5: Set the Scene

“Did you sell your son to dangerous men for power?” Reyan demanded.

Walter stood up angrily, “How can you accuse me of such a thing? We love our boy!”

The use of present tense wasn’t lost on Reyan, but he needed to make sure. Staring right back at the alpha of a tiny pack he said clearly, “Before they snatched him Samuel recognized someone in the group of people who orchestrated his kidnapping.”

That stunned him. Falling back in his chair, Walter’s hand blindly groped for Barbra’s. His wife clung on for dear life.

“I felt his hope shatter into pieces as someone he knew appeared but didn’t save him.” His voice sounded strangled to his own ears as the emotion of the little boys washed over him again.

“Who?” Walter whispered.

Walter's demand had compelled Reyan to reveal who he was and how quickly the tone of the conversation had changed from there. Everyone knew of Nyanga and the capture of the Queen who had been reigning alpha after the death of her husband. They knew she had a grandson and that if all was right in the kingdom, he would one day take over. His voice exposed that the alpha transition was or had already taken place and that was what had allowed him to have a conversation with Walter Ringani and his wife, Barbra. Walter would have had no inclination to have this conversation with a child otherwise.

Beyond that, that Reyan could feel the distress of a wolf so far from his home only meant one thing. His grandfather had been a king before him and it seemed that he was destined to be one as well. While Reyan wasn’t sure how he felt about that particular legacy, he couldn’t ignore the capture of an innocent child. That was why he was sitting across from the dejected couple who had been living in rural Zambia all their lives. All he wanted to do was help them and restore some confidence in Walter Ringani while serving justice against kidnappers.

As they sat together, discussing the days up to Sam’s disappearance, Reyan was getting a clearer picture of what had probably happened to the boy.

Leaning back in his chair, Reyan ran a hand over his face, suddenly feeling exhausted.

“Who else knows that your son’s wolf has fur like a red fox?”

Confusion was clear on both Walter and Barbra’s faces.

“We never kept it a secret. We have nothing to hide and the people in this area do not ostracize those who are different.”

With a sigh, Reyan said carefully, “It may have been that openness that put your son in danger so early in his life.”

“What do you mean, we put him in danger?”

“Such wolves are being hunted for their pelts and the power it gives the one who wears it.”

“Our son had no powers.”

“He was still young. Perhaps there’s hope that they have spared his life because they are waiting to see what gifts he manifests as he gets older.” Pause. “The ring that is committing these crimes is evil and extremely greedy. I must ask you again, who saw him change? Were there any strangers there?”

The next day was somber and Reyan gladly did all the work Walter Ringani asked him to do. As the sun set on the second full day in their home, Reyan had decided what he needed to do. He knew the longer he stayed with them, the harder it would be for them to comply, so Reyan made his announcement during the evening meal.

“No,” Walter said without a second thought.

“It may be the only way.”

“Son, you can’t possibly ask us to put you in deliberate danger.”

Reyan turned to Barbra after she said that and smiled. “What if it’s the only opportunity I get to rescue your only son?”

Her eyes shone and she pressed her fingers to her lips, her greying head moving from left to right.

They were too afraid to even hope for that outcome, but Reyan was willing to try.

After a lengthy silence, Walter cleared his throat. “Thank you for even putting yourself at risk to save a boy you do not know, for a wolf pack that didn’t pledge allegiance to your family when your grandfather was still alive.” Pause. “It shames me to say we didn’t even seek help beyond a local search after he went missing.”

“You don’t have to thank me until we bring him back.”


“Introduce me to Kano,” Reyan said mentioning the one possible link between the kidnappers and their son.


“When you do that, I give you permission to let my identity slip.”

“Kano is a dangerous man.”

With a grim smile, Reyan replied, “Trust me, I’ve been across some dangerous men in my short life time. I can do this- you have to let me try.”

A part of Reyan knew his determination to save this child was motivated by his failure to save his own sister. They had taken her away and it had been years since they’d seen each other. His heart ached every time he went back to the day that they had taken everything familiar from him and he didn’t want anyone else to feel the way he did to this day.

Looking into Kano Kaitano’s eyes was probably the hardest thing Reyan had had to do in a very long time. It didn’t take long to discern that this man was a cutthroat mercenary with a polished exterior. He smiled with his eyes but the warmth never reached his heart. Walter had sent Barbra inside to make a meal because they both knew that she wouldn’t have been able to pretend for much longer.

Reyan had sensed her rage rising as her fear danced with uncertainty, and before he could devise some sort of way to distract her, her husband had sent her inside. With her out of the way, Walter had introduced Kano to their young guest.

“Handsome, just like Sam was,” the big man had chortled, reaching his hand out for a handshake.

Walter had swallowed hard but Reyan had laughed and said, “I’m hardly a worthy replacement for him.” Pause. “And I’m just passing through. They have been kind enough to offer me a bed for a few days.”

“Where are you headed?” Kano asked, eyeing the strong-looking boy keenly.

“I’m not too sure,” Reyan replied easily, leaning against the side of the house.

For some reason, that made Kano laugh again and his t-shirt stretched across his evidently muscular chest as he crossed his arms. “I wish I had that luxury, to wander aimlessly and just enjoy the rural countryside.”

“What’s stopping you?” Reyan asked, playing the openly curious youngster.

“There is money to be made while the sun still shines on this beast,” came the ready answer with a cutting grin.

Reyan perked up. “I’m a little interested in money,” he confessed.

“There’s more to life than riches, young prince,” Walter said, almost reluctantly.

“Prince?” Kano’s eyes went from Walter to Reyan and back again. “Has old age muddled your brain, old man?”

For some reason, that statement irritated Reyan and his wolf began to growl in a way that was inaudible to the human ear but quite menacing for any wolf in close proximity.

Kano, without intending to, flinched as his wolf responded to the frequency and power of royalty. His innate being acknowledged that he had just offended someone with rank and wasn’t prepared to pay the cost because Kano had insulted Walter.

Raising a hand in apology, he muttered, “It appears the old alpha knows what he is talking about.”

The growling stopped, and once again they could hear Barbra pottering around the house. Reyan shrugged his shoulders and asked Kano, “Where are you headed after this?”

“North. East Africa. I have some business to take care of out there.”

Before anyone could say anymore, Barbra announced that the meal was ready.

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