Shifters of Silver Peak

By: Georgette St. Clair
Chapter One

“Valerie, is there a human cub hiding in this office?” Morgan Rosemont growled, standing in the doorway and glaring at his secretary. There was a dusting of snow on his thick, dark hair and on the broad shoulders of his wool overcoat.

A chill wind whipped past him. He stepped inside, followed by his construction foreman and packmate, Arthur Handley, and slammed the door shut with a bang.

Valerie looked up from her desk and batted big, innocent eyes at her boss. The cold had made her thick, round glasses fog, which ruined the effect a bit. “Whatever do you mean, Mr. Rosemont?”

He looked around impatiently. “You heard me. A human cub. Somebody distracting you from working.”

She pulled her black sweater tighter around her generous figure and maintained her wide-eyed expression of denial. “First of all, I am not working right now because my lunch hour just started. Secondly, we humans refer to cubs as ‘children’. And why would there be a child in your office? I don’t have any children. Or any life whatsoever, but that’s a different story,” Valerie said. “Anyway, you got some messages while you were out, and I put them on your desk. Some of them look rather urgent. You should go check.”

“Where is it?” Morgan demanded, stamping the snow off his feet.

She met his gaze unblinkingly. “Where is what?”

Morgan let out an angry, frustrated breath and walked over to Valerie’s desk. He stared down at her, all six foot three inches of him. “You know how I know you’re lying to me, Valerie?”

“You’re psychic?” Valerie suggested. She knew he wasn’t, of course.

There were some strains of shifter that were psychic. Thank God Morgan wasn’t one of them, because if he could read his human secretary’s thoughts, she’d have been bounced out of the office on her very well-padded rear long ago.

“I know because, number one, you’re answering my questions with questions, and number two, I’m a wolf shifter. I have an amazing sense of smell. You smell it, don’t you, Arthur?”

Arthur maintained an expression of polite interest. “If you say so, sir.”

“Get that child-cub thing and remove it at once,” Morgan said to Valerie. “This is an office, not a daycare.”

The coat closet door banged open, and a small, dirty-faced child dashed out, ran over, and bit Morgan on the ankle.

“Valerie! What the hell?” Morgan yelled, shaking his leg in an attempt to dislodge the child.

“Morgan! Watch your language! Don’t hurt her!” Valerie ran over and knelt down next to them. “Teddy, come on.”

“Me don’t hurt her? She’s the one who’s biting me!”

“Oh, don’t be such a baby.” She pulled Teddy off him and set her on her feet.

Teddy was eight, but small for her age, and for a human she was awfully feral in her behavior – like her tendency to bite when she was annoyed. She had long, uncombed, dirty-blonde hair, her face was always grubby, and her clothes were faded and two sizes too big for her. The hem of her moth-eaten wool overcoat brushed the floor.

She glared up at Morgan ferociously through a curtain of filthy hair that covered her face.

“You’re a bad wolf,” she informed him.

“Valerie?” Morgan raised an eyebrow at her, his ice-blue wolf’s eyes glimmering with annoyance.

“Her mother is at the mineral springs today and she doesn’t have anyone to watch her,” Valerie said to Morgan.

The mineral springs had amazing healing properties for humans with dementia and a number of other ailments. Before an earthquake created the springs, the shifter town of Silver Peak, and the nearby human town of Juniper, had been dwindling in population, with shuttered businesses and empty stores. But since word about the springs had gotten out, both towns were bursting at the seams with people desperate for their curative powers.

“And this is my problem why? I have a business to run.”

“Fine,” she muttered. “You weren’t even supposed to be here today. I thought you’d be on site until this evening.”

Morgan’s company, Rosemont Resorts, was expanding its newly built resort hotel and spa, and also building luxury condominiums, due to overwhelming demand. Morgan was planning on working right up through Christmas Eve. Just bubbling over with Christmas spirit, he was.

Before Morgan could answer, the front door banged open again, letting in more wind and snow. She breathed a sigh of relief as two of her friends barreled in and quickly shut the door behind them. They’d help her with Teddy.

“Hey, Valerie! Who’s your little friend?” It was Eileen, a wolf shifter friend of Valerie’s. She was accompanied by their friend Erika, who belonged to the same pack as Eileen.