Silence Of The Wolf Page 65

’’When I searched for survivors, I smelled Elizabeth. I knew you were also looking for her. Between the two of us, I figured we\d find her. Then you did. I wanted in the worst way to learn if she would be all right. I came to see you when you were trying to gather wood. You know the rest.’’

’’Did you mess with the latch on the cabin\s outdoor shutters?’’

’’I thought I could peek in and see that she was all right. Even though you\d managed to get her to the cabin, I still didn\ know if she had made it. The damn latch was frozen shut and I had to jimmy it loose from the ice. I thought if I left the shutters open, you would come out to secure them, and I\d catch a glimpse of her. I... didn\ mean to bend the latch.’’

’’Damn, CJ. You could have just knocked on the door. Where are your brothers now?’’

’’I don\ know where they are. If we head for Silver Town, we may never run into them.’’

’’If we did try to make it into town and they found us before we reached it, what would they do?’’

’’Help us, I\m certain.’’

Unless CJ was lying. Or didn\ know what his brothers were really up to.

’’Thanks, Tom, for helping me out.’’ CJ glanced at Elizabeth. ’’I\m sorry. I never thought you\d be hurt. We should have killed that guy at the watering hole when we had the chance.’’

Chapter 22

Much later that night, Elizabeth helped Tom make up the foldout sofa bed for CJ to sleep on after they\d fed him and were ready to retire. ’’Maybe he should sleep in the bedroom,’’ Elizabeth said. ’’If this bed is too lumpy, maybe he\d be more comfortable on the other.’’

’’He\ll live,’’ Tom said, trying to sound gruff and mean, like his cousin was still on his bad side, but she knew it wasn\ so.

Tom had tried to find a reason to acquit his cousin of any wrongdoing, and she guessed CJ had been a good friend growing up. Finding friends like that was difficult, and she didn\ want Tom to lose him.

She plumped a pillow and set it on the sofa bed. ’’His leg will most likely keep him awake most of the night. If he could sleep ’’

’’In here.’’ Tom put another log on the fire.

CJ grinned. ’’You can\ put on the tough-guy show for her, Tom, and not tell her your reasons.’’

Elizabeth raised her brows at Tom. ’’What is he talking about?’’

Tom took her shoulders and rubbed them, then leaned down and kissed her forehead. ’’He\ll stay in here on the lumpy mattress and the squeaky frame because the fire will keep him warm. We can\ bury him in blankets in the other room when he doesn\ have a more protective cast on his leg. Any pressure on that makeshift splint would really hurt. He wouldn\ be able to sleep in the bedroom because it would be too cold without covering up.’’

’’Why didn\ you tell me that in the first place?’’ She threw another pillow on the couch and straightened the blankets again.

’’Because I was trying to act like a tough guy for you, Elizabeth. I knew it wouldn\ work on CJ. He knows me too well.’’

She shook her head. ’’Maybe the two of you should sleep in here together.’’

CJ chuckled. ’’You\ve got a winner, Tom. I envy you.’’

Tom helped CJ onto the sofa bed, and Elizabeth covered him up, except for his leg. ’’Let me get some socks for your feet,’’ she said.

She hurried out of the room and was grabbing a couple of socks when she heard CJ say, ’’You\ e damn lucky to have her.’’

’’Thanks for saving her when she was a girl.’’

’’Yeah, well, I wish I\d killed the man who was trying to hurt her.’’

Elizabeth wished he had, too. She went back into the living room with the socks. One was black and the other navy blue. ’’Hope you don\ mind that they don\ match. I guess the washing machine ate the matching ones. These were all I could find.’’

Tom snatched them out of her hand, startling her. ’’I\ll dress him. You can get ready for bed, and I\ll join you in a minute.’’

Elizabeth frowned at Tom, annoyed that he\d worry about her being with his cousin. She said to CJ, ’’Sleep well.’’

She turned and headed for the bedroom and just barely caught herself before she slammed the door. When she leaned against the door to listen to what was being said, she overheard CJ and Tom reminiscing about funny mishaps, fishing trips, hunting as wolves, and mischief when they were young. Their conversation brought tears to her eyes. She would have given anything to have had family like Tom had. She got the feeling CJ was still hiding something, though, and only hoped his brothers would see the light before they permanently ruined any chance to be part of the pack again.

Unless they already had.

***

Tom sat on the edge of the sofa bed and pulled the remaining sock over CJ\s right foot. He was trying really hard not to hurt his cousin\s leg, but CJ let out a strangled sound that revealed he was in pain no matter how careful Tom was. He re-situated the blankets again to ensure everything was covered except his cousin\s splinted leg.

’’Remember the time we fished and you caught Eric?’’ CJ asked.

Tom smiled. ’’Yeah. He was madder than a stirred-up yellow jacket. My dad pulled the fishing hook out of his back, telling him he was one mighty fine catch and making your brother even angrier.’’

’’Until the she-wolf felt sorry for him, and then he made out like it wasn\ any big deal. Whatever happened to her?’’


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