Arrowhead Pack, Alpha’s House
I was exhausted by the time we got home. It had been a very emotional time. We had been invited to stay for dinner, but my babies needed to get home, and so did I.
Mom had come over and made dinner for us, and I asked Keith and Coral to stay as well. We had a lot to talk about; the Brotherhood had sent out a message to all Members with a list of those lost in the attack. I had seen the email on the drive home, and there were a lot of good men on the list. I knew it had hit Roadkill hard since he had known some of them for decades. “How is Harleigh handling things,” I asked.
“She saw the news at lunchtime, her room has a television, and she’s on bedrest for another week,” Mom said. “It didn’t go well. She knows people died, but they haven’t released the names to the public yet.”
“She’s on the email list, she’s a Lady,” I said.
“True, but she has no computer, no phone and nobody knows she’s here. We need to tell her,” Roadkill said. “She’ll have questions, and you were there. We’d like you to be there with us when we do.”
“Go,” Coral said. “Keith and I will put the babies down for the night and stay here until you are back. Mind if we use the guest room?” I just shook my head no. The three babies were together all the time; they slept better when they could touch each other. “Great. There’s one more thing, boss.”
I glared at her; she knows how much I hate being called Boss by her. She’s my mate’s twin; she’s family not just my Beta. “You want to use the Jacuzzi in my bathroom?”
“Of course, but that’s not the one I was thinking of,” she said with a giggle. “We can put the babies down and soak while looking out over the lake, honey. It’s the best view in the entire Pack.” It was, and I loved midnight soaks with my man, the fireplace the only light in the room, champagne chilling in a bucket on the side. “I need you to talk to the two warriors who are waiting on a decision for whether they can join our Pack. They’ve been here for three days, and they deserve an answer so they can move on or move in.”
“Ron has already screened them? You’ve checked them out?” Beta Ron was in charge of Operations, and part of his job was searching for and screening people who could fill out our Pack. We were heavily weighted towards female Omegas, having taken the abused women from the Bitterroot Pack. We were still recruiting skilled workers and warriors to round out our Pack.
“Of course. If they weren’t worth a recommendation, I wouldn’t have kept them around.”
I let out a sigh; it had been a long day. I just hoped they would fit in here. “Fine. Men, you’ve got cleanup, we need to feed these ravenous wolves,” I said as I got up. “Come on, Mom. You can help with diaper duty.”
“Oh yay,” she teased. We picked up the babies and carried them into the expansive living room. The large leather chairs were comfortable for feeding, and Mark latched on my left side as Mom put Cheryl on my right. Hope latched on to Coral as she relaxed into the chair, her blouse pulled aside. “How much danger is Harleigh in,” Mom asked me.
“I’m not sure,” I said. “The Feds and the Police have no idea where she is, but with their officer almost overdosing and dying, they won’t let up. We should assume the Sons know werewolves are involved, which means they’ll be looking for a connection.”
“We need to assign a warrior to protect Harleigh,” Coral said. “And we need to beef up our defenses against attack. They came after the Brotherhood with firebombs, guns and two dozen men. We need to be ready for at least that.” She looked out the window over the lake. “It’s impossible to have a standoff defense when people can walk across the ice and right into your front yard. I don’t think she can stay at Possum’s house much longer. She needs to be here so we can give her protection and access to the safe room.”
She was right. “It might be easier. She’s heard from the other members about our facilities here, even though she hasn’t been here before. I’d rather give her the run of my house than have her going to the Pack House. It’s going to be tough enough hiding our secret from her as it is.”
“You can order people not to shift within view of your house, that will help, but she’s smart and will pick up on things. The longer she stays around us, the more likely she is to figure out what we are.” She moved Hope to the other side after a quick burp. “The question is, are you all right if she knows.”
“I trust her,” Mom said. “She’s family.”
“I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. She can have one of the main floor guest rooms; that way, Harleigh can get to the kitchen easily. She’ll be happier here with all the stuff to do.” My basement included a bar and recreation center, a movie theater, game room, exercise rooms, and a sauna and locker room. It was a popular hangout for the Pack in the winter. It would be easy for Harleigh to meet people there without risking our secret. “I’ll have the Omegas prepare the room, and we can move her in tomorrow evening,” I said. “I think we have at least that much time. Coral, I need you and your team to brainstorm how to effectively defend against this threat. Since we can’t put up physical barriers, think electronics and delays.”
“And people,” she said. “The most important targets will all be in this house, which makes it easier on me, but easier for the attackers too. I may ask some warriors to move in, so there are more people around to respond to threats. I’ll talk to Keith as well; as much as we like our house, we might move in here too.”
“Whatever it takes,” I said. “Harleigh and the babies need to be protected.”
“And no one can know who she is or why she is here,” Mom said. “Our best protection is secrecy. She can’t leave the house, and no one from outside the Pack can see her. It’s a tough thing for her, but I can’t lose her.” Mark was finished, so she took him and burped him while I waited for Cheryl to finish. Twenty minutes later, our little treasures were sleeping in the crib in the nursery by our master bedroom.
“I’ve got this, go on,” Coral said as Keith appeared at the door.
We grabbed Roadkill on the way through the kitchen and walked the short distance to their small house on the lakeshore. “Welcome back, Rori,” Sally said as she opened the door to us. I hugged her; Sally was one of my first Pack members, one of the Omegas who came out of a bad situation. She was flourishing in our Pack and had volunteered to take care of Harleigh while my parents were at my house. “She’s doing fine, she ate well and was able to use the bathroom. I’m so glad you guys used ADA-compliant toilets in your house, the extra height and the grip bars helped.”
“The roll cage helps when you’re bound up with cheese curds,” Roadkill said. “She’s awake?”
“Watching television. I can’t stop her from watching the news.”
I thanked her, then the three of us went down the hall to the guest room. Possum knocked softly. “Come in,” Harleigh said.
Her face brightened when she saw me behind my parents. “Canvas!”
“Hey Crash,” I said as I gave her a careful hug. She was propped up with a bunch of pillows, watching the national news on the big wall-mounted television. She muted it as we took seats. “We have to talk.”
“I know,” she said. “They were after me again?”
“We don’t think so,” I said. “We took you from the hospital well before the attack on the Clubhouse, and from the Club’s reaction no one would think you were hiding with them.” You couldn’t fake the reaction of the people and the police to something like this, which is why we had to kidnap her without telling anyone. “They wanted to hurt the Club for killing three of their men.”
“Men who died because of me,” she said as the tears let loose. “If I’d have gone to the police instead of the Club, they’d still be alive!”
“NO,” Roadkill said as he moved to sit by her. He took her hand and looked into her eyes. “None of this was your fault, Harleigh. You were hurt, you were in trouble, and you turned to the Club, and we protected you. It’s what we DO, and nobody blames you for anything that has happened.” He pulled her into his side and embraced her. “The blame lies with the Sons.”
She looked back at him, and my heart broke, seeing how hurt and vulnerable she was. “Who died, Uncle? The news won’t say.”
He went through the list we’d been sent, and her heart broke a little more with each name. “Granite will live, but they had to fuse his vertebrae back together where a bullet hit him. They can’t say for sure yet, but he might be paralyzed from the waist down.”
“All we can do is pray for him to heal,” I said. “In the meantime, we need to talk about you.”
“Me? I can barely walk to the bathroom with help.”
I patted her hand. “You’ll heal, but you’re in even more danger now. The Clubs are on the brink of all-out war, and the Feds are doing everything they can to keep that from happening. Meanwhile, you’ve got three dead police officers in Orlando and the biggest manhunt in Florida history. The Brotherhood thinks the Sons have you, the Sons think the Feds have you, and the Feds figure you’re dead by now. Bringing you here puts my people in danger if anyone finds out, so I need you to help us protect you.”
“Anything,” she said.
“Tomorrow, you’ll be moving into a guest room in my house a few doors down. I have more security, safe rooms, and communications there that aren’t part of this house. There are a lot of people who stay with me or visit, but anyone who is in my house you can trust.”
“That doesn’t sound too bad,” she said.
“The hard part is that you can’t leave the house, not ever. Our lands are private, but the lake is public property. Avoid standing in front of windows facing the lake if you can,” Possum said. “It won’t be that bad. There’s a lot more to do at Rori’s place; it’s like a clubhouse in the basement.”
“We are treating this like the witness protection program,” I said. “We’re going to give you a new identity, and you need to immerse yourself in that new you. No contact whatsoever with your old friends or your old life. It’s just too dangerous.”
“I don’t want anyone else to die for me,” she said. “Whatever you need me to do, I will do.”
“Thank you,” I said. “We’ll talk more tomorrow when we move you to the big house. Get your rest,” I told her.
We got up to leave, and after the door was closed, I’m sure I was the only one who heard what she whispered to herself. “When I’m strong enough I’m going to kill that fucker myself,” she vowed.
I waited until we were back in the kitchen before talking again. “Harleigh’s going to go through the stages of grief, and when she gets to anger, we have to be there for her,” I said. “Channel it into healthier choices that fit within the restrictions.”
“Self-defense training, online college, forming new friendships. If we don’t keep Harleigh busy, she will eventually rebel and risk exposing herself. Trust me; I spent enough time in hiding to know.”
Possum turned and hugged her husband. “She’s going to be here for a long time, isn’t she?”
He nodded. “It could be years,” he said.