Authors: Robin Roseau
Robin Roseau (2013)
Having now agreed to a commitment relationship, Michaela and Lara turn their attention to a new threat. Durian, alpha of the Chicago wolves, wants Lara's pack for himself in order to replenish his dwindling power.
In the meantime, Michaela faces her fears built from the past while struggling to find her place in the pack.
Fox Play continues the story first begun in Fox Run. This is a novel of 95,000 words.
by Robin Roseau
Table of Contents
Membership Has Its Rewards
"Nice job, Angel," I told her. "Thank you."
She turned and smiled at me. It was a fine Monday in April, and Angel had been my part time intern for six months, a very rewarding six months for me. I had been hesitant about taking her on, mostly because I had worried about the responsibility of managing a sixteen-year-old werewolf, but she had turned out to be a joy to have helping me at work and sharing my home in Bayfield, Wisconsin.
"If we get done early, may we go kayaking, Michaela?" she asked me.
"Are you sure you want to do that, Angel? There was still ice in the water the last time I looked, and you know I am going to make you practice righting your kayak before we go very far. The water is going to be very cold."
I had taught Angel and several other teens from the pack how to kayak last autumn. Angel then found a used kayak for sale, asked me to check it out, and when I pronounced it better than mine, begged her mother to let her buy it. Francesca had relented, and Angel had been on the water every day after that when the lake wasn't too rough all the way until the ice had come in. Now she was itching to get back out.
"Will you be practicing, too?" she asked me with a smirk. From her body language I thought perhaps she thought she knew the answer.
"So really, you're not worried about whether I'll get cold, but whether you will?"
I laughed. "Have I shown you my dry suit?" I was kidding, but I wanted to see her reaction.
"Yes," she said. "And your portable kayak space heater powered by little were gerbils you caught last spring. What do you feed them, anyway?"
"I chop up smart ass wolves into gerbil-sized bites."
We had a great relationship. She was happy to banter with me but always knew when to knock it off. I was much more comfortable with her than her older sister, Gia, who still thought I should show proper submission to virtually every wolf in the pack.
Like that would happen.
I checked my watch and the schedule for the other river readings I wanted to check. "Yes, Angel, if we finish early we can go kayaking. The weather is too poor to fly to Madison for poker night, so we aren't even losing time on Wednesday."
"Yes!" she said. I still loved it when she jumped in the air, pumping her fist. I think she found opportunities to do it because it amused me so much.
Together we reviewed the remaining readings we needed today, Angel commenting intelligently. "You know, Angel, there is a lot I will start to show you with summer on the way, but by autumn, I won't have much more to teach you. Do you know what you're going to do?"
"Senior year." She frowned. "I like helping you, Michaela, but I don't want to work as a public servant as an adult. I'll have to make sure I'm ready for college."
I could understand that. It worked for me, but only because of the freedom it offered, and Lara had been wearing even me down.
Angel continued. "I don't have any solid ideas, but I've started talking to Mom about it. And the alpha hinted you might be starting a new venture I could be involved with." Angel eyed me expectantly. "Were you going to tell me about it?"
I sighed. "The alpha doesn't like my job and wants me more completely under her thumb. She's been trying to find the right bait."
"Has she found it?"
"Is she likely to?"
"She's the alpha, Angel. She won't give up."
Together, we headed back to my car, a gift from the pack after my last one was destroyed during an attack on the pack. I let Angel drive; it was good experience for her, and I didn't mind relaxing.
We had just pulled onto the highway, turning back towards Bayfield, when my pocket howled, an eerie werewolf howl that always got my heart racing. Smiling, I fished my phone out of my pocket and answered it.
"Hello, Lara," I said with warmth and a smile.
"Hello, little fox," she replied. "Are you alone?"
"No. Angel is driving."
"I need you to call me back as soon as you're alone."
"Is this the alpha I am talking to?"
"Yes," she replied. "It's important and fairly urgent, but nothing to worry about."
"Angel," I said. "Would you be able to get the next readings and samples if I wait in the car?"
"Yes, Michaela," she said, offering a quick smile. "I didn't see anything scheduled you haven't taught me before."
"Is twenty minutes good, Alpha?"
"Perfect. I'll be waiting. Thank you, Michaela."
She hung up, which disappointed me. I would have liked to have talked to my lover, even with teenage ears listening.
"Did you hear both sides of that?"
"Yes," replied Angel. "Do you think she wants to talk about me?"
"I don't know." We drove along in companionable silence while I contemplated what Lara may need. I realized I didn't have so much as a clue. That was unusual. I usually anticipated her before she did. Something must have come up.
We pulled off the road and drove a mile before Angel pulled to the side of the road, just before a bridge over a river, a mile and a half before it would dump into Lake Superior. Angel reviewed the plan with me again, grabbed everything she would need, and trudged down to the river. I sat with the window open until I couldn't hear her anymore and decided if I couldn't hear her, she couldn't hear me. I rolled the window up and called the alpha.
"I am alone now," I said. "Angel is down near a noisy river and will be busy for twenty minutes or so."
"Thank you, Michaela. I am speaking as the Madison wolves alpha. First, you are invited to poker night this Wednesday."
"The alpha is inviting me?" That was unusual.
"Yes. Michaela, it's a ten-thousand-dollar buy in."
I whistled and then sighed. "There is a front moving in tonight," I told her. "It's going to be too poor of weather for me to fly up. June apologized to me about it this morning."
"We'll come back to that. Next, I know I can't command you, Michaela, but I need you in Madison tomorrow afternoon no later than four PM, and earlier would be more convenient."
I was silent for a moment before asking, "Can you tell me why?"
"No. I'm sorry. This is important."
"Would you tell me if I were in trouble?"
"Yes. You aren't. It isn't any trouble at all. But I can't say more."
"It is important enough that you want me to do a twelve hour round trip drive in poor weather on short notice, but you can't explain why."
"And bring ten thousand dollars in cash."
"That is most of my savings account," I told her. "I presume there is someone coming you want me to fleece."
"Are they good?"
"They have that reputation, but they are both wolves." Wolves were nearly always very easy for me to read.
"Lara, I don't believe in gambling when I can't afford to lose." Everyone can have a bad night. "I notice you aren't offering to bankroll me."
"No, I'm not. And I am inviting you as the alpha, not as Lara."
"If were able to command me, would this be an invitation or a command, Alpha?"
She paused. "Michaela, I don't know."
"Well, if my cards are bad, I can play conservatively and limit my losses."
"Unfortunately not, we're playing with no time limit. Last person holding, and every hour the ante goes up."
"So either I am definitely going to lose $10,000 or earn a year's salary?"
"I hate it when you just won't tell me everything, Lara."
"I know. I'm sorry."
I sighed. "All right. You've asked two favors as the alpha. What does Lara, my girlfriend, want me to do?"
"Your girlfriend wants you here tomorrow and wants you a continent away on Wednesday. The alpha needs you here for both."
I took a breath. "Angel is going to be disappointed. She wanted me to take her kayaking. I'll drive down tonight as soon as I can get out of here. Where will you be?"
"Anything else? Can I talk to my girlfriend now?"
"I wish you could, but I'm sorry. Don't bring Angel and don't tell her anything that is going on other than I requested you to drive down."
"But you'll be there when I arrive? It will be around midnight, maybe a little earlier. Maybe early enough for a quick run."
"I'd like that. See you then."
* * * *
Angel had been disappointed, but she covered it gracefully. I couldn't command her, but I begged her to hold off kayaking. "You don't know the spring currents, and I don't want you to go solo until you have more experience."
"Maybe this weekend?" she asked. "It's supposed to be nice again by Saturday. Is the alpha coming up?"
"Isn't this weekend pack game night?"
"Oh, right. Then you really owe me next week."
I laughed. "Deal." Then we discussed what she would do while I was gone for a few days. Basically she was going to do my job for me, as much of it as she could. I loved having a minion.
The drive was easy with traffic light, and I pulled into the compound shortly after 10:30 PM, a little wired from the sugar and the excitement of seeing Lara. We'd just spent the weekend together, but I missed her from the moment we first parted until the next moment we were together.
It was hard for me to believe that we had originally met under such stressful circumstances. Our first meeting, with me dangling from her hand by the scruff of my were fox neck, hadn't gone especially well. But we had become friends, then more than friends, then lovers.
We still hadn't worked out all our issues. She still tried to play the alpha, and I remained the unyielding fox. And she hadn't stopped her attempts to get me to move from Bayfield so we could be together full time. I kept hoping she would provide a solution that kept me near my beloved lake, but I was almost ready to throw in the towel. Sadly. I loved Bayfield and wasn't that fond of Madison. There was nothing wrong with Madison, not exactly, but it wasn't my sort of place.
Still, we were together as much as our respective duties allowed, and I had spent the entire drive time wondering what we might do tonight. I had a pretty good idea what she would want, and it involved me panting her name in passion and then offering my throat to her.
I was okay with that. More than okay.
No one was in the courtyard when I pulled in and parked, but Lara must have been nearby, as she met me at the side of my car when I stepped out. I immediately melted into her arms, receiving a warm, passionate kiss while I clutched at her with my need to be close to her.
I buried my nose in her neck and breathed deeply, my nose filled with the scent of safety and love.
I had once been deeply afraid of that scent. Now I was addicted to it.
"Hello, little fox," she said. "I have missed you. Last night was horrible."
"Me too," I said. "How are the plans for moving to Bayfield coming?"
She laughed. "They are taking a new turn."
I pulled away and looked at her. "Really?"
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that. No, it's not renewed hope. I'm sorry, it was a misleading statement."
Somewhat dejected, I melted back into her and breathed again, and all was right. I licked her neck and she laughed.
"That better not be a prelude to teeth, little fox. You know what will happen." What would happen is I would find myself flat on my back with her teeth over my throat until I whimpered in submission. Lara was all alpha, and while I could tease, in the end she was who she was.