Moonlight doesn't belong to me. It's just a place I go to play.
Josef watches the wolves as they settled in. He can feel their restlessness. He glances towards his people sitting in the corners of the room, relaxed and in control, at least for now. There could be an ugly pitched battle if he can't make the wolves see that peace is still in all their best interests. He motions to Daniel and the two men walk towards the front of the crowd. Josef is confident there is enough noise that they can talk without being overheard. "Daniel, what are you going to do about Angie and the boys if this doesn't go well?"
Daniel looks out into the crowd. "Angie will get the boys out but I can't leave the pack. I don't think there will be an open brawl. We may have some problems here and there but overall; I think it will be fine. There are too many children in the crowd for much open warfare. Even if they want a throw down, they'll wait until the children are hustled out."
Josef nods. "Good. Then maybe between the two of us we can find a way to get Beth out of here."
Daniel smiles. "Angie may need help getting the boys to safety."
Josef nods. "That might work. Good thinking. In fact, I'll make sure that Mick concentrates on the little ones as well. Keeping him out of any kind of fight will be tough but with children present it shouldn't be impossible."
Daniel claps Josef on the shoulder. "Better yet, make them understand the situation and let's not get to that point."
Daniel walks off to the side and Josef faces the crowd. He clears his throat and begins. "Most of you know me or know of me. Down through the years, Daniel and I, and Marcus before him, have been keeping the peace between our people." He hears a murmur of agreement. "I know that some of you have heard rumors that a vampire turned one of your kind." He waits for the ripple of revulsion to make its way through the wolves. He braces himself for what comes to follow. "I know for a fact that it is true."
One particularly fierce looking wolf growl. "You saw this happen? You saw who did this?"
Josef nods and the room erupts with howls and questions. Josef loathes to drag this out in the open. Not simply because he's ashamed of what he did in a moment of weakness but because he's a private person. There is more than one reason he doesn't give interviews or deal with the press unless it's for a very good reason. He shakes his head as he watches the wolves. He wishes they could be happy with the bare bones of the story, but he can see that's not going to be enough. They want, and he supposes they need, to hear it all. This is such a fundamental shift in their awareness of what is, and what isn't safe, that he can't really blame them. He holds up his hand for silence and waits a moment as they collect themselves. "I suppose I owe you the whole story."
He paces as he tells them the story of Anya and how much she wanted to have her baby. He hopes the older wolves will tell the younger ones what it was like all those years ago. Before there were drugs and medicine when even a wolf could die in childbirth. He looks down at a woman sitting in the front with a small child nestled in her lap. There are tears in the woman's eyes. He smiles softly at her and continues. Halfway through this ordeal he looks up when he hears a male voice in the crowd. "Get to the fucking point." He watches as the woman standing next to the man taps him on the shoulder. He turns to her and she swings her fist, taking him completely by surprise. She knocks him out cold. She nudges him with the toe of her boot and looks back at Josef. "Please continue." He glances at more of the crowd. He realizes the women are all in one degree or another feeling Anya's pain, feeling her loss. They understand and Josef hopes they will make their mates understand. When he's done the silence is almost overwhelming. Beth moves from her place and walks towards him. She pulls him into her arms and holds him tight. Josef keeps his eyes on the crowd over Beth's head. Suddenly with no signal that Josef can see or feel the wolves all begin the ritual of mourning song. The inhuman howls coming out of human throats is at the very least eerie. This last for five minutes or so and then there is silence once again.
Josef loosens his grasp of Beth and once again faces the wolves. Josef looks at them as they settle down and he sees questions still in their eyes. He nods to one woman. "Ask your question."
He sees her bring her emotions under control "I don't understand how you did this. You've explained why, but not how."
Josef shakes his head. "I'll never explain to anyone how I did it. None of us wants that information out in the open. Enough people will figure it out on their own. What you do need to know is only five percent of vampires can do this and of that only a few are of an age to be able to do it. So, you don't have to be fearful of every vampire. Very few of us could do this and truthfully, I'm not even sure I could do it again. What I did to Anya was a unique set of circumstances... hopefully never to be repeated."
Josef watches them absorb the information. "Are there any more questions?" When he is met with silence, he continues. "What many of you may not know is that the head of our council is my sire. The Lady Vanessa is a practical person and she sees a war between vampires and wolves serves no one. It makes us vulnerable to the humans."
Josef turns to Frank. "Frank, this announcement from the council would come best from you."
Frank nods and walks to stand next to Josef. "You don't know me, but I am the head of council's personal security. She is extraordinarily powerful. Both as a woman and a vampire, but still everyone needs someone to watch their back." He glances at Josef before he continues. "I am here as her representative. She sent one of her people to all our territories. She wanted to see if it was the time to implement the changes she and the council have approved. As a result, tonight she will hand down a law to our people making it a death sentence to turn a wolf." Frank looks at them grimly. "And believe it when I tell you, no vampire wants to face her wrath. She is head of council for a reason."
Josef sighs inwardly as he sees the tension leave most of the room. He turns to Frank. "Thank you."
Frank nods and goes back to sit with Mick and Beth.
"Are there any more questions?"
One-woman nods. "Will she really stand for us? This isn't just lip service to keep us from firing the first shot in a war between our people?"
Josef hears some grumbling in the crowd. He motions for quiet, "Even if you don't believe that she will do it for you, believe she will do it for her own people. There is nothing but trouble. Nothing to be gained, if a war breaks out over this and we're discovered by the human population."
The woman nods. "That I can believe."
"Anyone else?" When there is no response Josef turns to Daniel. "Are you still sure you want to do the rest?"
Daniel nods. "Yes, it's going pretty good so far. Let's get it all over with tonight."
Lance paces the room in aggravation. "What do you mean there is still no word?" he barks into the phone. "You hired them. Find them and find out what they've discovered about Josef and his people." Lance slams the phone down and turns as Chandler enters the room.
Chandler smirks at him. "Problem?"
Lance shakes his head. "Never hire help long distance. I didn't want Josef and his people know that I was having him watched so I stayed out of the country. I let someone else do the hiring. I suspect they were inept enough to either be captured or killed. I'll never learn what's going on that way."
Chandler looks around the room. "Where is she? Where is Jelena?"
"Up in our room, sleeping. She was tired from her trip." Lance answers.
As Lance watches Chandler he can see the glee in his brothers' eyes. "So, was the welcome home party worth the wait? Is the wolf happy to be back?"
Lance gives his brother a flat stare. "Get on with it." Chandler is far too happy for Lance's liking. Lance growls at him. "You were going to tell me how Josef did it, how he turned the wolf."
Chandler nods. "Yes, I was, wasn't I?" He smiles and wanders around the room for a moment. "He used his mind."
Lance nods slowly as Chandler continues. He remembers what Josef did to Christophe at Vanessa's home on Long Island and shakes his head. "I should have known." Lance explains the incident with Christophe.
"That fits with what I believe happened. Think about his consort stopping the wolf and keeping her from speaking. It would be the same thing. He held the wolf's change at bay long enough for him to drain away enough blood that her body couldn't heal itself. From the sounds of it, the alpha you spoke of at Josef's could most likely do the same thing. In fact, most any alpha could do the trick. They are alphas for a reason."
Lance snorts. "That's why Josef told me that even if he explained how he did it, the information would be of no use to me. I don't have the talent."
Chandler nods in agreement. "About that he wasn't lying. The part about being the only one who can do it, that was a lie. There aren't a lot of telepaths among us but if you add in the alpha's there will be someone who can do it besides Josef."
Chandler pours himself a drink and glances at Lance. "Here is what I suggest. You go to the task of once again convincing your wolf that she loves you and wants to be a vampire. I will find someone to do the deed." Lance begins to speak, and Chandler holds up his hand. "It may take me awhile to find the right person and get everything together, maybe six months."
Lance nods. "Yes, while she's happy to be back, she's a bit wary of me at this point. It's going to take me six months to get everything back to where it was before she left." Lance looks at Chandler suspiciously. "You never do anything for anyone else. What's in it for you?"
Chandler laughs. "Oh, there is something in it for me all right. She's going to be my sterling example to the wolves of what can happen if they cross me."
Lance shakes his head. "This is something we better keep between the two of us."
Chandler laughs. "Of course."
Josef goes over and sits with Beth, Mick and the others.
They all turn their attention to Daniel who is standing before his pack.
"We were supposed to meet this Saturday night for pack business. Since we are all gathered together, we will take care of it now."
A petite brunette stand. "No offense meant..." She trails off but several people are buzzing around her. She straightens her shoulders and begins again. "I wonder, a few of us wonder why we are airing pack business in front of the vampires." she sits down quickly. They all remember the reaction they got when the last wolf questioned their Alpha.
Daniel looks at her kindly. He doesn't want them to fear him, he wants them to always trust that he knows what he's doing. "You will see shortly. Believe me it is important that they remain. Now if I may continue?" When there are no more questions he goes on. "You all know that I'm not a born wolf. What you don't all know is that when Angie saved my life all those years ago, I left behind a wife and baby daughter. For obvious reasons I could never go back to them. It would have put them in grave danger, and it would have put the pack in danger." He looks at them with sadness in his eyes. "For many years they thought I had abandoned them. This was not an easy thing to do. You know how important my family is to me. Ten years ago, my wife, the mother of my little girl died, but that little girl, my daughter lives on." Daniel turns to the table and holds his hand out to Beth.
Beth gets up and moves to the stage. She watches the wolves. She can feel their confusion. She stands at Daniel's side. He puts his arm around her. "I would like you all to meet my daughter Beth."
The room erupts louder than any time during the evening. Josef and Mick move to stand up. Angie puts her hand on Josef's arm and shakes her head. "Given them a chance." She smiles at the pair. "Daniel has a plan."
"Are you sure?" Josef asks
Angie nods. "Yes, it will be alright."
Angie looks down as she feels Danny tugging at her sleeve. "Mama is Beth our sister?"
Angie nods. "Yes, as long as the pack accepts her, she will be your sister."
Marcus smiles. "Cool."
After some time without a response from Daniel the wolves begin to quiet. Beth can see they aren't in the least happy about his revelation. Beth watches as a large man moves away from his place against the wall in the back of the room. He flashes a smile of reassurance at Beth. "Daniel?"
Daniel nods in recognition. "Marcus. You have something to say?"
Beth knows that name. She searches her memory for Josef's explanation of the pack. She remembers this is the alpha from before her father. This is Angie's father, the man who handpicked Daniel as his successor. The man who one of her brothers is named for.
Marcus nods. "I want to make sure I understand this. Your daughter is a vampire."
Daniel nods. "She is."
"And you are her biological father, but who is her sire, who turned her into a vampire?"
Josef stands from his place at the table. "I did. She is mine."
Marcus nods thoughtfully and Josef smiles inwardly. He remembers the way this wily old wolf works. Marcus tips his head. "Josef didn't you tell us that your sire, this child's grandsire is the head of the vampire council?"
Josef nods. "I did."
"As I recall Lady Vanessa thinks of you, all of the people she has turned as her children. By extension anyone they turn, her family as well."
Josef smiles. "She does. Beth is as dear to her as I or any of my sisters are."
Marcus eyes the vampires around the room. "Is there anyone else in this room who claims this child as family?"
Mick immediately stands "I do."
Next is Frank. "I do."
And Kaida right behind them. "I do."
Marcus continues. "This child is deeply connected to some of the most powerful vampires in the world. Vampires that have already proven they are more than willing to help guard the pack from harm." He turns to the room. "That's a pretty good deal for us to have a familiar connection to these vampires."
The brunette from before stands up and turns to Marcus. "Yea, but yesterday she and her friends had guns pointed at us."
"Now Mary Jo." Marcus chides her. "You and I both know that two young vampires and a human have no chance against a room full of wolves. What did you expect them to do when they were being threatened? They tried to alleviate the situation by leaving but Scott wouldn't let them pass. Imagine yourself in such hostile territory. What other recourse did they have?"
She sits down in a flounce. "I guess."
"Daniel, I for one have no objections to making the child her own special faction of the pack." He holds up his hand as the wolves start to gain their voice. "As long as she swears to never harm a member of the pack unless in defense of herself or her family."
The two men watch her. "Child?" Marcus asks
Beth glances at Josef who nods to her. "Yes, but I would add to that I must be allowed to defend anyone who might be under my protection, such as a human. We have humans who work in our home, they are friends, people I like. I won't ever stand by and watch them harmed."
Marcus nods. "I can understand that. Alright we will add in humans under your protection. Do you so swear it?"
Beth smiles widely. "I do."
Marcus smiles. "Good. Good. Daniel unless you have any more business, I suggest we close this meeting, and open the bar. We need to have a celebration."
Daniel smiles. "Sounds like a good idea. Does anyone else have anything they need to say about this matter?"
Josef once again stands. "I do."
Daniel looks at him questioningly. "Josef?"
He smiles. "I'm buying. Drinks are on me."
Lance looks at the short squat man standing next to his delivery truck. "I don't care if you're not expecting anything. I have four large crates for a Lance Duval. Is that you?"
Lance reluctantly nods. He has a suspicion he knows what's in the crates. He sighs. "Fine. Unload them and go."
Three more men jump down off the trucks loading gate and quickly lower the crates to the ground. Once done the man with the clip board once again turns to Lance. "You want us to open them for you?"
Lance almost says yes to see the look on the man's face when he opens it and finds a body in each crate. But then Lance would have to kill all the men. That would lead the police here and complicate things if one of them turned out to not be on the family's payroll. "No. Just leave. I have people that will take care of it."
The man shrugs and signals to his men. They all swing back into the truck and drive away.
Once out of sight of the house, Ansell pulls over and brings out his phone. He hits the speed dial and waits for the transatlantic call to connect.
A continent away Josef smile as he looks down at the name on his phone. "Ansell? It's done?"
"You bet, just like you said. I have a hunch he knew what was inside." Ansell answers.
Josef laughs. "It's still worth every penny."
Lance snaps his fingers at the summoned footman. "You brought the crowbar?"
The man nods and holds it up.
Lance points to the crates. "Get busy."
The footman waves to his helper and they begin prying the lids off the crates. One after the other Lance's suspicions are realized. Four stakes vampires, one in each box. The footman leans down and pulls something out of the last box. Lance sees it's an envelope with his name on it. The footman hands it over to Lance who opens it.
Lance, sorry about your help, but you get what you pay for.
Well, that's it for this installment. Beth found her father and gained brothers and who knows maybe sisters down the road. Hope you all liked it. I'll try to get the next one up as soon as I can.