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Authors: Madelaine Montague

Tags: #Erotica, #Fiction

Call of the Wolf

BOOK: Call of the Wolf
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New Concepts Publishing

Copyright ©2008 by Madelaine Montague

NOTICE: This work is copyrighted. It is licensed only for use by the original purchaser. Making copies of this work or distributing it to any unauthorized person by any means, including without limit email, floppy disk, file transfer, paper print out, or any other method constitutes a violation of International copyright law and subjects the violator to severe fines or imprisonment.

CONTENTS

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

* * * *

 

Call of the Wolf

By

Madelaine Montague

© copyright by Madelaine Montague, September 2008

Cover art by Eliza Black, September 2008

ISBN 978-1-60394-

New Concepts Publishing

Lake Park, GA 31636

www.newconceptspublishing.com

This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author's imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.

Chapter One

"Abby. Abby!"

Abigail Winthrope jerked her gaze from the countryside and stared blankly at the man who'd spoken to her.

His lips tightened. She could see impatience in his hard gray eyes. Dragging in a deep breath, he released it slowly, as if mentally counting to ten. “You're going to have to get used to responding to that name or you'll be in serious trouble, Ms. Winthrope."

Abby felt her face heat and then, as rapidly as her face had flushed with embarrassment, the blood drained away and she went cold all over. “I'm sorry. I had something on my mind,” she muttered.

She could tell from the look he gave her that he didn't believe it for a minute. Anger replaced the fear after a moment. She'd just had her entire life turned upside down—ceased to exist—as the person she'd been since birth become someone else. She was trying to adjust. She knew just as well as he did that her life depended on it. She was no idiot! “What were you saying?"

"Maybe we should go over your background one more time?"

Abby chewed her bottom lip to keep from screaming at him. They'd done nothing since the trial
but
go over it—weeks of going over and over it until she felt as if they were trying to brainwash her, shatter her hold on her identity, rather than coach her into remembering the new one. “Sure."

He began firing questions at her like a machine gun. Where were you born? What's your mother's name? Where did you go to school? When were you born? Mother's maiden name? Ex-husband's name?

Abby managed to answer each question with barely a blink, and the agent relaxed fractionally. “We're coming up on Ajax."

Abby nodded nonchalantly, but her heart leapt at the announcement and began to beat a little faster tattoo against her chest wall.

It was her new home, her new life and, like her name, she'd had nothing to do with the choices made for her. It wasn't excitement making her heart hammer painfully in her chest. It was dread ... every bit as much fear as she'd faced in the courtroom when she'd testified.

Where was the justice, she thought bitterly, for a witness condemned to life on the run, or death? when the criminal they'd helped put behind bars carried on inside jail as if nothing had happened and would probably go home again before she reached middle age? Granted, it hadn't been that grand a life, but it was
hers
. She'd put it together. She'd guided her own feet down the path she wanted to take. She'd made her own choices.

She hadn't even
chosen
to be a federal witness. They'd bullied and threatened her in to it, making promises they knew damned well they couldn't keep, and now she was going to be a school teacher in Bum-Fuck Nowhere, U.S.A., surrounded by strangers. And she couldn't even
contact
the pathetic number of friends and family she'd had before her life had gone down the toilet.

She'd never felt so completely alone in her life.

It was odd that she could feel that way when she'd actually had so little contact with family members and friends in the past several years, been too caught up in her own life to spare a lot of time or thought for it. And yet, she'd known she could. She'd known they were there in the fringes of her life, going about their own lives, and she could reach out any time she wanted to.

Now she couldn't.

Agent Milner slowed the car, dragging her from her unpleasant thoughts, and she glanced around in time to catch a glimpse of a tall, white sign with fancy lettering and decorative curlicues proclaiming the town. Beneath the town's name was the announcement that it was incorporated—whoohoo!—and the population—which she didn't catch. She didn't need to. Any town that posted their population didn't have much of a population to boast about.

Rounding a bend on the narrow highway they'd been following, Abby saw a smattering of houses and businesses and then a wide banner above the highway, which had become the main street.

Oddly enough, it was
named
Main Street!

The legend on the banner was an announcement of the town's Harvest Moon Festival.

Now
there
was something to get worked up about, Abby thought sarcastically.

Milner slowed the car even more. Abby wondered if it was to allow her to get a really good look at her new ‘home’ until she noticed the speed limit sign of twenty-five mph.
Good god!

Struggling with her negative thoughts, Abby focused on studying the ‘commercial district’ as they crept along Main Street, following a couple of other cars that seemed to think
twenty
mph was fast enough. It was Saturday, and cars lined the street on both sides. They had to stop a half a dozen times in the three blocks they traversed for cars backing out of parking spaces—no, they didn't have parallel parking!

Milner stopped at what appeared to be the only traffic light the town boasted, glancing around with interest. “Looks like a nice little town."

"You're only saying that because you won't be living here,” Abby said dryly.

He sent her a frowning glance. “Attitude can make the difference in whether you enjoy your new life or not,” he said like the prick he was.

"Bite me,” Abby muttered.

His lips tightened. “You'll want to watch the language. You're an elementary school teacher now."

Abby sent him a fulminating glare. “And whose bright fucking idea was that?"

"The position was open."

"And I'll bet it was the
only
position open here."

"It was. She died."

Abby sent him a sharp look. “Joy, joy! They have a hell of a retirement plan ... or did the little darlings give the poor thing a heart attack?"

"Look, Ben ... Ms. Winthrope, you're alive and you have an entire life all set up for you here ... on the government tab. A new job, a house ... everything you'll need to start over."

Abby narrowed her eyes at him. “I
liked
the life I had,” she said tightly, “so don't take this ‘we did you a favor’ attitude with me!"

"Chances are you'd be dead now if we hadn't. Maybe you should consider being more careful about the boyfriends you pick in the future?"

Abby clenched and unclenched her fists a few times, wrestling with her temper. It was a waste of time to strike out at Milner, even though she suspected he was the bastard behind her being pulled in as a witness to start with. Of course, it might have made her feel better to knock his head off—if she'd been capable of it—but it wouldn't change anything. “I hadn't had but three dates with Mikhail,” she pointed out tightly. “If y'all hadn't bullied me into wearing that damned wire, my life wouldn't have been in danger to start with!"

The bastard didn't even have the grace to look guilty about fucking up her entire life. He shrugged, turning the corner as the light finally changed. “If it makes you feel better to blame everybody else..."

Exactly how the hell he figured it was
her
fault escaped her. How many women ran criminal background checks on the men they dated, she'd like to know! It wasn't as if Mikhail either looked like, or behaved like, a thug, damn it! He'd behaved and dressed like a well-to-do gentleman. He'd been young, handsome—sexy with his thick accent. Half the women in the office had been panting after him!

She was supposed to be able to just
look
at him and tell he was the crime boss of some huge Russian mob that dabbled in everything from gun running, to drugs, to prostitution?

If he'd seemed extremely wealthy,
maybe
she would've been suspicious ... and maybe she would've just been even
more
dazzled.

Truthfully, she'd begun to feel just a little uneasy about Mikhail—some things had just seemed a little off—but she'd only been out with him a couple of times and he was a suave son-of-a-bitch. How was she supposed to have guessed he was grooming her to use her connections?

She shook off her unpleasant thoughts as Milner pulled to the curb in front of a tidy little one-story Victorian house with enough faux gingerbread to look like something out of a fairytale. The neat yard was surrounded by a white picket fence in the front and she could see a taller privacy fence surrounding the back yard beyond the private driveway that curved past the right side of the house.

Shutting the car off, Milner unfastened his seatbelt, glanced up and down the street and opened the door. Taking that as her cue, Abby unfastened her own belt and got out, scanning the neighborhood. Everything was neat and tidy from one end of the street to the other, as far as she could see. Not one house looked to be less than a hundred years old and they were probably older than that given the fact that all of them had the deep porches, enormous roofs, and the elevations of houses built more than a century earlier. Several of them looked as if they dated back to the Civil War or earlier.

She caught a glimpse of a few people up and down the street, mowing or working on flowerbeds, and a handful of children. Realizing most of them had stopped what they were doing to stare at the strangers in their midst, she nodded a little uncomfortably and turned as Milner joined her, following the paved walkway up to her front door.

A sign at the edge of the lawn of the house to her right caught her eye as she scanned the yard of her own house.
Shady Rest Bed-and-Breakfast.

Glancing at the house, she discovered it was a rambling two-story Victorian. Rockers were placed strategically around the wide porch that seemed to wrap halfway around the house. One was occupied by an elderly woman who had a large bowl in her lap. A man was standing not far from her, one shoulder propped against one of the porch pillars, a second one was seated on the steps, his knees cocked in a negligent sprawl.

Nodding politely, she looked away, trying to ignore the uncomfortable flutter of her heart in her chest.

Neighbors, she wondered? Or guests?

She'd gotten the impression that they were young men—but men, not boys—a little old to still be living at home with ‘ma’ but young to consider visiting such a dirt-water town, or staying at a Bed-and-Breakfast. She sent Milner a questioning glance. Instead of acknowledging it, he moved ahead of her, scaling the steps to the high porch at a jog and pulling the screen door open.

Abby grasped the edge of the screen door and held it wide while Milner unlocked the front door and pushed it open. The interior of the house was cool and dark. Abby paused in the wide hall that bisected the house while Milner looked around and finally found a light switch, flicking it on and staring up at the cheap, single bulb fixture in the ceiling about twelve feet above them. An oversized door led off to the parlor on the right. Opposite that was another door, which opened into a bedroom.

After glancing at both, Abby followed the hallway back and found a second bedroom directly behind the front bedroom, a formal dining room behind the parlor, and a kitchen and bath at the back of the house. The house had been furnished—so thoughtful of the bastards who'd obviously disposed of
her
furniture!—but boxes were stacked in every room.

"Your personal belongings."

Abby glanced at Milner, feeling the tension inside of her lessen a fraction. “Y'all packed up my apartment and brought my things?"

He shrugged. “Pretty much everything, I imagine ... unless it was considered dangerous."

Abby blinked at him. “Dangerous?” she echoed.

Again, he shrugged. “Anything that might tie you to your past.” He moved past her and set his briefcase on the small kitchen table. Opening it, he pulled out a folder and flipped it open, removing a driver's license, a credit card, birth certificate, diploma, teaching certificate....

Abby moved close enough to stare down at her ‘life,’ the one they'd invented for her. The credit card surprised her.

"The limit's twenty-five hundred. You also have a bank account in your name at the Citizens Bank on Main Street with another twenty-five hundred. That should be enough to hold you until your paychecks."

Their generosity was overwhelming! He must have read her opinion in her expression. “Everything's paid for. Utility deposits—you have a late model car out back, no mortgage, and the kitchen is fully stocked—and a job waiting for you.” He pulled out a card, scribbled something on the back, and dropped in on the table. “I'm your contact. The number on the back is your case number. If you have any reason to suspect that you're in danger, call me."

As little as she liked the man—any of the men she'd had to deal with—it was terrifying to realize he was about to walk out of her life and she had nothing to cling to but a damned business card, nothing between her and the Russian mob but a phone number. She swallowed with effort. “I thought the whole idea of placing me in this dirt-water town was to ensure that any strangers would be noticed by everybody. And now I discover I've been parked on the doorstep of a Bed-and-Breakfast?"

He frowned, but since he seemed to wear a perpetual frown, it was hard to say whether he found that news as disquieting as she did or not. “We checked it out. The woman that owns it, Mrs. Parker, has lived here her entire life. She has four full time boarders—all of them have been thoroughly checked out—and she hasn't had more than a dozen guests in the past year and a half."

BOOK: Call of the Wolf
7.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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