Authors: Kate Spofford
Published by Kate Spofford at Smashwords
Copyright © 2014 by Kate Spofford
Cover design by Kate Spofford
Cover background image by Andreas Krappweis,
used with permission
Cover foreground image by Jason Nelson, used
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First eBook Edition: May 2014
He left me. Daniel left me.
I can’t believe he left me.
I can’t even follow his scent through the
snow. It just disappears off into the cold white beyond. Dead of
winter, in who-knows-where Nebraska, and he just left me here
you knew this would happen you knew it all
I would have noticed him leaving, except that
I was so tired. Three days of walking and barely eating anything.
After three months of running and trying to get home and barely
eating anything. After three more months of searching for him—I ate
well during that time, but it has become really hard to remember
what a full stomach feels like.
I don’t know how Daniel made it this far all
half-starved like he is. I don’t know how far he’s going to make it
on his own.
He survived for three years on his own. I
guess he doesn’t really need me. Or want me.
I wanted to trust him.
All around me is white unbroken snow. No idea
which way he’s gone. I take a moment to reposition my scarf over my
face and wonder at the weird pain in my leg.
you trusted him and look what happened you’re
better off on your own
I have to keep moving.
I’ve wasted enough time already trying to
find Daniel. Started out last June, following the trail of
newspaper reports. They called him The Beast, The Cannibal Killer,
The Freeway Murderer. No one knew what he looked like, but the
people he killed were unmistakable. Bodies dismembered, half-eaten.
Sometimes they thought it must be an animal. If the body was found
in the forest, usually it was attributed to an animal. The bodies
found in trucker motels, on the other hand, got chalked up to the
Freeway Murderer. No one ever remembered seeing anyone who looked
like they could inflict that kind of damage to a person–he’d have
to be over six feet tall, hugely muscled. They thought he might
have some kind of deformity from the bite marks they’d analyzed.
The other description was a man with an attack dog, but what kind
of trucker would give a ride to someone like that?
No one would have looked at Daniel and
There’s the Cannibal Killer
I almost didn’t recognize Daniel when I first
saw him, except for his scent, but even that was buried beneath
layers of road dirt and a foul kind of garbage-sweat smell, like he
hadn’t showered in a long time and had been rooting around in trash
cans for food on top of that. He certainly didn’t look like the
Daniel I remembered. His cheeks all hollow, his black hair long and
dirty. So skinny. I was used to the way he walked all hunched over,
he walked like that before, flinching from his dad, hiding from the
kids at school. When he talked to me, I quickly realized that he
didn’t know who I was. And he didn’t know what
My mom and my aunt Jenny, Daniel’s mom, they
talked about Daniel like the Second Coming.
“He’s so strong,” they said. “Your
grandmother told us he was going to be the next alpha. You should
have seen what he did to–”
They’d stop there. Yeah, that’s when they’d
realize they were talking about my father’s murderer. I can’t say
my father was the nicest guy in the world, but he didn’t treat me
like Uncle Frank treated Daniel. He was nice to me.
But I was a female. Not a threat to his
Whatever. When I had my first change, my mom
explained to me about the males of our pack and the dominance
rituals. She and Aunt Jenny made me think that getting Daniel back
home was the only way we could have any influence over the other
packs. “An all-female pack is leaderless,” they told me.
Now, after seeing what the kind of leader
Daniel is, I want to ask why a female can’t be a leader. I know I
could be a leader.
I know I wouldn’t run away from my family and
responsibilities. And I won’t run away just because I failed this
The snow-covered miles float past the train
windows, the far-off mountains drifting in the distance while the
ditch outside the glass disappears at a rapid pace. I rest my
forehead against the pane and allow the vibration to travel through
When I grow tired of staring at scenery, I
return to the purse I stole back at the station. The former owner,
a frumpy woman in her sixties, owns at least four cats and enjoys
baking pies from the smell of it. There’s a ball of yarn and a
crochet hook in there, but I can’t smell anything different about
the yarn, which leads me to suspect that the yarn is made from cat
hair. There isn’t even a breath mint to get that cat stink out of
I probably should have tossed the purse after
I used most of the money in the lady’s wallet to buy this train
ticket home. I might have enough left for a sandwich, but it’s a
long ride from Nebraska to Montana, and though my stomach is
growling, I know a sandwich now will mean hunger later.
There is still the backpack that I stowed up
above the seat. It might mean waking my seatmates but I decide it’s
worth it: I can smell Daniel’s scent from here. So faint. Like pine
and dirt and grass, and the musky odor of wolf.
Plus, there’s a granola bar, and a trashy
paperback in the front pocket that I never had time to ask Daniel
The man in the black trenchcoat beside me
grunts awake when I clamber over him, then closes his eyes again
after I fall back into my seat with the backpack clutched to my
It’s pretty obvious that Daniel grabbed this
book because of the title.
–it’s the name of our
hometown. But the half-naked girl on the front with the tramp stamp
and gleaming dagger scream paranormal romance. Really, was Daniel
planning on reading this? Was it honestly worth stealing from a
The back copy goes like this:
A woman escaping a past that nearly killed
Reagan Clark has moved to Wolf Point as part
of the Witness Protection Program after slaying the head of the
werewolf mafia in Chicago. The distance from her abusive ex-husband
doesn’t hurt, but the small Montana town feels like the middle of
nowhere until she meets Sebastian Vincent, the dark brooding
chief-of-police. Reagan falls hard for him, despite the violent
outbursts that remind her of her ex-husband…
Sebastian Vincent has a dark secret…
that the new beauty in town seems
determined to uncover. He is irresistibly drawn to her, until he
discovers that she was responsible for taking down the area pack
leader. Can this full-blooded werewolf seduce a werewolf
I snicker out loud, and beside me Trenchcoat
grunts again. Still smiling, I crack open the novel and begin to
read, trying to imagine what Daniel would think about this crap. It
doesn’t take long before I realize I have no idea what Daniel would
I barely knew him at all.
A sharp pain in my side forces me into
The train is dark except for muted lights
along the floor. The landscape beyond the windows is black behind
the dim reflections, though I can make out the shadows of trees and
random glinting pinpricks of light. I rub my eyes and sit up,
wincing at the pain.
Before I left, my mother had explained the
mate bond to me. How I’d be able to feel Daniel’s emotions, to know
his thoughts, to feel his pain. When I woke up that morning in the
snow, my leg had hurt, a shadowy agony noosed around my calf. In
the weeks since that day, walking and walking and walking until I
could find a faster way home, the pain had subsided, and I’d nearly
forgotten about it. I half-knew it was connected to Daniel; there
were no marks on my own leg. Now this new torture lodged in my
ribcage reminded me that Daniel was still out there, alone.
God, it hurts even to breathe.
I pull up my shirt just to confirm that there
is no mark there. Nothing but smooth pale skin. I force my
breathing to be slow and steady and try to find a comfortable
Every inhalation is like a knife to my
Long into the night I breathe. Just breathe.
And wonder. What horror is Daniel facing? Was he shot? Could he
have been so stupid as to travel in the form of his wolf, and get
himself shot? Arching my side as far as the pain will allow, I try
to determine the type of pain. It feels bigger than a gunshot. Then
again, I’ve never been shot. I’ve never even broken a bone.
I’ve been a good little girl, doing whatever
her mommy tells her.
Here I actually sigh in disgust at
Daniel’s too far away for me to read his
thoughts as exactly as I could when we were together. Too far for
anything but a static-like cloud of
But no fear. No terror as an enemy rips his
entrails out through his stomach. No sadness for a life unlived.
Part of me wonders if that is how it really
is at the end. Do you really have time for all that fear and
sadness and the life flashing before your eyes? If you die a
sudden, violent death, do you have only those moments of pain that
consumes your world, and then a blessed darkness and relief?
Deep in the night, I finally feel his
consciousness leave, the weight lifting from me, a band loosening
from around my torso. I take my first deep breath in hours. With
new oxygen in my lungs, the idea of reading once again appeals to
me. But as I read about the dashing Sebastian Vincent’s rippling
abdominals, I think of pathetic Danny and the way his ribs stuck
out, the skinny ropes of his arms that looked too weak to do what I
knew he could when he became wolf. I think about the bottomless
pits of Daniel’s black eyes, and the need they contained.
, I remind myself. He left
alone in the snow.
I return to Sebastian Vincent. Now here’s a
real man. When the beautiful Mercy is nearly attacked by a
rampaging bear, Sebastian rushes in–in human form–and uses his
werewolf dominance to scare the bear away. Then he ravishes Mercy
on a soft bed of pine needles. Daniel probably would have been
eaten by a bear, if one had ever attacked us.
his wolf could have easily killed a bear
I refocus on the story.
Oh, Sebastian,” Reagan moaned, her body
responding to his lightest touch. His abdominal muscles tightened
under her stroke as her hand moved south of his navel–
Daniel had shuddered when I touched him, that
night in the warehouse.
Together they rocked, their bodies twined in
a delicious harmony. From far away Reagan heard a howl… then she
realized it was her own throat raising the cry of the wolf. And
Sebastian was now joining her, their voices stretching up to the
My fingers had clawed into his back when he
had entered me, but it seemed he shared some of my pain through the
mate bond, and he proceeded gently, cradling my skull in his big
hand, a hand I’d never before thought of as strong until that
I shift in my seat so suddenly that the man
beside me snorts in his snoring. I freeze, waiting for the regular
rhythm to return, then settle down. My jeans feel uncomfortably
tight, and not because I stole them out of a clothing donation
Daniel left me, even knowing how much we need
him. He left me.
The glass is cold against my cheek, and I
rest the back of my hand against it too, trying to cool myself
Wolf Point, Montana rushes toward me in the
“I couldn’t find him.”
To my own ears it sounds lame. I can’t even
imagine how it must sound to my mother, or Aunt Jenny, who have
been waiting around for months and months, living in fear, hoping
for help to come. I brace myself.