A Reason to Kill by C.P. Smith : Page 1

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Prologue

Love, crystal and pure cannot be thwarted.

Only stalled until its wings take flight and soar.

“So, you’re finally gettin' married, Jack.”

“Yep, Jenn’s the best fuckin’ thing that’s happened to me, Max. You know, if you’d stop fuckin’ around you could have this too.”

“Right, I’ve got lumber yards waitin’ on fuckin’ trees and a town that depends on my filling those orders. I don’t have time for love, Jack.”

“There aren’t many women out there can put up with men like us. You find one, whether you got time or not, don’t let her get away, Max. Trust me, I know.”

“Spoken like a true Gunnison. You saw, you claimed, and you conquered.”

“Fuck, no. I saw, I told her, and now I’m marryin’ her. The conquering was just the fun part.”

“Right, take no prisoners and keep them smiling all the way to the altar,” Max chuckled.

“Now you’re gettin’ it,” Jack laughed.

“All right, Jack, give my love to Jenn and remember, if you don’t treat her right, I’ll come down from Alaska and steal her from you.”

“You find the right woman, Max, you’ll know that’s impossible to do.”

“What? Treat her wrong?”

“No, Max, cause her a moment of pain.”

One

I’m going where?

Bright blue velvety skies, dotted with billowing clouds of white, were outside my window, but I couldn’t look. I’m sure it was lovely, maybe even the bluest God had created, but I was too busy praying while holding on tightly to the seat rests of this incredibly small plane to look. This flying tin can was taking me and my team to northern Alaska to study Ursus Arctos, or in layman’s terms the grizzly bear. Trails End, Alaska, was our final destination, and I wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of spending a few weeks in the wilds of Alaska.

As a Zoologist, I, of course, studied grizzlies, but not up close and personal. That was Donald’s job. He was head of my department and a man I’d unwisely had a brief relationship with a few months back. Unfortunately, for me, he had an important meeting he said he couldn’t miss, so I had to come in his place. We only had a few weeks before the bears started to migrate further north for the winter, and the Seattle Institute of Zoology or SIOZ whom I worked for and who monitored the bears needed their data.

See, the problem with being sent in his place is I’m a pencil pusher. I’d never head a research team in my life. Normally I would take their data once they’ve collected it and then graph it, write grant proposals or scientific papers outlining their findings. What I hadn't done was sleep in a tent, gather bear scat to determine diet, or pee in the woods. I was an analyzer, a keynote speaker for the institute not an expert in field study for pity’s sake. I’ve never camped in my life, let alone searched the wilds of Alaska for bears.

And there was one very important reason I didn’t.

Some would call me clumsy, but I preferred to think of myself as vertically challenged. Not to mention I hated anything creepy-crawly.

“You can do this, Mia. You will not be beaten by bear poop or uneven terrain,” I mumbled. Sadly, even I didn’t believe me.

What I wouldn’t give to be back in my loft that overlooked Puget Sound with its magnificent views and kick-ass fireplace (The sole reason I’d bought the loft). That fireplace, covered in river rock with its huge timber mantel reminded me of a log cabin my family had rented one summer. I wanted that loft the minute I walked in and remembered those two blissful weeks on Baker Lake with my family—and the ultimate golden boy in the cabin next door. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed, Josh something or other had been a teenage girl’s dream (Even if I never got the nerve to speak to him.) I never saw him again, though I have often wondered if he’d ruined me for all other men. We all know how first lust has a way of clouding a young girl’s memories and making skinny man-boys into never-to-be-forgotten perfect males. It might also explain why at the age of thirty I still hadn’t married.

However, I was married to my work, which explained why I was currently heading towards the mountains.

Trails End, Alaska, pretty much said it all in my book. It was the end of the road, the end of civilization, and more than likely the end of my career if I screwed this up. I was a city girl and me in the field leading a team—big disaster in the making. Hell, this was going to be the biggest disaster in the history of disasters if I didn’t get a handle on my fears of bugs and inability to stay vertical.
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