Pursuit of Happiness 06byKemMyst©
Sorry this chapter is short. The next will be longer.
It's three weeks from Joanna's party and about three weeks since Sabine Ross had died. Randall was beginning to hear rumblings about the Ross pack.
As one would expect, Calvin has taken the loss of his mate hard. He was mourning to the exclusion of almost everything else. He was barely eating, sleeping a lot.
Sampson was trying to hold things together but it seems, as often as not, that Michael would do or say something to contradict him. And Calvin was excluding himself from pack business.
This doesn't sit well with the pack. Dissension in the upper ranks was never good for pack animals such as werewolves. The structure of the pack was beginning to disintegrate.
Fights were starting to break out amongst the males and some of the females, and neither Michael nor Calvin were stopping them. Sampson tries, but is not Alpha or Alpha heir. He couldn't be everywhere at once.
It was accepted that Calvin would grieve, but, with his pack in turmoil, it would not be difficult for someone to challenge him by the old laws, kill him, and take leadership of the Ross pack.
While Randall hated to lose a friend, even that might be better than what he believed was happening now.
Startled, Lyssa turns from Joanna and Ariel. [Yes, Alpha?]
[You'll need to make alternate arrangements for transporting the materiels for the gathering.]
The question in her mind died. One didn't ask, one obeyed. [Of course, Alpha.]
[Unless something changes, the Ross wolves won't be coming.]
Joanna and Ariel look at her. "I'm sorry. But I have to find someone else to transport the things for the party."
Ariel and Joanna both look rather grim. "Of course."
Later that evening, beyond the circle, out in the woods, Joanna meets up with Lyssa.
[OK, Jo. What do you want to talk about that you don't want anyone else to know?]
Joanna looks startled. [Um...what?]
[What's the big secret? Is it a guy?] Lyssa sounds excited.
[Wait. No... Jeez, Lyssa. Is that all you think about? It's like you want me to get mated next week or something. I don't even... No. It's something else.]
[Sorry, Jo.] There's a pause. [What do you want to talk about?]
There is an earnestness in Joanna's send. [I want to learn how to fight males, too.]
[Shouldn't you be talking to your parents about this?]
[Mom says I could train with you guys if I don't interfere with your duties.]
[Oh. Um. OK. I guess we'll have to figure out where to start. I suppose we could have Emmett work with you.]
[I don't wanna do it in front of everyone.]
[OK. Tell me what you're thinking.]
Joanna starts pacing. [I want to work outside the circle, away from everyone, at least, for a while. And, I wanna start with you.]
[Me? Why me? I thought you wanted to work with the guys.]
[Yeah, but you're bigger than me. Can we start working together?]
[Uh, sure. I guess. I'm not sure I know how to teach you.]
[Too bad I can't just whack 'em in the head, like you do.]
[It's not something I should rely on. Hey, how did you stand it, being outside the bunker when I was screaming for Emmett?]
[I dunno. After a while I didn't even hear you anymore.]
Lyssa looks closely at her. [Really?] Joanna nods. [OK, Jo. I want to work on some things with you, when we get a chance, along with the sparring.]
Joanna rubs against her. [Oh, thank you, Lyssa. How do we start? When can we start?]
[Sit.] The chestnut colored wolf trots a short distance away and turns to face the cream colored one. [First, we do a couple tests. Now, let's try...]
Randall and Emmett, along with Roland, begin discussions of the tumult in the Ross pack.
They could do nothing directly since they would not interfere with another pack's leadership. Could not. A challenge to the leadership of a pack meant, of course, a challenge to the Alpha.
Randall has no wish to kill or be killed by Calvin Ross.
However, Sampson has called, asking if he could visit the Ross Alpha.
Randall understands the meaning behind the call. Sampson could not ask for help nor suggest any weakness of his Alpha. Sampson wanted Randall to assist him in gauging Calvin's state of mind and, therefore, the state of the Ross pack.
It would require a face-to-face visit and Randall had reason to be wary. While he did not fear Calvin in his right mind, he fears the loss of his mate may have unhinged him. Also, if the mood of the pack was unsettled, it would not take much to give offense and start a fight.
"Should we bring Ariel with us?"
"No. I don't want her there if there's trouble."
"It may be good for him to see her."
"Or, it could make matters worse."
"Alright, Dad, the three of us? You, me, and Emmett? I'm not sure I would."
"You instincts are correct, son. I will not have the three of us in a potentially explosive situation. I will take Alex and Samuel with me."
"And your pretense for going?"
"I'm going to see how my friend is doing after the loss of his mate."
"I'd feel better if you had three with you."
"No, Emmett. That would be too many; I'm going to visit a friend."
Lyssa works on finalizing all the plans for the gathering and the party. There were only a couple of loose ends to tie up. She was glad and felt as if an enormous weight had been lifted off her shoulders.
She double checked her lists and preparations. Food. Housing. Meeting instructions. Some of the packs were a little more antagonistic toward one another. Security. Medical. One of the females who would be attending had been mated. She was not expected to go into estrus during the gathering or she would not have been submitted as a candidate, but they would be ready, just in case.
Joanna's dress had arrived, although she refused to let anyone see what it looked like.
Lyssa still had no idea what to get for her birthday. Nothing she thought of seemed right.
Randall goes to the Ross compound to visit with Calvin.
Sampson comes to the gate when informed that a strange car was approaching. After Sampson allowed him in and the car approached the house, Michael came out and met them at the door.
"Michael. How are you?"
"And your father?"
"The Alpha is not well."
"I thought I might visit with him, for a bit."
"I'm not sure he's up for it."
Randall looks at the Alpha heir. He would not beg to see his friend but he really wanted to see how Calvin was.
Michael stands, looking at him for a time, then finally breaks into an almost feral grin. "Yeah, sure. Maybe it'll help." Another pause. "C'mon in."
Michael turns for the door and Randall frowns. There had been no formal greeting, no sincere pleasure at a friend's visit to his father. What was he thinking?
Sampson had been pleased to see him and gave a slight shrug and a knowing nod at Michael's behavior.
Alex and Samuel hang back outside of the Ross den, next to the car, waiting for their Alpha to conclude his business.
Calvin sits in what might be considered a drawing room, staring out the window. "Ah, Randall, old friend. The darkness keeps pressing down on me."
"I grieve with you, my friend. She was an outstanding female."
"The days are so much longer now." Calvin turns almost dead eyes on him. "I can't sleep without her."
He had no response for that. Every thought that came into his head sounded like a cliche.
"I'm sorry, Cal. How does the pack fare?"
"They eat. They sleep. They live."
The conversation is stilted; they had always spoken quite easily.
One of his pack members comes in, bearing a tray of coffee and snacks. Randall watches Calvin take a mug of coffee, but no food. He sits, drinking the coffee and nibbling on a rare roast beef sandwich.
They sit in silence for a time.
Finally, Randall breaks the silence. "We expect you at Joanna's party."
"I remember Sabine's maturation day. She wore black. Many of the older females were scandalized."
"She was gorgeous. Her blond hair hung down to her hips. Those green eyes. They pinned me to the wall. I couldn't breath."
Calvin turns to Randall with a sad smile. "Do you know how long she made me court her? How long I had to wait before she said yes?"
Randall smiles back. "Months?"
"Fifteen. She made me wait more than a year for her. And I've never regretted it. But, now..."
Randall puts a hand on Calvin's arm. "There's nothing I can say that won't sound trite."
"She told me I needed a mate."
"Before she... She said I needed a mate."
Randall returns to the den, depressed and worried. The visit has not made him feel any better. He checked with Alex and Samuel. The mood of the pack was not good.
Joanna met periodically with Lyssa and they both practiced certain maneuvers.
Lyssa continues to spar with Erich, Alex, and Emmett. Her strategies improve. She ends up with a couple battlescars of her own.
She triple checks all the preparations for the party.
A couple members of the Severn pack would arrive a day early to familiarize themselves with the compound's layout and meeting areas.
Pack business continues on in the days leading up to the party. The mood is a mixture of expectation, excitement, and nervousness.
The Saturday before Joanna's birthday
Joanna wanted to go out for a run again with Lyssa to discuss the last details of the party, along with the unmated males that were coming. It was possible that she would find her mate within the week. It was four days until her maturation party.
So, after telling Emmett they were going out to discuss girlie stuff and Roland that they were off to talk about guys the two went out and took off.
At first there was little discussion as they allowed their wolves free rein to run. Joanna, with the exuberance of youth and Lyssa, with the joy of the relatively recently turned.
They chased one another, playfully nipping at each other's flanks, wove in and out of trees, chased a couple of rabbits. After a while they begin talking and, not paying the strictest attention to where they were, got farther from the den.
Finally, they stopped and sat, in a field of daisies. Joanna looks around.
[This is pretty. We're at the edge of the range. Hey, maybe I should have some daisies with the flowers.]
[The florist needs time to order the flowers in. There really isn't time to change the arrangements.]
[You're right, I guess.] A sigh. [They just look so nice out here.]
[It is a pretty spot.] Lyssa looks at her a little more closely, her dark brown eyes sparkling. However, in wolf form, she couldn't really grin as she asked the next question. [So, is there anyone in particular you'd like to dance with at the party?]
[Oh, Lyssa, I don't know.]
[Someone in the pack, like, Erich, maybe?]
[No. Erich's more like a big brother. Why? Has he said something?] She sounds a bit hopeful.
[No, he hasn't. But I don't think he'd tell me.]
[Oh.], a little crestfallen.
[So, someone else then? Which pack?]
[Oh, I don't know.] Now she sounds a bit embarrassed.
[There is someone! I can hear it in your voice.]
[He doesn't even know who I am.] A light drizzle starts, dotting their furs with droplets.
[Of course, he does. C'mon, tell me or I'll start guessing. I've got a good idea.]
[Don't, huh? Please? I really wanted to talk to you about something else.] Earnestness now.
[Sure, Jo. What is it?]
Another big sigh. [Umm. Uh. Sex. How does it feel? I mean, at least, the first time?]
Lyssa stops. She really hadn't considered that Joanna was a virgin, but she didn't have a regular guy, so...
[I mean, everybody likes it, from what I've seen, so, I just was wondering...]
[Hasn't Ariel had a talk with you?]
[Well, yeah, sure. But there isn't that much that needs to be said, I mean, it's not like I can get pregnant unless I go into heat. She said it'd probably hurt, the first time.]
Lyssa considers what to say. How well did she remember her own first time? How do you explain?
[You like it, don't you?]
[Yes, Jo, I do. Can I ask a question first?] The cream colored wolf nods slightly. [You haven't had a heat yet, have you?] A shake of the head. [What starts it? Age? A mating?]
[It's something to do with the male's bite, at the mating. That starts it.]
[Um. Oh. OK.]
[It's not easy to explain. But, yeah, it can hurt the first time and there can be blood. You know why, right?] A nod. [But, it shouldn't hurt much. If it does there's something wrong.]
[Tell me about, about your first time.]
[Oh, jeez.] A sigh. [OK.] She thought back. [His name was Ryan and he'd never done it either. We were in the back seat of his parents' car. It was... well, not graceful. We kissed for a while and he felt me up.]
[He put his hand in my shirt and felt my breasts, mostly squeezing. Then he got my shirt off and started sucking on them.]
[So, how does it feel?]
[Good. Kinda tingly. But you might not like what I like.]
[It's not all the same, all the time. You might like things gentler, or rougher, or longer, or... It's different, all the time.]
[I don't get it.]
[You will. Anyway, it feels good. Done right, you can't help but make noises. It feels, oh, you have to have masturbated by now.]
[Oh, c'mon. Don't tell me you haven't touched yourself.]
Lyssa could see the crimson blush under Joanna's light fur.
Joanna and Lyssa are so intently focused on the conversation that they fail to notice the four figures creeping up on them.
The intruders, all in wolf man form, rush in. One grabs Joanna, another grabs Lyssa, a third comes forward with a syringe, as the fourth stands nearby and watches.
Lyssa has bitten the male holding her and been cuffed for it.
Intruders! Intruders in their range!
She feels the prick of the needle and has time to get out [EMMETT!] before things go dark.
The leader walks up to Joanna, who is in wolf woman form, struggling in her captor's grasp. "Come with us or I kill her where she lies."
Joanna gasps. "Michael, what are you doing?"
He puts his foot on Lyssa's neck. "Yes or no? Are you going to come with us?" He starts to put pressure on Lyssa's neck.
"Yeah. OK. OK. Don't hurt her."
Michael smiles. Good. The Beta female gave him a means to control her. He stepped back. [Bring them.]
One of the males picks up Lyssa's limp body, while the other two flank Joanna. Michael leads them away.
"Why are you doing this? What do you want?"
Michael turns, steps back, and cracks her across the mouth. Joanna whimpers and tastes her own blood. "Quiet! I'm getting what I should have had, years ago."
Just outside of Wyeth range are four quads.
One male sets Joanna in front of him and another lays Lyssa over the seat, tightening a rope around her. The four men take off with their captives.