In Polecat, Alaska, Rachel Miller and Jake Hunter have a mutual admiration for each other—from across a lake. There’s nothing Rachel likes more than spying on the very fit wilderness guide when he skinny-dips each night. And Jake has always been curious about his reclusive artist neighbor. He even bought Rachel’s first wood carving: a wolf who looks suspiciously like him….
Jake is a werewolf, but not just any werewolf. He’s the founder of WARM (Werewolves Against Random Mating). And that means a human like Rachel is off-limits, no matter how attractive he finds her.
But when Rachel is threatened by a bear, and Jake shifts to save her, their lives collide with an intense passion, one that could change everything they’ve ever felt about themselves—and each other….
“Humorous and romantic.”—USA Today
“A fun frolic…witty.”—Midwest Book Review
“This series seems to have it all.”—TwoLips Reviews
VLT’s Big Hairy Research Trip
Apparently the Worldwide Organization of Werewolves (WOW) has been keeping an eye on me. They didn’t interfere when I wrote about packs located in Manhattan, Portland, Seattle, and Denver. But when word got out (I blame Twitter) that Alaska was next on my list, WOW president Howard Wallace contacted me. Alaska, he said, was not to be taken lightly.
I didn’t point out that I take everything lightly. That’s how I roll. Instead I responded with polite interest as Howard told me why Alaska, and specifically the area around Sitka, is special to American Weres. Primarily it’s because Were prospectors struck it rich during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896, laying the foundation for the wealth enjoyed by American packs today.
I already knew that, but I wasn’t about to interrupt the president of WOW. Damned good thing my mother taught me to be a courteous listener, because when the lecture was over, Howard invited me to the Wallace Ancestral Lodge near Sitka so that I could better understand the importance of those enterprising Were prospectors. Score!
Not only would I brush up on my research, I’d escape the Arizona heat for a few days. I jumped on a plane and was met in Sitka by Howard himself, a silver-haired werewolf who looks like the corporate CEO he is. I was dying to see him in Were form, but knew better than to ask him to shift for my benefit. He confiscated my camera but agreed to take a few pics for reference. None would be of the lodge, however.
That first shot is of me, enjoying the cold weather as we traveled to the lodge by boat. Look over my right shoulder at the rocky promontory. Looks like a howling wolf, don’t you think? I also asked Howard to take a picture of snow-capped mountains to prove they look like that in August. Desert-dwellers like me are impressed with that kind of thing.
Finally we docked, and I fully expected to be blindfolded and led by the hand. Instead, I was allowed to trek down a narrow dirt path unencumbered as I followed Howard to the lodge. I can’t show you that log building, but Howard grudgingly snapped a photo of the surrounding forest. I’ve studied that picture for hours, because I swear there was a werewolf lurking in the trees.
Howard insisted no one was around because he’d deliberately brought me to this place, which is now a museum, when it was closed. Nevertheless, I felt watched. When Howard unlocked the heavy wooden door, it creaked on ancient brass hinges.
I stepped into a room obviously still in use by Weres, judging by the fragrance of cedar smoke that mingled with the scent of aged timbers. The leather furniture in front of the large stone fireplace is sturdy and inviting, but I didn’t sit on it. I was too busy studying the framed sepia-toned images lining the walls. The descriptions underneath identified Were ancestors hard at work along the Klondike River.
Anyone looking at those photographs would assume the subjects were humans panning for gold. Other pictures showed those same individuals felling trees and building cabins. It was disappointingly ordinary. Maybe I’d secretly hoped for some shots of wolves interacting with each other, but of course they’d never chance leaving that kind of evidence around. Besides, wolves can’t take pictures.
As I wandered, still hoping for a hint of Wereness in the display, Howard relaxed in one of the big leather chairs and checked messages on his phone. I was about halfway through when a wolf howled right outside the door. I jumped and Howard popped out of that chair like he was on springs. In no time flat he’d hustled me out of the lodge, down the path to the dock, and onto the boat. The skipper, who had to be Were, too, unhooked the mooring rope and we were off.
I didn’t catch a single glimpse of that wolf. Naturally, I wanted to know why I got the bum’s rush, but Howard refused to tell me. I suspect he smuggled me into that museum without WOW’s knowledge, and he posted a sentry so we wouldn’t be discovered there. In any case, he treated me to a steak dinner in Sitka and I flew home the next day, somewhat wiser, and with the haunting sound of a werewolf’s howl still ringing in my ears.
TO: WOW Board of Directors
FROM: Howard Wallace
SUBJECT: VLT Alaska Trip
Two days ago I escorted a human writer, Vicki Lewis Thompson, to our Alaskan Heritage site. I did so because she’s writing a werewolf-themed novel set in Alaska, and I believed it was in our best interests for her to understand the hard work and sacrifice of our ancestors. I wanted her to realize that our current wealth and privilege is based on honest labor followed by careful investments. Werewolves are plagued with bad press, and Ms. Thompson might assume we achieved our prosperity through nefarious schemes.
I freely admit that I used my executive powers to invite her without running it past the board. If any problems ensue, I will shoulder the blame. The museum was closed at the time of her visit and I posted a sentry outside. According to the sentry, Jake Hunter from the Alaskan Hunter clan just happened to be roaming in the woods surrounding the site on the day we were there.
As you know, Jake resigned from the board after WERECON2012 in Denver and founded Werewolves Against Random Mating (WARM). He opposes cross-species mating and any disclosure of our existence to humans. Needless to say, he would not have approved of my actions. I don’t know if he saw Ms. Thompson or not. If he did, and he chooses to mount a protest, I will assume responsibility.