Chapter 1 - Cade
Cade walked down the quiet street in the small, picturesque town. He liked it here, it was peaceful. He hardly ever had any peace in his life, his job guaranteed that. But, he took pride in it, and his life. He had no worries and no ties, and that’s just the way he liked it.
He passed a bakery, a book store and a coffee shop. If he ever decided to settle down, he could picture himself in a town such as this. He would love to build a small cabin on the outskirts, hopefully by a lake. It would be surrounded by forest and his wolf could run whenever he felt the need. It would be a serene, tranquil life.
Right now, his job was extremely demanding. As an enforcer for the council, it was up to him to rid the country of troublesome wolves. Wolves that were violent, wolves that attacked humans and wolves that went feral. Not many knew of the enforcers, as the council didn’t want them known. This way, they could slip in and get the job done, quickly and quietly, without any resistance.
He had a small band of enforcers that stayed with him. It was almost like a pack, as he was head enforcer, Shane was his second, and Zack and Lucas brought up the rear. The four of them were as close as brothers and had formed a bond over the last ten years from working closely together. He would trust any one of them with his life.
As Cade passed a small craft store, a painting in the window caught his attention. It was stunning. It depicted a small lake, surrounded by trees. It was night in the painting and a full moon cast a beautiful shimmery shadow over the water. The painting was so life like, that he could image the smell of the forest as he stared at it.
He shook his head and continued on, but not five minutes later he found himself back in front of the painting again. Making a split second decision, he pushed open the door to the small shop and moved inside. He was stunned to see many similar paintings hung throughout the space. All of them were of trees, lakes, flowers and streams. He moved closer to one and leaned in, desperate to read the signature.
“This artist is my favourite of all the consignment work I display in my shop,” came a voice from behind him. Cade turned to the older woman who moved to stand beside him. She smiled as she explained, “the artist is local and is wonderfully talented.”
“The one in the window, is it for sale?” He held his breath, ready to offer anything if it wasn’t.
Her smile brightened then. “Why yes, just let me get it down so can get a closer look.” She sauntered off to the front of the store, and he wandered the shop, carefully perusing all the paintings. He was surprised to see he was drawn to all of them. He still liked the painting in the front window the best, but he found he could easily have spent hours in the shop, just looking at them.
The shop owner came closer, holding the painting delicately in her arms. She passed it to him, and was surprised to find it calmed him when he had his huge hands wrapped around the frame.
“The artist,” he asked, “do you have any information on them?” He had to know who painted this, his wolf was demanding it. He was astounded to find that his wolf was as enamoured with the painting as he was.
The shop owner studied him for a few minutes, and Cade got the impression she could see into his soul.
“Tansi, is the young woman’s name,” she told him. “She’s a pretty little thing, lives out in the forest. She has a cabin by Rainy Lake. She’s turned her loft into a studio, and does really well for herself.”
“You certainly give that information out easily enough,” he told her with a raised brow.
“You’re the first person I’ve told, so no I don’t give it out easily. I have a feeling you’re different though, and for some reason I trust you with it,” she replied, surprising him. He nodded in response.
“Can you wrap this up for me,” he asked as he passed the painting back to her. She nodded and headed for the counter. She was meticulous in her care of it, making sure not to damage anything. He admired the care she showed to it.
Minutes later he left the shop, the painting tucked neatly under his arm. He pulled his cell out of his back pocket with his free hand and hit the last number called.
“Shane,” he said as the call was answered. “I have something I need to do this afternoon. Take the boys for some beers will ya, relax a bit. I’ll be back by nightfall, and we can continue the hunt then.”
“You need backup with whatever you suddenly need to do,” the noisy wolf questioned him.
“No,” he ordered, then ended the call and shoved the phone back into his pocket. He made his way back to the motel and carefully placed the painting in the backseat of his truck. He hated traveling in a vehicle, but it was needed to carrying all their weapons and supplies. Traveling in wolf form, was faster, but not really practical.
Cade climbed in and cracked the ignition, starting the truck. Then he pulled out his cell again and plugged in Rainy Lake. A map came up, and he figured it would take about twenty minutes to get there. The shop owner had pretty much hinted that the girl was isolated out there, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find her.
Cade pulled out of the parking lot and headed in the direction of the lake. He wasn’t sure what he would find, but both him and his wolf were excited about the possibilities.