Corrigan Rage (Corrigan Series Book 3)

By: Helen Harper
Chapter One




I rested both my hands on the table top and looked round at everyone. It hadn’t been an easy task to select them – after all, it had been necessary to ensure both the rural Packs as well as the Brethren were well represented, not to mention shapeshifters of all different forms, genders and ages. I’d also desperately wanted to cap the numbers at ten to avoid long drawn arguments and petty one-upmanship. That had been a futile effort. Frankly, it was a miracle we’d ended up with less than thirty members. Either way, I’d been starting to think it would take them a year to get anywhere.

‘So,’ I said, ‘I hear you’ve come to a final decision.’

Sevilla, a grizzly werecheetah from Newcastle who’d been appointed as chairperson, got to her feet. ‘We have, my Lord.’

‘And?’ I held my breath.

‘Twenty-five.’

I blinked. ‘In total?’

She nodded, biting her lip. ‘I’m aware you were hoping for around fifteen…’

‘Twenty-five is a good number.’ Considering how things had gone up to this point, it was a hell of a lot lower than it could have been.

She passed over a piece of paper in my direction. I read over it, aware that every eye in the room was on me.

‘I told you he wouldn’t be happy with number twenty-three,’ a voice towards the end of the table muttered. ‘It’s too ambiguous.’

I ignored him and continued to the bottom, making my own mind up. Then I looked up and smiled. ‘This is fantastic work. You are all to be commended. You’ve streamlined every single one of those Way Directives into a comprehensible, sensible list. You will go down in history.’

There was a round of spontaneous applause. I tried not to notice the palpable relief emanating from virtually everyone. When I’d said they’d done a good job, I meant it. Even if the new improved Way Directives hadn’t been as helpful as I’d wanted, I still wouldn’t have reamed them out though. I was very conscious of just how difficult their task had been. I rather had the impression that they thought I’d order them all thrown in chains if I didn’t approve of their combined efforts. It didn’t matter how hard I tried: the old dictatorial hierarchy still loomed large in every shifter’s mind.

Sevillah cleared her throat. I glanced in her direction and nodded, encouraging her to speak. ‘We think we’ve covered all angles. We’ve applied all sorts of scenarios both past and potentially future and we think the list stands up to scrutiny.’

‘But?’ I prodded.

‘But we know it will still be difficult for many shifters to accept these new laws.’

I pursed my lips. ‘Change is always difficult. Progress doesn’t occur without it.’

‘Believe me, my Lord,’ she replied, ‘I’m on your side. I think these new Directives will make everything much more transparent. However, I’m also concerned about the old guard. They won’t react well to this. They already think that our assembly is usurping tradition by taking a more democratic approach. Getting them to follow the new Way Directives will be incredibly hard.’

‘The old woman is sniping at shadows,’ drawled Charles, the new alpha from Gloucester. ‘There’s a simple solution for dealing with the naysayers.’

Everyone, including myself, turned towards him. ‘What?’

He shrugged nonchalantly, picking up a sugared doughnut from his plate and biting into it. He took his time chewing it, even going so far as to make a show of licking his lips. Clearly, Charles enjoyed being the centre of attention. ‘We compel them,’ he finally stated.

I had to bite my tongue to avoid snapping. ‘Forcing everyone to do what we say actually goes against the fundamental basics of these new Directives. Compulsion is not intended to be used in these kinds of matters.’

‘Then what sort of matters is it intended for, my Lord?’ His tone was mild but I could sense the veiled antagonism underlying it. He was young, even for an alpha, I told myself. He just needed some gentle re-direction.

‘For encouraging good Pack behavior when other animal instincts might take over,’ I told him. ‘Not for making people bend to every whim.’

‘Is that what these new Directives are?’ he asked. ‘A whim?’ Before I could respond, he laughed. ‘Of course, I’m merely jesting.’

I smiled tightly. ‘Again,’ I said, re-addressing everyone in a bid to dismiss Charles out of hand, ‘I would like to reiterate my gratitude for all of your work and dedication. I will consider your concerns very carefully before proceeding further.’

Everyone stood up while I walked out and left them to their pastries. It was the wisest course of action. I wasn’t about to engage myself in a potentially dangerous bout of passive aggression. Charles enjoyed having an audience far too much for to me to rise to the bait.

Staines caught up with me in the library. ‘I hear the Way Assembly have come up trumps.’

‘Indeed they have.’

‘You don’t sound particularly happy. I’d have thought you’d be bouncing from the ceiling. One hundred and forty seven Directives to twenty-five? It’s a definite result. I’ve seen the final list as well. It’s good.’

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