Authors: Anya Byrne
Expecting His Alpha's Child
Lone Wolf Pack 3
Parker hated hospitals. He always had, and he probably always would. The smell of antiseptic and sorrow seemed to cling to his skin, refusing to let go.
But today, his presence here was necessary, and in circumstances he would have preferred to avoid.
A doctor was just coming out of the unit he'd been directed to by the nurses. "Excuse me," Parker said. "I'm a friend of Alicia Cook. Could you tell me how she is?"
Mr. Parker Knight?" the doctor inquired. When Parker nodded, he explained, "Well, as you know she took a nasty fall. On top of scrapes and bruises all over her body, she has a broken arm that will take quite a bit to heal. She's also suffering from severe anemia and exhaustion."
Parker had expected that much. When he'd received the phone call from the hospital, he'd actually feared the worst, but the knowledge that Alicia would, at the very least, be fine in time, soothed his heart. "Thank you, Doctor. Can I see her?"
The doctor nodded. "Go right ahead. But I must caution you against staying too long. She needs her rest."
Thanking the doctor, Parker made his way into the room. He found Alicia lying in a bed, lo
oking very small and fragile, a far cry from the energetic, fierce woman he knew.
Her face had taken quite a beating in the fall, and her eyes were practically swollen shut. Her arm was in a cast and she was very pale, a sign of the anemia the doctor had mentioned.
Hello, Parker," she said as she struggled to open her eyes and only half-succeeded. "How have you been?"
"Better than you, I gather." Parker sat down in the chair next to the bed and took Alicia's hand. "I told you to be more mindful of your own health."
Alicia sighed. "And I should have listened. But it can't be helped now. Look, Parker… The doctor said that… it seems that I'll be fine. But it'll take time for me to be… To get better. Kyle and Jackie need someone to look after them."
Parker blinked. He would be happy to take care of Alicia's two kids, but somehow, he didn't think that was what she had in mind.
"What can I do to help?" he inquired.
"My son. My older son. Gavin." Alicia paused, the conversation obviously exhausting her. "We're estranged, but he's a good boy. I know he wouldn't refuse caring for Kyle and Jack for a while. And maybe… Maybe it'll be good for them too. I haven't been around as much as I would have liked."
It was true. Alicia Cook's case had first come to attention when one of her neighbors had reported her to Social Services, claiming she was a poor mother for her two boys, Kyle, aged seven, and Jack, aged five. Parker had later learned that she was actually struggling with debts left behind by her two exes, juggling several jobs so that she could afford paying for the kids' education and the roof over their heads. Most importantly, the boys loved her dearly, and Parker would have never dreamed of separating the family. He knew all too well that, sometimes, being in the care of the state wasn't all that pleasant.
In the end, he'd started helping Alicia out whenever she couldn't be with the boys because of circumstances beyond her control. Slowly, they'd become friends, and the kids had even grown fond of him. They were the ones who'd first mentioned their older brother, and while Parker knew only bits and pieces of the story, he'd never pried.
"Do you have his address or his phone number?"
Alicia quickly said a string of numbers that she proceeded to identify, "I've had his cell for years, but I never quite managed to gather my courage and actually call him. After what I did…" Her eyes filled with tears, and Parker reached for her hand, squeezing it. "Call him, Parker. Find him. Please."
"I will," Parker promised.
Adding the number to his cell phone's contact list, Parker left Alicia's room, just in time to see her two kids approach on the corridor, followed by a plump, brown-haired woman whom Parker recognize as Marianne Brown, Kyle's teacher. They made a beeline for him, Jack launching himself at Parker. "Will Mommie be okay, Parker?" he asked, his lower lip trembling.
"Yes, Jackie," Parker soothed the child. "She'll be just fine. She's just sick right now, but I spoke to the doctor, and he assured me that she'll recover."
Kyle scowled fiercely, his jaw tightening in that way that told Parker he kind of wanted to cry, but refused to do it because of Jack. Parker crouched in front of them and hugged both boys. "I know you're probably feeling very uncertain right now, but I'm here for you. I'll help you. And you know what else? While your mother is getting better, the two of you might just go on an adventure."
"An adventure?" Kyle repeated, not sounding very convinced. "We don't want that. We want to stay with Mom."
"I know, but your mom wants you to meet your older brother. You've heard about him, right? Gavin?"
Jack smiled widely and even Kyle seemed to relax. "Yes, we know," Jack offered. "Mom said we'd visit him soon. You mean we can finally do that?"
"Yes," Parker replied. "Definitely. And I'm sure he'd just love the two of you."
Kyle smiled slightly. "Mom tells us about him all the time. She said that too, that he'd love us."
Mrs. Brown cleared her throat, interrupting the exchange. "Mr. Knight. A word with you?"
"Of course," Parker said. "Go on, boys. You can go inside. But be careful not to tire her out, okay?"
Following Parker's urge, Jack slowly entered Alicia's room. Kyle eyed Mrs. Brown with obvious suspicion, but his need to see his mother won out and he followed his brother.
"Will they truly be all right?" Mrs. Brown inquired once they were gone.
"Mrs. Cook will recover, but in the meantime, it's likely that Kyle and Jack will go live with their older brother. I have Mrs. Cook's permission to handle all the arrangements. I trust there won't be any problems at the school."
"No, of course not," she replied. "They're lovely children, and they will be missed, but we only want what's best for them."
The implied meaning was that staying with their mother didn't really provide them with the best of care, and that irritated Parker to no end. But strangers couldn't always see things from this perspective, so he forced a smile and said, "Naturally."
The teacher seemed to take his presence and his words as permission to leave. Parker was somewhat relieved. He grabbed his phone and hastily punched in the number Alicia had given him. Hopefully, Gavin would reply, because Jack and Kyle needed a stroke of luck.
Finn stood in front of the cell, eyeing the trapped men impassively. By his side, his father hummed, his thoughtful tone telling Finn the older werewolf was in the same dilemma that plagued Finn himself. "Still no word from the silencer guilds?" his father inquired.
One of Finn's best men, Argent, provided the reply. "We haven't heard from their leaders, no, and Wendel Adler didn't acknowledge that they worked for him."
"What should we do, Father?" Finn inquired.
Given that the silencers had been caught on the territory of the Simmons pack, Finn's father was entitled to take out the assassins if he so desired. That was the risk silencers took. If their guilds reneged of them—as it usually happened when they breached the Secrecy Accords—they had virtually no rights and no defense when faced with pack-bound werewolves.
But Finn was still reluctant to take a life, and his father seemed of a similar mind. "For the moment, keep them here. I'll approach the matter at the next Gathering. Silencers are beginning to become a problem we can't seem to control."
Finn had to agree, and a part of him was relieved to delay the decision until the Gathering. There were still a good couple of months until the yearly reunion of all the werewolf packs in the world. Even if only representatives participated, there were always thousands present. The matter of the silencers would be best discussed there.
He and his father turned away from the cells, while Argent stayed behind to handle the last practicalities of the Alpha's orders. Thankfully, the pack was prosperous and it allowed them to sustain the prisoners with ease.
Unfortunately, their problems weren't over yet. No sooner had they reached the main floor of the mansion than his father's phone rang. The older werewolf retrieved the device from his pocket. Judging by the slight, but strained, smile on his father's lips, Finn guessed the caller was William Orwell.
Finn discreetly stepped away from his father, giving the other man space. His father's relationship with his true mate was still somewhat ambiguous. Their reunion might have been enthusiastic, but as it turned out, the human wasn't all that eager to resume their relationship from where they'd left off. This pained Finn's father deeply, but it wasn't something Finn could approach in any way.
Despite his attempt for discretion, he still overheard part of the exchange. "Hey, Will," his father greeted his estranged mate. "What's up?"
Finn couldn't hear the human's reply, and he actively tried to ignore the conversation. He thought about everything else that needed to be done to make sure the pack was safe. The situation with the silencers aside, Wendel Adler wasn’t likely to give up on trying to acquire more territory. Alpha Adler could win in a fight with Finn's father—Finn's dad had always been stronger, but he was aging—but that wasn't Finn's real concern. Thus far, Adler had attempted to gain control of the pack through subterfuge, and whatever else he planned couldn't be good.
Even lost in his thoughts, Finn registered the now alarmed tone of his father's voice. He redirected his attention to the conversation, but his dad was already ending the call. "What's the matter?" he asked his father.
"It's Gavin. He's giving birth. Apparently, he's in great deal of pain, and Saul isn't taking it well."
Finn cursed. "Damn it. I just knew something like this would happen. Are you going to see them?"
His father released a heavy sigh. "There's nothing I'd like more right now, but I have to be here just in case Wendel decides to make a move. Besides, Will doesn't want me there. He hasn't outright said it, but I know him, and he can't afford the distraction. You go. Your brother will need you. Maybe you can talk some sense into him."
Finn didn't think he'd ever heard his father sound more tired, but he couldn't worry about that right now. He was already moving, his mind on his brother's predicament. "I'll keep you posted," he promised his father.
Still hating that he had to leave the older werewolf behind, he rushed out the mansion and to his car. As he started the vehicle, he wished his father had told him more about the situation. Since William Orwell had explained how many things could go wrong with such a pregnancy, Finn had feared what would happen when Gavin went into labor. He had, in fact, insisted that Saul and his small pack stay here until they were absolutely sure everything went well. Understandably, Saul had refused—Gavin's presence had drawn too much attention during his one visit, and the story would have just repeated itself with Gavin's friend and their older brother, Jessie. Today's phone call just confirmed Finn's worst fears—and he still didn't have a clue as to how he'd be handling his apparently frantic younger sibling.
The drive to Saul's place seemed to take forever. Since he'd left their pack, Saul had moved into a large cabin which he shared with his mate and, now, his other two pack mates, their brother Jessie, and Jessie's mate, Andreas Brandt, as well as William Orwell. The land included in the property wasn't large—not like the Simmons pack lands—but it did suffice for three wolves and two humans. Sadly, it was also a good distance away from the mansion, so it must have taken Finn a little over an hour to reach his destination.
The moment Finn parked, Andreas came out of the cabin to meet him. "What's going on?" Finn asked without preamble.
"Gavin suddenly went into labor, and Saul started to panic. He didn't allow anyone, not even Doctor Orwell, to get close to Gavin."
Shit, that was bad. "Where is he now?"
"Jessie's keeping him company," Andreas explained, "but I'm not sure it's really helping. In all likelihood, he isn't bursting in to see his mate just because Doctor Orwell knocked Gavin out."
Finn followed Andreas inside, where he found Saul pacing in the living room. "What's taking him so long?" he muttered under his breath. "Something must have gone wrong. Moon be blessed, what if he dies?"
The panic in Saul's voice just about killed Finn. Crossing the room, he walked to Saul's side. He clapped his brother's shoulder, wishing he had something more useful to say than ‘it'll be all right'.
Saul turned toward him, and in the familiar gray eyes—so much like Finn's own—Finn saw despair. His brother gripped Finn's own shoulder, burying his claws in Finn's flesh. "What if he dies?" he repeated.
"He won't die," Finn assured him. "He's had a healthy pregnancy so far, and Doctor Orwell is with him. All the advantages are on his side."