“I like your mom’s boyfriend.” Daniel stripped off his shirt.
“He tazed me.” Matthias glared at him.
“Yeah. That’s one of the things I like about him.” Daniel chuckled when Matthias picked him up and set him on the countertop. He wrapped his legs around Matthias’s waist and his arms around the big man’s neck. “I like your mom too.”
Matthias rested his forehead against Daniel’s. “Feels weird. Being home.”
“You grew up here?”
“I grew up on the move. This house was the first place we ever stayed longer than a few months. We came here just after my father was killed and the pack broke apart.” He sighed. “I was angry, and she…” He shook his head. “She managed to keep me from being stupid for a long time, but eventually the stupid won.”
“Don’t worry.” Daniel kissed him. “I’m here to do the thinking now.”
“Look outside.” Matthias smiled evilly. “See how it’s dark out?” He grabbed Daniel’s arms, then pinned them above Daniel’s head with one arm. “That means I’m in charge now.”
“Yeah…” Daniel returned the grin. “But there isn’t usually a lot of thinking involved with this —” He cut off with a gasp.
“You were saying something?” Matthias pulled Daniel’s pants off almost casually. Then he removed something from his back pocket.
Daniel blinked at the sight of the handcuffs. “Where’d you get those?”
“Swiped them from Stephan.” Matthias shrugged.
“What if he wanted to use them tonight?” Daniel tilted his head, then couldn’t stop himself from laughing at the look on Matthias’s face. He was pulled off the counter, spun, and then his hands were cuffed behind his back.
“You’re gonna pay for that.” Matthias’s voice was a playful growl.
“Matthias is still just a little annoyed about you tazing him.” Daniel took the laundry basket from Stephan and carried it up the stairs.
“He’s lucky I still had it on the lowest setting.” Stephan shrugged. “If I’d known he was a werewolf, I’d have put it on max.” He pressed himself against the wall as Ash ran by, carrying a stuffed pegasus as Anna chased after him with the nerf gun. “Just glad Mags has really good timing. So how’d you hook up with him?”
“I uh…” Daniel gave him an awkward look. “Are you really a cop?”
“Technically I’m unemployed, Magda is dead, and Ash is a missing person. But before that, yeah, all three of us were cops.” He sat down on the couch and started folding clothes. “Mags and I were detectives, Ash was on his first day as a patrolman.”
“So you and Magda were partners.” Daniel nodded. “Well, um…” He sat across from Stephan as Anna ran past, having reclaimed her toy. Ash chased after her on all fours.. “I kind of broke into Matthias’s house. He caught me before I’d gotten more than ten feet inside, knocked me out, then waited for me to come to so he could question me. Thought maybe I was sent by someone he’d pissed off or something. When he learned I was just looking for money to get something to eat, he gave me some food and uh…” Maybe he’d leave out the whole blowjob part. “Some cash and sent me on my way. Then my car wouldn’t start, and I figured Anna and I were probably safer with him than we would have been stuck outside in the storm.”
“Then you hired him as your bodyguard and pay him in sex?” Stephan tilted his head. “You are legal, right?”
“Ugh. I’ll be nineteen in two months.” Daniel glared at him.
“Yeah.” Stephan took a deep breath. “I think I might need taze him again.”
“Who are we tazing?” Magda carried a load of firewood into the house, setting it into the hopper before directing Matthias to do the same with his load.
“Daniel here won’t be nineteen for two more months.” Stephan turned toward her.
“Matthias…” She narrowed her eyes.
“Hey…” Daniel shook his head. “Remember who calls who boss?” He folded his arms.
“Yeah, he’s the…” Matthias dodged as Ash ran by on all fours with a stuffed unicorn in his mouth, followed by Anna chasing after him with an inflated over-sized balloon hammer. He blinked at Daniel. “Where’d she get that?”
“I have absolutely no idea.” Daniel frowned.
“It’s Stephan’s.” Magda shrugged.
Daniel turned towards Stephan. “And I’m the immature one?”
Ash panted happily as he crawled onto the bed. Magda smiled at him as she sat beside him and tousled his hair. “Did you have fun with Anna today?” He barked in response, then yawned. She couldn’t help but laugh a little. Matthias had carried Anna to bed when the girl had fallen asleep on the couch. She’d watched her son tuck the little girl in carefully. He’d even put the stuffed horse in next to her and kissed her forehead before turning out the light. It was a side of him she’d never thought she’d get to see.
A small, concerned sound from Ash brought her attention back to him. He was looking at her with his head tilted quizzically. Then he lifted his hand and brushed a tear from her cheek. “You’re crying.” His voice was soft.
“Yes, Ash.” She ran her fingers through his hair. “My pack is whole again.”
He smiled. “You’re happy.”
“Very much.” She patted his shoulder.
“Good.” He came closer, nuzzling her. “I like it when you are happy.” And then he was in her arms, kissing her. She pulled him closer as she fell back onto the bed.
Matthias opened the door, sniffed, and felt his stomach start growling. He immediately headed toward the kitchen. Daniel was by the stove, with flour smudged on his face. And his mother was leaning on the counter, instructing Daniel on making… “Krumkake?”
“I asked your mother what the weird griddle thing was, and she said she used to make these for you when you were a kid.” Daniel grinned at him.
“Yeah, they uh…” He chuckled. “They were my favorite.”
“With berries and cream.” Magda smiled. “He’d strip the raspberry bushes bare, and make himself sick.” She shrugged. “They aren’t in season right now though, so he’s going to have to make due with store bought strawberries.”
“Will that be —” Daniel was cut off by Matthias taking a long step into the room and kissing him.
“They’ll be great.” He smiled.
Ash knelt in the shower, letting Magda wash his hair. He hummed softly as her fingers massaged his scalp. “You need a haircut.” Her voice was affectionate.
He leaned forward, kissing her leg. She shifted a little to allow him to pleasure her, and he leaned forward, his tongue playing between her legs. She made a purring noise when she came, then caressed his hair. He leaned into the petting, smiling up at her. She washed his face before turning the shower off. Then she let him dry her before returning the favor and securing the collar around his neck once more. The presence of the others meant he had to wear pants instead of just the briefs, but he didn’t mind. Not when he could see how happy having them here made his alpha.
Magda headed into the kitchen to start breakfast, and Ash went down the hall. Stephan was still asleep, sprawled on the bed. Ash considered a moment, then shrugged and dashed into the room to leap onto the bed. Stephan made a yelping sound, then started laughing when Ash licked his face. He growled at Ash before reaching up to start tickling. “Ass.”
“It’s morning.” He squirmed out of Stephan’s reach, ending up back on the floor. “Wake up.”
“If I wanted to get up at dawn, I’d get a rooster.” Stephan tossed a pillow at him.
Well, if Stephan was going to give him a weapon… He shrugged, then hit Stephan with the pillow. “Wake up.”
“Fine. See if I ever buy you another squeaky toy.” Stephan reached for his pants.
Immediately, Ash grabbed them, tugging them back. Stephan glared at him before growling. Ash growled back, grinning. Stephan stared at him, then reached over atop the dresser, and picked up the blue rubber ball. He squeaked it. “Don’t you…” Ash narrowed his eyes. Stephan squeaked it again. Ash shook his head. Stephan squeaked it again, then tossed it into the hallway before raising an eyebrow. “Cheater.” Ash let go of the pants and went to go chase the ball.
“What have you found?” Magda set the cup of coffee next to Stephan.
“Not much.” He nodded at the man across the table. “Matthias pretty much killed all the cabal members whose names Daniel and Anna knew.”
“We don’t need to find them.” Anna shook her head. “We need to find the broken angel.”
“I need just a bit more to go on than a metaphor.” Stephan sighed at her. “What else can you tell me about the broken angel?”
“Rosa dies after she meets him.” Anna frowned.
“Except your bartender friend appears to be laying low.” Stephan stared at the computer screen.
“Yeah, people I threaten have a tendency to do that.” Matthias twitched a shoulder.
“I’m backtracking through Trent’s associates, but that’s a lot to sift through.”
Magda nodded. “A police chief is going to have a lot of contacts. Stands to reason a few are cabal, but more are going to be ordinary politicians and other assorted low-lifes. That’s a lot of false trails.” She exhaled. “Any luck on Sima?”
Matthias looked up. “How do you know Sima?”
She exchanged a look with Stephan before narrowing her eyes at her son. “How do you know Sima?”
“I know she’s a piece of work.” He shook his head. “She joined up with a pack I ran with a few years back. I ran her out. There’s a level of…” He blinked, then looked over at where Ash was staring at at him before looking back up at Magda. “She’s a stone bitch. And she’s a witchwolf.”
“She’s a…” Magda growled. “What’s her gift?” She shifted position, going to sit next to Ash and putting an arm around him. He snuggled into her, not taking his eyes off Matthias.
“She’s a living lie detector. But like most witchwolves, she can redirect the energy to enhance the wolf. Bursts of speed or healing. She’s no good in a fight, but she knows it. Manipulates others to do the fighting for her, comes at people from behind. She’s dangerous, but if threatened she doesn’t stick around.”
“Why’d you run her out?” Magda frowned.
“She figured out I was tougher than the other alpha in that crew, started trying to play me. Except uh…” Matthias shrugged. “She was pretty pissed when she figured out my tastes don’t exactly run her way.” Daniel snickered. “But she tipped her hand making the play so I chased her off.”
“Think she’ll try contacting any of your old pack?”
“She might, but uh…” Matthias rubbed the back of his neck. “When I broke with them things got a bit violent.”
“How violent?” Magda narrowed her eyes.
“Only two of them survived. One of them was an alpha.” He shrugged. “That’s kind of why I was laying low in the first place.”
“Alright…” Stephan exhaled. “I’m going to need you to give me the list of people that want to kill you.”
“That’s uh…” Matthias frowned. “Well, hope you didn’t plan on doing anything else this afternoon.” He shrugged. “Or tomorrow.”
“It might take up less time to list the people that don’t want to kill him.” Magda sighed. “Pretty sure all of them are currently in this room.”
Magda turned at the sound of his voice. “Ash?”
He didn’t want to talk, didn’t want to say what he’d heard her say about her old pack. It was his Alpha’s son. He whined, and looked away. She sighed, and sat down on the bed, putting her arms around him. “You don’t want to tell me Matthias’s old pack did bad things.” He looked up at her, and she leaned in and kissed his forehead. “It’s alright, Ash. I know what that…” She took a deep breath. “I know he did some bad things.”
Ash shivered. “Lisa was an alpha.”
“He’s not…” She ran her fingers through Ash’s hair. “He walked a dark path. I won’t deny that. But he’s not walking it now, and…” She closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. “And if he starts down it again, then I will deal with the matter. He may be an alpha…” She squared her shoulders. “But in this pack, I am the Alpha.”
“Anna said he’s Daniel’s monster, but Daniel’s good so Matthias has to be good to.” Ash slowly nodded.
“That boy is a good influence, yes.” She smiled.
“Can he fix me?” His voice trembled a little.
“I…” She swallowed. “I don’t know, Ash. Do you want him to try?”
“If he can’t…” He looked up at her. “Can I still be your good boy?”
“You’ll always be my good boy, Ash.”
“If he can…” He swallowed. “Can I still stay? And help?”
“Of course.” She put her arms around him, holding him tight.