Silence Of The Wolf Page 18

The wooden floor smelled of floor wax, but the aroma of the beef cooking in a kitchen made her stomach rumble. If the food tasted anything like it smelled, she was glad Tom had brought her here.

Five men sat at a table, eating sandwiches and talking, until they saw her and Tom walk into the tavern. They all smiled at her, then raised their brows at Tom.

’’Boys,’’ he said in greeting, though most of the ’’boys’’ were middle-aged.

’’Miss, Tom,’’ they all responded.

She smiled a little and said, ’’Hi.’’ She sounded horribly shy when she wasn\ like that at all.

Their smiles broadened. They had to be dying to learn who she was, especially since she was with Tom. She could smell that gray wolves frequented the place, but only a hint of human scents wafted in the air.

’’Restricted membership?’’ she asked Tom.

’’Yeah, wolves only, but to humans it looks like a private club. One day a year during our Victorian Day festival, we open it up to nonshifters. We hold the festival in the fall.’’

’’That sounds like fun.’’ Her attention swung to a bearded man who watched them as he dried a green glass behind the old bar, the polished wood worn in places where thirsty patrons had rested their arms for eons. She estimated he was about six-four in height. Huge.

He smiled at her, then Tom, as he set the green glass he\d dried on the counter. His shoulder-length black hair and thick beard made him look like a rugged naturalist.

’’That\s Sam, owns the tavern and has been here forever.’’ Tom guided Elizabeth to a table in the far corner where they could see the rest of the room, but their backs were protected. He pulled a chair out for her and, once she was seated, scooted it under the table for her. She\d never been treated with such civility. She rather liked the attention, she had to admit.

A woman entered the tavern dressed in tight-fitting jeans with sparkles on the back pockets and a peach turtleneck shirt. High-heeled brown leather boots reached midthigh, and she had the most beautiful curly sable hair piled on top of her head.

’’Hey, Silva,’’ one of the five men seated at the table said. ’’Kind of working banker\s hours like old Mason here, aren\ you?’’

She gave him a bright smile. ’’I would have arrived sooner if I\d known you would be here today.’’ She glanced in Tom and Elizabeth\s direction. After looking Elizabeth over, she offered a little smile.

Small towns, Elizabeth thought. She hadn\ expected all the notice and was glad to be with Tom, who would deflect some of the attention, she hoped.

’’Silva,’’ Tom said in greeting as he took his seat next to Elizabeth.

’’Tom,’’ Silva said as she put her purse behind the bar. Sam had glanced in Silva\s direction when she first entered the tavern, but when she went behind the bar, he ignored her completely.

Elizabeth tried to figure out the pack dynamics. If Silva worked for Sam, why was she late, and why didn\ he say something to her? He was definitely interested in her, yet he scowled at her and didn\ greet her. Then again, she didn\ give him the time of day, either.

Sheriff Peter walked into the tavern, frowning deeply. Without looking at anyone, he went straight to the most out-of-the-way table by one of the windows and took a seat.

All the other men watched him. So did Sam and Silva. Even Tom had turned to look at him, and not in a casual way. She recognized Tom\s concern for a pack member, and she admired him for that.

Silva hurried to take a bottle of water to the sheriff. ’’What\s wrong, Peter?’’

’’Nothing.’’ He barely acknowledged her and drank the water.

He\d been so friendly on the slope. What had changed?

Silva walked over to Tom\s table and said to Elizabeth, ’’You\ e new in town. Staying long?’’

Elizabeth leaned back in the chair and looked up at Silva. ’’This is what I\d call a small town.’’

Silva pulled a phone out of her pocket, turned it on, smiled at it, then shut it off and tucked it back in her pocket. ’’Sure is, sugar. Everybody\s business is everybody\s business.’’

Elizabeth couldn\ help but smile at Silva\s comment. She liked it when people were honest with her. Still, she didn\ answer Silva\s question about how long she\d be staying.

In her condition, Elizabeth figured skiing was out for now, and she really didn\ see any reason to stay any longer except to see North and meet with Hrothgar. As soon as she could do so, she\d make plans for a return trip home earlier than originally scheduled.

***

Tom had cast the evil eye at Silva when she brought out her phone. If she had the video of him kissing Elizabeth and thought to show it to her, he was... well, he wasn\ sure what he would do. But he didn\ want Elizabeth to know Cantrell was selling that moment or couple of moments he\d shared with Elizabeth to every member of the blasted pack!

He was glad when Silva slipped her phone back in her pocket.

Tom wondered what was up with Peter. Why hadn\ he joined the other men? He never sat alone, and all of them loved to visit with him. The sheriff was usually as good-natured as they came, levelheaded and a friend in a crisis. Tom didn\ remember ever seeing Peter looking so troubled.

’’Do you mind if I have a word with Peter, Elizabeth?’’ Tom asked.

’’Not at all. Go ahead.’’

Tom didn\ want to leave Elizabeth alone, but Silva had kind of a sixth sense about things like that, and she stuck by the she-wolf\s side so she wouldn\ feel abandoned. When a pack member had a problem, it was up to the pack to help the wolf out.


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