ATTENTION: This story is a sequel/prequel to another story, called The Prodigal and the Pack. You don’t necessarily have to have read that story to enjoy this one, but it would help. While that story was a very grounded tale set in the contemporary United States, this story is broader in scope and has more fantasy/horror elements. It also contains scenes, sexual themes, and situations including incest. If none of that is your cup of tea, just hit your back button.
Chapter One: Old Wolves and Crows
The old man parked his rental car along the side of the road and checked the number on the mailbox in front of him. It matched the one written on the scrap of paper he kept in his pocket. The GPS on his phone had brought him here, but he wanted to be sure. He didn’t completely trust that damnable gadget to get him to the right place.
On a whim, he turned off the car and stepped out. It felt good to stretch his legs. He’d been driving all day, and his body felt stiff and achy. It was a cold, grey February afternoon. His breath made puffs of white as he took in his surroundings. He stood on a lonely stretch of road, surrounded on each side by thick woods. Next to the mailbox was a long gravel driveway cutting a path away from the pavement and into the wilderness. Although he had never been there before, the old man knew there was a house at the other end of that driveway. That house was his destination and he had come a long way to get here. He checked the time on his watch. It was just after four. He cursed himself for stalling. I was time to get this over with.
He turned to get back into the car, when something caught his eye. Far above, a large black bird was circling in the grey sky. He felt the hair on the back of his neck raise up. Its presence filled him with an unexpected dread. Was it just a bird, or was it something more?
‘Keeping an eye on me? Well, I’m here. I’m doing it,’ he thought to himself. It was probably a harmless bird, yet he couldn’t completely dismiss it. His dreams, when he was able to sleep, had been filled with black birds for months now. He dreamt of crows; but also wolves and long-dead friends.
The old man got back in the car and started the engine. He turned the heater to full blast to warm up. Even just a few minutes out in the February air was enough to chill him. He wondered at that, pondering how quickly the cold got to him these days. He didn’t used to be so sensitive. For a moment, he let himself imagine he was on a tropical beach somewhere, drinking something with rum and chasing bikini clad waitresses. Yet his errand could not wait any longer, and time was getting short.
The old man pulled into the driveway and made his way to the other end. When he finally arrived, he was impressed with what he saw. The house was a beautiful lodge style home, with exposed wooden timbers and lots of sturdy stone. A large porch surrounded the front half of the house. It was a perfect fit for its environment, situated as it was in the depths of the woods. The old man approved. He looked at the large front door. No more stalling. It was time. He made his way up the porch steps and knocked. He braced himself.
The door opened and he was surprised by the young man who answered. He was slender and looked like he couldn’t be older than his late teens. The lad’s auburn hair and freckles took the old man right back to his own distant youth in Ireland.
“Hello,” said the young man. “Can I help you?”
The old man replied in a low voice, the lilt of his accent giving his words a slightly musical quality. “Hello. My name is Seamus O’Rourke. I’m here to see Connor Sinclair.”
The young man shook his head. “I’m sorry, he’s not in at the moment.”
“Ah, well then.” Seamus frowned. “Can’t say I was expecting that.”
“Did he know you were coming by?”
“I had written him a letter, so in manner of speaking, yes.”
“He should be back soon. Did you want to wait?”
Seamus looked about, contemplating a cold wait in his car. “If it’s not an inconvenience, might I wait inside? Cold as a witch’s tit, it is.”
The young man looked the old man up and down. He seemed harmless enough. The man was shorter, standing about 5’7″, and thin, almost to the point of fragility. He had a halo of white hair sticking out from under the the tweed ivy cap on his head. His face with thick with wrinkles, as if he had too much skin. A pair of bifocals were set on a crooked nose. It seemed like a kind face, yet there was something about him, something the younger man couldn’t quite put his finger on. Then, with a flash of insight, the younger man realized what that something was.
“Of course you can wait inside. Follow me.” The young man escorted Seamus into a large living room while sending a text on his phone. Typical young person, thought Seamus, nose buried in some damnable gadget. Yet Seamus could sense something else from the young man, a sudden awareness.
The young man gestured to a large sectional sofa facing a fireplace wrought muş escort in rough stone. “My name is Zack. I’m Connor’s son.”
The old man sat down on a sofa. There was a nice fire going in the fireplace. It felt good to Seamus. After several days of driving and uncomfortable hotel room beds, it was nice to rest. “Thank you, Zack.”
Zack sat across from Seamus. “Of course. We don’t get many guests out here, especially friends of my Dad.” He leaned away suddenly and shouted into the house, “Guys! We have company.” Zack turned back and smiled.
Shortly, two more young men entered the living room. One was tall and slender, while the other was shorter with thickly built muscle. Both were athletic and had dark hair and features that Seamus recognized as belonging to their father.
And their grandfather.
“What’s up Zack?” The shorter, thicker one asked.
“Eddie, this is Seamus. Seamus, this is my brother Eddie, and that tall drink of water is my brother Billy.”
Seamus nodded. “Pleasure to make your acquaintance, lads.”
Billy said nothing. He stared for a moment at the old man as if analyzing him, then his eyes grew wide with sudden realization. “Zack, can I talk to you in the kitchen?”
Zack just smiled. “Oh, don’t worry. I know exactly what you are going to say.”
“Are you sure,” asked Billy through a forced grin.
Both young men were speaking with some hidden meaning. Eddie, the eldest of the trio seemed confused by the exchange. Seamus just smiled at the boys. Zack’s phone chimed with a text message. He glanced down, then turned to Seamus. “So tell me, how do you know Dad?”
Seamus replied, “We go back a quite a long ways, your father and I.”
Billy crossed the room, placing himself to the right of Zack. Eddie stood to Zack’s left.
“That’s interesting. Dad’s not very forthcoming about his past.”
The old man said nothing and just kept smiling. Zack continued speaking. “In fact, I’ve noticed that he actively avoids any mention of his past. I think it’s painful for him. If you are here to cause him more of that, then I think we might have a problem. A very hairy problem.”
Eddie perked up at that, noticed how the mood of the room had turned, and immediately went on his guard.
Seamus couldn’t help but be impressed and let out a small chuckle in spite of himself. This young man, Zack, was certainly on the ball. Seamus guessed that he was the youngest of the three. The tall one was just as sharp. Even the muscled one caught up in the end. Not bad at all. Seamus knew exactly what the young men were so concerned about.
Seamus was a werewolf. They had sensed the old man’s inner-wolf. As they should, considering the three younger men were werewolves too. Even at his age, Seamus’s wolf could sense the growing anxiety and hostility in the three young men. He could feel their wolves’ wariness growing.
“Easy now, lads. I’m not here to cause trouble. I’m here to speak with your father, is all. No lie.” Seamus nodded to Zack. “When did you make me, lad?”
Zack never took his eyes off the man. “At the door.”
“And yet you invited me in?”
“Hard to keep an eye on you outside.”
“Too right. How old are you, lad?”
“Very good. You must be the lost son, the foundling. Your father called me about you.”
Zack’s eyes widened with understanding and Seamus could feel the young man’s anxiety ease just a bit.
A few months ago, Zack’s life was very different. Orphaned as a baby after a car accident had killed his mother, he knew nothing about his birth family. He had no idea that he was the son of a werewolf. It was only a chance encounter with his brother, Eddie, at a college Halloween party that led the Sinclair family to realize that Zack was a long lost member of their pack. It took time for Zack to come to trust the Sinclairs, and to believe that werewolves were real. But his connection to his father and his brothers finally allowed him to accept his place in the family.
Zack hadn’t been raised by werewolves. The process of shifting, unleashing the wolf within, required guidance that he had never received. At first, Zack had difficulty learning to connect to his inner wolf. He could not shift or even sense the wolf within him. He knew his father had contacted someone from Connor’s past for assistance. And now that person was sitting in their living room.
“You three have nothing to fear, I promise.”
There was a long awkward silence. Finally, Zack spoke. “Three on one, so probably not. But I don’t think it’s physical danger you represent. I’ll ask again: How do you know our Dad?”
Seamus looked into the fireplace for a long time before speaking. “How much has your father told you about his life before coming here?”
Billy shook his head. “He’s never told us anything.”
Eddie, the oldest of the three boys, seemed uneasy. He spoke to his younger brothers, saying “And if that’s the way Dad wants it, maybe we should respect escort muş his wishes.”
Zack, the youngest shook his head. “No way. I want to know.”
Seamus looked at the three young men. “Your father means to protect you. I understand that. There’s danger in knowledge, but twice as much in ignorance.”
The room was silent, except for the crackle of the fire.
“As for how I know your Dad, well your grandfather was my best mate. I’ve known your dad since he was a babe.”
Billy, the middle boy spoke next. “I know something happened to him. Something bad. Something that made him cut off all ties to his family and his pack.”
“That’s a long story, and it’s your father’s tale to tell.”
“But he won’t!”
Seamus started to reply, but was cut off by the sound of a car pulling up to a sudden stop, throwing gravel. “That your father?”
Zack nodded. “I sent him a text the moment you got here and I realized what you were.”
Seamus nodded. This young man was quite impressive. Potential alpha material. Rare for a youngest born. Then again, there was little normal about this little pack.
The front door flew open, and patriarch of the family, Connor Sinclair stormed into the room.
Connor was a massive, mountain of a man, standing almost 6’5″ and thickly muscled. His dark hair swept back from an angular face, covered in a thick beard. Dark eyes scanned the room before falling on the old man. Seamus said nothing, but met the younger man’s gaze. He noted the sheriff’s uniform Connor wore and the barely contained panic in his eyes. The big man went straight to the sofa and got into the old man’s face.
“Get out!” he shouted. “Get the fuck out of my house!”
Seamus didn’t move. He only looked at the large man from his position on the sofa, seeing the young boy underneath, and the ghost of that boy’s father. “Look at ya, Sean. So much like your da…”
Sean. Connor seethed anger. That was a name that was long dead. It belonged to a young man who was forced to abandon it when he abandoned his old life.
Connor grabbed for the old man, lifting him into the air by the front of his jacket. Seamus could sense the the other man’s wolf, barely contained beneath the surface of his skin. “I’ll throw you out, you bastard!”
The boys reacted in shock, confusion, and a sudden fear that their father was going to do harm to the elderly man. Seamus grabbed at Conor’s arm to hold himself steady, but he showed no fear at all. “Stubborn as your father too. I’m only here to talk. Would you deny me that?”
“You have no right to be here.” Connor started to carry Sean towards the door.
“Are you all muscles and no sense? I’m dying, Sean! Can’t you tell?”
Connor stopped for a moment. “What?”
Billy stepped forward, sniffing the air. Billy’s wolf was by far the most sensitive in the family. He nodded. “Its true, Dad. He’s got cancer.”
Connor took a sniff of his own. His rage had blinded his senses. He could smell it; the sickly-sweet, rotting fruit scent of death. He dropped Seamus back on the ground.
The old man straightened his jacket and looked over to Billy. Seamus once again found himself impressed by these young wolves. Another wolf might have sensed sickness, but this youngster could actually diagnose his illness.
“Now there’s a proper wolf. Right in one, lad. Cancer. And not the kind you get better from.”
For the first time since he stormed in, Connor hesitated. He still bristled with hostility, but suddenly seemed to lack an outlet. “Cancer.”
“See? No need to rip my throat out. The cancer is taking care of that for you. Long and painful. Nice, eh?
Connor glared at him; hatred reignited. “Good. Karma’s a bitch. So what, you want to make amends? Take your sympathy tour somewhere else. We have nothing left to say to one another.”
Connor’s sons said nothing but watched this exchange with mounting anxiety. They knew their father to be a loving, caring man. This angry, violent side of him was like nothing they had seen before. Billy approached his father and spoke cautiously. “Dad-“
“No! He doesn’t get mercy or forgiveness! You don’t understand.”
Billy put his arm on his dad’s shoulder. “Then explain it.”
The old man let out a harsh laugh. “I don’t need your forgiveness, Sean Gallagher. I don’t want it. At the end of the day, we both know what happened, and who is really to blame.”
“Fuck you, you son-“
“I’m here because you need me, whether you know it or not!”
“We are doing just fine.”
“Fine, are you? Where might Daniel Walsh be these days?”
“You should know that! He’s your Alpha.”
Seamus grew angry for the first time. “My last Alpha died when your father died, you mewling little brat!”
That was the last straw for the large man. His face turned red. His sons could feel Connor’s wolf slip closer to the surface, as their father was about to completely lose control. Zack instinctively found himself moving to the old muş escort bayan man’s side. He was startled when he realized he was moving to protect Seamus from his father.
Connor spoke with a cold fury. His eyes were no longer human. They were his wolf’s eyes, and it was close to breaking free. “Get. Out.”
The old man waved his hands dismissively. “Fine. You want me to leave? I’ll come back when you cool down.”
“If you come back, I will rip your throat out, cancer or no cancer.”
Seamus walked to the door. He paused a moment, patting Zack on the shoulder. Then he looked to Connor. “Lad, you need me. You don’t even know what you don’t know. That almost cost your youngest his wolf. What else might it cost you?”
With that, the old man was out the door and gone. Zack watched as he got in his car and drove away. He said nothing to the others about the scrap of paper with a phone number the old man slipped into his hand.
There was a stunned silence. Connor said nothing as he struggled to regain control of the wolf within him. His sons stared awkwardly, waiting to see what would happen next.
Eddie finally broke the silence. “Wow, Dad. That was…wow.”
Billy took a few steps towards his father. “Dad. We should sit down, talk this out.”
Connor looked slowly around the room at his three sons. They saw the anger slip from his face, replaced by a frightening weariness. His only reply was the word, “No.” Then he walked into his bed room, closed the door, and locked it.
He didn’t emerge the rest of the evening. Several times, his sons tried to engage through he locked door but he didn’t respond. The three younger men were left alone with their questions. After a subdued dinner, each finally drifted off to an unsettled sleep.
Connor Sinclair had a troubled night. He knew his boys were full of questions. As their Alpha, he could sense their concern. As a father, knew his earlier behavior was inexcusable. Yet, he couldn’t face them. He couldn’t face the answers they would inevitably demand. He was filled by a burning sense of shame over his own cowardice. Some part of him knew that he should talk to them, tell them his story. But two decades of pain drowned out that sensible course. It was his pain and he hoarded it like a miser.
At some point he drifted off to sleep and dreamed. His dreams were filled with faces from his past. Ellie was there. She was young, the way he remembered her from when he was a teenager. Brilliant, sweet Ellie that wanted more from him than he could ever give her. Yet through her surrogacy, she gave him three amazing sons. He loved her in his way, but not the way she needed. The scene shifted, and he was at the site of the auto accident that took her life. He hadn’t really been there. Ellie had disappeared from his life by then. Connor had only seen the police report years later. Yet the black and white photos of the scene were suddenly full color. Connor saw her body, bloodied and broken. Somewhere an infant, his Zack, cried in the night. A large black bird swooped down and pecked at her face. A crow, he thought. Then she was gone.
His father appeared, dark featured and handsome. Connor marveled at how much of himself he saw in this vision. The darks eyes could have been mirrors of his own. Those eyes could be filled with joy, playfulness, anger, or crushing disappointment. In a flash, this vision was replaced by the haunting image of his father as he was the last time he saw him. His eyes were glossy and empty. His throat was torn out. Then something emerged from the ragged wound, something black and feathered. It flew towards him. Then the vision was gone. Death and more death.
Finally Dylan appeared. His Dylan. He lay on a sunny stretch of grass, shirtless and in an old pair of swim trunks. His hands were behind his head, and his eyes were closed, as if taking in the sun. His broad chest was covered with light blond hair. This was a memory, something that had really happened. Connor felt himself moving, leaning over the young man on the ground, going in for a kiss. Then he was gone too.
He woke then, eyes wet, Dylan’s name on his lips. He looked at his bedside clock. It was after two. His mouth was dry.
He slipped out of bed and wandered naked into the kitchen. He grabbed a bottle of water and headed back towards his bedroom. He stopped for a moment at Billy’s room. Having wolf-enhanced senses, he could hear several people breathing and knew at least two of his sons were in there. He slipped back into his bedroom and closed the door. But his mind was still distracted, and he was halfway to his bed before he realized there was someone in it.
“Zack, what are you doing here?”
“Invading your privacy.”
“Nope. Can’t do that.” Connor’s face darkened. As an alpha, he wasn’t used to having his orders challenged, and his youngest was constantly pushing his boundaries.
“Son, I’m not in the mood for this.”
“I know. But I’m not about to leave you alone in here to throw a pity party.”
Connor’s inner wolf bristled, then stilled. The older man started to push back, but then felt the fight drain out of him. Instead he sat on the edge of the bed, looking out across his bedroom at nothing. He said nothing.