Meeting the next morning had been nerve fraying madness because I could tell half the Council had been awake all night and the other half were plotting. The worst part was I was among both halves. I wasn't going to let myself get outmaneuvered by a bunch of politicians with fake smiles and even faker scents. I was up all night going over what I was going to be saying should stuff go wrong or worse.
Pat and I walked in to see the Council just sitting down, and I could smell the tension in the air. The fact that Travis was frowning was a good indication that something was wrong. Horribly wrong. I was almost waiting for it to get worse. It didn't take long.
One thing I will say is I completely underestimated how much of a conspiracy was going and how much the Council could totally fuck up. I mean, I handed them copies of my findings, had personal assurances from two councilmen that they would look into the matter, and they had twenty-four hours to make calls, send emails, text, or even phone a fucking friend to find an answer. What I got was nothing.
I somewhat expected there to be very little. I mean, if I were going to make close to three hundred people disappear, I would get rid of as much shit as I could. Destroy any hard copies, erase emails, delay messages. I mean, if I can think this up, then they would have a better time because they're politicians. Shifty is what they do.
Suzette came in looking utterly pissed, and I must say it was a damn hot look on her. She was pretty but not really head-turn worthy to me. Would have I banged her before I met Pat? Yes, duh, but she wasn't all that. Until she got angry. Then her eyes burned, and her pale skin flushed to bring out the red in her auburn hair. Pissing her off would be worth the fight just to see how amazing she looked, and the sex after would be like trying to quench the sun.
Pat snickered beside me when he smelled my slight interest. I can't really get angry because I tease him infinitely more when he finds someone attractive.
Focus, I told myself.
Good thing I didn't get too distracted because Suzette was telling me something no one wanted to hear. Every trace of the reports from the past few months had been eradicated. We all knew this was utter shit because she would have copies on her area back in her home office in Saskatchewan, but someone had gotten to those even.
This resulted in the beginning of days of shouting. I would tune out until Pat would nudge me, which is why they were all staring at me like I was retarded.
"I'm thinking," was all I said. Travis rolled his eyes. He knew I was so not paying attention to the crap spewing forth from the Council. He also knew I could, if needed, repeat back their argument if I had to. I could zone out but retain most of what was said. Thank you, public schooling and lectures from the various heads from the orphanages I lived in before I was adopted.
"Security is lax..." blah blah.
"You're not fit to be on this Council..." yada yada.
It went on for too long and several times they had to recess until tempers would calm, which was another bit of runaround bullshit. I was noticing a pattern though. One of the few people NOT engaging in the shouting matches was SFB. He would start them and sit back to watch his handywork. It was all too obvious that he knew something, but no one could pinpoint what it was. He was too cool, too good at using his stuck-up snobbery to deflect the issue, and once he was done, the Council would be yelling at each other again.
I got a nudge from Pat before they all rounded on me. Looks like it was my turn to talk. "No, I haven't gone directly," I said. The topic was whether to allow me to take my own forces to investigate.
"Which means you have some information," said the Smug French Bastard. This, of course, set off another bout of shouting because they all had copies of my findings.
"I obviously have information. All of which is in the packet I gave everyone. Did you even read it? Can you even read it?" Oh, that really got his goat, and my petty victory was short lived because the Council was still shouting. Nothing was getting done.
"I don't have to stand for this," growled SFB.
"Good thing you're sitting down," was my reply. I was starting to like this. I could go on insulting him and none on the Council would care because they were too involved in their own shit. Even Travis was involved as he was trying to call the meeting to order.
"You are the bastard of a goat-fucking whore. You lie with pigs!" SFB would have to do better than that to piss me off. "Your mate is nothing more than a misbegotten mongrel!"
Ding ding ding! We have a winner! "Are you insulting my mate?" Pat laid his hand on my arm just as my phone rang. He fished it out of my pocket to answer. "You would dare insult my mate, you self-felating ass-munching frog?" My shout silenced the room, and Travis stood slowly to look over at SFB as if to remind him who was in the room. I didn't know how strong the SFB was, but I doubted he could match me and Travis. "If you say one more word about my mate, I will bend you over and shove your head up your ass where it has been residing since you were conceived. If that doesn't work, I will enlist the help of my mate's father who is also none too happy with you."
"Good. Jon, it's Dyl," said Pat to me. He was quiet, but all talking stopped as I snatched the phone.
"Talk to me, son," I said. I listened avidly as he told me what he had found. Three days. It took him three days to find out what had happened and no one on the Council could give me anything but hell. It hit me hard when he told me that Clancy Wallace died. He was too damn young, but he was skilled. He couldn't fight magic. Made me super glad Phuong was along for the trip. "Dyl, you're awesome. I knew it was right to send my best to do what the Council could or would not. Keep us posted if anything comes up." I only felt a little bad about hanging up on him, but I had to plan my attack.
"Don't keep us in suspense, son," said the head of the Council. Did I feel condescended to? Nope, not with how old he was. He was old enough to call Travis son.
"I am very pleased to report that my Prime Enforcer and his group have found many of our missing people, as well as some from Salt Lake City Pack. They were being peacefully detained by a small shaman sect who has been hit by a large Lycan force. Some of their numbers were taken or killed. With my team there, we can begin negotiations for their release and potential treaties." The news seemed to bring some relief to some members of the Council. Not all, though. Especially with what I had to say next. "The attackers came from the east, were confirmed to be Lycan, and may have come from as far as Quebec. This, of course, takes the strain off you, Councilwoman Suzette, but the burden falls on you, SFB." I turned to glare at him.
"What is this SFB?" he asked, looking down his nose at me.
Everyone in the council chambers, even the Head himself, chimed in with "Smug French Bastard," which made me all kinds of happy. One, they knew he was smug, and two, they read my reports where I was calling him that.
The SFB just glared haughtily. "I spit on you all."
"Still doesn't change the fact that you're in the hot seat. Now, what do you plan to do about a rogue group of Lycans out of your district?" I was forcing the issue to shift to him.
"How can you be sure they came from my area? Manitoba is still east of Saskatchewan." I could see the wheels in his head turning, wondering how he could deflect this.
"But Manitoba is made up of shaman camps and Solaris, neither of which would have beef with the Equis Camp whose members are made of both," said Councilwoman Suzette. I could tell she was more than happy to be out of the hot seat, especially after all the reports from her area were gone.
"Solaris wouldn't harm their own and won't attack without provocation. Before you ask how I know this, I was raised by a Solaris, my son is a Solaris, and I have seen how they work and think." I had to keep him from dodging too many things. Keep firing and he won't be able to dodge it all.
I looked up when the doors opened, and I felt so much relief flood through me. I had more help come waltzing in, smelling of surf and sun. "This is a closed session, gentlemen, please state your names and pack affiliations, or I will have to ask you to leave," said the Head of the Council.
"Betas Kao and Dean Whitmore-Saechao, Homestead Pack, and our adjunct Beta Xander Travers of Cali Sands," said Kao, my awesome Beta. One of them since Dean was also my Beta. He’s been yelling at me for years; I figured I'd make it official now that he was Lycan. "I am also here with permission to report back to my father, the honorable Wind Master of the Rogue Valley Flock, and to speak on his behalf should the need arise." Kao ended with a bow of respect to the Council.
"Very well. Gentlemen, please take your seats." They did, and I shot them all the biggest look of gratitude ever. I needed all the minds I could have in keeping the SFB on his toes before he fell on his ass. “Jonathan, you seemed very relieved to see your betas.”
“I am, sir. They can help keep me from killing anyone for insulting my mate or help me hide the body.” I am so glad the Head knew a joke when he heard one because his old eyes sparkled for a moment in humor. “To continue. The peoples of Manitoba would not commit these crimes against Equis Camp. So, unless my geography is off, that leaves Ontario and Quebec. Unless, of course, the attacking parties came from New York. Can you assure me they didn’t, Tony?” I fixed him with a level look, and I was a bit proud and slightly ashamed he swallowed in fear. I knew the alpha he had served before this post was no true alpha, so he may not have had that answer-the-fucking-question a real Alpha was capable of. Pop had it in spades, but he knew when I was lying, so I rarely got to see it.
“I can assure you they did not come from that region.” He was too scared, and his scent was too honest, to be lying.
“That leaves you, SFB.” I crossed my arms and stared directly into his eyes. He was no alpha, and I took a small amount of pride when he dipped his head.
“It again comes to me to fix your American problems.” He gave a faux sigh. “I will look into it, but if I find they come from outside my region, I expect compensation.”
I grinned at him innocently. “Some cheese with that whine? Maybe some French fries?” I couldn’t help but laugh when I heard Dean whisper. “Or maybe some crepes, Suzette?” Ever hear the sound of twenty facepalms? It’s awesome. I don’t know which is better: the people who got the joke and facepalmed or the ones who completely missed it. Dad jokes for the win.
Venting to Dean had been a mondo stress reliever, even with Kao snickering in the background when my inner surfer came out. Pat had been there. He had seen the shit I had to go through to even get this far with the Council, but Dean needed to know what he was up against with this group of asshats. My bud would just nod, commiserate, and once I was done, he placed his hand on my shoulder and looked into my eyes.
“Sucks to be you,” he said, and I socked his shoulder even while I laughed.
“I’ve missed you. Like a hernia, but I’ve missed you.” A knock on the door to our room’s inner door, the one that Aaron used, surprised me. Pat opened it and cocked his head to the side.
“Xander,” he said with a bit of a quizzical look.
“Alpha-Mate Farris. Have I come at a bad time?” I recalled Xander Travers. He was Goldie Kirkland’s beta-designate. Good man, from what little I knew of him. Hell, he would have to be if he was Victoria’s mate, boyfriend, whatever. I hadn’t spoken to him much, but if Goldie sent him, I better start.
Patrick shook his head and gestured into the room. “Come in, Xander, and leave the titles at the door. This is a title-free room.”
Travers came in and gave me a formal bow. “I’m not sure how to officially greet you…um…”
I chuckled. “Jon or Jonathan is fine, Xander. Especially while we’re not doing anything official. Have a seat,” I said as I gestured to one of the table’s two chairs. He sat a bit stiffly. “So, what bring you here?”
“One item is getting some experience with the Council, or as Alpha Kirkland calls them, ‘the old fart brigade.’” That made me chuckle. “The other is a simple message: She misses you.”
It took me only a split second to wonder who he meant, but I nodded when I got it. “I miss her, too.” I smiled at Pat whose own smile was one of fondness.
I wish the rest of the time was spent just relaxing in the rooms, but it wasn’t. It was a shit ton more stress, and most of it came from the SFB. He was slimy, no good, underhanded, cheating, manipulating, smug, bastardly, French (had to be added or else I would have to change his acronym), lying, but fuck it all, we couldn’t catch him at it. He was too slippery, and it was the most infuriating experience of my life. I knew he was covering something up. We all knew he was covering something up, but we couldn’t figure out what it was.
For days it went on with me, Dean, Kao, and Pat trying to see what his left hand was doing while he waved his right hand around. Even Travis was trying to watch. I think we were so busy watching his left hand while the others watched the right that we didn’t see he was using his toes, too. Maybe he had a third hand no one could see. Fucking SFB.
That day’s Council session was dragging into the night. It looked like it was going to get really, really heated because no one could find any trace of a crack insurgence team capable of kidnapping wizards. Shaman. Whatever.
I growled at my phone, stupid fucking technological piece of utter filth, and thrust it at Pat as it rang.
“Zeke, why are you…” my mate started, but it wasn’t his voice I could overhear on the line. It was Dylan.
“Not Zeke. Put Dad on the phone.” I let out a heavy sigh, because his tone was not happy.
“He’s in a Council session, Dyl.” My mate, seeing I didn’t want to hear any more bad news, tried to field the call himself.
No go. We had to raise a stubborn and headstrong ass. When Pat gasped, I grabbed the phone from him. “Watch your language, Little Dude,” which was all kinds of dumb to say to him, but what he told me next turned my blood to ice. Him calling me Alpha, which only happened once when he took up the mantle as Prime Enforcer, was enough to shut me up and really listen. The attack he told me about brought my blood to a boil, hearing Angus McDouchebag may had something to do with it made me start growling, but hearing that Gene, the man I sent up there, the man I respected as both father and brother, was dead made my blood freeze.
Hearing my son break down in tears broke me. There was a slight shuffle of the phone on the other side. “The Head Enforcer is currently busy, Alpha,” came Quintin’s brisk military voice. If he was now on the phone, it was far worse than I was dreading.
“Fucking shit.” The entire Council was straining to hear what I did. Updates from the actual field were rare. “Quint, anyone else hurt?” I was livid. My anger would rage and then become cold. I had to get a grip on an involuntary shift and run off to Saskatchewan, so the Council didn’t say a word. Travis had left his seat to come down and lay his hand on my shoulder as my Betas and mate came in close. Family had drawn in and was keeping this just us for now. If the Council found it rude, they didn’t utter a peep.
“Not lastingly, sir. We’ll all heal.” Which meant there was only one fatality. Gene. It was a huge loss to our hearts. For over a decade, Gene had been in and out and around our lives. He was a beloved part of our family, and someone had taken him from us. “What are your orders, Alpha?” I could hear Quint was hanging on to his military training by a thread. Having to deal with his loss, Dylan’s breakdown, and my anger was too much, so I did what I could to lessen his strain.
“Get home. Get me prints and anything else needed to ID the trackers. I need hard evidence.” I would hang the fucking piece of shit out to dry and completely destroy the ECP if it had anything to do with this.
“Yessir. Anything else?”
“No. I'll notify Gene's next of kin. Tell Dylan he doesn't need...” I heard Dylan’s warning growl come through the phone and knew I should stop any thought of telling him what he needs or doesn’t need. “Or not. Just get him calmed down. I know you boys were fond of Gene, but Dylan worshiped him.” I hung up and hung my head. There was a brief moment when all of us in that huddle just sighed, but when I looked up, my eyes were flame red. I turned them on the Council.
“I regret to inform you that Lunais Liaison Eugene Johnson is in the arms of Luna.” More than one gasp could be heard, and their scents turned to bitter bile as mourning began. Under all of this was one scent that seemed thrilled. I turned my gaze to the SFB. I don’t remember moving or grabbing him out of his seat by his throat. I don’t remember shifting even. I do remember him pissing himself as I pulled his face close to my snapping jaws. I could kill him before anyone got another breath. “If I find out you had anything to do with this, I will put all the forces of Homestead against you and whoever killed my friend.”
“The Rogue Valley Flock stands with Homestead,” came Kao’s clear, strong voice. “Beware the skies as you watch the ground.”
“Cali Sands stands with Homestead,” said Travers.
“The provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba stand with Homestead.” Suzette’s voice was firm but filled with sorrow.
When the Head of the Council stood, his posture perfect, he looked around the room. His gaze, for once, was perfectly clear. “The North American Lycan Council stands with Homestead.” I was so shocked I dropped the SFB in the puddle of his own piss. I knew Travis was a powerful Alpha. I was no slouch. Here though, in the body of the aged man, was something I would never have guessed. I felt so weak compared to the sheer energy pouring off the Head. “I stand with Homestead for the death of my son.”
War had been declared. Now all we had to do was find our target.
“Pretty much the rest has been back and forth. So, did you find me the evidence I have been looking for?” I asked my son as I shoveled potato salad into my mouth. I was starving, having been off food for a few days. Stress makes me stop eating, or I puke. Probably why I was still so trim.
Dylan handed me a two-inch-thick file folder. “Everything we could dig up on the attacking group. They come from many packs and groups from Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, and drumroll please… the fucking ECP. Funny thing is, ninety percent were listed as rogue within the weeks prior to the mass kidnappings.”
I skimmed what he had collected. This was enough to start proceedings. I was still thumbing through it when Dyl’s phone went off multiple times. “Someone’s popular.”
“Thank god for that, too. I’m forwarding some info my spies have collected.”
I looked up from the files with a grin. “You have spies?”
“Colt and Phuong. They’ve been working on tracking the people back to their hideouts.” Spies, indeed. I motioned for him to continue when three other phones went off. Mine, Pat’s and Dean’s. He had cc’d all of us just to make sure the data wasn’t lost. “As you can see, the spies found out where all their orders are coming from.”
I glared at my phone and then blinked as it was crushed. “Oops. Honey,” I called over, and Pat was chuckling. His own phone was powdered, too. “We need new phones now.” He pulled out his tablet and ordered them.
“So, can I go rip his skin off one cell at a time, Dad?”
“No, son. This one is mine.”
Angus Mc-Fucking-Leod was the source of all their orders. The same building where I used to work. The same building I kicked his ass in. All of this was tied directly to the ECP. I had everything I needed to take him down.
The doors to our little room burst open and in stalked Travis. I had never seen him so enraged. Oh boy, he was pissed. “I can’t go after him, but I am telling you now, Jon, as your father-in-law, former alpha, and friend to kill that rat-bastard Angus.”
Looks like Dyl had cc’d it to Travis, too. That’s my boy.
“Gladly. The problem is going in. Homestead has plenty of forces, but we would be vulnerable to attack if we took everyone.”
I jumped a bit when Kao appeared next to me. “Jon, I have fifty of RVF’s soldier on standby. We fly on your orders.”
“The Wind Master approved this?” I had to ask, because that was a coast to coast trip. The cost alone would be a lot, and they may not return.
“He would send more, but he’s in discussion for the mating ceremony for my sister to two Shaman.” My jaw hit the floor.
“When he is out of the discussion, give him my thanks.” Phuong…mated…to two other people? Was that even possible?
Dyl chose that moment to be his normal evil shit self. “You do realize that this mating will result in you and I being related by marriage, right Feathers?” Kao raised his brow. “One of her mates is my cousin, Rhava.”
“Explain that while we head back to the Council chambers,” I said as we left. Travis gave a brief nod and marched ahead of us to take his seat for the session after lunch. The Little Dude told us everything he could fit into the short walk time, but I now had an aunt and some cousins of my own to meet. Interesting turn of events, but it wasn’t important at this time.
When we walked in, the Council chambers were in an uproar. This was a first, but I was getting snippets of the yell. The Council was literally divided. You had one faction for the execution of Angus McLeod and all parties responsible, and the other faction was against it. Funny that all those against it were from the east coast of North America. From Newfoundland to Florida, the four Council reps were all against it. One other, the rep from the South also seemed against it, citing a need for more solid evidence.
The only person not shouting, not siding with either faction, was Tony. As Head of Council Security, I would imagine him trying to do more to bring this group to order, but he sat there looking resigned to his fate. It was something very out of character for the man. He had been a staunch supporter of the laws when he and I worked together, but something had changed in him.
“Enough!” Patrick shouted, his voice silencing the entire Council. I had never heard him use that tone. I didn’t know he could use it. It was the Alpha Command voice. It carried the force of power I never knew was in my mate. I got hard. “Sit down!” he yelled again, and even his own father sat with his mouth shut.
Perhaps I wasn’t the first Alpha Lunais of our generation as I previously thought. Patrick nodded to me.
“Thank you,” I said into the silence. “Now, I am guessing you have all received some intel from my Enforcer on where the rogue group has been getting their orders.” A few nodded, unable to speak. Damn, my man was powerful when he wanted to be. “These have been verified via coyote and shaman. I, Alpha Jonathan Davenport, do call for a vote to accept this as factual.”
“I second the motion,” said a new voice as it entered the room. I looked back to see Goldie Kirkland, Alpha of the Cali Sands pack, Jack Conners, Alpha of the Sawtooth Pack, and their betas. Also, marching into the room with her own escort was a child. Alice Kirkland looked like she belonged here. The infamous Sarge was her shadow as usual
“Alpha Kirkland, why have you come here with your daughter?” asked the Head.
“Because the shitdick that attacked my pack last week was doing so on orders from Angus McLeod. My mate and Co-Alpha is watching our pack, but you try telling my daughter not to do something.”
Alice jumped up for hugs from Kao and Dean, but she came over and hugged herself to my leg and refused to let go. I had met the girl only a few times, but I was the one she cuddled. Made me feel all sorts of happy.
“Your presence at this session has been acknowledged and accepted. Have you evidence to give as we move to accept previous evidence as fact?” asked the Head. He seemed to be the only one able to speak after Pat’s command.
“I do,” said Alice and pulled out a My Little Pony tablet covered with the fan character Flufflepuff. She sent a few files to everyone present, one being the video confessions from several Lycans. It amazed me how smart this little girl was. She could go from cute princess to cool and collected to ripping your head off if she wanted…much like her mother.
It took less than two minutes for the vote to come in. The motion passed and all of this evidence pointed the gun at Angus McLeod. Bang bang, mother fucker.
Thanks for the patience while I deal with life. Thanks to Timothy M for his edits and constant help.