Silence Of The Wolf Page 40

No one said a word. Tom stalked out of the dining room, grabbed his parka and other cold-weather gear from the coat closet, then left the house.

Before he reached the garage, Jake joined him outside. ’’She left you something. She\d taken a picture of you helping an injured little girl on the slope, and she used it as your desktop picture. She also left you a note.’’

’’Why the hell didn\ Darien say so?’’ Tom strode back to the house. ’’Did you read what she said?’’

’’No. Not that I didn\ want to, mind you, and it killed me not to. If it helps tell us why she rushed out of here, we\d all like to know,’’ Jake said. ’’Lelandi said that the picture she left on your desktop has significance. Of all the photos she took, and she took lots, she put up that particular one. Lelandi believes your helping the little girl really touched Elizabeth. If you want to see more of her, you might have to take the initiative to make it happen.’’

’’I already plan to,’’ Tom said. He was so irritated at his brother for thinking he needed to suggest such a thing that he couldn\ help snapping at Jake.

Jake smiled. ’’That\s what we all wanted to hear. Darien got all her information her cell number and home address before he turned over her bags. Look, Darien and I have both been in the same position as you. We\ e with you all the way, however you want to deal with this. I\ll see you later.’’

The little red wolf-coyote thought nobody cared anything about her when a whole gray wolf pack was ready to take her in.

Jake didn\ join Tom in the den, giving him some privacy, for which he was grateful. Tom opened his laptop and turned it on. The monitor showed the picture of him crouching before the crying girl who had wrenched her knee on the slopes.

Looking at it now, it made him sick to think Elizabeth had taken a Norman Rockwell-type picture of him and the little girl, and then some bastard had shoved Elizabeth down the slope right afterward.

On the desktop, she had created a folder of the pictures she had taken of her visit here, as if it were a gift to him. Which frustrated him even more. She couldn\ come into his life like this and pop right out again without him having any say in it.

He opened the folder. A separate file was labeled ’’Elizabeth\s Note to Tom.’’ With apprehension, he paused, then clicked on the file and opened it.

Dear Tom,

You are the nicest man I\ve ever met, for a wolf. You should meet a nice she-wolf and settle down. I think you\d make a great mate and father.

I\m sorry for not saying good-bye properly. I just thought it would be easier this way.

You said I wasn\ a loner, and you\ e right. I love what you and your family have. But it\s just not for me. It never has been.

Thank everyone for me, will you? I won\ be back, but I just wanted you to know how much I appreciated your kindness.

Elizabeth

Lelandi\s words came crashing back to Tom: She\s running away from something.

His thoughts in turmoil, he closed the letter. He wouldn\ let her run away.

He stared at the scene she\d captured of him on the slopes. The central figures in the picture were Kemp, the little girl, and him. Off to the side, the distraught mother had her hand over her mouth. The father and son had still been on the slopes. A couple of skiers watched the scene spectators interested in who had gotten hurt. One man, a few feet away, wore a black ski bib, hat, and balaclava, and a blue-gray parka and reflective sunglasses but he wasn\ observing the scene with the little girl. Instead, he stared straight at the camera operator Elizabeth.

’’Darien!’’ Tom called out.

Everyone came, his brothers and their mates, all looking anxious. He pointed at the man in the photo. ’’Wasn\ he the one seated on the chairlift behind Elizabeth? The one she thinks pushed her down the expert slope?’’

***

Elizabeth felt awful for leaving Tom behind without saying good-bye. She hadn\ wanted to stay after her strange call to North. She had no intention of dragging Tom and his family and pack into her troubles. She\d tried twice more to get hold of North before she took off on the plane, but she only got his voice mail. She wouldn\ leave any messages.

She\d finally found a safe haven away from her family. If they knew she lived in Texas, no one seemed to care. Staying in Silver Town would be a dangerous thing to do if her uncle knew she was there and decided he wanted her dead, again.

She didn\ need to screw up her life by getting involved with a gray wolf, even as sweet as he was, who didn\ know her past history. Making her uncle pay for his crimes seemed to be only a dream. She prayed North hadn\ been hurt in the process.

Once she arrived home, she\d dropped her camera off to be repaired. Even though Jake was a pro with cameras, maybe the camera shop could do what he hadn\ been able to. Then Elizabeth immersed herself in her job. She wrote the article for her paper about the Silver Town Ski Resort, making sure to mention their great ski patrollers and staff, and turned the story in.

After that, she started an article about red wolves. Her research showed that two theories existed: one that red wolves were a special species separate from gray wolves, and the other that red wolves were descended from gray wolves mixing with coyotes. She slanted the article toward the latter.

Carol had said that gray wolves weren\ mixing with coyotes in the States, but Elizabeth found that Virginia coyotes had mated with Great Lakes gray wolves, and she found further articles stating that coyotes from other locations had a percentage of gray wolf DNA.


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