Silent Courage

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Chapter 2

Marcus smelled them coming. He stood and stretched, working the kinks out of his back as he carefully set down the tools he had been holding. He grimaced as a muscle in his back twinged, and moved out of the sawdust covered workshop and out into the bright summer sun. He winced, the sunlight burning his eyes before they adjusted, bringing the truck parked haphazardly on the dirt road in front of his half-finished cabin. He came to a stop, folding his arms over his chest, and scowled as the two trespassers exited the hastily parked vehicle. His sister beamed at him, as she clambered down from the driver's side of the massive four by four.

"Marcus!!" she squealed, somehow managing to waddle faster than he could retreat, even with her heavily pregnant belly, cornering him before he could escape with an enthusiastic bear hug.

"Meg." He answered gruffly, wrapping his arms around her while grimly eyeing the other woman who was stiffly disembarking from the passenger side of the vehicle. The overly made-up blond sniffed once, noting the tarp and scattered loose construction equipment littering the lawn of the unfinished building before turning back to them. "What does Aiden want now?"

Meg disentangled herself before looking back up at him, her smile dimming somewhat as he stared down at her, still stone faced.

"I can't just want to see how my favorite brother's doing all up out here alone in the boonies?" Her guileless eyes shone with innocence as her lower lip puffed out, pouting.

He snorted, once, and she dropped the act, hand rubbing her distended belly as she rolled her eyes, saying, "He's called you down for a meeting."

He grunted. She huffed and rolled her eyes. "I know, you have hermit-y stuff to do," she said, waving a nonchalant hand at the cabin and the land surrounding it, "but he said this'll be the last one for at least six months and then he'll leave you alone."

He leveled the blond, still standing by the truck with an even stare, and she rolled her eyes, nodding once, nose still wrinkled as if she had smelled something foul.

His sister sighed, then smiled again, "We'll see you tomorrow," she said, trotting back towards the truck. "Don't be late!!" The truck roared off back down the mountain road. He sighed, then turned back toward the workshop, already making calculations, this impromptu meeting was going to set him back at least a week, he was sure of it.

Marcus tugged uncomfortably at the collar of his plaid shirt, buttoned at the neck and tucked into jeans with a belt. He had been siting in the conference room of his brother's office building for a half an hour now. Despite a scared, doe eyed looking secretary coming in to ask if he wanted water in the first five minutes he had been left alone in the too bright room. He growled, his wolf feeling his impatience and skittishness with being confined in the tight office space. It paced back and forth in his head, keeping up a steady rumble as it voiced it's displeasure.
We should not be made to wait. It said, tail lashing as it snarled in barely contained fury. Be patient, he said the Alpha will be done with us soon enough. The wolf gave an odd hacking snort of contempt. Alpha. It said, sneering as only a wolf could. He's no Al-
Marcus caught sight of his brother turning the corner into the glass enclosed space and quickly shut that thought down. Quiet!
The clack of Italian loafers followed by the skittering of stilettos on the pretentious faux marble laminate heralded the arrival of his brother and his brother's mate, both impeccably turned out in the latest fashions. His brother, blond and smiling, in a three piece suit and her in a Dior sweater set with pearls. He entered the room with an ostentatious display of alpha power. Marcus snorted, but silently, rising as they both chose seats on the opposite side of the table. Once Miranda, Aiden's mate, had seated herself he sat, back rigid, face betraying no emotion as Aiden spoke, in the highly polished way of politican and actors.
"Brother." He said, his power flaring just a little.
"Alpha." Marcus nodded, slightly, and Aiden's grin widened and grew oily, more charming, his power withdrawing somewhat.
"Its so wonderful to see you. Mother's missed you." Marcus stayed silent, as Aiden continued, not seeming to want or need a response. "Of course, she's often busy doing her charities and what not." He blithely gestured to the nervous looking secretary waiting outside the glass enclosure, she hurried into the room, handed him a stack of files, and rushed back out, still petrified. He handed the sheaf of papers to Marcus, who pulled them closer and began to leaf through them, all the while chit chatting about utterly meaningless things. Marcus stopped, and riffled through the pages again. "Harsher penalties for rogues?" Aiden frowned, pausing his anecdote about some corporate affiliate luncheon he had gone to and shrugged negligently. "Rogues are a threat that must be neutralized." Marcus shifted in his chair, the metal squeaking as it tried to hold his large frame. "What's wrong with Father's policy?"
Aiden's eyes flashed, then he seemed to remember himself. "They're getting bolder." He rolled his eyes and leaned back, the display of indolent superiority only serving to grate on Marcus's nerves. "Desperate times brother." Marcus didn't say anything, just kept on reading. Aiden's eyes narrowed, but then he flashed a smug smile at his mate, who was admiring her manicure, before turning back to Marcus. "Ready to sign yet? Only," he paused to look at his watch, "I've got a meeting with the board at lunch, tedious, but .." He trailed off as Marcus began shuffling papers around, stacking them into different piles. "What are you doing?" He seemed nonplussed as Marcus plucked a ballpoint pen from one of the containers on the table and began scribbling his signature on the larger of the two piles of documents, leafing through to find the spaces. "Yes to the new budget, the children's program and the park. Approval for the security measures needs to be run through the Council and no to the immediate execution of rogues and single witness matings. His brothers smile turned frosty, but Marcus was done. He stood, the chair screeching back as he nodded once, and left before Aiden could waylay him and try to convince him to change his mind.
Breaking through the double doors at the entrance to the pack business's tower block, he breathed a sigh of relief. Striding into the underground parking garage he slammed into his beat-up truck, standing out like a sore thumb against the backdrop of newer, nicer cars. Letting his head rest on the steering wheel he closed his eyes, letting his wolf out to rage inside his head. A minute later, he was pulling out of the underground lot and into the bright summer sun.
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