Alpha Rori’s POV
Arrowhead Pack House
I left the babies with the nannies and their security detail; Coral had left Hope there too. We both went over to the Pack House to oversee preparations for the party.
The place was a madhouse. The decorating theme could best be described as “Australian Christmas,” ignoring the foot of snow outside in favor of beach and water. There were Christmas trees, candy canes and other decorations, all mixed in with palm trees, flowers and beach stuff. Long tables were set up for the buffet, a few in the pool area, the rest in the Dining Hall. It was an adult party, like most Pack parties. Due to our low fertility rates, most Packs only had a few children at any time. Oxbow had three children, ages three, seven, and ten. Vic’s granddaughter Gina was the three-year-old, and Celeste and her mate Ted were coming expecting to visit Granddad. We hadn’t told anyone that Vic and Chase might be gone for an extended time, dealing with the Sons.
My Pack had our three babies at six months, and one girl of fourteen. With the way our Pack was put together, almost half being former Omegas or slaves rescued from abusive Packs and unmated, we didn’t have as many mated pairs capable of reproduction as most. It would get better, as the more recent additions and some matings were starting to fill our numbers.
Mykayla was the older girl, born into slavery in the Bitterroot Pack, and still learning to trust the males of our Pack. I spotted her in the kitchen as I walked through, cleaning pots in the big sink. “Mykayla,” I said with a smile as she noticed me.
“Good morning, Alpha,” she said as she dried her hands. “Can I be of service?”
“You’re already working hard. I just wanted to make sure you set aside time to relax and have fun yourself today.” She froze; with no one close to her age, and an entire life where she had no choices in what or who she did, adjusting to life in our Pack hadn’t been easy. I’d checked the duty roster for today when I came in the kitchen and noted she’d signed up for every shift.
She looked down at her feet as she shook her head no. “There is so much to do, and I wanted to make sure the others had time to be with their friends,” she said. “It’s not like I matter for this. I’m the only teenager, and too young to find my mate.” She hadn’t shifted yet and wouldn’t for a few years. “I don’t like being around unmated males,” she said.
“Those men are Pack or friends; they will not harm you, Mykayla. I need you to have fun and socialize; it’s why we are having this party.”
She shuddered but nodded her head. “A group of naked males never ended well for me,” she said.
“You aren’t alone in that, but the other women who came out of those situations are trying. I need you to do two things for me, Mykayla.” I put my hand on her shoulder to calm her. “Scratch your name off two shifts during the party so you can spend time in the pool and dining room with the Packs. The second thing is I want you to find three people who went to human schools recently and talk to them about their experiences.”
“Why? I’m just going to work here until some man claims me as his!”
I pulled her into a hug as she started to cry. “You aren’t some prize at auction, and your future is not doing dishes, Mykayla. You’re a young woman who will become a strong werewolf and contribute to the Pack,” I said. “If you find your mate early, that is wonderful. I know you fear the idea, but Luna has the perfect match for you out there, someone you can love and trust.”
“Luna ignored my cries,” she sobbed into my shoulder. “She left me there!”
“Luna brought you here to my Pack, and we need to trust knows what she is doing. You are going to live for hundreds of years, Mykayla. Your early years were shit, but things have changed. You have a Pack that loves you and wants you to succeed.” I patted her back to calm her. “I don’t believe in waiting around in the kitchen for a mate to find you and take you to HIS kitchen. Chase and I want every wolf in our Pack to reach their full potential. I’ve seen your test scores and talked to your teachers; you’re a smart young lady. As soon as you have caught up to your age group, we’re sending you to the high school in Two Harbors.”
Her eyes got big; she’d rarely been off Pack lands, and only interacted with humans when she helped babysit during Steel Brotherhood events here. We were officially homeschooling her so she could catch up from the lack of formal education in her old Pack. “School?”
“Yes, high school and college. Our Pack needs people who are highly educated, and who can get good jobs in the human world or help our Pack businesses grow. Chase and I have high hopes for you. We think you can be whatever you want to be.”
“Your wolf is just starting to show herself, and she’s strong. You aren’t an Omega, and deep down, you know that. Your wolf will not be held down, and neither will your human. To go to school, you need to be comfortable around people, and to do that you have to come out of your shell a little. You are among friends, so behave that way. You know these people, you’ve lived with them, but did you ever spend time just talking to them?”
“No,” she said.
“Start today.” I kissed her on the forehead and let her go. “We’re all going to have fun at the party, no exceptions.”
She smiled, and I turned to talk with the Beta in charge of the kitchen, then I sent a mental message to my Betas with a quick summary of our discussion, and what I had asked of her. They promised to keep an eye on her during the party and help her find good people to talk to about human schools.
I headed outside to where some of my men were setting up our barbecue pit. The pit was a concrete block rectangle, three feet high and almost four feet across. They had a good fire started already. The big flames now would burn down to hot coals in an hour, perfect for grilling lunch. We had hinged sections of chain link fence we could use to hold the chicken and big grates that went across it to grill steaks and such. “Are you guys going to be able to keep cooking with the storm coming,” I asked.
“We should be all right for lunch, probably dinner,” Joe said. They were using scaffold poles to build a shelter around the pit. “We’ll use tarps to keep the wind off, but with the snow and cold forecast for tomorrow, that’s about it,” he said.
“I appreciate your work, and I appreciate a rare steak more,” I said as I laughed.
“Alpha, you are needed in the security center. I have Alpha Michael and his Lead Beta skyping us right now,” Keith said.
“On my way.” I went back inside the Pack House and down to the basement, where the Security Center sat behind a heavy steel door and a foot of reinforced concrete. Keith was sitting in front of a laptop, and I could see the Oxbow Lake Alpha and Beta on the screen. “Uncle Michael, Beta Peter, is everything all right?”
“We’re looking at the updated forecasts, Rori, and it doesn’t look good. That blizzard intensified overnight, and it’s expected to hit us about three this afternoon. They are saying we could get a foot of snow before midnight, plus near hurricane-force winds and below-zero temperatures. Everything is shutting down this afternoon.”
“Are you canceling the visit,” I asked nervously.
“No. Either way, we end up stuck inside. My Pack would rather wait it out by your pool than in our Pack House,” he said with a smile. “It does change some of the plans. We won’t be able to rotate people out after two o’clock with the weather. I’ve gotten volunteers for our minimum staff needs here at Oxbow; those people will come over at ten, and rotate back just before the storm hits. I just wanted to be sure you are all right with the rest of our Pack staying not just today, but maybe tomorrow and into the next depending on when the storm ends, and the roads get plowed.” Even in wolf form, deep snowdrifts sucked the energy out of you and made travel difficult.
“Staying is not a problem; we’ll keep the party going for another day,” I said. “We have plenty of extra rooms in our homes, plus we have dozens of bunks in the basement of the Pack House.” I was glad we had designed our buildings to allow for lots of extra space for guests and expansion. The big houses the female Omegas used now had lots of open bedrooms, and we could sleep fifty in the basement bunk rooms easily. “Are you sure it’s a good idea to leave your Pack security understaffed that long?”
“You’re the one under threat, not us,” Michael said. “No one will be able to move during this storm.”
“It’s going to strain our security plan as well. Our cameras can't see through the snow, and our motion detectors will be useless. We won’t be able to send out patrols either.”
“We can help you watch the inner perimeter, and you’ll have three dozen more fighters to defend everyone. It’s the best way to protect you all, Rori. We don’t want anything to happen to you or the babies.”
I had to agree, and my wolf settled at the thought of having more Alphas and Betas around to fight. “That sounds great. I’ll let our people know to prepare rooms. We’ll figure out who sleeps where tonight. Michael, you and Margaret will be staying in our guest suite.”
“We’ll see you in about ninety minutes, Rori.” The Skype ended, and I looked over at Keith. “Work with Peter when they arrive, I don’t want anyone stuck doing security all day. Work out a plan to watch around the houses.”
“Already working on it. There’s one more change, Rori. We aren’t sending out the teams to find Greg and Heather; there isn’t enough time for them to drive to the target area before the storm hits. We’d strand them in a hotel waiting it out, at best. Western Minnesota will be shut down for at least a day.” Shit. They needed the warning. “On the good side, it’s not like Greg will be able to take her anywhere in that storm. They’ll be watching Netflix and eating popcorn, not getting in trouble.”
I had to agree. “Fine, we have to keep our people safe too. Let me know when Oxbow arrives at the gate.” I walked back out, sending messages to the Omegas and warning them about the change in plans. We diverted a few people to make sure the extra rooms were ready while the rest kept up the party preparations.
Everyone worked hard to get things prepared for their arrival. Just before ten, a caravan of two dozen vehicles arrived at the gates. The lead car with the Alphas pulled up in front of the Pack House, and I embraced my Aunt and Uncle as they stepped out. “Welcome to Arrowhead,” I said.
“Thank you, Rori. Where are your babies?”
“Inside,” I said. Ever since the twins were born, they were the center of the attention, and I was lucky to get a ‘Hey how ya doing’ brushoff. “There are tables in the Dining Hall where you can put the snacks and desserts, and Coral will let everyone know where they are staying so we can get your bags there. Cars can park in garages or the Pack Garage; then you can use the tunnels to come back.”
It took about twenty minutes to get all the food unloaded and the people back into the Pack House to start the party. Thanks to our tunnel system, they didn’t need to wear boots and coats, leaving those in their rooms. The weather was beautiful before the storm, in the high thirties, but clouds were building in. I didn’t see the person I needed to speak with. “Margaret, is Doc coming?”
“He’ll be here later, he had to go down to Duluth for something,” she said. “Are you all right?”
“It’s nothing, but with Chase gone, I was hoping to have him here in case someone gets hurt.”
“Your Mom is a nurse. I’m sure she can handle it,” she said. I had to agree, but I wasn’t going to have my Mom do a pregnancy check.
Celeste was disappointed Vic was out on assignment. Her daughter couldn’t wait to swim, so I told her I’d see her soon as they took their stuff to Vic’s room.
The Oxbow Pack took one look at our work schedule and started taking over shifts for people, despite the protests that they were guests. “Many hands make light work,” was their answer.
The party started right away, with most of the people headed into our huge indoor pool area. The locker room was full of people stripping down and leaving their clothes and shoes in the cubbies. I stripped and rinsed off in the shower before walking out into the pool area. Werewolves didn’t like swimsuits, and we didn’t need them for this party. Being naked for us wasn’t sexual; it was natural. My parents were talking at a table with others, both naked and comfortable with their nudity after their time living here. Many were in the pool, some sitting and talking, others playing basketball or volleyball. The rest were sitting on towels at the tables, drinking and eating from the snacks along the side. Three kegs in tubs of ice were over at the side, and the pizza oven in the snack bar area was working to capacity.
I saw Margaret; she was sitting with Coral in the zero-depth entry area where we had shallow water and bubblers for young ones. They and the nannies had the three babies in swim diapers, holding them between their legs while they splashed the water. Celeste was watching Gina as she ran around, stepping on the bubblers and squealing in delight as the water sprayed. I went over and sat with them; we talked for a while, and Cheryl emptied my breasts then cried for more. “I’m drying up,” I said.
“I’m supplementing every day now. Hope wants more than I can give her,” Coral agreed.
“We’re starting them on solid food,” the nanny said. “It’s time. They are growing so fast, you can’t keep up anyway.”
I just nodded; Margaret went with them as they returned the three to the nursery to finish their feeding and go down for their naps. I got up and walked around, even taking a turn on the big slide that went into the deep end. I saw Mykalya sitting alone, and brought her with me as I visited a few tables to chat. I left her with Angela, who had gone to Two Harbors High School ten years ago.
Time flew as I talked and ate. The party was going great, and I could tell how much better our Pack was feeling now that we could have fun and socialize. It was too good to continue. “Alpha, Doc, Chase, and Vic just showed up at the front gate with a human female. They’re heading for the clinic; he’s hurt.”