“But that’s not what’s really bothering you, is it?” He glanced over, gaze boring into the side of my head, as if he could read my thoughts. “Is it another worry about becoming Alpha? Or something else?”
I shrugged. “It’s nothing important.”
“Never is. It’s, both, isn’t it? Something to do with becoming Alpha and something separate. What else happened while I was gone?”
The words were on the tip of my tongue. I got a letter from one of the men —
Not now. Not yet.
“It’s nothing—Wait. You missed the road.”
He hit the brakes and reversed. “You were saying?”
“Later. We’re almost there.” I glanced over my shoulder at the narrow black trail that passed for a road. “And this is going to take some navigating.”
* * * *
We soon understood why Charles had laughed when I asked for an address for Dennis’s cabin. This was no lakeside cottage in Muskoka, down a pleasant winding lane lined with signs welcoming you to “The Grangers’ Getaway.”
We turned onto the trail, then onto another, then another, each one getting successively narrower until branches scraped both sides of the SUV. Then the road ended.
We got out and peered into the night. After a couple of minutes we found a trail. A dozen feet down it, there was a cinder-block shed with a wide door, massive padlock and Private sign. The area stank of mixed gas and oil. Boot marks led to the door, and snowmobile tracks led away.
“This must be where they leave their snowmobiles and ride in.” I bent and sniffed. “Human, but I think I detect faint werewolf. An older trail.”
Clay crouched and inhaled deeply. “Yeah, that’s Dennis.”
We followed the snowmobile tracks through knee-deep snow. As wolves, we’d move easier, but it wasn’t worth the agony of the Change for a half-mile trek. Then there was the problem of showing up at Dennis’s cabin naked.
The trail branched several times. The snowmobile tracks led down the second one, presumably to another cabin. I kept an eye on the GPS and took the first branch leading in the right direction.
The snow was thicker here, with no signs that anyone had passed this way since the last snowfall. We’d gone about fifty feet before I caught a smell that made me stop.
Clay inhaled. “Wolf.”
Under my thick down jacket, goose bumps rose in a mix of excitement and trepidation. Wolves fascinate most werewolves. We feel the pull of kinship. Unfortunately, the wolves don’t feel the same way.
Our blended smell of human and canine confuses them. They don’t know what we are, so it’s safest to assume we’re a threat.
Clay and I had encountered wolves once before in Algonquin Park. They’d started to attack, then they’d decided we smelled too human for their liking, and run.
After that, if we went anyplace known as wolf territory, we steered clear of their trails. Here that wasn’t possible.
“They’re all over,” I said as we walked. “It’s a big pack, at least eight or nine wolves, I bet. The tracks are recent, too.”
“I don’t smell any on the wind, though.”
“Me neither, which hopefully means they’re far away.” Not surprising—wolves tended to travel more in winter as they searched for food.
“Didn’t those cops say a pack lived where they found that guy this morning?”
I rubbed my icy nose. “They said there’d been one, but it moved on. Maybe because of the mutts. We should find out when the pack left. That might give us some idea when our mutts arrived. I got the feeling it was recently.”
We moved into a denser area of woods and the light all but disappeared. While our general vision was slightly better as humans, our night vision suffered. I slowed, paying more attention to where I put my feet. I still stumbled over a branch under the snow. Clay caught my arm.