“Mommy, can we get out of the car and play?”
Abigail looked back at the children in the back; Autumn was giving her the puppy eye look. Fitting, she thought, for a young girl who was in the process of becoming a werewolf. She was still wearing the soft cast on her arm from where it had been broken the previous night while running around in the back yard with her friends. “How does your arm feel?”
“It throbs a little, Mommy, but I can still play. I’ll be careful.”
Michelle was still asleep in the car seat, and Zach was also begging to be let out. “Mom, we won’t go far. We can play on the grass right there by the creek.”
Abigail looked over at Silvia, who was sitting in the front passenger seat now. She was still recovering from her miscarriage and didn’t have the energy to get out. She looked in Abigail’s eyes. “If you can watch them, that will be fine. We don’t know how long it will be until Josi and Rachel are back, they won’t want to be cooped up in the seats that long.”
Abigail nodded. “I’ll watch them.” She opened the door and helped the two out. “I’ll let you guys play, but there are some rules.” She knelt so she could look in their eyes. “No rough play, you have to be IN MY SIGHT at all times, and you have to stay in bounds.”
“In bounds? Where?” Autumn was confused, looking around at the grass and the woods behind it.
“We’ll find out. I’m going to tell you to run, and then I’ll count to ten. Wherever you end up, that’s out of bounds. And if I tell you to run back to the car, you RUN, got me? No arguing, no delays or you can sit in the seat buckled up.” The children nodded. “Ready? Set! GO!” The two took off down the ditch and up the other side, racing across the field as she counted. “Three, two, one, STOP!” They had made it about halfway across. “NO FARTHER, AND YOU COME IF I YELL.” The two nodded and started to run a little closer, burning off some of their energy.
“There might be a ball or something in the trunk,” Silvia said. Abigail took the keys and opened the trunk, finding a soccer ball. She tossed it to them and closed the , . The moon was coming up; it wasn’t easy to see, but it was better than nothing.
“What do you think will happen, Silvia?”
“I don’t know.” She reclined her seat as she looked up at the stars. The Northern Lights were incredibly bright since the solar flare that wiped out civilization as they knew it. “I hope they find a way to stop it, but the werewolves are so much stronger than us. They are predators; they are comfortable in the same night that gives me the willies. I get out of this car and I feel helpless against them.” She sighed. “Then again, I owe my life to them. Most have been nothing but kind to me, to my family. I could see myself staying, if only they weren’t going to wipe out my entire race.” She closed her eyes. “I keep telling myself that you can’t judge people by a single person, so I’m trying to keep an open mind. This Alpha up in North Fork sounds like a good man.”
“And if he’s not?”
“Then I’ll take my chances. I’ll protect my kids first, same as you will. It’s not the same world anymore. Those men who attacked me, they were human. As much as I hate it, I know that I need to be with people to stay safe. It makes me feel vulnerable, but with David gone, I have to face my new reality.”
“I don’t trust her parents, but I do trust Rachel,” Abigail said. “Believe me; I gave them plenty of cause to hurt me if they wanted.” She told them the story of how she found out they were werewolves, and how she had shot a can of baked beans over Rachel’s brother and sister in law. Silvia’s laughter at how she described it made them both feel better.
“Marcus is a good man; I wish they were in charge of the Pack,” Silvia told her about her first impressions of him. A one-eyed, three-legged werewolf was NOT what she expected to come to her rescue.
They stopped talking when they heard whistles repeated from different places in the town. Abigail froze, then she figured it out. “KIDS! BACK HERE NOW!” The two looked up, then started to run for the car. They weren’t halfway back before there was a series of loud bangs.
“Gunshots!” Silvia brought the seat up as Abigail opened the door so the kids could jump in. She then raced around and jumped in, firing up the classic car. Silvia looked around, trying to make out what was happening through the dim moonlight. The shots stopped, then they heard pained howls coming from the center of town. “GO!!”
Abigail dropped it into gear and floored it, peeling out of the parking area by the creek and over the bridge. They headed north as fast as they could go, leaving the war and death behind them.
Beta Donald Ross was working his way south from North Fork on his patrol. His group owned Security, and the priority was scouting the area. The North Fork Pack needed to know what was out there that could be an asset or a threat; they couldn’t afford to be surprised.
So far, the trip had been a bust. The road coming north from Salmon didn’t have a lot of traffic before the flare. He passed a dozen vehicles so far, and no survivors. Some people were dead in their cars, others had tried to get to the hills, but none made it far. The radiation blinded them, and they ended up going in circles or falling. He was collecting useful items in the bag he carried on his chest while in wolf form. He hadn’t hit any jackpots yet, but he had a good collection of road flares and a few other items that would be helpful.
He could still make out the faint scent of Marcus along the ditch on one side of the road, along with the human Josi he had taken with him. He had to smile when he thought of the young woman; she was a real spitfire. The whole Pack had taken to the girls after Britney and Bethany were found to be mates of two of their Pack. He was trotting down the road when he suddenly stopped, realizing the scent had left. He circled back, tracking Marcus as he climbed the hill.
When he got to the top he was more confused; the scent of Josi was stronger, and when he got to the cliff edge following her trail, he found the empty shell casings. Worried, he followed her scent back down to the road and carefully moved forward, expecting the worst.
When he got down there, the wind shifted and blew the smell of blood and rotting flesh his way. He could smell both of them among the strange scents, and it took a few minutes to find the bodies and verify it wasn’t them. Two had been shot, the other had his throat ripped out, but that wasn’t what made him growl. It was that the three men shared the scent of a woman. From the blood mixed in, she had not been with them willingly. Rape did not happen in Werewolf society. They respected their women, and their equipment wouldn’t work for another anyway. If he ever found his mate, he vowed, he would protect her from bastards like these.
“WHEN we find our mate,” his wolf said to him. He shook his head; he was fifty years old, well past the age that werewolves found their mates. He had visited other packs and traveled the world, but his other half wasn’t there. He kept wondering if she had died. When he turned forty, he had given up on the search and devoted himself to protecting his extended family in his Pack.
He went back up to the road; sniffing around, he could tell there was a car involved that was no longer there. The scent of Marcus and Josi mixed with other humans, but it was faint. They had gotten in the car, he concluded.
He sat on the road and thought for a while. His joints were starting to ache; patrol was a young man’s game. It was clear to him that he would have to go to South Fork to get answers, but it was too late in the night to run there and make it back. He was about to get up when his ears picked up a noise he hadn’t heard in a while.
Donald shrugged off the bag and shifted back to human form, his six foot four frame slowly standing as he continued to look down the road. He was still well built, from a lifetime of training and the blessings of his parent’s lines, but it wasn’t a bodybuilder’s physique. He had grey hair on his temples and his body, and he carried the scars from dozens of fights and injuries over the decades. He pulled a pair of shorts out and put them on, then a shirt. Finally, he put the strap of the bag over his shoulder, keeping his right hand inside where it could grip the .44 Magnum revolver.
He smiled as he gripped the old Model 29, it was the kind of gun you carried when you didn’t want to worry about how many shots it would take to put a man (or a bear) down.
He stood tall in the center of the road as the car approached. He linked the Alpha, who promised to send help if he needed it. A usable vehicle was a valuable commodity, and you never knew who would be the one to take it.
He held his left hand out in front of him in the universal signal to stop as it came closer. It slowed, then stopped, but stayed a good thirty yards away from him. “Smart,” he thought to himself as he let his senses seek out the danger. He could make out two people in front, both women, two kids and a baby.
A baby who needed a diaper change.
He felt himself relax, this wasn’t the threat he expected, but he forced himself to stay alert. “IDENTIFY YOURSELVES!”
The occupants didn’t move, so he started to walk forward. He stopped when he heard the slide racking on a pistol. He could see the passenger was sitting on top of the seat, with a two-handed grip. “NO, YOU IDENTIFY YOURSELF!”
He let go of the pistol and brought both hands up in a position of surrender; he could smell their fear, and among the smells was something that had his wolf sitting up and taking notice. “Donald Ross, from North Fork. And you?”
“Abigail and Silvia, Josi told us to come here and request asylum with Calvin.”
With that, he relaxed and gave them a huge smile. “Josi’s friends? Welcome!” He started to walk towards them when his wolf sorted through the smells and found the one he had been looking for his entire adult life. He stumbled momentarily, they were human, but one was HIS. Dropping his bag, he ran forward to find her and finally have her in his arms.
The round hit the road just in front of him, the sound of the shot and the ricochet echoed through the canyon. He froze.
He nodded, still holding his hands up. “I mean no harm.” It physically hurt to know she was so close, but the women were afraid of him, and he knew he couldn’t push it now. “You know what we are?”
“Yes, we all do,” the driver replied. “My daughter is becoming one of you, bitten last night.” He sorted through the scents and could verify that.
“All right then. I’m going to shift and lead you back. Follow me into town, and I’ll take you to Alpha Calvin. Oh, and you might want to change your daughter before you go.” He moved forward to where they wouldn’t see him naked, then shifted to his wolf and trotted back. The passenger had a baby in her arms, and he smiled as she made a face when she checked the diaper. He sat down in the center of the road, the moon casting shadows on his tan and grey fur, his eyes almost golden in the light.
Once the baby was changed, they put the car in gear. Donald let out a yip and started to run. He was in a good mood, he had finally found his mate and she was coming home.
Now he just needed to have her turned so she would recognize him as well.
Reggie’s first task as Alpha was a somber one. He stood at the entrance to their subdivision, the mates and children lining the road with him, as his parents were returned home for the last time.
The warriors who had gone to Salmon to wage peace were a somber lot as they returned. The two bodies wrapped in sheets, and he could see the bloodstains on them in the moonlight. The men bearing the load paused before their Alpha, eyes lowered and necks bared. No one knew what to expect from him.
Reggie walked forward and pulled the first sheet down, exposing his father’s face. A sob tore from his throat as he covered him up again; he hadn’t liked what his father had become, but he was still his Dad, and the loss struck him hard. He moved to the next bundle. His hands were shaking as he pulled the sheet down and exposed her face. Tears rolled down his cheeks as he cupped her cheek with his hand. “Why, Mom? We were so close to having peace.” He fell on her, his arms squeezing her for the last time.
The rest of the Pack had looked away, giving him a moment of privacy. Finally, he stood and addressed them. “Richard and Lisa died for the sins of the past. There will be no vengeance, the person responsible is already dead, and it is no one else’s fault. It was the Moon’s will.” He waited while the pack settled; it wasn’t natural to werewolves to leave deaths unavenged. “My mate and your Luna were right. We are better than this. Their deaths will be the event that launches a permanent peace between our race and the human race. The Moon Goddess could not make things any more obvious to us; both my sister and I have found mates among humans. In the North Fork Pack, two men have found human mates and are turning them. We need each other. We will respect all people, and live at peace with them.”
One of the elders stepped forward. “And if they choose to turn?”
“The Goddess gave us the power to change them if they choose. It is already happening here, and it is a good thing. Over a hundred lives saved because of the healing properties of our bite. Our Pack will grow and become stronger as a result.” He waved his arms at the mountains. “Things will never be the same; there will be no technological revolution, no far-off all-powerful government that will rise from this tragedy. Travel is limited, and communications gone. It is back to living with our neighbors. We can choose what comes next, and our Pack model will be the start of that change.”
He knelt back down, lifting his mother’s body in his arms and nodding to others to bring his father. “We burn them tonight when the moon is high. I need the men to make preparations for the pyre while the elders prepare them. Tonight, they fly to the Moon.” He walked off towards their house, the Pack falling in behind him as he went. “I must go back to town and bring my mate home for this.”
“Alpha, do you need an escort?” The warriors gathered around him in support.
“No, there is no threat remaining. I’ll be back in an hour.” With that, he shifted into his wolf and took off to the north.
"Josi?” He sent the mental link out to her. He was uncomfortable since he wasn’t there when she came into her powers as Alpha. He had been shocked to hear it; her wolf must be very strong to push forward so early in the change.
He felt her anxiety as the bond opened up to him. ”Baby, what’s wrong?”
"They’re gone.” He could feel her sadness as she gathered her thoughts. ”Abigail and Silvia and their children, when Rachel and I went to the clinic they didn’t want to be too close so I told them to wait at the edge of town. They aren’t here anymore.”
“Are they hiding somewhere?
“No, they left. I found a man who lived nearby, he heard the car driving off just after the shots were fired. They must have gotten scared, figuring the battle was on."
He continued to eat up the flat ground along the river with his long strides as he neared town. ”They will be all right, they probably are heading up to North Fork. Alpha Calvin will take them in. They will be fine.”
She shrugged her shoulders and forced herself to accept they were gone. ”I know they will, but I had promised to keep them safe and now I don’t know if they are.” She turned back towards town. ”I’m heading back to the Clinic, where are you?”
“Just reaching town, love. I’ll meet you there, I have to check on my sister.”
“She’s going to be fine, Reggie, it was her leg. How are you holding up? I know how much you loved your parents, especially your Mom.”
Reggie stopped in the woods just outside town and shifted into human form. Pulling the clothes from the bag around his neck, he quickly dressed in jeans, T-shirt, and sneakers and walked into town. ”It hasn’t fully hit yet, I’ve got so much else going on. I suppose when we burn them tonight, it will seem more real to me. I’m still having trouble accepting that I’m Alpha, much less your wolf showing. It’s a lot to deal with.” He started walking past the barrels with fires lit that cast shadows on the street.
"I’ll be there in a few minutes, and I have a plan to distract you from your troubles. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and it will take HOURS before you are done, panting in exhaustion at my feet.” She mentally smirked as she felt his lust coming over the bond; he wanted her again. She did too, but she wasn’t about to let him know how badly she wanted him inside her. “I have a Frisbee, try not to chew it up while you’re playing fetch with me!”
Marcus walked out of the clinic treatment room and pulled the plastic protective smock off, wadding it up and stuffing it in a hazmat disposal bin. Most of their blood came off with it.
He walked to the loading dock area, pulling out two pairs of fresh scrubs before returning to the treatment area and stripping. He used some wipes to clean the remainder of the blood off his body before he got dressed again. It was a reminder of how he hadn’t been able to protect his mate and how he couldn’t save his mother. He hated the feeling, but it was a feeling of helplessness he had worked through before. Sometimes, people are going to die, and it doesn’t matter how hard you try.
He walked back into the room where Rachel lay on fresh sheets, her leg heavily bandaged after the emergency surgery. The bullet had blasted through her thigh and nicked her femoral artery. He knew that if he hadn’t been there to save her, she would have died.
He sat by her head, gently moving the hair out of her face as he cleaned her face and neck of the blood that had sprayed in the air as she lay on the ground. She was out, a dose of sedative would wear off in an hour or two. Now that he was Pack again, he knew what would happen tonight and he had to get her home. Her parents were being sent to the Moon tonight. He had linked with Reggie and updated him on his sister’s condition. The Alpha was on his way.
Marcus sat Rachel up and finished cleaning her torso, then pulled the scrub top over her. Holding her up, he pulled the bloody sheets out of the way so he could lay her down and repeat the process on her lower body. A few minutes later, he set her on a stretcher just as Reggie arrived.
“How is she?” Reggie was a little out of breath and was still pulling on the scrub top he’d grabbed.
“Good, she’s ready to go. She should wake up in time.” Marcus moved to take one end of the stretcher while Reggie took the other, and together they moved through the deserted hallways.
“Where is everyone?” Reggie had expected to see the clinic packed with people again, but it was quiet.
“The fevers have hit, and with the threat gone they decided it would be best to take them all outside. It’s much easier to keep them cool with the night air and the breeze.” As they moved to the front doors, they were noticed and two men rushed to get the doors open. Many concerned friends and neighbors surrounded them.
“Doc, is she all right?” Deputy Stevens had moved to the front of the group; he was effectively in charge of the townspeople now.
“Yes, she’ll be fine in a few days. We need to take her home so she can be there for her parent’s funeral.” They set the stretcher down on the grass; the assembled people made their way past, some praying over her and others comforting him and Reggie on their loss.
“Actually, I’d like to speak to you about that in private with the two of you. Gladys will watch Rachel for a moment.”
Marcus looked over at Reggie who nodded, then they went back inside the clinic where they could talk. “Doc, Reggie, I’m not sure what the protocol is on this stuff, but many of us would like to pay our respects to your parents if you would allow us to come.”
“Why?” Reggie was a little shocked at the request.
“They’ve been leading citizens in this town for decades, everyone knows them. I know your father tried to start trouble, but Lisa... she was a courageous woman who was killed trying to bring peace. We respect and honor that.”
Reggie thought about it for a moment; werewolf funerals were secretive affairs, but things had changed now that humans in the town knew about them. It was time their traditions changed as well. “We would be honored to have their friends attend. The big problem is that the ceremony is in about two hours, we do it when the moon is highest so it can’t wait. I don’t think they will be able to make it out to our place in the dark in time.”
“That’s not a problem, Alpha.” He gestured at the tractor which was parked by the loading dock. “If you don’t mind, we could bring them out on that. It would be an easier way to get Rachel home than carrying her in a stretcher.”
It took about fifteen minutes to get everyone loaded up; they had moved spare pillows and some cushions onto the trailer so people could ride comfortably. Reggie had volunteered to drive since he could see better, and Marcus was sitting up against a hay bale with Rachel leaning back against his chest. She hadn’t awoken, but her body was starting to twitch. He knew it would be soon. Josi had joined them just before they left, and was busy introducing herself to the people who had come along. The trip to Pack grounds only took them thirty minutes.
Josi and Reggie told everyone to stay put for a moment. Marcus got off, carrying his mate in his arms. His Alphas led them around to the back of the house and down to the river where the pyres were. Raven broke free from her minders and ran to his side, crying as she hugged his leg and held her mom’s hand. He whispered to her as she started to come to, instinctively she cuddled close to his chest as they walked. The humans followed behind them quietly as they walked through the Pack werewolves in human form that were waiting for them.
Marcus sat on a chair set up for them, still holding Rachel in his arms while Raven stood by their side. Reggie walked to where a platform had been set up and stood up where all could see him. “Tonight, we celebrate the lives and mourn the deaths of our Alpha pair, who were murdered this evening while on a mission of peace. The man who did this is dead. Peace will not be lost over this.” He waited for the murmuring to quiet down. “Joining us tonight are friends and neighbors, here to pay their respects and to mourn with us. As we find ways to live in peace, we will show them our traditions, including how we honor those who are lost to us and join the Moon Goddess in eternal rest.”
Rachel stirred at his words, and over the bond, Marcus comforted her and updated her on what was happening while Reggie continued. “Werewolves have always burned their dead; in part, this was a way to ensure our secret existence did not reveal itself to you, but it has a spiritual component as well. We believe that by burning the bodies, we release their spirit to the sky and start their journey to join the Moon. That is why we do it when the moon is highest in the sky. The bodies wrapped in cloth, their faces are showing to their loved ones. As they go forward, the Pack members touch them one last time, and some may place flowers or keepsakes on their platforms to burn with them.”
Four men moved out of the garage at this time, bearing two wooden litters that bore the wrapped bodies. The people formed a line on each side as they slowly walked the stretchers to the pyres. People laid wildflowers, photographs, and memories on them as they said goodbye. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as they finally reached the front, where the family waited.
Marcus sat Rachel up, being careful of her leg, as the body of her father stopped in front of their chair. Tears flooded her face as she laid her head down on his broad chest, saying a prayer before she sat up. Marcus also grieved for the man he both fought with and loved deeply in their time together. He helped him to adapt and find a place in the Pack, and for that, he was eternally grateful. Raven was sobbing as she kissed her grandfather on the cheek and whispered that she loved him.
When she sat up, her father was carried to where Reggie was standing with Josi at his side. Lisa was brought up to Rachel and Marcus. Emotions reached a peak as the women wailed their loss. When they sat back, Reggie came over and said his goodbyes. With a look, he told the men bearing the litters to place them on the pyre.
“Tonight, our loved ones journey to the Moon, to forever watch over us in the night. May Luna bless and keep us all.” The pack elders came forward with lit torches, passing one to each of the Pack members. They surrounded the pyre and then tossed the torches into the kindling. The wood was dry and quickly caught, causing everyone to have to move back due to the heat. The Pack members made their way behind the shed to disrobe and shift so as not to offend their guests, then took their places around the raging fire again.
With a mournful howl, Reggie lifted his head to the moon above and let his heartbreak out. The next howl the entire Pack joined as the humans let their tears fall.
The pyre collapsed in the center as the sound echoed off the mountains, a plume of glowing embers rising towards the moon as their spirits went home.
Donald Ross was practically prancing as he led the vehicle back towards the town of North Fork. His mate, he finally found his mate, and though she was human, he would soon be together with her. He couldn’t wait to introduce himself formally, but first, he had to get them safe and relaxed. He ran his mind through the events of the last few minutes, trying to sort out what had happened. Her smell was unique but somehow familiar. His brain picked through it, isolating it from the surrounding smells, and then he realized what it smelled like and it was like he was electrocuted.
His legs stopped working for a second, but at speed, it was enough to send him tumbling. He rolled a few times before getting up, ignoring the pain in his knees and ribs from the impact. He let out a pained howl, then started running again. His wolf wanted them back with their Pack as soon as possible.
His mate had been the one who was raped. It was HER blood he smelled, and somehow the decay of the men’s bodies had masked it enough that his beast hadn’t recognized it immediately.
He could sense the car speeding up as it approached the area she was attacked; she didn’t want to be there any longer than they had to, and his wolf agreed. He started to sprint, and they kept up. When they were safely past, he slowed to a more manageable pace as he reached out over the link to Alpha Calvin. “Alpha… I’ve found people on the road, they know Josi, and she told them to request asylum with you.”
“That’s fine, bring them in, I’ll be waiting. Do you sense any danger?”
“No, Alpha, there are two women and three children, and they have a working vehicle. I’m leading them back now.”
He could sense Alpha Calvin’s excitement. “Working? What is it?”
Donald laughed. “I have two families, and you’re interested in the car. I’m not sure, they wouldn’t let me get close enough to tell. They are frightened, Alpha. They were on the road last night. I came across a three dead men who had raped a woman before being killed by Josi and Marcus. They must have come upon the scene when they were traveling. They wanted nothing to do with a stranger on the road and they didn’t let me get within ten yards of the car. I got close enough, though, for the important part.”
“What was that?”
“The one who was raped is my mate, Alpha. I found my mate, she’s human, and she’s hurt.”
There was silence on the bond as it was processed, then Alpha Calvin sent a wave of love and support to him. “She’s still your mate, Donald. Whatever she needs, whatever YOU need, you’ve got it. You’re going to have to be patient, though. Be her friend first.”
“You’re right, Alpha. We’re five minutes out.”
“All right, pull up in front of the motel. Luna Kelly will bring a few girls to help get them settled. I need you to keep your distance, be friendly but not threatening, and for Luna’s sake, keep your hormones under control. The last thing she needs to see is an old man with a hardon following her around like a puppy.”
Donald chuffed, he knew it would be hard, but he had to control it. “Thanks, Alpha.” Cutting the link, he had a talk with his wolf about how they needed to behave to keep her from being scared. His wolf wasn’t happy, he wanted her in their den and marked immediately, but he understood that she wasn’t ready for him. No matter what, he wouldn’t hurt their mate or her cubs.
Calvin had walked back to the park the Pack had been using for their nighttime meeting and eating place. Kelly came to his side; she had felt his unease over their bond. She kissed him hungrily. “What’s going on, baby?”
Alpha Calvin looked around until he spotted Willow and Cheyenne. They were playing with the younger children in human and wolf form along with a few moms while their parents were working. He called them over and they all sat at a picnic table. “Ladies, I need your help. Donald contacted me a few minutes ago. He found two women and three children on the road here. They said Josi sent them to me to request asylum.”
Cheyenne’s eyes got wide. “Is she with them?”
“No, but there is something else you need to know. One of the women was raped. Donald found the bodies of the men that did it, and verified Marcus and Josi killed them.”
Kelly’s eyes had started to glow with anger, but it muted when she heard there was no one left to kill. “Oh, Luna, the poor women.” She looked at the two human girls. “I need your help, they won’t be as threatened by you two as by werewolves, and since you are Josi’s friends, they are bound to trust you. Come on.”
She got up, and as they started to move, Calvin took his mate’s hand and held them up. “One more complication. The woman who was raped is Beta Donald’s mate.” All three of their eyes got wide. “It’s not our place to say anything about that, but you need to know.” With that, he led them back to the parking lot just as the convertible came into sight. Donald trotted to a halt in front of his Alphas, and Kelly scratched his ears and handed him a pair of shorts she had grabbed on the way. He took them in his teeth and went around behind the motel to change as the car came to a stop.
Alpha Calvin held his mate’s hand tightly as he smiled in welcome. The driver was looking around nervously, she hadn’t shut the car down yet, and he could see her right hand had a pistol in it. The passenger was just as nervous, also armed, and he could smell blood on her. There were three children in the back, a toddler was asleep in the car seat while a boy protectively held his arm over her, and a young girl with a bandaged arm was busy sniffing the air. “Welcome to North Fork, ladies. I’m Alpha Calvin Pierce, my mate Kelly, and Josi’s friends Cheyenne and Willow. My Beta has informed me you wish to have asylum here, and I grant you that. Any friend of Josi is welcome to stay here under my protection.”
The tension disappeared as he gave his promise. Abigail shut off the car and got out, then moved the driver’s seat forward and helped her daughter out. She walked her forward and stood before the group. “Thank you, Alphas. We won’t be any trouble. My name is Abigail Dawson, and this is my daughter Autumn.” She shook the Alpha’s hand then was pulled into a hug by Kelly, who then hugged Autumn as well.
Kelly tilted her head as she took a good sniff of Autumn. “She’s been bitten?”
“Yes, there was an accident. She was playing with Raven and Michael in the yard and broke her arm. It was a compound fracture.”
Autumn held up her arm with the removable cast. “It still hurts, but Raven licked it and made it feel better. I’m glad because now I’ll be wolfy too!”
Kelly stood up and looked back at her mom. “No fevers yet, but I’m glad you are here. We have many humans going through the changes, and we will help her through it.” The girls then introduced themselves.
While they were talking, Silvia had gotten her daughter’s car seat and was walking up with her son. Calvin repeated the introductions, then Silvia introduced her family. Calvin could tell they were all human, but the smell of blood on her was disconcerting. “Silvia, do you require medical attention? I can smell you are bleeding.”
Silvia looked to the ground. “No, thank you. Rachel said that I would be bleeding for a couple of days after…” Kelly moved forward and took her in her arms as she started to cry. “After those men attacked me, I lost my baby.” She began to cry into Kelly’s shoulder.
Cheyenne moved over and took the car carrier from her, while Willow took the hands of the two children. “Silvia, Abigail, we can take the older kids to the park. We already have a bunch of kids playing, and we’re watching them along with a few more moms.”
Silvia nodded, still sobbing, and Abigail looked at the two. “You behave! Autumn, be careful of your arm.” Willow held their hands as they walked over to the park and introduced them to the other children. Abigail watched long enough to see them start playing then turned to the Alphas. “I think we all need to talk. Can we go somewhere?”
Calvin nodded. “There are a few people I’d like to include if it is all right.” He made a mental call, and two people approached. Silvia started to shake a little, and Kelly rubbed her back to calm her down. “This is Beta Donald, who you met on the road. He’s in charge of Pack security. Beta Candice is in charge of Pack support, so anything to do with food, shelter, and clothing is her responsibility. Donald, Candice, this is Silvia and Abigail.”
Silvia stood back and nervously shook their hands after Abigail had. Donald didn’t seem as scary now as he had on the road. “Sorry for shooting at you, Donald.” She shook his hand and looked down; pleasurable tingles were running up her arm at the contact. He held on just a little longer than he should have, and when he let go, the feeling disappeared.
“It’s all right. I know you were scared.” They moved to the park where they could sit at a table. Using the bond, Calvin asked the Pack to respect their privacy while they talked, and a few people casually moved away. “Why don’t you tell us how you came to be here, and how you know Josi?”
Abigail smirked a little. “Well, I don’t know Josi as well as Silvia does. Her mate pretty much snapped her up and made her his right.” The wolves’ eyes got wide. “Reggie recognized her as his mate when he got to the house. He took her into the mountains, and she came back a few hours later with a mating bite and a big smile on her face.”
“Holy shit!” Calvin sat back in shock. “That is wonderful news. Do you mind if I share it?” She shook her head no, so Calvin stood up. Everyone stopped and gave him their attention. “We have news! Our Josi arrived safely at Salmon Pack, where she met her mate- the Alpha’s heir, Reggie Wolfe, and she is now mated and making the change!” There were cheers and howls from the Pack members at this news. All matings were celebrated as gifts from Luna, and both of them were liked. He sat down, and Silvia started to laugh.
“Yeah, she’s a handful, that one. They are so happy together, it’s amazing. Last I saw her, she told him that just because she licked his balls once, didn’t mean she was taking over the job.”
Kelly laughed out loud. “I can see her doing that. Now, how about you start at the beginning? It’s all important to us as we try to catch up on what is going on outside this town.”
With that, Abigail told her story, then a hesitant Silvia told hers. Everything was going well until she got to the attack on the road and her rape.
Donald finally snapped.