By Vivian Arend
This is the start of a scene explaining how Tad discovered his wolfie heritage. Part two is available to read HERE, but just for fun…
Kluane National Park, Yukon
The sun shone off the surface of the lake to reflect a million sparkling jewels back into his eyes. The bright blue summer sky stretched from mountain peak to mountain peak. Tad maneuvered his floatplane toward the portable dock visible along the north shore of the small lake. He took a deep breath and congratulated himself for being smart enough to find a job that got his butt out of an office and into some of the most beautiful county anywhere in the world.
Damn, he loved to fly.
He had just tucked the plane next to the dock, neat as can be, when he felt a solid clasp to his shoulder.
“Nice landing, hotshot, very nice.”
Tad grinned as he slipped the lock on his door and hurried to open the passenger compartment and let out his clients. This was the second time he’d flown a private booking for the Alaskan based Maximum Exposure Adventures. The owner, Keil Lynus, was a monster of a man with the arms of a gladiator and the gentlest demeanor.
“Great set up, Keil,” Tad said as he secured the tethering ropes fore and aft, tightening them to keep the massive floats next to the dock. He admired the tidy little log cabin at the edge of the lake, a small storage shed tucked behind it next to the trees. “We can unload the gear in stages, or we can organize ourselves into a bucket brigade and get everything off the plane all the way to the cabin, or wherever you want it. Your choice.”
The dock swayed as Keil climbed down to stand next to Tad. “What do you think, Erik? I’m game for the brigade. I hate picking things up a dozen times.”
Tad watched as Keil’s business partner and best friend twisted his shoulders sideways to get through the door. If Keil was big, Erik was the Friendly Giant on steroids.
With lots of tattoos.
“Definitely the long carry, only I think you and I should be on land. We’ll put things where we can find them. The last time we let your little brother store gear it became part of the lost Templar Treasure.”
“Hey,” TJ complained, “Can I help it I like to organize supplies in a logical manner and you yahoos don’t?” He sat on the edge of the plane doorway and made a face at his older brother. “And I do mean Yahoos in the purest sense of the word.”
Tad grinned at his passengers and took a deep breath of the crisp fresh air. He had flown full time for three months now and he hoped for many more days like this. Regular clients who treated the wilderness like a precious gem. People who returned to the same places to change them for the better, not trash them to the ground.
Tad thrilled to think he was on his way to secure a living doing what he loved.
After TJ whacked his head on the doorframe for the third time Tad held out a hand to restrain him. “Do you want me to pass you the stuff? I’m not as tall as you, and if you slam into the frame much more you’ll bend it out of shape. I charge extra for things like that.”
TJ jumped down and rubbed a hand over his forehead. “Sounds great. It was hard to turn around in the back too, and I’ve smacked my funny bone so many times it’s gone numb. Not quite as bad as when my arm fell asleep and Keil threw something at me, and I couldn’t reach up in time to grab it. Damn near broke my nose.”
Tad chuckled as TJ stumbled toward the end of the dock, his arms full with duffle bags of supplies. Whatever they fed those boys down in Haines, Alaska, made them grow pretty damn big. Even TJ stood taller than Tad, and he wasn’t small at almost six feet.
Tad turned back to ready another load when he heard a distant splash followed by a shrill scream. Winter or summer, the water was glacier fed and icy cold.
He leapt to the dock to help the boy, but Keil beat him there. “TJ, you’re an idiot. What the hell are you doing?” Keil reached down, and with one hand, hauled the boy up to stand dripping wet beside him.
“Oops. I don’t know how it happened Keil. I mean, one of the boards must be loose or something.”
Keil rubbed his hands over his face, took a calming breath, and pointed to the cabin. “Go get changed, Mom will kill me if I let you catch another cold. Put the kettle on to boil.” He took a few paces toward the plane before he paused. “TJ, did you fall in before or after you picked up a load of gear?”
TJ bit his lip, and took a slow step away from Keil. He spun around and ran for the cabin like the devil was after him.
“That’s what I thought.” Keil muttered. He shouted after his fleeing brother, “You’re lucky Mom likes you, brat! Or you’d be swimming with the polar bears right now!”
Tad tried to keep his face blank as Keil approached the plane to take over carrying gear.
Keil chuckled. “Don’t worry, I won’t kill him. He’s better than he used to be, if you can believe it. Just wait, you ain’t seen nothing. Hang around with us for very long, and you’ll feel right at home in a nuthouse.”
Tad passed down another load of gear, and a flash of contentment surged. He wasn’t sure why, but spending time with this group of kooks felt very, very good.