Kitty Goes to War Page 36

He frowned and looked away, suddenly uncertain.

Tyler smiled wryly. “I believe you. I don’t want to fuck with you.”

“Good man,” I said. “Walters?”

“I want to get out of here,” he said softly.

“Then we have to toe the line,” Tyler said to him, leaning in, a private conference. “Follow the rules and we get out. Got it?”

Walters nodded, closing his eyes, gritting his teeth, as if it was an effort.

“I still need to talk it over with Dr. Shumacher and my people. But if you’re up for it, we’ll come get you on Tuesday.”

“Kitty. Thanks,” Tyler said.

“I WAS under the impression that werewolf packs were not meant to be run by committee,” Ben said as we pulled into the parking lot behind New Moon Monday evening, just before closing time.

“Yeah,” I said. “But I don’t want to be like all those other werewolves, you know?”

“Says the werewolf named Kitty.”

“It’s too late to change my name now,” I grumbled.

A half an hour later, we stood before our pack of werewolves and explained the situation. Everyone had an opinion.

“I do not like the idea of baby-sitting those guys,” Becky said, glaring at me from her seat at the end of the table. “We can’t control them. They can’t control themselves.”

Twelve of the pack’s seventeen members were here. Word had gone out through Shaun. I’d told him over the phone what I wanted to talk about, he saw others of our pack as they came in and out of the bar, and the grapevine would have continued from there. They came to find out if what they’d heard was true: was I about to let a couple of new wolves join the pack? We clustered around a few tables in the back of the restaurant. Head of the pack, Ben and I sat at our own small table for two, presiding over the gathering.

Becky wasn’t wrong. She had every right to be worried, since she’d dealt with them up close. Our outing at the restaurant last week hadn’t immediately made everything all sunshine and show tunes.

“I know,” I said. “We need a plan. Several of us need to look after each of them. Help keep them in line, keep them grounded.”

“You’re asking us to keep tabs on a couple of Green Berets here? Are we even up for that?” Jared was in his late thirties, unassuming. Older and more experienced than I, but with no desire to be a leader, so he deferred. Like a lot of us, he just wanted to be left alone to live his life. And like it did for a lot of us, the pack helped keep his wolf side sane.

I couldn’t bullshit these guys. They’d only go along with me as long as I kept the pack stable.

“Um, yeah,” I said. “But they’re motivated. They want to go home. They need our help.”

“I understand that,” Shaun said. He was leaning on the bar, on the other side of the gathering. “But I don’t want us to turn into Kitty’s home for wayward werewolves.” A few of the others nodded in agreement. I couldn’t blame them. We’d been stable for over a year now—no invasions from the outside, no dissention from within—and most of the pack wanted us to stay that way.

“You want me to just turn my back on them?” I said.

“Your own people have to come first,” Shaun said.

“I want us to be a little altruistic here. These guys are war vets, they’ve been through a lot. They need to see what well-adjusted werewolves look like, and I think we can do that.”

I looked around at my bunch. My pack. It had taken a long time for me to think of them that way. When I’d first met most of them, I’d been a newly minted werewolf, freaked out and constantly on the edge of panic, rolling over to show my belly to keep out of trouble. Now look at me—giving orders. And they were actually listening. I liked to think it was because I made sense, usually. All three of the pack’s women, apart from me, were here—Becky, Kris, and Rachel. Rachel was older, quiet and submissive. She didn’t want any trouble, and Ben, Shaun, and I tried to keep trouble away from her. She was looking particularly jumpy, her shoulders bunched, her gaze darting. Becky, sitting nearby, put her hand on her shoulder to calm her. The men of the pack weren’t the most aggressive werewolves I’d ever met—the previous alpha had rather ruthlessly gotten rid of anyone who posed a threat to his authority—but they weren’t pushovers, either. If Ben and I vanished, Shaun, Becky, or Dan could serve as the pack’s alphas just as well. But they weren’t going to challenge us for the hell of it. We were a stable group, which was why I thought we could handle Tyler and Walters.

“What do you think about this, Ben?” Jared asked. I tried not to bristle, even though this felt as if he was going over my head. I glared at Jared, and he ducked his gaze.

Attitude counted for so much around here.

“I’ve met ‘em,” Ben said. “I’m with Kitty. They need a break and I think we can help. Call it our patriotic duty.”

A couple of the guys snorted—patriotism didn’t count for much when you sometimes felt like a stranger in your own country. Werewolves were their own country.

Kris—a thirty-something woman with thick brown hair, and a little bit of wolf always lingering in her brown eyes—sat back, her arms crossed. She was looking at the floor when she spoke. “My little brother’s in Iraq right now. If it were him, I’d want someone to help him.”

I’d known about her brother. She’d come to me about it, because knowing her brother was in danger and out of her ability to help him set her on edge, and she’d needed help—a friendly ear, a leader to help her keep herself together. But she must not have told everyone, because the others seemed surprised, then looked away, not knowing what to say.

We didn’t get any more arguments after that. So, the pack wasn’t comfortable helping other werewolves, but they’d help the soldiers. I’d take what I could get.

Chapter 15

TUESDAY MORNING, it started snowing. The weather had gone from clear and windy the night before to overcast and settled. Times like these, when the sky was gray and full of weight, you hardly noticed when the flakes started falling—just a few at first, then more, until the air was a wall of snow. If I’d been paying attention to the forecast there had probably been great pronouncements of a front moving in. But I’d been a little preoccupied. The weather matched my mood.

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