Remembrance of Things Pastbylilgirlsix©
I hope my readers are still waiting to hear more about the Baxter Pack! This story was bursting out of me, so I had to hurry up and get it out before I exploded on the spot! There will be many stories to come that will be posted in this series, but not on a regular basis. Right now, Archangel and I are trying to finish a story that will be posted in several chapters. But since it will be written in its entirety before posting, there won't be long to wait between chapters.
A huge thank you, as always, to Archangel_M for being my Editor in shining armor. Thank you as well to Doctime for the inspiration for one of my new characters and to Glen for his wonderful suggestions.
This story is a sequel to Wolf's Pet but could stand alone.
Elko, Nevada – December, 2019
"Please, Daddy, hurry!" The little boy grabbed his father's hand and pulled as hard as he could.
Cole laughed as his six-year-old son dragged him towards the schoolroom. "What's the hurry, buddy? You'd think you wanted to go to school or something."
"Daddy, you know you promised to tell us about Grandpa Baxter and how he moved the pack to Elko. You were 'sposed to last week, remember?" The cub tugged on his father's outstretched arm, which seemed to make him move even slower, at least as far as Corey was concerned. "Daddy, everybody's waiting for you."
"Okay, okay." Cole grinned and snatched his son off the ground, swinging him up in the air and setting him on his shoulders for the remainder of the walk across the compound. Cole loved the sound of his son's laughter, and made a point of jostling him enough to keep him giggling for the entire walk to the classroom.
Karen watched from afar and laughed at the two people she loved most in the world. "You look like a totem pole." Their son was a carbon copy of her mate, the same chocolate-brown hair and green eyes, the same mischievous grin.
Seven years ago she had never dreamed she would have a child. She patted her growing stomach and wondered if they were going to have another boy or a little girl. She was secretly hoping for a girl. She'd begged Tracy not to tell her which it was. Tracy promised, but Karen could see the panther's secret smile every time she walked past her. Maybe she should just ask her. But Cole wanted to be surprised. She sighed and glanced down as she patted her tummy. "Guess we'll just have to wait, baby. We'll love you no matter what."
Of course we will.
Karen laughed at her wolf. She had been much more maternal than Karen to begin with. In fact, her wolf was really the driving force of any maternal instincts she had. Thank goodness for that! Every time Karen had been at a loss on how to handle her exuberant cub, her wolf had come through, handling it just right.
She fell into step with Cole and reached an arm around his waist as they strolled into the throng of cubs milling about in the large schoolhouse.
The Baxter Pack, along with most of the world's were packs, had had a frightening drop in birth rate over the last several hundred years. Prior to the influx of the Hungarian Vlkolak females into the gene pool, there had only been one or two cubs born per decade to each pack. The cubs had been home-schooled by their parents, and they had few if any friends their own ages.
But now, as was evident from the noise and activity in the fairly new school building, that would no longer be a problem. Every mated Vlkolak had become pregnant almost immediately after being turned into a werewolf or werepanther. Several were expecting their second and even third cubs. They had started building the new school as soon as they had dealt with their Dire Wolf enemies, Gary, Paul, and Erobos, six years earlier.
Cole was surprised by the number of people packing the room. He had expected the cubs and their teachers, Rebecca and Danielle, but not the rest of the adults that lined the walls.
Rebecca saw the look of surprise on his face and rushed to explain. "Cole, I hope you don't mind. I invited the other Vlkolak here to learn the pack history as well. We've all heard bits and pieces, but I think it would be great for all of us to hear the whole thing. Besides, then we'll have some idea how to answer our cubs' questions."
Cole exchanged a glance with an amused Karen. "I take it you knew about this and chose not to mention it, huh?"
"If I'd told you, you would have ducked out again. But seriously, we all want to learn the truth as much as the cubs do. Please?"
Cole grinned. "Well now I see where Corey gets his ability to wrap me around his little finger." The Beta took a deep breath. No time like the present to get over his two-hundred year fear of public speaking. "Alright, then let's get started." Cole set his excited son on the floor and walked slowly to the front of the room, where a stool waited for him. He sat down, and slapped his hands on his knees.
He looked out at the sea of cubs watching him expectantly. The room was lined with the Vlkolak women; even Katy and Jenna were there, recently returned with their mates. They had decided to make their the Baxter Pack their home base so their children could grow up among their many cousins.
"Let's see. Where to begin."
A little brown-haired boy sitting in front piped up. "At the beginning?"
Everyone laughed. The Alpha's son was never afraid to speak up. His sisters, Kyla and Tyra, sat next to him and giggled.
"Good place, Colin. Thank you." Cole smiled at his nephew and took another big breath. Okay, if I can't talk in front of a group of cubs, I'm in big trouble.
You'll be fine, Cole. Corey and I have faith in you.
Karen gazed lovingly at her mate, the man who saved her from a fate worse than death: being the captive of an insane Dire Wolf. She listened intently as her mate began his story.
Cole cleared his throat, thought back to all the stories he'd heard from his father, and began to speak. "The Baxter Pack has lived in the Scottish Highlands since before humans came to Scotland, long before they had clans and kings. Our family lived in the Grampian Mountains, in the shadow of Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in all of Scotland. The werewolf packs there hunt the Red Deer, one of the largest species of deer in the world that can weigh up to 500 pounds."
He smiled when the cubs made "oohing" noises. "A little bigger than the 300 hundred pound Mule Deer we have here in Nevada, right?" He watched the emphatic nods from the little ones. "And the Red Deer's antlers are two feet long each. Can you imagine facing off with one of them?" He smiled at the frantic shaking of the head of each and every child.
"Our father's name was Ewan Baxter, and his father, Angus, was the Alpha of the Baxter Pack. Father had six brothers and three sisters." Cole was saddened to see the look of surprise on every face in the room. The new members of the pack saw so few families with more than one or two cubs nowadays. "In those times, the average number of cubs was about ten per couple. Hard to believe, isn't it? But we'll see that change in our lifetime, thanks to our newest members." He gazed lovingly at his auburn-haired mate.
"Ewan decided to leave the pack and start a new life and a new pack of his own. So he came here."
"Uncle Cole?" Colin had his arm up waving furiously until his bemused uncle pointed at him.
"Why did he want to leave home?"
"Well, that's a long story, Colin. Sure you can sit still long enough to hear it?"
The little boy nodded his head emphatically as did all of the other cubs and their parents.
Scottish Highlands – 1620
The brown wolf watched through the trees from his vantage point in the rocks. He eyed the hunters with disgust as they cut two portions from the haunches of their kill and hiked back down the mountain, leaving the remainder of the carcass to rot.
Ewan Baxter sent word to his brother about the dead deer. He would send someone to retrieve it, and the pack would use every bit of the dead animal, wasting nothing.
The wolf's emerald-green eyes scanned the valley far below, spotting the human camps dotting the landscape. They came closer every year. When he was a cub he'd never seen a human near their hunting grounds. Now they saw them near their borders. Soon they would be encroaching on the pack's ancestral lands.
The large animal twitched an ear when his nostrils noted a familiar scent. He turned his head in time to see his father striding through the underbrush.
The newcomer was slightly larger with the same color coat and the same piercing green eyes. He stopped next to his son and lay down, curling his paws underneath his chest. I know, Ewan, they come closer every season. And what would ye have me do, lad? Kill them? The mountain is too harsh for humans. We can only hope there will be enough winter hunting without going to the lowlands to forage.
The smaller wolf lowered his head. I know father, I know. I had hoped to form my own pack.
Angus Baxter swung his head around at those words.
But where would I find the land now? The humans are everywhere in the highlands, except on the mountai tops.
So ye would nae be challenging your brother for leadership then? Angus breathed a sigh of relief. He had tortured himself for years with the thought that at his death his sons would battle for the pack. Ewan and Owen were both born Alphas.
Nae, Owen deserves his pack, as do I. I shall find another land for my wolves.
You've given this much thought, then. And where do ye think ye will find this land?
When the Council came to the gathering last year, I overheard their gab about a New World across the brine. They said the humans speak of vast expanses of land, as far as the eye could see, some of it nae fit for man nor beast.
The bigger wolf snorted, shaking his head, communicating with his son in a playful tone. But perhaps fit for man AND beast? His shaggy head turned to meet his son's eyes, so like his own. I trust ye'll nae be alone in this new land. Who will go with ye?
Some of the younger wolves have said they would like to go. Kenneth Kilean has learned much from his father. He has asked to be the pack's healer.
The Alpha nodded. And what of cubs?
I will not bring any with cubs. It will be too dangerous.
And what of ye, laddie? How will ye find a mate in this New World?
There was a moment of silence. The younger wolf looked off into the distance as he gathered the strength to tell his father. I have found my mate, father. She is the daughter of the Collier Alpha. He winced when he heard the deep growl coming from his father's chest.
Collier? Of all packs, ye find your mate in his daughter? He shook his head from side to side. How could his son do this to him? Angus had lost a brother and a son in the last pack war with the Colliers. He let out a long, loud sigh. But a wolf's heart went where it was meant. There was nothing to do but support him in his quest for her hand.
Have ye spoken with her?
Nae, I passed by her at the gathering. I caught her scent, and Owen had to drag me from their tent. He reminded me it was too soon after the fighting; that her father and brothers would probably gut me on the spot.
Again, the Alpha simply nodded his head. Yer brother is sometimes wiser than ye, laddie. So ye'll nae leave until you've mated with her then? He didn't wait for an answer before standing and stretching, his tail flagging behind him. Then I'll leave ye to yer plans, my son. The muscular animal loped away, leaving his son to think of his future and how to win his ladylove.
Cole stopped talking, staring directly at the noise that had distracted him.
Two blond cubs tussled on the floor in front of Cole, one tugging on the other's ear.
While Cole debated the best course of action, Colin and Corey exchanged glances, and then each grabbed a cub by her scruff and pulled them apart, kicking and howling. The boys sat side by side, each holding a cub to his hip. Corey looked up at his grinning father. "Okay, Daddy, they'll be quiet now."
Every adult had to hold back their laughter. The two cousins were just as much a pair as their fathers. There was no doubt that would continue into adulthood. And there was little doubt that Colin's sisters were going to be a handful.
"Kyla, Tyra, if you can't sit still and be quiet you can go back to the house and clean your room." The two cubs turned their heads slowly towards their mother, who stood with hands firmly on her hips. They dropped their ears and tails, their heads all the way to the floor and answered through their bonds in unison. We're sorry Mama.
Apologize to your uncle, then.
The two little ones looked up at their bemused uncle's face.
"Apology accepted. Now, where were we?" Cole looked at the expectant faces surrounding him. "Maybe we should call it a day and save the rest for next week."
"Nooooooo!" Several voices chimed in at once, along with some yips and growls from the wolf cubs milling about the room. Even the adults looked disappointed.
"Please, Uncle Cole, we want to know how Grandpa brought the pack here. Please?" Colin had a pleading look on his handsome little face as he struggled slightly with his sister Kyla, who as still trying to grab Tyra's tail.
Cole did his best not to laugh. "As soon as you can get your sisters settled down, I'll tell you about my parents' first real meeting and how they moved here."
"Did you hear that Ky? Ty? He's not going to finish 'til you guys calm down!" The little boy appeared the image of his father as he glared at his sisters. Yes, he was an Alpha, through and through. He waited until his sisters shifted, pulled their sweats back on, and sat quietly, separated by their brother and cousin. He turned his head and smiled. "We're ready now, Uncle Cole."
Good job, son.
Colin sat up straighter and his smile seemed just a little bit brighter after the praise from his father, who had snuck into the back of the room.
"So, let's see, how Dad got Mom to move here. Well, it all started when he found her near the mountain lake with her friends."
Green eyes peered through the brush at the group of females washing clothes at the lake. She was here, but not alone. How would he separate her from her friends to speak with her? Her gentle voice filled his ears.
"Go on with ye now. I've more washing to do and yer all done. I'll catch up with ye." She waved to her friends and set about finishing her cleaning. She had far too many unmated brothers. They really needed to find someone else to do their washing.
Ewan couldn't believe his luck. She was staying behind. He waited until the retreating females could no longer be heard before moving out of the brush to reveal himself. He was cautious and tried not to alarm her, but it was no use.
The golden-haired female gasped when she saw her one of her pack's sworn enemies standing in front of her. She had seen him before, at the last winter gathering. Her brothers had made sure to keep her far from his sight. She knew the Baxter Pack had lost many in the last war between their packs. Did he intend to kidnap her? Or worse? She looked around her quickly for anything to use to defend herself, but she was standing ankle deep in the lake.
"Please, dinnae be afraid. I would never hurt ye, Claire Collier, never." He stood rooted in place, his arm held out to her, like he wanted to take her hand.
"Then what would ye be doing here, Ewan Baxter? Ye know my father and brothers would kill ye on sight fer bein' on our land and in my presence." Why did he look at her like that?
His nostrils flared as he took in her heavenly scent. "Ye smell of the heather, Claire."
Her eyes went wide as truth dawned on her. He meant to take her as his mate. Just as she thought it, the wind shifted and the faint scent of him wafted its way to her senses. No, it couldn't be.
He is ours. The pure joy in those thoughts was not lost on her human half.
No, our father would never allow it! He would kill him before he let us mate with him.
Ewan could see the look of confusion and emotion on her face. He knew what was happening; her wolf was on his side. He allowed himself half a smile. He moved a little closer, his voice low. "Ye cannae deny yer wolf, Claire. She will never let ye. Ye know ye are meant to be my mate." His hand was now inches from hers, which, without her knowing it, was reaching out towards his.
She could barely form any words at all. Her wolf was loud in her head and it took all her strength to think, much less talk. "My father would never allow us to mate." Her voice was almost a whisper.
"So he would condemn ye to a life of pining for yer one true mate? Would make ye lead a barren life? No cubs to warm yer heart? No mate to warm yer bed? Ye think he is that hateful?" He felt a spark as his fingertips brushed hers and saw her sudden intake of breath. So she felt it too. He smiled to himself.
"He would rather that than see his blood mated to his enemy." Her blue eyes were locked to his. How could her father hate the Baxters so much? She saw nothing but a handsome face, kind eyes, and love radiating towards her.
He is ours and we belong to him. Our father will banish us, but we must be with our mate!
Claire shook her head, tears forming at the corners of her eyes. "And will yer pack accept me? For I will surely be driven from mine, if my father allows us to live at all."
"Ye will be by my side, wherever I choose to live, Claire, whether it is to be with my father's pack, or my own." He had moved so that he stood behind her, his chest touching her back, his hands now sliding down her arms, his head bowed and his mouth close to her ear. His soft voice whispered, "We will be happy wherever we are, Claire, as long as we are together." He inhaled deeply, and that same scent of heather overcame his senses. His wolf was close, wanting to be with their mate. His voice had changed just slightly, deeper now, with a slight growl.
She could feel the closeness of her own wolf, begging to be let loose to meet their mate. Her breathing was labored as she struggled with her other self. She could just barely feel his hands on her bare skin as he slid her dress down her shoulders. She found herself turning slowly to face him and was lost in the emerald green of his eyes. She closed her own and waited for his kiss, the tender pressure from his lips causing her mind to go blank. She felt her body almost collapse and his hard arms close around her, lifting her easily to carry her to the shore.
Ewan laid her gently on the grass, his body next to hers, his lips moving slowly to taste her skin wherever he could bare it. If he'd left it to his wolf, he would have shredded her dress and taken her in an instant. But his human half wanted to take his time. "Claire..." He loved the sound of her name on his lips. He would say it as many times a day as he could for the rest of their lives.
"Ewan..." She opened her eyes and looked into his face, acknowledging truly for the first time that he was her true mate. Her hand stroked his cheek, her nails raking slowly across his skin. She smiled when she heard him gasp.
His hand grasped hers, stopping her movement. "If ye want me to be gentle, lass, then you best be stopping that." He grinned at her and licked the side of her neck, almost drunk on her taste.
She struggled beneath him to remove her dress before they destroyed it. She didn't know if she'd be able to retrieve her clothing from her home after this. She should at least have clothing when she met her new pack.