A Silver Wolf Christmas - Terry Spear

Chapter 1

Connor James Silver, better known as CJ, couldn’t believe it had been a whole year since he and his brothers rejoined their cousin Darien Silver’s wolf pack. Though his oldest brother was still butting heads with Darien at times, CJ was glad they had made amends and returned home to Silver Town, Colorado. His ancestors had built the town, which was still mostly gray wolf run, and he envisioned staying here forever.

Especially now that three lovely sister she-wolves had joined the pack and were remodeling the old Silver Town Inn. In two days’ time, they would have hotel guests. CJ smiled as he strode up the covered wooden walkway in front of the tavern and glanced in the direction of what had been the haunted, neglected hotel across the street, which was now showing off its former glory. The windows were no longer boarded up, the picket fence and the fretwork had been repaired, and a fresh coat of white paint made the whole place gleam.

“CJ!” Tom Silver called out as he hurried to join him. Tom, the youngest of Darien’s triplet brothers, was CJ’s best friend.

He turned to watch Tom crunch through the piled-up snow, then stalk up the covered walkway. He had the same dark hair as CJ, although his eyes were a little darker brown. Tom was wearing his usual: an ecru wool sweater and blue jeans. The toes of his boots were now sporting a coating of fresh snow.

Tom pointed at the hotel, evidently having observed CJ looking that way. “Don’t even think about going over there to help with the final preparations before their grand opening.”

CJ shook his head. “I know when I’m not wanted.” But he damn well wasn’t giving up on seeing the women—well, one in particular.

Tom smiled a little evilly at him. “Come on. I’ll buy you lunch. Darien has a job for you.”

Even though CJ was a deputy sheriff and took his lead from the sheriff, everyone stopped what they were doing when the pack leader needed something done. Pack took priority.

He and Tom headed inside the tavern, where the fire was burning in a brand-new woodstove in the corner, keeping the room warm. The Christmas tree in front of one of the windows was decorated with white lights, big red bows, and hand-painted ornaments featuring wolves. The aroma of hot roast beef scented the air, making CJ’s stomach rumble. Sam, the black-bearded bartender—and now sandwich maker—was serving lunch without Silva, his waitress-turned-mate. She was now down the street running her own tearoom, where the women ate when they wanted lunch out. The men all continued to congregate at Sam’s.

The tavern usually looked a lot more rustic, less…Christmassy. Sam loved Silva and tolerated her need to see that everyone enjoyed the spirit of Christmas either at her place or his, though he grumbled about it like an old grizzly bear.

CJ glanced at the red, green, and silver foil-covered chocolates in wooden Christmas-tree-shaped dishes on the center of each table. Those were new. Silva had also draped spruce garlands along the bar and over the long, rectangular mirror that had hung there since the place opened centuries earlier. She’d added lights and Christmas wreaths to the windows and had put up the tree, though Sam had helped. He looked rough and gruff, and was protective of anyone close to him, but he was a big teddy bear. Though CJ would never voice his opinion about that.

“We’ll have the usual,” Tom called out to Sam.

He nodded and began to fix roast beef sandwiches for them.

“Staying out of trouble?” Tom sat in his regular chair at the pack leaders’ table in the corner of the tavern. This spot had a view of the whole place, except for the area by the restrooms.

“I haven’t been near the hotel.” CJ glanced around the room, nodding a greeting to Mason, owner of the bank; John Hastings, owner of the local hardware store and bed and breakfast; Jacob Summers, their local electrician; and even Mervin, the barber—all gray wolves who were sharing conversations and eating and drinking. It was an exclusive club, membership strictly reserved for wolves.

CJ looked out the new windows of the tavern—also Silva’s doing, now that the hotel was quite an attraction instead of detracting from the view. The new sign proclaimed Silver Town Inn, just like in the old days, as it rocked a little in the breeze. Only this time, the sign featured a howling wolf carved into one corner. CJ loved it,