Beta John Pearson’s POV
I sat against the wall of the large conference room, trying to focus on my real job which was to protect Alpha Esca Milne in the event a fight broke out between the Alphas. The annual Alpha Conference was being held at a hotel near the Mall of America in Minnesota, which was right next to the airport. The conference alternated between North America and Europe/Asia, and it was our turn to travel across the pond for it. So far, we hadn’t seen much except airplanes and hotels, and I was already missing the Scottish Highlands our Pack called home.
The visit had been unproductive thus far. We had brought over a group of twelve; Alpha Esca was my charge to protect. My close friend Jack McGregor and his mate Sara were the protectors for Luna Eleanor, a mated pair of Betas being a requirement for the position; the Alpha wouldn’t allow an unmated male close to his Luna, and a female could guard her in places the male could not.
The Alpha Heir, Sean, had come along since he had just turned eighteen and could sense his mate now. Their two daughters, Jane and Julia, had remained home since they were only fourteen. Part of the purpose of the conference was to bring together high-ranking unmated werewolves, and the remaining seven people in our group met that criteria. Four were daughters of Pack Betas; Nancy, Daniella, Lori and Melinda. Rounding out the group was our Theta and head trainer, Charles, Gamma James, and Beta Connor. Charles had almost refused to come, he had been to twenty-four straight meets and countless other functions and had never found his mate. Only a talk with the Luna had convinced him to try one more time.
It was a good thing, too. He found his mate at the welcome reception, a midwife from a small pack in Alaska. Bridgitte was thrilled to have found him after all these years. She confessed her Alphas had kept her from these events, as she was not a born Beta and they didn’t have the finances to send more than the Alpha and Luna. Charles didn’t care, he was up in a hotel room with her and was not expected to emerge for several more days as they cemented the bond.
We would be leaving behind two of the shewolves in our group since they found their mates. Nancy found her mate in a Beta from a Colorado pack, and Lori in a Pack from Sweden. Overall, the ninety-three Packs represented in this conference produced a hundred and fifteen matings, a good number historically.
Matings were important to our species, as our numbers were limited (about fifty thousand worldwide) and genetic diversity was critical to our survival. Luna knew all this when she set up mates, and those of us that placed our faith in her, like Charles, waited for their mate no matter how long it took. The need for mates forced us to cooperate with each other and meet periodically at places such as this, and the matings resulted in ties between Packs that could strengthen alliances.
A full mating could only take place between fated mates, without that the mating bite would fade after a few weeks, and the soul ties would never form. Werewolves could get humans or shewolves pregnant outside the mating bond, and this created lots of problems. It was expected that the two werewolves would become choice mates to support the pup, and the forever fading marks on their necks showed everyone their lack of self-control.
Getting a human pregnant was even more of an issue. If you loved the woman, you had to change her in order to mate her, and there were no human mates so they all would be choice bonds. Only about one in ten were strong enough physically and mentally to survive the transition, so falling in love with a human was bound to lead to pain and suffering for both.
It did happen, whether they fell in love or just didn’t practice safe sex. It was common to kill those humans who wouldn’t be bitten, or who the wolf didn’t want, in order to protect our secret existence. We couldn’t have children out there outside the Pack structures, not knowing what they were and how they would change when they were teenagers.
I took my mind back off my failure to find a mate again and tried to listen to what was being discussed. A Canadian Alpha was attempting to explain why he attacked a neighboring Pack and annexed a third of their land, and it wasn’t going well for him. The other Alphas were upset at the unprovoked attack; our existence depended on secrecy, and with us mixed into the human population for jobs and homes, fighting and people dying were difficult to explain. “Our ways must change,” a New York Alpha explained. “There are autopsies, financial records, trail cams and satellites now. Nothing we do can escape notice. We must be careful, and your reckless behavior has put us all at risk.”
“I agree,” the deep voice of my Alpha added. “We have a North American Council just to resolve issues between Packs to avoid such displays. This must be sanctioned to deter others from such actions.” The offending Alpha objected, but the gathering was against him. Ten minutes later, he had agreed to return the land, pay restitution, and transfer leadership of the Pack to his son. His Pack would be on probation for five years, with retired Alphas selected by the Council overseeing how it was run.
The other option he was given was to not to leave this room alive.
The next subject came out of Russia. A Moscow Pack Alpha had been killed with several of his Betas, and the rest captured and jailed, in a raid by police on their Russian Mob organization. Now THIS was interesting; most of the Packs in the world blended in, taking jobs in the human system, but these men chose a life of crime. Vicious and amoral, the Russian Mob was involved in anything that could make money. Gambling, prostitution, smuggling, human trafficking, drugs- they did it all. “The Pack is in shambles,” Alpha Victor said. “None of the senior leadership is left, and the police are digging into the financials and seizing Pack properties. We are lucky in that the Pack planned for this and sanitized any mention of us, but many became homeless and unemployed when this occurred.”
“What is being done? Can the Pack be saved?” Usually, a son or Beta would step up into leadership.
“There is no one left to save it. Yevgheny was never mated, and he has no children. The Betas all died with him in the firefight or when his home was burned to the ground. His Pack is over, members are already requesting refuge in other Packs and it is being granted.”
This made sense; it didn’t happen often, but family and friend ties between Packs would allow the lower level members to find new leadership. It wasn’t safe to be without a Pack, and it wasn’t good for your wolf to be outside one for long.
“What about the Pack assets? Can they be distributed with the wolves going to other Packs?”
Victor shook his head. “This Pack wasn’t like that; the Pack was the Mob, and thus all the moneys and ownerships had to be hidden and hidden well. The houses and apartments often weren’t in their names, ownership is buried in a maze of companies that was designed to be impossible to trace back to them. They were a wealthy Pack, but control over the wealth was restricted to Alpha Yevgheny and a few of his senior Betas, all of whom are dead now.”
Damn. “So, what happens with their assets now?”
“The authorities are going to find and seize anything they can prove was related to illegal activities, that cannot be stopped. Yevgheny knew this, we suspect much of his actual wealth is overseas and out of their reach. His younger brother Yuri is the only known relative, he runs a crew out of St. Petersberg and was a rival mob boss of Yevgheny. If his will contains the information needed to find and transfer the money, Yuri is going to become one of the most powerful Russian Mobsters around.”
Yuri wasn’t here, he was one of a dozen Alphas around the world who didn’t show up. “Nothing we can do except watch,” my Alpha said. “I thank those who are taking in the refugees, but other than that help, I don’t see anything else we can do until the investigation winds down and the will is read.”
“You are correct, Alpha Esca. We will continue to monitor things closely to ensure we are not exposed,” Alpha Victor said. “We and other Alphas have people inside the police, we will do what is needed to keep our existence secret.”
The meeting went long into the night, and by the time we returned to our rooms I was beat. “It will be better tomorrow,” Esca said as he put his hand on my shoulder. “I know you are disappointed, but you must have faith in Luna. It will happen when it does.”
I bowed my head to my Alpha, he was a kind man, wise and respected. His hair was becoming gray now, he was in his early fifties now, having found his mate when he was older than my twenty-eight years. “Thank you, Alpha,” I said as I bowed my head.
“Be here at eight and we will all go to breakfast,” he said as we reached his door. “Fewer problems, more fun.” After a morning of presentations of new developments and ideas, the entire Conference was taking buses to a nearby Pack in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. There would be a combined Run, followed by a feast and bonfire. Too much city life wasn’t good for any of us.
“It will feel good to run with you, Alpha. Thank you.” I bowed my head as the Luna opened the door and smiled at me before pulling him into the room with her. I smiled at them before turning to my room across the hallway. Taking a shower, I went to bed dreaming of my mate.
Soon, my wolf told me.
The past two days had been a whirlwind. I prepared all the paperwork for the State, waiting for her death certificate which should arrive in a few days. Her body had been released to me, and per her wishes I had her cremated. Her remains were in a cardboard box sitting in the passenger seat of my old Ford Focus as I drove back home.
I had thirty days to vacate the home, the terms of the reverse mortgage she had taken out on it to pay her bills. Tomorrow at work, I would see if anyone wanted to share an apartment. I didn’t have much money; I didn’t finish my degree, and I had no skills. My current job didn’t require a lot of training, I just had to employ my ‘assets’ which were heavy on the ass. I worked at the Mall of America in a Hooters, mainly because the horny males who frequented the place tipped well. I didn’t have a huge rack, but they were high and firm, allowing me to go without a bra. My long legs and tight butt attracted men who liked that kind of thing. I hated the groping and unwanted advances, but I needed the money, so I did it.
I had bought a simple phone with basic services, I had to have my own phone to deal with the estate and finding an apartment. I called the manager, informing him that I needed to take more shifts now that I wasn’t caring for my mother. He said he would see what he could do, but the schedule was already filled for the next month. I might have to take on another job.
Meanwhile, I had a wish to fulfill. Pulling the car onto I-35 North, I started the drive to Lake Superior and the overlook where I would say my final goodbye to her and reunite her with her husband.
I wiped the tears away as I drove.