This short takes place after the “final” story of the series. Although really, it’s final of the sheep problem not of the wolves or world. [Modern Werewolves]
Mwanzo and Minnie are Black Americans and future alphas of Green Ridge. Melody is Black, but she’s long haul Nigerian. Her mate fled the US for Africa hoping to be a beta somewhere safely. The First Gym has them making a place in Green Ridge.
I probably screwed something up. But enjoy.
Green Ridge Celebrates Juneteenth
Every year there’s been a bbq for the holiday (something Luke has been doing for quite some time now).
When Luke was young, he was told about Juneteenth by his grandmother. Chelsea’s mother was an ex-slave freed through the proclamation. Although she already had freedom while on Kostet grounds, she was not truly free until the president’s message.
Luke spent a lot of time learning about the Black Americans in his ancestry. The pride he has gained for the lost generations. Humans are easy to kill after all. His grandmother was a wolf denied her wolven nature for safety reasons. That doesn’t mean she would’ve been easily killed.
“Dad?” Mwanzo tugs at Luke’s arm while Luke places the banner up. Kwizera wants to use this to celebrate the African wolves in pack. Doesn’t hurt to find the connections. “Dad.”
The alpha successor points at the grill set up. “Is Uncle Ben cooking this time?”
“Good. He’s the best.”
Luke chuckles. “Is Minnie ready? Kwizera and Zahrah were making her extra pretty.”
“And why would I care?” The whine in the voice is very much the preteen Mwanzo is. Luke chuckles again watching his son. “She’s not quite ready.”
“So you linked to her?”
“No, she linked to me. Telling me she needs more time. And some juice. I refused.” Mwanzo huffs turning aside. “She’ll get someone else to help her.”
“She wants your help. Why are you fighting?”
“She will not be alpha in pack. I am alpha. People need to stop calling her alpha.”
Luke kneels next to his son. “Pack needs two alphas.”
“I don’t want her as my partner.” Mwanzo points to the packhouse where Minnie is being readied. “She’s ugly.”
“Then why do you end up staring at her whenever she enters a room?”
Mwanzo whacks his father’s arm. “I do not. Never.”
Luke chuckles and shoves his son toward packhouse. “Go help her. She wants you to see her dressed up.”
Mwanzo hmphs while walking into packhouse.
I step over to Luke with a smile. “Do you need help?”
Luke looks over at me. “Thanks, Melody. You finished your cooking?”
“I followed Jamal’s directions. He is still cooking. He wanted to make sure everything was absolute perfection.” I smile recalling the importance he places on this holiday. Pack doesn’t celebrate a lot of things.
“Here or where he is?”
“He can be particular at times.” I wave it off. “Juneteenth is one of very few holidays pack celebrates. I still don’t fully grasp what it means, though.”
Luke nods. “You guys know what to do. Link if there are questions.”
“Yes, Beta.” The workers comment while Luke walks me into packhouse. We walk into his Black American room. So many essays made by various Black Americans in pack. I finger the one Jamal made. He wrote about the Black beta he was told about in Southerners. He wanted hope. It gave him hope. All that hope dashed though sending him to me. To Africa. Where he could be a beta even if he couldn’t be number one.
Luke picks up the one about his grandmother. “Mom and I chatted a lot about her mother after she passed. So much information was left out until the end. I have learned from others quite a bit of her history. Her life as a slave was hidden. She was born as a slave from werewolves who were sent here. The packs thought they could fix the problems they were hearing about. But there was too many split ups. They weren’t considered humans. They had no idea the slavery was that bad.” Luke puts down his grandmother’s essay.
“I still can’t grasp the true level that slavery was. Jamal grew up only knowing a few generations of his ancestry. I can go back hundreds of years.”
“We can’t. I can do the same about my grandfather’s or my father’s family trees. Especially Dad’s. He’s from pack. I’m a Green Ridge family. Want me to name who of the Hunts were here back in 1776? I can. I can give you a report on them even if mostly it’s lies. I’ll tell you about various Moore family members who were wandering Spain about that time too. But past my grandma? Nope. Don’t know anyone in that tree. She was sold out of pack at five. She was still calling her family by their title not by their name.”
“I’m sorry.” I duck my head. It’s not that things like that weren’t done in Africa, but not to the extent it was here. Not to be treated as less than, but as owned by pack until they prove themselves. Jamal was in that position. He proved himself. There was no way here.
“Apologies aren’t needed.” Luke grins. “Juneteenth is to celebrate slavery ended being told to the final slaves in Texas. It was said that was the last group who were freed by the Proclamation. Not like the white slave owners wanted to let their slaves know they were free.” Luke shakes his head. “Two and half years later. Grandma was freed with that Proclamation. She was given freedom outside of pack not just inside it. But it wasn’t true freedom. And even now, I wonder how much freedom the Black human Americans get. I have everything I want in pack. I don’t have that outside of it.” He runs fingers over his beta mark on his face. He looks to be claimed by Red Rocks. I’ve seen many others with it. He was only a visitor. When Kwizera explained everything, they were open to letting him wear it. As long as he clearly said he wasn’t Red Rocks. He’s proudly Green Ridge.
“Mom?” Zahrah leans into the room. “Ooohhh, my favorite is on Bass Reeves.” She walks over to the Black cowboy. “Greg got a little worried over my interest.”
“True mates aren’t throwaways.” I hug my daughter. “We were talking about Juneteenth.”
Zahrah nods. “When the final slaves were finally told they were free two and half years after the Emaciation Proclamation. Greg gave me a website that has so much information. I’m going to write my own essay. How the marks change when we crossed over by boat.” She lifts her shirt enough to show off the beta female marks she has. She’s still only an omega.
“Thank you, Zahrah.” Luke offers her a hug. “Is everything ready?”
“Minnie wants you to call everyone to the stage. She will be the Queen of the Day.”
“The Luna gets that position all the time.” I chuckle.
Zahrah grins. “Should’ve saw the look Mwanzo gave her. Made her feel the queen. Glad she’s confident.”
Luke chuckles showing us out of the room. “Mwanzo keeps telling me he hates her and doesn’t want her until she walks into his line of sight.”
“True mates aren’t throwaways.” I repeat to the smiles of both. Mwanzo and Minnie don’t fully grasp that. And won’t. Not until concerns can happen.
Luke opens pack link, ^Juneteenth celebration is starting everyone. Whoever wants free Luna Favorite’s BBQ, better race to behind packhouse. Can’t say how long we’ll have Ben running the grill.^ He grins at us. “That should get everyone.”
I cross my arms when we find the massive line already in place. “Should’ve made the comment after we got some.”
“I’ll snag some for you. Sit and watch. Minnie has a dance prepared.” Luke motions to the stage where Kwizera and Minnie are together. They look like they belong on the cover of “African Cultures”. I sit down as Zahrah goes up to the stage. She’ll help them. She’s not dressed to join.
Greg drops into the chair beside me. “Grandma.”
I look at him. The child isn’t there and he still calls me Grandma. It has me sigh. “She’s not here, though.”
“With the packhouse pups.” Greg points out his daughter in the group. “She prefers it.”
Melody nods. “I did too.”
“I hope I don’t hurt Zahrah. Juneteenth is something that she connects to because of her father. That history hurts her. To know my family lived here at the same time and didn’t fight things?” He winces. “I wasn’t a victim. I wasn’t the bully. But I was a bystander who didn’t help.”
“You personally?” I question him.
“No.” Greg fidgets. “But even my grandparents… They lived during slavery. The tail end of it. And… I know they did nothing. If anything they complained about it ending. And my parents insulted Lily and Chelsea shortly after they got here. I know those stories.”
“But did you?” I ask him again.
He fidgets. “No.”
“Have you done everything in your power to prove you aren’t them?”
“I try. But I know I’m not perfect.”
I look at Kwizera and Minnie starting into a cute dance. A practice run. “Perfection isn’t required as long as you fight for the right direction. I don’t know Black American history. You know it better than I do.” I see him duck his head. “But I won’t continue with my lack of knowledge. I won’t stop fighting for my mate and child. I will do everything to make sure pack truly is a safe haven. And beyond these walls, I’ll fight that much harder for everyone to have equality. Will you be the same?”
“Yes. Of course. Without question.”
“Then I don’t think you’ll hurt her in a way that can’t be repaired. Keep an open mind and an open heart.”
Greg smiles as Zahrah gets on stage to show something off. She learned all the beta dances. So she was dance instructor and stylist. I’m proud of her. “I just want her to be happy.”
Everyone deserves freedom. Juneteenth celebrates that. Freedom and equality. Who could say no to such a celebration?