Running With the Pack

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Chapter 4

It is Monday after a weekend full of nightly shifts. Not my favourite way to spend a weekend. But luckily it meant that Margaret and Victoria did not see the chaos that is y shifts. Hopefully, they have not forgotten our plans to study in the library after classes are finished today. I know Margaret probably has not, but it may have conveniently slipped from Victoria’s mind.

I pull into the parking lot on campus and swing my backpack on feeling the heavyweight of textbooks and my laptop smack heavily into my back. The force of it makes me stager forward and crash into another student beside me. I mumble a ‘sorry’ and their eyes flame with a glare. Great start to a Monday.

***

“Hey, Erica!” Margaret says with a grin that never seems to leave her face. “I hope you have everything; cause we’re going to be here for a while.”

I smile and drop my backpack beside a chair next to hers. “How was your weekend, Margaret?”

“It was good, but those shifts, man they always have a way of making me feel like I’ve been hit by a truck the morning after. How was yours?”

“Pretty similar, I honestly don’t remember much after a weekend like that.” To others, it sounds like we could be talking about a crazy job or a wild party. Having this kind of conversation with someone else is new to me, it makes me feel less, alone. Then as an afterthought, I mumble to her, “Do you remember yourself when you shift?”

“Sort of,” she answers, her eyes move to the side as if she is searching for the right words to use, “it’s kind of like, I’m having a vivid dream. But that is also because of what I am, an Omega. Naturally, my connection to the wolf spirit is weaker, making my control almost non-existent.”

Huh. I did not know that. “I thought that all of us blackout during the shift.”

“No, just the changed, Omegas feel like they’re dreaming, pack wolves feel similar but can occasionally grab hold of control. Betas and Alphas can take complete control or choose to let the beast have control.” She leans closer to me and whispers, “They also say that Alphas can control a Rogue wolf, but I have never seen it, so I don’t know if that is true.”

“Really?” I am intrigued, to have someone else control you may not sound appealing to most, but when that beast takes over my consciousness, it could be the difference of life or death for an innocent person. But I am not going to test the theory, too dangerous.

“As I said, I’ve never seen it.” With that, she opens her textbook and binder and begins taking notes for this week’s readings. I am about to do the same when a familiar presence settles herself into the seat across from me along with a young man beside her. Victoria.

“Back in control, I see. Rare to see in a Rogue.” It is not a question; it is a jab at my circumstances. I choose not to respond and pull my laptop out of my backpack to begin my outline for a paper. She sees that I am ignoring her and her nostrils flare. From the corner of my eye, I see Margaret look at Victoria with wide eyes then they turn to me in concern.

When I look over at her she covers the concern with a grimace and ducks her head down to continue studying. I know that Victoria is the highest-ranking among us and that I just blatantly disrespected her by ignoring her, but I have been dealing with comments like that and packs trying to belittle me for years. I used to respond, I used to cry. I found that the best response is no response. They do not know my circumstances, and now I know that they do not even understand what it is like. To go through a vast amount of searing pain, alone. Then to wake up with no memory of what happened after passing out and who may have been hurt. There were many times in the beginning when my dad was not sure what was happening, and he got too close. I would not know I had hurt him until the next day. He was terrified of me, as was I. They are not afraid of who they are in the same way I am of me.

The room is silent and tense as Victoria and the guy beside her glare holes into my skull, Margaret twitches in her seat uncomfortably, and I begin typing away.

The silence stretches on for what feels like hours but is only minutes. Margaret seems to have had enough when she suddenly bursts “Why do you have to say things like that Victoria?”

She is looking Victoria in the eye and the guy beside Victoria looks up from his textbook to stare in surprise at Margaret.

“Like what, Margaret?”

“Like calling her a Rogue. Her name is Erica, and she had no choice in her circumstances, so leave her alone.”

“Careful, Omega.” The guy growls, but Victoria only looks at Margaret with a quizzical expression. Margaret holds her stare and lifts her chin in defiance. Based on the guy’s reaction, this is not typical of the two of them.

Suddenly, Victoria’s gaze shifts to me, remaining quizzical. “You really want her to stick around, don’t you?” Her eyes remain on me, but her question is directed at Margaret.

“Yes, she’s my friend.” Margaret’s tone is confident and even I could tell she would not budge on this.

A warm fuzzy feeling explodes around my chest. I have never had anyone stand up for me before. And to be called her friend, I have not had one of those in years. My eyes sting with emotion but I blink it away and send Margaret a look of gratitude instead.

“I would like to invite her over this week, have a study session together without the stifling energy of the campus.”

I blanch, as does the guy. But Victoria almost looks pleased. “Very well, Margaret. You can have your friend over whenever works best for the two of you.”

Margaret practically bounces in her seat and I stare from Victoria to her in stunned silence.

“OMG, Erica! I can’t wait, of course, it is a community space we’ll be going to, but I do have my own room, we can study there. And we can drive together so that you won’t get lost, and we can jam to the radio…” she continues on about everything we can do together, and I only half listen. A friend invited me to her home. I look over at Victoria once more and she’s got a secretive smile on her face, she catches my eye and no words are exchanged, but I send the look of gratitude to her with my eyes, and she seems taken aback. My only hope is that we can continue this forward momentum and maybe I will gain more than one friend.

***

Today is the day I am going to Margaret’s house to study. We have been texting back and forth on what days will work best and settled for today, a Thursday. She said that when Victoria told her parents, the Alphas, that a changed wolf was coming over, they were reluctant, but Victoria would not budge. She said that as the resident ‘little sister’ she almost always gets her way on these things, even though she gets pushed around a lot.

I leave my last class of the day and start walking to my car, Margaret said to meet her here so we could get going right away. I open the back door to toss my stuff in the back when I hear Margaret talking excitedly to someone else.

I look over and see her and Victoria saying goodbyes and before Victoria gets to her car she turns to me and says, “Drive safe, Rogue.” Even with that word, her friendly and almost teasing tone helps the tension in my shoulders relax just as Margaret comes up beside me.

“You can just toss your stuff back here,” I say with a grimace. I’m not ashamed of my car, it is reliable and enough for me. But compared to the car I see her pull into the campus every day it is an old, rust bucket.

“Thanks!” She says in her chirpy tone and tosses her stuff on the seats. Then she and I both climb into our respective seats and she directs me to her house. It is not fair, but with all the winding roads in Banff it takes a while, and one must always be cautious.

During the drive, she tells me about her pack. They call themselves the Banff pack and it is lead by Alpha Daniel and Alpha Brittany Thomson. This fact alone has me interested. She says that Alpha Daniel and Alpha Brittany met when they were young and they clicked instantly. They are married with two children, Victoria, whom I have obviously met, and Jayson, the future Alpha. Then there is the current Beta, Ruth Cross, and her husband Lucas. They have a son, George, who may also get the Beta title. There is competition between Victoria and George for being Beta. Though both could have it their differences may get in the way of healthy pack functioning. There are regular pack members, Katie and Jonathan Beard, and their children Justin, apparently the guy from the library confrontation this past Monday, Fiona, and Ryan who is the other Omega. Margaret also has two siblings in the pack, Carly and Kenneth. I had seen them on orientation day with her. Overall, it is an average pack size for this far north.

“So, Victoria and George? What happened between them?” My immediate thought is that one slept with the other and did not call back.

Margaret disproves this immediately when she tells me, “Well, um… It’s kind of difficult to admit but, I slept with George not long after coming to the pack, and, well, it didn’t end well. Victoria, being the protective older sister type she is, has resented him for me since. I’ve gotten over it. At least, I think I have.” She is silent after admitting this to me.

I have never been involved in girl talk before, even if I had I have never had the experience to even try to give advice. So, being my awkward self, I simply say, “Oh.”

Margaret lets out a laugh, “It’s okay if you don’t have anything to say. Sometimes it is nice to just talk and have someone listen without offering input, helps me verbally process.”

I nod in understanding as she points me on the last turn that brings me to her secluded street. They are surrounded by a forest, similar to my place. That, however, is where the similarities end. Their little neighbourhood has beautiful family homes along the sides and at the very end is a mansion. Margaret tells me to pull into that one. Never before have I felt so self-conscious of my rusty Civic. Next to this beautiful house, it can not compare no matter how reliable it is.

We get out and get our things. As we walk up to the massive front door she tells me that she and her siblings moved in here with the Alpha family a few years ago after their old pack was attacked by hunters.

“Hunters?” Do people hunt werewolves?

“Well, yeah. With all the savage killings that occur yearly, I don’t blame them.”

My thoughts run to my first shift and I can feel my skin pale, and my palms sweat. I clench my fingers around my backpack straps and follow her inside.

As soon as I cross the threshold, I need to stop to take in my surroundings. It is not a cold modern mansion, but a warm cabin-type mansion. Natural wood flooring, exposed beams, warms lighting. They even have a stone fireplace with one of those stereotypical deer heads over the mantle.

Margaret looks back after noticing I am not behind her. She giggles at my reaction, “I know, a little over the top, but it’s home.”

The door opens again behind me and Victoria and, I’m assuming Justin walks in.

“Welcome to our humble abode, Rogue.” Victoria comes up beside me and looks around her home, “Well, humble may be pushing it.”

Justin strolls by mumbling something about checking in with Jay.

Jay? Like Jayson the Alpha? He is here right now? My palms renew their sweating. In all my years I have never met an Alpha. Victoria is intimidating enough, and she is apparently a Beta.

Margaret notices my panicked expression, “What’s up, Erica?”

Victoria turns to me as well and looks concerned. I must look terrible if even she is looking at me like that.

Alpha” I croak out. Margaret hums in understanding and Victoria only snickers.

“Have you ever met an Alpha before, Erica?” Victoria asks with a smirk.

I shake my head ‘no’ and her smirk only grows. She says nothing and goes the same way that Justin went. It is safe to say that I am now terrified.

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