Flight of the white wolf, p.1
Flight of the White Wolf,
Part #24 of Heart of the Wolf series by Terry Spear
Also by Terry Spear
Heart of the Wolf
Heart of the Wolf
To Tempt the Wolf
Legend of the White Wolf
Seduced by the Wolf
Silver Town Wolf
Destiny of the Wolf
Dreaming of the Wolf
Silence of the Wolf
A Silver Wolf Christmas
Alpha Wolf Need Not Apply
Between a Wolf and a Hard Place
Heart of the Highland Wolf
A Howl for a Highlander
A Highland Werewolf Wedding
Hero of a Highland Wolf
A Highland Wolf Christmas
A SEAL in Wolf’s Clothing
A SEAL Wolf Christmas
SEAL Wolf Hunting
SEAL Wolf In Too Deep
SEAL Wolf Undercover
Heart of the Jaguar
A Very Jaguar Christmas
Billionaire in Wolf’s Clothing
Dreaming of a White Wolf Christmas
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Copyright © 2018 by Terry Spear
Cover and internal design © 2018 by Sourcebooks, Inc.
Cover design by Aleta Rafton
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The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc.
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A Sneak Peek at All’s Fair in Love and Wolf
About the Author
To Rebecca Jones-Stepp, who succumbed to a rare form of cancer, late daughter of my beta reader, Dottie Jones.
En Route to Big Lake, Alaska
The case just had to involve flying.
On his first day as a private investigator in Seattle, Gavin Summerfield had gotten a case that made him want to string the thieves up. Stolen pets had become a lucrative market for criminals. In this case, two male, champion-sired Samoyed pups, worth nearly three thousand apiece, had been stolen from their owner’s fenced-in backyard. The woman and her two teen daughters were in tears.
“I vow I’ll find Kodi and Shiloh and bring them home safe,” Gavin told the trio. He hoped he wouldn’t fail them. Sometimes, pets ended up in lab experiments or were sold to breeders or puppy mills. Sometimes, the criminals who stole them were looking to return them for a reward.
Soon after he left the family’s home with pictures of the pups and their favorite fetch toys, he had discovered that a white van had been sighted at the owner’s house and also in the vicinity of four other dognappings. One of the neighbors had captured a photograph of the Alaska license plate on the same van parked in a friend’s driveway when the friend wasn’t home.
Then Gavin had gotten a lead that the dogs had been flown to Alaska.
Now, he was trying to settle his stomach and pretend he wasn’t flying high above the world on his way to see London Lanier, a retired police detective in Big Lake. Gavin’s fear of crashing wasn’t just a figment of his imagination. Six months earlier, while he was still a Seattle cop, he’d survived a plane crash after jewelry-store robbers had taken him hostage.
The Alaska-bound plane hit more turbulence, and his stomach dropped. He closed his eyes, telling himself he wasn’t going to crash. Not this time. That wasn’t the only reason he hated to fly. He liked to be in control, and flying left him with no control over anything.
At least he had a lead on the pups. He wanted more than anything to return them to the family, safe and sound. The Samoyeds’ pictures reminded him of the dogs his family had raised when he was growing up. Their German shepherds had been as much family to him as his human family had been.
As soon as Gavin’s plane landed, he picked up a rental car and drove to the town where his contact was located.
London Lanier was an animal rights activist, primarily concerned with the illegal hunting of wildlife in Alaska. Gavin had called to tell him the pups had been flown to his neck of the woods, and London had begun to check into it.
When Gavin met London at his Big Lake home, he thought the retiree looked like Santa Claus, with the white beard and hair, though he was a trim version of jolly old Saint Nick. He was tall, fit, and eager to take on hunters with his bare hands.
“You look like a cop,” London said, shaking Gavin’s hand.
Gavin took the remark as a compliment. Now that he was a PI, his hair wasn’t as short as when he was on the force. Today, he looked more like a SWAT team member, with a black T-shirt, black cargo pants, and heavy-duty black boots. He was in a no-nonsense mood and ready to take the bastards down.
London served them both cups of coffee, and then he got down to business. “From what I’ve learned, a home near here has lots of dogs barking all day long, and then a few days later, most of them are gone. Shortly after that, they have a new batch of dogs. Some of their neighbors are suspicious. Since I don’t work on the police force anymore, you’ll need to do some canvassing. If you learn anything that proves they really are involved in trafficking pets, let me know, and I’ll call the police. I’m still friends with several on the force.”
London handed Gavin a hand-drawn map, saying, “I talked to the locals, but everyone knows who I am. Maybe a new guy, just looking for his pups, could convince someone to share something they didn’t tell me. Or maybe they’ve seen something new or remembered something they hadn’t thought of before. Good luck.”
London smiled. “Never know when I might need a PI. Besides, if you can help us take these bastards down, you’ve done me a favor.”
Afterward, Gavin headed over to the Big Lake housing area with its high-income homes, lakefront property, trees all around, and large yards for hiding a slew of runs for stolen pets.
He pulled into the driveway of the home three doors down from the suspect’s house, parked, and went to the door. When he knocked, a gray-haired woman with bright-blue eyes greeted him with a smile.
“Ma’am, I’m a private investigator, searching for these two missing pups. They were stolen from the backyard while they were outside playing. Have you seen them? Or know anyone who might have them?”
“Oh yes, of course.” Her eyes were rounded, and she licked her lips. “She’s my next-door neighbor.”
He frowned and glanced at his map. That wasn’t the correct house. At least, not according to London. “Are you sure?”
“Yes. She has dogs all the time. Not the same ones though. I see her out walking them along the road in the late spring, summer, early fall. Even in the winter when we’re buried in snow. Always different dogs. I figured she fostered them or something. I saw her with two of the cutest little Samoyed pups earlier, maybe six months old? Not sure. They look exactly like yours.”
“Do you know her name?”
“Amelia White. She lives alone. Well, except for the revolving door of dogs. I never considered that any of the dogs could have been stolen.”
“What about the people at this place?” Gavin pointed to the house on the map that London had targeted.
“Oh yeah, sure. Did London send you? He already asked me.”
“You didn’t mention Amelia to him?”
“No. She’s so sweet. I really didn’t think she could be involved in anything so nefarious. But she does have two Samoyed puppies. And that’s what you’re looking for, right? I hadn’t seen them with her before yesterday morning.”
“And the other people?”
“Oh, the Michaelses? Asher and Mindy? Yes, I wouldn’t be surprised at all about them. Not sure what he does. They don’t seem to have a regular occupation, just…money and lots of dogs. They don’t walk them. The dogs just bark most of the time, and I’ve seen all of them rushing to the chain-link fence when I’ve taken strolls past the place. Different dogs all the time.”
“What does Miss White do?”
“She’s a seaplane pilot. Her family owns the business.”
“Thanks.” It would be easy to move stolen pets around as a pilot, wouldn’t it? No paperwork hassle. Just fly them where they needed to go. What were the chances that both people were involved in the illegal trade of pets? Maybe Amelia took care of the overflow and the transportation. It would be convenient, with her living so close to the Michaelses.
Gavin drove to Amelia’s house first, since she apparently had dogs like the ones he was looking for. He’d start surveillance on the Michaelses after that.
He parked and headed for the large, blue-vinyl-sided home, where he climbed the porch stairs. No dogs barked as he approached, and the front door was slightly ajar. That’s when two curious little Samoyed pups poked their noses out, probably hearing his footsteps.
Before Gavin could stop them, they nudged the door open, and one raced down the steps. Hell!
The second pup ran to join the first, and Gavin was led on a merry chase. He managed to scoop up the one closest to him and finally reached the other, grabbing him up in his left arm. The puppies licked him as if this was just part of their playtime.
The problem was that Samoyed puppies all looked the same to him. These two were both white, identical to each other. And they looked just like the photos he had of Kodi and Shiloh.
One pup secure in each arm, he hurried back to the house, ran up the steps, and hollered through the open door, “Miss White? Your front door was open, and your pups ran off.” If they weren’t the right pups, he wasn’t about to confiscate them and be accused of stealing her pets! On the other hand, he worried about foul play because the door was slightly ajar and no one was answering. What if something had happened to her?
Suddenly, a wet, naked woman streaked across the living room, glancing at him for a second as she ran, and disappeared down a hall. “Put them down, get out, and close the door,” she called out.
Shocked, he just stood there, his mouth hanging agape, the image of the gorgeous blond in the raw still imprinted on his brain. She was in great shape, her hands covering her bouncing breasts as she’d dashed down the hall. He closed the front door so the puppies wouldn’t run out of the house again and set them down on the hardwood floor. “I’m leaving,” he called. “Sorry… Your door was open, and I was worried something might be wrong.”
He needed to question her about the pups…maybe later. He started to back away from them slowly and had almost reached the door when they came bounding after him. He was trying to figure out how to keep them from dashing out again as soon as he opened the door, when suddenly the woman reappeared with a blue towel wrapped around her curvy body and a Taser in her hand—and shot him.
* * *
After taking down the man, who was unlawfully in her house, Arctic wolf shifter Amelia Marie White knew she recognized him—the uniformed, human cop from Seattle. The man who’d been taken hostage on the plane she’d been forced to fly as the getaway pilot. What angered her also was that the man in charge of the heist, Clayton Drummer, the gray wolf she’d been dating, had been a Seattle cop too. She knew now that he’d only been dating her because he wanted to use her to fly him out of Seattle after stealing the jewels.
Had the two men known each other?
Possibly. What if this one was really here to take her down for killing Clayton? Not arrest her, as she’d thought initially.
“Stay there. Don’t move a muscle. I have another Taser all ready and fired up to use on you. And the police are on their way.”
Not that the guy was moving. He lay prone on her floor near the door, watching her, groaning. In her home. He was half-dazed and looked like he was having trouble focusing. Maybe he hadn’t seen enough of her to recognize her as the pilot of the plane that day. But if not, why would he be here?
Confident he wasn’t going anywhere, Amelia rushed back to her bedroom, her foster pups running after her. She pulled on a T-shirt and a pair of jeans, then grabbed her phone to call the police.
Wouldn’t you know, of all the times her front door hadn’t locked properly, she’d stripped to take a shower, and the faucet handle had fallen off in her hand—probably due to mineral water corrosion. She’d had to use the guest bathroom and remembered only after she showered that she’d washed all the towels in there. Which were still in the dryer. And she hadn’t brought clothes with her because she normally just walked from her master bathroom to her dresser.
When she’d heard the deep-voiced male calling out her name inside her house, shocking her, she’d had a split-second decision to make. She could shift into her wolf and scare the guy off, but she worried she’d scare her foster pups too. Or she could dash through the house naked, grab a towel and her Taser from the master bathroom, and take care of the guy. Dashing through the house as a naked woman had seemed to throw him off guard, at least long enough for her to tase him.
She’d hoped he would be gone by the time she returned. When he hadn’t been, she’d had to take action.
Once the police were on their way, she hurried back into the room where the guy was still lying on the floor, stunned. She wasn’t sure if he was staying put because she told him to or if he really was still incapacitated. Too bad he wasn’t a wolf, as sexy as he was.
“Who are you, and why didn’t you leave when I told you to?” She prayed he didn’t say he was still a cop and investigating her leavin
“Gavin Summerfield,” he managed to get out. “Former Seattle police, private investigator now, looking into the theft of a pair of Samoyeds in Seattle, which led me here to Big Lake. And your place.”
Now that she could really observe him—unlike the first time she’d seen him, when he’d been hustled into the back of the plane and she’d been forced into the cockpit, or when he was lying on the ground half-conscious after the crash—Amelia couldn’t believe the hot-looking man she’d just tased was now a PI. Dazed green eyes, red hair, all dressed in black, his T-shirt showing off his nice muscles.
She’d really thought he’d been in on the heist, offering himself as a hostage as a cover. When Clayton had tried to kill him, she’d taken her boyfriend out, mainly for trying to kill the cop, but also because as a wolf, Clayton couldn’t go to jail. And because Clayton had used her and would have killed her if she hadn’t gone along with the program.
“Stolen Samoyeds?” What Gavin said wasn’t registering because all she could think of were the jewelry heist and the downed plane. Sure, she was taking care of a couple of Samoyed puppies. She was fostering them, for heaven’s sake. Just like she fostered tons of dogs until she could find them good homes.
Then she worried. What if Molly and Snowflake were the stolen pups he was searching for?
Two cop cars pulled into her driveway, and she met the uniformed men at the door. She prayed Gavin hadn’t recognized her and wouldn’t say anything about the Seattle business to them.
Brenham, one of the cops, began checking Gavin over and verifying his identity, ready to take him into custody.
“Call London Lanier, the retired police detective who worked in your department. He gave me the information about the pet theft ring in this area,” Gavin gritted out.
The other cop called London to see if Gavin’s story checked out.
“Do you want to press charges?” Brenham asked Amelia.
“No,” she said. “He shouldn’t have stayed in the house when I told him to leave, but he did return my pups when I could have lost them for good.”
“I was working my way toward the door, and the pups were following me. I was afraid they’d dash out again,” Gavin said.
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