postcard, I’d love to see what you are doing. As for me, I intend to return to our home and start a new life, this time as a human. You are the only family I have, so please stay in touch. You are always welcome in my home, and I will always help you where I can. Love, Ella.”
I finished just as the cafeteria worker brought in dinner. Yay.