A different take on the traditional M/M werewolf romance topic: less romantic, less traditional, more disturbing and with conniving wolves, vampires and submissive marines.

Comments or requests for more of Meta (& the Marines) can be emailed to Meta.JohnAR@gmail.com.

Depending on reception, I will post more chapters.



And if any military boy wants to start a MetaPack, let me know ...








JAR




Meta & the Marines



CHAPTER 16


"Leuk C. Parker," the announcer's voice croaked through the poor speakers. Colt nearly missed it. He wasn't used to be called `Leuk.' He properly formally approached the head of the business school, who wore his traditional, elaborate academic outfit. The gray-haired man handed him his certificate smilingly as he had been doing the whole morning. A quick handshake, some few photos; and then it was nearly over.

If it hadn't been for some crazy guys in the audience shouting and howling, this could have been as exciting as a checkup visit with the dentist.

Well, he was being bitchy again.

Of course, there were mothers crying over their babies growing up so quickly. There were fathers bursting out of their collars so proud their athletic sons not only could play football but actually get bachelor degrees. There were older brothers exchanging in-the-know glances with their graduating baby brothers: `Sorry, dude, fucking every girl is over now.'

None of that obviously applied to him; his parents weren't his parents, and even if they'd been he wouldn't have wanted to have them here. And he didn't know of any siblings, although he was pretty sure that there must be little Parkers somewhere given Parker Sr.'s lewd life style.

Many groups were dressed up appropriately for the occasion, especially some Southern families really showed it off. However, the locals could not move beyond khaki shorts and nice polo shirts, creating an odd collection and representation of the American population -- reminding him of a comment a French student had once made in his class: "Undergraduate studies are not designed for academic achievements but for a consistent Americanization indoctrination: Sports, gender stereotypes, substance abuse and sexual experimentation were on the curriculum before everyone had to get married, a job and kids to live the American dream voting for the Republicans."

And Colt couldn't really disagree; to a certain extent it now even applied to him. At the end he could argue that he'd become a typical college student: he had started to box, was courted by four hunks, was clearly addicted to certain airborne chemical substances - scents - and had had more debauched sex than he'd thought was possible.

All this went through his head while he smiled for the pictures; enjoying the cheers from his wolves; there was such a loud and spine-shattering howl, that it made him wince a bit, he didn't want them to get into trouble.

He sat down and suffered stoically through the rest of the ceremony. He'd never been particularly patriotic; and anthems, speeches for God and country, and celebrating the American Dream hadn't done it for him this morning. It was more a blur; and he was more focused on the WhatsApp message group with his boys, as this day had turned out to be even more chaotic than he'd expected.

Maybe it was Murphy's Law or they were just bad at planning. But quickly after this `commencement ceremony,' as they called it properly, Brian and Sam would run to classes to write their last finals. CE was expected in LA to provide help on an old case he had worked on years ago when he was in the marines -- seemed a serial killer was after young men and women. And Prime was expected to pick up his brother Seb from the airport, as he wanted to visit as they'd agreed now that he had finished high school. All of that had to be coordinated. He looked at his clock, it was getting tight.

Finally, though, the speaker closed the ceremony and their graduation hats were thrown into the air.

People flooded the floor, looking for their loved ones. More tears, more congratulations, more pride, more shoulder clapping and flowers.

"He, sexy," he heard the most pleasant voice in his life. He turned around. A painfully handsome Prime smiled at him, sending him delicious pine aromas. Colt closed his eyes for one second and took them all in. When he looked at him he admired how much a black dress shirt and Dockers suited him; it made him look so effortlessly masculine, nearly DILF like. "Hi, Prime. Where are the others?"

"Here!" Brian shouted, gently pushing himself through the crowds.

And then he was surrounded by his pack. All of them reasonably nicely dressed up, all of them sending pleasant scents, all of them showing their incredibly sexy teeth. "Maybe this outfit should be your new uniform." He reached for Sam's green shirt collar to straighten it, admiring the new sexy Mohawk haircut on the junior enforcer. It made him instantly hard.

"You decide, you know that by now," CE said. "Though I think you hate that our tattoos are hidden."

"Am I so predictable?"

"Very," Prime confirmed putting his hand on Colt's shoulder, older brother style.

"Okay, got it. So. I guess we should be going. Brian, Sam, off you go. Good luck with your finals!"

"Thanks, Meta. Congratulations again. I guess we celebrate tonight at the party?"

Colt smiled. "Yep, Prime has outdone himself again. We'll celebrate at the Alpha3 graduation party. I was guaranteed there wouldn't be any funny `shows' this time."

CE nodded. "And in case there is we'll ensure thorough vetting of anyone coming closer than 10 yards."

"Okay, CE, get going, seems there's a bad guy on the loose, who needs to get locked up. I think that's your specialty," Colt teased pushing the big guy gently away.

"Yes, Sir. Congratulations, I'm very proud to serve in your pack," he said without any corniness. He gave him a casual salute and left to be picked up by a car outside.

"I'm so happy," Prime smiled like a boy, who had been locked into the candy store overnight.

"Thanks, wolf. Thanks for being here. Now and in general," Colt said hoarsely. And for the first time this day, his voice broke.

"I'm so sorry I have go now; we'll make this up to you, I promise," Prime apologized.

"No worries. You have made it up to me multiple times over the past two years. More than you can imagine," Colt reassured his Alpha. "Now get your brother!"

"Got it. I'll be back in time to get you to the party; just to be safe. No leaving the house after dark!" Prime warned. "And I'll track your whereabouts with our nifty little app!" he pointed at his phone.

"Yes, daddy."

Prime nodded with a smile but slightly sad eyes and was gone. He knew Colt would do what he wanted to do. He had tried to convince Colt to come with him to pick up Seb, but the nerd had flat-out refused and announced he had to chill after the stress of graduation. Prime had to give in although Colt knew the Alpha suspected there was another reason.

Colt swallowed. He ignored the cheering crowds around him and got out of the stadium.

And a feeling of emptiness coated him. Not unfamiliar to the feeling he'd had after his high school graduation -- until he'd had that unfortunate `scene' with Trent, but much stronger. As of now he had nothing to do. His calendar was empty. No more classes, study groups, papers due, exams, homework ... the feeling was eerie.

He'd gotten his dream job. He would start Aug. 1 in one of the most prestigious consulting groups in the world, and surely he would be in full-on stress as of day 1, but until then he was in kind of a limbo. Surely, his wolves would be around for him, but in this moment, in which they had to go about their own duties, he was alone; alone in an odd moment of absence of everything.

He shook his head and jumped into the truck -- Prime had rented a car to pick up Seb, which his brother could use during his stay with the wolves -- to get home.

He stopped at `100+' to have a lazy cup of tea. The shop was empty; most students were in finals, in the graduation ceremonies or already gone for the summer break; and the summer term hadn't started yet. He had his special Assam tea blend and looked at his phone. Brian and Sam had updated their status to `not available' to write their four-hour exam until 7 o clock this evening. They would go directly to the Alpha3 party, which would start at 8. As there was no `midnight' surprise planned this time (at least they weren't aware of any) and many students wanted to get home the next day, this party always started early. Colt thought though this was more due to fact that otherwise most party guests would already be drunk coming to the event. You only graduate once from college and celebration wouldn't follow a strict time schedule.

CE let him know he arrived in the office in LA and that he would be busy for the next hours. Colt smiled at the big guy's dedication to get bad guys off the streets. His acute sense of justice and rock-solid loyalty made him a very special man he was proud to know and to love.

Five years of his life he had spent on this campus. And he couldn't have wished for a better five years. Yes, in hindsight the first three were kind of miserable. Back then he didn't think they were miserable, they were just his normal life, much better, though, than what he'd had in Texas; but the next two years had made up for it completely. He'd never lived so strongly. Having loved so much, having had so much sex, having fought, having been close to death ... what 22-year-old could say he'd lived so intensely? Maybe some soldiers during the war, maybe some rich prat, who got everything he wanted; but most of his peers wouldn't have. He was privileged. He knew it, he appreciated it, he loved it.

"Hi, Colt," somebody interrupted his thoughts.

"Tang? What are you doing here?

"I had to get away from my parents for a second; they're going crazy over this." He rolled his eyes.

"They must be very proud."

"They are. But they can't really enjoy it for me. They're already talking about law school."

"Are going to do it?"

"Of course, Berkeley in Aug. No piddling here."

"Nice place."

"It is. I was lucky."

"No, you deserve it, Tang," Colt said sincerely.

"Thanks. And you?"

"Consulting."

"Vow," Tang was impressed about the chosen career path. "I'm sure you'll rock."

"We'll see. I've learned it doesn't matter where you are: People never like to hear the truth." For some reason something was off.

Tang smiled. Seemed he'd shaved for the graduation occasion, with his gentle aftershave tickling Colt's nose, alcohol-free and very skin-friendly, he assumed.

"I'm sure you're going to straighten them out." Tang said with conviction. "So you're coming to the party today?"

"Yep, my friends are all busy so we'll meet there directly."

"The big guys you hang around with? -- With the guy in our class? What was his name? -- Sounded funny. Prime, wasn't it?"

Colt nodded, he didn't want to go into why he hung out with these guys. "Talking about names, you never told me your first name."

Tang smiled. "Xuejun," he answered with a bit of schadenfreude around his lips.

"Excuse me?"

"Exactly. In Chinese the first and second name don't have the same clearly defined roles as in English," Tang explained.

"So I stay with Tang, not sure I can pronounce that other one."

"No problem."

Tang got his green tea and was on his way out. "I guess I see you tonight."

"Yep. Congratulations, Tang."

"You, too. Be safe, Colt." And Tang was gone.

Colt wrinkled his forehead. His brain wanted to tell him something, but he couldn't put his finger on it.


At home, he turned on his favorite radio station and opened the fridge to find something to eat. He chuckled. To find something to eat in their fridge wasn't difficult; to find something which didn't consist of huge portions of beef was more of a challenge. He did find at the end some turkey lunchmeat, hidden in the back, as if the boys had decided this didn't qualify as proper food, and made himself a sandwich.

He chuckled loud. And he chuckled about the fact the he chuckled loud to himself. He was preparing his own food. If his boys were here, Prime would seduce him with his green eyes and sexy pine scents to get him away from the counter and one of the other boys would have continued to make the sandwich serving it to him some minutes later. They made a point providing the food for him. He still wasn't allowed to pay in restaurants. Only once in a while he forced the issue by cooking for the wolves. If it didn't happen more than once in a month, it seemed Prime could live with that. Everything beyond that would have been inacceptable. The times he was annoyed about it had long gone; it was part of his life now like fucking after his boxing practice or threatening Prime to castrate him or Brian to wash out his mouth with soap.

He got out of his new suit and put on some comfortable work-out shorts. With one of his Diet Coke cans he laid down on the rug listening to the music.

He started to enjoy the emptiness. It was this sweet emptiness which knew it would end soon; not hopelessly endless, but with a joyfully ending. His phone buzzed.

"Prime: My brother's flight is delayed. Will keep you guys updated. -- CE, you might need to pick up Colt for party."

Of course there wasn't a response from CE, as he was in the midst of his work.

"Colt: No worries."

"Prime: you ok?"

"Colt: Yes. Enjoying closing a chapter in my life and opening a new one. Indulging in the pleasure of closing; like a true INTJ does."

"Prime: talking in riddles again?"

"Colt: need to protect my status as Meta. ;-)"

"Prime: I think your handcuffs do that better."

"Colt: I'm an innocent boy, not using such toys ..."

"Prime: Innocent? I didn't get that memo. And seeing how Sam walked this morning I'm sure that he'd lost the last of his innocence several times last night."

"Colt: A Meta enjoys and remains silent."

"Prime: Wasn't silent, either."

"Colt: You are talking dirty like Brian."

"Prime: Embarrassed?"

"Colt: Nope. You guys need good poundings."

"Prime: There goes the thin veneer of your innocence scam ..."

"Colt: Guilty as charged. And now you gave me a boner."

"Prime: Sorry. Getting no release?" He sent a devil icon. "Now you know how we feel all day long."

"Colt: Told you, wasn't my choice, just playing the role Fate has decided for me."

"Prime: Taking one for the pack?"

"Colt: Stop messaging; concentrate on traffic. Let me know when you are at the airport."

"Prime: Yes, SIR!" he wrote to make a point.

Colt smiled inwardly and fell asleep.


Prime had finally arrived at the airport. Traffic had been a bitch; and two accidents hadn't made it easier. He got himself some water and checked the Internet for the latest arrivals. `Shite,' the plane from Denver with Seb was even further delayed. He clearly wouldn't make it home on time to pick up Colt.

He messaged. "Prime: CE, status?"

No response.

"Prime: Brian, contact me when done with exam."

As expected no response.

He got a bit nervous. He always got nervous when things didn't go according to plan. But he also knew he excelled in these situations; that's why he'd been such a good marine. Making plans, being prepared, but being able to quickly adapt when needed. `Improvise. Adapt. Overcome,' was the Marine Corps' attitude. He knew he couldn't do anything right now and decided to take a nap waiting for Seb.


CE was locked in a high security room. Not against his will, but he was. Their bad guy seemed to have access to lot of information from the enforcement services he shouldn't have access to. So the crisis team was in lock down. No contact to the outside world unless supervised by a second officer; the room was completely `clean,' no windows for lip reading, sound proof to make high performance microphones useless, no direct connection to the Internet. So even the mobile phone frequencies were blocked. His phone was useless; he couldn't send and receive messages from his pack.

They should be fine. He would be out here by eight and go to party to celebrate with them. They needed to celebrate; their Meta had graduated. And he loved his Meta; sometimes his desire to serve was painful. And he loved his Meta for knowing that; allowing him to serve, to serve meaningfully.

For quite some time he had been angry at this Shaman woman for having hurt them so much in their past. Having forced Prime's father to ban his first born son under the pretense that he didn't want a gay alpha heir; having blackmailed Jared into outing Brian to his Mormon family; lying to them in Flagstaff, being part of getting them nearly killed in the middle of nowhere in Arizona. She might have even sent that woman that had accelerated his departure from his pack due to the untimely mating date. But now he understood this woman had done them a favor. She had destroyed their easy choices, which would always have denied them being their true selves. She had forced them into a more difficult route of life, which in the end had led to the bliss they enjoyed now. He knew he would have never been so happy if he'd stayed in his old pack, suppressing his true needs. And he was convinced the same was true for Prime and Brian. He owed this woman. And he would thank her if they would find ever her again. Her. That was a thought.

"You ok, Thunder?" the case leader approached him handing him a cup of coffee.

"Yes, Sir, all okay, was thinking something."

"Like?"

"What if our baddie is a woman?"

"Well, we found male DNA, you know that. I mean that at least we got from the painfully small and screwed-up evidence."

"Ever heard about sex change?" CE -- Thunder -- said, seeing in his boss' eyes that he might be onto something.


Brian was mentally exhausted. He was sure he had no living gray brain cell anymore. His hands were shaking when he handed in his exam two minutes before closing time, knowing that it would be useless rereading his words once more. He had made his argument, he had dissected the questions, provided the answers expected and then challenged the questions themselves. And he made a pact with himself: If he passed this exam we would never ever again take a Shakespeare class; he had enough of that for a whole wolf's life. But he remembered he'd already made that promise to himself once before ... and he had obviously broken it.

He said good-bye to some of his classmates, who were as eager to close this chapter as him, and turned his attention to his phone.

He reread the conversation between Colt and Prime, with Colt accusing the Alpha of talking like Brian referring to the primal fucking Sam got last night from Colt; which all of them could hear while it happened and smell for hours.

"Brian: Done with exam ... what's the status, Prime?" he typed.

Somehow his message did not send.

`Odd,' he thought. He dialed Prime's number, but the call couldn't be connected.

"Rea, do you have a signal?" he asked the tall black girl coming out of the room, looking as exhausted as he was.

She checked and said: "Very weak, maybe we should go outside."

"Sure," Brian nodded joining her to go outside.

It was getting dark, and the humidity, barely bearable during the day, had become oppressive.

What should he do? Go directly to the party? The building was just around the corner and he would get a nice cool beer there. -- But what about Colt? Where was he?

He checked his phone again. Even his normal text messages did not go through. Nor did the `friend tracker work;' it only said "connecting" without ever connecting or finding the other members of the pack.

Brian put his useless phone away to do it the `traditional way.' He lifted his head, trying to pick up scents. Lots of wolves around, some stinky humans, other animals, some flowery scents magnified by the humidity. There! He smelled Sam and went after him.


Sam smiled. This had been easier then he'd thought. But maybe it was easier because his pack pushed him to the limit of everything he did. CE trained him like he had to win the Third World War on his own: endurance training, muscle growth training, reaction speed training, martial arts, boxing, shooting, ... there was nothing CE didn't know or teach him. There was no day that his muscles didn't ache when he went to bed.

And Colt? This nerd looking so harmless and frail? He would be good competition for Mrs. Letterman. His accounting questions were brutal; and if he didn't provide the correct answers on the spot, he gave him this disappointed look, which burnt holes into Sam's heart. And Colt knew it; he knew Sam ached physically when he disappointed his Meta, that was his genetic programming. And his genes didn't care whether it was about life or death or just some stupid foreign exchange bookkeeping principles; he had to meet the Meta's expectation; everything else was inacceptable and brought him pain. Sam had studied like crazy; surely with the objective to get a good grade in this class. But even more to make sure his grade met his Meta's expectation, as everything else would have been unfathomable.

And if this wouldn't have been enough, this harmless looking scrawny dork had fucked him senseless yesterday night like a sailor after 6 months on sea would fuck a Mexican whore. It still hurt when he walked, when he sat, when he had to take a shit. But he'd needed it. Instinctively, his Meta knew when he needed this rough attention. It told him he was fully accepted as enforcer of his pack: a man who needed another man to take control of him and to make him submit without hesitation.

He unmuted his phone to check up on his messages.

None.

Strange.

The signal was weak.

"Sam: Guys, are you reading this?"

No reaction.

He went outside to get a better reception, but nothing really worked. Even their location apps didn't connect. He called CE, but the call couldn't be completed.

It was humid, and he needed a drink. His heart told him to go home to check on Colt. He wanted to get going, when he saw Brian approaching him with a concerned face.


---


"Prime!" an excited voice called for him.

The marine smiled, he had smelled his brother long before he could see him.

Seb had grown another inch compared to last year. His eyes glowed happily in deep shades of green, his red hair was cut short -- not horseshoe-style like Prime, but very handsomely short. His cowboy outfit suited him perfectly, the boots, the tight jeans, the checkered shirt; and he noticed several girls were checking out his brother's ass.

Prime chuckled. He had to make sure Colt wouldn't smell him otherwise all those girls would be in for a big surprise. "Hello, big guy," taking him a tight bear hug.

"Big guy yourself. What is Colt doing with you? Turning you into Superwolf?"

"Does it look like that?"

"You've always been my strong big brother; but now you are my stronger, bigger brother." Seb laughed while the walked to the baggage carousel.

"Got it. How are you?"

"Doing great. Fucking high school is over, I have a full summer of joy in front of me and I got into one of the best biology colleges. So life's good."

Prime smiled. After having missed seeing his brother grow up he looked forward to spending time with him over the next days. The situation last year in Montana had not been the best to get to know his brother better.

"How's mother?"

"Okay. I mean I think Zef regrets letting her stay, but so far she hasn't done anything outrageous, unless you consider flirting with one of the new Betas outrageous." Seb was closely looking at the luggage moving in front of him on the belt.

"What?" Prime asked. This woman went on quickly.

"Prime, she and our father had never really been true mates. She did her duty giving him pups. It wasn't her fault she couldn't get more ...," his brother explained full of understanding beyond his young age.

Still it bothered Prime, but he didn't want to talk about it. "Maybe you're right, I've been gone for so long that I don't really know how their relationship was."

"I think they never were like you and your Meta," Seb smiled a generous smile, which warmed Prime's heart.

"My bag," he pointed to a sports bag, which looked as if the contained golf clubs. Prime wanted to take it, but Seb refused sending him a bad look. "Sorry, big brother, but I carry my bags myself nowadays."

Prime held his hands up high innocently. Not having to carry the bag gave him the opportunity to check his phone again: but no new messages and the location app was malfunctioning. He tried to call Colt, but the call didn't go through.

"So how is your pack?"

"Busy like crazy today," Prime led his brother outside to get to the rental car. It was getting dark and it was unusually humid, his black dress shirt started to cling on him unpleasantly. "I mean Colt had his graduation this noon."

"Really?" Seb looked at him reproachfully. "You should have told me I could have come earlier."

"Sorry, Seb, Colt didn't want to make too much of a deal out of it. He hates to be in the center of things. Some kind of introvert thing, he calls it."

"Not sure whether that works: a Meta not being in the center," Seb commented throwing his bag into the trunk of the car. He might not be an alpha candidate but the ease with which he did it suggested that he'd inherited at least all the physical strength of the Loope alpha family.

"It does. He just delegates to his Alpha."

Seb grinned.

"What?"

"I would have never thought my big brother would ever take orders from a nerd." Seb smiled nearly mean.

Prime wanted to growl, but he realized that would have been a ridiculous attempt to pretend being a traditional alpha. When he got behind the wheel, he said: "I wouldn't have thought it, either; though, I consider them more `suggestions.' And Colt is not a nerd."

"Love must be great." Seb's voice had dropped all the teasing undertones.

"You'll meet your mate."

"I hope so. But obviously alpha Loopes are much more attractive."

"Don't say that. You saw how these girls at the conveyor belt checked out your ass."

Seb nodded. "And yours."

"Don't tell Colt," Prime asked instinctively.

Seb laughed. "Oh, that's getting better by the hour. He has you on a short chain."

"That's cheap, Seb," touching his lock with pride.

"I know. But come on. I grew up with all these stories what a hunk you were; girls still orgasming at the memory of you having smiled at them once from a distance; the betas remembering your pranks they had to hide from our father, so they wouldn't get into trouble; and Pat -- remember him?"

"Yes, father's previous chief enforcer."

"He bragged how quickly you could run, how fierce a fighter you were and basically unbeatable in wrestling. -- Never been into wrestling; too much touching sweaty men."

Prime blushed. He hadn't been aware his pack still had held him in so high regard despite his banishment. And he'd never thought about wrestling like this.

"It's difficult to compete with an older brother who is still in the pack. But guess how difficult it is to compete with one who's gone? You couldn't do any wrong. And I was just an inferior copy," Seb said with a hint of sadness.

"I'm sorry, I didn't know ..."

"Not your fault you got kicked out. I just missed you so much ..."

Prime swallowed. "I'll make it up to you."

"As said not your fault. -- But ...," Seb continued a bit mischievously.

"But?"

"Let me have a bit of fun with you having a Meta."

"That's fair, I guess. But ...," Prime played the same game.

"But?"

"Do it with me, not Colt. I owe him my life."

Seb's big green eyes looked at his brother. He felt his brother was dead serious about this. "You've been through a lot, haven't you?"

"Yes, but it's okay now," Prime tried to pretend to be calm. But not being able to get in touch with his pack right now didn't help.

"I know. And the other guys?"

"Brian and Sam have their last final for the term today. Bad timing. And CE has some police business."

"I guess you're the up and coming pack," Seb said looking at the LA skyline in a distance.

"Why do you say that?"

"All of you college educated, built like Arnie and a Meta. If that doesn't mean anything," Seb reasoned.

`Shit,' Prime thought, `it is even obvious to outsiders? This pack has a destiny.'

"Always so much traffic here?"

"Pretty much." Prime tried to call again. First Colt, then Brian, CE and Sam, but none of the calls went through.

He hoped Colt was reasonable. But Prime knew how stubborn and contrarian he could be.


Colt woke up. Where was he? What time?

"Shit," he cursed. He had to get ready. He went to his bathroom and had a quick shower. After having put on his cargo shorts and a blue polo shirt, he grabbed his phone and was off to the car.

It was so humid outside. In all the years on this campus, he had never felt such an oppressive air. He quickly jumped into the cab ... well climbed into it. Turning on the air conditioning, he checked his phone for messages.

No new messages. `That's odd,' he thought. His pack loved keeping each other updated and talking with him. "A pack thing," Prime insisted trying to avoid the impression that they were chatty teenage girls.

He called Prime's number. Call didn't go through, though. Then Brian. Same thing. He wasn't surprised that he couldn't reach the two enforcers either. What the heck? He even checked their new location app, which he normally hated to use as it made him feel like a stalker, but it didn't work.

When he stopped at their usual campus parking lot, he typed: "Colt: Boys, what's going on?"

No response. He opened the car door, humid air hitting him like a tropical waterfall, but he couldn't smell any of his wolves. He did get a bit worried now. And his brain again wanted to tell him something important. Same feeling as today in `100+'s.'


---


Brian and Sam enjoyed the cool dry air in the hall and took the offered beer, getting in the mood to party.


---


Finally, CE got out of the lockdown room. He connected his phone, checking for messages.

None. "Strange," he mumbled. None of his chatting or location apps -- and he had several given his role as chief enforcer -- worked.

He called Prime, but he couldn't get through.

Something was off.

He said quick good-byes to his colleges and jumped in the car waiting for him. He gave the driver the address. "And I'm a bit in a hurry."

"Understood," was the answer.

He was on his way home to check that Colt was safe. No way would he go directly to the party.

He tried to call Colt and Brian, but he couldn't get through, either. He didn't need his wolf shifter enforcer instincts to tell him that something was wrong.

---


"You look worried," Seb said.

"Somehow my phone isn't working. Can you call Colt? At this number," handing him his phone as well so Seb could use the contact details.

Seb shook his head. "Call doesn't go through. Maybe the mobile phone company has a problem there."

"Maybe. Call me."

Prime's phone didn't ring, either. It wasn't a local issue. Something was seriously wrong here, he decided to break some traffic rules, but at the end he couldn't jump over the cars in the traffic jam.

"What's going on, Prime?" Seb saw the veins on Prime's strong neck throbbing, smelt the scent of his older brother.

"Long story." Prime tried to push all the negative scenarios based on their two-year history on the campus out of his mind.

"We're not going anywhere here soon," Seb pointed out dryly looking at the mass of cars in front of them.

"You are right," Prime conceded. "Short version: In the past years, somebody has tried to kill Colt several times. So we're trying to make sure he's protected all the time. And for some stupid reason today we're all spread all over town." He didn't add the nagging feeling that this wasn't a complete coincidence.

"Why would somebody want to kill him?"

"We don't really know. We only know there's money on his head, and that the parents he grew up with, are actually not his parents," Prime didn't want to reveal too much details for Seb's and their own safety.

"You guys are definitely having have more excitement than we have in Montana. The worst is unauthorized sex amongst wolves."

Prime chuckled. "Not in our pack."

"Colt so strict?"

"You wouldn't believe it." Prime felt a wave of pride, straightening his back.

"I do believe it. -- So you think Colt is in danger?" Seb returned to the main topic, still looking at the houses around him.

"Could be. As long as he stays at home until we pick him up, it should be fine." Prime forced himself to think like this.

"And why do I have the feeling he's not the kind of guy sitting alone at home until Prince Charming comes to rescue him?" Seb said smugly.

Prime shook his head. "You speak like him."

"Really. Great." Excitement.

"Great?"

"Yes, maybe then I do have a pack career. I might not be an alpha, but I could become the meta."

"Not sure how Zef will think about that ...," but Prime was amused about the thought. He suppressed a dark memory.


---


The traffic was annoying. Unless they used the horns, it would take CE easily 90 minutes to get back to the campus. And he had no reason to ask the policeman driving the car to do that just because he had the feeling something might be wrong.

He called again. And again it didn't work.

"Matt, can you do me a favor and connect me to the dispatcher?"

"Sure."

CE asked them to call Prime's number, as he couldn't get through. But he told him he couldn't get through either. But he also said he wasn't aware of a major disruption of mobile phone connections.

He had to sit and wait until he got home or his phone started to work again.

CE felt guilty. He should have never gone to town. He should have stayed with his pack, with his Meta. That was his role. Other people could do the police work now.

30 minutes later finally his phone buzzed. "Brian: are at party. Colt with us."

CE nearly cried. His pack was fine. Prime would be stuck somewhere in the same traffic jam having picked up his brother. But his Beta was with his Meta, and surely Sam wasn't far away, so they were safe.

Then he had an idea.


---


"So have you guys tried to find out why they want to kill Colt?" Seb showed some genuine interest in the life of his brother's pack, but which 18-year old didn't like a nice mystery adventure?

"Yes, no luck so far. Only fairy tales."

"And you?" Seb stopped looking at the outside and turned his head slowly to look at his brother, who looked like the picture boy marine on posters and TV commercials.

"What me?"

"Have they tried to kill you as well?"

Prime was silent.

"I guess that's a yes," a very perceptive Seb said looking outside again.

"Several times. The first time, Colt saved my life." Prime bit his lower lip suppressing the emotional volcano building up in him.

"I guess I owe him one then."

Prime smiled, trying to cover his worry. In that moment Seb's phone rang.

"Hi, CE. How are you?"

Prime looked impatiently at his brother, not being able to understand what CE said on the other end of the connection.

"You're in the same traffic jam, I guess. -- I'll tell Prime. See you there," Seb closed the conversation much too quickly.

"What did he say?"

"He just got a message from Brian that he is already at the party with Colt."

"Thank heaven, they're safe."

"And he'll go directly to the party."

"Then we should go there as well, you're on the invite list," Prime said with a wave of relief flooding the car.

"Great! Going to a college party. How cool. I could have a beer now," Seb, as mature he was in picking up emotional shades of his brother, as much he was a high school kid throwing himself into college life.

"How old are you?"

"18 -- please, Prime, don't play daddy."

"Okay, 2 beers max!" Prime said in his alpha voice.

Seb growled but quickly dropped his head. "Yes, Sir!" was his obedient answer due to his genetic disposition to follow orders of an alpha wolf.


---


Why didn't they answer his calls? Why didn't they respond to his messages?

He was nearly there.

Has he been wrong?

Hadn't it meant anything to them?

The house at the address they'd given him was dark. Nobody opened the door despite ringing the bell and shouting.

Shit, it was humid; worse than where he came from, where he had come from based on a last minute decision by his superiors after having spent weeks in the hospital.

He lifted his head. He picked up a faint scent. He got into his car and tried to find the source keeping the windows open despite the annoying humidity.


---


Colt opened the truck's car, being greeted again by this unpleasant wave of humidity. He instinctively braced himself for a night he would never forget.

"Colt," somebody whispered. At least that's what he thought.

He looked around to see where the voice was coming from. Nobody here. Over those past two years this parking lot had become so familiar to him. It's where the wolves had always parked their redneck truck when picking him up.

No wolves, though, today.

In the distance, he could pick up the sound of a passing car. Through the open window he recognized Reba's song `I am survivor.'

Colt was confused, this was the third time today his brain tried to tell him something. There was something about this song. What was it?

He stepped into some soft mess on the ground. `Thank heaven, I am wearing my cowboy boots,' he thought trying to scrape off the mess of old French fries and ketchup. `They were made for situations like that.'

Somehow he felt he had stepped into this mess before. Kind of a déj vu. Then he got it. Finally. He quickly turned around back to the car.

"Colt," somebody whispered, surprised.





Note: "Meta and the Marines II's" Chapter 17 and an Epilogue will be published over the next weeks. For all MetaBooks sequels, check my website www.amazon.com/author/johnar.