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Alpha Wolves

“Alpha Wolves”

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About Alpha Wolves

Maggie Harrington is deeply in love with Jeremy Paull and they become engaged. Maggie feels as if she has found her prince. Strong and protective Jeremy loves her to his core. It appears they are a perfect match and a long and loving marriage lies
straight ahead.

Just before the wedding Maggie’s past comes back to haunt her in the form of Tommie Stetter. Maggie and Tommie shared a powerful love until he abruptly left her after their adventure in the wilderness trying to save a pack of young wolves from a bounty hunter. Maggie can’t help herself when love comes around again with Tommie.

Her love for both men complicates the simple life she desired at Central Mine on Michigan’s wild Keweenaw peninsula of the early twentieth century.

Chapter 1

I am looking in the mirror at the face of a guilty person. I see a face that is happy on a day it should be sad, and I’m feeling guilty about it. Today James Stetter is going to be buried, and I am feeling happy.

I have not liked him for a very long time–he took something away from me that I have been unable to forgive him for. It has been ten years since I have seen Tommie Stetter and looked into his beautiful brown eyes that glisten, that enter into me where I want them to be, and know me, Maggie Harrington, for who I really am. So, even on this sad day, when they are going to bury Tommie’s father, I am happy. I am going to be sitting in church once again with my beloved Tommie, but I feel guilty about it.

I look at my face in the mirror. It is the same face, the same blue eyes, the same girl that loved Tommie Stetter with all her heart when she was thirteen. I am twenty-three years old now, but I am the same little Maggie Elizabeth Harrington. I am a little taller, and my bosom is fuller, my hips are not as straight up and down, but I am the same, I am no different. I still live here in Central Mine with my father who works deep under the earth digging copper. I am a teacher’s assistant at the Central Mine School. I teach the first three grades, and I like teaching little children.  They are pure, their minds are not as cluttered with things as adults’ are.  So, unlike many of the people here in Central Mine, I am at least satisfied with my life, if not completely happy.

Ten years ago, when Tommie was sent away, I was sure that in two years when he finished school, he would return to Central Mine to work with his father as a mining captain and we would be married. I lived with that dream for two years. I walked with Tommie in my head; I talked with Tommie no matter where in the world he was. I was still with him, we were together. Two years later, I learned from my best friend, Annie, Tommie’s sister, that he was going to stay in the East and continue his education, he was going to college. But I am a very determined person, and I still believed that Tommie, my true love, would come back to me.  I never gave up that dream. I never left the dream world that Tommie Stetter and I lived in, and I don’t think I ever will.

After graduating from high school I began to assist Mrs. Daume with the younger children. Eventually I was allowed to teach them by myself, and I have been teaching the first three grades ever since. I felt very fortunate, and I really liked Mrs. Daume. She continued to help me, taught me all kinds of things about literature and philosophy. I liked learning about people like Plato, who spent their whole lives thinking. After all, I believe that I have spent my whole life either thinking or dreaming. I felt I had a lot in common with Plato, who spent so much time thinking and talking about things like truth. In addition to teaching at the school, Mrs. Daume was the organist at the Central Mine Methodist Church.  Nothing much has changed in the church. Reverend White is still there, still preaching his sermons with great fervor, the sweat rolling off his temples, his voice screeching through the air, and all the people listening and saying “Amen.” No, nothing much has changed at the church.

But a lot has changed at the mine. About the time that I began helping Mrs. Daume the mine began to fail. The veins of copper that could be found were very deep, and poor, and you would hear a lot of miners talking about how they couldn’t make any money. The ore was poor, and they were mostly just digging barrel copper to be stamped. Then, in the fall of 1899, the Philadelphia Mining Company announced they were going to pull out. It wasn’t worth the investment; the return on capital simply wasn’t worth it. Central Mine was finished, going to be closed. There were meetings, and lots of miners soon left Central Mine. Officials came out and closed down the office and work came to a halt. The winter of 1899-1900 would be a very dark and cold winter. A very frightening winter as the miners looked at their future. The mine had been operating since 1863, and up until then had always been profitable. But it was also very remote, and quite a few miles from the other mining ventures that still operated on the Keweenaw Peninsula. Of the mining families that had settled here, many of them knew little else. Many of the later arrivals, the French, and Italians, left, but the Cornish teams, the Cousin Jacks, that had been here the longest, they were the most settled.  These were their homes and they continued to stay.
When James Stetter offered to reopen the mine under his own direction that spring the Cornish miners welcomed his offer. Work began that summer to pump the water out of the shafts and put in fresh timber. Mr. Stetter was respected and well liked by the miners. They worked hard, everybody remained in good spirits, and they began that fall to bring small amounts of copper to the surface.  But the ore was not rich, and despite further exploration, they were unable to discover any large new veins.

For the last three years, half of the miners worked old shafts that still produced some barrel copper, and the money earned was shared with James Stetter to finance the exploration for new and richer veins by the other half of the miners. Things were not good, but everybody worked, and life managed to go on in Central Mine much as it has for the last forty years. Monday through Saturday under the earth, and Sunday mornings at the Central Mine Methodist Church listening to Mrs. Daume play the organ, the choir sing, and Reverend White preach his sermon.

I have been busy teaching children; doing the chores, and cooking dinner for my father, who was just as silent as before, just as quiet and hard as he has always been, but somehow it wasn’t as important to me anymore. I was happy working at the school, and dreaming of Tommie Stetter, knowing that someday he would come for me.

“Maggie, are you ready? It’s time we walked up to the church,” I hear my father say from downstairs. It made me feel no different than I felt those many years ago, when as a child either he or my grandmother would call me.

I looked at my guilty face in the mirror once again. Yes, I did feel guilty, but I was also happy. It has been so long since I looked into Tommie Stetter’s brown eyes that glisten, I couldn’t help it. I was happy and sad at the same time.  I find that so strange. I never have understood how I could feel that way. But it is exactly how I am feeling this Sunday morning as I prepare to walk over to the church and listen to Reverend White speak about James Stetter. We will all pay our last respects, and then follow the pallbearers as they carry the coffin to the Eagle River Cemetery for the burial. And I know that at some point I will get a chance to see Tommie. I will get to look him in the eyes, and he will look at me, and we will know where we are, where we have been, and where we are going.  I will know that my waiting was not the foolish daydream of a schoolgirl, that what passed between Tommie and me ten years ago was real. It was as real as all the things I dream about, and all the things I believe in, and all the things I live for.

This is what I am thinking as my father and I walk up the hill towards the church, up the street with no name on it, past the Stetter’s house. I look to see if anyone is there, but I see no one. I had hoped to get a glimpse of Tommie, or even Annie, before we got to the church. It has been many years since I have seen Annie, too.

Not long after we finished high school her father sent her to the university in Hancock to study business. Annie, being very practical, as I have always known, must have figured out rather quickly that she didn’t have a head for business. Less than a year after being sent to Hancock she married a young man called Edward Leiblein, whose father ran a large wholesale grocery in Hancock.  It was a good practical decision by Annie. Edward, with help from his father, opened a store and warehouse for receiving and storing supplies in Eagle River, and Annie moved there. The following year Annie had a little boy, Edward junior, and a year later, another son, who she called James, after her father. I stopped to see her a few times after the children were born, but she was always very busy, and had new friends, and in-laws to contend with, and we drifted apart.

That made me sad, because she was my only contact with Tommie.  It has been a long while since I have seen Annie, and I have not heard anything about Tommie since his first few years in college. I had assumed he was trying to get himself established in something else, being that the mine wasn’t doing very well. I was sure this was why he hadn’t come back to Central Mine. But I knew he would be here for his father’s funeral. I know he would come back to help his mother, and I am anxious to see him, anxious to see them all. I would like to walk with them, the three of us together, as we did so many years ago. Go back to that summer when we were all thirteen.
It is still so vivid in my memory, spending time with Annie, doing girlish things, growing up a little, and falling in love with Tommie. And certainly there were the wolves, my beautiful furry little wolves that I loved with all my heart, and that Mr. Stetter took away from me.
As I walk, my mind drifts back to that summer, as it often does, and carries me away in my dreams.

out of 5 starsLoved it as much as the first.

By K. Cross on March 5, 2014

I looked forward to this book the moment I finished the first one. While it didn’t start out like I expected, it still fulfilled my expectations.

There’s a definite Anna Karenina feel to it, only in a poor class of Cornish immigrants instead. Maggie’s thoughts, her heart, her emotions, and her actions, are really quite fascinating. She moves through it all with a realistic sense of having loved, and having lost. The characters were consistent with the ones that I knew before, no mean feat in a second book.

My only complaint is that I felt the thought repetition I noticed in the first story could have been cut down more now that Maggie was older, and it would seem less likely to thing in such a circular way. But it was only every now and then, and never distracted from the story.

I was not at all let down by this book. I enjoyed myself, and sought opportunities to read it.

4.0 out of 5 starsAlpha Wolves

By Hotcha on September 17, 2012

Since she was thirteen, Maggie Harrington had loved Tommie Setter, until they ran away trying to save four wolf pups from bounty hunters and were caught. She had to endure the screams of her loved pup wolves while Tommie was sent back east and away from her without saying good bye, but Maggie knew he loved her and he had promised to return and she waited for him. Ten years later, he did with a wife and a little girl!

D. J. Swykert spins an intriguing love story that spanned a ten-year absence, Tommie returned to Central Mine Michigan to take over the copper mining operation his dad managed until his death. Tommie had never stopped loving Maggie, but he was lonely in college and Stephanie helped him get over his loneliness then one thing led to another and she got pregnant. Tommie was jealous of Jeremy Paul’s attention to Maggie and when he heard Maggie was to get married to him he asked her not to do it, that he still loved her even though he was married and they got caught up in a love affair which neither one couldn’t give up their secret tryst. Then the mine collapsed………

3.0 out of 5 starsBook Review: ALPHA WOLVES (DJ Swykert)

By Eleanore T. on November 19, 2014

Author DJ Swykert is nothing if not dedicated to the industry; he’s already published MAGGIE ELIZABETH HARRINGTON, a coming-of-age novel. ALPHA WOLVES is the sequel, rejoining Maggie Elizabeth’s life a decade after the events recounted in the first novel.

Maggie Elizabeth, now known as simply Maggie because she’s become a young woman, remains the point-of-view character in the work. Her voice is older, more mature, as she relates her continuing love for her childhood crush, Tommie Stetter, and her growing interest in Jeremy Paull, a young man who is clearly smitten with her.

After Tommie promised to return for her one day, he went away to school. Ten years later, he finally returns to town for the funeral of his father. At the very sight of him, Maggie knows that she has always loved him, despite his absence, and will continue to love him.

But his arrival also causes her great pain, for Tommie is now married with a beautiful young daughter. Not only did he lie to her in promising to return for her one day, he also betrayed her through marriage to another woman.

Nevertheless, perhaps naively, as Maggie herself admits more than once, she commits to continuing to love him, even when her relationship with Jeremy turns into an engagement and then into marriage. She falls into a kind of double life, leading one in public as the happily married Mrs. Jeremy Paull, and one in secret, meeting Tommie in one clandestine rendezvous after another to maintain their childhood love for one another.

Then she turns up pregnant. An accident at the mine where both Tommie and Jeremy work forces her hand. And her conscience awakens and begins to protest the double life she’s been leading.

The final revelation is as comfortably familiar and inevitable as it is strikingly surprising.

The manuscript is tightly written, and Maggie’s voice remains fascinating. She lives a detailed inner dialogue with the reader, explaining, justifying, planning, wondering, musing, and by the conclusion of the novel, she has matured even more than she clearly had at the beginning of the story.

Whereas, in Maggie Elizabeth Harrington, the antagonist was an external force (people within the community who wanted to harm the wolves Maggie was trying to protect), in the sequel, the antagonist is Maggie’s own conscience and her sense of right and wrong. Is it right to continue to love both men in her life? Is it wrong to give herself to another man when she’s already married? Is it wrong to want to be happy?

Such questions are those that drive the narrative forward and keep the reader, who by now empathizes with Maggie’s dilemma and deep emotions, turning pages.

In a future edition of the work, a close line-by-line edit and work to break up the repetitively long paragraphs (which weighed down my interest in the story) would benefit the story line greatly, as would, perhaps, further effort to round out the other characters in the novel, like Jeremy Paull, in particular, as he’s such a large part of the narrative.

Nonetheless, an admirable sequel to a memorable coming-of-age novel.

D.J. SwykertContact

D.J. Swykert

 

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