Chapter 63: Rose garden
I watched Jacob and Kelsey leave, a pit forming in my stomach. I had been watching Rose, she didn’t think it was a good idea and it wasn’t. “Rose, you’re not even asking this of Gunny. It’s a horrible idea.”
“Why? Isn’t it good for the Pack to have more children?”
“Yes, but not this way. Mated pairs are sacred, and something like this would end up driving us apart. There’s no way you don’t regret it, you aren’t jealous of her and her child, and that isn’t good for the Pack.”
I could see she was relieved. “So she doesn’t get a child?”
“She can, but not with a mated male’s sperm. I know her cat wants what it does, but things are different here than in the world she knows. The best thing would be for her to find her mate, then if she has brothers or relatives willing to donate they would both be tied to the baby.”
“She doesn’t have a mate, though.”
I nodded. “True, and that’s why it is better if the donor isn’t in the Pack. What if she met her mate next week, and baby daddy is a mated member of our Pack? Not good. No, the best thing is to find a volunteer, someone who isn’t from around here. I’d prefer someone who didn’t have a mate at all.” I thought for a minute, a candidate came through. “Let me take care of it, you forget this even happened. Gunny only has eyes for you, trust him.”
“All right.” She went downstairs to check on things while I pulled my phone out. I flipped to the right contact and pressed talk. A few rings later, a deep male voice answered. “Joe Miller.”
“Hello Beta Joe, it’s Alpha Ella from the Belden Pack.”
“Hello Alpha, what can I do for you?”
I paused for a second. “Joe, there is a new female cat shifter with my Pack who is about to go into heat. She’s a lesbian, but she wants a child.”
The line went quiet. “I’m not screwing just anyone, Ella. I can’t even think about anyone other than my Daria. I’d be with her already if I hadn’t made that promise to Alpha Renee.”
“I know. Joe, her cat wants a strong male to sire her offspring, it’s how their instincts work. You’re one of the strongest Betas I know, hell you could easily be an Alpha. After losing your mate, this is a chance to keep your line going. She would raise them alone, or if you want, she will let you be involved as much as you are comfortable.”
“I’m a wolf, you know.”
“True, so is my Craig. It is a tossup whether the children will look more cat or wolf, and they will take some characteristics of each.” There was silence on the line. “Just think about it.”
“I don’t have to, Ella. I don’t have much left to give, my wolf wants to give up and just go into the woods and waste away. I need something good in my life, and maybe helping this woman will help me too. What do you need from me?”
“Go to your Pack Doctor, she knows how to collect the sample and freeze it for later use. It would be best if we had multiple samples ready, just to make sure.”
“And she would want me as the baby daddy?”
“I think so, I haven’t talked to her yet.”
“I’m coming, then. I’m not going to father a child with a woman I’ve never met. It’s all right if I come, right?”
“Absolutely, Joe, you’re always welcome in our house. Pack for a week or more, make a vacation out of it.” I smiled a little, sometimes when a wolf was depressed a change of scenery could help. “Do you need me to call Alpha Merino and clear it with him?”
“No, I’ll get that. It’s not like I’m doing a lot here anyway. I can’t even sleep in my room, not with her scent around. I’ll see you late tonight.” He hung up, and I set the phone down. Such drama, so many changes and new people in the Pack. There were many times I just wanted to go back to my island and play with the kids in the surf, and not deal with all this stuff.
My phone rang, it was an overseas number. “Ella Anderson, may I help you?”
“Yes Madam, this is Marcos Jiminez, Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs. I have some good news for you, the American military cleanup has ended and all chemical munitions have been removed from your island.”
“So, we can move back?”
“There is still a formal turnover, but in two weeks the ban on civilian occupancy will be removed and you can return.”
“Thank you, that is EXCELLENT news! I have so missed my home.”
“You are quite welcome.” He gave me some more information and his phone number, then hung up after wishing us luck. I opened the Pack bond. “Everyone, I have good news. The Island cleanup is complete, we will be able to return in two weeks. We will have a Pack meeting this weekend to discuss the move and what happens here in Santa Fe.”
I went to find Al and Marge, I would need them first. They were in the back, watching over the children, and they were thrilled at the news. “I can’t wait to go boar hunting again,” Al said. “They will have overrun the island in our absence.”
“I’m looking forward to the parties on the beach,” Marge said. “Less cleanup.”
“Actually, I want you guys to head down there as soon as possible,” I said. “I’ll charter aircraft for most of us to arrive, but I need people there first. The island staff, those that still want to work there, we need to track them down and offer them jobs again. Interview and hire replacements for anyone that moved on. I want to make sure we have new bedding, mattresses, clothing, check the boats that are in storage on the mainland… there’s so much prep to do.”
“We can take care of it, Alpha.” They looked at each other, eyes full of excitement. “We’ll arrange for food deliveries, fuel, and other supplies.”
“I expect we’ll be a larger Pack soon, and we’ll need more space. I want you to talk with some contractors down there about prefabricated housing, something that could be put on a barge and brought out, then set in place on a poured foundation. I’ve got a few ideas, many will be on the south end near the hotel, but I also want some on the more remote beaches. Guest houses, retreats for couples, you get the idea. See what they can do for us and email us details.” Some of the places we had found were amazing, to have a cabin there would be great.
“We’ll take care of everything, Ella, you just worry about up here.”
“I’ve got the kids, you guys go find a flight and get packed.” They ran back in the house while I looked over the playing children. Yep… this was much better.
Craig returned from his latest mission just before dinner, and I filled him in on everything that was going on. By the time Jacob and Kelsey returned with their bloody bats, we were having dessert. “Go clean up and then we need to talk to you, Kelsey,” I said.
I had already talked to Rose, and she was staying out of it. Craig and I met with Kelsey alone in our office. “Kelsey, what you did with Rose today, it wasn’t cool and it wasn’t a good idea,” I said. “I know you don’t know how Packs work, but asking a mated male to father a child to another woman, that won’t end well.”
“I’m sorry, I just wanted the strongest male cat around.”
“My mate is the strongest one around, but you didn’t ask for him.”
She looked at me a little weird. “He’s a wolf…”
“He’s also my mate and father of my children. Wolves and panthers can have children, they will be majority one or the other, we can’t figure out why yet. They do get some shared characteristics.”
Craig nodded. “We also would choose to use a relative, or a person outside the pack for the donor in your case.”
“So, I thought about who we knew that would be strong enough a male to satisfy your cat, but not cause problems later. I came up with this man.” I showed her a video on my phone of Joe working out and sparring at the Gila Pack. Her eyes widened and her pupils darkened, her cat was interested. “He is coming tonight to meet with you. He lost his mate a few months ago, she was killed shortly after they met. He wants to meet you before he decides if he will do it.”
She didn’t take her eyes off the video. “He looks worthy,” she said softly.
Later that night, her cat confirmed it. By morning, her heat was starting to come on and she was locked in the basement cell; we had handcuffed Charlie to his mate Patricia, figuring that was enough to keep him under control. Every six hours or so, Joe would generate and she would inject, until hopefully she was pregnant.
Still, it would be better if she came with us to the island, I didn’t want her bad start with Rose to become a bigger problem than it already was.
Al and Marge had found a flight out at eight in the morning, and I wanted to get out for a bit. Craig promised we could do some shopping, so we took the big SUV and brought Jacob and Melanie as security. They got off just fine, and I bought some more maternity clothes for the warm weather. We stopped for food on the way home, I craved Italian so that’s what we did.
We were finishing dessert when I heard people starting to scream, to yell, to point at the television. “PRESIDENT ATTACKED IN ROSE GARDEN,” the caption said. On the screen, it was replaying the attack in slow motion, the drones coming into view and crashing into his head and four others. Unlike the other four, the one that hit the President didn’t explode, but it did knock him down.
The others were obviously dead.
Craig grabbed my arm, pulling me out of the restaurant. People were going to lose their shit, and he didn’t want to be around them when they did.