I did update the changes to chapter one if you missed that. Happy dances that this is happening!
"Prophecy! Will you stop playing with the animals and come in for dinner?" A voice called from the house.
Ryan chuckled at her. "Seriously half-pint, you spend more time with the canines than with the family who would like to see you. Come in before Lily comes hunting you down."
"I have you to protect me!" She grinned up at him. "Show me your strong arms Ry!"
"Oh no! I'm not standing in that woman's way. She's way too crazy to tempt my fate and possible future children on such a thing."
Prophecy pouted. "Where's the love?"
"I do love you. But I love my life and anatomy more."
She looked down at the Mexican Gray Wolf next to her. The injured female growled at Ryan as he got too close.
He shook his head. "It still amazes me how the animals always like you. Won't let anyone else close to them, but there you are sitting right next to a wild wolf."
That had always been her gift. Helping others. No matter the species. It was what drove her. Her work as a midwife as well as the Wildlife Rehab Center on the family's property. Unless she had appointments for work, Prophecy was most commonly found with the animals. It was a passion that started with her father and his brother. The land was purchased just off of the highway, south of Flagstaff, Arizona.
Nestled into heavy ponderosa pine forests, the facilities had seen everything from bears to elk, racoons to wolves. Many years with many animals. Her parents lived in one house on the large property, while Uncle Max and Aunt Lily lived in another.
That was until a semi hit a patch of ice on the highway and lost control. Both of her parents and her uncle never made it home.
After that, Prophecy moved into the house next door. Aunt Lily gained custody and the two women helped each other through the hardest of their grief.
As close as the two women had grown during that time, their methods of coping lead them down different paths.
Lily, a woman of strong will, had a very difficult time letting go of her husband. She delved further into fragments of Uncle Max's Native American culture and mixed it with research on clairvoyance. It didn't take long before Lily was wrapped up into the New Age ideas of crystals and vortexes, auras and past life regressions. She spent most of her time in her shop in Sedona, an artsy town roughly forty five minutes from the ranch.
Prophecy, however, threw herself into trying to keep the Wildlife Rehab Center running. Uncle Max's veterinary partner had an intern that offered the help with the vet work once he got his degree. Caleb was a good man and a great vet who worked with most of the ranchers in the area. Then, after Ryan moved up to Flagstaff for college, he helped keep the physical parts of the center up and running.
She would forever be grateful to both men for the help. Of course, Ryan really wasn't given a choice. Prophecy had no hesitation in blackmailing her cousin to help. Being a sixteen year old girl didn't go over well in scheduling manual labor to fix fences and what not. Too many tried to scam her on costs or other aspects. And though she was willing to get in and do a lot of the work herself, she just couldn't do it all herself. Ryan helped with everything else.
Twelve years later, he still helped occasionally. Most of his time was spent running a bar near the university in Flagstaff. However, he did what he could.
She stood up and smiled at her home. The woods. The enclosures and sheds. The houses and animals. Everything had grown a lot over the years. Sturdier fencing. Newer equipment. Her family's dreams still being fulfilled. It wasn't a large program. Yet, they were always willing to help.
"You're never going to leave here, are you?" Ryan laughed at her.
"Why would I?"
He shook his head. "Come on. Let's get you fed. You'll be here tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that." He said as he wrapped an arm around her shoulders to lead her into the house. "But today? Today, you have a cousin getting ready to have a baby and an aunt to celebrate her birthday with."
"Alright already with the guilt trip. I'm coming."
"So how did your grandmother handle everything while you were in Phoenix?" Lily asked.
"She's doing alright. The surgery went well. She was awake and being her witty self rather quickly." Prophecy chuckled. Her maternal grandmother could be a firecracker.
"Witty self? What Prophecy means is she was flirting with the male nurses." Ryan laughed. "She just woke up from a hip replacement and was already trying to go all cougar on the staff and get some. Ugh."
Rachel coughed. "Sorry I missed it."
Prophecy simply shrugged. Flirting for the eighty year old woman really was more of a joke than anything else. She just loved to get a rise out of people. Shock them or get them to blush. Hell, the woman even kept score! The most points that she awarded herself at one time was when she accidentally walked into the wrong doctor's office and found herself in the waiting room of an OB-GYN. She covered her mistake by announcing that she needed a pregnancy test to be done ASAP. The weekend orgy at the nursing home had gotten rather crazy. She was sure someone's condom broke.
Points for everyone in the waiting room and double for the staff who fell apart laughing.
Between her Nana and Aunt Lily, Prophecy commonly thought about writing out her life in the form of some comedy show. Thank Mother Nature that Ryan and Rachel were reasonably normal. And he wondered why she spent so much time with the animals? Whatever.
Rachel had been laughing so hard that she dropped her spaghetti on her distended stomach. That broke everyone down.
"No babies tonight! Please!" Prophecy scolded. "I am looking forward to meeting your little one, but wait just a few more weeks."
"Oh no you don't!" Ryan's sister challenged. She and her husband had moved to Flagstaff a year after her younger brother had, hoping to escape the Phoenix heat. "I am tired and cranky and I want this little girl out already!"
"You're the midwife, you should be used to it." Ryan snarked before he was rewarded with spaghetti in his face.
Omar nearly choked. Omar was excited to be a father, yet terrified of it at the same time. Typical first time dad. "Calm down baby."
"I am calm!" Rachel yelled. "And damn it, now I have to pee. Again!" She stormed away muttering about how it was all his fault.
"What about you Lily? How was your week with the shop?" Prophecy asked, trying not to laugh at her cousin and get the attention focused elsewhere. Ryan simply stared after his sister as he wiped his face.
"It's Spring Break. Always a busier time of year. Not as much as summer or the holidays, but still, more traffic. Had a whole group of college students from down south, all wanting their palms read before they went on their jeep tour of the vortexes. So exciting."
Ryan grinned. "Has Tom been getting any business with his UFO tours?"
Lily blushed. It was nice to see her getting out and meeting people again. Tom had been asking her out since he started running tours from a shop two doors down from hers. It took a full year before she said yes.
Sedona was a town known for its quirks. Artsy people with money, New Agers, UFO seekers, and nature lovers all flock to the beautiful red rocks of Sedona. High enough elevation to get dustings of snow and cooler weather. Low enough to not be buried in it. Open for hiking year round. Lily and Tom blended in to the tapestry with ease. And it was the smile across Lily's face that lead to the family accepting Tom with open arms.
"That's why he is not here tonight. Has a group out searching the skies for those UFO lights. Personally, I think the aliens are a nuisance. But I can forgive them if it makes Tom happy and keeps his business going. Just as long as they leave people alone."
Ryan raised a brow and shook his head again, a common gesture for the poor guy. Prophecy didn't know why he bothered to expect anything different. He had been around long enough to learn.
That was how dinner went on. Some light teasing. Lily and her odd comments. Rachel and her pregnancy. Men and their confusion. Lots of laughter. It was good to have family.
Davis pulled his bike up to the address that he had been given. It was a small cluster of houses off into the woods. Typical for a sedentary pack. Close to a town, but isolated enough to not be bothered much.
"Who knew Arizona got snow?" Mason commented as everyone settled in and turned off their bikes. "I thought it was all desert and cactus, like we drove through in the south."
Devyn shook his head. "Obviously you were wrong. There's even a ski resort here. One just north of the city." He pointed to the tall mountain peak covered in white.
Warmer weather had recently melted a lot of the white powder where they were, leaving little in the trees. However, there was still plenty protected in shade of the tall pine forest around them. Fortunately, the warmer weather also meant they didn't ride through any storms. Gotta love the small miracles.
The captain rolled his eyes as someone opened the door to the house they were at. A good sized man with the aura of authority. Hopefully the alpha and not the beta.
"What the fuck do you want?" He growled.
"Are you Anton?" Davis stood slowly and squared his shoulders. "Because I am here to talk to the alpha, not a lacky."
The wolf huffed but lowered his eyes. No. He wasn't the alpha. "He's out. Leave a message and leave in peace. We don't want any problems with other packs."
"Do you even know who you're talking to?" Devyn sneered.
As soon as the wolf's eyes snapped up to Devyn, they snapped back to Davis and bounced between the two as realization sunk in. The Rogues were the only pack that had twin brothers leading the pack. It helped them stand out a bit.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend…"
"Don't grovel. I hate groveling." Davis interrupted. "Just fetch your alpha."
The shifter jumped into giving orders to someone else in the house. Soon after, a wolf was seen running out the back door and headed into the woods.
"Do you want to come in? I'm Marko, the beta here." He opened the door to the lodge style home. The large living space was filled with several couches and chairs, a billiard table and a sidebar. The pack common room. The alpha and his family would live at the back of the house. Others lived in smaller houses close by.
Letting Davis and his men into the home, where their mates and pups could be, was a sign of submission. Nervous submission. Showing their vulnerability, hoping they wouldn't be attacked in the process.
It was no different than the animal showing its belly or exposing its neck.
His beast stood proud at the respect shown. However, they weren't there to fight. At least not yet.
Steps could be heard as they quickly approached the lodge.
Anton Lupe rushed in, not even bothering to put on clothes, though he allowed no concern to show on his face. He was an alpha. Lower in rank than Davis. Lower in strength than Davis. However, an alpha, nonetheless.
"What's the meaning of this?" He demanded.
Davis looked up to appraise the other wolf. Typical bearing. Broad and well built. Gray and tan hair with tan eyes. Like most of the pack from what Davis had seen of them. "The Council sent us. Do you want the good news or the bad news first?"
Teeth ground together in frustration. "Bad news."
"There have been reports that some of your boys have been taking advantage of the human girls in town. Drugs. And such."
Anton growled and looked at Marko. Marko's eyes fell.
Davis continued. "Normally, the Council wouldn't flinch over random sex. However, when police reports are filed by girls saying that they were so high, they thought that they were having sex with a wolf…"
The string of curses that left the alpha's mouth helped to calm Davis a little. He was honest in his surprise at that news. As much as he liked a good fight, he also hated the idea of a pack that felt emboldened to make such choices so openly. It would have been a pathetic alpha who allowed something like that. It was good to see that the man didn't know.
"And what in the hell is the good news?" Anton asked.
"The Council did also hear about your daughter's disappearance. We can help to look for her while the other issue is handled. Because of your divided focus, they will give you one slap on the nose and a chance to fix the problem. There will not be another chance. Clean up your pack. We'll continue your search and check in often."
"Marko, get me one of Ana's shirts and use that time to carefully consider the words that come out of your mouth when you return. I want names and details."