Troubled Times

Havermouth, Present Time

The pack’s headquarters was also the original homestead of the area, built back before there was running water and cars, and when there were hundreds of servants to maintain the property. According to local legend, the Havermouth family and every last servant had disappeared one night, inexplicably, leaving clothing and valuables untouched. The vanishing of Havermouth was discovered over a month later, when one of the Havermouth’s daughters’ suitors, mystified how his letters to his beloved were going unanswered, rode to the property from Rideten, then a journey of several days, in order to investigate.

He described the sight in a letter to the Havermouth’s next of kin, as a scene from a horror book – horses, sheep and cattle grazing amongst the roses and kitchen gardens, chickens wandering the main hall, and the house and outbuildings untouched. Not a single human being to be seen, no corpses, no sign of packing or preparation. Just empty.

The Havermouth’s next of kin was the pack alpha of the Les Guerriers Sanctifies and brought his pack across the ocean to inhabit the property. The Havermouth property became the Havermouth town, and it slowly absorbed into its spread the smaller human homesteaders in the area, creating a mix of werewolf and human inhabitants.

Heath parked between a Lexus and a Hummer and sighed. The Lexus was his father’s car, and the Hummer belonged to August. He regretted not taking the time to stop at the river house and change his clothing, however he had not wanted to leave Aislen for too long with no one but the human, Tyler, to look out for her.

He had left a message for Talen as he’d left, and he was confident that the vampire would return to the house, if it were at all possible for him to do so. Talen was as much a problem as Aislen, he admitted to himself. Now that his father knew about Talen, Abigail and August would as well, and soon the entire pack.

If they objected to taking a human into the pack, they were not going to be any more receptive to taking a vampire – and this vampire, more than any other.

He ran his fingers through his hair and checked his reflection in the mirror regretting not shaving that morning. “F-k it,” he sighed and opened the door. He crossed to the porch, and before he even reached the ornate front door, he could hear his father’s voice, raised to the strident spittle-flicking pitch that he used when delivering his most fervent sermons.

“Hmm,” Heath groaned rolling his eyes as he pressed the doorbell. “Into the fray.”

August opened the door and paused for a moment his eyes holding Heath's so that they could both hear Charlie Gale exclamation: “A vampire! That vampire of all vampires! Talen Gawaine!”

“It occurs to me, Heath,” August said quietly. “That I only receive visits of this nature when Aislen Carter is in Havermouth.”

“I am sorry,” Heath said. “But I will add that Aislen is not to blame for any of this.”

“Walk with me Heath,” August stepped out and closed the door behind him, cutting off Charlie Gale’s tirade. August gestured with his head, and the two alphas stepped off the porch and followed the garden path towards the formal gardens. “Talen Gawaine?”

Heath sighed and shoved his hands into his pockets. “He has claimed Aislen as his mate, except that he is being very careful about just how he puts it as he’s obviously gotten a good measure of Aislen’s personality and worked out that she will pretty much pit herself against anything that resembles a command.”

“You are familiar with his name?”

“I wasn’t at first,” Heath confessed. “But it wasn’t hard to dig into him a bit. He is mentioned a few times in the historical records.”

Jules Edison had also been very informative when Cameron had asked him. The Edisons had been one of the original pack families to move to Havermouth, and their family records went way back. Heath wasn’t about to betray that father and son chat however – August could demand why Jules hadn’t alerted the pack about Talen, and Heath didn’t want to cause issues between Cameron and his father.

“In not very complimentary ways,” August pointed out, pausing to deadhead a rose.

“People change, August,” Heath replied calmly. “I have had the opportunity to get to know Talen, and he is very different to how the history books paint him. As you know, historians can be biased.”

“What is the situation with the Triquetra and the vampire?” August asked bluntly.

“Congenial,” Heath replied straight-faced. Very congenial, he added to himself, seeing as the vampire had finished in Heath the night before whilst Heath was in Aislen. Just the memory made Heath’s c-ck harden. F-k it, he cursed himself, sporting wood whilst talking with August was not a good idea. “The vampire accepts the Triquetra’s claim on Aislen and believes that we can come to a mutually agreeable arrangement.”

August raised his eyebrows. “He will turn her,” he predicted. “It might be for the best. It might sever this unfortunate bond between your Triquetra and Aislen Carter.”

Heath drew in a deep breath. “We do not know if that will also sever the bond between the Triquetra,” he told August. “So, we would prefer to avoid that. We would also prefer if the pack ceased referring to it as an unfortunate bond. She is our mate. The Moon Goddess created the bond for a reason, and if the Moon Goddess saw something in Aislen that inspired her to create a Triquetra in order to protect her, then we insult the Moon Goddess in calling the bond unfortunate or in trying to reject the mate she has given us.”

August tilted his head to the side and regarded Heath for a long moment. He inhaled lifting his chin, his eyes flashing with his wolf, and he chuckled slightly on the exhale. “Finally,” he declared. “It’s about time that the Triquetra took a stand on this.”

“We have always taken a stand,” Heath protested. “We have always wanted Aislen.”

“Did you?” August replied sceptically. “An alpha who wants someone doesn’t take no for an answer, doesn’t let hurdles stand between him and her, and doesn’t let others talk him out of it, and here we have three alphas who have sat through countless meetings where others have discussed whether they can claim their mate, consented to her being sent away for three years, and allowed their bond to be spoken about as a tainted thing, a disease,” he revealed his teeth in a snarl. “Those are not the actions of alphas taking a stand.”

“Abigail…” Heath was taken aback.

“Abigail has her own agenda,” August interrupted. “As do I. A wise wolf would think about that and how those agendas might affect him, and his Triquetra.” He nodded as he saw Heath’s frown. “You’re a smart man, Heath Gale. You will work it out.

“In the meantime, now that you have decided that you want Aislen Carter, I hope that the Triquetra is prepared to fight for her because you are right. There is a hit on her, more than one. I have my own suspicions as to who originated these hits, and no, I can do nothing to help you other than tell you that I believe that you are correct. The Moon Goddess has a plan and purpose for you.

“A Triquetra with a human mate, and now this vampire connection, and not just any vampire but, as your father has been declaring ferociously for over an hour, that vampire…” He plucked off another dead rose head. “There are troubled times ahead of our pack, and your odd collection of mates will have a role to play in it.”

“Abigail was…” Heath’s mind was working furiously. “She was trying to control who became our female mate. She was the one who kept pushing werewolf females at us… She objected to Aislen. She suggested that we reject her, knowing that it could damage the Triquetra’s bond…”

“If you cannot manipulate a Triquetra to ensure that they worked for you, the safest thing is to destroy it to prevent it working against you,” August replied. “But she would tell you the same thing, were you to ask her, except that she would imply that accepting Aislen and Talen Gawaine would destroy your Triquetra, and that she has been working to save you. Who do you believe, Heath Gale?” He laughed ruefully. “Welcome to politics.”

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