Silence Of The Wolf Page 42
Elizabeth ground her teeth, irritated that people were so hateful about the wolves and coyotes.
The caller hung up the phone. She guessed he didn\ have anything more to say.
Elizabeth thought again about Tom. Every call gave her heart a little start. Every call might be from him.
She hadn\ heard back since she\d phoned him a few days ago. He must have given up on her, which was for the best. So why did she miss him and his pack and Silver Town so much? Despite the misadventure at the ski resort, she loved how the pack members on the slopes had treated her, loved Tom\s bossiness about taking care of her.
She would have given just about anything to eat more of Bertha\s cinnamon rolls while talking to her about gardening. Elizabeth would have shared more with Carol. She wanted to know what had happened to Lelandi while she was with the red pack. She would have loved to go to the grand opening of Silva\s Victorian Tea Shop, and even see Silva and Sam get together as mates. She wanted to learn more about Peter\s brother and if he was causing trouble for the sheriff during his visit.
Most of all, she wanted to see Tom again, feel his touch, experience his kisses, and so much more.
She\d never felt that way about any other wolves she\d met, never had any others act as if they\d already made her part of the family and she\d accepted the role. She had to quit thinking like that.
Uncle Quinton was still in the area. If she returned to Silver Town, he\d try to eliminate her. If she did and his pack leader was agreeable to hearing Elizabeth out, Quinton would be a dead wolf. He couldn\ trust her to leave well enough alone.
When the sun began to set, she ran through Palo Duro Canyon State Park in her furry form. She scattered the two longhorn cattle living there, chased a cottontail rabbit, startled a white-tailed deer, and snagged her fur on the thorny mesquite. She ran and ran, trying to quit thinking about the article and Tom and what had happened to North.
She had nearly reached home when she spied a coyote.
That made her stop dead in her tracks.
Was it a shifter? Or a plain old coyote? Could he be family on her mother\s side? Couldn\ be. They lived in the Oklahoma Panhandle.
The coyote was a bigger male. He watched her, scenting the air to learn anything he could about her and what she felt. In this case, apprehension. Her heart rate had already kicked up a notch.
She didn\ see any others, so he might be a loner.
What if he was a shifter? Maybe he was worried about what she was. He might be wary of her because she smelled like a wolf, too. That usually kept any coyote shifters away from her.
A shot rang out, the bang sending a shriek of panic through her. She dove for the ground and watched to see where the rifle had fired from. The coyote ran off.
She waited for a long time, not moving, hoping that whoever had fired the round had given up trying to shoot the coyotes. If he came for her, thinking she had been shot, she wasn\ sure what she would do. Shift before he could see her, so he\d find an uninjured, naked woman? Then what? She just hoped he\d go off looking to shoot something else, like a rattlesnake though at this time of year, they\d be curled up in a den.
She thought of shifting and running as a human to her home, but the ground could be hazardous to her bare feet with its cactus, thorny senna, and rocky terrain, and it was only thirty-six degrees out today. Purple and pink stripes streaked across the sky as the sun began to set, but snow clouds quickly amassed.
She took a chance and raced through the juniper and scrub oak. Half an hour later, she plowed through her wolf door out back and entered the safety of the house. She panted, staring at the terra-cotta tile floor, barely feeling relief when someone knocked on the front door. Her heart skipped a beat. Now what?
She raced into the bedroom, shifted, and threw on some clothes. Peering out through the peephole of her front door, she saw no one. Wrong house?
A black sedan sat farther down the dead-end street. All of the houses backed up on ten-acre lots, with a half acre between homes, so they had a lot of privacy. She couldn\ see if anyone sat in the vehicle, and she didn\ recognize the car.
To be on the safe side, she went into the kitchen and locked her wolf door so no one could get in when she least expected it. The coyote she\d seen would know where she lived once he tracked her scent.
Expecting a snowstorm to hit by nightfall, Elizabeth needed some groceries to tide her over. The clouds had rolled in, white, voluminous, and filled with snow. She\d seen the weather reports, felt the change in the air pressure, and could smell the coming snow in the wind currents. If what she predicted would happen, they\d be in a whiteout by nightfall.
On the way to the grocery store, she spied a big sale sign in the window at a small butcher shop that she\d never visited before: Rib-eye steaks 20 percent off!
When she walked into the butcher shop, the strange scent of cat threw her. The odor bothered her because her first thought was that the butcher had supplemented his meat products with cat. Then she realized the smell was that of a couple of live cats. Feral. She would have sworn they were big cats, as in the predator-in-the-mountains type. The butcher couldn\ have had house cats or any other variety in the store, though, not when he sold food.
After buying the meat, she was still puzzling over the cat-scent mystery and didn\ fully notice the people entering the shop behind her. She\d heard their footsteps, but their arrival hadn\ registered as anything sinister. Until they quickly moved in close to her. Three men. Getting in her space. The distinctive smells of testosterone, cologne, and aggression surrounded her all at once.