Fire and Ice by Shawn Hilton and Toni Force Free First Chapter

Fire and Ice by Shawn Hilton

Book Description:

Twenty-five years ago, a Human and a Shaper fell in love. Then the unthinkable happened and started a wedge that would drive them apart. Now, they are back in the same area and facing a danger that threatens their very lives while a bond that can’t be broken attempts to reassert itself. Join Scott and Armida in a race against time to stop an old foe playing on the prejudices that span centuries.

Enjoy the ride as they fight for their rights in a world where Vampires are more accepted than they are.

Love in a world where finding a mate could be a death sentence from her people, and that is just a typical Monday.

Welcome to the world of the Michigan Shapers.

Chapter One

“Face Palm”, a phrase used to express the emotion that is best
described as ‘what you are doing is so utterly ridiculous that I’m
embarrassed for your sake to the point I want to hide my face in
shame’, and the actual act of doing so at someone can be, and usually
is, seen as insulting. But when someone is a 42-year-old made Shaper
wolf , although with the appearance of a much younger human who is at
most in his mid 20’s, and he is observing a newly-made Shaper wolf,
who is desperately trying to figure out how to track Pack-mates around
the expansive and aptly named Beaver Island that he and his Pack call
its Lupe, sometimes the only possible thought that can form in one’s
mind is “face palm”.

Standing, Scott made his way over to sit down next to a rock and
watch as poor Nikita, a girl of 18 stood in front of him. This was now
her third attempt to get this right. She showed great potential at
being one of the rare trackers and was the first one to be created and
come into the Pack that had not already been in another Pack and
trained. Despite how good she was, he could not turn her fully over
for training to Mike, the Pack’s tracker, until she could learn basic
tracking, and right now he was starting to think he would have more
success if the class was a paint by number lesson.

“Nikki! For fuck sakes, concentrate! Close your eyes, take a deep
breath in and Stop fighting your wolf. She knows what to do. Let her
do it.”

The words probably came out harsher than what he had intended, but
for all the patience that he had, he was starting to feel the strain
in his head. Most of all, he was starting to feel tired. It was not
like he could go to High Island, the small Island just off the coast
of this one where the Den was located and indulge himself in a bit of
play and fun with one of the other Pack females; not since her.

Nikita gave him a look that was a mix of determination and attitude,
a look that almost screamed ‘fuck you’, but the young omega would
never say it. Not ever. That was one spot where the wolf had full
control, and for her, that was a good thing.

“I am concentrating and I’m not fighting my wolf!”, which wasn’t
true, she was fighting it in a way she hadn’t in a long time. She had
argued from the outset of this exercise, argued that the group cutting
dead-fall would prove too distracting, and had argued that she had
been up late last night. She had even argued that she wasn’t a
tracker. Maybe it was the fact that she had a crush on Mike. He was
one of the crew on the island dealing with the firewood that would be
needed for winter. Scott’s return argument had been simple; she needed
to learn to track in adverse conditions so this was the perfect time
to learn focus amidst distractions.

One simple word with the full authority of his wolf behind it had her
back on track. “Nikki!” With a soft sigh, she closed her eyes and
tried again, murmuring ‘fine’ under her breath. This attempt was
better. She relaxed her hold on her wolf and breathed slowly, turning
a bit on the spot. Then, making a false start, she clamped right back
down on the wolf. So close.

So Scott did what he had sworn at the outset of this activity that
he wouldn’t. He face palmed. He released a breath as he shook his head
and leaned back against the rock behind him. He was getting too old
for this; he swore that he was. Despite the fact that being a Shaper
means that his body doesn’t age like a Humans, sometimes he just
felt his age. “Okay okay, enough, stop. Nikki, I want you to go back
to the Den. Take the ferry, go find Savannah and tell her I said that
she is to work with you on scent tracking.” He needed to send her
back. Her head just wasn’t in this, and the scent of need for Mike on
her was starting to add to his headache. The sexual tension of the
younger wolves always did that to him, and since he had lost her, he
could not bear it sometimes. Most times, he could go to Tammy, or Tina
or any of the Pack females and a night of touch and go play would help
him, but it could not replace her. It could not replace what he had
already lost due to his own stupidity. He could not bring himself to
blame Nikki. For all he knew, Mike was her mate, or he wasn’t, but
that was the nature of what they were. Their beast always looking for
that one; the one that was theirs. The one that would take hold of the
other end of the mating bond, the part of them that made the whole. He
was just the unlucky fucker who had found and lost his other half, and
it was his own fault.

His thoughts were broken into when the popping and snapping of a wolf
shifting behind him rang through the clearing. Based on the slowed
speed of it, and the look of both delight and fear on Nikki’s face,
told him that Akala, the Adolphus of the Pack was here.

“Hello Nikki.” said Akala, the youngest Adolphus in the United
States, as he came to kneel beside him and shook his head. While
young, Akala had proved himself more than strong enough to lead the
Pack two years ago after an 8 year exile, for a crime he did not
commit, (as in, it hadn’t even happened). He had come back and found
the Pack had been scattered by his adopted father, the King of the
Vampires in Michigan. After rebuilding the Pack, Akala fought a war to
get Shaper’s the full and equal rights enjoyed by Vampires and Humans.
So while Scott was the older of the two, he had no problem at all of
accepting the younger, stronger wolf as the leader he was.

Akala got right to business, “Scott, I need you to take a break from
this if you could. I just got call from the Shingleton Band.” Scott
had to stifle a groan- ‘coyotes’. He hated dealing with the
members of that Band. They reminded him too much of her. “They have a
new Ajijak. She is trying to get organized, and they found a dead Fox
on the border between our lands and theirs. Since all evidence is
showing it was a Shaper attacking a Shaper, JTLR won’t get involved
and the coyotes lack the resources and training. So old man, since you
used to work for them, you drew the short straw.”

“Fine.” Scott said shaking his head as he moved to get up. “Are they
going to have someone meet me there? I’m gonna assume that they will
not want me to have access to their lands unescorted.”

“I would assume so, but that is not all I need to talk with you
about.” Akala said as he moved to stand up. Scott made sure to meet
the eyes of the man. Shaper’s did not care about nudity, not like
Humans, but that being said, Scott was not in the mood to be staring
at his Adolphus’s penis for the walk. Besides it was rude, and could
be very pride damaging.

“Okay. Can we talk and walk?” He asked as he started to turn to
head for the ferry himself, because he would need to get to High
Island and the ultra-light to get to the mainland.

“Scott, you need to find a lover or something.” Scott stopped and
looked at Akala. ‘WHAT?’ He could not believe he heard that. While
he was not the more dominate of the two, he was the older. He should
at least have control of his sex life unmolested. He knew that was not
how Pack worked, and especially on this topic he knew most the Pack
would butt in as much as possible.

“Not your business Akala and you know it.” he said with a small growl
in his voice.

“That is where you are wrong.” Akala replied falling in step beside
him, which forced Scott to walk or stare at Akala’s ass the whole
way to the ferry dock, which was not something he wanted to do in the
least. “Your need is starting to affect some of the younger Wolves,
and I have been watching. You are starting to get headaches whenever
you’re around one of the younger members who is sexually active.”

As if to prove that point, Nikki darted across the path, Mike hot on
her tail. There was no doubt that they were off to find Savannah, but
the two of them were too much with the conversation at hand. Scott
stopped dead in his tracks and glared at Akala’s back. “It’s nothing
that a good run won’t take care of. Or maybe a fishing trip up north.”
His head was hurting too much to come up with any other activities
that could explain his state. “We can discuss this when I get back.
Shawn just got back yesterday and would probably like a change of pace
from guard duty. I’ll take him with me.” Considering that Shawn had
been playing bodyguard to the King’s bloodmate, he was probably just
as sexually frustrated.

“Umm, no you won’t. Tammy needed his help. Since she is the main
Healer now she highjacked him to help her set up the small house.”

Scott gave a groan, and roll of his brown eyes. Of course that was
just his luck, not only was he going to have to deal with scavenging
coyotes but he is going to have to deal with them alone. He sighed,
“Seriously then, who can I take with me?” A bit of a growl slipped
into his voice, and he was forced to close his eyes and bring two
fingers up to squeeze the bridge of his nose as he shook his head.
“Sorry, I have another headache.”

He felt Akala’s hand lower to his shoulder, and with it a bit of
warmth seeped into him, which caused the headache to retreat a small
bit. “Tammy said that she wanted to send you to the hospital in
Traverse City, for a CT scan. Did she find anything?” Akala was
looking at him with his steel gray eyes, and in them he could see both
the concern of Adolphus, and of a friend.

“No, nothing. Well, they are not sure. Last I talked to Tammy she was
trying to get Shawn to stop dicking around and get the damn abandoned
town on the north side of this island set up for families to live in.
She had to put headaches, that a bit of Fey wine would help with by
the way, on a back burner. The main house, new turn dorm, and now the
small house she has been using for a health clinic,” He shrugged,
“they are all starting to get over full, so she wants to try and use
the two abandoned towns on here to deal with the over flow.” Beaver
Island had once been populated by Humans but they had slowly left the
island to grow wild like nearby Hog Island and Garden Island. The
State had taken them all over bit by bit, making them into protected
wild lands with limited hunting and fishing rights. Somewhere along
the line, King Ironclaw, the Vampire King of Michigan had managed to
get them first turned into a safe haven for Shaper’s, then turned them
over to the Wolves. It finally ended with Akala buying them outright
for a very reasonable price. Scott figured that there had to be some
perks to being the adopted son of the King.

“Next thing you know, she’ll be wanting to put in a playground for
all the pups to frolic in. It’s going to be a bitch setting up two
separate housing areas for winter though.” Scott laughed as the
headache had eased off enough to make thinking clearly a bit easier.
“Did they say who the new head of the Coyote Band is?” Thinking about
her and her family caused the headache to flare a bit again but he
fought it back down.

“No, I am supposed to meet with her next week, but I have agreed to
carry over all the rights we gave the old Ajijak. From what my sources
are telling me, she is pretty strong willed.” Akala gave a bit of a
chuckle and started to walk towards the ferry dock again. “But they
are coyotes, and you know as well as I do that is exactly what they
said about the last leader, and she would not stop shaking every time
I walked in to a room with her.” He gave a bit of a laugh, as did
Scott.

coyotes are a distant cousin of the Wolves in the world of the
Shaper’s, but unlike the Wolves, that are mostly male dominated with
only a few dominant females, coyotes are usually all pure bred, live
in small family groups, and are female dominated. Another thing that
drove Scott crazy about them, was a result of their way of life. He
saw almost all their men as weak minded and annoying. “Tell me about
the attack.” He asked trying to bring the conversation back to
business.

“Nothing much to tell from the info I have. Apparently one of their
younger ones was out running along the border between our lands and
theirs, and she smelled death, so she had moved in looking for an easy
meal. She realized it was a Shaper, not sure what kind. Originally
JTLR had shown up.”

The Joint Task Force for Life Regulation or JTLR, had been created by
the Humans and Vampires as a preternatural kind of police force, and
long before Shaper’s had been given their rights, they had forced
Shaper’s to live by laws that made no sense, and were hard to follow
because of their beast. They would label even a child rabid and issue
a death warrant so fast it would make their heads spin. After the
Justice Act was signed into being two years ago, they had been reduced
to a point that they could only enforce laws that protected the
different races of people from each other.

“But as soon as they saw it looked like a Shaper on Shaper attack,
they withdrew and dropped it all in the coyote’s lap, and now they
called me.” Akala finished.

‘Just great’, Scott thought as they stepped onto the ferry that
ran between Beaver Island and High Island, ‘and to think my day had
started off so well’, he thought as he turned to take a seat. Akala
walked into the locker room and came back in a pair of sweat pants and
a blue button-down shirt. The Adolphus was actually pretty huge, and
no one who ever looked at him would not know exactly what he was. The
man stood 6’4” and was built like a wrestler who had been dropped
first in a vat of steroids, and then in a vat of nuclear waste, to
give you ‘Akala! Super Human extraordinaire’. While Scott was
6’1”, he was not short by any means, but he still felt dwarfed by
the Adolphus. His looks were that kind of good looking average guy who
could fit in anywhere, that sometimes made it easy to just kind of
fade in with the crowd, while never letting people know that death in
the form of teeth and claws was among them. She used to call him the
wolf in sheep’s clothing, or Jackal. He winced at the memory.

Scott caught himself praying that she was gone and no longer with
the Shingleton Band, but that was very likely too much to hope for. He
had managed to avoid any chance of randomly running into her, but how
much longer would he be able to avoid it? They had both grown up in
this area. Both had ties to this area and since he had ended up back
here, it only stood to reason that she had as well, even though she
had left after he had been gifted.

Scott was mostly quiet on the ride back to High Island, finding
himself lost in his own thoughts. This little trip into coyote
territory was bringing things up inside him that he had thought long
dead and buried; mainly her. He closed his eyes for a second and let
himself remember how she looked at that one school dance, and then
abruptly, he forced the image away. ‘Maybe Akala is right. Maybe I
should try to get laid. Lord knows that there were willing enough
females all around. But how can I even consider it when I had had that
perfect one and lost her? No, it’s best to just concentrate on my
work and find other forms of stress relief. Maybe next time the King’s
kitten needed a babysitter, I’ll volunteer’.

Scott considered the idea of asking Akala to ask his mate Larkspur if
one of her people could go with him but that could be asking for
trouble. The Fey were well known for their mischievous bent and you
never knew for sure if one would see an opening and run with it, or if
they would remain on task. No, he was going to have to do this alone.
“Since I’m hitting the mainland, I might as well bring back some
supplies as well. Get me a list of stuff we need and I’ll get what I
can. Not too much though, I’m taking the Ultralight so that I can
get there a bit faster. The ferry across that side takes too damn
long.” Scott said, his fingers once again pinching the bridge of his
nose trying to squeeze out the pain that just would not seem to let
him free. It was starting to convince him that one of the damn
Demi-Fey, creatures of myth and magic who had found their way into the
open at about the same time that the Vampires had over 60 years ago,
was seeking to drive a nail in to his eye ball. Larkspur was Queen of
the Demi-Fey glen whose entrance was located in a weeping willow tree
on the north side of High Island.

Akala and she shared a special bond, that went further than just
being mated. She was also his Veho Dico, also known as a Called Rider.
That made little to no sense to Scott. He saw it as giving way too
much power over himself to a Fey, but he had to admit it helped Akala
since because of their bond, he was immune to even a Vampire’s call.
But it was not for Scott.

“Okay, Lark is waiting for me in my apartment. We have a date, but I
will see what I can get from Savannah and Katie. I am not trying to
invade their kitchen before I meet up with her. How long before you
plan to take off?” Akala asked as he sat down across from Scott on the
rocking ferry.

“One hour at most, but I will need to call ahead to Big Bay, and make
sure their landing field is clear for me to come in on.” Scott replied
as he forced his eyes open against the pain of the headache that he
was sure was trying to get the Adolphus to notice, and get him sent to
the hospital under armed guard. It would definitely take an armed
guard. He would just take some aspirin and a couple swallows of Fey
spirit and he’d be fine, or at least fine enough to get this damned
trip out of the way.

Scott looked ahead to the dock to note who was there to greet the
ferry. ‘Shawn and Tammy, wonderful’. Tammy was sure to fuss over
him as soon as she noticed his headache. All in all, that might not be
a bad thing. Her healing magic would at least take the edge off the
pain but he didn’t really have that kind of time. Then he felt it. She
had already noticed and was starting with the healing, leaning on
Shawn for support. He gave another low growl but knew that it wouldn’t
stop her from using her gift so he just relaxed into it and let her do
her thing. The easing of pain must have been evident on his face from
the look that Akala was giving him. He just hoped Akala would keep
Tammy from badgering him about it when they got to the dock.

“Don and Kory are on the mainland, maybe give them a call to have
things ready so I can come straight back after the meeting with the
coyotes. And maybe I will give your suggestion a try.” He was on his
feet as soon as the boat was close enough to the dock to jump off,
shooting his words over his shoulder to the small group as he stalked
towards the small landing strip. “I’ll call as soon as I know
anything.”

* * *

An hour flight and an hour drive later, Scott found himself walking
up to the area that the GPS on his tablet was telling him was the
location of the body the coyotes had found. Looking around, he
breathed in deep through his nose, seeking any scents that may have
been left behind, and instantly he sneezed. Someone had been wearing
this evilly cheap perfume. He assumed that it had to be one of the
Humans from JTLR; they had no common sense at all. Even if they had
brought one of the Vampires with them, that fucking perfume alone
would have destroyed any scent evidence.

The body was about ten yards away. ‘At least the JTLR and the
coyotes had done that right and left the body as they found it,’
Scott thought. It looked as though the Shaper was a Fox that had been
out hunting. This is not unusual and Foxes live in smaller family
groups than the coyote’s even, so they were generally ignored by the
larger predatory Shaper’s. They could be dangerous and dead useful
however. They tended to fill the same niche as Rats only in the more
wild areas. Their natural cunning and their ability to not be seen
makes them perfect as spies. The problem came in when they did not get
to fill that niche. Scott had seen it a lot in the years he had first
served in the military and then as a Rabid Animal Investigator for
JTLR, a job he did not miss at all, and thank the gods that it was no
longer needed because of the Justice Act of 2060, spearheaded by the
Adolphus to whom he now gave every ounce of his loyalty. He had been
doing this a very long time, so he was pretty sure that the Fox was
either a smuggler or a drug dealer, since most Foxes were, and either
one of which could have gotten him killed.

Kneeling, Scott let his eyes slip into the wolf so that he could look
at the ground for foot prints, and tracks that he couldn’t see with
his Human eyes, and might tell him what had dealt the killing blow.
“You found him?” he asked the coyote female who stood not far off
watching him. At her nod he spoke again. “So what has changed since
you found him?”

“There were more footprints but we had that light rain in the night
and we’ve had to run off some of the wild bears and bobcats that came
sniffing up a free meal. My brother even faced off with a wolverine.
Only other thing is the scent’s gone.”

Scott nodded when he noted the signs of some scuffles in a loose
perimeter around the body. “What was the scent of?”

“I don’t know. Nothing I’ve ever smelled around here before. Tell you
something else, I haven’t heard any owls or loons the past couple
nights either.”

“Okay, so the body has sat here overnight, that kind of sucks”.
Reaching up to his ear Scott pushed the small button on the ear piece
that was the communicator connection to his tablet in his back Pack.
“Call Akala, speed dial one.” As he listened to the connection tone he
turned to look at the coyote. He had to admit that she was not bad
looking; she was Shaper after all. She wouldn’t be considered New
York sexy, or even West Coast sexy. The jeans she was wearing along
with the pink baby tee, gave her that kind of girl-next-door-in-the
trailer-park kind of beauty. When she turned to look at him, Scott
gave her a small smile of encouragement as he waited for Akala to
answer. As he turned away and closed his eyes, he started to feel that
damn headache trying to rebuild back up into his skull.

“Hey Scott, what’s up?” He breathed out when he heard his Adolphus
speak through the headset. They had decided to use these headsets when
they had realized that normal Aerocells allowed every Shaper within
ten feet to hear the whole conversation.

“Tell Tammy she will need to prepare the morgue part of her aid
station first,” he said into the air, “and you may want to get Shawn
to take the Cessna and get up here. The body has already been out here
all night.” He heard the blue streak come from Akala before he turned
and yelled to wherever Tammy and Shawn were at in the Den grounds.
“Tell them to hurry. The body has drawn attention from some of the
wild life in the area.” He looked back at the girl to direct his next
comment to her. “You all did a good job keeping the wild ones at bay.
Did you notice anything else, any strangers in the area or anything
unusual?”

She gave him a look and shook her head. “It’s the tail end of the
summer season. There is nothing but strangers up and down the road
daily, but no, nothing that stands out.”

“Akala, you hear that?” Scott asked in the headset as again turned
and started to walk around the scene.

“Yep, two hours. I will have Shawn use the old Ice cream truck.” The
voice came back and then came a slightly beautiful giggle from
somewhere in the back ground and he knew that had to be Larkspur.

“Done. I will be waiting.” After he finished speaking he reached up
and pushed the small button to end the call, then turned to look at
the coyote woman again. “You may want to call your Ajijak. Tell her to
come up here if she can, I think she may want to see what is here.”

“Oh, she’ll be along shortly. She was going to come with me but got
hung up with Pappy.”

The smile she gave him was more than friendly, but at the same time,
not too overly friendly, and the slight change in her scent gave him a
sharp spike of pain in the returning headache. “Pappy?” Roger
“Windwalker” Drake should be dead by now. He had been older than
dirt back when…okay, not thinking about her. He turned to ask the
coyote her name and the name of her Ajijak and almost bumped into her;
she had gotten that close. “You never told me your name.”

“It’s Shayla. I can scent you.”

‘Oh great’, Scott felt the woman’s blatant sexuality spike at
the statement. Now he may be older for a wolf, but he still looked
like a Human in his late 20’s. Sometimes being a Shaper has advantages
all its own. But this damn headache was determined to make him go
blind, and it was making it extremely easy to ignore her, but he
thought it would be rude to do it outright, and he was looking forward
to a tiny bit of flirting. He let his wolf and his dominance,
(dominance that was just under that of his Adolphus), slip into his
eyes, and his mouth turn up in a slightly feral smile. “Puppy dog, you
could not handle me. I am not the dogs you are used to playing with; I
am a wolf, and I bite.” Then he turned, not to ignore her, but to
continue his search around the body. It was a strange scene. Even 24
hours after, and all the people who had been through, he should have
scented something, or even have seen a track outside of the general
area of the scene.

She took that as a challenge and the scent of her arousal grew.
“wolf man, you’d be amazed at what I like to handle,” she moved up
close and spoke sweetly in his ear, “and I like to be bitten.” She
gave his ear a playful swipe with the tip of her tongue and moved
around in front of him, looking down a faint trail. “It could be hours
before the Ajijak gets here.” She gave him a flirty look over her
shoulder and a slow smile that was enticing. He had to admit, she was
tempting, but flirting was as far as this would go even if her ass was
almost as nice as Nikki’s.

The play made him chuckle, a deep sound from his chest. For a second
it surprised him. His wolf had not reacted to flirting of a woman
since her, but hey, a growling chuckle was better than the damn
headache. When she playfully ran her tongue on his ear, he cocked his
head and gave her a look from the corner of his eye. “Oh sweetie,
careful or I may be forced to make you forget that you’re a coyote
and make you purr.” Then he dropped down into a squat putting the body
between them. He was kind of enjoying the playing, but he was not
willing to push his luck. “We have time; it will still be an hour and
a half before my Pack mates get here.” He reached out then and picked
up something shiny that caught his eye.

“I’d purr so pretty for you.” She squatted down across the body from
him but paid little attention to the shiny item he had found. “An hour
and a half is plenty of time for us both to purr like a couple of
contented cats.”

The headache seemed to ease off a bit more or maybe the flirting was
just distracting him from whatever was causing it. But even with the
headache gone, her scent was enough distraction that he didn’t totally
notice that she grew still and quiet, looking over his shoulder
instead of at him.

The head coyote had come up behind Scott and had stopped. He could
feel her eyes boring into the back of him and the blush that stained
the cheeks of the flirting girl across the body from him. He wondered
what the new arrival would make of him squatting like this with one of
her Band, then he heard the voice. “Shayla, go tend to Pappy.” At
that simple command, Scott stiffened, one thought in his head. Her…

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