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Talking to Anna

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Peter texted Julie and asked her to let them know when Anna was up and ready for company. He knew from Stiles' description that Anna was exhausted and would likely sleep longer, now that she was finally safe. At least as safe as they could manage on her behalf.

It was almost noon before Julie let him know that Anna was ready for some company.

"Alpha Hale!" Anna stood as Peter came into the kitchen.

"Please, call me Peter," he said. "We aren't that formal."

Anna sank down on the chair. "Thank you for helping me."

"I hope we can be of help," Peter said.

Julie came over. "Something to eat? Or drink?"

"We had lunch, but I'll take some lemonade, if you have any," Peter said.

"Stiles?"

"I'll have the same, thanks!" Stiles nodded.

"I'm sorry for your loss," Peter said softly, taking Anna's hand. "Losing all those pack bonds is hard and you have to be hurting."

Anna teared up. "It hurts so much." She took a deep breath. "But I need to hold it together to help you. To serve my pack. What do you need from me?"

"Your pack had a Nemeton on it's land," Peter said. "What do you know about it?"

Anna shook her head. "Not a lot, really. While my dad was a born 'wolf, my mom was human. I took the bite when I was fourteen and never looked back. I know there's a special tree, but I didn't know it was a Nemeton and I don't think I ever saw it. I was more interested in the financial side of running a pack, and I was at school to learn more so I could run my own business. Once I had some experience with that, I planned to move into helping run the pack finances."

"That sounds like a good plan," Peter encouraged her.

Anna nodded. "Bert thought so, too. He let me work with my mom, who actually kept the pack books. There were some bankers, and a law firm, but she did the bulk of the work."

"If you can give us the name of those bankers and the law firm, we'll contact them on your behalf," Peter said. "If Bert set things up similar to how the Hale pack is managed, you're at least in temporary charge of all."

"No!" Anna started to cry.

"You won't have to do anything for a while," Peter soothed. "And we'll be more than glad to help you with it all."

Julie brought over a box of tissues and Anna grabbed a handful. Peter let her settle before he went on.

"The money is important but we think the Nemeton is the real target here," Stiles put in. "We have some... information that there is something going on near the Nemeton on your pack's land. Do you know if there were any outsiders or new people around the pack?"

Anna shook her head. "I talked to my mom the day before and she didn't say anything..." Anna trailed off, thinking. "She did mention something about a surveying company coming through the pack lands." She frowned, thinking. "Something the county was doing." She shook her head again. "That's all I got."

"It's something to check into, anyway," Peter assured her.

"If you're going to talk to the lawyers, you need the security phrase. It's brink-acorn-avalanche-casino. That's my personal passcode for this month," she said.

"Thank you for trusting us with that," Peter said.

"Do you need anything?" Stiles asked. "I know you didn't have a lot, but Julie can get you clothes and anything else you might need."

"The only other outstanding thing I have are my college courses," Anna said. "I have one more semester after this before I graduate with my MBA, but I suspect I should just withdraw from this semester and start again."

"Let me have the lawyers look into your options," Peter said. "I'd like to keep you hidden for the moment, and if you reach out it's possible someone could track you down here. You should be safe, but we don't want to make it easy for anyone."

Anna nodded. "That works for me."

"There are books everywhere, if you want to read," Stiles said. "And a heavy-duty treadmill in the basement that will handle your speed, if you need some exercise. You need to stay in the house, so you're inside the wards. We'll see where everything stands once it gets closer to the full moon."

Anna nodded. "Okay. I can do that."

"Will any of your friends miss you?" Stiles asked.

"Maybe my roommate, we weren't real close but I did leave a note about a family emergency," she said. "There weren't any other 'wolves on campus, so I pretty much did the nerd thing and studied most of the time. I was trying to finish up my bachelor's and MBA in four and a half years, so I was doubling up on classes, which left me no time for a social life. I let my advisor know I was leaving campus and the RA took me to the train station, but she didn't wait around as far as I know, so she wouldn't know where I headed. And heading west was toward home, so that wouldn't have been too suspicious."

"You did well," Peter said. "If you think of anything else, let Julie or John know and they'll pass it on to us."

Peter stood, then opened his arms. "It won't be the same, but come here."

Anna fell into his arms and let the tears fall while Peter held her firmly. He scented her as she cried for her lost pack.