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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Morningstar: The Malaise - 53. Circle Upon Circle Upon Circle

Shush... thank heaven for little girls....

Morningstar: The Malaise

 

 

Chapter 53

 

 

The light reflected off the lake in glittering displays as the water parted before them. Everywhere Kellar looked, there was beauty from this new perspective. When they’d first left the marina, the sun was freshly up, but two hours later it was bathing their shirtless, trunk-clad bodies in sublime and welcomed warmth. Kellar was learning a lot about boating from his mate, from the rules of the water, to the handling of the eighteen-foot craft. The steering part was easy, and it quickly became his favorite thing. The hand throttle of the outboard motor was amazingly sensitive, and controlling their direction and speed became addictive as he lounged in comfort on the padded bench seat. He’d just finished maneuvering them into a small granite-walled inlet as if he’d been doing so for years. As they’d advanced into it, ripples disturbed the watery sheet, creating continual circles before fading to nothing once the boat came to a halt. Silence assaulted them after the motor shut off. Tobyn, tossing out the compact anchor, informed him today was as calm as the lake ever gets, and that boating in rough water was a totally different experience.

“I think I’ll prefer this. I’m not sure I’d like being thrown around in bad weather.”

“Yeah, even in a twenty-four-foot inboard, the waves can be tough to handle when you’re out in the middle. This is perfect for your first time on water… don’t want to scare you off coming out here.”

“I’m already hooked. What’s an inboard?”

“It means the motors are inside the boat. They don’t hang off the back like this one, and you control the boat from a captain’s seat. All those bigger-hulled boats out there on the lake are twin inboards, meaning they have two motors in the stern that work in unison.”

“So, it’s a size thing?”

Tobyn chuckled. “Pretty much, size and power, yeah. Ready to fish? There’s a deep spot on the left where I’ve caught smallmouth before.” He pointed to a shady area. “That’s the best place to cast your line.”

“Smallmouth?

“Bass. They usually put up a better fight than largemouth do. So, ready to catch one of those feisty suckers?”

“You bet. I used to pester Don to take me fishing, but he never did.”

“He sounds like such an ass.”

“Maybe he was. I used to think he was okay, but I guess I never really knew him. I gave up expecting him to be a certain way because I had no clear idea what a dad was supposed to be like back then. He was always in his office, or at a church function, or doing something Karen wanted. He never took Warren fishing either, not that I remember.”

“You are too forgiving. We should bring your brother out with us one day.”

“That would be awesome. Hey, my line won’t move… it’s stuck.”

“Here, give me that.” Tobyn sat down beside Kellar, their splayed legs touching, and took the fiberglass rod from him. “It’s not stuck. See. You have to slide this little thing on the side. That’s the lock. This is a good reel, but it’s an older design, and it should be Kellar-proof,” Tobyn teased. “Here’s your pole back. Try not to get your line tangled.”

“I’ll try not to,” he said with a roll of his eyes as he fiddled with the lock. “Okay, cool. That’s more like it.”

“Do you want me to put your worm on for you?” Tobyn asked with a smirk as he opened the Styrofoam carton of wrigglers.

“What do you want to do with my worm?” Kellar raised his eyebrows and returned the smirk.

“Well, now that you ask… I’d say screw the fishing, and take care of your big worm, but that’s not what we came out here for.”

Kellar nodded, taking in his mate’s almost naked body. He couldn’t help the stirring. “You’ve fished lots of times before, right?”

“Oh, heck yeah. Hundreds of times. Why?”

“I was just thinking.”

Tobyn looked up from baiting Kellar’s hook. “What about?”

“I was thinking we could kill two birds with one stone.” He wiggled his eyebrows and Tobyn laughed.

“You mean two worms, don’t you?” He stared down at Kellar’s now tented trunks.

“Well, there’s no reason I can’t still fish while you look after other stuff.”

Now Tobyn really laughed. “It’s only been a few hours. What’s got you all fired up again?

“Jeez… all this talk about smallmouths and largemouths and feisty suckers and handling my worm and holding my rod. Not to mention you’re almost naked. What did you expect?” Kellar whined. “I think you’ve been trying to get me horned up.”

“That was just fishing talk, you bonehead.” Tobyn’s eyes traveled back to Kellar’s groin, the tip of his tongue showing itself as he licked his lips. “Here, you’re baited and ready to go. Start fishing… I have something else I need to take care of.”

“Are you sure? I was just kidding… don’t you want to fish?”

“Nope, I already caught me a big one and I’m not throwing it back.”

Kellar groaned as Tobyn gave his trunks a sharp tug and reeled him in with a deft touch. Yeah, this fishing thing was awesome.

 

The boat was due back at one in the afternoon, and they made it with fifteen minutes to spare. Kellar was close to euphoric after his first outing on a body of water. Following Tobyn’s short but intense fishing expedition inside Kellar’s trunks, they’d settled down to actually fish. Kellar had a blast hooking and landing the first one, a two-and-a-half-pound smallmouth that cleared the water a few times as it fought the line. Tobyn sat back and watched, cautioning him more than once not to move around so much. Kellar was in awe when he finally had the little warrior in the boat.

“He’s a beauty. Do you want to keep him?”

Kellar looked from the iridescent, gasping prize to his mate. It didn’t take him long to shake his head.

“Good. We practice catch and release on the lake system as much as we can, and we encourage all our clients to as well, unless they are actually catching dinner. We’ve maintained a healthy fish population for centuries by only taking what we need for our own food stores. Do you want me to take the hook out? I’ll show you how to remove it with pliers so there’s little damage to the fish.”

“Yeah, I want to learn everything. Now I see why so many enjoy doing this. The little guy put up a heck of a fight.” He watched his mate closely, and after that, he was able to do it for himself.

Between them they’d caught seven fish with Kellar catching four, earning him bragging rights for the day. Kellar was looking forward to telling his fish stories to Warren, and at some point, having them share in new ones together.

 

“Thanks, Tobyn. That was awesome. Man, I’m starving.”

“We’ll get you filled up in a few minutes. I'm hungry too.” They were in the process of getting in the truck and leaving the marina.

“It’s a lot different when you’re out there, isn’t it?” Kellar was taking a last look at the lake as Tobyn drove out of the parking area.

“It is. We’re lucky here, that’s for sure. Vega only had the forests, but Morningstar has the water as well. One day, we’ll take a boat up the river. I know of some good fishing spots that are very private.” He wiggled his eyebrows, causing Kellar to chuckle. “When the time comes, I imagine it will be hard for a lot of our new members to leave this place. It gets inside your soul.”

“That’s for sure. How many do you think Morningstar could support on a regular basis?”

“Good question. We’re a wealthy pack, you know that, right?”

“Yeah, I pretty much figured it out.”

“As a member, you can see the financials anytime you want. Anyway, Mom says one day she’d like to see a hundred-and-twenty members at Morningstar, so I guess that’s the best answer I can give you. I never thought it was a big deal before, but we own another tract of land to the northeast on a two-lake system. It was bought a long time ago. I think Fendral might have made the decision, but I could be wrong. Maybe one day we’ll put it to use in the same way we have here.”

“Wow. I didn’t know that. How big is it?”

“Not sure, exactly. It’s a large parcel… a thousand acres, or thereabouts, surrounding one end of the bigger lake, but we can ask Mom to be sure. I know it’s accessible by road, but it’s remote. I remember her saying it wasn’t serviced. That was years ago, though, so maybe it is by now.”

“There’s always solar, or wind generators, so power lines aren’t a requirement.”

“True, and satellite phones if there’s no cell service, and satellite internet. What are you thinking? You want to homestead, mountain man?”

Kellar laughed. “No, I’m happy where we are. Morningstar is perfect, and we have our cabin to escape to. I was only thinking positive, about one day outgrowing this place with new members. We could have a population explosion in the coming years, and Elinor and Denver are getting it started.”

“We could,” Tobyn said wistfully. They arrived at the lodge, and he shut off the engine.

“I promise you one day we’ll have children of our own.”

A startled Tobyn turned to him. Hazel eyes examined his face for a few seconds. “I have you, and that’s all I need. Besides, you can’t promise something like that, nor do you need to.”

“You’re all I need too, and maybe you’re right that I can’t promise, but it’s a feeling I have… don’t ask me why because I have no idea… I just know I do. The earth mother has done right by us so far, hasn’t she?”

Tobyn smiled. “Yes, she has. And so have you. I want to believe it could happen, but….”

“Stop. We have a lot of life to live yet, Tobyn. Have faith, and trust me. We are going to be dads someday. Now, come on. Let’s go eat.”

 

Only a few stragglers were left in the dining room when they arrived. Sitting down facing the entrance, Kellar watched as Elinor escorted Denver to the front door. There was no missing their happy contentment, and he flickered to see all was in good order. Morningstar’s new hope had grown substantially since the day before. The progression of life in its infancy had always fascinated him. “Wave goodbye to Denver, babe. I’m assuming he’s about to head back to the garage.”

Tobyn twisted, waved to the couple, and turned back. “He looks proud as a peacock. How’s my mom?”

“Mother and child are doing great.”

“Awesome. I wonder when they’re going to make the announcement.”

“It’s just a guess, but I know a lot of human women wait until the fetus is three month’s old.”

Tobyn screwed up his face. “Fetus? Ugh. Can’t you just say baby?”

Kellar laughed. “Well, officially it’s an embryo for about eight more weeks, and then it’s a fetus until it’s born, but for you, I’ll refer to it as your brother.”

“Brother? Oh my God… are you serious?”

“No. Gotcha!” he whispered. “I already told you I couldn’t be sure for a couple of months yet, not until it’s eleven weeks or so, and even then I won’t tell you. That’s for your mother to decide, if she even wants to know what the sex is.”

“My mate’s a jerk,” Tobyn muttered.

“But you love me, right?” Kellar couldn’t help grinning.

“Yes. Even when you’re mean.”

Without having to order, Heather brought them the special of the day. Two huge helpings of a beef and noodle stroganoff, along with a plate of warm homemade rolls. They dug in, and conversation gave way to more important matters.

After a few food-shoveling minutes, Kellar slowed down, and took in the healthy glow the sun had left on Tobyn, who was continuing to take his meal seriously. It was one of those moments where he let his feelings surface, and gave thanks this handsome man had turned out to be his mate. He was the luckiest of shifters.

“So are you ready to hit the road?”

“What?” Kellar’s musings had him lost as to Tobyn’s meaning. Where were they going?

“You know… continue our search. Have you been thinking about us maybe putting it off?”

“Oh, sorry. No. Why? Have you?”

“Not at all, but I’ve been thinking a lot about Warren.”

“Oh, really?” Kellar tried to look alarmed.

“Shut up. You know what I mean. His wedding and his change.”

“I’ve thought about it too, but we’ve already decided it’s best to wait until the fall, and I know Warren really is fine with it. Don’t worry… he’s not pretending.”

“Cool. Just checking.” Tobyn grinned. “So, what do you think? Mom says Arthur remembers Dryden and Sioux Lookout now. Those places aren’t that close to Thunder Bay.”

“It is a lot of area to cover. I wonder if Thunder Bay has another significance for him. Maybe the conclave was near there, and that’s why he remembered it first.”

“Makes sense. His old pack grounds may turn out to be between those other two places. There’s a little highway that runs between them.”

“Only one way to find out, and the earth mother will help us.”

“I know. I don’t mind the uncertainty… it’s an adventure.” Tobyn looked like a little kid as he finished spooning up the last of his lunch.

“Speaking of Arthur, there he is with his beloved.” Kellar gestured with a chin motion toward the entrance, waving as he stood to greet the advancing couple.

“Are we interrupting, dear?” Miss Sybil asked as she neared the table.

“Absolutely not, ma’am. I always look forward to seeing you and Arthur.”

We always look forward to seeing you,” Tobyn corrected as he stood and kissed Miss Sybil’s cheek in greeting. “Hello, Arthur.”

“Good afternoon, Tobyn. Good afternoon, Cahlar.”

After copying Tobyn’s greeting to one of his most favorite people, he turned to her mate. “Good day, Arthur. You look well.”

“I am well. I remember Auriga pack. Sybil says I’m right. She remembers too.”

“Are you saying that’s where you came from originally?”

“Yes.”

“That’s great,” Tobyn interrupted enthusiastically.

Kellar gave his mate a grin before refocusing on the elder man. “Do you recall anything else?”

“Not about the pack, but there was a town called Valora. I liked to go to Valora for penny candy. I had a brother, but I don’t know his name… he might have been younger than me. I’ve tried, but….”

“Hey, that’s enough. You can’t rush these things, and you’ve given us all we need.” Miss Sybil was standing beside her mate, and she wasn’t smiling. In fact, her forehead was creased with frown lines. “Would you like to join us?”

“I’d like to talk to you, Kellar, to both of you, but not in the dining room.”

“Is something wrong, Miss Sybil?” Tobyn asked.

“No, dear. It’s about visions I’ve had. Littles ones which, early this morning, became one bigger one.”

There was a reticence to her tone. It was almost a dread that Kellar picked up on. He noticed the whiteness of her knuckles as she gripped her mate’s hand. Arthur’s demeanor gave away no clues. “Well, we’re finished lunch now. Would you like to go elsewhere… our house, or yours?”

“Either would be fine. Tobyn, do you know if your mother is busy?”

“I don’t think so. She’s in her office. Denver left right after we got here. Have you seen anyone else go back there?” he asked Kellar.

“Nope. No one has come or gone.”

“Good,” the seer said, looking away. “I would like her to hear what I have to say. It’s something she’ll be interested in.”

“Let’s go get her,” Tobyn said, standing up with his eyes on Kellar.

“She’s making me nervous, doc.”

“Me too. Have you ever seen her like this?”

“No. It’s not like her to avoid eye contact.”

Kellar quickly copied his mate and stood, wondering if their mission was going to be affected in some way. Did Miss Sybil foresee a problem, or danger? “I’m ready. Maybe we could talk in Elinor’s office?”

“That would be fine,” Miss Sybil responded, still not meeting their eyes.

 

They all took seats inside the roomy office. A slight breeze stirred papers on Elinor’s desk. She literally glowed, but only Kellar and Tobyn knew the reason. It was possible, though, the seer could have her own insights.

“I hope we’re not interrupting your day, Elinor. I suppose I could have waited until the evening, but….”

“Of course you’re not, Miss Sybil. Paperwork gets boring and I welcome any excuse to avoid it. I had a lovely lunch with Denver earlier, and I’ve just been going over some ancient accounting ledgers and jotting down any trends I see… a tedious and boring way to spend time.” She smiled as she looked curiously around the room. “What is it you think I should hear?”

Miss Sybil glanced from Elinor to Kellar, and her gaze settled there, apparently with some effort. “I have a story to tell, so I’ll just get on with it. My visions have become quite reliable lately, and I believe one I had as the sun was rising, was quite accurate.”

“Was it about our search?” an impatient Tobyn asked. Kellar felt the grip on his hand tighten.

“No, dear. This one was about the past. Your mate’s past.”

“Mine?”

“Yes.” She glanced down and up, and again Kellar saw the reluctance in her. “It was revealed to me what happened to your parents. I know how they died.”

Kellar’s throat dried out as he absorbed her words. His parents? Their death? Only the contact of his mate kept him sitting.

“Do you want to know?” was asked softly, with a note of uncertainty.

Not yet trusting his voice, he nodded, getting a measuring look from the seer.

“I fear this could be difficult to hear, but I believe it’s important for you to know. My visions can be random, but they’re are never frivolous. By that, I mean they always serve a purpose. Would you like for us to talk alone? In private?”

This time Kellar shook his head.

“All right. Good. It’s best for all of you to hear this at the same time.” She hesitated, looking even less composed, but she continued. “Your mother… her name was Gisla… is that right?”

The sudden squeak of Elinor’s chair startled him, but he kept his gaze focused on the seer. He sat up straighter, the fear that had been threatening to suffocate him, suddenly dropping away. He needed to know.

“Yes, ma’am. Gisla and Roland were my parents. You actually heard my mother’s name in your vision? You hear sound?”

“Sound accompanies some of them, yes, but I didn’t need to hear her name. I recognized her. I could never forget that beautiful face.”

A choking sound came from Elinor, and he glanced over to see a woman stunned. He returned his gaze to Miss Sybil. “What’s going on? You recognized her? You… you knew her?” His eyes darted back to Elinor, wondering at the pained look on her face.

“Your mother was my best friend’s daughter. Esther and Fendral were her parents, and before you ask, I’m sure of what I’m saying. I saw you as a young boy, and there was no mistaking that face either.”

Kellar slumped back in his seat. Slowly, he rotated his head, needing to see Tobyn’s face.

His mate appeared just as blown away as he was. “Fendral is your grandfather? How is this possible? I’ve never heard of Gisla….”

“Gigi,” was uttered by his own mother as he focused on her.

“Mom? Gigi is Gisla? She is Kellar’s mom?”

“Yes. If Miss Sybil says it was Gisla, I believe her. I’m just as shocked as you all are. Gigi was my best friend.”

“Why are you calling her Gigi?” Kellar asked, trying hard to control the anxiety rising in him.

Tears were beginning to roll down Elinor’s cheeks. A short laugh choked its way out, sounding as much like a sob as anything. “Your mother hated her name. She thought Gisla was awful, especially after a few boys started calling her Geezer. She did not think it was funny.” Tobyn handed her Kleenex so she could blow her nose. “I can’t believe you’ve been her son all along. I’m so happy a part of her has survived. It was hard to give up hope she was alive, but I did. I knew she would never have left me wondering for so long if she had a choice.” A new batch of tears poured out. “I must say, you don’t look at all like her.”

Kellar wiped at his own eyes. “What… what did she look like?”

Elinor faltered, and then rose, turning to the tall filing cabinet behind her. The top drawer contained an old cardboard photo folder she took out and handed to Kellar across the desk. He flipped it open and found himself staring at two teenage girls, arm in arm, smiling at the camera. The one on the left was so obviously Tobyn’s mother. The one on the right hit him like a sledgehammer.

That tantalizing memory that had slipped beyond his grasp for years and years, coalesced as he stared at the old photo, and he grabbed at the thread of it. He was staring at his mother as a young girl, but like a specter before him, he slowly envisioned her more mature face. It snapped into focus, and Kellar was struck by how pretty she was with her hair floating around her face. He was strapped into a car seat, surrounded by strands of waving oat grass, and he could see her place the end of her finger on her lips, and he could hear her ‘shush.’

Her cautionary words followed. ‘You must be quiet for Mommy, Kellar. Not a peep, no matter what you hear. Daddy and I will come back as soon as we can, and we’ll take you to meet your grandpa Fendral like we promised… be our brave little man… I have to go away for a little while… remember… you must stay quiet. You must stay quiet.’

Kellar’s eyes refocused, and he was no longer that little boy. He was a grown man staring at a photograph of his long-dead mother. Where had that memory been all these years? Was it some kind of vision? An urge to run came over him… to let his wolf free and run till he dropped. He fought it, gaining strength from the warm hand that was now on his arm. He turned his head and stared into emotional hazel eyes.

“I remember her,” Kellar whispered to his mate. “I remember that day. I remember her leaving me in the ditch where the police reports said I was found, and I can hear her words as if it was yesterday... she mentioned my grandpa Fendral... and I can see the tall grass swaying above me.” He turned his attention back to the seer, who was busy wiping at her eyes. “How could I remember that? I was only four-and-a-half. I could never remember any of it before.”

“The photograph… it triggered it, and yes you were young, but you’re a shifter, dear… a very special one who can remember the pattern of every living thing you see. Keepers are born with some memories, and seers can glimpse the past, so I’m not surprised you could recall your last moments with your mother. You encompass so much of our race, and I have no doubt you are guided by the earth mother. Maybe at some point you’ll experience a memory of your father.”

Kellar was too overloaded to examine Miss Sybil’s speculation. “What happened to her? Who stopped her from coming back for me like she promised?”

One stifled sob, and the woman visibly steeled herself. “She couldn’t. I’m sorry, Kellar. Gigi and your father did what they could to protect you, but they couldn’t save each other.”

“Was it hunters?”

The woman nodded. Her expression was resolute, but Kellar sensed her turmoil at having to confirm who was responsible. He owed it to her to make it easier.

He turned his gaze to a sniffling Elinor. The mention of hunters had hit her hard, and it showed in the compassion of her words. “Oh, God. I’m so sorry. I’d always hoped those horrible men hadn’t gotten to her. Gigi was a light in all our lives.”

“It’s all right, Elinor,” he said soothingly. “It was a long time ago, and it was something I suspected once I learned about hunters. The explanation of my parents hitting a moose never made sense, because how could I have ended up so far away, sitting unscathed in a car seat? And the police couldn’t come up with an answer for why the car burned, other than the gas tank exploding and feeding an electrical fire. It all sounded stupid, and the reports said I didn’t have a mark on me, and neither did the seat.”

He didn’t like that her shoulders were shaking. His thoughts went to her coming child. This was a pivotal time for the new embryo. “Finish telling me about why you call her Gigi.” It worked, and he got a smile out of her.

He waited while she blew her nose again. “Your mother was such a character, Kellar.” One short bark of amusement escaped before she began her recollection. “We went to town one afternoon—Fendral drove—so she could pick out something with her birthday money. She ended up choosing some old movies from a bin at the video store. She loved movies, and she loved musicals.” Elinor dabbed at her eyes, but her voice was strong again.

“One of those movies was a Best Picture winner from the fifties or sixties called Gigi. It starred Leslie Caron, and as soon as we started watching it, there was no denying your mother’s resemblance to her.

“Anyway, after it was over, she declared she wanted to be called Gigi from that moment on. We all went along with the idea, and while Fendral and Esther frowned on it at first, even they started calling her Gigi. Your mother always got her way.”

“Yes, she did. It took me a while to come around because I thought her name enchanting, but how could I not?” Miss Sybil said, also smiling now. “What was that song she used to sing from the movie?”

“Oh… it was sung by Maurice Chevalier… yes—‘Thank Heaven for Little Girls’—she would even sing it with the same French accent he did.”

“That’s right, I remember now. Your mother had a beautiful voice, Kellar, and she was such a captivating child, strong-willed and determined. She was a leader… never a follower.”

The room went suddenly quiet. Tobyn took the picture from his mate. “I’ve seen this so many times and I had no idea Gigi was your mother. You were always sad when you looked at this, Mom,” he said, looking at Elinor before he returned his attention to Kellar. “Mom’s right. You look nothing like her.”

“Yeah, I can see that. What color was my mother’s wolf?”

Elinor answered the question after sighing. “The same color as the hair on your head. It was the richest, chestnut brown. I never thought of the similarity until now, because her hair itself was a dark honey blond. Her wolf was a most unusual color, and Esther’s wolf was the same.”

It was strange to suddenly learn these things. He needed to know more. All of it. “Did you see my father, Miss Sybil?” Kellar had to swallow the extra saliva that came from nowhere after he asked the question. He knew nothing of his father other than he was likely a healer.

“There is much more to my vision, but I can tell you that looking at your face is the same as looking at his. I saw him as a young, brave man, not so much older than you are now, and your features are identical. His hair was a darker brown, almost black, but that was the only difference. Even if I had not recognized Gigi, I would have known that man was your father.”

“His wolf… I guess you didn’t see his wolf?”

Miss Sybil dropped her head at the question. “I did see his wolf, I’m afraid. He was white, and from what I saw, he was powerful… and ferocious.” Her words were whispered, and her head stayed lowered.

“Miss Sybil? I need to hear what happened. Don’t worry about how it will affect me, okay? Not knowing has left a hole in me. I know this is hard for you, and I understand what’s coming has to do with their death.”

The seer raised her head and stiffened her spine. “You are a remarkable young man. You should know your father fought, but there were three hunters, and your parents were trapped.”

“Trapped?”

“In their vehicle. I’m not an expert on cars, but it was square like a jeep.”

“Yes, it was a 1988 Jeep Cherokee. I remember reading about it being completely burned out in a file I peeked at. Sorry… go on,” Kellar said.

Miss Sybil hesitated, but she kept her eyes on Kellar. “What I have to say next is not easy.”

“It’s okay. I’m fine, really.”

The seer nodded after pulling Arthur’s hand closer. “Once your mother hid you, she ran back to their car. Your father was waiting and as soon as she got in, he changed directions, doing a U-turn and driving away. It was obvious they were trying to put as much distance between you and them as they could, but they didn’t get very far at all. A huge pickup truck rammed into them. I don’t know where it came from, but it hit them so hard the Jeep spun around before it rolled to a stop. Your dad’s door was crushed, but he was alive. Your mother wasn’t moving… I’m so sorry.”

“I know you are. I feel bad putting you through this, ma’am.” Kellar felt numb, but what he was hearing played into what he already knew. “The police reports said my parents were burned beyond recognition.” He couldn’t bring himself to use the same words the investigator had.

“That’s because one of them threw something into the back seat that exploded. I believe it’s called a Molotov cocktail. It was a bottle with a burning rag stuffed in it. Your father tried to open his door, but it was badly dented. He was screaming at those men… but he couldn’t get out. One of the hunters was laughing, taunting your father—that’s when I saw his wolf—he shifted and came partway out the window at the man, and he managed to slash his face with a paw before the other older one hit him repeatedly with this club thing. It was awful, but it was over quickly. Your father shifted back and gathered your mother in his arms. The younger one threw another one of those things in the Jeep from your mother’s side—he was the one with a rifle—and another explosion filled the car with flames. That was the end of my vision.”

“My father slashed the hunter in the face?”

“Yes, he did, and it was an effective one. He caught the man by surprise, and left him bleeding and cursing. He called your father an unholy demon.”

Kellar turned to his mate and they both said Reznick at the same time. “Could it be? That bastard killed my parents?”

“I don’t know, doc. It would be a hell of a coincidence. That scar fit with shifter wolf claws.”

“What can you tell me about these hunters, ma’am?”

“There were three of them, and they were big men. One was probably in his late twenties, and the other two were around fifty to sixty. One was definitely older than the other. They looked alike… I would say they were definitely related… and they looked Slavic. That’s all I can tell you, I’m afraid.”

“You said one had a club?”

“Actually, two of them did. Long ones, with metal rings around them… three or four metal rings.”

“So, they were more like thick staffs than clubs.”

“Yes. That’s a better word. Am I right in thinking these were the hunters you dealt with recently?”

“They have to be”—he looked at Tobyn, who nodded with certainty—“and if that’s the case, they’re all dead now. Ma’am, are you sure my mom was… gone… before the flames touched her?”

“She never stirred after the Jeep came to a stop. Not once. She must have hit her head because your father was wiping away blood as he held her.”

“Thank you… for telling me this.”

“Are you all right, dear?”

Kellar looked at his mate, bringing Tobyn’s hand over with his own, and holding them tight to his chest. He took a deep breath. “I will be. It’s a relief to finally have answers, and now I have a real memory of my mother. I’ve always felt it there, but this was the first time I was able to grab hold of it.”

“I have so many little stories about Gigi I can tell you if you ever want to hear them,” Elinor said, her voice full of sympathy, “and I have more pictures of her at the house you’re welcome to take and keep.”

Kellar mustered up a smile. “I’d like that.” His thoughts had traveled to Fendral. He had a living relative, but one he couldn’t talk to. It was time to find the man… the old grey wolf. He sighed loudly.

“What are you thinking?” Tobyn asked with a note of expectation in his voice.

Kellar’s gaze moved from his mate to the other people in the room. Arthur had stayed quiet, but he too had a look of compassion. “That this is so ironic. I have found a family here… something I never thought I’d have. My mother was taking me to meet my grandfather. I remember her words clearly now. She was bringing me to this very place. This was always meant to be my home, at least some of the time. I’m guessing that was the purpose of this vision.” His eyes returned to Tobyn.

“Doc, isn’t it obvious? Morningstar isn’t just your home, it’s your pack.”

“I know.” Kellar sighed again. “And I’m thankful. I already felt like I belonged, but now, even more so.”

“I don’t think you get what I’m saying. The purpose isn’t what you think… it has to be to reveal your birthright. As Fendral’s only living relative, you are the rightful alpha of Morningstar. The bloodline remains unbroken.”

It took seconds for Tobyn’s words to sink in, with all Kellar’s thoughts and emotions going every which way. Did he just hear his mate right? His questioning gaze fell on Elinor, and she was nodding in agreement. Miss Sybil was nodding too.

Holy fuck.

As always, a huge thank you to my editor, Tim, and to all those who support my efforts.

Copyright © 2017 Headstall; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

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I did not see this coming! You are a sneaky so-and-so. ? You've certainly given us some food for thought. As always, thanks for this most enjoyable story. Jeff

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Darn you Gary....I'm crying now. Great Job bub! Looking forward to next week. 

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I remember when I started reading this story that I made a comment on a hunch I had. I said I had the impression that Kellar's parents' story wasn't over yet; that there was more to who they were than just a random shifter couple killed in a car accident, leaving an orphan son. I also remember wondering why the old grey wolf, Fendral, spent so much time around Kellar's cabin when he knew where his pack was. I was half expecting Fendral to jump in and help out Kellar and Tobin when they encountered Reznick.

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WOW what a revelation I can't believe that this story just keeps getting better. Please keep going on. It keeps pulling on the heart strings. I love it. 

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Hi Gary, this is a great chapter! It is awesome, that Kellars past is revealed. Didn`t I say once or twice, that he is an alpha? *giggles* :2thumbs::D

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My sentiments exactly! From orphan to alpha! Triple ?!!! Such a good chapter! I can even feel the emotions from everyone present! 

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