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If you loved Defending Sophie and Beck’s Six, you’ll love Harper and her wolves.
Here is a taste of Guarding Harper:
Gabe Walker regarded the five men gathered in Hank Patterson’s kitchen, along with Hank himself and Stone Jacobs, the Brotherhood Protectors leader who had reached out to them. They all had the same look of the hardened warrior, the take-no-prisoners attitude, which was good. They weren’t here for playtime. The work Stone had hinted at needed men like him and his teammates.
Gabe had gone into the military right out of college, after his parents passed away, and there was no longer a place for him on the Texas ranch where they’d worked. Disillusioned by the manner of the drawdown in Afghanistan, they’d all – he and his team – left Fort Drum, headquarters for the Tenth Mountain Division, not reupping in the Army. Since then they’d been putting their skills to use in a security and consulting service. Their motto for their First Brigade Combat Team was “Find a way or make one,” and they’d kept that in place.
When Stone and Hank had approached them, they’d been told a big plus was the fact they’d been working in the Adirondacks, which gave them plenty of experience in the mountains. His team had kept their motto as they created a place for themselves in civilian society. They were all hardened military men. No job was too tough for them.
Gabe was aware that Stone himself had made a major change when Hank Patterson reached out to him. Hank had built a vast security organization that took on the most challenging jobs and could operate where other agencies could not. Stone owed Hank big time for getting him out of a dangerous situation overseas before Hank left the military. He’d made sure the men knew why Brotherhood Protectors was so important to him. Folding his own one-man operation into Brotherhood Protectors seemed like the most productive thing to do. Especially when Hank told him he wanted this part of the organization based in Yellowstone. It was a win/win because Stone’s father owned a lodge in Yellowstone, and he was very familiar with both the territory and the turmoil going on in that area.
When he reached out to the men with his proposal, they’d all been interested. After all, new challenges were what they were about. The more challenging the better. He’d told them when he approached them that the fact they’d all been working in the Adirondacks would make an easy transition for what he had in mind.
Gabe shifted his attention to the man leaning against the kitchen counter. The one outlier in their group. Alex “Ridge” Ridgely. He had been part of their team at Fort Drum and had the hardened, experienced persona they needed. He was slightly older than the others, but that was because he had enlisted later. The men on Gabe’s team had welcomed Ridge’s experience, and he was a steadying influence.
He also was dedicated to wildlife preservation, which meant this might be right up his alley. He’d at least been interested enough, after two meetings, to show up today and listen to the entire proposition. And the others were glad to see him at least entertaining the offer.
And now, here they were, waiting for the rest of the details that would shape their team.
“Anyone need a coffee refill before we get started?” Hank asked.
They all topped off the liquid in their mugs before taking their seats at the table again, all except Ridge who returned to his spot against the counter. Still reserving judgment, Gabe thought.
“You all know how Hank Patterson and I met,” Stone began. “He saved my ass in a big way when we were both still in the military, and I’ve owed him big time ever since then.”
“Not so,” Hank interrupted. “You’ve paid it back in spades.” He grinned. “But I’m happy to have you obligated to me.”
“I know we’ve explained Brotherhood Protectors to you,” Stone went on, “but just a little refresher here. Hank started it when a situation arose with Sadie, now his wife, and just grew from there. We handle kidnappings, illegal aliens, anything that comes up. No job is too challenging. “
“So you told us,” Justice Kane said. “But what specifically do you have in mind? I’m sure you don’t expect us to stand around taking target practice until a job comes along that we like.”
Stone grinned. “There won’t be much time for hanging around, trust me.”
“You said something when we first met about establishing us in Yellowstone, but you never went into the reason why.”
“Wolves,” Stone told them. “That dwindling species.”
“I understand it’s becoming a bigger and bigger problem.” Nate “Edge” Edgerton sat on one of the barstools, his black German shepherd, Pierce, lounged but alert at his feet.
Stone nodded. “Park rangers eliminated the last wolves in Yellowstone National Park in the 1920s, but they were reintroduced in 1995. The project has been lauded as a conservation success story. The internationally acclaimed Yellowstone Wolf Project oversees research and monitoring of wolves in Yellowstone.”
“But exactly what does that have to do with us?” Wade Fielding asked.
“Good question. There seems to be all kinds of crap going on where wolves are concerned in Yellowstone. Despite the organization’s and individual efforts, it’s become more than local law enforcement or wildlife officers can handle. People are hunting wolves for sport, for profit, or because they interfere with their lifestyle. This is especially true of the ranchers who don’t want to work with the wildlife officers and licensed volunteers.”
“You mean they’re poaching?” Justice asked.
“Worse. In many instances, they draw them out of the areas fenced for them to roam freely then kill them. They can sell the pelts for high dollars on the black market. And that’s only part of it. Some ranchers are trapping them and letting them loose on a rival’s ranch, so they can attack the cattle and put the rancher out of business.”
“Shit.” Gabe Walker had been rocked back in his chair, listening carefully to what Stone had to say. He had a vague idea of what was happening with wolves in the area, but this, what Stone had just told them, turned his stomach.
“Indeed,” Hank agreed. “The project and the wildlife officers make a concerted effort to ensure the wolves stay inside the designated area for them.. But once they leave the park, they’re fair game. And there are plenty of assholes who take advantage of that fact.”
“I’m still curious as to what role we’re supposed to play,” Wade said.
“We have men releasing wolves from the park area to trap and kill. Moving them to other ranches to kill cattle. Using them as attack animals to achieve a purpose. And then there are those who just don’t like the wolves period and will do anything to get rid of them. We’ve had two civilians shot and killed during wolf incidents, and it can only get worse if someone doesn’t put a stop to it.”
“Shit.” Justice let out a slow whistle.
“And that’s not all,” Stone went on. “We have a well-run wolf sanctuary here that’s constantly under attack. Harper Young, who runs it, works her ass off but is constantly coming under fire. People want to shut her down, kill her wolves, destroy her property. You have no idea how vicious people can be when it comes to the preservation of wildlife.”
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