Frank was having a bad day, putting it mildly. His head was pounding furiously, and his inner wolf was whining in withdrawal from not seeing his mate since early this morning. Not even the familiar sweet scent of pine eased his mind as he walked home after the council meeting.
He was grumbling to himself about his irritating peers, pinching the bridge of his nose in distress. Absolutely nothing had been getting done in the past month because no one could agree on anything.
The ongoing topic was the expansion of the village -- their territory -- in the direction towards the human settlement in the south. It’s always been a progressive view to be more involved in the human world, therefore the elders of the clan, of-fucking-course, immediately argued against the idea with old-fashioned shit like the purity of the werewolf race right from the moment Frank had introduced the concept weeks ago.
The whole village knew something needed to be done about the overcrowding, but it was Frank’s job to get the approval of the council and oversee the development, for he had been alpha of the pack since the death of his father half a decade ago.
Heaving a sigh, he approached his humble cottage, inhaling the heavenly scent of roasted vegetables and fresh rolls that drifted through the open window. His wolf howled with excitement at the soothing aroma of his wife, and his stressed muscles began to loosen in relief.
He pushed the front door open, and her chipper humming rang through the air. Jamia smiled when she looked his way, wiping her messy hands on her apron and moving towards him.
“Welcome home, Sugar,” she murmured as she enveloped him in a warm embrace. He pulled her tightly against him, burying his nose in her dark hair, inhaling deeply.
“Mm,” was all he hummed in response. Fuck, it felt so nice to be home.
“Council being difficult again?” she asked as she carded her fingers through his shaggy hair.
“When are they not?” he grumbled. She pulled away and giggled, smoothing his frown lines with her thumbs.
“Stop frowning like that; you don’t look nearly as pretty.”
“We both know you’re the one who’s got the looks in this relationship, my dear,” he grinned and pecked the tip of her nose. She rolled her eyes, pinching his ass before walking back to the pot hanging over the fire.
“So what’s John’s excuse for the elders this time?”
“You know, the usual. They don’t want us intermingling with the humans because that would inevitably result in sex, therefore children, and hybrids are an ‘abomination,’ using their terminology,” he explained as he shrugged off his coat.
“I don’t understand why the thought of a hybrid is so awful to them.” Jamia pursed her lips and shook her head in disapproval. “We don’t even know what it entails yet. I’m sure we could even find out more about it if we asked other clans. I wouldn’t be surprised if hybrids have already become common elsewhere.”
“That’s I’ve tried to tell them over and over again, but they just won’t listen. I can’t even describe the hatred they have towards humans. It’s awful.”
“How’s Gerard taking it?”
“He’s, eh, having a hard time controlling his emotions towards the topic.” He took a seat at their little wooden dining table and rubbed at his eyes. Gerard had a long history with this flaw. He was too passionate, too sensitive, and too insecure to be in politics, Frank had concluded as fact long ago but couldn’t find the heart to find another beta.
Jamia grabbed some tableware from the cabinets and began filling them with stew and bread. “I don’t blame him,” she said softly. “Considering his situation with Lindsey, I can’t imagine how he feels when he hears such hateful speech.”
“Neither can I,” he replied as she set the dishes down and pulled up a seat across from him.
Lindsey was Gerard’s human companion; a taboo secret relationship that was strictly kept between only his closest friends and family. She was also one of the few humans Frank had met in his lifetime since it is rare that he leaves the territory he reigns over.
His mother and father raised him to respect boundaries but be open-minded to what lies outside of them; to have humility; to be loyal and honest to his pack and mate. He strove to live by these values like they were the blood in his veins, but he had to admit that before meeting Lindsey, he wasn’t very accepting of the human race.
It wasn’t long ago that he, himself, thought humans were inferior. They were fickle, weak in every physical way, and unfathomably cruel from stories he’d heard from his fellow pack members as a boy. His skin now crawled at the thought of being so bigoted.
When Gerard first introduced him to Lindsey, Frank was unsure of what to expect or how to act, but Gerard was his beta and life-long friend, and he couldn’t let him down. He’d shaken her hand with conviction and the friendliest grin he could muster. After spending the rest of the night with the two of them in Gerard’s small home, he finally understood why Gerard had fallen in love with her.
“Enough about me. Was your day alright?” Frank asked as he took a bite of stew.
“I picked up a few things from Spencer to make more charms, but that’s really it. Other than that I’ve just been working all day.” Jamia was known for her craft of intricate charms that aided in good luck and health. The rest of the pack came to her often to exchange goods for her creations. Because she was the female alpha, a mother figure of the clan, they trusted her charms more than anyone else’s.
“Your hands are probably sore, huh?” he asked, taking her hand in his and kissing each of her fingertips while his eyes locked with hers.
“Nothing new; I’ll recover,” she sighed. He continued to hold her small, soft hand in his, gently stroking her palm.
“Maybe we could both take a day off tomorrow. You’ve been working nonstop for weeks.”
“People always want to get new charms this time of year. I’ve got to keep up. You know that.”
“Of course I do. I just think a day to lounge in bed and rest is well-deserved for both of us.”
“Oh, I doubt there’d be any rest involved if we did that.” She rolled her eyes.
“There’s nothing wrong with that either,” he grinned with a wink. “I just miss you.”
She pulled her hand away, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear before scooping up a vegetable. “I guess one day off wouldn’t hurt.”
Frank smiled brightly around a mouthful of food. Jamia just laughed.
* * *
Later that night, Frank held Jamia tightly against his chest, breathing slowly and silently as he dozed beside her. She was lying awake reading late into the night as usual. She generally was able to sleep much later than Frank in the morning, though it was part of her schedule to wake for a bit to cuddle with him before he had to get up.
The room was dim and silent except for candle on her bedside table as the wax dripped slowly into the dish it sat in.
She yawned and slid a thread between the pages to mark her place in the book before sliding into the drawer of the table. After she leaned over to blow out the flame, she rolled over to press a kiss on Frank’s lips and snuggled into his shoulder. He hummed, half-asleep, and wrapped his arms around her.
* * *
The following day was spent, as promised, in bed. They lived and breathed each other during the allotted time, hidden away from the rest of the world, exploring the familiar planes of their bodies.
Frank was drowning in her taste and scent and voice, his senses becoming overwhelmed from the sight of her body arching in pleasure and the sound of her softly moaning beneath him. God, he loved her. Only her.
As he moved against her, his pace quickening as he approached his climax for the second time that day, he buried his face in her neck, running his tongue along the faint scar from the night of their mating. He bit down gently over the mark as they both cried out in release.
“I love you,” he gasped as he collapsed over her. “So much. God, so much, J.”
“I love you, too,” she breathed, pulling his mouth to hers.
They rested after their love-making, intertwined between cool sheets, listening to the singing of the afternoon birds through the window Frank opened. A soft exchange of words and feelings passed between them as they lay.
Frank felt peace in his heart for the first time in a while.
Their state of nirvana was then suddenly interrupted by the sound of someone approaching on horseback, racing towards their home.
“What the hell?” Frank muttered, pulling away from Jamia to look towards the window. Gerard was climbing off his horse and hurriedly approaching the front door.
“I sent the messenger to let the council know I wouldn’t be in today. Why the hell is he here?” Frank grumbled, slipping out of bed and pulling on a pair of pants.
“Maybe it’s something important. Just be quick, it’s cold without you in here.” She smiled softly.
“I’ll try,” he grinned and leaned over to kiss her.
Gerard was pounding at the door when he opened it trying to look as irritated as possible. There was bright pink painted across Gerard’s cheeks and panic in his eyes.
“Gerard, I told you I’m taking some personal time today,” Frank snapped.
“Forgive me if I’m interrupting anything, but something’s happened that’s completely out of anyone else’s authority. We need you to come to the council immediately.”
Frank hissed out a sigh. “Surely there someone else who has knowledge of it and could make an acceptable decision. What is it, land dispute?”
“No, not nearly that simple. Frank, it’s...something we’ve never dealt with before.”
Frank frowned. “What is it?”
“A human has entered the village.” Frank froze, gaping at him. Gerard ran a hand through his hair, yanking at the strands. “We have no idea what to do with him. He was captured right away, of course, and now he’s in the holding cell. All hell has broken loose within most of the pack, and now they’re all gathered outside the council building arguing. The elders want to just kill the man and move on. Patrick and I have been making sure that doesn’t happen, but we need you to come and make a final decision.”
“Jesus fucking Christ,” Frank said, leaning against the door frame. “I’m guessing no one wants to let him leave either because he could spread our location.”
“Exactly. And then we’d be flooded with human visitors. But Frank...we can’t let him die. He’s an innocent man.”
Frank sighed and scratched at the stubble on his jaw. “Let me go change into something more presentable. I’ll be there as soon as possible.”
“Thank you. I’ll let them know you’re on your way,” Gerard said as he began to walk away.
Frank shut the door and stood there for a moment, cursing under his breath. Damn the human causing this chaos.
He stormed into the bedroom and found his council garments and slipped them on as Jamia eyed him with concern.
“You gonna tell me what’s going on?”
“A human entered the village. And I have to go decide what to do with him.”
“A human? That’s...unheard of. How did he even find us?”
“I just keep thinking about my proposal for expansion. This is what I wanted, right? To start integrating our societies,” Frank rambled in exasperation.
“That’s something we evolve towards over time. You never said you wanted the sudden appearance of a stranger. The pack wasn’t prepared for this, and you weren’t either.”
“Goddammit, this is going to destroy any support of my proposal. Gerard’s making it sound like the whole clan is in an uproar.”
“Or it could help gain support, depending on how you handle it. Talk to the man. Maybe he’s harmless. Maybe he could even help in getting rid of the hatred.”
Frank chuckled cynically. “Now you sound insane. That’s not how this is going to go, and you know it.”
“I don’t know anything for certain, Frank, but I’m allowed to have hope. Stop being a jackass and understand what could possibly come out of this,” Jamia barked. She slipped out of bed and marched over to the closet. “You know what? I’m coming with you.”
“Fine,” Frank snapped. He stopped in the kitchen on his way out to slice some bread for both of them and ventured to the stables to fetch Sweet Pea and Peppers.
Jamia came out in her usual fitted dress with her hair braided back, looking irate but gorgeous as always. Guilt gnawed him knowing he’d ruined their otherwise heavenly day.
Frank could admit to himself that he was being an ass, but he had too much pride to say it out loud. Still, he knew she understood him -- even better than himself most of the time.
They rode swiftly to the village’s center, kicking up dirt behind them. A mob of clan members had gathered outside the city hall, just as Gerard had described.
The ground rumbled from the level of ruckus as the pack shouted at Frank and argued with each other. Ray scurried out the backdoor to meet them as they approached him.
“Thank the gods you’re here,” Ray said.
“Any developments in the situation that I should know about?” Frank asked as he and Jamia dismounted.
“I’m not sure what Gerard told you, but the elders are pushing for an execution.”
“I’m aware. How is the human?” Frank and Ray paced swiftly into the dark halls of the capitol with Jamia trailing behind them, feeling slightly belittled.
Frank was a man who put his heart into everything he cared about, but he tended not to balance his concerns well. It was either her or his duties, never both at once. Jamia had known this since they had met and, of course, accepted him as he is; all his quirks and uniquities. But at times like these, she felt like she no longer existed in his world except as another pack member.
“Confused, but not hysterical. He knows what we are.”
“And he’s not afraid?”
“No. He seems welcoming; patient even. It’s bizarre.”
Frank hummed. “I’ll address the counsel first. Then I’ll speak to him.”
The roar of the counsel echoed through the door and down the hall as they grew closer.
“Frank, wait,” Jamia said as she grabbed his wrist. He turned, his fierce gaze softening as he met her eyes. “Ray, could you give us a moment?”
“Of course. I would advise that you hurry, though, sir.” Frank gave a nod in his direction.
“What is it, J?”
“Do you know what you’re doing?” Frank only stared at her quizzically. “What are you planning? Tell me now.”
Frank scoffed, stepping back. “I’ve no obligation to tell you my political agendas.”
“No, you haven’t. But I’m asking you. As your wife, not your constituent. Tell me what you plan to do with the man.”
The golden glow of his eyes bored into her in the dim light, irritated with her disobedience. He truly did look like a dominating alpha in that moment. Her wolf trembled, easily succumbing to his power, but the logical side of her refused to back down. She had heard the anger in his voice in their home, and it was bound to be directed towards the innocent human.
If he executed the man, the possibility of living alongside the human race would be lost forever.
“Tell me, Frank. Would you kill him?” she whispered, moving closer to him. He turned away.
“You know it’s not entirely my choice,” he murmured.
“But you have the final say. No matter how the vote turns out.”
“My feelings do not reign over the entire pack, Jamia,” he retorted, turning towards her again.
“The pack doesn’t understand what’s right. You think it’s right to destroy an innocent man because of popular vote? You’re better than this.”
“I don’t know what I’m going to do, alright!” he shouted, startling her. “I’m sorry. I just…I don’t know. I figured I should speak with him first.”
“Just please think of the consequences. Whatever you decide to do.” She embraced him, touching his face gently. “I trust you.” He put his large hand over hers on his cheek, unable to meet her gaze.
“I wish I could trust myself,” he muttered, pulling her hand away and opening the door behind him.
“I love you,” she called as he slipped out, freezing for a moment to look back at her.
“I love you, too,” he said, barely audible over the ruckus behind him. With that, he disappeared behind the door, and she was left alone.
Jamia yearned to follow him, to stay by his side and make sure he made the right decision, but women were not allowed in the main council room. Even if she was an alpha, it would be an atrocity.
“Gods, please help guide him while I’m not able to.”
* * *
A drip of sweat trailed down Frank’s temple as he took his place at the podium. The heat was nearly unbearable within the room, and Frank felt as if he was suffocating from both the temperature and the pressure.
The room was beginning to decrescendo as more of the members noticed his presence.
Gerard stood by his side, adjusting his waistcoat, equally as nervous.
“What are you planning?” Gerard whispered to him.
“Just trust me. This isn’t the final decision.”
“Then what are you saying?” Frank ignored him.
“Good afternoon, gentlemen,” he greeted in a booming voice that caught the thirty men before him.
“I’m aware of what has happened and have come to preside over this. Before I do so, I will speak with the human to understand his perspective.”
One of the elders, Charles Wilson, with his greasy comb-over and beady dark eyes, stood up and huffed. “Why even communicate with it? Don’t you know how harebrained humans are? I guess I shouldn’t assume you have the experience with you being so juvenile.”
“I would advise you to not disrespect me at this moment, Mister Wilson. I’m not in such a favorable mood,” Frank said cooly. They did this often -- the elders. Used his youth as a weapon. He was thirty-years-old, yet they treated him as if he was a child.
Peter stood up suddenly; his short stature seen towards the back of the crowd. “No matter the intelligence of the human, he hasn’t done anything wrong. His intent was not malicious.”
“And how would you know that?” Charles hissed.
“I…” Peter paused, swallowing. “I spoke with him.”
“When was this?” Frank asked.
“I visited him in his cell not an hour ago. It was chaos here. I wanted to hear his perspective, just as you do.”
“And what did he say?” Gerard asked.
“He said he was just wandering; searching for a new place to him since his old village was burned down in a forest fire. He entered our village to find a place to live.”
“I heard he was aware of the werewolf population,” Frank added skeptically.
“Yes. He said that in his old village, werewolves and humans alike were welcome. He was not afraid in the slightest when I told him what we are.”
There was an audible gasp; then a wave of chatter broke out.
“Werewolves and humans living together?”
“What a development!”
“How would they handle full moons?”
“Everyone, quiet!” Frank bellowed. Silence fell over the room once again. “I will speak with the man and confirm Peter’s claims. Then you shall vote...and I shall decide.”
With that, Frank stepped down and exited into the hall, Gerard trailing behind him as the counsel boiled into chaos once again.
“Frank! Please don’t tell me you will go off their vote,” Gerard called.
“I don’t need your approval over my decisions,” Frank snapped, continuing towards the where the cell was located.
“I never said you did. I just hoped you’d help me guide you.” Frank halted abruptly, turning towards his beta.
“I’m in no need of your guidance, beta,” Frank hissed as he stalked towards him. “You will stay with the rest of the council. Keep things in order. I will consult with the human alone.”
“Leave me, now!” Frank growled with flaming nostrils.
“Yes, sir. Sorry, sir.” Gerard scurried back into the main room.
Frank slouched against the wall, sighing and pinching the bridge of his nose. This job turned him into a monster sometimes.
He made it to the cell eventually, approaching the shadow within it cautiously.
“Hello,” Frank said smoothly. The man jumped at his voice nonetheless.
It was far too dark in the hall to see the man’s face, though he could see an outline of his broad frame and burly beard. The scent of pine, smoke, and something masculine and distinct infiltrated Frank’s nose.
“Who are you?” the man asked in a deep, gravelly voice.
“My name is Frank. I’m the...leader of this village.”
“You mean you’re the alpha? I lived amongst werewolves in my last village; I’m aware of the terminology.”
Frank swallowed and reached for the single alight torch to light the others. “Yes. I am the alpha.”
“Are you the one who decided to hold me captive? As if I were a criminal?”
Frank stayed quiet for a moment. “No, I was not. But I do decide what to do with you now.” He lit the other torches, and light began to spill into the cell, revealing the man’s face.
His dark hair was long and unkempt, reaching his shoulders and sticking every-which-way, and his eyes were dark as night, boring into Frank’s soul. Frank was entranced by him immediately.
“What are you going to do?”
“Ask you a few questions. For now.” Frank pulled a chair in front of the bars that separated wolf and man.
“Alright,” the man said quietly.
“First of all, what’s your name?”
* * *
James did not mean to cause trouble. He was a simple man who experienced a tragedy and was in need of a home, and he ended up in a mess. One that, he had come to realize, might end his life.
“James,” he said to the werewolf named Frank. “James Dewees.”
Frank was studying him warily, his irises glowing in the dim light. James was caught off guard by his beauty; the lithe way his slender body moved, his sharp jaw and chin, his intense gaze. He was young, James concluded. Younger than he thought an alpha ever could be.
James shivered away his unbefitting attraction towards him. This was not the time to think so sinfully.
“Where did you come from?”
“A village from the west. It was called Moorefellow. Unfortunately, it ceases to exist.”
“Why is that?”
“One of our cattle knocked over a bucket. Started a fire that destroyed the entire establishment and took many lives along with it.”
Frank hummed and rubbed his chin. “Do you have any family?”
“No. Not...not anymore,” he said softly, thinking of his mother. “What I had left was...consumed by the fire.”
“Oh.” Frank swallowed. “I’m sorry.”
James shrugged and looked down.
“So...why did you come here? How did you find this village?” Frank asked.
“I was alone with practically nothing after the fire. I needed to find a new place to live. I just stumbled upon this area. Which I of course wish I hadn’t.” James sighed shakily.
Frank was silent for a moment.
“Do you want to live here?”
“Well, initially,” James began. “But now I see I am not welcome. I can just leave. I don’t want to be any more trouble.”
“I’m sorry, but I just...can’t let you do that. The others think you will spread our location and others will come. Possibly hunters.”
“Oh,” James said weakly. “I would never. I swear.”
Frank sighed. “We can’t be sure.”
James ran a hand through his hair, tugging at the ends. “So what you’re saying is, I can’t leave, and I can’t stay.”
“I never said you couldn’t stay.” Frank shifted uncomfortably.
“The others were very obvious with their reaction. I was captured and put in a cage.”
“Yes, I’m aware that some of my pack are not very accepting of humans. But I could possibly...change them.”
“How? They seemed to feel pretty damn strongly about me.”
“It’s not everyone, James. It’s the more traditional views that cause this bigotry.”
“But if I don’t stay or go, then what’s the final option?” James asked, already knowing the answer. Frank looked down. “Just tell me.”
“Execution,” Frank said, barely audible. At that moment, Frank realized how much he didn’t want to kill this man. James had meant no harm when he came here. He had been through great misfortune and didn’t deserve any more. His wolf agreed. This man was innocent and respectful and honest. He didn’t deserve to die.
“If I stay.” James licked his chapped lips. “If I stay, where would I reside?”
Frank pondered this for a moment. “Perhaps you could stay with me and my wife. That would ensure your protection.”
“I’d be grateful, but I don’t want to intrude on anything.”
“It would be fine. She’s very open-minded. Don’t worry.”
“You’re serious about this? Me staying here?”
“Yes, yes I am.” It sounded like Frank was convincing himself instead of James. Frank stood and moved the chair away. “I will go speak with the council. I don’t know what the popular vote will look like, but--”
“Popular vote? For what?”
“Well, um, the execution.”
“Do you…do you have to follow the vote?”
“No. I have the final say, but to be a good leader, I must take my pack into consideration. You needn’t worry. I will be back soon, hopefully.”
“Alright.” Frank began to walk away. “Wait, Frank!”
“Yes,” Frank responded as he turned back.
“Thank you. For doing this.” Frank only nodded at him with that intense gaze of his, and then stalked out of view.
James could only wait.
* * *
When Frank entered the main room again, it wasn’t as much of a circus. The men were chatting quietly amongst themselves; a somber mood filling the air. He mentally thanked Gerard for keeping things in order.
He only had one notion stuck in his head at the moment he took his place at his podium. He must keep the man alive -- for the sake of the future of his pack. To live on, they must be able to live among humans. It’s the future. He trusted James, nearly blindly, to prove this possibility.
Frank looked over to Gerard as he approached him with pursed lips.
“Sir. What have you decided?” he whispered.
“You will find out. And approve. Trust me,” Frank replied, putting a hand on his shoulder. Gerard’s tight shoulders loosened as their eyes met, communicating the words that weren’t spoken.
Frank turned back to his audience who were all staring at him intently.
“We will now begin the vote,” Frank said as Ray grabbed a stack of small papers, giving one to each council member. “‘Yes’ for in favor of execution; ‘no’ for not in favor.”
Frank turned his back towards the men, waiting for Gerard’s cue. Minutes would pass by this way as each man voted and handed his ballet to Ray, who, after they were all gathered, handed them to Gerard to count.
He waited, heart pounding, for the vote to end. Though it was ultimately his decision, if he chose against the vote of the council, his leadership may be questioned, especially by the elders.
“Frank,” Gerard whispered at his side after a while. “It’s final.”
Frank closed his eyes and took a deep breath. It was time.
* * *
Three Months Later
Frank sat at his kitchen table, sipping at a cup of hot coffee and reading something he’d found while at the bookkeep with Jamia. It was a murder mystery that he’d been enthralled in the past two days.
He had woken at the crack of dawn through their bedroom window for reasons he did not know. Jamia was sleeping soundly beside him; still naked, still beautiful. He kissed the milky skin on her shoulder before slipping out of bed.
The sun still wasn’t entirely risen yet, but it was a beautiful sunrise. He sighed, in awe of the beauty when he looked up from his novel.
The sound of feet padding across the floor caught his attention. He turned to find a familiar face; one he’d come to love.
“Good morning,” Frank greeted with a soft smile.
“Good morning,” James replied, leaning down to press a kiss to his cheek before grabbing a cup of his own.
“On the cheek? That’s all I get?” Frank raised an eyebrow at him. James rolled his eyes.
Frank giggled at that, setting his book down and rising, moving towards him.
“Come here,” he whispered as he pulled James towards him, pressing his mouth to his. James’ fingers twirled into his hair, causing him to sigh and relax into his large, soft frame.
Their relationship was still rather new, though they hadn’t been able to resist each other from the moment James entered his home.
James was like no one he had ever met. He was honest and loyal, yet humorous and adventurous. It was impossible not to fancy him, Frank thought as his lips moved against his.
He still struggled to fit in, and the pack still struggled to forget what he was, but Frank believed in them. When he had first sat down to play the pianoforte in the community hall, every jaw had dropped. When he spoke of his past adventures, everyone became entranced.
Though at times James would be ostracized, he insisted to Frank again and again, “I don’t need to belong, Frank. I just need to be .”
And here they were.
“You could have woken me. I’d rather not miss this,” a soft, feminine voice said behind them. They turned to find Jamia with her hands on her hip.
“Maybe we should just all go back to bed, hm?” James suggested.
“I like the sound of that,” Frank said, kissing James’ and Jamia’s cheek before they made their way into the bedroom, closing the door behind them.