Colletta Nygaard's POV
Oxbow Lake Clinic
“He got WHAT?” When Chase told me that Frank had been taken in front of the Council, I understood; he knew of us, and he knew how the humans would react. It was when he told me that Alpha Millner sliced his throat open that I nearly shifted in the car. Carson had to pull over while I got control of myself and was able to answer Chase.
“Millner shifted a hand and lashed out before any of us could stop her. It was bad, Mom. I had to hold his artery closed while we took him to the clinic. He’s alive, but it’s not good. That’s why Carson is bringing you here instead of Arrowhead.”
I looked over at Carson, whose forehead was sweating, and his hands were gripping the wheel tight. “You knew about Frank?”
“We all did, Mom. There was nothing you could do, and Doc and Chase did everything they could.”
I had kept the bond open, so Chase was listening in. “And when exactly was he attacked?” Carson looked out the driver’s side window and his heart rate spiked. “Chase? He was YOUR responsibility when I left.”
“It was about eight-forty in the morning,” Chase said.
“Eight-forty. EIGHT FORTY. HE’S ATTACKED AND NEARLY KILLED AND YOU DIDN’T EVEN TELL ME? I COULD HAVE COME HOME.” Carson was staying as close to the pickup truck door as he could, while Chase wasn’t happy. I pulled Sawyer into the conversation; I couldn’t sense Coral. “Sawyer, who made the decision not to tell me about Frank?”
“We all did, Mom. Well, except Chase, but he agreed with us later on. It was madness; Chase leaving with Frank, Coral attacked Alpha Millner in the conference room, and…”
“WAIT. CORAL? WHERE’S CORAL?” All kinds of things went through my head; attacking an Alpha at a conference wasn’t good.
“Alpha Coral Sexson is back at Arrowhead, supervising the defense and making preparations to leave for Blue River. The Chairman moved the battle to the ring, and she killed him.”
We had arrived at the clinic. “We WILL be talking about this later, boys.” I could see Carson cringe, but I didn’t stick around to see more. As soon as the truck stopped, I had the door open and was running for the entrance. Sawyer was there, holding the door open. “Where is he?”
He took my coat as I turned to see Chase in the hallway, dressed in scrubs. “This way, Mom.”
I followed him to the room and froze as I walked in. Frank was there, his neck bandaged and a machine breathing for him. “Oh Luna,” I said as I moved forward to take his hand. He was warm but didn’t stir. “How is he?”
“He’s fighting, Mom. His neck was nearly severed, and his heart stopped on the table. We’re keeping him in a chemically-induced coma to allow his brain to recover.”
“His brain?” I was barely holding it together now.
“The blood loss and cardiac arrest denied his brain oxygen for several minutes. We don’t have the equipment to see what happened, so we have to wait and pray that he doesn’t have permanent brain damage,” he said. I reached down, moving his hair aside, and leaned down to kiss his forehead. “We will bring him out of the coma the day after tomorrow. Until then, either Doc or I will be with him.”
“And me,” I said. “Sawyer, bring a chair in here for me.”
“I’ve got something better,” he said. He wheeled in another hospital bed, setting it up and lowering the railings so I could keep holding his hand. He then adjusted the bed, so I was sitting up. While I looked at the man who had captured my heart, my boys got me up to speed on everything else that was happening. The Alpha summit was to complete tomorrow, and I was expected to report out on the meeting. Arrowhead was on lockdown, with multiple Packs and Brotherhood charters defending it against the Sons of Tezcatlipoca down in Duluth. Coral was flying to Canada after the Summit to take control of her new Pack; she’d spoken to the senior Beta left, and they were preparing for her arrival.
It was a lot to take.
“Rest, Mom. Carson has your dinner in the office,” Chase said as he looked over the machines. “If you need anything, either Sawyer or Carson will be down the hall. If we’re in an Alpha meeting, two Betas will be there, plus Alpha Michael is keeping a warriors outside this room around the clock.”
“Why… oh. You think someone might finish the job.”
“It could happen. Not all of the Alphas are happy about Frank knowing our secret, and they don’t like Coral taking a Pack from a male. We thought it was better to be safe until the Alphas are gone.”
Carson came in with a tray holding a sandwich, chips, and a coke. “I’m sorry, Mom. None of us saw it coming, and we know he means something to you.”
I just nodded. “You are right to protect Frank. If Henry weren’t dead already, one of us would be by morning.” It was true; my wolf would have tasted his blood. Coral had done that for me, and in the process, I now had four children with Packs. I looked down at the one man who had made me smile since my mate was put down. “Now leave me, I need to think,” I said.
“Just call me if you need me,” Chase said. My three boys walked out of the room, leaving the lights down.
“I’m going to bed,” Sawyer said. “I’ll relieve you at two,” he told Carson.
“Nite, bro,” I said as I went to the office. I grabbed a couple of Cokes and some cookies that had been left on the counter and brought them over to the reception area where Carson was sitting. This area covered the only way into the clinic treatment rooms since the emergency exit didn’t open from the outside. I handed him a can and sat down next to him on the couch. “How are you doing?”
He opened it and took a long drink. “I’m all right, I guess. I liked Frank, but mostly I liked seeing how Mom lit up around him. She deserves to be happy again.”
“You weren’t listening to the noises coming from her bedroom,” I said with a grimace.
“She was HAPPY, Chase. Her wolf has been sullen and withdrawn; I thank Luna that you and Coral had babies. I think that spoiling her grandchildren has kept her from losing herself completely.”
“She was mated to him for a century and a half, Carson. She’s been doing well. Her wolf is stronger than you think.”
“And now she and her wolf have claimed Frank. If he dies, or he can’t recover from this, I don’t know if we can stop her from going feral this time.” He finished the Coke and tossed it across the room into the recycle can. “Two points.”
“Love is the most powerful thing in our lives,” I said. “I didn’t understand how powerful the mating pull was until I met Rori. Being mated with her, I can’t describe how it feels. If she was gone, I don’t know if I’d be strong enough to go on.”
“And you’ve been mated for less than two years.” He closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Mates aren’t like that for everyone.”
“You’ll find her one of these days, Carson. Hell, Sawyer found his mate, and she’s a century and a half younger than him.” We regularly teased him that he was 133, and Ashley was 19. Cradle robber.
“I did find her, Chase. I found her, and she rejected me.”
“What?” My head was spinning; he’d never said a word.
“It was long before you were born, Chase. I was twenty, and Dad sent me to Beta Camp for the summer of my junior year in college.” Beta Camp was run by the Council; it was like a boot camp for Pack leadership and hosting rotated between Packs. It was held every third year; it was grueling, but you gained good friends and got a solid foundation in Pack law and history. I had gone to Banff for mine. “It was at Katahdin, and I found her as soon as I arrived. She was in the reception line, her arm around another man. My wolf didn’t care; I went to toss the man away, but she stepped in the way and growled at me. ME! Like I was the one in the wrong.”
I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t. “I barely kept my wolf back; he was going crazy, wanting to mark and mate her right there before that asshole could touch her again. I managed to shake her hand and tell her my name, feeling the tingles run up my arm with her touch. When the line broke up, I followed her to the Beta’s home. She was waiting for me outside with him. ‘I love him,’ she told me. ‘I’m sorry. I, Anastasia Dubkov, reject you, Carson Nygaard, as my mate.’ I felt the pull snap back into me. My wolf was furious; he shifted and went to attack the other boy, who was the Alpha’s son. It took four of them to pull me off of him.”
“I’m so sorry,” I said.
“It was a long time ago. I got kicked out of the Camp for fighting, but I never told Mom and Dad why. The Katahdin Pack didn’t say anything either. I heard they mated as soon as she turned eighteen.”
“Have you seen her since?”
“No. Anastasia was killed by a hunter while running the border two years later.” He sat up and grabbed a cookie. “It took me years to move on, knowing that the one person made for me, didn’t want me and was now gone.”
“You could date?” Carson had dalliances with humans, but showed no interest in the shewolves who were all over him.
“I promised myself that I would never do to another male what she had done to me. Those shewolves have mates out there somewhere; they aren’t mine, Chase, and never will be.”
Damn. “What are you going to do for a Luna?”
“I don’t know. I never expected to be in this position, Chase. Betas don’t have to be mated pairs.”
This sucked. “You could appoint a pseudo-Luna. Take one of the stronger Beta Females who is not mated and ask her to fill in. You could be up front and just say its until one of you finds your mate.”
“Eventually. Things need to settle down first, and I need Mom to quit trying to send me to Packs on mate-hunting trips. You’re lucky, she left you alone while you were in school!”
“Yeah, I’m lucky,” I said. Another thought came to me. “What are you going to do for an heir if you don’t mate?” Packs hated instability, and with no Alpha heir, eventually he would have a problem.
“I figured you and Princess Puppy Mill would have so many extras, you wouldn’t notice if I brought a few of your boys home with me,” he said. I smacked his shoulder. “Hey, come on, pretty soon you’ll need to use the Bunk House just for your kids!”
“Asshole.” I had to laugh. “If you EVER use that name around Rori, you won’t have to worry about an heir of your own.”
“Hey, I may be dumb, but I’m not STUPID,” he said as he started to laugh with me. “She’s scary when she’s pissed. I’m jealous of both of you, because you have what I’ll never find,” he said. “I can understand why Mom is attached to a human. You want SOMETHING good in your life.”
“It will happen, Carson. Maybe you will find a widow, or woman who has been through rejection. You can still have a choice mating.”
“I’m not holding my breath,” he said. “You should check on them.”
I got up and put my stethoscope back on. “I’m glad you trusted me with your story, Carson. I won’t tell anyone.”
“I know.” I walked back down the hall, my mind spinning with the knowledge. It explained a lot about my big brother’s behavior around women. I couldn’t imagine what it must have been like to see the two of us find our mates at about the same time, knowing you’d never have that.