Shifters of Silver Peak(6)

By: Georgette St. Clair

“You think?” Valerie said. “Still. It’s not like you to put off something so important. If the fate of your pack is riding on it. I mean, if there’s one good thing I could say about you, it’s that you’re organized.”

“One good thing?” Morgan looked offended. Then he waved his hand in exasperation, as if to dismiss the problem. “Anyway, don’t worry about my pack. I’ll have to call my mother and stall her. It’s fine.”

“Call her?” Valerie said. “She’s in the front office. Your whole family is there.”

He leapt to his feet and rushed for the door. “Why didn’t you say so? Wait, they’re out there with Eileen? There’s no telling what she’s saying to them right now! She hates me!”

“Hate is a strong word,” Valerie said, following him as he flung his door open. “I think mild dislike is much more…oh, hello.”

Eileen was standing there in the hallway, shaking her head. She looked at Morgan and made a tsking sound of disapproval.

“Eavesdropping? If you still worked here, I’d fire you,” Morgan snapped at her.

“I’d fire myself,” Eileen said drily. “And I’d give me a terrible reference, just for the heck of it.” Then she grinned at Valerie and held up her hand. “Score! High-five,” she said, and Valerie slapped her palm, but with less enthusiasm than usual.

They headed down the hall to face Morgan’s family. Morgan’s mother looked at Eileen with interest, ignoring Valerie.

“Mother. I didn’t know you were coming,” Morgan said to her, and his tone made it clear that the surprise was not a happy one.

Valerie glanced nervously at his family and tried to slide casually behind Eileen, which was not very effective because Eileen was a toothpick and Valerie was a big, round apple.

She wanted to be as far away from this family feud as possible. Fortunately, she doubted they’d recognize her, since they’d only met her face to face once, when she’d first started working with Morgan in their pack’s home state of California.

She recognized them all from the pictures on Morgan’s desk and from the pack’s company brochure.

There was Nelda. She was a widow. Morgan’s father had died when he was in his teens, and he never talked about it. The subject was strictly forbidden. Valerie had tried to ask Arthur about it a couple of times, and he’d suddenly gone deaf and then remembered that he had an urgent something he had to do immediately, in another part of town.

Morgan didn’t have any pictures of his father in his office, or anywhere else that Valerie had ever seen. She’d always wondered about that. Did he hate him? Had he been abusive? Was that why all talk of his father was forbidden?

Nelda was accompanied by Honoria and Homer Rosemont, Morgan’s twin brother and sister. They were both seventeen. They looked like young, lean versions of Morgan. Their personalities couldn’t have been more different than his, though. Homer was a computer nerd, and Honoria was planning on being a lawyer. Valerie knew because she was the one who picked out their Christmas and birthday presents.

“Alpha,” Nelda said, with a nod of her head indicating respect for the pack’s leader, even if he was her son. Homer and Honoria both murmured, “Alpha,” and nodded their heads as well. It was pack tradition to start out that way, especially if one was greeting him after a long absence.

“Yes, that’s what they call me.”

“So,” Nelda said, nodding at Eileen. “I recognize this young lady from her debutante ball. Eileen Pennyroyal. And you’ve already Mate-Marked her. I mean, the fact that you Mate-Marked her before we could meet her is a violation of pack tradition, and you and I will talk about that later, but a Pennyroyal is quite acceptable.”

“What?” Eileen burst into laughter. “Oh, no. I’m already mated, to a lovely man named Marcus. That’s Morgan’s new mate. Valerie Dickinson.” She pointed at Valerie.

Valerie stifled a gasp. Then she looked at Eileen and mouthed, “I will kill you.” Eileen blinked at her with big, innocent eyes. Great. She was using Valerie’s own move on her.

Nelda scowled and slowly looked her up and down.

“You’re human,” she said to Valerie.

“Thank you for noticing,” Valerie said, annoyed.

“Are you from a respectable family?” she asked.

“She means rich,” Honoria said helpfully.

“Honoria, really!” Nelda chided her, looking appalled.

“Well, you do.” Honoria said, her tone self-righteous and wounded. “As a future attorney, I believe in stating all facts clearly and truthfully.”

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