Wolf on a Mission:Salvation Pack, Book 6By: N.J. Walters
Elias Gallagher glanced in the rearview mirror before bringing his gaze back to the road in front of him. Both his nephews were sprawled out on the backseat of the SUV. Headphones on, Reece tapped his finger on his knee to music only he could hear. His twin brother, Sage, was playing a handheld video game, his expression intense. Neither of them were paying any attention to the world outside the vehicle. But from what Elias knew, that was pretty typical for seventeen-year-old males.
He tightened his fingers on the steering wheel and forced himself to take a deep, calming breath. The last thing he’d expected was to become the sole guardian of his two nephews. His brother and sister-in-law had both been happy and healthy only a few months before. Elias had enjoyed being a doting uncle and had been in the boys’ lives from the very beginning.
Now he was all they had.
Strictly speaking, that wasn’t true. Up in Alaska they had a grandfather, an uncle and aunt, various cousins and extended family. Of course, they’d probably try to kill the boys if they ever discovered their existence. Luckily, none of them ever strayed too far from their northern home.
A gas station came into view, and Elias turned on his signal light. He needed fuel for his vehicle and coffee for himself. Reece and Sage had to be getting hungry too. They packed away food like there was no tomorrow.
He pulled up to the pumps and turned off the engine. Swiveling around, he pinned both boys with a steely stare. “In and out quick. Don’t make any trouble.”
Sage nodded, but Reece didn’t bother acknowledging him as they both climbed out of the vehicle. Elias sighed and opened the driver’s door. He stretched his arms over his head and worked the kinks out of his back before he grabbed the nozzle and started pumping gas. He kept one eye on the pump and the other on the boys as they sauntered over to the station.
Almost men now. And that was the problem.
“Damn it, Everett. Why did you and Marcie have to die?” He still couldn’t believe his older brother and his sister-in-law were gone. Killed in a car accident last winter. It wasn’t the initial crash that had killed them. They would have most likely survived that. But there’d been no surviving the fiery crash that had erupted after. A tanker had gone off the icy roads. The cars behind it had tried to stop, but with the slippery conditions, it had been impossible for any of them to avoid being caught up in the accident. Elias’s brother had managed to stop, but the car behind him hadn’t. The driver had slammed into Everett’s vehicle and pushed it right into the tanker, causing an instant explosion. Their bodies had been totally incinerated.
There hadn’t been anything left to bury.
Which wasn’t surprising. The same genetics that allowed werewolves to heal quickly and live longer than humans also accelerated the decomposition process after death. That might have caused problems with officials, but the fire had ensured there were no remains to examine, no questions to be asked. Fire burned werewolf bodies quickly and quite thoroughly.
The gas pump shut off and Elias removed the nozzle and set it back into the slot. He rolled his shoulders, trying to ease the ever-present tension that resided there as he walked toward the station to pay. As he’d expected, both boys had a mound of junk food piled high on the counter. Reece was also flirting with the teenage girl working the cash register.
“I’ll take a coffee to go with that,” he told the girl as he motioned to the junk food stash.
The young girl’s cheeks turned red, but she nodded and hurriedly poured him a coffee. Elias quickly settled the bill for the food and gas and corralled his nephews back to the vehicle.
They’d barely pulled away from the station when Reece spoke. “Why are we going to this place anyway?”
Elias prayed for patience. Neither boy had wanted to leave the home they’d grown up in, but it was time. He and Everett had been discussing such a move when the accident had happened. “It’s what your father wanted.” He glanced at Sage, who had his head down, but Elias knew the boy was listening.
“It’s because of me, isn’t it?” Sage raised his head, and Elias hated the shame he saw in the boy’s eyes.