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Emmitt’s Treasure: Chapter 21

When we pulled up to the main house, Liam and Aden were waiting on the porch for us.  I couldn’t open the door fast enough for Michelle.  She jumped out and ran toward her brothers.  I could feel the sudden burst of worry and fear over our connection and focused on returning as much calming love as I could.

“I missed you so much,” I heard her say as she bent to hug them.

Pain clouded her features as they wrapped their arms around her.  I doubted it was from the boys hugging her.  She’d moved too fast getting out of the car.

Mary, Gregory, Henry, and Paul stood just behind the boys.  I nodded in greeting as I carried our bags to the porch.

“Mimi, it was so fun,” Liam said excitedly.

“We played till dark,” Aden added.

“How about you tell me what you all did when we’re inside,” Michelle said, standing.  They clasped her hands and started talking as they led her through the door.

Mom and Dad were waiting for us.

“Emmitt,” Mom said, ambushing me with a hug.  “I’m so happy for you.”

“I can smell the Claim on you,” Dad said.  “Congratulations.”

Michelle glanced at me as she continued to listen to her brothers.  I wondered if she’d heard Dad.

“Now, we just need to work on Jim,” Mom said under her breath.

Like Winifred, she was holding out hope that Jim would meet his Mate before he reached an age that the Elders would have to say yes to his request.

Mary and Gregory joined our conversation. “We heard you ran into trouble,” Gregory said, looking pointedly at Michelle.

“She can use some rest.”

“The cubs are welcome to sleep at our place if you think she’ll allow it.”

I glanced at Michelle.  She was watching Liam with a smile as he recounted a water balloon fight.  Yet, the smile lacked its normal shine.  Her face was pale, and she leaned a little, favoring her right side.

“She needs to.”

“We’ll ask,” Paul said.  They’d been quietly listening to our conversation and quickly moved to Michelle.

As soon as they asked if the boys could spend the night, I knew Michelle wouldn’t persevere against all the pleading looks.

Once she nodded, the boys raced down the hall, pulling Paul and Henry along. Michelle turned toward us.

“Welcome to the family,” Mom said, excitement lacing her voice.

“Thank you,” Michelle said.  “Can we talk?”

She wanted to talk now?  Just standing there she was starting to tremble.  When I saw the goosebumps on her arms, I realized it was due to a chill and not necessarily exhaustion.

“Are you sure you don’t want to rest first?” Mom asked, echoing what I’d just thought.

“No, there’s a lot I need to share, and I don’t know how much time…”  A thread of her worry wrapped around me.

“All right,” Dad said.  “Nana Wini is already waiting.”

“I’m going to put these in our room,” I said, lifting the bags I carried.  “I’ll meet you there.”  She nodded and started walking with my parents.

I ran past them to our room and found Jim dozing on the couch.

“Have fun while I was gone?” I asked, not stopping.  I put our bags on the bed and dug in the dresser for a warmer shirt.  Mom always kept extra clothing handy.  I found one and pulled it out.

“Yep.  I kicked some mutt butt.  Uncle Grey told me you almost got nutted again.”

I shook my head. “You should be less worried about my nuts and start thinking about your own.  Mom’s gunning to find you a Mate now that I’m Claimed.”

Jim groaned as I walked out the door, grinning.

The group had just reached the soundproofed room when I caught up to them.  Mom and Dad went inside as I handed Michelle the sweatshirt.

“Thank you,” she said a second before she started to put it on.

She flinched as she raised her arms over her head.  I quickly helped pull the sweatshirt down but smelled blood when the neckline brushed over her head.  The shirt must have rubbed against her gash.  I quickly pressed my lips to hers then took her hand and led her into the room.  I wanted this meeting done so I could get her into bed.

Mom and Dad were just taking their seats.  Michelle made a face as she sat, which Winifred caught.

“What happened to you?  I can smell blood,” she said, concerned.

“I ran into a door.”

Michelle’s humor needed work.

She cleared her throat and looked at Dad. “Thank you for keeping Liam and Aden safe.  Frank admitted Blake attempted to get them back.”  She glanced at Winifred.  “I’m guessing Frank followed us here and called Blake.  I think Blake was on his way here while we were going to him.  Anyway, when we got to Wisconsin, I had a visit from Frank.  He’s the reason I ran into a door.  He took me to a motel and started saying some weird things, like I was just one piece of a huge puzzle and that they would start with me but get all of my sisters.”

I frowned, wishing she’d told me that when we were still standing over Frank.  I was tired of not having any answers.

“You have sisters?” Winifred asked.

“No, I don’t.  I think he means women like me—us.”  Michelle looked at Mom.  “I’ve been having visions of other women.  So far, there seem to be five of us total.  I’m guessing each of us has a unique ability.  One of the women seemed to have a calming effect on the crowd around her.  The other two were harder to tell. Does Gabby have any special abilities?”

“She’s told Sam about an unusual pull she has on human men.  According to Sam, they appear to be very attracted to her.  Yet, our men don’t seem any more or less attracted to her because of it,” Mom said.

“Hmm.  My abilities changed when I met Emmitt and again when I met you.  You said yours first changed when you Claimed Thomas.  Maybe hers will manifest when she’s with her Mate?”

“She found her Mate,” Winifred said.  “But, she isn’t acknowledging him.  We’ll have to keep an eye on the situation.”

“What happened when you met me?” Mom asked, circling back to what Michelle had said.

“Well, it wasn’t exactly when we met but when we first touched.  Before meeting any of you, my premonitions were only about the stock markets.  When I met Emmitt, I started to see people.  Women.  But when I first touched you, I was transported to another place.  It was like a white nothing filled with monitors.  Each monitor had an image of one of us, women with power.  Around us, there were always werewolves.  Somehow, we were in the middle of them.  I wasn’t able to study the images before I was pulled out of that place.”

“When I let go,” Mom said, nodding.  “It makes sense.  I seem to enhance Thomas’s ability as pack leader through our mental link.  Perhaps I enhance yours when we touch.”

“Maybe,” Michelle said.  “I did notice something else important, I think.  The images I’ve seen played out when touching Emmitt are the same ones that are in that room.  I’m thinking that’s my source.  And, I’m still not clear why I don’t see a vision every time I’m with Emmitt.

“To be safe, we need to warn Gabby about Blake and his men.  I also think we need to look for the others like us.  I don’t want any of them to have to deal with Frank or Blake on their own.”

Her fear for the other women was plain.  I reached over and held her hand.  A surge of reassurance enfolded me, strangling the guilt that her words had evoked.

“Did Frank say anything more about the puzzle?  What he meant?” Winifred asked.

“No.  Nothing clear, anyway.  He said they were going to stop this cycle so a judgment would be made.  He was talking about Urbat, making it sound like it was another type of werewolf.”

Another type of werewolf?  I glanced at Dad.  He was either deep in thought or talking to one of the Elders.

Finally, Winifred spoke up.  “I’ve let Sam know about the possible danger.  Gabby has made arrangements for college, which will be starting soon.  Sam is working on how to keep her safe.”  She looked toward Dad.  “We’re going to accept Joshua’s request.  We can use his help.”

Jim was going to be pissed.

“Who’s Joshua?” Michelle asked.

“He’s the candidate for becoming an Elder.”

“Isn’t he the one you can’t read clearly?”

Winifred and Sam both nodded.

“It’s time to expand,” Dad said.  “Tomorrow, you and your family can go back home.  We’ll be sending six members with you, including Grey.  With two elders and eight members, you’ll be as safe as you are here.”

Michelle’s worry teased my nose as much as it tugged at my heart.

“How many came when we were gone?” she asked.

“It was always a solitary man,” Dad said.  “He was quick to run when we spotted him.”

Michelle slowly shook her head.  “There are more than that.  In the four years Blake kept me, I sat through dinner once a month with ten of his men.  I don’t remember seeing the same face twice.”

I wasn’t the only one doing the math.  Mom looked shocked.

“I don’t think we should leave,” Michelle said.  “I think this is the safest place, and I think we should get Gabby here, too.”

Winifred was already shaking her head. “Sam’s afraid she’ll run if he presses her.  She’s in denial right now.  We’ll have to trust him and her Mate to keep her safe.  Joshua is willing to move near her, too.”

“If you’re right about us being targets, wouldn’t it be better to split up?  We have some money set aside that we can use to add security to the Montana Compound,” Mom said.

Between her scent, facial expression, and what I felt over our connection, Michelle’s excitement was almost tangible.

“You’re right about the security.”  She stood and grinned at all of us.  “Make plans for us to leave tomorrow.  I have some calls to make.  Emmitt, tell your parents the good news.”

I smiled as she left the room.

“Good news?” Dad asked.

“Good and bad.  Michelle’s stepfather left her everything, including a substantial amount of money that Blake wants very badly.  To keep it out of his hands, she put the majority of it in two trusts.  One for her brothers, and one for us.”

“What do you mean substantial?” Mom asked.

“In the millions, Mom.  More than we would spend in ten generations with our way of life.”

“Will it draw attention to us?” Dad asked.

“No.  She and the lawyer were very careful with how they set everything up.  The bottom line is that she’s out there now making calls to ensure the Montana branch is a safer place.”

“What’s the bad news?” Mom asked.

“I know you want me to start a second pack and take on some of the responsibility you carry.  But, I think splitting the pack will weaken us.  I’m not saying to keep the families away.  I’m just saying, they shouldn’t leave your pack and swear themselves to me.  We need unity.  Especially now.  The number of men under Blake’s influence…”

“Far surpasses our own.”

I nodded.  Dad’s pack was big.  Bigger than any the old timers and Elders could remember.  But if all those men Blake introduced to Michelle were in his pack, Blake’s numbers far surpassed Dad’s.

Mom looked at Dad.  “Is it safe enough?  Should we really consider splitting?”

“Families are crowded and getting restless.  If we don’t open Montana and show we are expanding to accommodate, some will leave and be on their own.”

Mom sighed and nodded.  It was better to be with others and near Elders than on their own.

“Michelle has something in mind.  She wouldn’t be this willing to leave if it would put her brothers in danger.”

“Then we’ll just have to wait and see what she has planned,” Dad said, standing.  “You know where to find us if you need us.”

I left them to find Michelle.  She was pacing in our apartment with her cell phone firmly pressed against her ear.

“She’s been like that since she walked in,” Jim said, sitting on the couch.  I joined him.

“What did I miss?”

“She’s talking to her lawyer about buying stuff,” Jim said with a meaningful glance at me.  “Crazy expensive stuff.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Her stepfather left her a lot of money.  She’s going to use it to make the house safe.”

He nodded slowly.

“That would explain the high voltage fences.”

Michelle’s plans took most of the night.  Jim and I listened to her calls and watched her pace.  By the time she finished, Jim had started snoring.

“Ready?” I asked when she hung up the phone.

“For bed?  Yes.  For Blake?  We’ll see.”

*    *    *    *

After a week back home, most of the security work was complete.  The constant hum of electricity filled the air and made my hair stand on end when in my fur.  I doubted Michelle knew just how annoyingly effective that alone would be to deter werewolves.

Mary, Gregory, Paul, and Henry had returned with us and taken my old apartment.  Liam and Aden had willingly agreed to let me stay in their apartment.  Michelle had them believing I slept on the couch every night when in reality, I slept in her bed.  Just slept.  Then, she kicked me out of her room every morning near dawn.  The way she kissed me good-bye made moving to the couch worth it, though.

Grey and Carlos were living with Jim.  Carlos wasn’t giving anything away, but I was positive Jim was annoying the hell out of him.  He spent a lot of time with me, working on the other two apartments.

Dad already had two more families earmarked for this location once I had the apartments complete.  Both families had young cubs close to Liam and Aden’s ages.  The responsibility of running the place didn’t intimidate me as it once had.  It was home, and I was surrounded by family.

Saturday morning, Michelle’s alarm went off, and she woke with a stretch and a smile.  I was already awake, waiting for my morning kiss.  As I leaned down, confusion clouded her features and she pulled back.

“What is it?” I asked.

“I haven’t had a stock market premonition since before the trip.”

That didn’t sound like a bad thing.  She had feared her ability because of the control it gave other people over her.  Yet, she was frowning.

“Does that bother you?”

She shrugged slightly.  “I’m glad they’re gone, but I can’t help but wonder why.”

“Like you said, when you met me, things changed.  Maybe this is just part of that change.”

“Maybe.”

I trailed my fingers down her arm as I watched her nibble her lower lip.  She had more on her mind.

“So, I was thinking…”

Leaning over, I gently kissed her neck.  “About something good, I hope.”

“Depends.  I was thinking about all this sneaking we’re doing.  It makes me uncomfortable.  I don’t want the boys to catch us and start asking questions.”

I pulled back to look at her.  She wasn’t suggesting I move into one of the other apartments, was she?

She slid her hands under my shirt and started exploring my stomach, distracting me from my concern.

“I was wondering if we could set a date.”

The way she was touching me and looking at me could only mean one thing…

“Now’s good,” I said, trying to keep the growl from my voice.

She rolled her eyes and grinned. “Not for that.”

I wanted to groan. “You have me confused.  Again.”

“That’s because you’re focused on the physical side of our relationship.”

“Is there something else?” I teased.

“How about a wedding?”

She was talking about Mating.  She just didn’t know it.  I wrapped my arms around her and laughed.

“Is that what we’re waiting for?  A human ceremony?  How soon can we get married?”  I kissed her hard to let her know I was ready today.

“You’re still thinking about Mating,” she said when I finally pulled away.

“No.  I’m thinking about forever with you.”

She smiled at me.  “I was thinking later this fall.  I’d like to ask your mom to help.”

“She’d love that.”

I wrapped my fingers around hers and held her close.

“So when are you going to tell my brothers?” she asked.

“Me?”  She nodded.  “I’ll tell them as soon as they wake up if you’re okay with that.”

I could feel her nervousness.

“There’s nothing to worry about.  They already approved me.”

She giggled. “Only if I wasn’t going to marry Jim.”

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