Timber Valley Pack 4: Lynx On The Loose

By: Georgette St. Clair

Chapter One

Timber Valley, Colorado (don’t try to find it; it’s not on any human map, and the shifter inhabitants like it that way)

The fall air was cool and crisp, and the carpet of leaves on the forest floor made a satisfying crunching sound underneath lynx shifter Isadora Mosswood’s feet. She dodged behind a lodgepole pine and peered out at the patrol car racing down the narrow rural road towards her house. She’d already gotten the warning phone call from a friend of hers who was a dispatcher at the sheriff’s office.

“Dash is on his way to your house, and he’s pissed,” her friend Sarah had warned her.

“Lousy coppers. You’ll never take me alive,” Isadora smirked to herself. The driver of the patrol car, Sgt. Dashiel Battle, was looking for her because he suspected that she was the person who’d drawn an unflattering picture of Mayor Darius Harden on the side of the town hall building.

Maybe she had. Maybe she hadn’t. Maybe Mayor Harden and his snooty wife shouldn’t keep shooting disapproving looks at Isadora every time she strolled past them in downtown Timber Valley. Sure, Isadora had tattoos and a nose stud, and hair colors that did not naturally occur in nature. So? It was the 21st century.

Dash generally found a way to track Isadora down, sooner or later, but he’d never managed to bust her in the act or make a single charge stick – not yet, anyway.

Isadora let out a low feline hiss at the thought of Dash and his disapproval of her. He was a big, handsome wolf shifter, a Beta but a pretty macho one, and she knew that a lot of the female shifters in Timber Valley simpered when he strolled by.

As for her, he wasn’t her type at all. She’d told friends of hers that, time and time again, when they had the nerve to suggest that she was baiting him on purpose. She was all about living on the edge and defying authority - and Dash was Mr. Authority. He’d been known to write tickets for jaywalking. The fact that Isadora liked to keep the locals on their toes with the occasional harmless prank utterly set him on edge.

He wasn’t even her type looks-wise. He was big, burly and rugged looking, true, but he didn’t have tattoos or a pierced ear or long hair. She’d always gone for the bad boy type. Sure, those relationships never lasted long, but that was kind of the point, wasn’t it? Her parents had made it clear ages ago that nobody would ever want to marry a woman as unladylike and uncouth as Isadora, and her response to that had always been “And thank God for that.”

Dash, now, he struck her as the marrying type. Maybe if he got married he’d stop chasing her around town and trying to slap handcuffs on her for the most trivial of offenses. Yes, it would be great if he got married. Then she’d never have to look at his stupid, handsome face again, with its disapproving glower and…

Damn it, why was she wasting her time thinking about the uptight jerk? She had better things to do with her time.

She turned and started strolling towards town. The small house that she rented was a couple of miles outside of the town center and it was a perfect day for a leisurely walk in the woods.

Her cell phone trilled in the pocket of her jeans, and she grabbed it. It was the distinctive ring tone of her friend Karen, a fellow lynx shifter. Karen had met the love of her life, Dash’s cousin Ty Battle, and they’d moved to North Dakota recently. Karen was expecting their first cub, which should be interesting. Wolf or lynx? Or both? How cute would that be?

“Hello, almost-mom,” she said. “How’s life without alcohol or coffee?”

Karen was being a super responsible mom to be. She’d sworn off coffee and alcohol for as long as she was pregnant and then for as long as she was nursing. Isadora shuddered at the thought.

“Don’t forget no sushi, or raw cookie dough, or nail polish,” Karen continued. “That part of it sucks.”

“Nail polish?” Isadora echoed, glancing down at her nails which were painted black and adorned with little white skull decals.

“It has dangerous chemicals in it,” Karen said virtuously. “I read it on the internet.”

“Huh. Well, if it’s on the internet of course it’s true. Personally, I think that this pregnancy has driven you a little crazy, and not the fun Isadora Mosswood kind of crazy.”

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