Home > Wolf to the Rescue

Wolf to the Rescue
Author: Terry Spear

Chapter 1

   Haunted by his last mission, FBI agent Andrew White stalked through Michigan’s Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park on Lake Superior as an Arctic wolf, keeping an eye on Nettleton, one of the men he would arrest at the hotel in Ontonagon as soon as Nettleton’s coconspirator Rizzo showed up and Andrew had the search and arrest warrants in hand for both men. At this point, Andrew figured the best way to keep an eye on Nettleton was to run as a wolf in the forest, sight unseen.

   The park boasted sixty thousand acres of lakes, waterfalls, and hiking trails, half of the acreage in old-growth forest, a haven for wolves—both for his kind and those that were all wolf. A light snow was falling, adding to the two feet of snow already accumulated on the ground. With the chilly wind blowing his white fur and the adrenaline running through his blood, Andrew was glad for the chance to run as a wolf after the flight from Alaska, his home base.

   Andrew’s FBI partner, Garcia Ramirez, hadn’t arrived yet, but he was human, so Andrew couldn’t have run as a wolf after Nettleton if his partner had already joined him.

   In the snowy woods, Nettleton was hiking quickly along the path as if he was planning to meet some other scum out here who needed clean money. A multimillion-dollar money launderer hiking in the woods wasn’t something Andrew had envisioned.

   Then he saw a group of Arctic wolves, four males and a female, standing in the woods half-hidden in the snow, their white fur blending in like his did. Their ears perked up to see him, but when they saw Nettleton, they lay down behind the snowbank so the human wouldn’t see them. Andrew wondered if these wolves belonged to a lupus garou pack here. He hoped they weren’t territorial, but he didn’t think they could be regular wolves. Not when they were Arctic wolves. Only gray wolves lived in the area.

   Further along the trail, Andrew saw another wolf, a female gray, racing through the woods. Was she part of a mixed pack of gray and Arctic lupus garous? It wouldn’t be that far-fetched if they were lupus garous. Arctic wolves actually were a subspecies of the gray wolf.

   He had the strongest urge to take chase, an instinctive need instilled in his kind from birth. A she-wolf, perhaps unattached, and she wasn’t with the other wolves. As an unattached male, that intrigued him to no end, making his heart pound harder. It didn’t matter whether they suited each other as humans, not in that moment. He just naturally wanted to chase after her.

   Nettleton had headed back to the parking lot, so Andrew ran after the she-wolf. What if she was all wolf and not a shifter? They did exist here—at least for now, though wolf hunting had been approved by the current administration. If she was all wolf, that would be a bummer.

   She was fast and wily, realizing right away that she had a male wolf on her tail, and she was doing everything she could to avoid meeting up with him. Which made the chase all the more exhilarating and caused him to believe she was one of his kind.

   When Andrew reached a river, he lost her scent. He glanced both ways, up- and downriver, looking for any sign of the wolf. He didn’t see her anywhere. Across the river, he considered the pristine snow. No wolf prints over there either. She had bested him. He smiled, his tongue hanging out, panting from the exertion. He’d needed the run. But she’d made it even better. He just wished he’d caught her, met her, greeted her, and learned who she was. Still, she was a mystery and would remain so, which fascinated him.

   He loped back to the parking area, sticking to the woods and not on the trails until he reached the place where he’d hidden his clothes. He shifted, the warmth filling his muscles with the change as the brisk, chilled air moved about him. Dressed in his jeans, hiking boots, sweater, and parka, he headed back to the parking area, determined to arrest the perps later tonight and return to Alaska for his next assignment. Though tonight, he would dream about chasing the she-wolf and catching up to her.

   He just prayed this time when he arrested the perps, no one came after them to free them. Or kill them. The FBI never learned which was the reason for the catastrophe that had turned his life upside down. The memory of the accident that took the two men’s lives and nearly cost him his own would haunt him forever.

   * * *

   When money launderer Mark Nettleton drove to Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park to take a hike, Stacey Grayson, special agent for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, also known as the USFWS or FWS, followed him. At the park, she stripped out of her cold-weather gear and shifted to take a run on the wild side, assuming there wouldn’t be any problems with hunters or other hikers seeing her in the snowy cold. She hadn’t expected him to go to the state park and had been worried he’d gotten wind of the FWS’s plan to arrest him and was going to run.

   She’d also worried he’d learned they were after him and planned to take his own life, like the last criminal she’d apprehended. Intellectually, she knew there would be a slim chance that another of her perps would try to commit suicide, but still, she couldn’t shake the concern that it would happen again. After seeing the man who’d sold $4.5 million in elephant tusks slit his throat to avoid going to trial, she didn’t think she’d ever get the horrifying vision out of her mind.

   When Nettleton arrived at the park, she’d wondered if he was meeting up with Tommy Rizzo here instead of at the hotel. Sick bastard had ordered the killing of rhinos for their horns and intended to turn the money from the sale of the ivory over to Nettleton for laundering.

   Stacey’s partner, Kimberly Wayfair, was sick at the hotel, suffering from either stomach flu or food poisoning, which was why Stacey had decided to run as a wolf to follow Nettleton. He wouldn’t have a clue that a gray wolf had him under surveillance if he chanced to see her.

   A light snow had begun to fall as Nettleton finally headed for the parking area. Stacey had started to run that way too, but then she caught sight of a large male Arctic wolf chasing after her! Where in the world had he come from? Though she’d gotten a kick out of it, as persistent as he’d been in trying to catch up to her. He’d never succeeded, not after she reached the river and swam down it a way. It had been as much a game for her to ensure he didn’t catch her as it had been for him to chase after her. She knew he had to be a lupus garou. There weren’t any Arctic wolves living here, she didn’t believe.

   Once she lost him, she returned to where she’d left her clothes in the woods, partly buried under snow and far enough off the trail for no one to see. Then she shifted, dressed, and drove back to the hotel where Nettleton’s BMW was parked near the lobby. As special agents for the FWS, she and Kim took into custody criminals who were involved in the illegal trafficking, sale, and disposition of wildlife, though in his case, he was the launderer for the money from the sale of the wildlife. She was eager to arrest him and his cohort, Rizzo, who actually dealt in illegal wildlife trafficking.

   She got on the phone and called Kim. “I’m returning to my room.”

   “Nettleton is here, right?”

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