Dog Jokes (Red Spring)

“What’s your problem?” Eve said, leaning forward and putting her hands on the table.

“Excuse me?” Amelia said.

“I don’t think so. And you,” she said, stabbing her finger at Kieran, “is that the kind of behavior you’re supposed to encourage?”

“She’s a pack leader,” Kieran said. Jonas was surprised to see he looked embarrassed.

“And why is that?” Eve asked the rest of the table. “Why is the werewolf who’s only been turned a month and a minute – someone who’s not even kin – in charge of the largest pack in the city?”

There were a few seconds of awkward silence. Amelia started to answer, but a deep voice from the far end of the table cut her off. “Because she was the only one dumb enough to want the job.” One of the twins stifled a laugh; the other snorted. “No disrespect intended, pack leader.” The voice’s owner leaned forward. It was Ian. Jonas recognized him from the time he’d met the whole family. He was the oldest one at the table – Bert and Nell’s generation – and as big as his father had been.

Amelia’s jaw worked soundlessly.

“The truth is,” Ian continued, “I’m not entirely sold on her. If Nell was still around, I probably would have been married off to another clan or gone full-time Enforcer. Now…”

“Have to go through me, big brother,” Kieran said, and Jonas had a sickening sense of déjà vu.

Ian crossed his arms. “I’m glad to have you back, Kieran; what our parents did to you wasn’t right. But you’re not part of this pack and, quite frankly, who leads it has got nothing to do with you.”

Amelia was quiet. Kieran looked at Jonas, and Jonas remembered that first time he and Eve had fought in Kieran’s mind. He looked so helpless sometimes.

“With your permission, clan leader?” Ian said.

“Don’t kill her,” Jonas said. Amelia flinched and looked at him, hurt.

Ian smiled and rubbed the back of his head. “Oh, it won’t come to that. I mean, what is this, a Jack London novel? But our family needs to have a talk – a serious talk – about what we’re going to do, and what we’re not going to do, and how we’re going to behave. Maybe we should have had it earlier, but maybe some of us were too busy navel gazing to take care of it.” He threw a casual look at the other adults at the table, and several of them nodded.

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