Chapter 4

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While Sam maintained his position at the lower, southern end of the gully, Leah, Seth, Quil, and Embry were spaced out around the upper edges, staring down at their new pack sister as she clawed and shredded a twenty-foot tall spruce.

 

It hadn’t taken Rachel very long to figure out that her own father, along with Sam’s and Quil’s, were possible candidates as Embry’s wolf-gene donor.

 

Making the connection, Rachel howled again and launched herself at the tree. Sam was grateful she hadn’t tried to attack one of them.

 

As long as she didn’t try to hurt any of the wolves, Sam let her snarl and turn the tree into a pile of toothpicks and kindling. He was hoping she’d wear herself out.

 

He was also thankful they had kept her contained in the gully.

 

Seth had shown up after his patrol and stationed himself on the east side. Jared had offered to contain their youngest wolves, Brady and Collin, when they got out of school, and make them do their homework. Things were being taken care of.

 

At last, Rachel collapsed among the pine needles, twigs, and branches, panting and whining. She lifted her head, glared at Sam, and let it drop again. Why the hell haven’t you asked any of those assholes who did it? Embry could be my brother.

 

Sam glanced up at Embry and Quil and back to Rachel. He could be my brother or Quil’s. My father isn’t around to ask and truthfully, Rachel, there’s enough shit going on, we don’t need to stir up anymore. Maybe later, one day—

 

Rachel snorted. Yeah, and if Joshua Uley is his father, God knows how many other little potential pups there may be out there. He could be making litters of them! She coughed out a weak bark as a sharp, derisive laugh echoed in everyone’s heads.

 

That was one of Sam’s secret fears that he kept buried as deeply as possible. He would welcome the news if Embry was his real brother, but the thought of some other boy … or girl … out there, happening across a vampire and turning into a massive wolf without even some background knowledge of their legends …

 

The thought sent a chill down Sam’s spine. His shining black fur rose in response, and he shook himself to settle it.

 

All the wolves were uncomfortable with that particular topic, and they shifted about uneasily.

 

Sam took in another lungful of the cool forest air. We’d appreciate it if you didn’t ask your father about that.

 

Rachel sat up. And how are you going to stop me? Embry has a right to know who cursed him like this. Becca and I, and even Jacob, have a right to know—

 

Finally, Embry spoke, his inner voice low and quiet. I really don’t give a shit about somebody who doesn’t give a shit about me.

 

Sam sighed as his eyes lifted to the grey wolf. Embry had had to put up with a lot of scorn and ridicule throughout his life because he didn’t know who his father was, and his mother wouldn’t tell him. In some ways, becoming a wolf had brought him a sense of pride and worth he hadn’t had before. Sam couldn’t let Rachel disrupt the delicate balance they had all worked so hard to achieve. Rachel, I order you not to.

 

Embry, Quil, Leah, and Seth all looked at each other with wide eyes. Sam didn’t usually alpha order them very often because he thought they’d had enough choices taken away from them.

 

They could all feel the tension building as Rachel quivered from her head to the end of her black-tipped tail.

 

Uh, hey, Rach. The chocolate brown Quil stepped closer to the edge of the ravine. Look, if you calm down and turn human, we could all go get something to eat. I bet you’re pretty hungry by now.

 

Yeah. Seth nodded his sandy-colored head at Quil and turned to Rachel. You might feel better if you ate something.

 

Rachel was still growling over being ordered not to confront her father, but a new worry took over her mind. I don’t know how to turn back into a human!

 

It’s easy. Watch. Quil backed away from the sloping edge.

 

As Rachel stared at him, she saw the air shimmer around the dark brown wolf and squeezed her eyes shut when she heard a sharp crack. When she opened them again, there was a naked man standing where the horse-sized wolf had been. A very tall and well-muscled man.

 

He bent over and pulled at something tied to his leg above his ankle. He shook out a pair of denim cut-offs and held them in front of his groin. “See, Rachel? Human Quil again, and I’m starvin’.”

 

Rachel fell back onto her haunches and gaped at him.

 

The grey wolf with the darker snout walked over to the man who said he was Quil. The wolf was huge!

 

Quil reached back to the wolf’s rear leg and grabbed something tied there.

 

Did they all have something tied to their legs?

 

The air quivered again, another crack sounded, and yet another nude man was standing at the ridge. Quil snapped open a pair of cut-off ash-grey sweatpants and handed them to the new man.

 

“I’m Embry. That’s Seth.” Embry strategically held the shorts with his right hand and pointed with his left across the expanse.

 

Speechless, Rachel gawked at them for another moment and turned, looking north at the grey wolf whose head was shaking back and forth.

 

I’m Leah, remember? That noise you heard? We really only hear that in our heads when we’re wolves. Right now, if you talk, Sam and I can hear you, but Embry, Quil, and Seth can’t. We can only hear each other in our minds when we’re wolves. Leah pointed her muzzle to her left. Look to your right. That’s my little brother Seth.

 

Rachel looked to the east and there was another nearly naked man, holding a pair of denim shorts below his belly button.

 

They all look familiar … I mean, they look like … but they’re huge, and naked, and … Rachel stammered and looked to Leah.

 

When I’m human, I’m not as big as they are, but we all grew taller and bigger before we phased. I just didn’t grow as much. Leah picked up a plastic grocery bag with her teeth to show Rachel. I brought you some clothes—just a T-shirt and shorts. She dropped the bag. We haven’t figured out a better way to transport clothes, so we tie them to our legs. Little bungee cords are better than strings or leather thongs. That is … if you have clothes. Sometimes we phase with our clothes on and that rips them to shreds. We try to keep emergency stashes around the Reservation. One of the guys’ T-shirts should be long enough to cover your ass, if you need it. Even in her wolf form, Leah could smirk better than anyone except Paul. Get used to the idea of being buck naked in front of these fools and seeing a lot of dick.

 

Leah. Sam moaned, flustered.

 

You know it’s true, Sam. No point in beating around the pubic bush. Leah’s cackling laugh rang through Sam’s and Rachel’s heads, and her muzzle opened in a wide, sharp-toothed grin. It’s not like everybody hasn’t gotten a good look at my naked boobs and ass.

 

“From the look on Sam’s face, I’d say Leah said something dirty, and we’re missing it,” Quil complained. “Phase back.”

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