“Are you excited for tomorrow?” asked Alpha Roland of his only child and daughter.
Brie shrugged and answered. “A little bit. More anxious than anything.”
Her father smiled as he fiddled with his paperwork for the pack. He had seemed distant for the past few weeks and in turn had became more silent and introspective as The Claiming ritual hurtled ever closer.
“Nothing to be anxious about, darlin’,” Roland said. This was the most he had spoken to her in the past few days and Brie practically jumped at the chance to talk to her only living parent.
“But what if my mate turns out to be a shit?” she asked.
Roland’s eyes turned stormy. “Then he’ll have me to contend with.” He fisted a form in his hand and released it as his anger got the better of him for the briefest of moments.
Werewolves nowadays were the minority. It was difficult to find a mate nowadays and elders from the different packs across the country had come up with a supposed solution. If a female was unmated by the age of 21, she would attend The Claiming where all single of-age male werewolves would meet with the single of-age she-wolves from across the continent to find their mate. If they did not find their mate at the start of ceremonies, the females would be set loose to be claimed.
Claiming would merely consist of the women shifting to their wolf, given a ten minute head start until the males all shifted and were let loose upon the fleeing females. They could claim any unmated female as their own.
Barbaric, yes. One step up from a caveman knocking a woman out, hefting her over his shoulder and bring her to his cave.
The claimed women would have to be marked and mated within a week or set free for the next year’s Claiming. But that rarely, if ever, happened. The heat was what got you.
Brie smiled at her overprotective father. Ever since her mother’s passing at a rogue wolf’s hands eight years ago, Brie felt like mother to the pack and many treated her as Luna though she was unmated. She was the closest thing that the pack had to a Luna for the past eight years and Roland hoped for his daughter to find a good mate. He was to attend The Claiming himself this year. He was getting older and needed a Luna and son to carry on leading the pack when he was no longer able to.
Roland was not concerned for himself. He was sure he would be able to smell a good mate from miles off. He would find someone at The Claiming- by hook or by crook.
His daughter, she would have only the best in a mate and he would make sure of that. She had Alpha blood in her and she deserved better than all the Alpha-In-Waiting’s he had met with from the nearby packs.
This year The Claiming would take place on his own land and he intended to make sure his Luna would be strong and self- sufficient. Brie’s mate would be strong and virile. His Alpha blood would flow through her line and give her many strong pups to carry on their bloodline.
He looked over at his daughter. She was the spitting image of his late wife at her age. Flowing, pin- straight, silvery hair that hung to her waist and light blue eyes like cornflowers. She was curvier than his wife was at that age, but favored her in most every other way.
“What will you wear for The Claiming?” Roland asked his daughter. The women needed loose clothing in order to strip quickly for their shift.
Brie brought out a light green shift dress and held it up to her. “This should so. It’s a little old but still serviceable.” To be honest, it was the only shift dress she had and it was a piece of clothing she didn’t mind if it got dirty.
“You will look beautiful in whatever you wear Angel.” Her father spoke softly and the look in his eyes was far off.
Brie was glad her father was seeming to be coming out of his doldrums and speaking regularly again. She felt lighter than she had in weeks now that he seemed to be getting back to normal. Granted, Alpha Roland was never one for many words, but there had been days recently when he spoke only through mind-link to his pack and the silence in the Alpha’s home was deafening.
Brie yawned and looked at the time. “I’m going to bed, Daddy. It’s going to be a long day tomorrow and I need the rest.” Brie hugged her father close and gave him a kiss on the cheek. She stepped out of his office and walked the single flight of steps up to her room.
She drifted off into a peaceful sleep while her father sat in his desk chair, thinking.
In fact, Roland was far from okay. He had merely made some small talk with his daughter since he knew she was concerned about him. He had caught her looking at him with a concerned face when she thought he wasn’t paying attention and he knew his silence was to blame.
He had been thinking for weeks of a way to get his daughter out of The Claiming. As far as Roland Fontaine was concerned, no man would ever be good enough for his daughter. She was strong and made to be a Luna. He had even gone to several nearby packs to check out the Alpha’s sons as possible mates. None struck a chord and each time he came home, he grew more morose and closed off.
He had been thinking over the past few days of something- almost- unheard of. And hated himself for it.
He had made a point to speak with the an Elder the previous week of his dilemma.
“Well, it certainly is not completely unheard of,” Elder White spoke through the pipe he had up to his lips. “Rare- but not unheard of.”
Elder White lit his pipe and puffed a few times contentedly. He did not show it, but he was a bit shocked at what his Alpha was asking of him.
“Would there be- complications of any kind?” Roland asked, his face concerned.
“No, Alpha. Werewolf DNA is not like human DNA and does not show itself to be harmed by inbreeding in such ways as human DNA does,” White said and nodded his head. White felt wolf DNA was by far superior to any other.
The Elder continued. “Like the breeding of horses and canines, our DNA can be strengthened with inbreeding. Humans do not possess such- flexibility in their strands.”
“But I’m her-” Roland started.
“Father- yes,” White finished. “Do not fret to think that what you are thinking of doing is unnatural or taboo. The family trees that can be so easily soiled in the human race are not the same as the ones we share. Alas, it has become more and more frequent as our race becomes ever more hunted that we have to mate where we can. If you feel that she would be averse to this mating, please let her go to The Claiming undisturbed by your intentions. There is a mate for everyone and if she is Claimed, it is best that she make do with the hand she is dealt. She is strong. One of the strongest women I have known. If anyone can hold her own, It is Brie.”
Roland dropped his head to his chest and sighed. He could not let Brie be claimed by just anyone. If there is none that would suit her and he himself could not find a mate, he would claim her for himself.