Greg Barks’s POV
I waited in the entry hall when the warrior at the main road reported that the Oxbow Lake Pack Luna and Doctor were arriving with their guard. I’d never met either one, so I stayed back as Rori and her Betas assembled in the main hall. “Should I worry,” I sent to Beta Coral.
She laughed softly. “No. Luna Margaret is Alpha Rori’s aunt, and the Oxbow Lake Pack is our closest ally. You’ll see later, our Alphas even gave them a cabin near the entrance, and transferred the land to their Pack so that they can join us at the lake.” It was a shock to me; no Pack liked having another Pack’s land bordering theirs. In Banff, hundreds of square miles of unclaimed territory surrounded us.
The door opened, and the group swept into the hugs and greetings of the Pack leadership. Luna Margaret was holding Cheryl in her arms as they walked to the living room, leaving the Doctor with me. “Sir, I’m Warrior Greg Bark. Beta Coral has assigned me to accompany you on your examination and to receive instructions on her physical therapy.”
“Nice to meet you, Greg. Do you have formal training?”
“Just personal experience, Doctor.” I pulled my pant leg up, exposing my prosthetic.
He looked into my eyes. “I guess that’s better than nothing. Where’s my patient? Still at Roadkill’s place?”
“No sir, she’s been moved into a room here.” I hung up his coat and led him to the guest wing. Reaching Heather’s room, I knocked. “It’s Greg, and the Doctor is here to examine you.”
“Come in,” she said. She was sitting up in bed, watching the morning news.
“Nothing new.” She was looking for something but wasn’t going to say anything. I figured I should do some Internet searching for stories down south in the last week. If she wouldn’t talk, maybe I could figure out her secret.
Doc set his bag on the bedside table and started his examination. Ten minutes later, he put everything away, and he sat on the bed. “I expect you have some questions now that you’re a little more alert,” he said.
“I do. How long do I have to stay in bed?”
He laughed. “Your wound is healing as expected, which means it’s starting to knit together, but it is very fragile. It is important to rest and minimize the stress on it, so it doesn’t tear, causing it to bleed and further scar.” Her face fell with this. “I don’t want you sitting here forever. You can start taking short walks to keep your legs going and help prevent blood clots. Get someone to help you in and out of bed so you can keep your torso straight.”
“I can go to the bathroom?”
“Yes, but have someone help you sit down and stand up, and don’t squeeze one out too hard. You’d be surprised how many people run into problems on the toilet.” She blushed heavily, thankfully he continued. “No lifting anything heavier than a book. I’ll be back in a few days, and we’ll see how you’re doing.”
“Doc, if I can isolate her arms or legs from her abdomen, can we do some other exercises? Reclined bicycle, free weights, that kind of thing? Just enough so she doesn’t lose her muscle tone.”
“Yes, if supervised. Heather, the best advice I can give you for healing up is ‘If it hurts, stop.’ Your body will tell you if you’re pushing it too hard.”
“What about swimming or hydrotherapy?”
“Not until her skin heals in another week or so. Until then, no baths, and showers only with the wound covered with plastic. Your dressing should be changed daily, more often if it is draining or staining. Call me immediately if there is any fever, redness or pus.”
“I understand,” she said. Doc grabbed his bag and left. She looked over at me. “You’re my therapist?”
“Guilty as charged,” I said. “Rori wants me to help you recover, and then train you.”
“I hear you want to learn self-defense.”
“I’m a judo champion. Maybe I should teach YOU self-defense.” That was an interesting tidbit. She looked out the window at the blue sky. “I need something more lethal than wrestling or Mixed Martial Arts.”
“It’s a good thing I’m a pistol instructor, then. Have you any experience shooting?”
She nodded. “Dad insisted, but I haven’t done it in a while. Not much point when I can’t get a carry permit until I’m twenty-one.”
“How old are you now?”
“Eighteen.” She relaxed back into the pillows. “If I’d been older, I might have been able to stop them.”
“It doesn’t matter now.” A tear was starting to go down her cheek, and she wiped it off. I wanted to take her into my arms and hold her, but I couldn’t. “I can’t carry, so there’s no point.”
“You don’t need a permit to carry on private land, and Rori owns a thousand acres here. They’ve even got a private rifle range back in the woods.” I had another idea. “I can teach you to use knives.”
“What good can a knife do?”
I just smiled at that. I picked an orange off the basket of fruit and handed it to her. “Toss this into the garbage can below the television.”
“I’m not supposed to strain myself,” she said.
I put the orange in her hand and propped her elbow on a pillow. “Use the arm only; you’ll be fine.” I stood next to her, hands in my pockets, and when she sent it on a gently arch, I drew a knife and threw it in one motion. The blade pierced the orange, sticking it into the wallboard just above the basket. “You don’t need a permit for your knife, and throwing knives are a lot of fun.”
“God damn,” she said. “You can teach me that?”
“We’ll teach you to throw or fight close quarters with them. Now, who is after you to make you so worried?”
“It’s who should be worried I’m after them,” she said softly. “Now help me up, I need to go to the bathroom.”
“I can get one of the women,” I said.
“It’s not worth calling someone when you’re right here.” I lifted her as she sat up, then helped her to her feet. I stayed close as she walked into the bathroom and to the toilet. “Close your eyes,” she said. When she had pushed her sweats and underwear off her hips, she told me to keep my eyes closed and lower her down. A minute later, she was done, and I stood her up. “Umm…. I can’t bend down to pull up my underwear and sweats,” she said.
“I’ll get it.” Keeping my eyes closed for her, I bent down and grabbed her cotton panties, pulling them up to where she grabbed them from me. I pulled up her sweats, then opened my eyes as she walked to the sink. I was glad she wasn’t looking at me because her scent was making me so hard, a lineman couldn’t climb it.
She was smart, and beautiful, and oh so dangerous to my heart.
“Can we take a walk?”
“Sure, but take it easy.” I opened the door, and she went down the hall. She must have heard all the talking in the living room.
“Heather,” Rori said as we entered the room. “You look better.”
“Doc said I could take short walks,” she said. “Your house is beautiful.” The living room had views of the lake out three sides, due to the home’s location at the end of a rocky point. The day was clear and cold, and the frozen landscape was bright. You could see dozens of ice houses on the lake. “Holy shit, there are trucks out there?”
“The ice is two feet thick already, plenty to carry a vehicle,” Rori said.
“There’s something wrong with this climate.” The ladies laughed about it.
“When you heal up, I’ll show you some of the fun you can have in the winter,” I told her. “We should get you back to bed.”
“Not until I get my snacks,” she whispered.
“Come on then,” I said in her ear. We moved into the kitchen. “What do you need?”
“Junk food. Check the cabinets.”
“They’d be in the pantry.” We walked into the room, and her eyes lit up. “TWINKIES! Oh God, they have pecan turtles! Milky Ways! Cool Ranch Doritos!”
“What do you want?”
“All of it. No, wait… just some of each. I don’t want to get busted taking it all.” I grabbed a bag and started filling it with what she needed. I didn’t think I’d be able to say no to her, not the way her eyes lit up like that.
I kept it in front of me as we walked back to the bedroom, putting it in the empty drawer next to the bed. I pulled the sheets back and helped Heather lie back before covering it up. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that every person in this house would know of her ‘secret stash’ with a single sniff upon entry into the room.
“Are you going to be at lunch?”
“I don’t think so. I have training scheduled.” She was taking all of her meals here, while I was eating with Beta Coral at the Pack House. “I have to go.”
“Thank you, Greg,” she said as he hand covered mine. “When will I see you again?”
“Late afternoon, first physical therapy session,” I said. “Yay?”
“Yay.” I walked out and closed the door as she put the news back on, letting out a breath. I had just enough time to change before heading to lunch.
The lunch went quickly, and I followed Coral to the Pack Garage. I was given a snowmobile suit, boots, and gloves before checking out my snowmobile for patrol. They were late model Polaris machines, designed for deep snow and speed. I followed Coral out as she took us out on the lake. “You can get a better idea of the scale of our Pack cabins from out here. We’ve got enough room for another dozen before we get to the recreation and camping area farther down. Find your mate, and you can build one.” I looked over to see the picnic shelter and docks pulled out of the water for the winter.
“This place must be amazing in the summer.”
“Yes, it’s wonderful, and the days are almost as long as you had in Banff.”
We opened up the throttles until we were getting close to the housing on the west side, then I followed her towards the south as she slowed down to go back on land. “The posts mark the boundary. We have the border marked with Private Property-No Trespassing and No Hunting signs, so make sure they are visible. The cameras in the trees sometimes get covered with snow or ice, so link with the security control and make sure everything is good.”
“Anything else? Scenting?”
“We mostly do that at night in wolf form but do what you can. Keep an eye out for trail cameras; we keep track of them. We can’t do anything about the ones on their land, but sometimes people put them in ours. We relocate them with a note to stay off private property.”
“I don’t see any tracks.”
“Wolf patrols are made far enough away from the border we aren’t picked up by other cameras. You’ll see it tonight when Tom takes you out after dinner.” Even on the snowmobiles, the circuit took over an hour. We turned the machines in, and she led me to the security center. “You have two hours until you need to go back to Heather. Spend it in here with Charlie, learning the system.”
It was fascinating. The system was high-tech and expansive, and I quickly realized just how much better it was than wolf patrols. The cameras are linked together by buried fiber-optic lines and wi-fi, and most had pan, tilt and zoom capabilities. Infrared detectors and motion sensing combined into the alarm system. If a sensor picked something up, an alarm screen came up with a live picture, and you could go back sixty seconds in time with a mouse click.
I’d made the right decision. This Pack didn’t need me running hundred-mile patrols in wolf form; I could do the job from a computer chair or a snowmobile, and do it better.
I went back through the tunnel to the Alpha House, stopping to pick up some light dumbbells and surgical tubing from the gym. Heather was watching The Godfather when I got to her room.
Like I needed another reason to love this woman.
“Ready to work?” I dangled the tubing like some kind of toy.
“Finally,” she said. For the next sixty minutes, I helped her work her arms and legs while lying or sitting up in bed. She’d even worked up a little sweat. She gave me a little hug at the end, her pert breasts poking at me from underneath her loose T-shirt. “Thanks, Greg.”
“My pleasure.” It truly was.
“I need a shower.”
So did I. A cold one. The thought of taking that hot body into the shower had me flustered. Maybe I should cut a hole in the ice and do a Polar Plunge. “I’ll send one of the girls in.”