Charles Ducharme sat in his large corner office at the flagship ski resort in the Laurentian Mountains. He spread his hands on his heavy wooden desk and looked down.
Ostie! The land deal’s tanking.
He stood up and strode to his office door.
“Ken, where’s my brother?”
“Henri?” his assistant asked.
Charles returned to his desk and drummed his fingers until the phone rang a minute later. “Thomas, what happened to the deal?”
“Another bid. The team’s prepping the counter-offer now.”
“Who’s this Frères Gris Consortium?”
“They’re buying up property in the area. Name’s from a missionary group from New France. They owned a city block in Montreal a century ago, then dropped out of sight.”
“We found scattered rumours about them. Settlers called them cannibals and devils. Stories of eating children and women alive.”
“Those are just tales. Humans think loups-garous are stories too.”
“It could be humans using the Frères Gris name. Nobody’s seen them.”
Charles raked a hand through his wavy hair. “What do I tell our indigenous partners? This project is about reconciliation with our neighbours.”
“We’ll work through the night if we have to. I don’t like losing.”
“I’m going to stay. We need this parcel of land to start the geothermal pipelines.” Charles stood up and grabbed the files Ken had left on his desk.
“You need some time off, Charles. Yesterday you flew off the handle in front of the kitchen staff.”
“It’s bad timing—”
“You missed Grand-maman’s one-fiftieth last week. Go. Have a visit with her.” Thomas had his best interests at heart.
“If Henri were here, he’d tell you to get laid.”
“Of course our baby brother would. You know I don’t like hook-ups.”
“Have you been with anyone since Alice left?” Thomas asked.
Charles didn’t answer.
“That’s twelve months. You can’t blow off all that steam in the gym. Something’s got to give.”
“It’s just—my wolf’s restless. Nothing helps.” Charles put the files in a drawer and closed his laptop.
“You’ve got a lot on your plate. We’ve been on high alert since you became Alpha. And with the Trois-Rivières pack nipping at the border of our territories—”
“Another family arrived yesterday fleeing from Roland and his pack. And with the land project stalling, everything’s spiralling out of control. I can’t keep it together.”
“Let your pack help. Don’t shoulder it by yourself.”
Charles shrugged. “How? I’m stuck in a corner. I can’t get out.”
“Spend a few days with Grand-maman. Then we’ll talk about making changes around here.”
They hung up. Charles grabbed his leather duffel bag and left the contemporary suite of offices, walking past the indoor pool and sleek workout rooms. He continued through the main lodge and stopped at the reception desk. He pasted a smile on his face and asked how the reception team was doing. I have to make more of an effort, show my employees I am approachable. The front lobby was empty as he exited the main doors and walked to the parking lot.
Stop micromanaging everyone. Thomas was right. He needed to get away for a few days. But with the counter-bid, he couldn’t step back, could he? And his uncle had showed up last week talking about a seat on the Board. That would be another nightmare.
He sighed, got in his SUV and turned out of the ski resort property. He drove slowly through the ski village, keeping an eye out for pedestrians, then turned onto the mountain highway. It was a forty-five-minute drive to Grand-maman Marie’s village. Time enough to think about his brother’s request. Get his head on straight.
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