The Mournful Howl

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Chapter 29

Gabriel wiped the sweat from his forehead as he and several other members of his pack finished filling in his father’s grave.

In the four and a half months he’d been away from Jayne so many terrible events had taken place that the death of his father seemed inevitable.

The night he’d been forced to reject the love of his life began a saga reminiscent of the Iliad.

After two days of hard travel he’d arrived at his former pack finding it in shambles.

Buildings were obviously neglected, in need of repairs and painting, the common grounds were overgrown and unkempt. Children who should have been in school ran the pack trails, their clothes and faces filthy.

Stepping into the pack house, Gabriel nearly vomited at the smell that assaulted his senses.

It was the smell of sour laundry, rotten food and illness.

“What happened?” he asked his father, his eyes taking in piles of garbage that littered the entry and stairs.

“I can’t get any of these fucks to take care of things ever since your mother died,” Richard spat kicking out at a young woman hurrying past.

Gabriel couldn’t believe how much his childhood home had changed.

Following his father to his office, he was shocked to see that the state of the house only got worse the further in they moved.

The Alpha’s office was filled with stacks and stacks of aged papers, unorganized files and so many empty liquor bottles that Gabriel wondered how his father could walk to his desk without breaking his neck.

“Sit!” his father ordered, pointing to a file laden chair.

Taking the lot, Gabriel moved them to the floor and took a seat, a cloud of dust enveloping him from the fabric.

“First, I need a drink,” Richard sighed, digging through several drawers, knocking stacks of papers to the floor in the process.

“Damn,” he cursed, pulling out a bottle of dark amber liquid.

Uncapping it, he held it in the air in front of his son.

“To the return of the disappointing son,” he sighed before bringing the bottle to his lips and drinking half its contents in one go.

"Fuck you father,” Gabriel growled, pushing himself up.

“Sit your broken ass back down before I send my men back for that little whore of yours!” his father yelled, slamming the liquor bottle onto the top of his desk.

Fear clutching his heart, Gabriel did as he was told, feeling himself falling back into his fathers clutches.

As a child, he’d done everything he could to try and win his fathers approval. We trained the hardest of all the young wolves, he’d studied for hour on end trying to earn perfect grades, but it was never enough.

Despite that, he kept trying all to please the father who hated him, but in the end it just wasn’t enough. Now he had to do the same thing in order to protect Jayne.

Closing his eyes, he slid back into his seat beginning to rebuild the emotional barriers he’d let his mate knock down.

He had to become the man his father had raised. Nothing could touch his heart again.

“Good boy,” Richard slurred, as if Gabriel was an obedient dog. “Let’s get started.”

There conversation was interrupted by a knock at the door.

“Come,” his father called, looking over his sons shoulder.

Turning as well, Gabriel watched as it opened to reveal a frightened looking girl of about eighteen, her arms held by two feral looking guards.

Her face was tear streaked and pale, her eyes bloodshot and swollen.

“Ah! Gabriel,” his father cooed, motioning for the men to bring the girl forward, “meet your new mate.”

Rising, Gabriel moved to meet his intended, saddened when he saw a fresh wave of tears roll down her cheeks.

“This is Evangelina,” his father continued with the introduction. “Her mate died in the same rogue attack as your mother and brother.”

"Father,” Gabriel thought, looking to his father, ”this girl is in no fit shape to even be considering remating so soon. She needs time to mourn.”

Before his father could reply, the window behind his desk shattered and four foul smelling rogues burst into the room.

Grabbing his erstwhile mate, Gabriel hauled her out of the room, pressing her against the wall opposite.

Pulling out his note pad he quickly scrawled ‘RUN’ on its paged before thrusting it at her and returning to the raging battle in the other room.

Taking in the scene, he saw the two guards who’d brought Evangelina fighting a rogue each as his father wrestled with the two others.

Without hesitation, Gabriel ran to his father’s side, taking on the larger of the two opponents.

Extending his claws and canines he attacked head on, determined to protect his pack from these savages.

Despite a severe bite to his shoulder and deep claw marks across his back, he managed to dispose the the rogue before turning on the one looming over his father, its own fangs heading for the prone mans neck.

Despite hating the man, Gabriel couldn’t stand by and let the filthy creature kill the man.

With a deep snarl, he lunged at the creature, capturing it by snaking his forearm around its neck, rolling with it still in his grasp.

Landing on his back, he tightened his grip on the rogue ignoring the claws that dug into his arm as he tried to free himself.

With a powerful jerk, Gabriel felt his victims neck snap, his flailing hands dropping lifelessly to the sides.

Pushing the corpse of, he saw that the guard had just finished dealing with their own attackers.

Hearing a rasping gurgle, Gabriel rolled to see his father still on his back, blood trickling from his mouth.

Without hesitation, he scooped up his body and hurried to the pack’s medical clinic.

Unfortunately, the clinic was in the same state as the rest of the pack, rundown, understaffed and undersupplied. Its only redeeming points were the pack healer and her assistance who’d managed to work with their meager supplies to keep it sanitary.

Leaving his father in their care, Gabriel was pulling into another battle, this time with three times as many rogues.

It had gone on like that for months on end.

While his father languished on the hospital bed, never regaining consciousness, Gabriel tried to repair the damage done to the pack by Richard's own neglect and almost constant rogue raids.

He'd already released a very grateful Evangelina from their father's agreement and promised that never again would any man, woman or child of his pack would be used as a bargaining chip ever again.

Through days spent repairing buildings, reinforcing their borders, training his packs fighters in skills he'd learned over his years of exile, and sleepless nights, his arms aching to feel Jayne wrapped in them once more, Gabriel slowly rebuilt his former home into something he'd be proud to bring his chosen mate to.

Though he'd thought about going back and getting her sooner, it seemed the fates were against him. There always seemed to be another rogue attack, or a dispute with a bordering pack that required his attention first.

Thankfully, his ability to mind-link with his pack members had returned quickly thanks to being his fathers son, and it made most of his work run smoothly. When it came time to meet with other packs, Evangelina had accepted the post as his interpreter, and soon became as close to him as a sister.

Despite all of his success, Gabriel still yearned for Jayne every waking minute.

Soon, he promised himself, he would return to their cabin and bring her home with him, and together they would raise a family.

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