Shifters of Silver Peak(7)

By: Georgette St. Clair

Nelda resumed her scrutiny of Valerie. “There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make sure that my son isn’t marrying a gold-digger.”

“I can assure you of one thing. I did not mate your son for his money,” Valerie said stonily. “In fact, I didn’t actually ma— Ouch!” she squealed as Eileen elbowed her sharply in the ribs.

“Thanks for my birthday present, by the way,” Honoria added, speaking to Valerie. “I know it was you who picked it out. Morgan still buys me stuff for twelve-year-olds.”

“No problem. He means well,” Valerie said. Honoria quirked an eyebrow as if to suggest that she questioned Valerie’s assessment.

Nelda looked at Valerie in confusion for a moment. “Birthday present? Wait a minute. Valerie Dickinson? I’ve met you before, I know that name... You’re his secretary? No.”

“Mother, watch yourself,” Morgan said angrily. “I’m your son, but I am also your Alpha. You will not speak to Valerie in that fashion.”

His mother shook her head stubbornly. “No. I do not accept this mating.”

Before he could answer, more family members began trooping in through the door, shaking snow from their hair and stamping it off their feet. Most of them, like Nelda, wore expensive clothing and expressions of disgust. Trailing behind them were a half-dozen or so pack members who carried themselves in a more submissive fashion and were dressed more modestly. Probably the family’s servants.

From Morgan’s family pictures, Valerie recognized Morgan’s Aunt Elmira and her two sons, Festus and Camden, who were in their early twenties. They’d graduated from college with business degrees, and Morgan had given them both low-responsibility jobs in one of his companies to keep them busy. She knew he didn’t think much of them, and he’d promoted non-family-members above them, which spoke volumes.

There was also CoraBelle and Hud Breedlove, a mated couple. Hud was Morgan’s cousin twice removed or so. They were well-suited for each other. Blandly handsome, blond, with yellow-gold eyes that matched the gold jewelry dripping from their necks and wrists. They wore the expressions of people who’d smelled something terrible and then their faces had frozen that way forever.

“Hello, Morgan. Alpha. Which one is his mate? Is she here?” Elmira asked imperiously, directing her questions at Nelda. Her gaze lit on Eileen. Of course. A skinny, pretty little wolf shifter from a good family.

Eileen shook her head and silently pointed at Valerie. Elmira turned to Nelda with an expression of surprise.

“Well,” Nelda said hastily, “he said that he’s selected her as his mate, but he hasn’t gone through the pack rituals yet. So nothing is set in stone, and of course he’s going to change his mind.”

“Pack rituals?” Valerie looked at Morgan with alarm.

“He mated a human? I don’t know about that,” Elmira said. “I think that would disqualify him, wouldn’t it?” She glanced fondly at her two sons. They’d have a shot at Alpha if Morgan lost the position.

“No,” Honoria said. “We’d need to consult the Pack Charter for the specifics, but rules against human-shifter mating are considered discriminatory.” She looked at Valerie and nodded approvingly. “She sends good swag, so I say she stays.”

Homer nodded. “Ditto.”

“This is most irregular. We’ll call our attorneys,” Hud said to his wife, who nodded eagerly, her eyes glittering with avarice. She was picturing herself as the Alpha’s wife; she was practically smacking her lips.

“Hey!” Morgan barked angrily, and it ended on a snarl. They all looked at him, startled, and then gave short, sharp bows of their heads to indicate submission to their Alpha.

“Get out of here now. All of you. Mother, you and I will discuss this outside.”

“Well I never,” Elmira said huffily. “After we came all this way. You’ve raised a very disrespectful son.”

“At least he’s not a wimp like your Festus, or a bully like your Camden. Come along, children.” She inclined her head at Honoria and Homer, and they swept out of the office.

The rest of the pack trailed out after them, turning their heads to shoot curious stares at Valerie.

Chapter Three

“What the hell?” Valerie said furiously to Eileen. Valerie had stormed down the back hallway into Morgan’s office, and Eileen had followed her as Morgan hurried out front after his family. “Why would you do that?”

“Well, for starters, I think there’s something between you two,” Eileen said.

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