Silence Of The Wolf Page 6
He pulled into a parking space, and she was out of the pickup in a hurry. She slipped her ski hat and gloves on and hurried back to the ski-rental hut. He quickly joined her.
Maybe she was a rogue wolf-coyote, shunned by the coyotes and the wolves. He hadn\ considered that before. If that was the case, he felt like a heel for bringing up her pack alliance when normally he thought of himself as the most diplomatic of the three brothers.
Not knowing what to say to rectify his faux pas, he walked alongside her in silence. She stared straight ahead at the ski-rental hut and avoided looking at anyone milling around and gawking at Tom and her.
Wolves, the lot of them. They smiled at him and several gave him the thumbs-up.
Damn it, he couldn\ help but smile back. She was his obligation, not his conquest, and he had to keep that in mind. Even though Darien had told him he was supposed to treat her as though they were together.
A couple of the ski patrollers saw him with Elizabeth and trudged through the snow to join them. Of course, they were giving the lady a good once-, well, twice-over. Wolves were that way. The ski patrollers were all alphas. Had to be. In charge of life-and-death decisions on a daily basis, they had to take over in an emergency and couldn\ wait for someone else to tell them what to do. Some were from other wolf packs and came to serve on the ski patrol during the season. They were all good friends.
Kemp and Radcliff Grey, twin brothers who were new to the pack, finally took their eyes off Elizabeth and greeted Tom with a nod.
Before either could introduce himself, Tom said, ’’I\ll take the lady to the ski-rental hut and get her started and talk to you about what Darien wants afterward.’’
’’Sure,’’ Kemp said.
Tom stalked after Elizabeth when he saw she didn\ remain meekly by his side. If she\d been a beta, she would have stayed with him until he escorted her to the rental hut. That had him rethinking what she was again.
One of the wolves working the ski rentals must have alerted the other three that Tom was approaching, or maybe they were more interested in who he escorted. ’’Tom,’’ the four said in greeting. They all looked at Elizabeth, waiting to hear who she was.
She cleared her throat, then told them her shoe size.
’’Put it on Darien\s tab,’’ Tom said. ’’I\ll be back to check on you in a little while.’’
’’No need,’’ she said. ’’And thanks, but I can pay for it.’’
The four wolves looked at Tom to see his response. They were betas with the pack. That\s the kind of reaction he expected. Eager to please, waiting to hear what the alpha decided. If Elizabeth had said he didn\ have to come back if he didn\ want to, or nodded in agreement, it would have been seen as a beta response. To say she would pay and that there was no need for him to return was an alpha response.
’’No problem,’’ he said. ’’It\ll only take me a minute.’’ He looked at the guys with a silent command: Take care of her until I return.
They hurried to fit her in ski boots.
Elizabeth hadn\ realized Silver Town was a gray wolf pack\s territory, and she definitely didn\ belong. That must be why North was reluctant to meet her here because he was a red wolf. He should have said so, though it wouldn\ have changed her plans. If her uncle decided he wanted to try and kill her again, the gray pack here wouldn\ allow it. Most likely.
She\d dismissed the notion of going to either Telluride or Wolf Creek because both ski resorts were too well-known. She\d wanted an out-of-the-way place, far from any large cities but mostly far enough away from her father\s old wolf pack.
Skis and poles in hand, pack on her back, ski boots on, she thanked the guys who helped equip her. They even got a ski pass for her on Darien\s account. She couldn\ help but appreciate Tom\s taking care of her like that, but she was still wary of other shifters. Granted, her past experience was mostly with red wolves and only a few grays. Coyote shifters avoided her as if she carried a genetic mutation that they might catch if they breathed in the same air as she did.
A couple of cute human girls frowned and folded their arms as they waited to be helped with ski boots while the wolves ignored them.
Elizabeth couldn\ believe all the interest she had garnered here, either. She wondered if this pack was just more tolerant of coyote and red wolf shifters. No shifters lived in Canyon, Texas, where even the human population was small. She didn\ think any shifters even lived in the nearby city of Amarillo. At least, she hadn\ run into any in the year and a half she\d lived in the area. Because of her past troubles with shifters, she preferred living strictly among humans. She was way out of her comfort zone here, unsure of how to handle all the interest.
She thanked the guys again and headed out of the hut.
’’Wait,’’ one of the men said. ’’Tom is coming back for you.’’ He sounded a little worried that they\d all be in trouble if he didn\ remind her.
As if she\d forgotten.
She smiled. ’’He\s got a job to do. And so do I.’’ After leaving her snow boots in a locker, she headed for the ski lift as fast as her ski boots would permit.
She\d prefer to check the map and get oriented, but she didn\ have time. She knew that Tom would return for her soon, or that one of the ski patrollers or Tom might see her tear off, and he would be after her.
As an alpha, he couldn\ let her get away with doing her own thing, especially since he\d made his intentions perfectly clear in front of some of the pack members.