“You shouldn’t have gone to see Ellis alone, Nathan.” Marcus scolded him after he told him about his meeting with Ellis. “He’s a hunter. It could have been a trap.”
“He’s not a hunter any more. He’s a dying old man with final wishes that could benefit us.”
Marcus still looked unhappy. “You could have at least taken me with you, just in case.”
“If he wanted to trap me or hurt me, he’d have done it out in the woods. Not in a lawyers office.”
“It was still risky. I know it’s hard to feel like one of us because of your standing. But, you are not a lone wolf, or a rogue. You are my best friend, my brother. Once I’m Alpha your pack status will change.”
Nathan smiled, knowing that his friend meant well. But Nathan had been born to be an Alpha in his own right. Not a second. Marcus knew this.
“Do you believe Ellis?”
“I don’t trust him.” Nathan thought more on what Ellis revealed about the attack of his pack. “He was my enemy and so will be any relative.”
“Then why even consider agreeing?”
“It’s an opportunity.”
“So, what do you want to do?” His friend held his breath as he waited on Nathan’s answer. He knew that Marcus wanted Nathan as an ally in the pack. But Nathan could feel the pull to return to the island and bring it back to life.
“I want to buy his property from the relative,” Nathan said without thinking.
“How are you going to do that?”
“If everyone in the pack comes together, we could raise the money. Then we’d have a majority of Sweetgrass Island to ourselves. We could truly be free out there.”
“It’s not practical,” Marcus reminded him.
“It won’t happen over night, but think about the next two to three generations.”
Marcus smiled and looked as if he understood the possibilities. “We will speak to my father. See if he will back us with the pack council.”
“Us?” Nathan asked surprised.
“Yes, us. You’re right. I am backing you one hundred percent.”
“Thank you,” Nathan smiled feeling a sense of relief.
“Of course. I was going to wait to tell you but Clara is pregnant.”
Marcus shrugged, “Alphas work fast.”
Nathan laughed and hugged his friend.
“Thank you. It feels like the future is already here. There will be more weddings and more babies…” Marcus trailed off. “You’re right. We all need to prepare for them.”
“Yes, we do.”
“Are you going to Ellis’ funeral? Maybe you will meet his relative there.”
Nathan thought about everything that the old man had revealed during their meeting, much of which he held back from Marcus. He wasn’t sure if the old man’s proposal was about easing his own guilt and conscience but decided that it really didn’t matter. It was a real chance to get back on Sweetgrass Island and make it home.
Ellis was leaving the land to a distant relative who lived in the city, a young woman that didn’t know him. His property would be held in trust to be renovated by the woman and established as a not for profit wild life preserve. Being from the city with no knowledge of the area, his relative would need help. His Will would stipulate that Nathan oversee the renovations as the estate contractor for the next ten years. The trust would pay the pack’s construction company to make sure it was done right.
But, Nathan was certain that no city woman would want to deal with the hassle of reviving an entire island she’d never seen for a relative she didn’t know.
“No matter what he’s doing for us now, he was once a hunter. I’ll pay my respects to the relative he thinks will want to renovate and preserve the island when she gets here.”
“Did he give you a name? Maybe we can look her up,” Marcus suggested.
“No, she will contact me within ninety days of the Will reading.”
“Okay well. If you’re ready, let’s put this idea to my father. He’s still in a good mood after the wedding and with Clara with expecting, he might already be thinking about securing a stronger future for the pack.”
“It’s not something that our pack can do alone,” Cole muttered after hearing Nathan’s plan. Marcus’ father had the same midnight black skin as his son, but stood a head taller than him. Something that would naturally change as Cole aged and Nathan came closer to taking over the pack. “The first thing to consider is that she might not want to sell it. Even if she did, she might just sell to the highest bidder. Developers might see it as an opportunity as well.”
“Good point,” Marcus said.
“In that case we might be able to convince other packs to incorporate and purchase the land together,” Cole broached his suggestion cautiously.
“It has been more than twenty years since an conclave has convened,” Marcus reminded his father.
“The same conclave that did nothing after my pack was taken out?” Nathan felt an impulsive flash of anger run through him. “If the conclave were worth anything…”
Nathan trailed off as Cole placed a hand on his shoulder.
“I will write to the regional packs,” he said. And then, “You either want to fight against the past or build toward the future. It’s your choice.”