Two shirtless men greeted me as I pulled into the driveway of the St Bernard pack, one of the prettiest and most intriguing driveways I have seen. Whilst most packs tried to hide from the human population, their pack house acted as their own facade.
Rather than having big trees, they had this massive ‘air bnb’ disguise. Their driveway was paved, neat and filled with a range of flowers around it. I bet they could start charging humans entry fees and make it seem like the botanical gardens.
Of course their main pack house was another three kilometres behind this facade, where the flowers became thick wild long grass with “beware snakes” signs and then trees blocking out move homes.
Of course, the distance wasn’t a lot for them who would shift to wolves but well…I always walked.
“Luna Hill, welcome back.”
“Hi Nick.” I greeted the Beta of the pack as he reached for my bag. “Pleasure to have you back.” I kept a hold of my bag telling him I was happy to carry it.
Was it though? Perhaps it was, Nick was one of the oldest member of the pack, with no children to take over the ‘beta’ legacy he was still acting as a Beta at his ripe age of seventy four. They were currently undergoing trials for a new Beta which I was also assisting with in addition to teaching the new Alpha the ways that the Enforcer committee expected him to operate.
Their third in command was only twenty three and much younger following in step beside us.
“Alpha Zloy is just in a meeting but you can freshen up and we can have a chat with him at lunch.”
“Not a problem. Did Zloy manage to read through the guidelines I sent?” I asked. Neither of them responded which I wasn’t surprised with he probably couldn’t be bothered reading the sixteen hundred page document. Actually there would be very few Alpha’s that did, it was almost like the wolf terms and conditions to just being an Alpha.
They all signed without reading it all, and then it was great news for us when they got themselves into trouble and land in hot water. We made our way through all the trees into the second pack clearing were more houses greeted us.
The pack house stood apart with great big fences around it, blocking itself out from the other pack members. The fence was tall and made out of iron with spikes on the end which made it seem really uninviting but I was used to this look.
I walked past the other pack members that casted a weary eye at me, still not used to my appearance.
No one really did like Enforcers in their packs, they normally brought bad news. Even though everyone should know that I was here to help the new Alpha they seemed really unhappy to have me. Perhaps they would think I was here against their Alpha, and I guess they were all a bit protective.
“Just head to the main room when you’re ready Luna Hill. Alpha will meet you there. You’re in the same room as last time.” Beta Nick told me. I smiled giving him a nod as I headed up the stairs to my isolated room.
I was no stranger to getting the least welcoming room in the furthest part of the pack and this was no difference. Perhaps every pack didn’t want me snooping, it was a shame because I did that anyway. I walked past all the picture frames on the wall looking at the past and previous Alphas that the St Bernard pack had.
The St Bernard pack was generally a calm pack, never really partook in the wolf committees or meddled in anyones business. They also didn’t have any alliances, perhaps it was because they were quite a large pack with young families and wanted to keep out of trouble.
Maybe thats why the elders just sent me here by myself, it was better by myself anyway. I only really worked well with one person and now that that person was gone, I was better by myself. It was safer by myself.
I dropped my things off in my bedroom that looked the same from a few days ago and unbuttoned my uniform jacket, chucking it on the bed. I sat down stretching my legs and took out my phone sending Hercules a message that I had arrived here safely.
I raised my arms above my shoulders stretching out all my sore limbs from the continuous car drive. I plugged in my phone to charge before heading to the main room, and no doubt Alpha Zloy was waiting there, seating on a large leather couch reading some magazine he looked up as he saw me.
“Ah Enforcer Gia, you’re here.”
I smiled, “Hill.” I corrected him. I shook his extended hand, “Please, have a seat.” he waved a hand towards the couch.
I took the opposite seat on the recliner, “So I hear that you’re still reading the guidelines?”
Zloy stretched out his legs under the coffee table, throwing an arm on the cushion and making himself comfortable, “Uh yeah, those guidelines. How effective are they?”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
Zloy looked older than he appeared, with hair that would challenge black is not a colour, and bright blue eyes he definitley demanded attention when he looked at you. He had a crows feet at his eyes which made him seem like a joyous and friendly person which he is yet to prove wrong.
However there was something about him that bothered me, something more behind that happy smiling Alpha that I was seeing.
“Well, are they enforced?”
I raised an eyebrow, “Well I would like to think that’s some of the stuff I do given that Enforcer is probably going to enforce things.” I replied. Alpha Zloy laughed leaning forward, he was a tall man, closing the space between us.
“You’re a funny one. Sure.” He stood up abruptly, “Come, let’s have some lunch.”
“That’s alright I will eat later.”
Zloy reached down grabbing my wrist which I wasn’t expecting, his fingers were icy cold against my thin arm as he lifted me up, “I hear its lasagne.”
I manoeuvred my writs free from his grip, and nodded, “Fine.”
The last two weeks I spent avoiding eating with the Alpha and his pack, I was fine with the food coming to my room. So why was he trying to force me to eat with him this time around. Nevertheless I decided the easiest option would just be following them to lunch, besides I was hungry now that I skipped breakfast.
I headed towards the kitchen where the table was set up, Beta Nick and their third in command Zachary were sitting.
“Glad you could join us Luna Hill.” Nick smiled as I sat beside him.
Zloy sat across from me, raising an eyebrow, “Are we referring to the Enforcer as Luna now are we?”
Nick cleared his throat, “Well she is Luna of the -,”
“I see no mark.”
My hand self-consciously lifted to my neck which was covered by the collar of my shirt and I narrowed my eyes at Zloy, what does that mean? I shifted in my seat trying to diver the topic, “I come here as an Enforcer so let’s leave it at that.”
I served myself a piece of lasagne after everyone else, why was the lasagne green? I lifted a sheet with my fork, spinach lasagne seemed far more unpleasing. Damn, ruined lasagne for me.
“So what pack are you from again?” Zloy asked.
“Alpha Ryder.” Nick cut in.
“Ryder?” Zloy asked confused.
I placed a mouthful of food in my mouth to avoid talking about this.
“Hercules Ryder, he’s four hours from us up in the mountain district. We share the river channel with them.” Nick added on.
That’s interesting, I wonder what river we share. Potentially the glacier one, makes it very hard for anyone to cross and I knew that from experience. When the water was all melted it was impossible to come across without a boat. When it was frozen it was too risky as the water never completely froze over.
Zloy twirled a piece of spinach on his fork, “Hercules Ryder, that name does sound familiar.”
I took another mouthful deciding that I didn’t really want to be a part of this conversation. At the same time I was curious to what they were going to say.
“Is it true then?” Zloy asked.
“Is what true?” I asked.
“The rumours about him and his parents.”
I cleared my throat, “A rumour is a rumour. Besides, I’m not here to answer questions about my mate, I’m hear to answer questions you have about the guideline and help you choose a Beta.”
Zloy leaned back in his chair putting his hands up like he was surrendering, “Of course, Whatever you wish Enforcer Gia, I mean, Hill.”
* * *
Picking a beta wasn’t easy. There were endless ways but two were popular, blood right and a challenge. Most packs went with blood right unless the position was challenged which was super rare. The second alternative was the Alpha picking someone to be their Beta and someone wanting to challenge that position. This was also rare, generally people just let the Alpha pick.
With Zloy’s pack it was different, they decided to get everyone that is eligible and make them all challenge each other, those that wanted to. Seeing that Nick had no heirs or favourites he was happy to pass on the position to someone that was deemed worthy.
The sun was beating down making me feel sweaty as I sat beside Nick, I raised a hand to block out the sun as I saw all the men in a line. Zloy was walking up and down the line going over how today was going to work.
“How is Gideon?” Nick asked surprising me.
“He’s good, you know Gideon?”
“I know the entire pack.” Nick smiled taking a sip of his diet coke that was probably already lukewarm. “I used to go to school with his grand mother.”
“School?” I asked curious.
“Yeah for a short time back in the day there was a small wolf school that a few of the packs sent some of their wolves too of course you could only imagine what mess that caused and it was you guys, the Enforcers that shut it down. Training is now provided only at the Enforcer centres or otherwise most wolves just go to normal schools and blend in the best they can.”
I could only imagine what putting together a bunch of teenage newly shifted wolves together in a room for hours would do, when their adult versions weren’t that much better.
“I met Gideon a few times of course, and Marcus that small boy.”
I smiled, Marcus was definitely small next to Hercules who was six foot three and and Gideonwho was six foot, Marcus was a shy five seven and there was nothing wrong with it like I tell him. It suited him and his bubbly self, and I was sure Nick was wondering how he was a beta.
“A golden heart that one.” Nick said.
“Yeah Marcus sure is.” I nodded.
“No, I meant Hercules.”
“Takes in all these rogues and backless wolves and gives them a second chance at home. Truly commendable boy. I knew his parents too.” Nick said taking another sip of his coke.
I tensed at the topic of his parents, there were a hundred rumour flying around about that and I knew Hercules didn’t like talking about it. Did Nick know something? Should I ask?
“I should come visit one day once I hand over my position.”
“You’re always welcome.” I told Nick. “Let me know and I’ll send you a car.”
“I’m very glad he found you as a mate.”
I shifted in my seat, “You don’t know that much of me Nick.” if he knew what happened in the last four years perhaps he would be changing his mind. Not to mention my entire history was a bit wonky, not just the last four years.
“I can tell a lot from what’s not said Hill. I like you. I think you’ll make a fabulous Luna.”
To be decided, I thought. I hadn’t done a single job in the past fifteen months that was Luna worthy, apart from a few training sessions to assist the others. What did a Luna even do? How come there weren’t guidelines she had to sign.
Zloy walked over to us, “What are you both talking about?” He asked as he stood in front of, blocking out the sun so I was finally able to stop squinting.
Nick said nothing and I shrugged, “Nothing of great importance.”There was always some weird tension between Nick and Zloy and I wasn’t sure if that was just the age gap or there were some issues between them.
Zloy took a seat next to me and crossed his long legs leaning back, he had this tendency to take up as much room around him a possible and I wasn’t are if that was a tactic of his because he was Alpha and he wanted to make his presence known, or if he was just self unaware of how much space he takes up, “This will be fun to watch.” He said smiling at me.
I nodded turning back to the first of the challenges, who can run the longest. I watched as the line of men took off their shirts and waiting for Zachary to announce start and they started running. This was just a warm up but still a challenge.
“I’m going to assume no females are partaking in the Beta challenge as I see none?” I asked.
Zloy nodded, “No one signed up. Not like we refused them.”
Perhaps they were all too intimidated. One day I’ll see a female Beta and that will make me happy.
“I hear you’re pretty athletic yourself,” Zloy comments a few minutes after we are watching them all run laps. “Perhaps you should compete in the competition as well, just for fun.”
“I’m fine thanks.” besides I was watching to make sure there was nothing dodgy going on and to deal with all the paperwork that Zloy will need to fill out to get the new Beta up in the registers. When it was a family blood line it was easy to update it to the next name, when it was someone new there was a lot more work.
“Why don’t we have a challenge?” Zloy suggested.
“Perhaps not.” I suggested back.
After the laps there were more fitness competitions before the real competition started. The participants were sized up by weight, and how they did in the previous ones and they were ordered to fight till one of them gave up.
After each round they were re-sized with the remaining and competed again, to keep it fair those that lost had a second shot with the other ones. Eventually thing thinned down to just having two at the top.
“Who do you think will be the next Beta.” I asked Nick as he looked on as the last remaining two fought in wolf form.
Nick frowned, “There’s one that I don’t want to get it.”
Both the wolves were dark brown, and their size was relevant equal which made it hard to distinguish between them for me as Ihad barely met them. Nick seemed to know who was who and I could see him grimacing.
“Why is that?” I asked in a soft tone, even though I was sure Zloy would still be able to hear us with his wolf sense.
“It doesn’t matter. He just won.” Nick stood up, “I need another coke.”
I looked back onto the field where one wolf was pinning down the other in a deathly grip, its jaws around the others ones neck.
Zachary rushed over calling it off and I was almost about to step in when the wolf let go stepping back.
“Well, we have our winner.” Zloy stood up, “My next Beta is Akil,”
Time to get the paperwork sorted.