YOU CAN PICK YOUR FRIENDS...
CALLUM, YOU CAN PICK YOUR FRIENDS…
I never in my wildest dreams would have expected to spend my thirtieth birthday as a rogue, especially considering the family I come from. My Dad was Nathanial Douglas, Alpha of the Erie Waters Pack and the best man I’ve ever known. We lost him to a heart attack numerous months ago – rare but not unheard of for shifters. Turns out Dad had a hereditary heart defect that he may have passed on to me or any of my siblings, and now, the next generation.
It is always going to be a dark cloud looming over us all.
Losing Dad suddenly was a shock to everyone, but it had more then an emotional effect on my big brother Killian. Killi had been working alongside Dad for years to prepare to take over as Alpha but he wasn’t ready… Jesus… he wasn’t ready. No one knew how bad it was going to get - we didn’t for awhile, but it didn’t take long for things to fall apart.
The pack and our family.
Our Mom is human, not shifter. She is the most amazing person I could ever be blessed by the Moon Goddess with – having her in my life…. Watching her fight back after we lost Dad only strengthened my love for her which I wouldn’t have thought possible – I have the best Mom in the world. Human or shifter doesn’t matter – she’s our Mom and there is nothing I wouldn’t do for her. I never told my Dad I loved him and now he’s gone so I refuse to make that mistake with Mom – now when we talk, we always close with ‘I love you’. It isn’t an empty sentiment said in passing, I fucking mean it. I’ve never said the words before so I’m not going to start throwing them around like candy now, even with family.
Isn’t it that way with everyone? Your Mom is – well… your Mom! I would have thought this would be common knowledge to everyone, especially in a family that was once as tight as mine used to be. Killi and I are only half of the sibling equation, we also have a younger brother Asher who is human like Mom. He’s the only one of us pups who isn’t shifter and growing up he was often singled out – which never lasted long. One of us was always happy to kick ass on his behalf because as a human he simply doesn’t possess the strength needed to ‘beat’ one of us shifters up. He could kill us if he tried with weapons, but in a fistfight, he’d be carrying his teeth home in his pocket.
Asher knows what happened but thankfully wasn’t here to witness it. Right now he is with his wife Aubrey somewhere in the Australian outback on their honeymoon. Knowing those two, they’re scaring the shit out of the native wildlife with the sounds they're make. Aubrey is so famous that it is hard for them to go anywhere without being harassed by both fans and the press so when they get private time alone, they rarely come up for air.
Asher’s gorgeous face has been all over the internet too – I have to say gorgeous because we look alike even though it kills me.
His past as a Liaison for a Michigan-based car parts manufacturer held up beautifully and is no longer of any interest to anyone. The public love “Ashey” and Aubrey’s career apparently has never been bigger. I never heard of her before she showed up for Dad’s funeral pyre, so I’ll take her at her word. Ash keeps himself busy escorting his insanely gorgeous wife all over the world to her different filming locations and as her manager. Her friend Chelsea stayed on as her agent but from the sounds of things, the workload got to be too much for one.
Chelsea was a fun night, from what I can recall.
Ash is thrilled with his life – even if he is pissed off right now but overall, he’s good. Our baby sister Everly – Evie to some and ‘Runt’ to Killi and me is probably the happiest if not the most sleep-deprived of us all. She met her mate Gabriel a few years back when she joined Dad, Killi and I on a pack trip to the Ozark Mountains to ask for permission for some of our pack members to relocate. Our pack territory is getting smaller and smaller by what feels like the day and a shifter needs to be able to let that side of himself loose now and again. Being surrounded more and more by humans was threatening the very sanity of our pack so Dad needed to make some tough decisions.
It all worked out in the end and Runt ended up meeting her mate, the Ozarks Alpha Gabriel Harte. Those two are fucking insane – they already have quadruplets from their first pregnancy and now she’s pregnant again, twins. I love my nieces and nephew to pieces but six babies under three?
I’d cut my own dick off.
Mom stayed with them for the first year of the pups’ lives to help out but then had returned home, to us. I know it was hard for her, coming back for the first time after losing Dad – but she did it because she missed Killi and I. She missed her pack – she missed her home. Even though she was no longer their Luna, the pack still respected and responded to her as if she were. Killian is Alpha now and when he finds or takes a mate, she will become Luna and until then, this pack will not have one - Mom is technically ‘retired’ since Dad died, fair or not. It doesn’t mean she is any less loved or respected – that will never change.
I’ll never forget the day it all went to shit.
Mom was getting ready to head back to the Ozarks to help with the new pups when they arrive so there was a lot of scurrying going on in the packhouse. Whenever Mom goes anywhere, she is accompanied by warriors to ensure her safety. That trip was going to be no different so in addition to Mom getting packed and prepped there were four guards as well. Mom was also taking a human with her as a favour to someone in Runt’s pack who needed a ride. The human was studying shifters so knew a lot about us – something about school and just didn’t have the good fortune of having an animal companion to get through life with.
I remember her clearly if I close my eyes and her scent is forever burned into my brain for reasons I don’t understand. Coconut. I was drawn to her as soon as she walked in to wait for everyone else – how could I not be? She was – is, gorgeous. Clearly human yet tall, lean and slender – like a shifter. Shorter than me with gentle curves and small breasts – completely not my type and yet I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. Jet-black hair, caramel skin and eyes the colour of my favourite chocolate – Christ, she took my breath away.
My wolf, Timber was agitated but uncertain. I was attracted to her and he felt drawn to her but neither of us knew why beyond the obvious. Being human she had no idea that the atmosphere in the room had changed entirely when Killi and my Mom walked in. Oblivious, she continued to look around, smiling at everyone all the while my big brother was glaring at her with the intensity of a thousand fucking suns. Then I understood Timber’s agitation when Killian broke the silence.