Chase Nygaard’s POV
Arrowhead Pack Clinic
“We need to talk, Chase,” my Mom told me as I pulled Rori into my side. Frank being here was unexpected, him showing up with my Mom had me wondering what the hell was going on.
“And I need to know the truth,” Frank said.
I gave Mom a quick hug as I tried to think. “Mom, what’s going on? Why is Frank here?” I was looking back and forth between them, and when I saw him holding her hand, my jaw fell.
“Why did you get him suspended,” she asked as Rori hugged her. “He’s a nice man, he doesn’t deserve to lose everything.”
By Luna, I needed time to think. “We can talk over some lunch, you must be hungry from the trip,” I said. I shook Frank’s hand. “It’s good to see you again, Frank. Do you remember my wife, Rori?”
“I do,” he said with a smile as she shook his hand. “Quite the place you have here.”
“Thank you,” she said. “You came at a good time, we invited a bunch of friends over, and we’re having a big party while we wait out the storm.”
“I smelled the meat grilling,” he said. “Can we eat and talk in private at the same time?”
“Of course,” I said. “Come on, let’s go over to the dining area.” Rori and I didn’t bring jackets, and he looked at me. “Hey, it’s forty, dang near shorts weather up here.”
“You people are nuts,” Frank said as we walked towards the big building. “It gets down to fifty, and I’m wearing a sweater and a jacket.”
“Mom, he’s going to see some things he can’t unsee,” I sent to her and Rori over the link.
“I told him this place was a private nudist resort.” I snorted; it was a decent explanation for what was going on in the pool party. “He’s my guest; he’s staying with me. I like him, he likes me, and you better not screw this up for me.”
“Attention Arrowhead Pack, we have another human among us. Frank Grimes is a Drug Enforcement Agency Director and a friend. The no shifting rule remains within sight of the Pack House, and no mention of our wolf nature or anything that happened in Orlando. Let’s make him feel welcome in his stay with us.” Rori made sure her Uncle passed the same warning to the Oxbow Lake pack.
Things were getting weirder and weirder. Frank Grimes was a good man, but the thought of him being romantically involved with my Mom? Twilight zone stuff. We walked towards the pool, which faced away from the lake and was hidden from the lake by the wings of the dining rooms and the hill. “Wow, you weren’t kidding about the pool,” he said as we walked past a window. I looked in; the pool was full of adults having fun and swimming, and not a stitch of clothing was in sight.
“You won’t even notice it by the end of the night,” Colletta said. “Basic etiquette is not to stare at anyone but me. If Frank Junior starts to react, hide him. A lot of the people are married, so as long as you don’t make a big deal out of their nudity, they won’t either.”
“This is so not how I anticipated this trip going,” he said as I opened the door for him. We went into the dining area, where there were still a few people eating. Lunch had been a few hours ago, but there were sandwiches, snacks, and a full dessert table.
“Chase, we’re about to close down the grill since the snow is almost here,” one of the men said as he opened the outside door slightly. “There’s still time for steaks if you want them.”
Colletta ordered a rare ribeye, and Frank chose the same cooked medium-rare. “They’ll bring the steaks to us,” I said. “Grab anything else you want and meet me back at that table.”
I grabbed another piece of the cheesecake, Turtle this time, and a beer and headed for a table at the back of a wing we weren’t using today. Rori sat next to me with some cheese, pretzels and orange juice, while Frank had brought a bottle of wine and two glasses. When they joined me, Frank was smiling. “I’m surprised you aren’t naked here too,” he said.
“We don’t own the entire lake, just a lot of this side,” I said. “We also can’t extend our property rights beyond the shoreline. Snowmobilers and fishermen can be out on the lake, and with these windows, we are visible to them. We only engage in the lifestyle in private. Our neighbors know nothing about what we do here.” I took a drink of my beer, a Samuel Adams Oktoberfest. “Now Frank, what’s so important that you showed up here unannounced with my Mom?”
He stared into my eyes. “Did you warn the Sons of the raid on their Clubhouses?”
“No. I’d never do anything to help those bastards,” I said.
“Did you pass along the warning to anyone so they could time their attack on the warehouse the Sons had two blocks away, the one you didn’t bother telling me about?”
Now we were getting somewhere. “I can’t answer that, Frank.”
He half stood, his fists pushing down on the table. “They think I warned the Sons, that my message to you tipped them off and they were waiting for us,” he said as he leaned towards me. “I’m on suspension, my career and my retirement are in jeopardy, and they are blaming ME for all the good men who died. I’m out of a job now; as soon as the inquiry ends, I’m either retired or in jail.” He looked over at my Mom, shaking his head. “You fucked me over, Chase. You left me hanging out to dry.” Mom was holding on to his arm, and as I didn’t react, she got him to sit back down.
“I did not betray your trust, Frank. I told you that I would work with you to bring down the Sons, and I have. I gave you the smuggling route they use to fund their enterprise. I gave you the banking information you needed to make your RICO case, everything you need to prove the entire organization is a criminal conspiracy and charge them with money laundering.”
He nodded. “Your information was good, but it was incomplete.”
“When we talked in the pool, I told you that I had contacts and resources you didn’t. We share a common enemy, but that doesn’t mean I am under your control. Speaking off the record and in a purely abstract sense…”
“How about you tell me the truth, Chase?”
I shook my head, no. “That can’t happen, Frank. You’re still a sworn Federal Law Enforcement agent, and I’m a former biker club member who is trying to prevent his old Club from being pulled into a war. My sources and my resources are not yours, and I have made promises to them that I will not reveal them to you. Anything I have done on my own, I cannot tell you as a jury might see it as an admission of guilt.”
“This is off the record, Chase.”
“Nothing is off the record. You have some legal issues you will need to handle. Your only chance to get out of this intact is by telling the truth. You had an informant. Your informant asked you to give him a heads up before raiding the LA chapter so he could get his man out of there. You never mentioned any other Chapters.”
He sat back as the steaks were delivered, thinking as he started to eat. “They will want to know your name,” he said.
“I’m not a registered informant, and you won’t divulge my name because you promised to keep me out of this. Tell them that I know all about how the Sons deal with traitors. If they don’t accept that, they should think of this; I’ve given you more actionable intelligence than you’ve had in twenty years. I have more that can help you. If you keep my secret, I’ll work with Frank Donovan now that you’re out of the picture. You trust Frank, and my wife and I do too.”
“They think the warehouse contained money, maybe guns. Did you have anything to do with it?”
“If I did, I wouldn’t tell you. Hypothetically, of course.” He rolled his eyes. “Look, it’s a dangerous situation for us up here. One of my friends up here died in the Orlando attack, and we killed a bunch of them in that battle. They won’t forgive or forget that.” I looked out at the lake. “The Sons know Rori and I were involved in the deaths of their members. We’re all alone and not under Club protection up here.”
“I can get you Witness Protection, we can keep you safe.”
Rori just laughed. “Really? What’s the name of the mole within the Drug Enforcement Agency who leaked Sean Ryder’s identity to the Sons? How did that protection work for Harleigh Ryder? How did police protection work for the Orlando clubhouse?”
“That’s not fair,” Frank said.
“We have our reasons for not wanting to come forward as witnesses, and they are perfectly reasonable. The Sons have already attacked my home, seeking to do the same thing to my family they did to the Ryders. Until the Club is wiped out, we have to be ready for another attempt.”
He looked at us in shock. “I didn’t hear anything about an attack,” he said.
“What attack,” Rori said. “Nothing happened, and nobody saw nothing.”
“Christ, what a mess,” he said. “Damn, it’s dark already?”
“Sunset is just after four this time of year. The snowstorm doesn’t help.” The wind had kicked up, and the snow was coming down. “Look, I’m your friend and ally in this, Frank. We will both get through this, and the Sons will not. I give you my word of honor that nothing I have done has been done to harm you or your colleagues in Law Enforcement.”
He nodded at me, thinking it over as he chewed on the perfectly-grilled steak. “I can accept that. I apologize for accusing you, Chase.” He held out his hand, and I shook it. “I think this is the last time we should talk about work. I’m on vacation, I met a beautiful woman who I’d like to get to know better, and I hear there’s a pool party going on.”
“If you’ve got the guts to go in there,” Rori said. “It’s probably a long way out of your comfort zone.”
He took a drink of his wine, looking over at my Mom. “I think I might learn to enjoy it,” he said. “You have a hot tub?”
“Oh yeah,” Colletta said. The rest of the dinner conversation was much lighter, and I got them to tell me the story of how they met. I didn’t know what to say about her taking such an interest in a human, but I couldn’t order her not to see him.
“Mom, all of us need to talk about human contact,” Rori said. “The Council Chair stopped in without warning, and left me with one.”
“I figured they would say something after what happened in Orlando. We can talk in the morning,” I said.
“Son, is it all right if I show him the tunnels? It’s kind of hard to get back to our house in this weather without it.”
“I trust him enough to let him see them. If he asks, tell him we put them in so we wouldn’t have to get dressed in the winter to move around between houses, and they double as storm shelters.”
“All right.” She finished her glass of wine and put her hand over his. “Frank, I’m feeling a little tired after the redeye. I think I’ll retire to our room and take a nap; we can come back for dinner and the party later.”
“Of course,” he said as he stood up and took her hand. “After that meal, I could use a nap.”
“Don’t wait up for us, you two,” Mom said with a smile as she took his hand and walked off.
I waited until they were going down the stairs to the basement and the tunnels before I turned back to my mate. “I do not understand what is going on with those two,” I said.
“She’s in love with him,” Rori said.
“She’s a werewolf, and he’s a human. They can’t be mates!”
She just patted my hand. “The wolf is sitting this one out, and the human is in control. They only met this morning, and who knows what will become of it. Let her have her fun. She needs some good in her life, and he’s a good man.” I pulled her to my side and picked up my beer. “And both of them DESPERATELY need to get laid.”
I choked, coughing into my hand until all the beer cleared my windpipe. “Thanks for that image,” I said as I kissed her. “When are we going to tell our parents about the baby?”
“We can tell mine now, and your Mom and my Aunt and Uncle at dinner. The rest of the Pack after that.” We couldn’t hide this from the Pack until her second trimester; they all needed to know their Alpha Female couldn’t shift. I looked outside, glad the storm had arrived. No one was going anywhere for the next two days.