The Choice You Can Live With
Josi held tight to Reggie’s coal black fur as they flew through the woods and deep into the mountains above their home. The moon provided her just enough light that she could see where they were going, but she knew Reggie’s vision was far better. He ran as if it was the middle of the day, his wide paws rhythmically pounding on the packed dirt of the trail. She loved the speed and excitement of the run, urging him to go faster. She held on tight, pleasurable tingles radiating from where they touched, as he leaped deadfall trees and made the tight turns of the switchback trail. “God, I love this! It was cool with Marcus,” she was interrupted by his growl, “but you are so strong and fast. I’m the luckiest girl in the world.” He chuffed as his wolf basked in her praise. He still didn’t like the idea that she was so close to another male, even a mated one, but he was thrilled at how accepting she was of him.
Not everyone found a human mate to be so accepting. He had a friend in the Rexburg pack, a male near his age he had trained with as a teen. He found his mate in college, and they quickly became inseparable. He had bought her a ring, they were making wedding plans, but it wasn’t long before their different values came into play. She was a devout Mormon and refused to marry him unless he converted. He countered by bringing her to his Pack so he could reveal his true nature to her and convince her to mate him.
It didn’t work.
She freaked out, called him a possessed beast, and ran to her car screaming about how they all deserved to die. She wouldn’t listen to him and threatened the Alpha with exposing their whole group to law enforcement and the press. Nothing he could do changed her mind, and as she tore out of their compound in her car, the Alpha looked at him and shook his head. “I’m sorry, son.”
Reggie and several others had held him down as the Betas carried out his orders. She died when they ran her car off the road. His Pack did all they could to comfort him, to pull him back from the edge, but it didn’t work.
He ran off a cliff, killing himself rather than living his life without his mate.
The lesson was to treasure your mate wherever you found her. He was grateful to Marcus for saving her and teaching her about their kind. He listened to her talk about her life, her family, and everything that was “before fur” as she called it. His wolf was bouncing about in his mind in excitement as she talked about how she longed for such a life, one full of family and love as Marcus had explained it. She told him about her friends and their trip down the river. He shuddered under her as she described how her friends had burned. He could feel her tense as she said how they suffered, and how shocked they were when two huge wolves barged into their tent and bit their friends.
His muscles burned as he carried them over the mountain and into the next valley. Josi continued her story, describing how Marcus, Eric, and Derek had changed and how they learned about werewolves. She told him about the nervousness of riding a wolf, the shock of finding their guides dead, and the relief in reaching the North Fork pack. By the time they reached his favorite spot, she was relating how Britney had met her mate. He stopped next to a pool in a stream; she could smell the sulfur from what was a volcanic spring feeding it.
He lowered himself onto his stomach so she could move off him, then got back up as she went around to his face. He almost purred as she stroked the fur on his cheeks. “Wow, a hot spring.” She looked over at how the rocks were arranged, allowing the flows of cool mountain stream water and boiling spring water to be adjusted. She dipped her toe in, and it felt amazing. “Thanks for the ride, Reggie.”
He moved back a few feet from her and started to change, standing naked before her as the change finished. She looked him over, not hiding her excitement at having such a handsome man as her mate. He wasn’t shy, after all, it was normal for werewolves to be naked after a change, but he had expected her to be shy about it. He looked over to her pocket where his shorts poked out. “Shorts, please?”
She looked down at her pocket, then back at him as a naughty grin broke on her face. “Sure, love.” She popped the button on her shorts and dropped them to the ground, followed quickly by her thong. His mouth was open and his eyes wide as she pulled her shirt off, leaving her naked before him. She turned her back to him, flipping her hair over her shoulder, and walked into the pool until she was in the center. The water only came up to her thighs, so she sank slowly down until she was sitting on the smooth rocks, and leaned back as she moaned in pleasure. The hot water felt amazing after the events of the past few days.
She could feel his eyes burning through her head as the nascent bond strengthened with each moment they spent together. She coyly looked back over his shoulder, noting his excitement and desire for her even though he hadn’t made a move. “What are you waiting for? I need a back rub.”
He shook his head to snap out of the trance he had been in, then walked up until he was just behind her. He sat down with her between his legs, the tingles exploding where they touched. He moved his hands up, splashing the hot water over her back and cupping it to drop it down on her shoulders. He then put his hands on her shoulders and started to rub with his thumbs between her shoulder blades. He smiled as she moaned in pleasure and leaned back towards him. He nuzzled at her neck, moving from her hairline down to her left shoulder. She felt him suck and nip at the skin where his mark would go if she agreed to the mating and the change. Her moans got louder, firing his blood and bringing his wolf forward. “Love, if you don’t stop making those sounds, my wolf is going to make you his. I don’t want that to happen until you are ready.”
She leaned her head back so he could see his eyes. “Who said I wasn’t ready?”
He moved her around, so she was straddling his waist and pulled her tight to him as their lips met in a passionate kiss. Their tongues danced together as their bodies tried to meld into one, each trying to maintain the pleasurable contact. They made out for several minutes until she finally sat back, breathless. “I want you to make me yours, Reggie. I want you to bite me, to turn me, and to make me your mate.”
He smiled as his wolf moved forward. “Aren’t you nervous about this?”
“I’m nervous about the change, and about what I have to go through, but I’m not nervous about us. I trust that we are mates, that we are meant to be together. I love the idea of being in a Pack. It’s the family I’ve always dreamed of having. It’s so different…”
“Than what, love?”
“My life. My Mom got pregnant on a one night stand, and her parents disowned her. She raised me alone, in a state where an unwed mother was an offense to God and man. I had no one except my friends; in a way, they were my family, my Pack. I saw how Marcus and the other wolves treated their mates, how loyal they were to their Pack. That’s why I was so happy when I realized I could have you and your Pack. I’m just worried about what I have to go through. Marcus told me about his change, and how tough it was to get through even with his mate right there.” She wrapped her legs around his back and pulled herself tight to him, wiggling a little and moaning. “He also told me it was worth every second of the pain. Just like I’ve heard about what we are about to do, it’s a little pain up front for a big reward later.”
Reggie kissed her and hugged her close to him. “So you are…” She nodded. “I’ll make it good for you, love.” He kissed her deeply again, then started to move down her neck until he reached her breasts. Taking one in each hand, he hefted them, pulling the erect nipples up towards his mouth where his tongue was coming out. He licked in circles around one, coming closer to the center until he flicked over it, then took it gently into his mouth and sucked lightly. She responded with enthusiasm, arching her back towards him while she rolled her hips against his throbbing manhood. He moved away from the right one, causing her to groan in disappointment until he started the exquisite torture on the other. His hands stayed busy, gently squeezing them as he memorized the feel of his mate’s body in his hands.
“Please… Reggie, please… I want you.”
“You’re not ready yet, love, if I do what my wolf wants now it will hurt you. Do you trust me?” She nodded. “Then lay back.” He moved his hands to support her lower back as she did. The image of her arching her back, her firm young tits pointed skyward as her labia slid up his erect shaft, was one that burned into his mind.
Her hair splayed out on the surface of the water as her upper body started to float in the pool. He guided her back until she was weightless, his hands cupping the globes of her ass to hold her in place. She closed her eyes and just let herself feel every sensation that was washing over her. The water, the tingles from his hands, and then she felt his lips on her sex.
He had pulled her towards him until his extended tongue started to split her labia. She tried to bring her legs together, gently squeezing his head, but she wasn’t sure if she was trying to keep him from moving or was trying to pull him in further. She decided to trust him, and she relaxed and went back to just floating. He pulled her closer as he slowly licked up and down. She moaned in pleasure as his tongue teased her clitoris, circling it before moving back down again. He repeated the trip a few more times before he pulled her tighter. This time he had stiffened her tongue, so it penetrated her as his lips started to make contact. He moved her slowly in and out, then used his whole mouth and tongue on her as he worked up again.
Her arousal had opened her like a flower to him, and his mouth was the hummingbird drinking her juices greedily from the source. Her attention was pulled in many directions, from the heat of the water to the tingles of his hand to the magic of his lips. She felt something building inside her, a pressure low in her belly that built and built. He fed on that energy, his mouth and tongue moving faster and sucking harder. When he felt her start to tense, he sucked her erect clit into his mouth and gently bit it with his teeth while his tongue flicked back and forth over it.
That feeling burst out in an explosion of pleasure, causing her to scream as her legs squeezed his head. He held her head above water as he relaxed his ministrations, slowly licking the juices from her as the spasms continued. Finally, she relaxed again and was able to talk. “Holy… shit! What was that?”
“A good start.” He pulled her back and lifted her onto his chest so he could move them to shallower water. Moving to the edge, he found a place near a smooth boulder where the water was only a few inches deep. He sat down as she straddled him, and kissed her hard, taking her breath away again. “It’s time you became mine, love. I want you to be comfortable, so only go as far down as you are comfortable. I’ve heard there will be some pain, but it will pass, and then I’ll show you the pleasure you hope for.”
She kissed him again, then sat up until his long shaft was rubbing against her untried entrance. She reached down and grasped his shaft, holding it in place as she lowered down slowly. She closed her eyes with the first few inches of penetration; it was uncomfortable at first but got better as she slowly rocked her body up and down. She felt him reach a barrier and knew it was time.
She pulled him into a deep kiss, closed her eyes, and dropped her weight onto him. His turgid shaft ripped through the barrier of her innocence, causing her to gasp into his mouth. He held her still as he waited for the pain to end. Her canal was squeezing him almost painfully. He kissed the tears from her face as she started to relax. “I’m sorry it hurt, love, but it’s over.” She nodded, the sharp pain was gone now, and there was only the pleasurable feeling of being filled. It took a few more breaths before she was comfortable moving.
She lifted herself up until his tip was barely inside, then reversed herself and slowly lowered herself back down again. She was still so tight; it was all he could do not to come right there. He fought back his wolf who wanted to take her aggressively, reasoning with him that as a human she could be hurt and they had to do things his way.
He felt a swelling begin at the base of his cock and knew the knot was starting. For wolves, the knot was a way to prevent leakage so his sperm had the best chance of getting her pregnant. She winced as the knot started to stretch her further; his cock was already big enough around that her fingers didn’t touch when she grabbed it, and the knot made it wider than a coke can. “Love, let me get it in you before it swells too big, or it will hurt a lot more.” She nodded as he pulled her hips down and it seated inside her.
The knot felt amazing; as she moved up, it stretched and stimulated her inner walls. As she moved back down, a new sensation caused her to moan deeply. “I’ve been told the knot does a great job of stimulating your g-spot.” She nodded and started to rise and fall on him. Their movements were restricted, but the pleasure kept building and building.
He kissed her lips, then worked down to her neck as she started to build up a rhythm. Each time she took him deep, she let out a low moan that boiled his blood. As she moved faster, he wrapped his hands around her butt, helping to lift her slightly before she slammed herself back down onto him. He could feel his balls starting to ache as they waited for the signal to explode his hot seed into his mate. His wolf was coming forward; he needed to claim his mate, and his human side would not stop him.
Reggie started to nibble and suck on her shoulder as they neared completion. She leaned her head back, exposing his neck to him, as he fucked her at a furious pace. “Reggie… Oh god! I’m…” Her head dropped back as she lost the ability to speak.
Just before her climax took her, Reggie’s face started to change. His wolf took over as his face elongated, and fur sprouted. Sharp fangs pushed through his gums as he opened his jaws. She closed her eyes in pleasure, and when she came, she screamed and lost all control of her body. He was right behind her, and she could feel the hot jets of his love shooting deep inside. As they both rode the waves of their climaxes, he bit down on the junction of her neck and shoulder. She screamed again, this time in pain as his teeth tore through her skin. He shook his head slightly, causing his teeth to rip more of the flesh underneath. His wolf knew that he had to do this to make a prominent scar, a permanent mark that showed every wolf that she was his. Slowly the pain receded, and as the infection tore through her body, she started to slump down on him. When she began snoring gently, he caressed her head and back as he licked the wound clean. He leaned back against a large boulder on the edge of the pool and waited for her to wake again.
It took about twenty minutes for his knot to subside, and he could move her off him. The rocks around his hips were colored with a mix of cum and blood. Picking her up, he moved her out of the water to the patch of grass nearby. Shifting into his wolf, he licked the mess from her, then shifted back so he could wash himself off in the pool. By the time he was clean, she was starting to shiver. He moved them back to the warm pool. A few minutes later, she started to come around. He kissed her softly as she awoke. “How long have I been out?”
“Not long, my mate. How do you feel?”
“It’s weird. I feel hot and a little jumpy, like I’ve been exercising and I’m hopped up on energy drinks.”
He helped her turn around and lean back against his chest. “As much as I’d love to take you now, you need to rest a little.” She shivered as his hands trailed up and down her arms, and she scooted down a little until her shoulder was in the water.
“Well, I do have some questions for you.” She wrapped her arms around her thighs and ignored the heat from where his groin pressed against her back. “Why do you turn around three times before you lie down?”
He busted out laughing. “You just mated a werewolf, and THAT is your first question?” She nodded. “I don’t know. We just do. It’s an instinct in our wolf mind. I never really thought about it.”
“OK, then, tell me about your Pack. Who does what?”
“Well, my parents are the Alpha pair. They are in charge, and they are responsible for everyone in our Pack. They are the final call for all Pack decisions, and all discipline and assignments come through them. I am the Second, also known as Next Alpha. When they are no longer able to lead or if they were to die, I would take over for my father. Since you are my mate, you would become the Luna or Alpha Female.”
She shivered. “How? Isn’t there someone more qualified than me?”
He kissed her head. “Nope.” Moving down, he nuzzled at the mating mark, gently licking it to help with healing. “Just as you were made to be my perfect half, you were also made to be Luna. Marcus has already told me about how you handled things with your friends, how level headed you are in crisis, and how fiercely you protect. You already have the qualities of a great Luna, you just need to grow into the job. You have a long time to do that.” She scooted back until her head was resting on his shoulder. “Right now, my main job is Pack security. It’s been tough since the flare, and it will get worse soon based on what you ran into on the road, and what another family told us.”
“So, Marcus, he’s a Beta? That’s like the next level down?”
“Yep, Betas are like supervisors. Marcus and Rachel are in charge of medical care, not just for our Pack but for five others. We also have Betas for support functions such as maintenance, cleaning, and planning. Under the Betas, you have the normal Pack members.”
She was quiet for a second. “Why do your farts smell so bad?”
His laugh echoed through the canyon; he couldn’t even talk, so he just hugged her close until he calmed down. “Love, I didn’t do that, did I?”
“Well, not yet, but I know your noses are sensitive, so when a dog lets go this nasty, clear the room fart, he sniffs his butt and looks around like ‘what the hell just happened back there?’ I always wondered.”
He closed his eyes and sent the question to Marcus, who after HE stopped laughing, sent him an answer. “Dogs descended from wolves, but they were never designed to digest the grains and other additives in most dog foods.”
She chuckled. “So what is worse, beer farts or deer farts?”
He closed his eyes; he was losing it here. “You are going to be the death of me, young lady.”
“Not yet, I’m not done with you by a long shot. What did you think of what North Fork did with changing the survivors, even those who couldn’t give consent?”
Reggie sighed and settled back. “I can’t say if it was right or wrong, an Alpha’s decision is not to be questioned. To do so creates dissension in the Pack, and that isn’t good. I will say it was a tough decision, one that our Pack may face. With all this,” he said as he waved up at the sky, “the old ways may no longer work. The is bad, love. So many dead already. If Marcus is right and we can save some of them, the right and moral thing would be to do so.”
“I’d ask what the secrecy is protecting you from. Humans? They are dying out rapidly; without help they will die out. Is that good for our Pack? I don’t see how it can be when mates are found among humans.” She turned and sat in his lap, pulling him into a deep kiss. She looked at the sky and saw the moon was almost down. “We have to go soon?” He nodded. “All right, then just one more question.”
“I’m scared to even listen, but all right.”
“Do you lick your butt with that mouth?”
He groaned, grabbing her tight he laid back and dunked both of them under the water. When he sat back up, he shook his head and kissed her deeply. “I think we better go.”
The North Fork pack gathered around Alpha Calvin in the park by the river as dawn approached. Looking around, he could see everyone was exhausted. It had been a tough night for them all, starting with the decision to turn the remaining human survivors of his town. They had moved to the basement of the combined clinic and town hall, which doubled as their pack Safe Room. The concrete floor above them, the stone construction and the depth were key in their Pack surviving unscathed so far.
Tonight had been all about consolidation. With no power, no outside help and nobody coming, they methodically went through houses in the town and brought any useful items back to the building. Several rooms were turned into food storerooms, with non-perishable items organized onto heavy-duty shelving and stacked in cases. They had gotten lucky with this town, he thought. The area had a high Mormon population, and their beliefs that each family should have a year’s supply of food certainly helped them now.
The clinic was stuffed with medicines and supplies as well, not only drugs but things like canes, walkers, and first aid kits. In other rooms, he had directed them to stockpile items that were not perishable but would be difficult to replace. He smiled as he thought of the stacks of toilet paper and feminine hygiene products. In a year, these would be more valuable than gold.
He sat everyone down as they had just finished the dinner prepared on the propane grills they had brought down. “Listen up, North Fork.” He waited for everyone to have a seat and for the quiet. “Thank you for your efforts tonight. We have a lot going on, including the potential new Pack members and two mate turns. I thank those of you that are helping with the transitions.” He looked over to where Eric and Derek were tending to their mates; the fevers had hit them, and they had taken them outside into the night air. Cool river water wetted the sheets covering them to keep their body temperatures down. “It truly is a new world now, one where we are isolated and alone. We can only speculate as to how widespread this event was, and how- or if- we will ever get back to the kind of life we had just a few days ago.”
He let the words sink in. “There are still some things left to gather up, but in the short term, we have done what we can. Now is when we need your ideas and your help in figuring out how our Pack continues to survive and thrive over the next weeks, months, and years. As we go, I want you to assume two things. One- Power will never come back unless we find a way to do it ourselves. And Two- we are on our own. To help with this, I’d like you to divide up into teams of four to six people. Make sure no two are the same age or family. I want you to have a diverse group of ideas. You have two minutes to form groups and sit down by them.”
He watched as they moved around, it didn’t take too long. He pulled out the index cards he had written their ideas down on and walked to the first group. “Your group is to focus on Food. Long term, sustainable food supplies. Not just what, but how- including farming methods and tooling.”
Moving to the next group, he smiled. “You have a shitty job, but an important one. You have Sanitation. Flush toilets are wonderful if you have water pumps and a tower, but we don’t. Diseases can wipe out populations, and none of us want to live in a place that smells like sewer. Figure out how we can get toilets and showers to work long term, with enough for us to be comfortable.” They nodded, not liking the job. “And bonus points if you can make the showers warm.” The whole Pack laughed at that; they knew that going to the river would become uncomfortably cold in the coming winter.
“Your group is Water. We need a reliable supply of clean water for drinking, cooking, and bathing.” They nodded, so he moved to the next group, headed by his Beta. “Your group will look at Security. How do we ensure that no one harms our Pack or takes what is ours? Included in this are patrols and working with our allied Packs.”
“The next group is also important- Heat. Winter is coming, and even though we all may still be in the same building, it isn’t ready for continuous living without electricity. You figure out how we get heaters, fuel, and ventilation without killing the whole Pack with carbon monoxide.”
He moved to the last group. “Your group gets Supply. There is a lot of stuff out there that needs to be here, or we have to know where to find it quickly. You’ll probably find it easiest to group like things, like tools or construction supplies, but how you do it is up to you. When the other groups need something, they will be coming to you.”?
He moved back to his original spot and looked out over them all. “From now on, your groups will work on your problem each day as your primary duty. The only ones exempted for now are those taking care of the new turns, but when they are no longer needed, they will be assigned to groups as well. We will have a short meeting like this every night. Each group will update the Pack on what their plans are, what their progress is, and what things are in the way of success. I know every one of you will work hard to help this Pack thrive. Do you understand what we need to do?”
“YES ALPHA!” The Pack jumped up and pushed forward towards him.
“ARE YOU READY TO DO IT?”
“I know you are. I love each one of you, and I couldn’t be prouder of my Pack than I am now. Let’s get everyone inside before the sun comes up.” The group started to move apart, cleaning up the trash and heading back to their safe room. Calvin encouraged them as they passed. When Willow and Cheyenne got to him, he could scent how nervous they were.
The two stopped in front of him, nervously looking at his shirt and the ground before Willow spoke up. “Alpha Calvin, did you mean for us to be in the groups? I mean, we aren’t Pack, and we don’t have mates here.”
“Come here, girls.” He opened his arms, and he hugged them to his broad chest. They were finding they naturally looked to him for comfort and guidance, like a grandpa or trusted older relative. “While you are here, you are Pack and will be treated the same as everyone else. If you want to stay, we will happily accept you. If you decide to turn, I will do that for you. But,” he looked in their eyes, “I won’t hold you here either. I know you have family back in Pocatello, and you want to be with them. We all know that you need to do that. I hope you know that we are here to help you, and as soon as you are ready, we will do so.”
“By using the Packs and your friends in the Salmon pack.” He drew in the dirt a rough map of Idaho. “We’re here,” he pointed at an area on the east side of the Panhandle. “Salmon is here to our south, but there are Packs in Rexburg and Idaho Falls too. More out of the way are Stanley, Twin Falls, and Sun Valley. All of them are allies to us, and travelers between Packs get rest and shelter.”
“Even if we are human?” Cheyenne still looked worried.
“Well, you are human but would be traveling with a Pack member. I wouldn’t send you out there alone. We would have one or more of our Pack go with you. It would be easier if you had made the change, but it isn’t required.”
Cheyenne looked at Willow, then back to Calvin. “We’ve talked about it, but it’s a big decision.”
He smiled. “Yes, it is, but there are advantages you’ve already seen to the change. You would be much faster of foot and better able to see at night, so you could travel farther in a single night than walking or even riding one of my wolves. Your immune system would be stronger, the fur would keep you warmer, and you would be better able to defend yourself if it came to that. Still, it is a choice no one will take from you.”
“Unless you’re a mate.” Willow snickered.
“Even that was an aberration. If the girls weren’t in grave danger, the boys would have gotten permission first.”
“It’s all right by them,” Willow replied. “They won’t stop talking about their mates, how hot looking they are, how much they care for them, and how great it is. It’s nauseating.”
They all laughed a little. Cheyenne hugged Calvin again. “We will keep thinking about it, but we can’t leave until Brit and Beth have completed their changes, and we know they are all right. They will probably want to come with us.”
“True, they will, and it will drive their mates crazy to have them running around out there. They want them in bed, not in danger.” Looping his arms around their shoulders, he started to walk them back. “It’s good for the boys, though. Finding a mate centers a wolf and gives them an anchor point for their life. Everything they do will revolve around keeping their mate happy, and that’s a good thing for both of them.” He squeezed their shoulders, then looked at them again as they approached the door to the clinic. “Keep one thing in mind, though. If you choose to make the change, it takes about three days before your wolf form appears, then you will need a few days to get used to it and settle into the Pack. Since you don’t have mates yet, you have to be with an Alpha when you make the turn, or your wolf could become unstable. Best case, if you turned tonight, it would be a week to ten days until you could be in Pocatello.”
Cheyenne looked at the ground. “If back home is like North Fork was, that is a week too late for them.” She started to cry softly, burying her face into his chest.
“We don’t know, Cheyenne. You can’t lose hope, though. You survived, and you have to believe they did too, and are just as worried about you as you are for them.” They arrived at the doors, and as soon as they opened, they could hear the Pack downstairs settling in. “Now go on, check your friends, and get ready for bed. We’ve got a lot to do after sundown.”
“Yes, Alpha.” They left him and went down to their bed. They quickly stripped and put on clean shorts and T-shirts. There wasn’t any privacy, but they had lost that human desire as they lived in close quarters with the wolves. No one cared, and no one hid their body. How could you when you shifted between fur and skin when needed? They checked in with Eric and Derek, who were settling in the girls together on one bed. They were naked and sweating profusely from the fever, and Eric was using a bucket of cold water and a cloth to help.
“They have another twelve to eighteen hours of fever before they wake up. Then they begin the physical changes leading to their first shift.” Eric took the time to explain each thing that would happen so they could help their friends too.
“Do you need help?”
“No, we each got a nap overnight as others helped us. We will split the day so we get some rest. You two go to bed; you look exhausted.”
Willow smiled in thanks. “We are. They are our friends, so if you need help, don’t hesitate to wake us up.”
“No problem.” Derek slipped into the other bed, quickly falling asleep as his twin brother took care of his mate for him.
Willow held the covers open as Cheyenne got in with her. They held on to each other and settled in for the night. “Cheyenne?” Willow’s whisper barely registered on her.
“I think I want to be a werewolf.” She moved closer. “How about you?”
“I’m still thinking.” She laid her head on Willow’s shoulder. “Let’s talk in the morning.”
Richard looked back at Marcus; his jaw set. “Maybe you didn’t understand me, son. We have rules about this. Rules that every other Alpha and I agreed to follow and enforce. There is no wiggle room in them, no escape clause. I let it go with Josi because it wasn’t you that revealed yourself to them, it was HIS pack members, and thus Alpha Calvin will have to deal with the consequences.”
Marcus’ gaze was just as intense. “And because we found those girls, three wolves now have their mates. What were we supposed to do? Were they to ignore the call, ignore the danger their mates were in? Should we have just killed the others to protect the secret? I’m sure Reggie would be thrilled if he knew we killed his mate because of a ‘law.’ And how would the two girls feel, knowing we killed their friends to protect the secret of what they now are?” He shook his head. “It’s stupid.”
“You may not agree with it, I might not either now, but it’s NOT MY CALL. We have a process for this, a method to change the law, and dammit I will FOLLOW and RESPECT that process because I swore an oath to do so!”
“So what about Raven?” He stared his Alpha down. “She exposed herself as a werewolf last night to a human who almost killed my sister and his mate. Are you going to kill her because of your law?”
“No, she was a child. Her parents have the responsibility for what she does until she is of age. Rachel should have known better. Because she exposed the secret, I now have a woman and child I either have to turn or kill. Then you show up with a woman and TWO kids. You weren’t thinking either, Marcus. You two had weapons; you could have saved them without going wolf and sent them on their way. Instead, they now have the same choice, turn, or die.” He let out a deep sigh. “We don’t have time now, but know that there will be consequences and repercussions of your behavior. Don’t put me in a position of having to do even more. The humans in this town are on their own, they are not Pack, and Werewolf law says we cannot help them that way.”
Marcus laughed. “So we are to stand by at watch our town die because of a law. Our friends and neighbors will be comforted to know that we cared enough to LET THEM DIE WHEN WE HAD THE ABILITY TO SAVE THEM!” Furious, he exited the car and started to head inside, but Richard was out just as quick.
“Whatever you are thinking, son, you best stop it.” Richard grabbed his shirt and pushed him up against the garage door. “You need to remember what you are and who you are. You aren’t human, and this isn’t a fucking democracy. You are a werewolf, and you are in a Pack where I am the ALPHA. You are a Beta. You are entitled to your opinion, and as one of my advisors, I will listen and consider it. But get one thing clear in that head of yours before you lose it.” He stared him down until he looked away and exposed his neck in submission. “I get the final call, and when I’ve made the decision you fucking respect it. You act like its straight from the burning bush, and as far as anyone in the Pack ever knows it’s YOUR decision too. You do it because a united pack is a strong pack.” He let him go and stood back a little. “I’d expect a former Green Beret would understand how the chain of command works.”
Marcus refused to look up at Richard’s eyes. “I understand, Alpha.” Richard let him go. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get some supplies and get back to the clinic. There are a whole bunch of people I know dying up there that I have to help.”
Richard stepped away, then went around the house to the back where the people sat. As soon as he was out of sight, Rachel rushed out to where Marcus was still leaning against the garage. He was fighting off a shift, squeezing his fists and relaxing them, but it wasn’t working as the hairs were starting to grow out of his arms. Rachel rushed into her arms and forced his nose into her shoulder so her scent could calm him. “Breathe, baby. Just relax, I’ve got you.”
It took a little time, but her mate regained control and sagged into her arms. He started to sob into her shoulder. “Did you hear?”
She nodded. “Yes, baby, I heard it all. I can’t believe it, but it’s his decision.” She took his hand in hers and led him towards the front door. “Do you need me at the clinic?”
He shook his head no as they moved to his office, which was next to the treatment room for werewolves in their house. “I need you guys to stay here and keep safe. I am going to stay at the clinic through the day, Tammy is in bad shape, and I can’t risk you as well. Can you get me some food while I pack up what I need?”
She kissed him and left. He moved to the supply closet and took out a backpack, filling it with antibiotics, burn cream and painkillers. By the time he had placed his wolf prosthetic in and a change of clothes, Rachel was back in the room. He opened his backpack and took the big bag of food, then zipped it up again. Hoisting it onto his back, he pulled her close to him. “When I was getting ready to go to Afghanistan for my first combat tour, we had a Judge Advocate give us a presentation on the Laws of War. The Geneva Convention, the current Rules of Engagement, it was pretty intensive. We had a lot of questions for him, and like any rear echelon motherfucker, he thought the answers were obvious.”
She looked up at him, confused at where he was going, so he continued. “When he left, our Command Master Sargent stood up. He did multiple tours in Vietnam, a real badass. He said that things seem easy in a classroom, but war isn’t black and white. There’s a whole lot of gray, the sides are not clear, and everything is subject to change without notice. Your ally during the day can be the same guy mortaring your positions at night. So, when you’re in the shit, and you start to think about what is legal and what is not, don’t. Make the choice that you can live with, and deal with the rest of the shit after you survive.”
“What do you mean, Marcus, he’s the Alpha!”
“That doesn’t mean he’s always right. I don’t know what I’m going to do, Rachel, but in the end, it has to be something I can live with.” He kissed her deeply. “Keep working on him; I’ve pushed him too far already. The same with Reggie, I’ve filled him in and asked him to talk to his father.”
She grabbed him tight and started to cry into his chest. “I will. You keep yourself safe, love, and get some sleep. I’ll take care of everything here. Just say goodbye to Raven before you go.”
“I’ll have her meet me in the garage. I’m leaving the car here in case it is needed.” He pulled her face to his, kissing her deeply. “I love you, Rachel. I’m so glad I found you.”
“I was pretty happy to see you, even though you pulled that antler out without painkillers and it hurt like a bitch.” She kissed him again, and he walked to the garage while she went out back. He said his goodbye to Raven, asking her to help keep Mom calm while he was gone. She promised she and Michael would cuddle up with her so she wouldn’t sleep alone.
The bicycle ride to town didn’t take him long, and the tractor with the wagon of dead was coming back for another load. “Hey Doc, how’s it going in there?” Max Jones was a retired farmer who lived just outside of town, and it was his hobby of antique tractors that had left them with some powered transport. All the newer tractors had motors, alternators or fuel injection and the solar flare had knocked them out.
“I don’t know yet, Max, I had to run home for supplies.” The dead had been moved out to the loading dock, so they worked together to move fourteen bodies to the cart before he went inside. He asked Max to leave the tractor here after this run since dawn would be here soon. He strode into the clinic, and his heart sank, it was even more crowded than when he left. The bad cases were in the treatment areas, while those who could still move around were in the front office and reception area.
He talked to the ladies who were helping out, then looked around for his assistant. “Tammy?”
“Sorry, Doc,” one of the ladies said, “She took a bad turn after you left, and she’s now in treatment one. I don’t think she has long left; her lungs are going.” She started to cry. “We’re leaving before the sun rises. Can you watch them?”
“Absolutely. Thank you for helping.” He waited until they stepped out into the twilight of the early morning.
Immediately he went into the room, stepping over the patients scattered over the beds, tables, and floor. His rough count was a hundred people in the clinic, and only a handful had a chance at recovery. He found her on the desk next to the examining table. They had left a folded towel under her head, and she was on her side so the blood wouldn’t choke her. The towel was soaked with blood. He checked her lungs, they were filling with fluid, and her breathing was labored.
If he had an intensive care unit, oxygen therapy, and drugs, she would have a chance, but he had nothing.
“You have to make the choice you can live with.” His wolf pressed into his mind again. “He’s our Alpha, but these people are like a Pack to us. She is our friend; she would want a chance.”
He pushed out over the bond to Rachel. “Love, I need you to keep calm no matter what you feel or hear. Just know that I love you.” He put up the mental block to his mate before she could reply. Taking off his backpack and prosthetic leg, he stripped and put his clothes in the bag. He then put his canine leg between the desk and his pack. Shifting quickly into his wolf, he backed up until he could fit his leg down into the prosthetic; when it was seated, he used his teeth to seal the Velcro strips that held it tight. He set his front legs on the desk, looking down at his close friend and prayed to Luna that he was doing the right thing.
He knew this next part would hurt. He couldn’t fight the command of his Alpha. He closed his eyes and went deep into his mind, finding the links that joined him to his Pack he took a deep breath, then cut them. Searing pain went through his brain as the Pack bonds cut. He whined, his head on his paws, while he waited for the pain to ebb. It took a few seconds before he was able to open his eyes again, and a few more until it stopped spinning enough for him to move again.
He looked back down at Tammy and licked her face. He moved his nose down to her upper arm, opened his mouth, and bit down. She didn’t move, and he licked the wound clean, knowing the saliva would help keep the blood loss down. A human could be turned by a small bite since the infection was in the saliva.
Jumping down, he made another decision. Moving around the room, he bit each patient in turn before moving out front. Once all the unconscious patients were done, he shifted. It was time to talk to the rest.
Lisa held baby Michelle while she introduced Silvia and Zach to the Pack members gathering for a midnight run in the back yard. She had silently warned everyone of the trauma and loss the human family had experienced. The men stayed back, while the women and children gave lots of hugs. Zach fell in with the other kids his age, while Mary and Rachel stayed with Silvia and ran the introductions.
They were still cooking meat that was in freezers that had lost power. The buffet table was full, and a guitar played quietly among the sounds of the children playing. If it wasn’t the darkness and the wolves running around, it would look like a neighborhood party.
Lisa made sure the new family had plenty of food in front of them, then sat at their picnic table. Abigail was there helping her daughter Autumn eat. Autumn’s broken left arm was still in the cast, and they were all watching for signs the change. “Autumn, did you get enough to eat?” She was a little amused in asking, she had gone back for another large plate and increased appetite was a sign of a turn.
“Yes ma’am. The burgers are good!” She was on her third one, which her mother shook her head at.
Lisa sent a knowing look. Rachel moved around to where she was sitting. “Autumn, I need to check your arm real quick, all right? I just need to look at it and smell it.” Abigail looked at her. “Werewolves have very sensitive noses, and the infection will smell different if it is infected or the change is coming.” She lifted her arm onto the table and loosened the soft cast while Autumn continued to eat.
When the cast was out of the way, her mother was shocked at what they found. The arm looked like the injury was a week old, not a compound fracture from just six hours ago. The previously open wound had closed up, and an angry pink line marked where the scar was forming. Rachel leaned close and sniffed; she could smell the wolf nature coming forward in her body.
Rachel sent to her Alpha and her mate the confirmation that the change was underway. Marcus was supportive, promising to help her through it, while her father was pissed. He told her they would talk when he was home from the clinic; then he cut off the link.
Autumn nodded to her mother while she put the soft cast back on. Even for a werewolf, broken bones could take a few days to heal and return to full strength. “How does your arm feel, Autumn?”
“It tingles a lot, and sometimes I get pain from it, but it is much better now.” She went back to eating as Rachel called her daughter Raven over and pulled her into her lap.
“Autumn, we have something to tell you. You know that your friends and I are werewolves, and we change between people and wolves?”
“Sure, Miss Rachel, it’s pretty cool.”
“Well, one thing about werewolves is that we can turn a human like you into a werewolf by biting them. When that happens, there are some changes the person feels until they become a werewolf three days later.”
Autumn looked at her funny. “But, I didn’t get bit. Raven and Michael would never bite me.”
Abigail hugged her gently. “That is true, baby, but when you broke your arm, those two licked at the wound. They were trying to help you out, but they didn’t know that licking your arm was the same as biting. What you are feeling right now is because the change has started. You’re going to become like Raven.” She started to cry, thinking of how this would change both of their lives.
Autumn looked at her arm, then looked at Raven. “Wait, I get to be like you? COOL! WE CAN RUN AROUND AND PLAY FIGHT! It’s going to be so fun, we can all pile up together on my bed at night, and play tag, and I’ll be able to see at night too!”
The adults smiled. She was taking it well, certainly better than her mother was. Rachel put her hand on her shoulder. “In a few days, you will be able to do that, but before then it won’t be so fun.” She explained what she could expect; the fever, the flu-like symptoms, and the pain of the first shift. Autumn was scared of getting sick, and her mom held her tight as they talked about that part. “We will be here to help you. Raven and Michael will stay with you, and even though it will hurt it, will be worth it.”
“And I will help too since I went through the same thing years ago.” Mary gave her a quick hug. “I don’t want to do it again, but I’m happy now.”
“But what about Mom?”
“It’s her decision, Autumn. She will always be your mom, but I think she wants to make sure you get through this before she decides anything.” Abigail nodded. “The good news is you guys get to stay with us for a while. It’s important for us to be here to help you.”
“And to play!” She looked over at the other kids in the yard. “Can we talk later? Please?” Her mom nodded, and they ran off. They watched Autumn and Zach playing with the other Pack children while they ate and talked. The humans fit in well, considering the world as they knew it had ended. It almost seemed normal here.
Rachel was helping to clean up when she noticed that Silvia wasn’t around. She found her scent and tracked her back into the house to the upstairs bathroom. The door was locked, and she could hear they crying inside. She knocked softly, then called out, “Silvia? Are you all right?”
“LEAVE ME ALONE!”
The smell of blood and amniotic fluid grew strong as Rachel sniffed at the door frame. “Silvia, I’m a nurse. Please let me help.”
“It’s too late.” She started to wail, the pain overwhelming. Rachel grabbed a paper clip off the bedside table and straightened it out, then poked the hole in the center of the door handle to pop the lock. When she opened the door, her heart sank.
The candle in the corner of the vanity cast enough light for her to see what was going on. Silvia was holding toilet paper to herself, but there wasn’t enough. A severe cramp caused her to scream out in agony, and more blood gushed from her vagina onto the floor below. Rachel called over the bond for Mary and Lisa to come. Pulling off her shirt, she put it under her as she picked her up in her arms. “I’m sorry, Silvia. I’m so sorry.”
The cramp passed, and Silvia started to sob onto her shoulder as she was carried downstairs to the treatment room. Mary had the door open and the table ready. Rachel laid her down on the bed and placed several towels under her. “Silvia, how long have you been cramping?”
“About ten minutes. The bleeding just started before you found me, though. Is it my baby? I’m losing my baby!” Her head fell back, and Lisa moved up by her shoulders while Rachel and Mary went to work. The miscarriage was too far along to stop, so they focused on saving the mother. The cramping continued through the stillborn birth of her son. Mary wrapped the tiny form in a towel as Rachel dealt with the placenta and the bleeding.
Silvia’s bleeding slowed down once the miscarriage was over, but it didn’t stop. “Silvia… I need to do a procedure on you to stop the bleeding. It’s going to be uncomfortable. All right?” She nodded, not caring now. Rachel pulled out the stirrups from under the examining table and moved her legs into them. She retrieved the instruments needed from a cabinet, and using the light of the LED headlamp, she inserted the speculum. The procedure only took about ten minutes and successfully slowed the bleeding. She gave her an injection to assist with clotting, then cleaned things up.
Mary helped wash the blood off her hips and legs; then they put her in a gown and Mary carried her to the entrance to the safe room. “Can you climb down the ladder, or do I need to lower you down?”
Silvia stood gingerly, then followed Rachel down the ladder. When she was down, Rachel helped her to her bed and tucked her in. “You’ll need to rest for a bit. You lost a lot of blood, so you need plenty of food and fluids.” Rachel heard the children outside. “Can we let your family in? It’s almost the end of the night anyway.”
“Do they know what happened?”
“Not much. Tom told them you had some complications and were getting help. The other parents and children have been distracting them, but Zach is worried.” She paused. “We didn’t tell them that you had lost your baby. It wasn’t our place.”
Silvia started to cry again. “Was it… was he…”
“Yes, it was your son. He was stillborn, but tomorrow night we can bury him if that is your wish.”
“No… I want to see him now. I want to say goodbye, and let the children see their brother. I don’t believe in hiding things from them.”
Rachel nodded. “I’ll bring him, then bring your children. Were you going to give him a name?”
Silvia sniffed, then nodded. “We had some ideas, but we thought we had… that Roger and I had time…” Rachel sent out the mental call, and a few moments later, Mary was coming down the ladder with a small bundle in her hand. Rachel helped pile pillows so she could sit up in bed. Mary handed her the bundle, and they were all crying over the tiny blue boy. “He’s so perfect.” She touched his face and lifted his fingers. The three hugged for a few minutes before they heard people at the entrance.
“MOM! MOM! Are you all right?” Zach raced down the ladder and crawled into bed with her while Mary was being handed baby Michelle in a car seat.
Silvia hugged him tight as Michelle was tucked in on her other side. Mary stayed nearby while Rachel returned up to the treatment room to clean up.
She was closing up the supply cabinet when a searing pain in her head brought her to her knees. Letting out a pained howl, she fell on her stomach as she felt his link rip away from her mind. “MARCUS!!!” She screamed out to him, but got nothing. She could hear the pained howls of the Pack as she started to lose consciousness.
Reggie was just about home. His wolf was thrilled and content- his mate was riding on his back, she bore his mark and his scent, and she had accepted him and his wolf as her own. No matter what else happened in this crazy week, it would be the best one of his life.
He felt Josi snuggle in to the fur on his neck. She was trying to see the path, but with the moon low in the sky only wolf vision was enough.
She felt him tense, then he wiped out. She was tossed from his back and rolled several times until stopping painfully with her shoulders against a tree. Reggie let out a pained howl, and she could hear answering howls just ahead. He shifted back to his skin, panting and grimacing in pain.
“What happened, Reggie?”
“It’s Marcus. His pack link… it’s gone. I can’t feel him anymore.” He looked around. “Hop back on. He was up at the clinic, we can be there in a few minutes.” He shifted and she jumped back on, and they took off for the city at top speed.