“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.
While everyone was seated, Reyan announced he wanted to tag along with Kano as he travelled the world. Walter looked at him sharply, but this time it was Barbra who spoke tactfully. “I thought you were going to stay with us a few more days before you moved on.” “I can always come back, dear mother.” Pause. “I want to learn as much as I can about the ways of the world before I am stuck in leadership.” The chair creaked under Kano’s weight as he laughed and leaned back, a toothpick clamped lightly between straight white teeth. “Aren’t you just raring to go...” Reyan grinned, too. “You could mentor me, aKaitano. What do you say?” “Do you know Europe is cold, young man? It’s not like the sunny plains of Africa.” Leaning in eagerly, “I have heard, but I would love to go see it for myself. I can pay for my own way–or work, whatever suits you best.” There was a long pause as Kano stared at Reyan, almost as if testing the sinc
“I’m fine Mrs. Cosby, I just want to get some air. I’m also assuming you might have some important things to discuss with aKaitano, so I’ll go sit by the fire.” “Alright, dear. We won’t be long,” the older woman, smiled at him. Once outside, Reyan shook his head. “What is it with these older women?” he muttered, heading to the fire pit where they had all conversed before the meal. He sat down calmly and waited. The moment they said his name, he became privy to their entire conversation. Kano mentioned him first. “Reyan is a fast learner. His age and his rank could be of great use to us.” “Is he a safe asset? Where are his parents?” his brother asked him. “Dead. He was roaming the rural areas of northern Zambia, clearly looking for purpose and excitement. He has no one.” “Can he be trusted?” “That’s why I brought him here tonight.” Pause. “A decision needs to be made. Do we train him or trade him?”
Ceanna woke up on the first day of school after winter break as reluctantly as she did every other day. It was another day to get up and go back to her life as a quiet nobody who made no significant impact in the world. She wondered as soon as that morose thought crossed her head if her mother would have interrupted her and said something affirming. It was something she wondered often, as she went about life- what it felt like to have the telepathic connection with one’s own kin. She’d heard her friends and other people talk about how annoying it was, but because she’d never truly experienced it, it was something she longed for. Throwing back the covers, Ceanna nearly knocked the picture of her family off her nightstand and immediately the guilt crept in. It was almost as if the Moon Goddess heard her moping and decided to remind her of what she had. Mama and Daddy Daley did their best to make her feel wanted, loved and fully accepted. When they had taken her
From the moment he stepped out of his car, Keion didn’t expect more than a moment to himself. Going to school had started feeling like a full time job around the time his voice had dropped and peach fuzz had appeared on his upper lip. People didn’t look at him like a prince at Alcombey High School, but he was the track star and captain of the basketball team. He had quit football because his mother had complained of headaches after a series of grueling matches. A part of him felt that was her way of getting him out of contact sports, but he wasn’t complaining. Groups of students waved and called out to him as he walked purposefully toward the front doors. He smiled and answered but he kept moving. His agenda was to get inside and stay warm. Everything else was secondary. As he reached the first set of doors, he breathed a sigh of relief, his breath creating mist in front of him. Before he even considered taking off his jacket, his coach called him from down the hall.
Everything was changing way faster than Ceanna could have fathomed. She had gone from inconspicuous and uninteresting to the center of attention and the name on every high school senior’s lips in a matter of hours. All because Prince Keion had put his arms around her and called her his girlfriend. Nobody even knew the back story to that! They were all just running with it... how can they even believe that he would pick an obscure girl like me? Because of fireworks?! Blowing a stray curl out of her face, she crossed her arms and looked at herself in the mirror. Honestly, she had tried her darnedest to remain nondescript, and nothing that she saw in the reflection called particular attention to her. Her hair was dark and curly but easy to manage and the bun she’d barely twisted up didn’t yell, ‘Hey, I’m cute!’ The baggy jersey was a vintage acquisition from Daddy Daley and hung on her the same way a car cover draped over a bicycle, pre
Msia Hamadi smiled at his head of security when he walked in. “Good morning, Chief.” “Good morning, your highness.” His smile faded slightly. “Ah, so it really is one of those visits.” He gestured to the chair across from his. “Have a seat.” “Thank you.” Msia’s PA came in and offered the chief of police a variety of beverages. When he declined, she left as quietly as she had come in and Msia had given Chief Ruthers all his attention. “I’m all ears.” “Nomusa Chule’s behavior recently changed.” “So I’ve heard. Is there something you think I need to be aware of?” “She’s watching a child.” Msia frowned. “A child?” Placing a piece of paper on the desk in front of the king, the chief of police added, “Someone who interacts with one of your sons.” Reading the transcript, Msia’s lips pursed and he looked out the window for a short moment. “It’s alright Paul. I know exactly who this is about.”
It didn’t take long for Keion’s Politics of History assignment to consume him. In fact, the same day he decided his research topic, he headed to the library during lunch time. He pored over the limited passages written in the books he could find and scribbled notes, intending to go by Mrs. Greens’ classroom again after school. One particular book, written by none other than Dr. Calum Daley, held more insight on the Chule Kingdom than he had hoped to find in the school library. Happily, he tucked it under his arm and kept browsing for possible additions to his book list for the week. As he was doing that, he stumbled over someone who was sitting on the floor, their back against the book case. As an apology already forming on his lips, he looked down to see who he’d almost stepped on. He couldn’t believe his eyes when Ceanna looked up, already protesting against the interruption. The moment she saw who it was, she shut her eyes in what can only be described as
His experience walking through the halls with Ceanna still played in his mind as he got into his car and drove to the police headquarters to see his godfather, Paul Ruthers. It had been greatly uncomfortable even for him and he was sure he’d heard her moan of sheer distress at least once. Ceanna wasn’t the first person he’d dated from Alcombey, but she was the first person he had officially made his girlfriend. While his wolf was a little confused about that move, he reasoned that it was to keep the flock at bay. The likelihood of his mate being Ceanna Daley was so slim; he figured he could get to know this quirky wallflower without doing anything dishonorable toward her or his future mate. And the fact that she constantly wanted to run in the opposite direction meant her wolf hadn’t felt the same infinitesimal spark which had triggered the dream and therefore, she probably wasn’t the one. In his quest to whittle down the list of possibilities, Ceanna on his arm would