Chapter 3: Threats to the Pack
Linda Remington was walking to her car after a long day of editing footage for an upcoming special when her phone rang. It was an unlisted number, something she normally ignored, but for some reason she took the call. “Hello, this is Linda Remington.”
The voice on the other side was young, male and had a Spanish accent. “Hello Linda, I have information that I need to present to your Alpha about an upcoming situation. I was hoping you could help put me in touch.”
Pack business? Huh. “Well, before I do that I need to know who I am talking to and what this is about.” She really had better things to do, Andy had been out of town on Pack business after Wolfstock and as new mates they took advantage of all the time they had together. He was insatiable, she merely wanted the sex to continue forever.
“I’d rather not talk about it over the phone. I assure you, I am very serious about this and I will not place you in danger. I can meet you in a public place of your choosing and if you don’t believe me I’ll leave.” Linda hesitated, as a somewhat famous person she had to be careful of stalkers and whackos, but something about his tone told her he was sincere in wanting to help. Mind linking Andy, she found out he was at the library finishing up some research on local land ownership.
“Fine, but you will have to follow my instructions exactly and an associate of mine will approach you first. Go to the Ernie Pyle Public Library on Girard Boulevard. Request a study room, they will be along the back wall. Along the way, go to the copy machine and make a photocopy of your drivers license. Drop that in the recycle bin next to the machine and don’t look back. If everything checks out, a man will knock on the door and come in.”
The man repeated the instructions and said, “I can do that. It will take me 30 minutes to get there.”
Linda hung up and picked up the link with Andy again. “Honey, can you check him out and let me know what you think? It may be important or he could be a crackpot.”
“Of course, dear. If I sense any evasion or danger, I won’t let you come in.” Sliding into her white Acura, Linda turned the keys and headed towards her mate.
Gila Pack Territory
Near the northern border
Caleb panted as he lay at the edge of the cliff. His body protested any movement and the pain of the many cuts and scrapes from the rocks sent little shocks through his system.
Maria was also breathing hard, her blood matting the fur on her neck where Caleb had caught her with his teeth as he madly tried to keep from falling to the valley floor below. She thought she would be dead, but this man- this wolf- had saved her. His jaws had latched onto her and kept her from falling backwards while her back legs found purchase on the sheer rock. She had grabbed onto his neck as well, just above the chest, and that anchor had been enough to get her feet under her until he could pull her back up.
Her wolf had betrayed her.
She should be dead.
She reached into her mind, looking for the place she would be able to talk to her wolf as an equal. “Why?” Her wolf simply replied, “MATE.” Puzzled, she looked over at the large gray and white wolf by her.
“Because you are mine and I am yours. I have loved you since the first time I saw you and I will be with you for all my days.”
Maria looked around in a panic. Someone was in her head, something was wrong, yet her wolf was excited and... horny. She was spinning in circles before laying down and exposing her belly to him in her mind.
“It’s the mate bond, love. It wasn’t my intention to claim you until we had time to meet properly, but I can’t and won’t take it back. I bit your neck, you bit mine, Luna made us mates, we are now bound together. We can communicate like this in wolf form or human. My name is Caleb Forrester, and I love you Maria Gomez.”
She looked away. “You can’t. I’m not worthy of love.”
“Yet I love you, enough to risk my life, even to die for you. I’ve loved you since I first saw you in that basement, beat up and covered in blood. Nothing you say or do will ever change my love for you.” He leaned over and started to lick the blood from her neck. His tongue felt good, and her body tingled where they touched. She couldn’t help but relax as she felt the love pushing through the bond at her.
“Caleb... where am I?”
“You are on Gila pack lands, and under the protection of our Alphas. The Feds raided that house you were held in shortly after you turned on your captors. You were badly injured, so we brought you back here to heal.”
“I don’t know if I will every heal.”
“I can’t change anything that happened to you, it makes me furious to know but I can only change your future. I want you to be happy, to be loved, to have family and Pack and a life together.”
Maria closed her eyes. “I used to dream of that, but that was before they changed me. Now I’m a monster. My wolf has only come forward twice, and she scares the hell out of me. I should have died today. You should have let me end this.”
“Why? How could you see yourself as a monster when I can feel your pain and loss?”
Maria sat up on her haunches, her eyes closing with the slight pain. “You saw the basement. You saw what I did to those people. My wolf is a monster, she can’t be trusted around people.”
Caleb rolled onto his stomach then shifted, his excitement hidden from her as he gained his human form. She blushed and looked away from him. She had seen plenty of naked men, but never had she wanted to SEE a man naked until now. Her wolf was urging her to go to him, to make love to him, to make pups with him. “I did see the room. I also heard about what happened in that room. There were monsters in the basement, but you were not one of them.”
“Didn’t you see them? I didn’t just kill them. I shredded them. I couldn’t stop my wolf, she kept tearing into them even after they were dead. Monstrous. Evil. My wolf is dangerous.” Her wolf growled in her mind, she was strong and had struck back, she didn’t appreciate her human’s attitude.
“Because it is primal? Violent when threatened? Prone to rage? So is mine. Our wolves have those parts of our makeup that make our human side uncomfortable at times. Yet, they also have the instinct to sense danger, to protect, to procreate, even to raise our young. Your wolf is no different from mine, or any other. It watched, it plotted, and it reacted with sudden violence when it saw the chance to break free. I love your wolf. She is strong, patient, intelligent and decisive. She kept you alive, didn’t she?”
Maria laid down and set her head on her paws. “She did. Even with the drugs holding her back, I could feel her inside me. I finally figured out they were putting the wolfsbane in my water each morning, so the last month I was there I poured it into the drain. She got stronger, and told me we would get out. I told her I didn’t know how to fight, I wasn’t strong, and she told me not to worry, that when the time came she would take care of me. I’d never shifted before, I didn’t know what was going on.”
Caleb pulled her into his lap as he gently stroked her side. “How old are you, Maria?”
“I had just turned 18 when they took me. I was a high school student, I had college plans, I was saving myself for the man I would marry. That was two years ago. Now I have nothing.”
“Do you have any family we can contact?”
“Not any more. My father was killed by the Cartel, my mother died when I was sixteen. I have no one. I’m a worthless used up whore that no one wants.”
“No, you are not. You are not worthless, you are the most important thing in my life. You are no whore, you are a victim. Did you ever once give your body willingly to them?” She shook her head. “You never gave your body, they always took it. Giving is a choice no one can take from you. When you are ready, I will still be your first, the one you have given yourself to. You don’t know how strong you are, how beautiful you are. You and your wolf are amazing. You saved yourself, you kept your wits about you, and you stayed alive long enough for me to find you. ” He continued to stroke her side as she fell asleep. “I love you, Maria.”
Ernie Pyle Library
Andy kept a low profile as he read the newspaper, discreetly keeping an eye on the entrance as he waited for the man to arrive. Linda was waiting in her car a block away, just to be safe. He mind linked his lovely new mate as he sat. “Love, how did work go today?”
“It was interesting. The station is working on a new story; apparently, there are predators out there who are raping women after pretending they are werewolves who have just found their mates.”
“It can. They prey on single women, especially ones who look lonely. I told you before Wolfstock, you wouldn’t believe how many ladies would give anything to give up the dating scene and just find their mate like we do. When the man gets them to believe they are his, they go with him and by the time they figure out they aren’t Were it is too late, they are already tied up and helpless.”
“That sucks. Any ideas?”
“Well, we just need to reinforce the difference between real and fake.”
“I can help you, we’re kind of famous that way.” He could feel over the bond she was blushing...and getting horny as she recalled their day together in the woods. “Real mates, he will put her feelings and safety first, never hurting her or making her uncomfortable. It would be like hurting himself.”
“I was thinking something simpler, like the eye color changing as the wolf comes forward. I need a catch phrase though.”
“Get Wolfy or Get Lost?” He smiled as he felt her crack up laughing. “I think we should take a long run tonight, I feel like some wolf loving myself.”
“I could go for that. Can you teach me to hunt?”
“I’d love to... wait.. I think this may be the guy.” A man in his mid-twenties was fishing in his wallet as he stood at the copy machine. He didn’t look like much; Hispanic, about five foot seven, thin and pale. He was wearing a Star Wars shirt and jeans. “He looks like a computer geek, not a fighter. He’s wearing more electronics on his belt than I own.” The man dumped the paper in the recycle and walked to the back of the library. Waiting a few minutes, Andy retrieved the document and sat at his laptop. “Enrique Manuel Mendez, age 25, Texas drivers license... let me see what I can find.” Linda also had her laptop out, and soon they had the basics.
Linda found the key information first. “Andy, his parents were killed by the cartel. If he has information, it will be against them.”
Andy agreed. “I found some stuff on him at MIT, but he goes dark after that. Either he’s paranoid or part of government, maybe both. I’m going to talk to him.” He walked to the back study room, knocked and entered.
Enrique stood and extended his hand as the stranger came in. “Enrique Mendez, pleased to meet you.”
“Andy Miller. I’m a Beta in the Gila pack and Linda’s mate.” He mind linked Linda to come in, he sensed no danger from this human, just a need for revenge. “Linda is on her way, you can start talking now, she can listen in through me.”
“I assume you have checked out my background before coming in?” Andy nodded. “Then you know my hatred for the drug cartels, and Juan Hernandez in particular. I’ve come across information about his cartel concerning your pack.”
“How did you get this information?”
“I work for the National Security Administration. I’m a liason with the Drug Enforcement Agency at their office in Fort Bliss. Just so you know, even admitting to my employment could get me fired, and what I will reveal to you could put me in prison, so I appreciate your discretion when it comes to the source of this information.”
“As long as you are honest and forthcoming, we will protect your secrets. I don’t need to know everything, just enough to satisfy myself that you should meet our Alpha pair. What kind of information are we talking about?”
“You have something that Juan wants bad. A female he considers his, and he is willing to attack your Pack to retrieve her.” He set a voice recorder on the table and played a conversation he had recorded at work, the tactical team leader discussing the target with one of his squad leaders. Andy found himself squeezing the arm of the chair, fighting the need to change forms as his anger grew. New mates were insanely protective and this danger had him shaking. Linda came in the room and put her hands on his shoulders, he relaxed and his eyes changed back to normal as she drew the fear out of him.
“I’m Linda. Can you come with us? This is something our Alphas need to hear about immediately.”
“Of course. Can we grab something to eat on the way out of town, though? I’m starving.”
Linda laughed. “Of course, I’m still getting used to my new metabolism and my mate here goes nuts if my stomach growls. Let’s go.” They climbed into Linda’s SUV and drove off. They were too far away to link with the Alphas, but they made a phone call and verified they could meet in their office as soon as they arrived. Robert would arrange for the Betas to be there too.
Johnson Pack Camp
Derek walked hand in hand with Amanda to the hill overlooking the construction of the new Pack House. As soon as the war ended, he had set people to get plans and construction started; his Pack was still in Army tents, some here and some around their own caves until something permanent was ready. The site was located across the valley from the bombed-out remains of the previous lodge.
They had hired every construction company in the area, it seemed. The foundation for the huge home had been poured, the first floor framed, and the lodgepole pines that would form the first two stories had been cut, numbered and stacked. He pointed out the entrance to the Safe Room to his mate, the heavy steel door leading to a sub-basement. “It’s made with reinforced concrete walls three feet thick, and self contained ventilation and plumbing. It will survive most anything.” Renee hugged his waist, the loss of all those pack members still stung years later. Derek still felt responsible even though he wasn’t Alpha when the Air Force had bombed the first lodge early in the Were War.
“How long until we can move people in?”
“We will have it weather tight in a week, it will take another month to be livable. We are focusing on getting one residence wing and the kitchens ready first. The rest we will finish over the winter, including the offices and quarters for the Pack leadership. I want to move everyone back here first, I’ve rented some trailers and we can use some tents in the meantime. The old caves will be completely searched soon.” It had been a long and painful past few months, following the stress of the five previous years.
It was only lately that the Pack had reason to celebrate. The loss of Renee as she took over the Santa Fe pack had been tough, she had been a tough fighter and true leader in the Pack. They all watched what happened with Alpha Diggs, and it was not easy to see her being torn apart like that. It wasn’t until after that day that things turned around. They had come back from Wolfstock down a few female members to mates in other Packs, but a dozen of their men had found mates. “Even with the new members, we still won’t fill up a wing of this home. It will take generations to gain back what we lost.” He squeezed her side to him as the memories of his childhood in the old Lodge hit him.
“We have our Pack, the new mates, and we have a bunch of potential members on the way. It will fill up quicker than you think.” There were a number of werewolves who had survived the war alone or in small groups, and a number of smaller packs decided to merge with others as they didn’t have the size to defend a territory. Derek and Renee were good leaders and attracted people to them, and the TV coverage helped a lot. More were showing up every week as they recovered from the war. Wolves instinctively seek the shelter and companionship of a Pack, and never feel complete without one.
Wolfstock and the contacts made there had brought a number of these people to their lands, hoping to join their Pack. They weren’t rogues- wolves who had given into their primal side- they were just unaffiliated. The wolves were given a provisional status and allowed to stay through a probationary period before being considered for full membership. The new mates and relatives had a different path to membership. If you had a kin claim and agreed to submit yourself to the Alpha’s leadership, you were immediately accepted.
“It will be beautiful when it is done, and I can’t wait to see it fill up. Derek, you’ve guided this Pack through a lot. You are a strong man, a strong Alpha and a strong mate. You have nothing to feel sorry about.” Amanda moved around to hug him, her arms wrapping around his thick chest as she breathed in his scent. “What do you have in store for our quarters?”
Derek moved her back to his side and started to walk down to the building site. “Let’s get some safety gear on and take a walk. I’ll get a copy of the plans and we can walk it down.”
Amanda took his hand and squeezed it. “I hope you have enough rooms for us. I can’t wait to decorate the nursery.” She left him behind, his mouth open as he stared at her retreating ass. She blocked his thoughts from her mind to keep him off balance.
“Does this mean...” He shook his head, his mouth open as her words bounced around his head. His wolf was forward in his mind as he ran up to her and picked her up bridal style. “Are you...”
“Can’t you smell them?” She hid her smile as she nipped at his shoulder. She let out a squeal as he dropped her shoulders, his arms locking around her thighs as he lifted her upside down until his nose was buried between her legs. He took a deep breath, then another, his hands shaking as he squeezed her tight. “HEY! Put me down... Daddy.”
Gila Pack House
Andy led his mate and Enrique through the double doors that led to the conference room. He expected Enrique to be a little intimidated by the number and size of the Were that were waiting for him, but the little man was confident and unafraid. They made their way to the head of the table where he introduced him to his Alpha pair.
Robert stood to his full height and shook his hand, his left hand staying with Renee as she remained seated. “Welcome to the Gila Pack, I am Robert Hastings and this is my mate Renee.” Renee shook his hand.
“I’m sorry I’m not getting up, I’m still healing and somebody insists I sit and rest.” Her eyes flicked up to her mate, the playful challenge in them.
“I understand, I thank you for all you have done in the name of peace and I am honored to meet you.”
Robert then had everyone introduce themselves as Linda and Andy took their places at the table.
“Before I begin, I need to give you some background so you can understand what I am giving you and why.” Enrique gave a quick synopsis of his life, the loss of his parents, his schooling, and his recognition that the path to justice for him lay at the keyboard and not behind a gun. “So, I am currently an NSA employee working with the DEA. I have at my disposal the entire electronic surveillance capability of the US government, and years of experience in monitoring the activities of the drug cartels. I would ask that my involvement remain secret; if word of what I am telling you gets out, the best case for me is life in prison.”
Robert pondered this for a minute, his Betas silent as they were not to speak in meetings unless asked. Pack bonds were used to keep Pack business private. “So why would you bring this to us? Why not just tell the DEA what is going on and let them handle it?”
“Because I want my justice. I want these bastards dead.”
Renee shook her head. “We have treaties, we have to remain within the law. We can’t just go out there and kill for you. Why would we involve ourselves in a drug war?”
“You are already involved but don’t know it. The drug war is coming for you. Juan is desperate to retrieve a ‘Maria.’ She is very important to him, I don’t know why, but he’s willing to spend millions to get her back. You have her.”
“Yes, we have her. She was tortured and raped by him and others for two years before she was rescued and brought here to recover. She found her mate among us, she is now part of our Pack.” Robert looked around the room. “NO ONE harms one of our Pack. He won’t get near her.” The Betas nodded their heads silently, each knowing that they would die for their own mates and to protect their Pack. “So again, why not just tell the DEA?”
“The DEA is corrupt, the cartels have bought them off. They give up some small time guys, the occasional big bust to show how the ‘drug war’ is working, but it’s a drop in the bucket. It’s just a business expense to them, we catch a wheelbarrow while the semi truck rolls past. The cartels have money, technology, manpower- they hire highly skilled people with military and intelligence backgrounds to do their work. What they can’t control directly they buy. The DEA deputy agent in command in Albuquerque is controlled by the cartels, as are a number of public officials. If I turn the information over, they will hear about it and avoid capture.”
“Aren’t there people you can trust?”
“Not enough. They own law enforcement, the courts, the border. Even the CIA is in bed with them. Langley is propping up the Soccoro cartel. They are giving them guns, money and intelligence in the hope of damaging the more dangerous Gulf and Cali cartels. Juan is a ruthless druglord, but he’s THEIR druglord so he can’t be touched. In short, they won’t find justice in our system. That’s why I have to go outside of government to seek my justice. I need your help to hurt them badly.”
Renee looked at him, staring into his eyes and finding him to be truthful. “So then, what is this information you need us to see?”
Enrique asked for a flash drive to be plugged into the computer and projector in the room soon filled the screen with the presentation he had worked on during the drive down. He showed them the structure of the cartel, with photos of the major players and background. “I’ll leave you this data so you can get any info you need, this is just the highlights. I really want to focus on these files.” With that, he replayed the phone calls he recently intercepted. “As you can see, you can expect a large, highly trained paramilitary force to attack your Pack in the next 48 hours with the intent of retrieving Maria. They will be heavily armed and their weapons will be tailored to werewolves- silver bullets with Wolfsbane cores. They won’t care how many they kill to achieve this, they are being well paid for this.”
Enrique had to stop talking, the room was alive with low growls, the wolves were straining to hold back the shift at the threat to their pack. Finally, Robert stood up and glared at them, his Alpha influence enough to shove their wolves back. He looked over at Renee. “I believe that under the law, Pack lands are governed by Pack law in the event of an attack, right?”
Renee shook her head. “Yes, if it was off our land we would be under Federal or State jurisdiction, but we have been granted autonomy if they knowingly trespass.”
“Good. Under Pack law, if they attack their lives are forfeit. None are to be left alive. We will make them vanish as if they never existed.”
Enrique smiled. “I believe we understand each other perfectly. If you will excuse me, I need to get back to Texas and resume my duties before anyone notices my absence. It has been an honor meeting you.”
Robert and Renee shook his hand, and Robert handed him a card with direct contact numbers. “The first number is my private cell, the second and the email is our security post. It is manned 24/7.”
“Thank you. I will speak in code, your Aunt Mable is the raiding party. If I get additional details about when she is arriving or her travel path, I’ll let you know so you can welcome her when she arrives.”
“Thank you again. You are a friend to the Gila Pack, let us know if you need anything.” With that, Andy and Linda escorted him out the door and back to their vehicle. They would drive him back to the library to pick up his car.
Once he was gone, the meeting took a somber change. “OK, we know who and about when. I need defensive plans readied NOW.” He looked at Jose, his third in command. “I’m putting you in charge of those not fighting. I want the women and children in the caves, guarded by a third of our warriors. Let those know who have relatives in nearby packs that this would be a good time to visit, they just have to keep it low key. We don’t want to advertise something is wrong.” His eyes then dropped down to Renee’s. “Love, I want you to go visit your brother. I don’t want you anywhere near this when it goes down.”
Renee bristled. “I’m the Alpha Female of this Pack, I’m meant to be here, not hidden away.”
“I know you are, but you are also recovering from serious wounds and pregnant with twins. I won’t be able to focus on the threat knowing you are in danger, and I know you too well to think you will stay in the caves and not fight. You are strong, but I am not when it comes to the thought of losing you. Please, go see them. Take Michelle and a few others, you can charter a plane and be there in the morning.” Renee sighed, glaring at him, but she knew he was right. Her look showed her disappointment. “Thank you.”
Everyone stood as Robert held out his hand for Renee. “We meet here in two hours. Meet with your groups and be ready to update me on your plans.” They stayed standing still until their Alphas had left the room, then the meeting quickly broke up.
As they were leaving, Anna entered the room to clean up the refreshments and drinks that had been provided for the meeting. She made it a step into the room before freezing, her eyes starting to glow as her wolf pushed forward. “MATE!” She had her nose up, sniffing, frantically looking for the source of that smell that made her insides squishy and called to her very nature. The Betas stood to the side, waiting for her to clear each of them, since she was one of the new members that had joined from the Santa Fe pack with Renee. She followed the scent out of the room and the building, making it outside just in time to see the vehicle leaving. Shifting into her small brown and tan wolf, she took off after it, giving up the chase only when she reached the limits of the Pack lands. She howled her loss before turning back. She would find out who was in that car, mark him and never let him go.
Johnson Pack Tents
Derek angrily paced outside the tent as he spoke on the satellite phone, his anger washing off him in waves. Robert wouldn’t send his mate away without there being danger, but he was carefully talking around it as if nothing was going on. “Of course, Robert, we’d love to have her visit. Amanda misses her and she is always welcome here. We will keep her and any others you send safe and entertained.”
“I appreciate that, Derek. We don’t have much time, I need her to travel in the morning.”
“No problem, we’ve got a plane on standby and can be at the airport by eight AM. Say, as long as we’re sending a plane, I’ve got a few unattached males who have requested to visit other packs. They’d like to do some hunting as well, some of them are great shots and would love to do some long-range hunting on varmint down in the desert. Do you think they could come?”
“Yes, we’d love to show them around. We’ve got a big event coming up tomorrow, tell them to bring lots of ammo. They were talking smack with my guys. Talk is cheap,they better be able to back it up out there.”
“Sounds great, I’ll put a dozen or so on the jet and you can send it back with Renee and her friends. I’m sure she misses the cool mountain air by now.”
“Thanks Derek. Are you going to tell Amanda she is coming or keep it a surprise?”
“Robert, I think this week is going to be full of surprises. They can stay as long as they want, just let me know and I’ll jet them back to you. Thanks for the call.” Derek turned off the phone and walked around, he didn’t want to upset Amanda quite yet. His protective streak had gone off the charts since she said she was pregnant. They hadn’t told the pack yet, he thought it would be fun to wait until Renee was here to share the news. He mind linked his Betas and the warriors he had in mind and told them to meet him at the ruins of the lodge in five minutes. Stripping and shifting to his wolf form, he took off, hoping to burn some of his frustration out before they got there.
Two hours later, a dozen of his toughest warriors were wheels up with their gear. They had two sniper teams of two each, each outfitted with Barrett .50 caliber rifles ideal for long range shots, and plenty of ammo including armor piercing. Robert was a good man and now his kin with Renee’s mating, and they took care of their own.