Ellis: Emerson Wolves ― Paranormal Wolf Shifter Romance (10 page)

BOOK: Ellis: Emerson Wolves ― Paranormal Wolf Shifter Romance
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“No, you don’t. But I’m not going to push this on her. She’s stressed enough as it is.”

Ellis made Hunter promise that if Dawn didn’t want to look into it any more, that they’d drop it. Hunter said he could live with that. Ellis asked him what he’d been wanting to ask all night but just didn’t know how.

“Do you…please don’t bullshit me, Hunter. I really want to know, okay?” Hunter nodded. “Can I do this? Run a pack on my own? I know that I’d have Dawn at my side, but do you honestly think I can do this?”

Hunter watched the group of kids running around with the glow sticks that had been brought out just after dark. He smiled when one of them made a little girl scream by telling her it was a snake, and then the darling little girl punched him right in the nose. When they both stopped laughing, Hunter turned to him.

“When we first moved here, you guys tricked me into being alpha. I had neither the desire nor the gumption to be anything but one of the owners of Emerson Construction. Do you know who I thought would be the alpha?” Ellis told him Dad. It would have been a perfect fit. “No. You. You’re more alpha than me. Hell, you’re going to make two or more of Mike. He has neither the heart for it nor the muscle to put behind it. It’s why the pack is in such trouble. And why a lot of them are leaving it for better grounds and more control from their pack leader.”

Embarrassed that his older brother would say such a thing, especially about him, Ellis looked away as he spoke. “Mike said that nearly twenty percent have asked to leave. That’s a huge number for such a small pack.” Hunter nodded. “Are they coming here? Pledging to you?”

“Some have asked. But I told them that I’d have to think about it. We’re about as big as I want to be. I’m giving you time to decide if you want it. Mike told me today that he’s done. That his son wants him home and his wife is begging him to give it up.” Hunter looked beyond him and stared at something only he seemed to be able to see. “I talked to Addie about it as well. She said that you’d have to hurt Mike for it.”

“I can’t do that.” Hunter nodded. “I like the man. Respect him, too. If I have to fight him for the right to be pack alpha, it’s not worth it.”

“All right. But if you don’t hurt him for it, draw first blood—and she seems to think it’s only a small amount—then next month he’ll be dead.” Ellis shook his head, and Hunter nodded. “Someone else comes along that fights him and wins. Everything is broken up then. The pack is…everyone in it is destroyed.”

Ellis looked at Dawn, who was dancing with Claribel and having a good time. He knew that Claribel had lost her son recently to a horrific accident, and she’d been barely functioning until Mary and Martha had taken her in and got her straightened up. It was the way they did things in his pack, the way he wanted to do things in his own. Take care of each other no matter what happened.

“I’ve asked…well, you know who I asked. Addie said that this other alpha, the one that takes the pack if you don’t, he’ll kill them all in a rage so huge that bodies will be torn apart so badly that it will be difficult to tell who is who. Women, children, anyone that is left will be dead.” Ellis asked Hunter if he took this, would he fight the man as well? “I don’t know. She can only see one future at a time, she told me. And it’s not always complete. But this she seemed to be certain of.”

“I’ll talk to Dawn tonight, and then Mike. I’ll give you an answer before we leave.” Hunter told him that would be good. “Hunter? Will you do me one favor while I’m thinking about this? Will you please make sure, if anything happens to me, that Dawn is safe? I mean, if this other wolf comes for me, will you please make sure that Dawn isn’t killed, too? You know what a new alpha will do to the female alpha.”

“I do and I will. But you have to promise me the same. If I should be challenged and lose, you make sure that Sloan and my child are taken care of as well.” They shook on it, and Ellis went to find his mate. He needed to touch her right now, and then he wanted to take her into the woods and fuck her until she couldn’t move. Him either for that matter.

His plans changed when he walked up to her and she wrapped her arms around him. Ellis realized that he’d never danced with her, and when the music started playing a slow song, he swayed back and forth with her in his arms.

“So, we’re going to be pack alphas, are we?” He nodded against her head and told her that he was going to talk to her tonight. “Martha said that you and I will make great leaders. And Mary wants to come and work for me when I open my production line. Claribel wants to answer the phone.”

“Claribel has had some upset in her life, and it might be good for her to be your secretary.” Dawn told him that was good because she’d hired all three of them. Ellis laughed. “Good. Anything else they told you that I might have to explain myself for?”

“Yes. Well, maybe not you, but someone will. Your sister-in-law sent a crew up to our place and started our new home. Did you know that?” He told her he didn’t and started looking for Sloan. “I suppose I should have figured she’d do something like that. Addie, I mean. She said that she’d put the land in my name when I first moved there all those years ago. That I had done her a favor by staying alive for you.”

“I’m glad she did that for you as well, but Addie is building our home for us?” She nodded against his chest. He lifted her chin up and looked at her. “How does she know what we want?”

“Really? Addie knows everything.” Which, Ellis supposed, she really did.

Chapter 10

 

Basil was standing outside the jail when Neva pulled up to get him. She’d been with him since she went and paid his bill, but had to go and get their car to pick him up. His leg was still bothering him, and he didn’t want to make it bleed again. She kissed him on the cheek when he got in.

“We just have to find us a place to stay until our house is finished. I went by there yesterday and, boy oh boy, they sure have been doing it up right nice. The house not so much, but the yard is looking good. They went and pulled out all your daddy’s old cars he was going to work on.” Basil was going to work on them as well, and thought maybe he’d ask that Shawn person if he could have them back when they were all done out there. He asked if they could go by again.

There were large flatbed trucks in the road and two of them had big semis on the front of them, but nobody in them. When they were waved around them, Basil looked into his yard, thinking to see the house all spruced up and the yard moved. But it was gone.

“Where did they move our house to?” Neva tried to turn around to go back, but there just wasn’t enough room. When she did manage to get up the road enough to turn around, they had to wait in line while another big piece of equipment was unloaded. Basil was sure that he’d made a mistake and had just missed the house.

“You just probably missed it.” He nodded at Neva, thinking she had to be right. Why would they move their house? It didn’t make any sense. “Maybe they’re putting it somewhere so we don’t have to pay for a hotel while the yard is being fixed up.”

Basil didn’t think that was it either. The more he thought about it, the more he knew they had knocked it down if all that mess in the yard had been what he’d thought it was. Their house was completely gone, and he just didn’t know what to think.

As they drove up to where their mailbox had been—it being laid over in the grass all smashed up—he stood looking at where the big pinching machine was picking up what he thought was his front door and putting it in a big dump truck. There was their stove too, all smashed up to hell and dumped in there. Basil looked at Neva, who was crying.

“They didn’t tell me they was going to tear it down.” She shook her head, and Basil patted her on the back. “I don’t know what’s going on, honey, I don’t. They said that we had to go away and that they’d take care of the place. This ain’t taking care of it, it’s tearing it to pieces.”

“Maybe they mean to build us a new one.” He didn’t think that was right either. These men looked like they were the kind that tore houses down, not put them together. “What are we going to do, Basil? I got all our things that we thought we wanted, but what can I cook on? And our old television didn’t work that good, but it was all right. We don’t even have the rest of our cans that we been saving.”

One of the deconstruction guys was walking by him when Basil asked him to stop. “Can you tell me why they tore this house down? I mean, who said they could do that?”

“The order came from…let me look and I can tell you.” When the man walked to his truck and stood looking at a clipboard, Basil told Neva they’d get to the bottom of this. “Mrs. Dawn Whitfield. And Ellis…no wait, that’s been scratched out and someone changed it. Dawn Emerson and Ellis Emerson are the ones that’s name is on the order. We were told to take it all down to the bare earth.”

When the man walked away, Basil could only stand there and stare at what had been his home for all his life. His niece had done this. Dawn, the brat, had taken their house from them and left them with nothing but a bag or two of clothing. He tried to comfort Neva, but she was crying so hard that even with his sore leg, he nearly had to carry her to the car.

“She done this to us.” He nodded at Neva when she started screaming at him about the darned girl. “What right did she have to come in here and tear up our house? And take your daddy’s fine cars? We got nowhere to live now. They have to put us a new house in, Basil. It’s the only one I know’d of all my life.”

He didn’t point out that a moment ago they were junk and now that they knew who had done this to them, they were fine cars. But he understood what she meant. The brat had done this to them.

“We have to make her give it back to us.” Basil told Neva there was no giving them back anything; it was all gone. “She owes us, Bassie. What are we gonna do now that she done went and had our family home…? She killed it.”

“And after us taking her in when we was just as happy to not have her here.” He had never liked the girl and had told Neva that all the time. “Her momma was nothing but a whore, spreading her legs for whatever had a thing there to stick in her. Then, like I told everybody, she got herself in trouble with the law, and now she’s dead. And what do we have? Nothing. Less than nothing. And all because we done bought her issue into our house when she was nothing more than a kid.”

“And we didn’t do nothing to her but give her a roof over her head. What did she do to thank us? This. This is what she done.” Basil nodded, getting madder by the second. He hated to lose his temper. When he did…he didn’t ever remember what happened when he did, but Neva had been hurt once, and he hardly ever let it go no more.

When his head started to hurt, like it did the night that the brat had run off, he put his hands over his eyes and let out long breaths. He had to think, and Neva wailing wasn’t helping him. Rocking back and forth on the seat, he started to count like his own momma used to tell him to do. Just not hear nothing around him but the numbers floating through his head. When he got to fifty, about as far as he could count without messing up, he started again and began to feel better. But he looked over at Neva and knew that he’d blacked out again.

“You hurt me, Bassie. Why?” Her nose was bleeding badly, and her mouth was all beat up, too. He wanted to tell her that he’d not done it, but he knew better. And he hated himself for it.

“I don’t know, love. I don’t know. It’s all her fault.” He handed her a few of the napkins that were in the glove box. “Here you go, just keep it from bleeding too much. I’m so sorry. You know how I get when I’m upset.”

“I know.” She was sobbing now, and his heart broke. “We have to make her put things to right, Bassie. It’s the least she can do for us losing everything we had. We don’t even have a couch to sit on no more. And your favorite chair is all gone, too. All them things that we saved and saved for. We don’t even have a table to eat on. What will we do?”

Basil tried to think, but the pounding in his head started to make his belly hurt. Getting out of the car, he tried pounding the pain out of his head on the hood, but all that did was made him dizzy. He had to do something or he might hurt someone again. When he started walking, just going back toward town, his leg hurt, but he thought it was better than hurting his Neva. She was his wife, and he didn’t want her hurt no more.

He had no idea how long he walked. His leg had started hurting almost right away, so he’d concentrated on that and not his head. When he came up on the gates that had locked him out of the place where he knew that the brat was, he walked around it and into the yard. Someone had been cleaning up here, too, but the house was still there.

The yard was mowed and there were new rocks on the drive. He walked around the yard to the back, and could see that someone had been working in what he thought was a garden. Going to the big barn, he tried to pry open the doors, but the lock was getting in his way. He was still walking around it to see if he could get into it when Neva came up to him.

“You still think she is around here?” He nodded, certain about it now. “Then I think we should take her house, too. I can’t drive one of them big things, can you?”

“No. I don’t even know how to drive at all. You know that.” She nodded and stared at the house. “We could live here, I guess, but I’m betting that she’s around here someplace.”

Neva went to the house door and slammed her considerable weight against it. The door splintered under her weight, and when she stood up, he rushed to her side to see that she was all right. Other than her hip being a little sore, she told him she was fine as rain.

“Yeah. Let’s have us a look around. We might just find us a way to get to that niece of yours.” Basil was sad that she’d put it all on him, but she was right, it was his niece. So as they entered the house, the first thing they saw was a big bowl of apples on the counter. “We should see if there’s something for us to take first. They sure did take all our stuff.”

It took them over an hour to find all the stuff they were going to take from the house. Food had been important for them since they’d have to be living out of their car, he supposed. And he was pretty sure that there was no way they could just live here. There were too many people here now. As he got stuff from the refrigerator, Neva came rushing to the kitchen with an envelope.

“It is her. Damned if I wasn’t right. This is her house, and she’s been right here all this time. Right here under our noses.” Basil took the envelope that had Dawn Whitfield on the front of it. It was a bill for the electric, and he could see by it that she’d been paying her bills every month.

“She wasn’t helping us with all her money. Why not? We sure could have used some of this that she was paying off this bill for. Where was our cut?” Neva said that she didn’t know, and Basil got angry again. “This just ain’t right. Not right at all. First, her momma just drops her into our lap without as much as a nickel to her name. Then, she goes and runs off like we done her wrong or something. What are we supposed to do now?”

It wasn’t true that she’d been dropped in their lives. In fact, Basil and Neva had decided not to take her in until they told them that they’d be paid by the government to do it. And they’d get all kinds of health discounts, too, should they need them. And the food stamp card. That was the real deal there. Free food.

“We should burn it down.” Neva looked so happy at that thought that Basil was nodding before he could think of a single reason they shouldn’t be doing this. “Yeah, burn it down with all her pretties in it. Just like she had them do to us.”

Basil began dragging out the blankets that they’d filled with the stuff they were going to take. The more he thought about it, the better it sounded. When the last of it was out of the house they had themselves a meal of a big slab of ham and some bread that had been in the icebox. After a bit, they decided that it was time to take care of her house and the pretty things that they’d leave inside. Neva had taken the empty jars in the window, and he’d found himself a few things, too, that would start them on a collection again.

Neva started upstairs ‘cause she could get around better, and he started putting a match to everything he could find. By the time Neva came down the stairs, he had a nice roaring fire going to most of the house.

~~~

Ellis hung up the phone and leaned against the wall. Christ, how the hell was he going to tell Dawn? He turned when he heard someone come into the room and looked at Sloan. She was smiling and rubbing her belly, but frowned before he could say anything to her.

“What’s happened? Where’s Dawn? Do I need to call people in?” His dad walked in the door just as he was ready to tell her what had happened, and he hugged him. The guy who had called him, one of the workers at the site, had said that he’d talked to an older gentlemen first.

“It’s all gone.” Ellis nodded, feeling tears fill his eyes. “Oh son, I’m so sorry. I’m so very sorry. Why would anyone do that to her? Such a nice little thing, too.”

“Someone had better tell me or I’m going to get pissed. And you know how I am when I get pissed.” Ellis couldn’t talk, couldn’t make his throat loosen up to say the words, but his dad could and turned to her.

“Their house was set fire to late yesterday evening. It’s gone, all of it. Manning said that there wasn’t even a speck of nothing left that they could have saved.” Sloan sat down and started crying as well. “The couple that did it had tried to rob them first, he thought. Taking most of the food and other things out before they did the deed. But the fire was so hot, so fast that they barely made it away before that, too, was consumed. Manning called the police, but they were long gone by the time that anyone got there.”

“She…she’s going to be devastated when I tell her.” Ellis looked at his dad when he sat down with them. “Our house isn’t even started yet, just the foundation. What the hell are we going to do? And there’s nothing but her things she brought here with her. She’ll have to go shopping again. She hates that.”

He was babbling, and everyone seemed to know it. Getting up to go to the stairs to tell her, he stopped when he saw her standing there in her robe. One look at her and he just started crying again. Sobbing out what had happened, he held her while she cried as well. He wasn’t much for tears, but this had gotten to his heart in a way that made him think of how fragile things were.

“Everything? All my…everything?” He nodded, in better control of himself now that he’d had a few minutes. But she was still dealing with the pain, and he held her on his lap while sitting right there on the stairs. “Who would do such a thing to me? I’ve never…. My aunt and uncle did this, didn’t they?” She looked at him.

“They were spotted leaving the house just as the smoke came out of the roof. Manning, a man on site that’s working on our home and a friend of my dad’s, said that they were dancing in the yard with some of the food from the house in a blanket. When a piece of the house fell onto it, they ran like all hell was after them. The police have someone out looking for them.”

BOOK: Ellis: Emerson Wolves ― Paranormal Wolf Shifter Romance
10.37Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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