1. Trinity Forest
It was the start of another hot and humid summer’s day. It was hot enough to melt your boobs right off your body by eleven AM, but that wasn’t stopping anyone from working in the gardens or the orchards. Sure, I was uncomfortable as hell, but there’s work to be done, and what can you expect from the weather in the deep south?
To help feed our pack of three hundred werewolves, we have a vegetable garden that spans twenty full acres, a fruit orchard, and a berry patch that covers another twenty acres. There are also greenhouses that we use for winter food supply and starting seeds.
We also raise and butcher a large portion of our own meat. There’s a large barnyard where we keep cattle, goats and chickens. We never have to worry about foxes, coyotes or snakes trying to get to the chickens since we are larger predators. To say we are almost a fully self-sufficient community is an amazing thing. We ran off of top notch solar power and our water came from a well that was dug into an underground lake.
We still had to leave for a human town for non edible goods like clothes, shoes, and toilet paper and there’s online stores. This was our parents’ dream, and I’m happy that I’ve been able to help get our pack as far as we have.
“Jamie, hurry up. I’m so over this heat,” Tara groaned.
Tara’s been my best friend since we were tiny pups and she tends to be a little snippy when she’s hot and hungry. She’s about five feet tall with all the curves you could ask for, along with dirty blond hair and big brown eyes. To say she’s beautiful would be an understatement.
“Yeah. I’m almost done with this bush, then we can go inside,” I said, rolling my eyes with a large smile plastered on my face.
It was the start of blueberry season and the bushes were just starting to explode with their large, dark, blue, morsels of sweetness. The season will last well into July this year, by the looks of all the berries on the bushes.
I pulled three more ripe berries off the bush I was on, dropping two in my bucket and popping the last one in my mouth. As soon as I bit down on it, I couldn’t help but hum out at the taste on my tongue.
“They’re good this year, huh?” Tara teased with a sly grin.
“Yep,” I said while nodding my head.
“Let me try one,” Tara said, grabbing a ripe one off the bush.
“Not that one, try this one,” I said as I handed her one from my bucket.
She ate the one I handed her and hummed in delight, then popped the one she picked into her mouth. She bit down on it and instantly regretted her decision-making.
“Yuck!” she cried.
I started laughing at her as she gagged and spit the berry back out.
“I don’t know how you can always tell which ones are the best, but I should know to listen to you by now,” she said after wiping the berry off her tongue.
“Yeah,” I laughed as I picked my bucket up off the ground and turned towards the packhouse.
This girl cracks me up. I can’t help but laugh at her little misfortune here. It happened a lot and you would think that by now she would trust my instincts when it came to food. She still didn’t listen but I held out hope that one day it would happen.
“Let’s go store everything and get cleaned up for lunch,” I told her.
We both walked in silence down the dirt path to the packhouse, both of us lost in our own thoughts as we walked next to one another. I thought about how different Tara and I were, not just in looks but in personality. We were like night and day, making it an oddly cohesive friendship filled with fun and debates.
I’m five foot five inches tall with a runner’s build, meaning I’m average height and thin but still athletic. My eyes are dark green and I have long, dark brown, wavy hair that I keep up in a bun on top of my head almost all the time. If it was down it’s because I’m trying to be cute or because it was wet and needed to dry.
Tara tends to speak her mind at all times, no matter what the situation. She’s very much an open book and you can tell what she’s thinking. I, on the other hand, am very reserved and quiet. I speak my mind when needed, but I’m forever the silent observer that’s always thinking.
Neither one of us has found our mates yet, the other halves of our souls. In order to have a long healthy life as a werewolf, you have to find your mate and be claimed by them. Claiming your mate is like a marriage of two souls with one pleasurable bite. I wondered what was taking so long to find the other half of us. Did we need to leave Trinity Forest to find them? I was equal parts excited and worried about finding my mate. There’s always a chance he would reject me.
We walked into the packhouse as it buzzed with members getting ready for lunch. Tara led the way to the kitchen to give the staff the fresh food we harvested this morning. The kitchen staff will wash and put it away, or use the food immediately when we bring it in. Teamwork makes the dream work here!
As we placed our buckets on the counter, we heard, “Oh, fresh blueberries!”
I turned to see our Luna, Meredith, my older brother Duncan’s mate. She walked up to me with the biggest smile as she rubbed her big pregnant belly. I returned her smile and I handed her a handful of berries before placing my stained hands on her belly. I bent down to talk to the little pup waiting to meet us in a few weeks.
“Hello in there, little pup. Aunt Jamie can’t wait to meet and hold you,” I said, smiling as the little one moved at the sound of my voice.
Meredith is a few inches shorter than me with naturally copper-colored skin, long black curly hair, and big honey-colored eyes. She’s absolutely gorgeous and has a heart of gold which just makes her even more beautiful. She’s been an amazing addition to our family since Duncan claimed her. She’s a sweet Luna and works hard to keep the pack and my brother happy.
“Aunt Jamie!” I heard James, our three-year-old future Alpha squeal as he saw me, making me jump.
I stood up fully before bending down and engulfed my little squishy love bug in a huge hug. My nephew has the same colored skin and hair as his mother but has his dad’s dark blue eyes. He’s adorable and smart and the little shit knows it.
“Are you behaving today?” I asked, giving him a grin with a raised eyebrow.
He’s always running amuck and is into things he shouldn’t be like all pups his age. If the boy was ever behaving, then we knew he was making up for doing something really bad.
“Never!” he said with a giggle.
I looked over at Meredith and she nodded her head with wide eyes, still munching on the fresh blueberries I handed her. To be honest, I figured this would be his answer. The kid is so honest it hurts sometimes.
“Oh Jamie, when you get a chance, Duncan wants to see you in his office. He said he had something to talk to you about,” Meredith told me as she ate the last of the blueberries in her hand.
“Ok. Do you know what’s going on?” I asked curiously.
I wonder what’s up now? The last time he called me into his office it was about meeting with an Alpha he thought might be my mate. Oh, how wrong he was about that. That guy wasn’t my mate, but was a little too interested in me. Sure he was handsome as hell, but he wasn’t mine. He ended up leaving our pack territory with a broken nose after grabbing my ass. I believe his name was Alex, but I can’t remember. If this was another prospective Alpha mate, he’d better not get handsy or he might lose a hand.
“I know we have a neighboring pack’s Alpha coming to visit tomorrow. I don’t know any more than that,” Meredith told me.
Shit, he’s really at it again, I thought. I know the point of trying to find my mate, but come on. Was he trying to get rid of me? That’s a joke. I know he loves me. I’m his favorite sister...his only sister, but it still counts.
“Alright. Can you mind-link him and let him know I’m headed to his office?” I asked with a sigh.
“Sure,” she said sweetly.
I washed my hands and told everyone I would see them soon, then headed off to Duncan’s office. I shook my head, worried that he was trying to see if this new Alpha was my mate. Sure, I wanted to find my mate, but I was also fine without him right now.
As I stood in the hallway outside the closed door, I remembered when this was our father’s office. Everyone adored our parents, even the neighboring packs we had alliances with when he was still alive. It was a huge tragedy when they were killed. The sharp stab of their loss rearing its head once again. I took a moment to collect myself before preparing to knock. I heaved a heavy sigh, then I collected myself to see my brother.
I reached my hand out to knock but the door opened before I got the chance. Duncan was standing on the other side of the door with his phone to his ear, and motioned for me to come in. I walked into Duncan’s office and sat down on one of the chairs in front of his desk while he was still on his phone talking with someone. I’m sure it had something to do with Alpha business or marketing with work, but I didn’t pay attention to the conversation.
Duncan’s about six feet tall with dark brown hair like mine, but he has dark blue eyes like our dad did. He took up raising Sean, our younger brother, and myself when our parents were killed by the oldest of our siblings. I was fourteen and Sean was only ten at the time.
Duncan found Meredith a year later and she stepped in to help him with us and the pack. They gave us the best possible childhood they could, and we have no complaints.
I still remember that horrifying night so many years ago. We were in the house my parents had bought down the street from the packhouse after my father retired as Alpha. Our oldest brother, Calvin, had taken over the pack along with his Beta Lane and Luna Brea. My father was now just around to support Calvin as he led the pack.
I remember standing in the kitchen with our parents and Sean after Duncan’s eighteenth birthday party. Our mom was making a light dinner for us while our dad talked about some funny story he remembered from years ago. That’s when Calvin burst through the back door of the house that led into the kitchen. I could tell something wasn’t right with how he came through the door. He had blood all over his shirt and skin. The smell of death lingered on him and I’m sure it still clings to him to this day. The terror that crept into my heart at that moment certainly clung to me.
I grabbed Sean immediately and held him tight to me, hoping he wouldn’t see what was about to happen. I had a feeling things were about to be bad and they were. My instincts have never let me down and that night they were spot on.
I remember how scared we both were at that time, our hearts beating out of our chests, up against each other. We watched as Calvin killed our mother first, then our father as he cried over our mother’s body. Even now, so many years later, I can remember their screams, but can’t remember their laughs or the way they smiled. Calvin had stolen those happy memories from us along with their lives.
I did the only thing a fourteen-year-old could do. I took my brother’s hand in mine and ran out of the house to find Duncan so he could keep us safe. I couldn’t find him, and I was scared out of my mind, so I ran to his best friend, Freddie’s house. Freddie’s mother was home and was able to get them for me.
That night, Duncan challenged Calvin for the pack. He won the challenge and marked Calvin as a rogue before throwing him off the territory. We had lost so much of our family that night that Duncan couldn’t bring himself to kill Calvin.
Calvin was always cruel to Sean and me growing up. Hell, he was monstrous toward Duncan and tried killing him on several occasions, but Duncan just dismissed it away everytime. He gave Calvin so many chances that he didn’t deserve. I wasn’t surprised to see this awful side of him that day. Duncan was always our protector when it came to Calvin’s wrath and he continues to be that to this day.
We all miss our parents. They were great people and even better leaders. Our father, Alpha Richard, had been a little taller than Duncan, with dark blue eyes, a goatee, and curly blond hair. He was a sweet, but strong Alpha. He loved his pack and his family deeply. He would have done anything he could for all of us.
Our mother, Luna Tessa, had been short at only five feet two inches. She had wavy, dark brown hair and light green eyes. She was a smart, loving Luna with a very caring heart.
Duncan brought me out of my thoughts by hanging up his phone as he sat down at his desk. I waited for him to speak.
“We have a neighboring pack’s Alpha coming to visit tomorrow for a meeting, and I need you to be there,” he told me.
“What could I possibly add to an Alphas’ meeting? This better not be another one of your attempts to find my mate,” I told him in disapproval.
It probably was another attempt, and if this one wasn’t my mate he’d keep on trying. Knowing him, if this Alpha wasn’t my mate, he would keep inviting more of them to our pack to meet me and more often. I gotta love him for trying though. He was positive I would be mates with an Alpha and for good reason too.
He burst into laughter at me, filling the office with his amusement. His laugh made me smile even if I wasn’t happy with him. I could never be unhappy hearing that sound.
“It’s not. They’re having some major issues with their soil and crop growth and I know if anyone can help them it’s you,” he told me.
“Oh! Ok. Exactly what type of issues are they having?” I asked.
I was intrigued and gave my brother my full attention. I love problem-solving and it having to do with plants is just a plus.
“From what I was told, they haven’t been able to grow any type of crops lately. They have no idea why. If science can’t help them, then we will have to try something else,” he told me.
I nodded, knowing what he meant by something else. My magic. I have to be careful about who knows about it. Life could be dangerous if the wrong person discovered what I could do.
“So what issue do we have to fix now?” my wolf, Zara, asked from inside my head.
“Nice to see you came to the party, Zara,” I told her, after she had been quiet for most of the morning.
“Oh, I’m always at the party,” she said.
“So what do you think? Should we help them?” I asked.
“Depends on how we need to help them, but for now I’m in,” she told me as she pranced around in my head.
“We’ll help them if we can,” I told Duncan.
“Perfect. I’ll let you know when they get here tomorrow,” he said.
I started to get up to leave, then paused. Does he have a plan if issues arise tomorrow?
“Duncan, what if science can’t help them tomorrow?” I asked.
I can’t use magic in front of any wolves that aren’t from our pack. I’ll have to really use my brain tomorrow to come up with an excuse for me to leave the room, or we will ask them to leave and come back later while I run further tests. I hate having to hide myself like this, but when you’re being hunted it’s necessary.
“Then we will send them away and look for scientific answers if we can. If we exhaust science completely, then we might need your magic as a last resort,” he said reluctantly.
“Ok, understood. I’m gonna go eat lunch. What about you?”
“I’ll go eat in a little while,” he answered.
“Alright,” I said as I turned and left his office for the dining hall to have lunch with Tara.
I left Duncan’s office and made my way to eat lunch as I thought about what he told me of the neighboring pack. The only reason that the land wouldn’t take care of you is if you didn’t take care of it. They would need a forest deity to help them if it was that bad.