Home > More Than A Handful

More Than A Handful
Author: Lisa Oliver

Chapter One

Karl Jacobs heaved a sigh as he closed his front door, leaning on it for a moment, his keen senses appreciating the quiet of home. What a fucking night. I am not going through that shit again. Kicking off his shoes, Karl loosened his tie one handed, dropping it and his keys on the small table he kept by the door for that purpose. Ignoring the stack of mail waiting for his attention, he turned on the lights before walking silently down the hallway, through the living room and into the kitchen, opening his refrigerator door and pulling out the cold beer he knew would be waiting for him.

Flicking the bottle top onto the counter, Karl took a swig as he wandered back through to his living space. His butt had barely hit the cushions when Born to be Wild shrieked from his jacket pocket. Glancing up at the clock which showed 2:33, and yes, that was in the morning, he pulled his phone out of his pocket and accepted the call.

“Do you know what time it is?” Taking another swig from his bottle, Karl leaned his head back on the cushions, closing his eyes.

“It is two thirty-four in the morning.” Allan’s voice sounded far too bright for the late hour. “I received a message from your uncle, who threatened me with castration if I didn’t pass it on immediately. As I’m rather partial to my genitalia…”

“He does have my number,” Karl broke in quickly. The last thing he wanted to think about was his PA’s junk.

“Which is only useful if you answer his calls.” Allan’s little huff let Karl know what he thought about Karl’s lack of phone answering skills. “Your uncle’s message, and I’m quoting this verbatim, is that you behaved atrociously at Miss Carter’s party. Your manners were boorish, you drank far more than is considered acceptable in mixed company, your tie was loosened at the dinner table, oh, and it was the wrong colored tie because you weren’t wearing the pack colors. You had the audacity to answer calls, also during dinner, and at one point excused yourself from the table for twenty-two minutes while still talking on the phone, which was particularly vexing to Miss Carter who was waiting to serve the main course. Lastly, and your uncle was particularly upset about this one, there was no announcement of the anticipated engagement between you and the aforementioned Miss Carter. I didn’t know you were getting engaged. I didn’t even know you were seeing anyone.”

“I’m not.” Karl tilted his bottle again and emptied it. “It’s late. I’m exhausted. Was there anything else?”

“Did you really walk out before the speeches?”

Setting his bottle on the coffee table next to his chair, Karl rubbed the spot between his eyes. “There shouldn’t have been speeches. It was supposed to be a mix and mingle dinner. I drove three hours, after working since 6 a.m. yesterday morning, to attend the dinner because my uncle insisted it was vital to pack relations. His pack, mind, not mine. I was collared by my uncle, before I’d even got in the door. He shoved a ring box in my hand and told me it was time to do the right thing, before introducing me to the lovely Miss Carter. I wouldn’t have even stayed for the dinner, but I was so damn hungry… so yes, to answer your question, I walked out before the damn speeches, dropping the ring box in my uncle’s lap as I left.”

Allan’s whistle was loud in Karl’s ear and he held the phone away from his head slightly. “That was a pretty ballsy thing to do to an alpha, Alpha.”

“Thank you for that timely reminder. I am an alpha, and I’ve been perfectly capable of making my own decisions for more than fifty years. Seeing as you’re so bright and bubbly you can draft up a letter to my uncle in his capacity as the alpha of the Blue Moon pack and advise him that I will no longer be available for any pack or family functions as I am hereby revoking my pack status effective immediately. Something that I should’ve done a long time ago.”

Allan’s silence spoke volumes. When he did speak there was a slight tremor in his voice. “You’re going rogue?”

Flicking a glance at the clock again, Karl could see it was getting on for three and he had a breakfast meeting at seven. “Not rogue, I’d be a lone wolf,” he reminded his PA firmly as he levered himself out of his chair. “A status that is allowed by the paranormal council for shifters who renounce their pack status and prefer to live among humans. A rogue is a shifter who has committed a crime against their home pack. The only crime I’ve committed was not telling my uncle to butt out of my personal life twenty years ago.”

“But what’s going to happen to me? Will I have to choose between leaving the pack or losing my job?”

The question made Karl pause. Allan was a low-ranking wolf, a lot younger than Karl’s seventy-four years. Hell, Karl had left the pack and forged a life of his own before Allan had even been born. His uncle had recommended Allan for the job when he saw through social media that Karl was looking for an efficient PA. The recommendation was solid. Since his first day, Allan had been the model of organization and followed orders like a dream.

“I can’t make that decision for you, Allan, I’m sorry.” Karl started to climb his stairs, feeling as though he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. “In an ideal world, Uncle Bevan will realize he’s pushed me too far for the last time, remove me from the pack without fuss, and business will carry on as normal. But I know you still have family on pack grounds that you see regularly, and my Uncle Bevan is your alpha. If he won’t allow you to work for a lone wolf…” He trailed off. “I don’t want to lose you, but my mind is made up. This is the fifth time Uncle Bevan has pulled a stunt like this in two years.”

“Sixth. You’re forgetting Miss Fiona, the council guard’s daughter. You didn’t even meet her, but the meeting was your uncle’s idea.” Allan’s voice sounded wooden over the phone. “Do you have to send the letter now? I’m sure the alpha is just worried about pack succession. You are the Blue Moon Pack heir apparent and he just wants to see you with a few kids before he retires, and you take over.”

“Or, he could have more kiddies of his own, or better yet, let my cousin Joy take over the pack. She’s old enough and I’m sure she’s got alpha genetics too.”

“You know the pack would never accept a female alpha.” Allan sounded shocked at the suggestion and Karl wondered what rhetoric his uncle spouted at pack runs. It’d been a long time since he’d been on one.

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