"Honey, I'm Home!'
Alpha Chase Nygaard’s POV
Over Northern Minnesota
Vic and Spider were awake for the last part of the flight to Duluth because no one could sleep through that kind of turbulence. The pilots had us buckled in and seats up as we passed over the strong winter storm. Wind gusts tossed the plane around, and we all just held on and waited. Finally, just before we started our descent into the Duluth Airport, we found clear air again.
Duluth wasn’t as close as Two Harbors, but the pilots thought it was a better choice since it had instrument landing support. I texted Doc the hangar we were assigned as soon as the pilot got clearance to land. It was a beautiful day, sunny and near forty degrees, but the crap we flew over was coming fast. The landing was smooth, and a few minutes later, our plane parked in front of a hangar, and a fuel truck was waiting. The co-pilot came back and opened the door for us.
Spider Monkey had unbuckled both of them and was ready. “Take the carryon, I’ll get him,” I told her. She grabbed my small bag and her purse and went down the stairs. “Come on, let’s get you home,” I told Vic as I helped him stand up on his good leg.
He gritted his teeth with the pain as I led him to the stairs. I steadied him as he stepped down with his good leg, then put weight on his bad one to bring his feet together again. Between me and the rails, he made the six steps down where Doc was waiting with a wheelchair. Spider Monkey had the back of the cargo van open, and we lifted him into the back and onto the gurney. “I’ve got this, get your stuff,” Doc said.
It took a few trips to move all our bags out of the cargo hold and into the back of the van. When we had them all in the van, I thanked the pilots; they were busy with preflight checks and refueling so they could get the hell out of the way of the storm. Doc was hanging an IV bag of antibiotics as I closed the door.
I took the driver’s seat as Spider climbed in beside me. “Let’s go home,” I said as I looked back at Vic.
“Canvas is going to freak out when she sees me,” Spider Monkey says. “You didn’t tell her we were coming,” she asked Doc.
“Chase said not to say anything, and I haven’t,” he said as checked Vic’s wound sites. “This happened yesterday?”
“Yes, about thirty hours ago. The fever spiked about ten hours ago.” I summarized his injuries and treatment, including the antibiotics I had used.
“You did well getting him this far, but in the future, take him to a P… a clinic with someone you can trust. You should have gone to your brother’s place.”
“He couldn't fly, and Spider's place was a safe drive. Hindsight is perfect, just like if I’d had stronger antibiotics in my bag, we might not be here.”
’You operated in a moving van, so you should have expected complications like this. Field surgery is meant to stabilize the patient for transport. You did what you could.”
“Guys,” Spider said. “It wasn’t the best situation, but we’re here now. Let’s focus on what’s important, and that’s fixing my man up.”
“She’s right,” I said as I drove out onto Highway 61 and headed north towards home. “I did what I thought was best at the time. I’ll learn from it and move on.”
“Good.” Spider shifted in her seat, looking back at Doc, who appeared to be in his sixties but was almost three hundred years old. “What’s the plan when we get to the clinic?”
“I need to take X-rays of his chest and leg, to make sure no bullet fragments or other material was left in there. We may need to operate on him again, this time in sterile conditions and with proper equipment. If the foreign material is in there, it could keep us from curing his infection and cause other problems.” He looked at the leg wound; it was oozing pus. “The antibiotics he had couldn’t handle this. We’ll clean it out again and pack it; we’ll know in twenty-four hours if we’ve turned the corner on it.”
“And until we’ve got the infection cured and his body has a chance to heal, we’ll keep him in the clinic at my compound,” I said.
“I’m not leaving here without him,” she said stubbornly.
“I’ll be better in no time,” Vic said to her. “When I’m up to it, we’ll take a vacation, just me and you and a beach villa.”
She smiled as she turned back to him. “Promise?”
“I promise. You have to be patient until I’m better, then we’ll have our time. You can decide where; I don’t care as long as I’m with you.” Spider broke out in a smile as she looked back at him.
“So what’s in all the bags,” Doc asked.
“Christmas presents,” I said. “We did some shopping.”
“Huh. I guess that’s a good thing with the party going on.” I looked back at him in the mirror. “You didn’t know? I guess with the storm coming and the place on lockdown, Rori decided to hold a beach bash at your indoor pool. All your, um, family and friends from Oxbow Lake are there already.”
“With the storm?”
“As your Uncle Michael said, better to wait out the storm by your pool than in their homes.”
I snorted, that sounded like them. Our indoor pool complex had been expensive, but it was so worth it in the seven months a year that outdoor pools were impractical. With the lake and the beach, we didn’t need a pool as much in the hot months of summer. If the weather turned bad, we’d open up the wall panels and use it that way. We put over a million dollars into the pool complex and another million on the Pack House, and it was money well spent. No other Pack in the country had anything like it. “I’m sure there will be lots of food.”
“You can count on that. My, uh, wife made her New York Style cheesecake, three of them with different fruit toppings.”
“Those are the best,” I agreed.
“Now I’m getting hungry,” Spider Monkey said.
“We’ll have someone bring you a plate while we work on Vic,” I said. I suddenly realized that a werewolf pool party didn’t include suits, so maybe sending Spider over there wasn’t a good idea. I’d let Rori deal with that after we got there. As clingy as Spider Monkey was, she probably wouldn’t be leaving the Clinic.
I turned off Highway 61 and headed away from Lake Superior while we talked about what kinds of things we could do during the storm. Spider Monkey had only been here during the summer when most things were outside. “We’ll have to show her what we do for fun in the Great White North, eh?”
Doc grunted in agreement. “Ice fishing, ice skating, skiing, you can do it all around here. Bikers like you will love snowmobiles. Chase has extra gear and sleds for us to use, and a lot of people have their own,” he said. “I’m sure there will be someone willing to take you out.”
“It looks cold as hell,” she said as she looked out at the snow piled along the roadside.
“This is balmy, practically shorts weather for us,” I said. “After the storm passes, it will be fifty or sixty degrees colder.” She hugged herself and shivered. “We dress for it; you’ll be fine. You ride closer to the ground than a motorcycle, so it seems faster, and they are more maneuverable. Snowmobiles are more fun than motorcycles; you can go almost a hundred miles an hour on an open area like the lake, or wind your way slowly through the woods.”
She just shook her head. “I’m a California girl who thinks ice should be in her drink, so you’ve got some convincing to do. I think you are all nuts to stay here in the winter,” she said.
“We’re here,” I said as I turned onto the private road leading to our territory. The gate was closed, and the guard’s eyes got wide as I stopped and rolled down the window. “I’ve got Doc from Oxbow, Vic and Spider Monkey with me. Vic’s hurt, we’re heading to the clinic,” I told him.
“Yes sir,” he said as he ran to open the gate.
He must have linked Rori because her mental blast almost made me swerve off the road. “CHASE WHAT IS GOING ON,” she said.
“Vic got shot, Doc and I are bringing him to the clinic. I’ve got Spider Monkey along, she and Vic have become an item,” I sent as I approached the Clinic. It was a single-story brick building with a covered drive-through ambulance bay on one side; it was on the backside of the hill from the Pack House, along with some of the maintenance facilities. You couldn’t see it from the lake, but the tunnels did connect into the basement of the building.
“I’m on my way; I’ll bring Vic’s daughter,” she said.
I parked the van under the overhang and went to open the doors to the Clinic as Spider Monkey opened the back doors. The two of them rolled the gurney out and into the clinic as I turned the lights on.
The Pack Clinic wasn’t that big, but it was complete. There was a small surgical suite, X-ray room, two treatment rooms, office space, four patient rooms, and a small waiting area. Rori’s Mom was a registered nurse, and she and I were on call for any medical issues that might come up. I wasn’t near as experienced as Doc, so our close friendship with Oxbow let us use his experience when needed. “What do you want to do first,” I asked Doc.
“X-rays, then I want to check that leg wound,” he said. Spider Monkey came in behind us, and I told her to wait until we got him settled in a treatment room.
The X-ray machine was obtained from a veterinary clinic and was big enough to do wolves or humans. We slid Vic into position and took front and side views of his chest and leg. We brought the images up on the screens, and I knew we’d have to go back in. “Looks like bone chips near the upper lobe of his lung,” Doc said. “We should clean and check the wound anyway. You got everything in the leg, but we should clean the infection out.”
I just shook my head. “Damn it. I thought I found it all.”
Doc slapped my back. “You did field surgery in the back of a damn U-Haul, boy. I’d be shocked if we didn’t have to go back in.”
I nodded. “I’ll prep Vic for surgery if you prepare the operating room.” We went out and told Vic the news, then we moved him back to the gurney and into the treatment room. When I went out front, the waiting room was full. Rori ran to me, hugging me tightly. “I’m fine, love.”
A teary Celeste was sitting next to Spider Monkey, Coral, Keith, Michael, and Margaret. Possum came up from the basement as I got to them. “He won’t tell me anything over the link. How is he?”
“He was shot in the chest and thigh yesterday, and infection has set in. We’ve given him stronger antibiotics, but we have to operate to remove some bone fragments and clean out the infection. Celeste, you and Spider Monkey can see him for a few minutes while we prep him for surgery.” She got up to follow me. “Mom, we’ll need you to assist with prepping him for surgery. Can Spider Monkey stay in your spare room?”
“Of course,” she said as she hugged her Steel Ladies friend.
I sent a message to Keith and Coral as we walked back. “Keith, there are a bunch of heavy bags in the van; I need them taken to my house and secured in the safe room. Leave the van in my garage to wait out the storm. Have the clothes bags brought to our rooms.”
“What are they?”
“Fat stacks of Benjamins, yo. Vic and I got some help from my brothers to steal the Sons of Tezcatlipoca drug money.”
“Holy shit, that was you? The Feds are still trying to find the people who knocked off that building.”
“We covered our tracks, I think. Don't tell anyone else.” My stomach growled. “Oh, none of us have eaten, so make sure you don’t eat all the food. I better get a slice of blueberry-covered New York cheesecake.”
Coral laughed over the link. “Oh, we have plenty of food. What do we tell the Pack?”
“Vic and I are back, Vic was hurt, and we have a human here who can’t know our secret. I want a wolf with her 24/7 to make sure she doesn’t figure it out. Say nothing about the money or the rip job.”
“We’ll make it happen, Chase. I’m glad you both made it back,” Coral said.
Celeste ran to her father, hugging him tight around the neck. “Daddy,” she cried into his shoulder.
“It’s all right, my girl. I’ll be fine in a bit. I’ve had worse.”
“I don’t want to lose you, Gina needs her Grandpa around.” She let him go, holding on to one hand while Spider Monkey held his other. “Spider Monkey, this is my daughter Celeste. Celeste, Spider Monkey. She’s mine.”
Her eyes got wide; the small woman was human, and he was claiming her like she was his mate. It took her a moment to snap out of it before she smiled and reached a hand out to her. “Hi. Dad told me nothing about this, so it took me a second. It’s the first time he’s brought a woman home to meet me. Spider Monkey can’t be your real name, can it?”
“I hate my real name. Spider Monkey is my road name. I’m a Steel Lady out of the Bay Area. At least I was up until a few days ago.” She looked down at Vic as I cut his clothes off. “And I’m not sure it means as much when the woman is bringing him home to have surgery without the cops knowing.”
Possum and I moved him to the examining table so we could sterilize the areas. Vic kissed the girls as the IV sedative started to take effect, and I sent them back to the waiting room. The actual surgery went very well; we assisted Doc, whose skills were far better than mine. We cleaned both wounds out, stitched him up properly, and moved him back to a room. Mom stayed with him while Doc and I went out to the waiting room.
“He’s going to be fine,” Doc said to the gathered crowd. Gina was now on Celeste’s lap, her mate Ted next to her on a love seat. Rori was sitting next to Coral, Keith, and Roadkill on one couch, while Alpha Michael sat in a chair with Luna Margaret on his lap. “We cleaned everything out and stitched him up good. He should wake in an hour or so.”
“Can we see him,” Celeste asked.
“I’ll bring you back to see him briefly, but his room isn’t a waiting room. Only one of you can sit with him at a time.” She and her family got up and went back with Doc.
“Spider, you really should eat and clean up, it’s been a long day already, and you look exhausted. He’s with Possum, and I’m sure Celeste will wait with her; we can get you when he wakes up.”
“You’re right. I’m starving.”
I went over to the closet where we kept extra clothes in case people arrived in wolf form and pulled out a ski jacket. It was a little big on her but warm. “Come on.” Heading back outside, we walked along the pavement uphill, towards the Pack House. The view of our homes and Pack House along the edge of the frozen lake was like a postcard.
From the backside, the pool complex was in view; the windows were fogged up, but you could still see through parts of them. “Holy shit, they’re nude,” Spider said as we walked past it towards the dining room entrance.
“You’re not an uptight prude now, are you?”
She smacked my arm. “You should know better, I’ve been naked in your hot tub, but that was only six people. There are a ton of people in there!”
I shrugged my shoulders as I opened the door. “We’re all friends and family, and we are comfortable with our nudity. It’s nice not having swimsuits drying out everywhere. If you aren’t cool with it, we don’t have to go there.”
We walked into the dining hall, and she let out a breath seeing everyone wearing clothes. “I couldn’t imagine you being full-time nudists in this climate,” she said.
“No, only the pool area. We spend a fortune on heating to keep it warm enough; it's like the tropics in there.” I led her over to the tables, and we filled up our plates with food. The Pack had been warned of a human being around, so they weren’t talking anything Werewolf.
Coral came over with a few slices of my cheesecake and sat with us. “We put your luggage in your room,” she said. “You can shower and change before you go back to the clinic.”
Spider Monkey gestured towards the doors leading to the pool. “A nudist pool party in the middle of winter? You guys party harder than I thought,” she said.
“It’s a family get-together, not a drunken orgy,” Coral said. “We were getting the winter blahs, and with everything going on with the Sons, we haven’t let people leave unless they are in large groups. Rori thought a pool party would lighten the mood, and she was right. The party is going well into tonight, and with the storm, though tomorrow. Our friends from Oxbow Lake decided to wait out the weather here with us.”
She thought about it as she finished her steak. “I’ve got to see this.”
“I bet in twenty minutes you don’t notice it anymore. It’s families at the pool, not a biker club drunken orgy. You’re a big girl. If you can’t handle it, we can leave,” Coral said.
Spider just snorted. “I’m not worried about handling it. I’m worried about liking it too much. I’ve done nude in hot tubs, but the whole pool is a big next step. Way too much in view, and how can you sit down with all that butt juice around?”
Coral laughed. “On a chair. We’ve got lots of towels to sit on, and most cover their crotch at the table.”
She finished her dessert. “I should go get clean clothes first,” she said.
“I’ll have someone bring them into the locker room. Come on, I can tell Chase is going to go back for seconds, and I can’t wait to show you how we party Arrowhead style.”
I laughed. “Go on. I’ll catch up in a bit.” Coral took her hand and led her into the women’s locker room. “Love, Coral took Spider swimming.”
“Oh shit, I wish I was there to see her face,” Rori replied. “I’ve sent warriors out to pick up your Mom from the airport; you were busy in surgery, and I have to be here for the party. They’ll let her know why we didn’t meet her.”
“Sounds good, but I was hoping for a few minutes of alone time before she arrives. I want to make love to you and cover you in my scent.”
“It’s too late for that, love. I need you to come back to the Clinic. Doc and I need to talk to you.”
Now what? I finished my cheesecake and put my fork down. I could eat more later. “I’m on my way.”
I walked back to the Clinic; Ted was watching cartoons on the television with Gina on his lap. I followed her scent back to the examination room, where she was sitting talking to Doc. “What’s going on,” I asked.
“I popped positive,” Rori said. She held out her hand, holding a white plastic object. It was a home pregnancy test, with a plus sign in the window. “I’m pregnant, Chase. My wolf wouldn’t let me shift, and Doc confirmed it.”
I pulled her into my arms and swung her around before kissing her deeply. “Wow,” I said. “I didn’t think it would happen while you were still breastfeeding the twins!”
“What can I say, I’m the Blessed One.”