If she weighs as much as a duck...
Beta Jack McGregor’s POV
Alpha Esca Milne looked over at his mate Eleanor and just shook his head before they both just started laughing. “Hey, it was YOU that ordered him to go blow off some steam with the other guys after we got back,” she said as she snuggled into his shoulder.
“I wanted him to get drunk, not turn everything he touches into a headache!”
She smacked his chest. “He found his MATE, that’s the greatest thing he could ever find. Are you saying she isn’t worth it?” She stared into his eyes. “If I was as difficult to handle, would you have rejected me?”
“I could never let you go, you’re my life, you have been for the last twenty some years,” he said. “My only regret is I did not find you earlier.” He started to nuzzle at her neck.
“Jessie is Beta John’s mate, and she is worth any trouble her mating creates so your Protector and friend can be truly happy,” she told him after a quick kiss. “Even if he did do everything possible wrong when they met.”
We all laughed at that. We were sitting next to the Alpha’s desk, his mate was in his lap. He had just ended a very interesting conference call with Alpha Viktor, the Russian Alpha we had met with at the annual Alpha Conference, and Alpha Stan Larsen of the St. Croix Pack in Minnesota. My mate and the Luna’s protector, Sarah, was sitting on my right leg, my arm around her waist.
“Sir, what does all this mean,” I asked.
“For starters, congratulations. You are now the Alpha Protector, and Sarah will remain as Eleanor’s protector. John won’t be coming back.”
“What do you mean? He gets out in about two months.”
“If Jessie doesn’t make it, he’s going to go nuts and will be in no shape to perform his duties for a while, if ever. If she does make it and they mate, she’s the true Alpha heir of the Moscow Pack- once one of the most powerful in all of Russia. If she takes the spot, even as a null with no wolf, Beta John becomes the Alpha. They inherit Yevgheny’s personal fortune, all the Pack property… in other words, he becomes our rich and powerful ally instead of our loyal Pack member.”
My head was spinning with this. “He’s going to need a lot of help.”
Eleanor nodded. “And we will give it to him. The best thing we can do is to help his mate survive and recover. She still knows nothing of us, and we should leave that explanation to John when he has built the relationship. If he cannot get her to love him enough to keep our secret, she cannot know any of us are anything but human. I’d hate to have to kill his mate to protect our kind.”
“You’d have to kill John first.” This hadn’t happened recently, but it had happened in our own Pack and others.
Eleanor sat up on Esca’s lap. “That’s why we have to do this right. After the rather eventful first meeting they had, she’s already afraid of John and that’s a huge challenge. Now she’s seriously injured, maybe permanently. We need to keep her safe and under control until John gets out. Then we have to find a way for him to overcome her fear of him and fall in love.” She smiled. “It’s about time one of you had to work for his woman. You think the mating bond is all the romance you need, that you just look in our eyes and carry us to the bedroom and all is good.”
“It’s not? It worked for us,” Esca said with a grin. “I don’t remember you complaining.”
“Our wolves pull us together, but you did learn our human sides want the love and the romance. I love you, my mate,” she said as he pulled her in for a kiss.
“Can we bring her here,” Sarah asked. “She would be safe with us and could wait for John to return.”
“I asked Alpha Stan that very question last week,” the Alpha said. “It won’t work. She overheard a conversation where they were talking about John’s obsession with her, a joke about how he might just knock her out and carry her to his hut in the Scottish Highlands to have his way with her.” I groaned, that was about the worst thing she could hear. “Plus, she knows none of us. She has found a friend in Patrick, the St. Croix beta heir, but now he’s found his mate. In four months he goes to claim her, hopefully they come back to the States together. If he isn’t there to help, I don’t know how we keep her close.”
“You’re forgetting something,” Sarah said. “Viktor said it is all over the news, a woman has filed claim in court that she is Yevgheny’s daughter and heir. The court has accepted the filing and the judge is waiting on DNA results to determine if she can be allowed to intervene in the probate case.” She showed me the article from the English version of the Russian paper. “If there are not delays, four months from now she could be one of the wealthiest women in the world. She wouldn’t need us then.”
“Then we have to gain her confidence, or find another way to protect her,” Esca said. He looked around the room. “We leave for Russia in six days, so make arrangements. It gives us a chance to deepen our ties, and to personally thank them for helping to protect and care for Jessie while she was there.”
“I’ve never been there, it should be fun,” I said.
Three days later
I looked up from the book I was reading out loud, sitting back in the chair by her bed. “Any news, Doctor?”
He checked the charts and her vitals, not saying anything for a few minutes. He wrote a few things down, then sat in the chair by mine, both of us facing the bed holding Jessie Donato, originally Natalya Klishnina. Her head was wrapped in bandages, her right leg in a cast, and more dressings covered her stomach under the sheet. “She is healing, and her brain pressure is under control, that is all good news. If she continues to show no signs of complications or infection, I can start bringing her out of her coma in a few more days.”
I nodded, I had been doing some of my own research. My Alpha had paid for Doctor Oleg to consult with neurologists at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. She was listed as Jane Doe, and Oleg was using the excuse his clinic was remote and she couldn’t be medevaced. The Mayo doctors so far had concurred with the treatment.
“What about her brain function?”
“We’ll have to wait until she wakes up and conduct tests then. I’m cautiously optimistic we caught it in time, despite the delays in starting treatment.” He had been vocal early on about her need to get to a human hospital in Moscow, but Alpha Viktor shut him down quickly. “I’m sure she appreciates you being here. There are some studies that show that even in a coma, some parts of the brain can still receive stimuli. I can see her vitals improve slightly when you are around.” He patted my shoulder than walked out, going to his other patients.
I was here for my friend and charge, but with her in a coma there wasn’t much to do. My time was split; in the morning I would wake up and meet the Alpha’s family for breakfast. It was my first chance to be with my mate, until she had to leave for school. Mischa was a senior in high school and was already accepted into a college for pre-med studies. She didn’t return home until almost five in the afternoon. I spent the days sitting with Jessie, then dinner and the evening with Mischa and her ever-present overprotective brother. We would talk for hours, hold hands, and sneak in kisses where we could. I was looking forward to the marking ceremony, and we had worked with her mother on the details.
Werewolf matings had a public and a private portion, something like the human engagement and wedding. The marking ceremony was the engagement; I would bite her neck and she would bite mine, in human form, showing other werewolves we were mates. The mark put my scent on her and hers on mine, and this signal to unmated males helped my wolf settle down a bit. We would gain a portion of the mate bond as our wolves started to meld. The marks would last about a year, after which they would fade unless renewed or you completed the mating process.
The second part was in private, and it involved biting each other during sex in our wolf forms. This would activate the full bond, after which we would be inseparable. We would be able to communicate mentally, feel each other’s emotions, and it would kick off her heat cycle.
I’d been trading emails and talking on Skype with my Mom, and it was fair to say she was thrilled. If she had her way, I’d have my mate pregnant in a week, but we had to wait until she was of age. I didn’t tell her that Mischa and I had talked about children already. She wanted to wait until she had become a Doctor, and I was willing to support her in her dream. We would have to work things out so she could become an American citizen, and get her admitted to an American university, but we could make that work. I was just glad she was fluent in English, because my Russian was barely adequate to ask for a glass of vodka.
Alpha Viktor walked into the room and sat down on the edge of the bed. “I hear she is healing well,” he said.
“Yes, the doctor says it is going as expected. If she had a wolf it would be a lot faster.”
“I’m not so sure she doesn’t, buried deep down there somewhere. At a minimum, she is a null since her father was an Alpha. We’ve never really studied nulls, they were either killed or exiled from the Packs. It is possible they have just enough wolf to be a mate, but not enough to shift or show other characteristics. It is something the Doctor would like to study further if we have a chance.”
“I don’t think Jessie will want to stay around,” I said.
“I’m sure. Still, a werewolf has to be in there somewhere for Beta John’s wolf to connect to." He looked over at her sleeping form. "I have some contacts with the local coven, and Sergey told them what he saw. They think it was more than just a healing spell.”
“What do you mean?”
“Witches gather and hold power over their lives, it becomes a part of them until they die or they pass it to another. The glow you saw was from that transfer. Whatever he was, he passed it to her, and that power flowing within accomplished the healing. It drained him too fast to heal everything, though, and with him dead the magic had no direction anymore and it stopped.”
Holy shit. Jessie had the powers of a witch? “Please tell me the Father was a white witch.” White witches were about nature, love and balance, and were the only witches you wanted to deal with. Black ones were evil and twisted.
Viktor nodded. “Last night while you were out with my daughter, I had two of their oldest witches come look at Jessie. They can feel the power, they know it is good, but there is no way to tell just how much power he gave her. That will take her being trained to use it and discover her limits.”
“And if she doesn’t want it?”
“Then she can pass it on to another. I can certainly find someone to take it if she refuses, but there is plenty of time to talk about that. Now, I need to talk to you about your plans for this coming year.”
Viktor had been very interested in our plans, and we hadn’t said much yet. I got the impression he was disappointed his daughter was mated to a Beta and was sizing me up to see if I had Alpha potential. There was still a power void in Moscow, and he had an interest in placing a friendly Alpha there. “You know I have to return to the States, I have a responsibility to Jessie and my Pack to keep her protected until her mate can take over.”
Viktor nodded. “He gets out in two months, right?”
“Yes. I’m hoping he figures out a way to get the girl before our mating ceremony.”
“And if he doesn’t?”
“Jessie will have to understand that I’ve fallen in love and taken a wife. I can’t pull her out of school in the middle of the year, and I need to learn Russian. My plan is to remain her, with your permission of course, and undertake intensive language studies while my mate finishes her schooling.”
He smiled, glad I wasn’t taking his daughter away as soon as she turned eighteen. Some people wouldn’t be so understanding, expecting the female to sacrifice for them, but I couldn’t as Mischa to do that. “We have a few hours, I thought you might like to join us for training. I’m curious as to how much training you Americans get. I hear you’ve gone soft with your computers and your fancy cars.”
It was my turn to smile. “Is Konstantin joining us?”
“Yes, along with my senior leadership. We lead training for normal Pack members in the mornings, the afternoons we beat up on each other.”
“Great.” I got up and followed him out. “I just need to know what word in Russian means ‘I yield’ so I can stop when they’ve had enough.” He just laughed as he walked down the hallway.
I just hoped I wouldn’t be wheeled back up this same hallway before the afternoon was over.