Seeking happiness

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IX

It is late at night; stars light up the sky. The moon is on her way up. Chris sits on a bench on the porch in front of the packhouse, deep in thought. He loves when he and his brothers are all together. People who don’t really know him, especially the people in the city all think he is a man without feelings, that he is harsh, insensitive, heartless even.

But when he is in the city, he just doesn’t show who he really is. He doesn’t like to be in Litchley, he is just there for business, nothing else. Why does he have to be nice to the people that only want him for his money, for his connections, for his success? He really detests the way the people in the city use him, so why does he have to pretend that he cares about those people, when he doesn’t, right? Here in Miller Creek, here in the woods, at the feet of the Great Grey Mountains, that is where he feels home, where his family and friends are. This is where he can be his true self. This is where he shows affection, his caring heart and maybe even love.

“Hey brother, thought you might be here.” Nick plops down next to Chris on the bench holding two beers. “Here,” he says, and he hands Chris one and takes a sip of the other one. “I forgot how peaceful and quiet it can be here at night.”

“Yeah,” Chris sighs.

“What’s on your mind, Chris? You’re so quiet, it’s not like you. Is something bugging you?”

“I wish I could shut down or sell the business in the city. I’m sick and tired of it.”

“Then why don’t you sell the company?” Nick is surprised, why wouldn’t he do that?

“I can’t. If I sell the company, our income will be cut off.”

“Do you really depend on that income that much? I thought it was for your personal wallet, not to sustain the whole pack.”

“No, the pack depends on it. Otherwise, we have no income here.”

“Then you have to find another way to create income. Or you could just give up your CEO status and be a silent partner. Then you still have income, but you don’t carry the burden anymore.”

“I already have a representative who sees to my business when I am not there. So, I don’t have to go as much as I used to, but it is still too often for my liking.”

“Wouldn’t the income you get from the sale of the business be enough to survive for a while, while you’re thinking for another way of income?”

“I don’t know. I don’t really want to sell if I’m not sure there is a solution. Even if the sale yields enough to make a good living for the next twenty years. I need insurance, a backup. It’s not just me, you know, all these people here are depending on it.”

“I understand. If you like, I’ll think about a solution and when I have an idea, I’ll let you know.”

“Thanks. I knew you would understand.” They sit quietly for a while, enjoying the peaceful and quiet night.

‘Boss, rogues! North-eastern border! Two of the guards are down! They are coming in fast!’ Just like that the peace and quiet is gone.

“Shit, not good! Nick, get your mate in safety. Ring the alarm, we are under attack!” Nick jumps up and walks inside to ring the alarm.

‘How many of them are there?’

‘About a fifty, Alpha, but they’re fast. I can’t hold them back!’

‘I’ll send help, hang on in there.’ As soon as Chris is done mind linking the guard that alarmed him, all the warriors stand in front of him, Leo is also amongst them.

“Guys, we’re under attack. There is a group of fifty rogues on its way to the packhouse. We have to act fast. One group goes left, Leo, it’s time to prove yourself, you take the lead on the left. Another group goes right, and the rest is with me, we’ll close them in. Be careful, have each other’s back, but spare no one.”

“Can I help?” From the right the voice of Nick reaches Chris.

“Can you make sure that everyone in the packhouse is in the safe room? Just in case.”

“I think they can evacuate themselves pretty fine. I’m coming with you. You can’t change my mind.”

“But your mate-”

“Stop Chris! This is the exact reason why I am here, let me come with you!”

“Okay, then you go right, take the lead there.” Chris lets out a curse. He doesn’t have the time to argue about this. He starts sprinting, then leaps up and shifts in mid-air. Everyone who was with him, follows him. All shifting into their wolf forms. When you see the Anderson-brothers together in their wolf form, there’s actually almost no difference between them. The only things that are different are their eyes and their size. Chris is a bit bigger and more muscular than Nick and Leo. For the rest they have the same shade of black with a deep indigo shine.

Chris looks to Leo on his left, then to Nick on his right when he links; ‘Nick, Leo, if you come across the rogue-alpha, bring him in, I have some questions for him.’

‘Will do,’ they both respond.

‘Be safe.’

Chris sprints at the front of his group of warriors leading them to the place where the rogues are. The rogues already made it far into the territory, they reached a clearing in the middle of the woods. He immediately sees the rogue-alpha in the front of the rogue-group, heading his way. He holds in a little, to be able to see what the rogue-alpha is doing. He doesn’t want to go into the fight blindly, he wants to see who he is dealing with. What his enemy’s tactics are, how he fights, so he can see attacks coming and so he knows what possible weak spots there could be. He lowers his head and his body, his tail low, hairs straight up and his teeth bare, saliva dripping down. He waits, ready for anything.

The rogue-alpha doesn’t think one moment and lunges for Chris neck. But because Chris was studying him, he sees it coming and jumps to the side, the alpha bites the dirt. Chris quickly turns around to bite into the right hind leg of the alpha. The alpha tries to shake Chris off, but doesn’t succeed. He turns his head to the right and tries to lunge for Chris’ neck, but only grazes Chris’ fur. Chris quickly lets go of the leg and backs of a little to see what the alpha is going to do next. He seems to go straight for Chris’ neck again.

Is he really that stupid, does he really think I don’t see those attacks coming? Chris thinks by himself. Again, Chris jumps out of reach, and turns to face the alpha again. He takes a second to glance around him. From the corners of his eyes, he sees that his pack has the upper hand in the fight. Already a lot of rogues are on the ground. From his left he sees Leo fighting a big dirty brown muscled wolf, but Leo seems to manage. Nick is on the other side of the fight, just barely holding on. Nick lays on his back, the teeth of a big grey wolf right in front of his eyes, aiming for his neck. Chris doesn’t think one moment and runs to Nick’s aid. With his head he runs into the rogue, smashing it into the trees at the edge of the clearing.

‘Behind you!’ Nick warns him, trying to catch a breath. Chris quickly turns around and sees that the rogue-alpha has followed him, using the distraction to attack him from behind. Chris growls, bares his teeth, keeps his head low. When the rogue-alpha jumps up to land on Chris’ back, Chris waits for the right moment. Because the alpha jumps up, Chris can reach his neck from underneath.

He opens his mouth and manages to get a hold of the muscle and skin of the alpha’s shoulder. He squeezes his jaws together, pulling the alpha down on his side. Just as he thinks he has him pinned down, the alpha wriggles to get himself loose. When Chris tries to get a better grip on the alpha, the alpha seems to notice and jerks his shoulder out of Chris’ jaws. Because Chris’ jaws were shut tightly, a big open wound is shown, almost showing the bone underneath. When the alpha notices that he is loose, he wastes no minute and with his tail between his legs, he runs off limping, into the forest, back where he came from.

When the rest of the surviving rogues notice that their alpha is running off, they all follow him. Chris runs after them, with all his warriors on his tail to drive them away from the territory. At the border Chris stops and watches the rogues run as fast as they can, around him he can hear the growling and howling of his warriors, celebrating their victory. ‘Well done guys, they didn’t expect us to come from three sides. I am proud of you.’ He mind-links his warriors.

When he turns back to the clearing, he mind-links his brothers. ‘Leo, check all the bodies if there are any survivors, don’t spare their lives. They didn’t want to spare ours either. Get rid of the bodies after we’ve slept. Nick, open the save room, let those who are inside out, and then check on your mate to see if she’s alright and let me know. You did well guys, I am proud of your teamwork. Make sure you get some rest, take care of yourselves, it is late, you deserve it.’

Chris walks back to the packhouse. He enters in his wolf-form. When he arrives at his quarters, he shifts back, then heads straight for his bathroom. He feels the need to rinse all the blood, sweat and bloody memories from his body. When he gets out, he only puts on some sweatpants. He walks over to his dresser where a set of a bottle of whiskey with four glasses are displayed on a tray. He pours an amount of whiskey into a glass, grabs a cigarette and a lighter from a package that lays beside it and takes it all to the opened double doors that lead to a little balcony. He breathes in deeply the fresh forest air. Then he puts his glass down on the wooden railing of the balcony and lights his cigarette. He takes a big puff of his cigarette and then one more. He isn’t a heavy smoker, but sometimes the occasion makes him long for one and tonight is one of those moments. He takes a sip of his whiskey, then he leans against the door frame and looks to the stars. Tomorrow he has a busy day. They really need to make plans with Nick to exterminate this rogue-pack. The situation is getting worse, if they don’t do something, the problems will get out of hand.

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