Silence Of The Wolf Page 80

’’What? I\m being treated like a prisoner?’’

’’Let\s just say that until Darien has a talk with you, this is the way it\s going down.’’

Brett shook his head. ’’So who are you?’’ Brett asked Bjornolf. ’’I\ve never seen the two of you in the pack before. Leave for a short time and everything changes.’’

’’Sheriff Peter Jorgenson\s brother, Bjornolf.’’

’’He\s a retired Navy SEAL,’’ Anna said.

’’Damn, I didn\ know Peter had a brother who was a SEAL. I thought you were trouble.’’

’’I am for the bad guys.’’

Brett chuckled, but Elizabeth thought the amusement was a little strained. ’’Didn\ know they sent you guys on missions like this.’’

’’I owed Peter big-time for not keeping in touch. See you later,’’ Bjornolf said to Elizabeth and Tom, and the three of them headed back through the woods in the direction of the town.

’’He sounded sincere,’’ Elizabeth said to Tom, searching for new tracks, smelling the breeze, looking for any signs Brett\s brothers had been with him at some point.

’’Could be. But why were the red wolves causing trouble for us?’’ Tom asked.

’’The guys who kidnapped me were red wolves. I was able to smell them once their hunter\s spray wore off after we\d been flying for a few hours. They have to be the same ones.’’

’’If they\ e the ones who kidnapped you, why would they want to harass our farmers?’’

’’What if they instigated the situation with the farmers to distract the pack from North and me? It\s clever, really. They created a situation that not only kept the pack occupied but made the farmers antsy specifically about wolves, thus making Darien want to limit the pack\s shifting,’’ Elizabeth said.

’’So they thought that by distracting us with the farmer problem, they could slip under our radar and get away with stealing your deed and North\s evidence,’’ Tom said, nodding. ’’But they weren\ planning on you and me getting involved.’’

Tom cast her an elusive smile.

She kissed his cold cheek. ’’You\ e right. And all this time, you were tracking down your cousins and not the wolves actually spooking the livestock.’’

’’I suppose so. But we still don\ know for sure if Eric is up to something.’’

’’True,’’ Elizabeth agreed.

Not finding any sign of the others, she and Tom had been walking for about an hour when she paused, spying a footprint half-hidden by snow. ’’There.’’ She pointed to another place beneath a tree about three hundred yards from the other. ’’Smaller boot. Wait a minute. Look at the track marks. Somebody\s been hauling something fairly heavy.’’ She studied the snowshoe prints. ’’Three people. A girl and two men.’’

’’A girl? Silva\s out here. Anna, too, but she was with us.’’ Tom studied the girl\s footprints. ’’Small. Lightweight. She sat down over here and took off the snowshoes, then continued to walk without them.’’

Elizabeth sniffed the air. ’’Minx?’’

Tom sampled the air. ’’Cody and Anthony are with her. I bet none of them had permission to come out here. Not with the problems we\ve had with the rogue wolves. The boys haven\ given the pack any grief in the past six months, and next year, they\ e supposed to work as ski instructors. We hoped that would give them enough to do to keep them focused and out of trouble.’’

’’They\ e good kids,’’ Elizabeth said. ’’It looks like Cody and Anthony pulled a sled...’’ Elizabeth paused and turned, looking off to the side where the girl\s footprints stopped. ’’Wolf tracks, Tom.’’ She felt a chill race up her spine. Whoever hauled the sled had left it some feet from the first sign of the wolf prints.

’’Darien said no one was supposed to be in wolf form,’’ Tom said.

’’Groceries and one set of snow... wait, three sets of snowshoes,’’ she whispered, getting a really bad feeling about this.

Tom wanted Elizabeth to stay with the groceries, but he couldn\ leave her alone. And he didn\ want her to continue following the tracks in case they came across real trouble. When Bjornolf and Anna had been with them, that was one thing. Tom had felt a sense of security when he\d thought the rest of his cousins would also turn themselves in.

Tom and Elizabeth followed the trail, both of them trying to be as quiet as possible. The kids wouldn\ have left the groceries behind unless they had run into trouble or had gone after the wolf tracks quietly, trying not to catch anyone\s attention.

They should have returned to Silver Town at once with word of what they\d found. Not that Tom or his brothers wouldn\ have done the same thing when they were the kids\ ages.

Elizabeth whispered to Tom, ’’Any reason they would be hauling groceries this way?’’

’’Nothing here but Mr. Winston\s house. He lives way out. He\s a wolf, but when he got cut off from the pack during the snowstorm, he said he didn\ need any help. Looks like the kids thought to take something to him anyway.’’

’’But the wolf tracks?’’ she asked, glancing at Tom.

He shook his head. ’’The house is just beyond those trees. The kids wouldn\ have left the groceries back there without some good reason. Like they were in trouble. Or Mr. Winston was.’’

’’We should get backup, or I should shift,’’ Elizabeth said.

Tom listened for any sounds of people or wolves moving about in the trees. Nothing. ’’Let\s get closer to the house. Mr. Winston should be the only one there, except for the kids.’’

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