Chapter 1- Present Day

When the High Ridge pack split up and scattered, Alpha Gannon led his family to Minnesota to settle and hide in plain sight. They had been in the Southeastern Minnesota region for the whole five years since they all ran for their lives. Sources say their old pack lands were decimated by fire shortly after they left. Supposedly there was some old dynamite left in the mine nearest their territory and it blew up. They claimed one bundle was unstable and once it blew, all the rest stored there exploded as well. The fire caused, burned down the trees and all buildings on the pack lands until nothing was left. Fires in Alaska are not unheard of, but one of this magnitude so close to the threatening email was rather suspect. Of course who is going to tell? Shifters certainly cannot involve the police. What would they say, “excuse me Officer. I’m a werewolf and I’m being threatened by humans who want to exterminate me and my kind from the earth. Please help us?”

Yeah, not likely. So once they were sure the threat had indeed been real, Gannon (now called Kyle Bannon), was very happy they had left before the trouble came for them. Immediately after the departure from pack lands, Kyle’s goal had always been to bring his pack back together. He never stopped looking for a new location and never stopped sending messages of encouragement to his pack members. Some of the pack members had found other packs to join and Kyle sincerely hoped they were not found again. “Unfortunately, being in larger groups that are isolated from humans, tends to make the packs vulnerable to discovery and attack.” Kyle (Alpha Gannon) said to his mate Tia (formerly Luna Catriona). “That’s why I’ve been so careful not to rush reuniting the pack. I think this is the perfect location, but I want to be sure before we invite the remaining pack members. I firmly believe Minnesota is our safe place.”

In Minnesota, the people are friendly, the terrain is similar to Alaska in parts, and the state slogan is “Minnesota nice.” What’s not to like about that? Kyle was able to purchase a huge piece of property that ran from the river and up into the bluffs. They would have plenty of tree cover when needed or wanted, a water source, and terrain that would be much more difficult in human form than in wolf form. Since there were native wolves in Minnesota, humans would think nothing of seeing wolves running in the woods. That is of course as long as they avoided all livestock and as many people as possible when in wolf form. Very few pack members found their mates as a result of dispersing. Instead of young wolves searching for their mates, they pretty much stayed put while hiding in plain site to avoid detection. The vast majority had taken to dating humans, and a few had even married their human companions. Five years was a long time to be alone. Wolves were very affectionate, very sensory creatures. No one wanted to live a long life if it was spent alone and without a mate The Creator had destined each werewolf to become one with their mate. Werewolves are much more animalistic when it comes to mating in comparison to humans. Although werewolves can date other people, including humans, most were-animals have little physical attraction or chemistry with any other being than the one true mate they are to spend their lives with. When Gannon would travel to other territories, he was often offered his pick of she-wolves. Alpha Gannon’s patent response had been, “I have a mate, so I’ve no interest in another.” 

Alpha Gannon, now simply Kyle to anyone not within their original pack, had been lucky to have met his mate shortly after he turned 18, before he became Alpha and before they were forced to flee for their lives. Kyle’s mate Catriona (now Tia), is petite with pale skin, green eyes, freckles, and bright red hair that shows her Irish heritage. This Irish form of the name Kathleen means courage and purity, very fitting for the Luna of the High Ridge Pack. Kyle, with his wide shoulders, narrow waist, tall muscular frame, dark brown hair and eyes, and tan skin that showed his Native American heritage, was smitten and they became inseparable immediately. The transition from one Alpha to another had been almost seamless due to Alpha Gannon’s dedication to learn from his father before assuming control of the pack. Although a very strong, caring leader that wanted the best for his pack, he was not big on punishment as his father had been. More than one elderly wolf within the pack had said, “Alpha Joseph ran the pack with an iron fist.”

If any wolf were to step out of line, consequences would be swift, severe, and fitting of the crime. Because were-animals could regenerate any body part but their head or heart, Joseph did not hesitate to remove a hand, a finger, or a tongue as a consequence if it was fitting. 

Gannon felt that with enough guidance, love, and positive reinforcement, punishment shouldn’t be necessary. Of course after the dispersal of the pack, he began to rethink his approach for when they could bring the pack back together. Kyle told Tia, “If I had been more of a disciplinarian, it’s possible Tabitha may not have dared to break pack laws.”

Tia didn’t miss a beat before responding, “No doubt being separated from her pack was the ultimate punishment in and of itself.”

Gannon understood Tia’s point, but still blamed himself for not knowing what was happening.

Shortly after the pack dispersed, Kyle began to sell real estate, and made a very good income for him and his family. Luckily Kyle was intelligent, had loads of common sense, and gained experience interacting with the public as previous Alpha.

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