Chapter Two

1155 Words
    Panting, we came to a stop and shifted back to our human forms near the hidden creek we discovered just after moving here. Davidee had only been six at the time, but his sense of adventure was ageless. We had explored these woods for months before he had stumbled upon this little paradise. Two large hawthorn trees mirrored each other like the entrance to a fairytale kingdom, and for years, we had been stashing clothes in their branches.      “So, what had you so angry?” He collapsed in a huff onto a flat mossy rock at the bank of the creek.      I scoffed absentmindedly. “What doesn’t have me angry these days?”     “You know stress is a killer, Ven? At some point, you need to learn to relax a little and take the punches as they come. If you’re angry for the rest of your life, you’ll never find time to be happy.”     I chewed on the thought for a moment, formulating the best response. “I know. The thing is, though…” I sighed and squinted my eyes at the water. “D, I don’t think I know how to exist without the anger. Without it, I think I’m just this soppy ball of sadness. It’s exhausting being so sad all of the time, anger at least fuels me to lead this pack.”     He nodded thoughtfully, examining me. “I’m not saying this as your little brother or even as your beta. I’m saying this as your friend. Haven, you’re an amazing alpha, but you really do need to find time to be happy. Like right now, for example. You’re hanging out with your favorite brother.”     “My only brother.” I interceded.     “And it’s a beautiful day. Let go for a minute.” He smiled morosely. “Lean back, smell the water and the wildlife around us. Do something that doesn’t require you to hate.”     Taking his advice, I placed my palms flat on the rock, tilted my head back, and inhaled deeply. The sounds of squirrels skittering through trees, birds singing, a deer grazing fifty feet away filled me. The scents of the water, the grass, and even some flowers just beginning to bloom were a beautiful accompaniment to the sounds of the wilderness. “Fine, you’re right.” A peaceful sigh escaped me without my consent and I realized I had been so tightly wound, I had completely forgotten what it was like to just be still. “You’re a pretty alright beta, you know?”     “I’m the best and we both know it.” He hummed for a second, accompanying the cicadas in the trees. “Maybe I should be alpha.” A wicked grin split across his face, quickly erased as I tossed him into the creek.  I chuckled lightly as he bobbed up, spitting water. “You and I both know that you don’t want it, ladies' man.”                                                                                             *    *    *     “Looks like I missed a swim.” Goo called over the railing to us as we stepped into the entry.      “Reconsidering being delta, cousin?” Davidee chortled in response. “You’d be home more.” With his piece said, he sauntered off to the second floor he shared with Goo, Nuna, Bammiuk, and Meeka.     “Can we talk?” He took on a serious look as he stared down at me. I nodded my affirmation towards the stairs. Taking them two at a time, I vaulted myself up, and up, and up. All the way to the third floor in minimal strides.      “What’s going on?” I frowned as I closed my office door behind us.     “They rejected your offer.” He chewed on his lip nervously as he paced the large room.      “Excuse me?” I hissed.     He threw his hands in the air in exasperation but didn’t stop his pacing. “I swear, Ven, I did everything I could to ensure our continued peace.” For just a moment, he stopped and peered at me through hazy eyes, looking almost on the verge of tears. “Apparently, the coyotes are looking to attack us again, and honestly, I don’t think we can take them. Even with our numbers growing, we’re smaller than we’ve ever been. We need to start growing our territory again, we need a bigger pack.”     “I’ll take it under advisement. So, what you’re telling me is that they declined renewing our accord because the coyotes are gunning for us? Do they not realize if the yotes wipe us out, they’re next on the list? They’re the second smallest pack in central Alaska.”     “I tried to explain that to them! They wouldn’t hear it.” His shoulders slumped dejectedly as he slid into one of the large leather chairs opposite my desk.     “Then that’s settled. You did everything you could, we have to move on from here.” I sighed and collapsed into my desk chair.     “How do you propose we do that?” He scoffed. “We still have an accord with the Half Blood Clan, we can’t make any new wolves until it comes time for renewal. Even them, we risk war if we don’t accept whatever offer they give us.”     “Then we negotiate. We don’t have a choice, Goo.”     “Do you really think they’ll accept us making new wolves?” He scoffed. “It hasn’t been that long since we were bigger than them.”     I steepled my fingers and locked eyes with him for a moment. “Then we make wolves in secret. We recruit as many members as we can and we keep it on the down low.”     “That’s suicide is Half Blood and Salt Water find out. They like how small we are now and don’t want that to change.”     “Well then, offer me a solution, Goo! Until then, you move as I instruct you.” I seethed.     “Yes, ma’am.” His voice was crisp, but as his alpha, he knew better than to go against my orders. “I’ll start working on recruiting members right away.” He quickly pushed himself from his chair and stormed from the room, slamming the heavy oak door behind him.     Leaning back, I took a deliberate breath in before exhaling it slowly. Focus on letting your anger go. Alpha isn’t all you are. 
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