It had taken three days of talking to the Elder for Linda to begin to get a small understanding of what she had been told and for her to let her mind calm down.
So, that morning, she got up and dressed when the feeling of apprehension came to her. That day would be the first day she would be leaving her home without Trap at her side.
"Could you not contact your friend and have her bring you what you need?" asked Trap who did not like the feelings he was getting and not wanting his mate to be away from him.
"I could but I need to be around other humans every once in a while. I know I feel the same way but people are going to think I'm weirder than I already am if I don't go to town, and I do need some things."
"Then I will be following you."
"I would like that but it's too dangerous. I also know you need to hunt. The pack needs your strength. We have seen many signs of game and your mother needs the meat or when I get back I'll go hunting my way. I still may."
"You are right, my love," Trap sighed, he knew with his speed and strength there would be more food for all the pack.
Linda hugged Trap, then climbed into her truck and drove to town.
"Linda, I was just thinking it was time for you to come in," said Hardy with a smile for his daughter's childhood friend.
"Hi Mr. Calloway. Yeah, well you know how it is out there. Between sorting everything, cleaning some more and spending half my time looking for damn traps, time just gets away from you."
"You just be careful out there. Some of the old timers have been saying the wolves are acting strange out your way. Old man Simms said he lost a cow to some the other night."
"Really," that shocked Linda and she knew she would check with her pack and find out if it were them, "Has a game warden gone out to check it?"
"I haven't heard yet. I expect they'll be out at some point. If'n the wolves are getten too large for the area the game people would either capture and move them or shoot them."
That worried Linda.
"Some times the ones they move just come back," Hardy added, "But you never know. I remember see'n some out by your place once, and I'll tell you they looked like they were having a class or something as one big one was doing something and then a bunch of the little ones went and tried to do the same thing. I never seen nothing like it, before or since."
Linda could just see it happening in her head and chuckled. Way in the back of her mind she thought she heard Trap chuckle too, but it was very faint.
"Well I need some things, so I better get to it," Linda said then turned, grabbed a cart and started to fill it.
About half way through Linda saw Mary come in with a hand truck loaded with stuff.
"Hey Mary, you need any help?"
"Linda! About time. Sure, that will save dad's back," Mary said with a laugh.
With Linda helping, all the stuff was unloaded and Mary was even able to start stacking shelves, which was good, as Linda needed some of the stuff she was putting up.
"So, Linda, where's your four-footed friend?" Mary asked quietly.
"At home, most likely hunting."
"That's good. If people in town were to see him, I think it would cause a panic. Did dad tell you of the wolf attack at the Simms place?"
"He said something, but where's the Simms place?"
"East of town. I've always heard the wolves in your area don't go that way but if game is low."
"There's plenty of game, if the tracks I saw were any indication. Both elk and deer and in good numbers. It's either a rouge wolf or a small rival pack is trying to move into the area. I'll keep my eyes open."
"Ok," Mary answered.
"Oh yeah, I need to find out if I need a tag to hunt on my land or not? One of those elks would go good in my lauder."
"You have to get that from the sheriff. We sold them for a little but we had trouble with people not wanting to pay for them."
"I'm sure. Does the church still take meat to families in need?" Linda remembered how her father would hunt and take it to them after he butchered it.
"The church closed a few years back. The sheriff kinda took it up. If he knows of a family having a hard time he'll go hunt for them and take then the processed animal."
Linda wasn't sure she wanted to deal with the sheriff all that much but she had no choice.
"Linda what's up? Every time I've said the sheriff you would cringe or flinch."
"There's just something I can't put a finger on. He's a nice enough guy but he's almost clingy. I would rather not give him the wrong impression."
"Does he know about your friend?" Mary was looking worried.
"Unfortunately yes, but Trap does what he wants to do. No one can tell him other wise. I don't have a collar on him. I don't close the door when he's in the house. I have no control at all."
"What if someone comes and tells you he can't stay?"
"I could tell him to leave and he might, until the person that asked me to do that left, then he would just come back. The game people would have to get a warrant to do anything on my land and I won't let them hurt the wolves."
With that Linda finished her shopping and headed grudgingly over to the sheriff's office.
Linda purchased opened tags for deer and elk. Then asked about the best place to go to have it processed. Though she could do it herself, it had been a while. The name was the same as when she was a kid. She was told one of the sons had taken over and has done well for about twenty years.
She decided to check the place out and was glad she did.
"Well would you look what the wolf dragged in?" Sam Peterson said.
Linda remembered the man as he was in many of her classes when she was growing up.
"Better than some stupid cow," Linda laughed at the very old joke, "How've you been, Sam?"
"Good, good, though business is a bit slow."
"So what do I owe the honor of your visit?"
"Just checking to see if you do as good a job as your old man," Linda smiled.
"I do better and you know it. As you don't have a deer over your shoulder I don't think I'm getting any work today from you."
"Not today, no, but soon. I came by really to see what you might have for sale."
"Well that depends on what you want?"
"I want some nice porterhouse stakes, two good hams and maybe next week I'll bring in a deer for you to do up for me."
"I think I can get you six of the porters. I would have to check. I might have some good T-bone out of an Angus. Them hams I know I have.
"You wouldn't have say two dozen or so good soup bones would you?" Linda asked thinking it would be a good treat for her friends.
"I got more than I can use. Let me box up your order and we can do the dreaded math."
Linda laughed as she remembered Sam hated math.
"You mean you don't have one of those mechanical abacus' doing all that math for you?"
"A what?" Sam looked at Linda like she had just grown a third head and another set of arms.
"A mechanical abacus, you know," Linda chuckled, "a calculator ... or even better a computer."
That did it and they both started laughing. Linda knew what was coming next as Sam growled and launched at her. She squeaked just like she did as a little girl and ran from him laughing even more.
Sam chased her around the front of the store then out to the back where he kept the good meat, but had to stop. He was just way to out of shape. Both were still laughing though.
Linda helped get everything packed up, loaded and paid for. They then said their goodbyes and Linda was on her way back home.
To her surprise the wolves were there when she pulled into the clearing.
"Hey, I expected you guys to be out hunting?"
"Something has shifted the herds farther north. We may not be true wolves but we do tend to stay in our own range," answered Trap as he came to the driver's side of the truck when Linda got out.
"Does your range include east of town?"
"Not normally, why?" Trap asked as he could feel more to the question.
"There was a wolf attack and a cow was killed over that way. My friend told me about it. She was worried it was some of you guys."
"There is a pack near there," said the elder as he walked up, "They have been a problem to the town before. They could be the reason the game shifted from here. If their pack is bigger than normal and they are pushing their range, it would move them more to settled lands and closer to town."
"This will bring the humans in with their traps again," said a wolf off to the side, eyeing what Linda was doing.
Linda had walked to the back of the truck and started taking out what she had brought home.
"This is your land as well as mine, my friends. I won't let them hunt here. They may come anyway but I wish I knew more of that other pack," Linda frowned.
"We will check them tonight and push them away from our territory and back to their own," stated the Elder.
"Well I was going to save these for a lean time but you all need your strength."
During the conversation Linda had been unloading the truck and putting things on the porch to take inside and was down to the large boxes of meat.
She opened the box with the soup and stew bones in it, and told Trap to have the pack line up. It was funny to watch but they did it. Then Linda would toss out a bone and a wolf would run up to get it and run off to the side of the clearing to eat it.
This went on until all the wolves had at least one and were happily gnawing away. Even Trap had a good one.
That night Trap, his mother and three other smaller ones stayed as the pack took off to check the other pack.
In the morning the only ones at the house were Trap and his mother. Trap had stayed in the house with Linda, while the others stayed on the porch.
"The others have taken up watching the way in to give us some warning if someone comes," stated Trap before Linda could give voice to the question.
"I was just going to ask that," Linda smiled, "How's your mother, does she need anything?"
"Other than to have the pups, I think she is well."
"Does she know how many she's going to have?"
"I can hear you child," said River, though not too annoyed.
Linda chuckled then walked over to the side of the porch that River had claimed as her resting place.
"Good morning, my Lady. I didn't know you were awake yet. How are you? Do you need any thing?"
"I wish to have the pups stop kicking me every time I move. None of my other litters have been this active. I will be glad when they are whelped. Otherwise, I am fine," River replied.