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A Silver Wolf Christmas

A Silver Wolf Christmas

by Terry Spear
A Silver Wolf Christmas

A Silver Wolf Christmas

by Terry Spear

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback)

$7.99
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Overview

Forget Santa, the wolves are coming to town! Sleigh rides, silver bells—or is it silver wolves?—and sparkling snowmen make Silver Town the perfect place to spend Christmas with Terry Spear and a howling good holiday wolf shifter romance!

CJ Silver and his brothers have returned to Silver Town eager to reconnect with the pack. And with she-wolf newcomers renovating the old Victorian Silver Town Hotel, it seems the holidays are going to be very merry indeed—Silver Town is beginning to look a lot like Christmas Town.

Laurel MacTire and her sisters are happy to be living in a wolf-run town, but that's not the only reason they moved in. They've got a missing wolf in their family tree, and they're determined to solve the fifty-year-old mystery of their aunt's disappearance. When CJ gets a whiff of trouble brewing, his protective instincts kick in—now Laurel has a hotel opening to prepare for, a mystery to solve, and a brawny wolf shifter underfoot that she can't stop thinking about. Perhaps she should have resisted the temptation to kiss him so wickedly in the snow...



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781492609506
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 10/06/2015
Series: Silver Town Wolf , #5
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 139,186
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Terry Spear has written over sixty paranormal and medieval Highland romances. In 2008, Heart of the Wolf was named a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. She has received a PNR Top Pick, a Best Book of the Month nomination by Long and Short Reviews, numerous Night Owl Romance Top Picks, and 2 Paranormal Excellence Awards for Romantic Literature (Finalist & Honorable Mention). In 2016, Billionaire in Wolf's Clothing was an RT Book Reviews top pick. A retired officer of the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry also creates award-winning teddy bears that have found homes all over the world, helps out with her grandbaby, and she is raising two Havanese puppies. She lives in Spring, Texas.

Read an Excerpt

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, just like everyone else did.

The pack members couldn't have been more pleased with the way the sisters had renovated the place, keeping the old Victorian look but adding special touches. Like the two wrought iron and wood-slat benches in a parklike setting out front, with the bench seats held up by wrought iron bears.

Tom turned back to CJ. "Darien said—"

"I know what Darien said. My brothers and I were getting under the women's feet. They didn't want or need our help. Don't tell me we can't participate in the grand opening." Even though CJ would be busy directing traffic for a little while, he intended to stop in and check on the crowd inside the hotel to ensure everyone was behaving themselves.

Sam delivered their beers in new steins, featuring wolves in a winter scene etched in the glass, along with sandwiches and chips on wooden Christmas tree plates. He gave CJ a look that told him he'd better not make a comment about the plates or steins. CJ was dying to ask Sam how domesticated life was, but he bit his tongue.

"I'll be setting up the bar for the festivities," Sam said. "Silva is bringing her special petit fours, and she's serving finger sandwiches. The hotel had better be ready to open on schedule."

"Do you think any of the guests will run out of there screaming in the middle of the night, claiming the place is haunted?" CJ asked. It was something he'd worried about. He wanted to see the sisters do well so they could stay here forever.

Sam shook his head. "Blamed foolishness, if you ask me."

Sam didn't believe in anything paranormal. Some might ask how he could feel that way when they were lupus garous—wolf shifters. But then again, their kind believed they were perfectly normal. Nothing paranormal about them.

Someone called for another beer, and Sam left their table to take care of it.

"When you were over there getting underfoot, did you see anything?" Tom asked, keeping his voice low.

"Nothing unusual." Even though they'd been best friends forever, the ghostly business with the hotel was one thing CJ really didn't want to discuss with Tom. Neither of them had, not once over all those years.

CJ took another bite of his sandwich, hoping now that the hotel was opening, he could finally start seeing Laurel MacTire in more of a courtship way. He would never again make the mistake of mispronouncing her name. Who would ever have thought that a name that looked like "tire" was pronounced like "tier"? He couldn't know every foreign word meaning "wolf." But he did love that she was a pretty redheaded, green-eyed lass. She had been born in America, but she still had a little Irish accent, courtesy of her Irish-born parents. He loved to listen to her talk.

The problem was that she and her sisters, Meghan and Ellie, acted wary around him and everyone else in the pack. In fact, they didn't seem like the type of proprietors that should manage a hotel, since they were more reserved than friendly or welcoming. He wasn't sure what was wrong. Maybe they'd never lived with a pack before. He had to admit that everyone had been eager to greet them, so maybe they felt a bit overwhelmed.

The pack members were so welcoming because fewer she-wolves were born among lupus garous than males, and many of the bachelors were interested. The women in the pack were also grateful that they had more women to visit with. Besides that, the wolf pack's collective nature was such that its members openly received new wolves.

After eating the rest of his sandwich, Tom leaned back in his chair. "The two painters working on the main lobby left prematurely yesterday after demanding their pay for what they'd finished. They said that when they returned from a lunch break, their paint cans had been moved across the room, their plastic sheeting was balled up in a corner, and an X was painted across the ceiling in the study."

CJ frowned. "None of the sisters saw or heard anything?"

"The sisters had returned to their house behind the hotel to have lunch."

"Could it have been kids? Vandals?" CJ figured that what had happened wasn't the result of anything supernatural.

"Who knows? If we discount the ghostly angle, could have been." Tom finished his beer.

"Did the women smell the scent of anyone who had been in there earlier?"

"Not that they could say. So many people have been traipsing through the hotel, finishing up renovations, that maybe somebody else just moved the stuff. The electrician and a plumber were in earlier."

"About that... I've seen that they've hired humans for a number of the jobs. Except for Jacob, the electrician. I would think everyone, even if they're new to the pack, would hire wolves."

Tom shrugged. "They've never been in a pack before. It'll take a little getting used to. Maybe no one gave them a list of who could do the jobs for them. We all know who does what in the vicinity. The sisters wouldn't have a clue."

CJ nodded, but he was already thinking about how the painters had left the work unfinished. Maybe the women could use his help in painting the rest of the place. As long as the town or surrounding area didn't require him to get involved in any law enforcement business, he was free to help out. And eager to do so.

"Of course, that doesn't explain the X on the ceiling," Tom said.

"Most likely vandals."

CJ wasn't afraid of any old ghost in the hotel. He hadn't been since that day when Darien and Jake had tried to scare him and Tom when they were all kids. CJ told himself it had just been them. But neither of the Silver brothers had said anything about what CJ had witnessed, confirming or denying it. He was still telling himself the apparition he'd seen was only a figment of his imagination. That, as a kid, he'd been so scared, he could have imagined anything. That the darkened shadow of a woman was nothing more than dust particles highlighted by moonlight shining through the basement door's window.

Tom sat taller in his chair. "If visitors ask about the hauntings, Darien wants everyone in the pack to tell them the stories are just rumors."

"Right. Ghosts don't exist."

Tom let out his breath. "But you know differently. We both know differently."

That made CJ wonder what Tom had experienced. But if CJ admitted to even one soul that he believed the hotel was haunted, there would go his best-kept secret of all time. Besides, Tom had never shared what he'd experienced either.

Tom straightened a bit. "Okay. Well, as I said, Darien has a job for you."

If it had to do with helping Laurel MacTire, CJ would jump right on it. He was certain that she really didn't mind that he'd been so in the way when she was trying to get the place fixed up. She was just overcautious about everyone in the wolf pack.

"Hang some Christmas lights on the hotel?" Then again, the job could have nothing to do with Laurel, her sisters, or the hotel. CJ finished the last of his beer.

Tom tilted his chin down. "No helping the women with the hotel. Unless they change their minds and ask you to."

"All right," CJ said. "What then?"

"We have some ghost busters in town."

"That's just what we need." CJ was ready to protect the three sisters from anyone who might try to ruin things for them.

"For now, they're staying in the Hastingses' bed and breakfast, both tonight and tomorrow. But they have reservations at the hotel, and they will be moving over there as soon as it opens. They've been grilling Bertha Hastings and everyone else about the hauntings."

"That's not good."

"Of course, we're worried they might stir up trouble for the ladies by reporting the place is haunted to discourage people from staying there. But what we're really concerned about is that they'll learn that something a lot more serious than ghosts exists in the area."

"Lupus garous."

"Yes. Us."

"You want me to get rid of them?" CJ asked, surprised. Not that he thought Darien wanted him to kill anyone, but keeping their wolf halves secret was paramount to their well-being.

Tom chuckled. "No. But you're assigned to watch over them. If they see anyone shift when they shouldn't, then we'll have to take care of it."

CJ's whole outlook brightened. "Right. They're staying at the hotel." And if he had to really watch them, he'd have to stay there too! That meant he could see Laurel more.

"Can you handle it?"

"Hell yeah."

"I mean..." Tom glanced around the tavern where pack members filled nearly every chair at the wooden tables. The room was humming with conversation. He leaned forward. "Because of the ghosts."

"That don't exist."

"Right."

"Yeah, I can handle it." CJ smiled. He would do anything to be able to spend more time with that wickedly intriguing she-wolf. Though he hoped he wouldn't be running out of the hotel and breaking out into a cold sweat—again.

More than that, he knew something else was going on. The women didn't just buy the hotel because it was a beautiful building or a great investment opportunity, or because they desperately wanted to join a pack. They'd been reservedly friendly. Like they didn't trust anyone. And they hadn't joined in any pack functions during the six months they'd been renovating the hotel. Not once.

Of course, they said it all had to do with getting the place ready, and they were too busy or too tired afterward to participate. But he'd noticed the looks between the three sisters when he'd asked them why they had chosen this hotel to buy. It was as if they had some deep, dark secret, and they had to keep it that way.

So yeah, he was definitely interested in Laurel, but not just because she was a hot she-wolf. He wanted to know what she and her sisters were really doing here.

* * *

Laurel MacTire's luck hadn't been so hot lately. Tomorrow, both her sisters had to go out of state to ensure the shipment of furniture had arrived from Pars and then was safely transported here. When she and her sisters had tracked down the auctioned highboy and blanket chest that had belonged to their aunt Clarinda, they were afraid something bad had happened to her. In her will, their aunt had promised the furniture to their mother—her twin sister, Sadie.

If their mother had died first, then the furniture and their aunt's belongings would have gone to the girls when she died. If their aunt had died. But they'd learned from their mother six months earlier that Clarinda had vanished fifty years ago. Someone had auctioned off the furniture around that same time. After searching for several months following their mother's death, the sisters had finally located and purchased the pieces.

Clarinda had said in a letter to their mother that the furniture was unique, with an added feature. Their mother thought one or both of the pieces might contain a secret compartment. Maybe a clue hidden in a secret panel in a drawer would help them learn what had become of their aunt. Pictures documenting the initials of the furniture designer, ELS, and the fact that each piece had been made specifically for its owner, had helped the sisters to prove the items had belonged to their aunt.

No matter what else happened, the sisters wanted to keep the furniture in memory of their aunt.

That meant Laurel had to manage everything on her own for a couple of days, starting early tomorrow morning—and including the grand opening ceremony and the first hotel guests' arrival. What made it worse was that, according to Darien Silver, three of the men who had booked rooms for a week were supposedly ghost busters. That was all they needed!

What if the three men told the whole world the hotel was haunted? There would go the business. They'd either not get any guests or they'd have a bunch of paranormal thrill seekers wanting to stay there. Maybe even a well-known author like Stephen King would stay there to gain information and use the setting for a new book. Well, on second thought, she supposed that could be a boon.

She opened the buffet drawer in the lobby and pulled out the fifty-year-old postcard, the last communication that her missing aunt had sent to Laurel's mother. Laurel reread the note for the millionth time, as if she'd miraculously get more clues from it.

Silver Town Inn. Miss you. Falling in love. Kiss girls for me. See you at Christmas. Love, C

Ellie was headed for the stairs, a box of blinds in hand, when she saw Laurel reading the postcard again. "Hey, no matter how many times we look at it, it's not revealing anything new. We know for sure these were our aunt's last words to our mother—that she was staying at the Silver Town Inn. And she sounded like she was involved in a romance. When she failed to show up at Christmastime, Mom got worried. But though she investigated, she didn't find any sign of her sister. We were too little to really understand what was going on. Just that our aunt wasn't coming to play with us. She was always so much fun."

"Right." Laurel tucked the card back in the drawer. "I wish Mom hadn't waited until she was dying to tell us this about Aunt Clarinda."

Meghan came around the banister with a drill and a couple more boxes of blinds. "Are we talking about the postcard again? Mom was worried that something sinister might have happened to her sister—and that we'd learn about it and go looking for her, which could get us in trouble. But in the end, Mom wanted us to discover what happened to her sister. It was her last dying request. You know it had to have weighed heavily on her mind all these years."

Laurel agreed. "I hope we can learn the truth sooner than later." She closed the buffet drawer as her sisters headed up the stairs to hang the faux wooden blinds in the windows.

So far they didn't have anything to go on but the postcard and a lot of supposition. What if one of the Silver Town pack members had something to do with Aunt Clarinda's disappearance? He could still be here. That was one of the things about the wolves' longevity. Their aging process was so much slower, or at least it had been. Recently, something had changed the dynamics and now their life spans were closer to humans'.

That meant anyone could be suspect—even CJ Silver, who was so eager to please her in his own way. She'd caught herself a ton of times letting down her guard with him. She needed to remember that she couldn't trust anyone but her sisters.

Now Darien was assigning CJ to watch the ghost busters? She'd never expected that to happen.

As soon as CJ walked in the door, all six feet of him, his amber eyes immediately sought her out as she worked on varnishing the countertop of the check-in desk. His sable hair complemented his tan face, and his muscular but wiry build had definitely turned the head of more than one she-wolf. She reminded herself that getting involved with any of the wolf pack members could be a bad idea.

"Did Darien tell you that I'll need to stay here when that ghost-busting crew arrives?"

"Yes."

"I heard you had trouble with the painters. Do you want me to finish the painting for you?" CJ looked perfectly willing.

Against her best judgment—because she was feeling a bit overwhelmed with all that still needed to be done—she nodded. "Thanks. You're...not afraid of ghosts?"

CJ smiled. "They don't exist. I'm ready to paint when you are. Just let me know what I need to do."

"The painters left the paint, brushes, plastic, everything, and won't return. So it's all over there." She pointed to the corner of the lobby.

"Great. I'll get right on it."

He was cute, but he looked so restrainedly pleased, she smiled. But then she saw her sister Meghan walking down the curved stairs and staring at CJ. Meghan shot her a look, as if to say she shouldn't have invited him to paint. Laurel hadn't even had a chance to tell her sisters that Darien wanted CJ staying with them to watch over the ghost busters.

"What's Ellie doing?" Laurel asked.

"She's finishing up the blue room, still hanging the new blinds in there. We were going to finish the painting down here, I thought."

"We have to decorate the whole place for Christmas next. We don't have time to finish the painting too. Not with the two of you leaving tomorrow to take care of other business," Laurel said. "Plus, we sort of have an issue."

Meghan narrowed her green eyes at her sister. "What sort of an issue?"

"You know the three men who were the first to rent rooms?"

Folding her arms, Meghan nodded.

"Darien learned they're self-professed ghost busters. They even have a TV show."

"Great."

As if they hadn't had enough problems. A frozen, then broken water pipe that flooded the basement, the painters getting spooked by ghosts, and half of the windows arriving in the wrong size were only a few of the minor disasters they'd had to deal with.

CJ had already started painting one wall. It was white, but the pictures that had previously been hung there had left rectangular shadows on the walls. Even with the start of a fresh coat of paint, it looked better. "Darien is checking our guest list to make sure we're not going to have any other trouble. That's how he discovered who these men are and why they wanted rooms. He's concerned about them."

Meghan frowned. "Darien won't be doing background checks on all our guests forever, will he?"

As if Laurel and her sisters were staying in Silver Town forever. This was their business—buying, renovating, and selling hotels. They never stayed long. "He's the pack leader. If he thinks we might have any trouble, or that the rest of his pack might, he'll keep a close eye on the hotel. So with regard to that, he wants CJ to stay with us until the men leave."

Openmouthed, Meghan stared at her. Her gaze switched from her to CJ to Laurel again. "You're...kidding. Stay with us?"

"Yep. Darien gave him the job of watching the ghost busters to ensure they don't see anyone shifting. If they do, then the pack will handle it."

"Just great."

"Yeah, I know. Tell Ellie, will you?"

"Sure. So which room is he staying in?" Meghan smiled a little evilly. "The maids' quarters?"

"No way. He can have the attic room. Hopefully nothing will bother him up there." Laurel frowned as she stared at the center of the wall that CJ had already painted over. "Do you see a letter in the center of the wall?"

Meghan studied the wall. "I was hoping I was just imagining it."

They moved closer as CJ considered the section he'd just painted.

"Okay, so your name is CJ and you're being cute by painting a C on the wall?" Meghan asked, her voice sharp and on edge.

Laurel knew very well CJ hadn't done it. Not considering how much he seemed to want to please her and her sisters, if he was going to initial his paint job, why not make it CJ? The letter was a foot and a half tall, maybe a foot wide, about six inches thick, and whiter than the white wall he was painting. It hadn't been there before he started painting, and he was using a paint roller. It would have been impossible for him to paint the letter without using a paintbrush and a guideline, a stencil, or something, considering how crisp and clean the lines were.

CJ stepped back from the wall and stared at it. "If the letter is still there after I paint the wall and it dries, I'll use some special paint that covers water stains and the like."

Laurel pointed to the corner. "A can of that kind of paint is over there."

"Okay, I'll take care of it."

Meghan headed for the stairs. "I'll tell Ellie about the trouble we might have with the ghost-hunter TV personalities." She glanced warily at CJ.

Laurel went back to work varnishing the old oak countertop while her sisters put the finishing touches on the rooms. The Silver pack had planned a grand opening ceremony, and all eight rooms were booked, now including the attic room. It only had a small table, a chair, a three-drawer bachelor chest, and a twin-size bed. They'd fixed it up but hadn't really thought they'd have anyone staying there—unless someone desperately needed the lodging, was single, and wasn't overly tall. Which made her realize that CJ would be too tall for the bed.

Where else could they put him? The basement had four rooms and a shared bathroom for the maids' quarters, but Laurel and her sisters had put off renovating those until later because of all the other plumbing, painting, and electrical problems they'd had to deal with. They lived in the guesthouse out back, a lovely four-bedroom home with gingerbread trim to match the hotel.

"What?" Ellie said, her voice elevated as Meghan talked with her upstairs in the blue bedroom.

Laurel didn't know if Ellie was outraged about the ghost busters staying with them or one of the members of the Silver pack lodging here, or maybe a little of both. In any event, they had to deal with it.

She and her sisters felt like they were walking on the edge of a cliff. One wrong turn and they would fall off, without a safety net to catch them. She was certain the pack wouldn't be happy if she and her sisters discovered that one of its members was involved in their aunt's disappearance.

Laurel looked up from her varnishing work and saw that CJ had started painting over the C with the stain-killing paint—three feet out in every direction to hide the letter.

Morbidly fascinated, she watched as the whole area became one block of white. As the paint began to dry, the letter reappeared as bold as day—white on white, as if it was meant to be there. Or Clarinda O'Brien was trying to tell her nieces she had been here.

Maybe she still was here.

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