— Kaden —
“Well, first I believe there are congratulations in order. I heard you kicked some serious vamp’s ass,” said David.
“Thanks man, but if you don’t mind, I’d like to get this going. Haven’t slept much in a while.”
“Okay, sorry ‘bout that. Right, so I’ve been in touch with Mariqueen—”
“Remind me who that is again?” I asked as I picked up a second notepad and began jotting down notes.
“Alpha Mariqueen Sumaya of Monaweard.”
“Okay,” I noted. “What’s up?”
“There’s been at least six more incursions on her territory. Hostile incursions. And the number of territories who have been targeted went from three to seven, and we’ve only begun surveilling in earnest. I’m sure there’s more. Kade, it’s not just a few spat between packs, or neglecting to acknowledge territory borders, I think something more is happening.”
“So you think it could be more than a possible hostile takeover.”
“Man, no one does hostile takeovers of seven packs simultaneously. It’s too risky to spread your forces like that,” he said. “You’d have the capabilities to do that, as they’re generally small minor packs, but regardless, I know you would not take such stupid risks, even with the type of force you have at your disposal. And most big packs would not be able to handle more than a couple at a time. It’s either ridiculously stupid, or something else is brewing.”
“Hell if I know. But I like Mariqueen. I like her style. And being at the head of a small pack myself, I can relate. I know how hard it can get. I promised I’d help her. I know how much that kind of gesture can change things.” I know he referred to the few times I bailed him out of trouble. “But I don’t have your reach, or skills, or resources, or firepower, or—”
“I get it,” I said. “You want to help her and you’re gonna do it regardless, but you don’t think you can handle this, so you put yourself at risk, and then ask me to bail you out, and if your friend happened to be saved in the process, all the better,” I admonished.
“But you’re gonna help me regardless.” He knew that in the end I’d have his back.
“Fine, but I want more info.”
“I already sent you an email. You have maps with marks for all incursions, and when they happened, and contacts of all the packs, and everything. I do my research man.”
Yeah, this guy was thorough. That’s one of the reasons why I liked him. This man had brains. If I could have him in my pack, I would have already. But being at the head of his own pack, he preferred keeping his small independent kingdom to himself. But we’d help one another more than once. He was reliable, reasonable, shrewd, and could look at a situation with fewer biases than anyone I knew. He had a good head on his shoulders and gave some of the best counsel I ever had. We’ve known each other for a decade now, and I’ve always been able to rely on him.
If he needed help with those little spats that had the possible making of being more than just little, then yeah, of course, he could count on me.
While I finished sorting the last few kinks of the operation, Ylva came back to my office, a coffee in hand. I could smell the brandy in it all the way to my desk.
She sat on a big chair in the corner and waited for me to finish.
“Some upcoming battle?” she asked as I hung up.
“Cool!” she said cheerfully.
There’s always something dark brewing when Ylva is cheerful.
We went through a few more calls. I tried to limit myself to the essentials. I didn’t want to prolong too much. I do have a satellite phone and everything, but sometimes it’s not as reliable as I’d like while moving thousands of kilometres above the earth at more than five times the maximum speed of a car. The rest can wait for tomorrow.
“You got me one of those?” I asked her in between calls, pointing at her coffee.
I gave her a look that said, ‘maybe you could get me one’.
She ignored me shamelessly and drank some more.
When I finished, I got up for a bathroom break and to get me a drink of my own.
When I returned, Ylva had packed the office—everything could fit into the walls, unfolding into a few possible configurations—and she was pulling out the bed. I watched her from the doorway, one shoulder against it, drinking from a mug.
“Ah! How sweet of you. You made my bed and everything,” I teased, keeping my voice low not to get the attention of everyone in the plane.
“Nope. I made myself a bed, but you’re free to join if you want.”
I emptied my cup and I saw her grab hers on the side table and finish it too.
Ylva and I were not a thing. We just did things.
We got along. Fought well together, on the battlefield and out. We respected each other. And there were no complications between us.
There was a time, in my youthful youth when I tried a facsimile of a relationship.
It was complicated.
I’ve known I had a mate somewhere since puberty, which could easily put a wrench in any relationship. That or then she’d be the one finding her mate and bailing out. Or maybe it would be my position which would complicate things.
Most Alphas don’t get into power as young as I, but my father got sick, sick enough to not be able to keep up with is duties, sick enough to prepare for an eventual funeral. Being Alpha—even more so when you’re still in high school—is a pretty big responsibility. There are times, even back then, when it easily became a full-time job. I didn’t have the time to date properly, go on dates, spend time together, invest in a relationship. And it’s harder to find motivation when you know it’s not meant to last. And giving my status, a lot of girls had expectations I was not ready to fulfill.
So I found a few, with whom I could indulge some, without any strings attached, without the expectations, or the investment prerequisite, or any of that.
Ylva was one.
I wasn’t a major player or anything like that, but man, I’m in my mid-thirties, no one can expect me to live like a monk while waiting to possibly find a mate I may or may not ever find.
I’m not a saint.
I try not to be an asshole either. I don’t give false expectations, or false promises. Everything is clear from the get go, and I don’t get involved anymore with the type of women who might not be able to keep it that way.
So I closed the door and locked it as I moved to join Ylva, who was rapidly taking her clothes off.
There was nearly as many weapons as fabric pieces that fell on the floor.
What we did was not beautiful, or romantic, or passionate. It was more animalistic, primal. We both had a lot of pent-up energy to release, and we both knew some very nice ways to spend it.
Then we slept.
By the time I was awakened by knocks on the door, Ylva was gone and probably moving out of the plane with the others—as we had clearly stopped moving, the engines off.
I got dressed and moved out.
I didn’t bother with making the bed, or picking my stuff up. I knew someone would take care of it, and rushed to the car.
The sun was rising.
Once everyone was in the cars, I picked the two notebooks, the one with Ylva’s messages and the one with my notes, and began planning my day as we drove back home.