Home > Missing Lynx (Kodiak Point #6)

Missing Lynx (Kodiak Point #6)
Author: Eve Langlais

 


Prologue

 

 

The rabbit appeared well fed for this time of the year. Plump. Juicy.

Mine.

Perched above, her claws digging into a tree branch, Rilee practically drooled at the thought of sinking her teeth into it. How long since her last full meal?

Too long. But then again, she wasn’t one to get regular nutrition even growing up. Mom had other uses for the government subsidies. Ones that didn’t involve paying to feed a cumbersome child.

Her stomach rumbled, reminding her that she couldn’t keep neglecting it. It needed food.

Meaning she had to hunt.

Before her dinner could hop away, she pounced, her silent leap not alerting her prey. A cat always landed on its feet. She killed it swiftly because only psychos played with their food and only dumb animals ate it raw.

She wasn’t a simple-minded beast. She’d cook the meat. It wouldn’t take long to get a fire going back at camp, and with the salt and pepper she’d filched from that fast food place, she could even season it. Gourmet camping.

A better option than the nasty shelters in the city. She refused to live in a cage.

With her catch clenched in her jaws, she trotted back in the direction of her cave, a literal hole in a rocky hill she currently called home. A temporary thing until she could put some money away and get herself a real place with hot water. And a toilet. She really missed a toilet. A hole in the ground just wasn’t the same.

She had no problem navigating the rocks leading up the gravelly slope to her Flintstone-ish abode. She’d hung a tarp over the entrance to keep some of the drafts and weather out. The ledge in front held the remains of her last fire, the pile of ash hopefully hiding an ember that would make her task easier.

But she couldn’t do that while in her feline shape. Powerful. Fleet of foot. Beautiful. But a lynx couldn’t start a fire or make dinner. Time to put her clothes back on.

As the rabbit hit the ground, she saw it: a plastic tag inside the rabbit’s ear.

How could she have missed it? She nudged it with her nose and uttered a low growl of discontent. The tag uttered a faint vibration, the slight hum indicating it was transmitting. Stupid tracking device. She’d wager she knew who’d tagged it. Those annoying science folk, traipsing around in her woods, marking everything in sight. Writing papers about the migratory habits of the wildlife using modern-day GPS trackers. And she’d brought the stupid thing to her doorstep.

Technically speaking, no one was allowed to camp in these woods. And a lynx in these parts was unheard of. She couldn’t be found. Only one person knew where she was and had probably already forgotten the moment she got her next fix.

Grabbing the rabbit once more in her jaws, Rilee bounded back down the slope, trotting quickly into the forest. She wanted to get it as far as she could from her camp. She’d remove the tracker and drop it in the creek where it could float away.

Bye, bye, problem.

This would actually work out better. Since she was already by the water, she’d have a quick sluice, clean her dinner, and then head back to her cave for a night of reading—because she’d brought a few books, salvaged from the garbage bin behind the library. She didn’t care if half the cover was torn or a few pages stained. It beat only having her thoughts for company.

The crack of a branch froze her. Instantly, she crouched low and let the rabbit fall out of her mouth. Her ears twitched, the tufts of hair on them more than just decorative, her hearing acute.

Nothing unusual to smell, just the regular moldering of leaves, the musk of a squirrel. The cracking could have been naturally caused, but her coiled tension insisted someone watched.

With twilight falling, visibility lessened. Her gaze scanned the forest, her vision sharp despite the increasing shadows. She’d never seen anything big in these woods. Nothing that would threaten a predator like herself.

By the time she noticed the glint of goggles, it was already too late. Still, she didn’t panic. She’d run into humans before, their excitement over getting a picture of a rare lynx amusing. The person stalking her didn’t have a camera but a gun.

Which they fired.

She blinked at the point of impact, expecting to see blood. Instead, a cylinder with a bright tuft on the end jutted from her body.

She’d been doped! She began to run.

A man shouted, “Don’t let her get away. Shoot her again.”

More darts struck, and she tried to escape, but her limbs betrayed her. She folded onto the ground. Her eyes shut.

She woke in a cage.

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 

Talk about boring. Banished to small-town, middle-of-nowhere Alaska. Mateo sighed. When his boss suggested he should lie low—because apparently someone had shot a video of a tiger entering an alley and a naked man walking out—he’d hoped to spend it on a beach. Maybe take his mother to Italy for a visit, which would earn him some pasta points. No such luck.

Instead, the big boss had said, “You’re going to Kodiak Point.”

Which, according to the internet, only possessed a paved road to civilization a few months out of the year. Once winter hit, they relied on the dangerous ice highways.

And this was to be his home for the next little bit.

Mateo whined a little. “Send me anywhere but there. How about Afghanistan? Surely you have someone I can spy on there. Kill? Maul?” The last emerged hopeful.

Bitching didn’t fly with his boss. “Are you defying a direct order? Which, I will add, came about because you were dumb. As a rock. And not an interesting rock, but the boring kind you use in ditches because it’s not even good enough for the driveway.”

The mouthful had Mateo blinking. “Uh.” He’d been so roundly insulted there was only one comeback. “Wait until I tell my mother.” It emerged as a threat. A valid one. No one wanted to deal with her.

“I’ll handle your mother. It won’t be so bad,” his buffalo of a boss said. But don’t call him Bill. Terrence could get huffy and stamp his foot when that happened.

“And what are you going to tell the hicks in charge of this town?”

“Nothing, yet. You’re not going there in an official capacity.”

“Little confused, boss. I thought you wanted me keeping an eye on this place.”

“I do, but on the down-low. I don’t want to possibly tip anyone off about our concerns. When the time is right, I’ll talk to the alpha in charge. So relax. Try and enjoy yourself. I hear the fishing and hunting is excellent.”

“In the winter?” he said rather doubtfully.

“Worst case, you sleep most of the day and find yourself a cushiony companion to play with while you wait for spring.”

Put in those terms, it didn’t sound horrible. And he did like playing in the snow.

“Who knows, maybe you’ll love it and want to stay,” Terrence added.

“Why would I want to stay?” The exclamation burst from him.

“Maybe you’ll meet ‘the one.’ Pop out a few cubs. Live happily ever after.”

“You forgot the yelling and the shoe throwing.” He remembered what it was like at home growing up. But it was even worse when, for a few months after his father’s death, the house became deathly silent except for late in the night when he’d hear his mother cry.

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