Edwin Griffin was looking forward to his retirement from the Army. But it seemed his superiors were having trouble letting go. As a wolf shifter and an immortal, Edwin’s senses were keen. He had no intention of “keeping in touch” or to continue working for them, for that matter. Something about them felt off, and Edwin had no intention of being a pawn in whatever scheme they were plotting.Storm was very protective of her sister, Rain. Their parents had somehow found them, and Rain was vulnerable to their influence. The sisters both possessed magical talents that were growing stronger daily. When Charlie Griffin offered to help, Storm jumped at the chance to protect her sister.Edwin was a bit surprised to find the feisty woman Storm to be his mate. She had a hard time with trust, but Edwin was determined to work on that, but he had his own issues to resolve.Although retired from the military as well, Storm would still take on an occasional assignment. But when the assignment from her superiors was to do something about her mate. Well, things just got a bit more personal….
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Charles—Charlie, to most people who knew him—was so lost he hadn’t any idea if he was walking on the ground or the sky. He knew the difference, of course, but it was so dark out tonight that if there had been a moon shining, he couldn’t see it. When he sat himself down on a log to get his bearings again, he paused in his thinking to look at what could have made the sound he’d heard. Terrified out of his mind when he saw glowing eyes looking at him, Charlie sat as still as he could. The eyes grew larger and incredibly more shiny as the beast made its way to him. He didn’t run, knowing that even if he knew where he was at the moment, the wolf would know it better. It would chase him down and kill him without any hesitation. The wolf, a big gray fella, just stood there within a few inches of Charlie’s outstretched legs. When he laid down, putting his heavy head onto his leg, Charlie had another moment of fear. The thing never took his eyes off him. As soon as he felt he was brave enough to try and talk to the wolf, he was gone, and in his place was a man.
A fully clothed man with the gray of the wolf’s fur colored into his hair. Even his eyes were the same as the wolf’s, Charlie thought. Still, neither of them moved until the man sat back on his butt and regarded him. “You live on the property not far from here, is that correct?” Charlie told him he was only squatting there until they found him. But he was a mite lost. “Yes, I’ve been following you for some time. And in all that time, you did not harm any other animal you came across, and there were plenty. Why is that?” “You mean the rabbit and the family of deer?” The man nodded. “I don’t have a need for meat just now. I only kill when I have to. When my belly feels like it can’t go another minute without some meat in it. And even then, I use it up the best I can. What I can’t use, I leave out for some other animal that will use the rest.
Why do you ask?” “I’ll get to that. You didn’t seem that surprised when I changed from wolf to man. Can you tell me why that is?” He nodded and told him what he’d been seeing a lot of lately. “Yes, wars—including the current Comanche War—have made a man wish for better times. So you were surprised but just wrote it off as being another strange thing that had no explanation. That’s a very good explanation, I think.” “They say that the war is about over. I don’t know much about that. I can still hear shooting when I’m out and about. I don’t have any land left because the soldiers took it all when they was coming through. Not that it was much more than a bunch of rocks and stumps, to begin with.” The man only nodded. “I’m Charles Griffin. Most call me Charlie. A great deal more names, but I ignore them. Not everybody was able to go to school all the time. I had my family to feed when my daddy up and got sick. Momma died a few weeks ago, and I’ve been roaming around since looking for work. I don’t suppose you know anyone around here that might be wanting an extra hand or two, do you?”
“I do, as a matter of fact. My name is Romeo Hank. The Hank is for when I need a last name. But I do have something I’d like to propose to you if you’ve got the time to listen.” Charlie told him he didn’t have anything but time right now. “All right. I have a medium sized pack. You can see a few of them over there watching over us. They’re all just wolves. I’m the only wolf shifter I know. They’re a good bunch. Hungry most of the time, but then all of us are, correct?” “Yes. Some more than others. At least I can find me a bit of string and fashion me up a hook to use.” Romeo told him that was excellent. “You need me to fish some fish out for you and your pack? I don’t mind at all doing that for you. In fact, I’d be powerful happy to help you out.” “Not just yet. But I think I will take you up on it soon. I have a daughter. Her name is Luna. Such a beautiful name, don’t you think?” Charlie asked if it meant moon. “It does. Thank you. You’re very well educated for a man with no means of living.”
“My mom was a school teacher when I was born. They fired her, of course, when she had me. She taught me to read and to figure. I can write too, but I do have to think about the spelling of things. Can you write?” Romeo said he’d been given a great gift in that. “I think so too. When I find me a newspaper or some little old book, I treasure it for a bit. Then I pass it on if I can. I don’t have to know the people in the paper. I just like reading about their stories. Are you going to tell me what this is about?” “I am. I was working up to it, but I believe you to be a man that can be trusted with things in life. I would like to change you into a wolf, one such as I am. You’ll be a man when you wish, a wolf when necessary. There will be magic, as well as wealth.” Charlie told him he didn’t have use for wealth, but food all the time would be nice. “That is precisely what I’m speaking about, Charlie, my good man.” Throughout the rest of the night and well into the morning, they spoke of things that Romeo needed from him. It wasn’t brought up again about him being changed, but Romeo did tell him more about his daughter and that he, plain old Charlie, was her mate. The soul reason he’d not been harmed while wandering around in the woods. “Do you understand what it is I want you to do?”
Charlie said he thought so. “No. I’m sorry, I can’t allow you to go into this, only thinking you understand. Please, ask me anything you’d like. You must be clear on this. I need you to be clear on how it is I wish you to someday take over for me.” Romeo never got upset with him when he asked his questions. If Charlie was honest with himself, which he usually tried to be, he was afraid that Romeo had picked the wrong man. That he’d be better off finding himself someone else to take over his empire. “You’re the right man, Charlie. When I told you I’d been following you around, I want you to know it wasn’t just last evening, but for some time now. I’ve seen you share your last bit of food with people. Work for someone that cannot do for themselves and not take anything but a bit of bread and water. You’re a very good man. A better man than I am.” Charlie started to protest. “No. I’m correct in picking you as my replacement. And if that is some of your worry, being an alpha, you’ve no worries there either. I will not leave this earth for the next until you are comfortable with what is needed of you.
Now. If you’ve no more questions, I shall leave you to allow you to think on it. I’ll be back here tomorrow so you can tell me your answer. I know I have picked the right man, Charlie. It’s something you can do easily to save this pack and my daughter.” Luna followed him as he walked around. He’d thought about calling back Romeo and asking more questions, but he didn’t. Sitting down again, his leg bothering him from sitting so long, he looked at the big, beautiful wolf. “You’re not really his daughter, are you?” She shook her head. “I didn’t think so. Are there any more of the others that he claims are his children?” She nodded this time, and he determined by asking questions that it was one other female. “I don’t know what to think about all this, to be honest with you. Are you my mate? Is he telling me the truth? I just don’t know what to think.” She nodded or shook her head after each of the questions he put to her.
Yes, she was his mate. Yes, Romeo was telling the truth. There were many more questions and answers. He was headed back to the area that he’d first seen Romeo when he felt the pain take his breath away as it slammed into his left shoulder. Falling back, he hit his head and laid there while trying his best to catch his breath. That was when he heard the other gunshots, the wolves howling and trying to hide. Pulling Luna toward him, he whispered harshly into her ear, hoping that at least she’d understand him enough to know that she must warn the others. “Go. Tell Romeo to hide the pack. To make sure you and your sister are safe.” She didn’t want to leave him, whimpering at him as she laid her head on his shoulder. “Go. Please. Run and escape before they hurt you too.” When she left him, Charlie closed his eyes. Opening them when he felt the shadow darken over him, he looked up in time to see the barrel of a large rifle. He was a goner. He knew that. He could only hope that Luna and the others were safe.