Today’s passage comes from Holiday Surprise. It’s not a very holiday-ish passage though. Oops. Still, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays this season.

“Ultimate Alpha is a battle to the death, Thomas. Killing you isn’t going to help merge our packs back together. You know this.”

“It doesn’t have to be a battle to the death,” I mouthed the words along with him. We had had the same conversation that many times.

“I really appreciate all you’ve been doing for the Larken wolves. I feel as though we’re finally able to live again. There’s stability at the trailer park. Having monthly pack runs at Oliver and Peyton’s has started finally bringing us all together. And with the work you have given my guys, they can afford more than just the basics to survive. We’re going to be okay,” I tried to assure him, sounding more confident than I felt.

Life on the other side of the tracks was better, much better even, but it still wasn’t good. Not that I’d ever admit that to him though.

“So, you’re saying you do not want to merge the packs now?” he asked me.

Thomas was a straight shooter. He didn’t even try to sugarcoat things. I liked that about him. I respected him even. My wolf would willingly submit to his, but my pride wouldn’t allow me to admit that. The Collier Alpha was fair and wanted to merge the two packs, to be just that. Ultimate Alpha would prove to both packs that the winner was worthy and strong enough to lead them all, but Collier was a lot bigger responsibility than anything I’d ever taken on and to accept such a role, I would want Thomas by my side to help me transition. That wouldn’t be possible.

The hardest part to admit, even to myself, was that I didn’t want the job. I didn’t want to be in charge of so many, to have their lives impacted by my decisions. As Alpha of Larken Pack. I had dozens of people to take care of. As Alpha of Collier I’d have hundreds. I knew how hard managing a small pack was. I couldn’t fathom the additional burden of so many.

“I know it’s best for my wolves to merge the packs,” I finally conceded, just as I always did when we had these talks. “I just don’t know how to proceed on making that happen that won’t end with one of us being dead.”