Alpha Rori’s POV
Arrowhead Pack, Alpha Home
I grabbed Chase’s hand as we walked into the living room of our home after feeding the twins. With my pregnancy, my milk had dried up, and the twins were eating more solid food than formula now. The nanny had them in the nursery by our bedroom, which still smelled of fresh paint. The contractor had been paid extra to work over the past week so we could move back into our home, and it was a good thing.
Our closest allies were here on New Year’s Eve, as we needed a strategy to deal with the upcoming trial for exposing our nature to humans. My uncle and Alpha of the Adirondack Pack, Martin Smith, was sitting on a chair by the fireplace in the living room, talking over drinks with Chase’s older brother, Sawyer, and his mate Ashley. The Donner Alphas had arrived yesterday, and I’d been up late with my best friend when I moved to Orlando. Ashley was from Martin’s pack, and they were catching up on the latest news from there. The two were over the moon with happiness, as Ashley had found out on Christmas Eve that she was pregnant with their first child. Sawyer was sitting in one of the leather recliners, Ashley in his lap and held with his hands folded over her stomach. “Has he stopped touching you since you found out,” I teased her.
“No,” she laughed as she looked back at him and kissed him. “He and his wolf are very protective of us now.”
“It doesn’t ease up,” I said as Chase led me to the couch, sitting on one side with me in his lap. We talked for a few minutes about being pregnant together before Carson walked in with Alpha Coral. “No Keith?” I was expecting both to be here.
“No, he had to stay home,” she said as she sat down next to me, Carson taking the other end. “We’ve been trying to unravel Pack finances, and it’s a mess. We’re still uncovering secret accounts and a home in Vancouver filled with expensive cars and jewelry. It’s no wonder the housing is substandard, and the Pack was struggling.” I could see how upset she was, and that was why she was going to be a fantastic Alpha. “Thank you for the cash infusion. I was worried about meeting payroll and paying bills.”
“It’s not a problem,” Chase said. “All of our allied Packs are getting the equivalent of a bag, along with a trust for Heather. We have no desire to hold this ourselves; it’s not like we earned the drug money.”
“We just liberated it,” Carson added.
“Hopefully, you can recover enough of the embezzled funds to build your indoor waterpark,” I told her. Their Pack lands in the Canadian Rockies had even shorter days in the winter than we did. Last night, both of us had spent a lot of time in and around the pool as she caught up with Pack members.
“It’s not the priority right now; adequate housing and facilities are. I feel guilty living in the opulent Alpha quarters while Omegas are stacked three-high in bunks in the basement.” It was no wonder the Pack rallied around her and her vision; when it came to Pack votes, the Omegas mattered more than the Betas. Coral’s reputation as a defender of the Omegas was well known.
I would have expected to include Steven March and his mate Connie on that list, but I wasn’t sure where we sat now. Although Connie had come with us to form Arrowhead, Steven had voted against changing the rules on humans. Chase and I didn’t think we could trust them with our secrets, so they had not been invited and had not been furnished with the same funds as the others.
The door opened, and Michael and Margaret came in. She was smiling, almost bouncy as she took off her jacket and laid it across the chair. I went over to hug her, and she practically threw herself at me and squeezed me tight. “What’s going on,” I said.
I looked at her glowing face and the way Michael was holding her, his hands low on her stomach. “You’re pregnant?”
“YES!” Congratulations rang out as the others came up to greet her. As we walked them over to a love seat in the living room, she looked at me. “How did you know?”
“The way he held you,” I said. “Chase does the same thing.” We sat down and talked about how she found out. It was just this morning that she had visited Doc because she had been unable to hold her breakfast down. “We’re just waiting for Mom, and then we can get started.”
“She and Frank just arrived at the front gate,” Chase said as he pulled me into his lap.
“Frank? The human guy she met on her way up here?”
“Yeah, it’s a little more complicated than that now.” I looked at Michael and Margaret, linking them to keep quiet and not spoil the surprise. It was going to create a stir when he walked in.
A few of the Omegas who were working the kitchen came in, leaving snacks and taking care of drinks while we waited for my mother-in-law and her mate to arrive. Chase and I walked to greet them at the front door, my mother Dawn (Possum) and her husband Roadkill. Their coats taken, they came into the room, and everyone froze.
The couple wore matching red and black flannel shirts with their jeans, open at the collars. Their mating bites were showing on their necks, the scars like a tattoo to warn off other werewolves. Their scents were mixed, and Frank’s scent wasn’t human. I could feel his dominance as he walked in; he was still learning how to control it, and his wolf was Alpha strong. The wave washed over the room, leaving everyone not here for his change slack-jawed in shock.
Carson was the first to recover. “What the FUCK, Mom?”
“Language, young man,” she said as she walked into the middle of the room, Frank’s arm around her. “Frank made the change just before Christmas, and my wolf and I accepted him as our mate. As you can sense, he’s a good match for me. We are blessed and very happy to be together.”
“Five or more times a night,” Chase mumbled under his breath.
Ashley recovered from the shock first, getting up and going to hug her new in-laws and congratulate them. “I’m so happy for you two,” Mom told her.
“Sawyer linked me with the news before he told you all. He knows I’d never let him forget it if I was the last to know,” she said with a laugh as Sawyer hugged her.
“How did this happen,” Sawyer said as he shook Frank’s hand, their wolves sizing each other up.
“That’s a story for later,” Frank said. “I was human, I almost died, and I survived to find myself with a wolf and a mate. We have more important things to discuss tonight.”
“More important than the fact that he’s the first human since the Curse to become a werewolf,” Carson asked as he looked between them.
“Yes.” We all settled into the chairs or couches, drinks in hand, as Chase called the meeting to order. “The Council has set our trial for January third, beginning at noon. You’ve all received a copy of the indictment and the summons to the trial. Most of the Alphas and the Council are arriving the night before, the rest that morning. The Oxbow Lake Pack has volunteered to perform shuttle duties and to supplement our patrols during the week.”
I continued. “Our Pack is responsible for housing, feeding and entertaining the guests. Beta Tina is handling the arrangements, and Beta Vic the security. As Alphas, we will be hosting the Council here in our home. Coral, we were hoping you wouldn’t mind hosting the family and our allies in your home.”
“It’s not my home anymore, Rori. It’s always belonged to your Pack. Keith and I love it in Blue River, and we love being Alphas. We committed to our Pack when we took over the Alpha position. When this is over, we'll make arrangements to have our things shipped home. I'd love to visit here often, but my home is in the Canadian Rockies now.”
“Then it’s settled,” Chase said.
“Are we staying with you or Coral,” Mom asked.
Chase answered, his voice low. “Neither. The last thing we need is for Frank’s scent and dominance to become apparent before we’re ready. I need you to stay at Roadkill’s place. It’s obviously the home of humans, so they won’t expect you there. I need you both to stay out of sight, Mom.”
She looked at us and nodded her head. “What about the babies? Are they staying with you, Coral or me?”
This was the tough part. “They won’t be here at all,” I said. Eyes got wide at the thought. “Chase and I have discussed this, and we can’t guarantee the safety of any human here during the trial. I also can’t be assured our daughter won’t be targeted, depending on the outcome of the trial.”
Sawyer was the first to agree. “The Council and Alphas will honor the obligations to protect other wolves, but the treaties are silent when it comes to humans.”
“Exactly. The blessing of the line is with me now. If the Council takes me from Chase or kills us, then Cheryl becomes the target. I can’t trust half of the visiting Alphas and their entourages, and I can’t have the babies in danger. The same goes for the humans in our Pack. Some of the Alphas have already made their feelings clear on the Trusted Agents we have, and one already tried to kill Frank.” I looked over at Coral with a nod, then looked at Possum and Roadkill. “Mom and Dad, I want you to take the twins, with their nannies and security, and disappear with them.”
“Where?” This direction had caught them by surprise.
“I don’t want to know,” I told her. “Tell no one, bring no cellphones, and have no communications with anyone you don’t trust with your life. Keep them safe for us, and don’t bring them back until you hear from three people in this room that it is time to return.”
“But not us,” Chase said. “It’s possible the Council could force us to say something. They won’t be able to do that to all of us.”
“My God, Rori! Is it really that bad?” Roadkill was shaking his head, he remembered too well what I went through before I came here.
“It could be,” Sawyer said. “The worst-case scenario of this trial is that they vote to execute Chase and Rori, and our Packs refuse to allow it. We might have to go to war to prevent it. Carson and I are moving warriors into the area, but the other Alphas and the Council can muster a larger army than we can. Arrowhead Pack could be wiped from the map if we lose.”
“Again,” I said. All but two Pack members died when I was a year old, all because of evil men who wanted to control me. History could repeat itself, this time with Council sanction.
“Take my plane,” Martin said. “The pilots are human, very experienced, and completely discreet. They can take you anywhere in the country, farther if you need it.” He handed her a card with the phone numbers of the pilots.
Possum looked at all of us. “What about Heather?”
“Take her with you and keep her out of sight,” I said. “I trust you with your grandchildren, and I trust you to keep Heather safe.” I got up, and we embraced in the center of the room. “Go and pack; the nannies and guards have already been told and are preparing.”
“I’ll call the pilots and have them prepare the plane; it’s at the Two Harbors airfield. They’ll have the plane ready in two hours.” The goodbyes were sad for us all. I didn’t trust myself to go back to say goodbye to my babies and still agree to let them go. It was better if they just left with Grandma while we figured things out.
When the room cleared out, we got back to business. “At the last meeting, Chairman Coffey talked with me privately. He wants to avoid a split among the Alphas; he asked me to come up with a compromise that could satisfy the need for punishment, while not being so harsh that your allies would refuse it. I think I have a solution.”
“What is it,” I asked.
“First, you vow to follow Council laws on humans. Your Trusted Agents are grandfathered, but no more would be requested. If humans find out, they are to be killed to protect the secret.”
I just shook my head. “I don’t know if I can do it,” I said. “Vic and Spider Monkey are serious; now that he knows it is possible to change a human, he wants to tell her and do that. At least after she gives birth,” I said with a smile.
“WHAT,” Chase said.
“Spider Monkey called Teri for advice, so this doesn’t go beyond this room. Vic is busy with preparations for the trial, and he won’t let Spider visit until it’s over.”
“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised,” Chase said. “Those two have had a magnetic attraction since they met, and they are a great couple. If she consents to the change, I’d love to have her in the Pack.”
“And if I agree, he can’t tell her without killing her. If we agree to this, he has to watch her and his family die while he lives apart from the Pack.” It sucked, and I hated it. The two were obviously in love.
“There’s more. You would both agree to a ten-year suspension from the Alpha position at Arrowhead. That would be the initial offer, but I could see some Alphas pushing for a much longer time, maybe twenty-five or fifty years. It’s still better than permanent removal.”
I saw red. “Oh, HELL NO. This is MY PACK! MY BLOOD!” Chase pulled me back into him, nibbling on my shoulder as he calmed me down.
“Explain,” Chase said as he continued to rub my neck and arms.
“Part of the issue is that, for better or worse, the Alphas view you as inexperienced hotheads, who have no respect for tradition or your elders. Becoming an Alpha at eighteen is difficult even for those with experienced Betas and Elders to help, and you two threw a pack together with whatever you could find. You keep your bloodline right to the Pack, but another pair steps forward and runs the Pack with you as Betas. It would also give Chase a chance to finish his medical education, for you to finish college, and to get used to your growing family.”
“Who is Alpha over us,” I said with a growl.
“We will propose that an Alpha of age and training take the assignment, with preference given to family relations so as not to challenge heredity rights. The Council will jump at this.”
Carson figured it out. “They think Sawyer and Ashley will give up Donner Pack to take over Arrowhead for you since I’m not old enough or mated. If they don’t come here, the Council puts their preferred candidate in charge of your Pack for a decade or more. Either way, we lose a vote on the Council, and our enemies gain one.”
“But Sawyer will stay where he is,” Mom said.
Sawyer grinned. “Yes, because you and Frank will take over Arrowhead. Succession is not an issue since your son and his mate already established that. You’ve got over a century of experience, and Frank for a human has run a large organization. With the family clause I put in, they won’t be able to stop it.”
We spent the next twenty minutes going over the various options for the plea bargain. As the discussion went on, the feeling of dread in my stomach grew. Talking with Chase over the bond, he felt the same. “Stop,” I finally said. “Sawyer, you came up with a great compromise, and it would probably satisfy the Council, but it will never satisfy us. Stephen Fry once said, ‘Compromise is a stalling between two fools.’ As a people, we need to change, and this compromise will not bring that about. It hurts our Pack, and it hurts the humans that we love.”
“There will be no plea deal,” Chase said. “This is our plan…”