Let's Go Home
Chase Nygaard’s POV
Oxbow Lake Clinic
Mom practically ran to the clinic after her family went to the cars, eager to see her man. The Betas and warriors guarding the clinic stood and bowed to her as she went past them and down the hall to his room.
He was unconscious again, and the tracheotomy tube was gone. Doc was sewing up the incision from it on his neck. “He’s healed enough to be rid of that,” I asked.
“Yes. I could hardly believe it, but Frank’s trachea has healed sufficiently for him to breathe normally. If we left the tube in, it would hold up his recovery.” He pointed to the screen, where the image showed the results of the inspection.
I hit play, watching as he inserted the camera into his windpipe and down to the wound. I could see the tissue had healed around the stitches I had placed in it, sealing it completely. “He was able to breathe without issue?”
“Yes, I removed the balloon and verified normal respirations with the machine removed. I sedated him thirty minutes ago to remove the device.” He finished the last stitch, sitting up and turning off the light he was using. “Healing rates are on par with a werewolf of Alpha or Beta level. Like ours, the healing has proceeded from inside to out, prioritizing important functions.” That was an interesting tidbit; the blood had been from different Pack members. Perhaps the stronger blood of the dominant wolf had pushed through? We wouldn’t know until his wolf emerged how strong it was if it did come forward.
“His brain? Was there any evidence of brain damage,” Colletta asked.
“His cognitive tests were all within normal ranges, and he had no short-term memory loss. The prognosis is good; too good, in fact.”
“What do you mean, Doc?”
“He’s healing too fast, and his scent is changing. With the Alphas and the Council still hanging around, I’m nervous that one of them will insist on seeing him. If they do, there is no hiding the change coursing through his body.”
I looked up at Colletta. “We need to move him to Arrowhead,” I said, and she nodded as she gripped his hand. “Can he be moved?”
“Carefully, yes. Now that Mr. Grimes is no longer dependent on the ventilator, he needs rest and monitoring. The fever will come back in cycles and require management, but you can handle that. If things hold to normal schedules, he will have his first shift in two to four days. I think it would be best if that occurs in the privacy of your Pack and not ours.”
“Possum and I can watch him,” I said. “I’m sure Mom will stay with him.”
“I’ll take good care of him,” she promised.
“I’m available by phone, of course, and I’ll swing by once a day to back you up.”
“What will you tell them if they ask to see him?”
He thought about it. “That he is critical but stable. Due to the risk of infection, I cannot allow visitors. I will speak to the Alpha, and we can keep the guards here to maintain the illusion. Your absence I can blame on your responsibilities at Arrowhead.” He checked the clock. “We should do it quickly. No one will expect him to move now, and the vehicles leaving will provide us cover.” His eyes glazed over slightly as he used his Pack link. “Alpha Michael agrees. He will ensure the guests are kept in front of the Pack House while we remove him, and his warriors will watch the corners.”
“I’ll have my Excursion brought around to the emergency exit.” I contacted my driver and bodyguards, Warriors Tom and Meghan, to drive around and open the back, laying the seats down. The emergency exit was on the backside of the Clinic, hidden from view from the Pack House. With the threat from the Sons over, we had been moving our Pack members back home, our drivers shuttling them in our cars. Another SUV leaving wouldn’t be noticed, as all the Alphas and their escorts were departing today as well.
I spent the next few minutes with Doc going over the care regimen for Frank. There were a lot of things he wanted to be called about immediately. He asked me to Skype him at four-hour intervals so he could keep up on how he was doing. “When his shift is close, I want to be there,” he said. “This could be a historic moment, and I need to capture it in my notes.”
After verifying that we were clear to proceed, we wheeled his bed to the exit and moved him into the back of the big SUV. Colletta and I jumped in the rear of the SUV with him, while Meghan got into the passenger seat and Tom put it in gear. The windows were tinted, and no one paid attention as we drove away from the buildings towards the entrance road. I checked his vitals, and he was doing well, stronger than when I’d examined him before breakfast. Sitting back, I rested against the window and pulled my Mom into my side. “He’s strong, and he’s recovering so quickly,” I said. “I’m worried about what happens to you if he makes the change, Mom. I’m worried he’ll reject you.”
“Why?” She looked shocked, wondering why I’d say such a thing.
“You have found and lost your fated mate, and you know you won’t get another. If he goes through the change and survives, what happens then? He’s a new wolf, and Luna may have given him a fated mate of his own out there. What if his wolf doesn’t feel anything for you? Can you take away his fated mate because you choose him based on when he was human?” She looked down, her face falling as she considered my words. “I know you love him. Your love is unexpected, sudden, and exciting, but will it be enough? I worry if there is a future for you two.”
“He may not get a wolf,” she said. “Maybe he heals faster, maybe gains some characteristics, but there are no guarantees. No one has ever changed a human into one of us.”
“Honestly, I’m hoping that’s the case; that after the blood works his way out of his system, he once again smells and acts like a human. Anything else raises too many questions.”
“It’s up to him,” she said. “I would never take his choice away, Chase. No matter how much I want him, I can’t decide for him. You are right; it would be simpler without the wolf involved.” She lifted his hand to her lips, kissing his fingers. “My wolf is fond of him; he protected her, and my wolf has not fought me on our developing relationship. She knows there is no fated mate for her now. She was resigned to living without one now, living for her babies and grandchildren. If Luna wills it, his wolf and mine will be mates.”
“If Luna wills it,” I said in a whisper.
Mom moved to lie down near his head. As we approached Arrowhead, I got close enough to link with my mate. I quickly explained what had happened with Frank’s accelerated healing and why we had snuck him out of Oxbow. “I’ll be home in fifteen minutes, Rori. Anything going on?”
“I’m exhausted, I haven’t slept much,” she responded. “Most of the Brotherhood hasn’t slept much either. We’re putting together a brunch with the food leftover from the pool party. We’re keeping our checkpoints manned and supplemental patrols with the other warriors, and letting the rest sleep. A few have left already, others want to stay for a day or two before heading back home.”
I could see that; if they bought plane tickets, they probably planned to stay a few days. With Christmas less than a week away, flights on short notice weren’t cheap, and changing airline flights might be difficult and costly. “We could bring back the pool party now that the excitement has died down,” I said. “Oxbow has partied with the Brotherhood before, and we already have food and beer stocked.”
“With swimsuits this time,” she replied with a laugh. “I’m good with that; we can be low-key with it and tell them they can leave when they want. I’ll have Roadkill organize some snowmobiling and ice-fishing excursions, maybe some ATV riding. I’d like them to have some fun since many changed plans and rushed here to help.”
It would be interesting; most of the Chapters were from the South, and they thought driving your pickup out on the ice, then building a big fire, was the craziest thing ever. “We can take those who are interested over to Two Harbors to buy fishing licenses. I’m sure we’d get volunteers to take them out into the houses for a while.”
“And we have lots of spare gear for the snowmobiles and ATV’s. I’ll get it going,” she said.
“One more thing, baby. I’d like us to give each of the people who came to help a cash gift, wolf or human. It could help cover their travel expenses and be a nice thank-you to them for coming. We have plenty of cash in the bags,” I said. “If we tell them it was taken from the Sons, so much the better.”
“It won’t raise suspicions?”
“We already told the Feds we took money from the Sons, they won’t notice if the bags are a fraction lighter when we bring them in. It is legal to gift it, and as long as the cash gifts are less than twelve thousand, they don’t have to pay taxes either.” We talked about it and decided on five thousand per person, in a Christmas card we’d give them. The ones who had already left, we’d mail to them or give the cards to someone else in their Chapter to deliver. “I’m at the gate, love. I’ll take Frank to the Clinic then join you.”
“I’m in the guest room at Coral’s house, they’re getting ready to leave,” she said before she closed the link. We brought a gurney out and moved Frank into our smaller Clinic, and I took some time getting him settled in. Rori’s Mom, our Pack Nurse, took over his care so Mom and I could say goodbye to Coral and Keith.
They were emotional, and Hope was crying as they loaded into the Pack car, an Omega ready to take them to the airport. “What are you going to do with our house,” she asked. All the homes were built with Pack funds, so they didn’t have to worry about selling it.
“We’ll stay here until ours has the grenade damage fixed, then we’ll leave it alone. I doubt Beta Ron and Teri will want to move to the opposite shore since their house is identical to yours. We’ll find another Beta pair, and then we’ll see what we need to do,” I told her as we hugged. “You’ll always be welcome here, sis. Kick that Beta’s ass in the challenge, and show them how strong your wolf is,” I said.
“Stronger than yours,” she teased, but she was right. I wouldn’t want to fight Coral; Coral was the dominant wolf in her mating, evenly matched with Beta Ron, and the only person she couldn’t beat was Rori. “I love you both, and I’ll see you at the trial.” We waved as they drove off, joined by almost all the Pack. People lined the road, waving goodbye to their former Beta couple as they went to take over the Blue River Pack in Canada.
Betas Ron and Tina joined us as we walked back towards Coral’s house. “Ron, the two of you will be Lead Betas now, and you’ll take over those responsibilities immediately,” Rori said as we arrived inside. “Who would you recommend to replace you as head of Security?”
“Vic Knightly,” he said immediately.
“He just got here, and is still on probationary status,” Rori said.
“He’s got the experience and a level head,” Ron said. “I’ve known him for years. He’s the only one with the background to step into the job now. Our only other choice would be to ask for a Beta transfer from another Pack. Alpha, you got a good feel for him after your adventures in Florida and California, right?”
“He’s a good man, but he needs to heal up and get trained first,” I said.
Rori shook her head. “We’re going to have to deal with his affair with Spider Monkey. The Council was clear, no more reveals to humans.”
Teri didn’t like that at all. “They are the cutest couple! If not for the werewolf thing, I’d say they were perfect for each other,” Teri said. “She’s the best hacker I’ve ever seen. Without her help, the Brotherhood is still out there, Harleigh is still in danger, and we don’t have fat stacks of Benjamins in our basement. I think we owe her happiness if she finds it with him.”
“I’ll sit down and talk to him, Alpha,” Ron answered. “I’ll explain what is going on. If he wants to be Beta, he’s going to have to let her go.”
I shook my head. “I’d like him to consider the relationship, but I won’t force him to break it right now. Who knows, it might fall apart on its own. I do think we need to let Spider head back to San Francisco and tie up her affairs there.”
“She’d be back in a week, tops, getting more sex than a ten-dollar hooker during Fleet Week,” Teri said with a giggle. “They’re talking about having a place here, maybe another place on an island. She’s got her own money, and she was rich even before she got that duffel bag. She and Vic have been talking about taking a long vacation in warm temperatures.”
I just laughed, thinking about Vic Knightly, a warrior’s warrior, as the boy toy of a wealthy Silicon Valley computer geekette. “You’ll have to do double duty until he heals up, returns from vacation and gets trained,” I told Ron. “I’ll talk to him and make sure he understands the deal.” I stood up, pulling Rori to her feet. “We need to take a quick nap; wake us in two hours, please.”
I heard feet coming up the stairs. Looking over, I saw Possum and Roadkill coming up the stairs from the basement, followed by Mongo and Three Tequila. “Oh good, you’re both here,” Mongo said. “We need to talk to both of you, alone please.”
“We’ll get going,” Ron said as he helped Teri to her feet. “I’ll make sure the food and activities are on track.”
They went down the stairs towards the tunnels as we greeted the Orlando Brotherhood President and his Lady. “Thank you for coming up here, guys. What can we do for you?”
“I need to see Heather,” Three Tequila said. “And I’m not leaving until I do.”