Chapter 28: River Marks

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"Alpha, are you sure you want to do this?" Beta Maire's tone was apprehensive as she stood before him.

He looked at her, his mind set, "Maire, I told you this is the right this to do. We've hid for far too long and it's causing a rift in this pack."

"Yes, Alpha, I'm well aware. But I think we should at least start small and go from there. We don't know if our enemies are waiting to strike. What if Maisie's killers are still out there?"

The Alpha growled at her question, his eyes dangerous. "You don't think I've thought this over? Not a day goes by that I don't think about how her killer are running free out there. But this is what has to be done. We've been hidden for far too long and it was selfish of me to do it in the first place. Rather than face it I hid without thinking of the repercussions it could have on my pack."

She sighed deeply, "Yes, Alpha, I understand. But-"

"But nothing, Maire! Are you going to tell me that it doesn't bother you that you haven't found a mate? You've been with this pack for almost as long as I have and you've yet to find your mate. You know why? Your mate is not of this pack. Many of our members are mateless because it's rare to even have that in the same pack. They're growing restless. Being isolated, away from other packs, is not good and I should've realized this sooner."

He rubbed his temples, exhausted. It had been a bad decision to isolate this pack for so long but at the time, he was convinced it was the only way to survive. Though, now that he thought about it, it was more for him than anything.

"Alpha, we understand why you did it," Maire tried to assure him but he could hear it in her voice. The slightest bit of relief.

"Maire, I've made my decision. I'll be speaking to Imogen later tonight," he told her and she let out a sharp breath.

"The barrier?"

He nodded silently and she sent a silent prayer to the Moon Goddess. "Be careful with her, Alpha."

Then she was gone, leaving him to stew in his thoughts. Fortunately, it wasn't long before someone knocked on the door and he looked up from his pile of papers. Maya stood by the door, dressed in shorts and a sports bra. 

"Can I help you?" He asked plainly.

She smiled. "Did you forget you'd help me train?"

"Right. Sorry," he stood up, locking the papers in his desk.

He took a stop at his room, changing into a pair of shorts and a tank before heading out to the gym. When they arrived, he set up the mats as Maya stretched. Though he wasn't paying attention, Maya was aggressive in her efforts to catch his eye. She stretched her hands down to the ground, exposing her backside. When she came up, she grabbed her hands behind her back and stretched, pushing out her chest.

With his mind preoccupied, he stretched out his muscles and then got into position. Maya pouted but stood across from him, hunching low. 

"Clean fight, Maya. No dirty tricks," he warned her and she waved him off.

"I know, Thaddy, don't worry," she snickered and he shot her a disapproving look.

"Maya, we've talked about that."

She shrugged, "Sorry."

He ignored it for the time being and then she ran at him, swinging her fist. He blocked her with ease, catching her in the stomach with his foot. She recovered quickly and swung, changing course last minute and landing a blow on his chest. He caught his footing and then when she charged at him he jumped over her, swiping out her feet from under her.

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