Chapter 1

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Sam’s coffee mug shattered as it hit the floor of his back porch.

 

“Who the hell is that?” Jared managed to set his mug down on the little wooden side table before jumping to his feet. He knew Emily bought those mugs from a local potter and she loved them.

 

All Sam had wanted was a couple hours of peace and quiet, and several pots of strong coffee, before he had to go to work. After the absolute chaos of the night before at the Clearwater’s house, all he had really wanted was to curl up with his imprint and sleep for a week, but he had obligations and bills to pay.

 

He also had a duty to his pack.

 

Sam’s fingers raked through his close-cropped hair. “I don’t know. I don’t recognize the howl.” He turned toward the screen door leading to the kitchen and saw his imprint there, a worried look on her face.

 

Emily’s hands were knotted in the red and white striped dish towel. “I heard the howl. What’s wrong? Do you think somebody spotted a vampire?”

 

Sam pulled open the screen door, gripped Emily’s hands in both of his, leaned forward to press his cheek to hers, and quickly kissed her soft lips. “It’s a new wolf. Somebody else has phased. I gotta go.”

 

Another wolf?” Tears welled up in Emily’s cinnamon brown eyes. “Who could it be? We’ve done the genealogies … Leah and all the boys—”

 

“I have no idea, baby. Thank you for breakfast.” He kissed her again; grateful she had stayed up and had food ready for him when he had gotten back from Sue Clearwater’s house. He might not get another meal for a while. He might not get any sleep for a while either. “Embry and Collin are on patrol. Jared, you’re with me. Uh, Em, call the Markhams for me and tell them … tell them one of the kitchen cabinets I was going to install is damaged, and I have to get another. I’ll be at their job site tomorrow. Maybe.”

 

They had really needed the work, and the paycheck, that remodeling job brought them. It would just take a little longer.

 

“What about Paul?”

 

“Paul. Shit. Shit. Shit.” Sam stepped back, propping open the screen door with his foot, and peeled his navy T-shirt off over his head. Emily reached for it and held it to her chest. “Call him and tell him to get the replacement windows over to the Markhams’ place and set them in their garage. Remind him about what I told him.” Sam quickly untied his work boots and toed them off. “I’ll try and be back later so we can go talk to Billy and Rebecca again.”

 

“Please be careful, Sam. I love you.” She handed him two pairs of shorts fresh from the nearby dryer.

 

Sam dropped his worn jeans to the floor, stepped out of them and wrapped the shorts around his ankle with a small bungee cord. He wished, not for the first time, there was a better way to carry clothes around. “We’ll be careful. It’s not the first new wolf we’ve dealt with.”

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