Breaking news! The FBI has arrived in Gold Springs. It seems that an embezzler from back east has fled to the Wolf Mountain Horse Company’s new hunting camps in an effort to flee the country. Sasha Stanton has returned from her travels using all her business doctor know how to relieve our dying town’s trouble and is helping the FBI track the fugitive before he can reach the Canadian border. Everyone surely remembers the three months Sasha lived on the ranch evading the best trackers when she was 13 though by the talk this reporter heard the agent in charge looks like he doesn’t think Sasha’s help of any use. She’s especially involved though, more than just as an unwanted guide, the murder of Daniel Red Crow and the wounding of Ben Thundercloud in the man’s flight from justice has made it personal for Sasha. With her grandmother being part of the Thundercloud family, both victims are relations of Sasha. No backward old school agent is going to stop her, the wolf we all know might finally have returned. Our condolences to the family. It’s a pity though that in the midst of murder and manhunts, Ethane Brandt has returned. It has been the gossip since Sasha started her travels that the two had married in secret before Ethane was shipped off to Afghanistan. As a major in the reserves who had served in the country during the original invasion, his orders didn’t come as a shock even if the word of a wedding did.
Driven to who knew where in LA, the modeling coordinator handed Sasha Stanton a set of clothes to wear. Some company that made corsets, they had all of them standing around in all manner of clothing even things that had nothing to do with corsets. The women around her were from around the world. Exotic, otherworldly women, standing in front of a closed-up shell of a factory covered in graffiti.
Her sister-in-law Dianne grinned. “And here I thought models were glamorous.” Dianne Brandt was tall and willowy and nothing like her brother Ethane. Sasha wouldn’t have married him if he was anything like Dianne.
“You’ve seen where I live. You should know better.” Sasha answered.
“I know you’re worth enough to not be here,” Dianne muttered. A year after getting the ranch back on its feet, the timber being cut had finally started rolling in. Sasha wasn’t millions in debt like she had been when her father died. Like she was when she had met Ethane if he hadn’t helped her pay it off.
“Oh, go look around, feel the glamor, I’m last on the schedule.”
Dianne went off as another woman stepped into the center of the chaos. All Sasha could say was none of the others had their back covered by an almost life-size wolf head tattoo though, detailed enough its fur shimmered with every breath she took. Its green eyes staring off her back as wild as her own. They might have been more exotic in origin, but that was why she was included in the lineup of women. That and she was a friend of the photographer. Ngoc, a very old friend was doing makeup for the shoot, came over and started doing her face.
“Oh, I forgot something. I’ll be right back.”
“Pick-up lines are for people with too much time on their hands. Go get on all fours…” A man said behind her as soon as Ngoc was out of hearing.
Sasha looked over her shoulder slowly. It was the police officer assigned to make sure they weren’t bothered in that part of town. One of them at least. His partner was across the area protecting the perimeter, doing his job. His words stopped cold. The eyes of a wolf weren’t someone’s imagination. Sasha’s eyes reminded her father of a relative who had the same eyes and it took over his mind. Everyone saw it though. “No pickup line, you obviously don’t think well enough of women to even take the time to think up something clever so we remember the difference between you and every other idiot that comes along.”
“Think you’re so high and mighty because you’re a model and the normal guy can’t deign to…”
“No. I think you’re an asshole that treats me like I should find myself lucky that you treat me like I was a whore. Only you aren’t willing to pay me for the job. At least if I was paid I could throw the money in your face because even if I was making a living in that way, you’re treating me like I’m worth nothing. Life isn’t a porno and if anyone falls at your feet in real life after talk like that it is because you’re threatening arrest.” Sasha turned back and went to her paper again.
“Bitch, aren’t you?”
“If it makes you go away, I’ll live with it.”
Finally finished with her shots, Meera came and collapsed in a chair next to her. She wore a brightly colored corset over a stunning sari. Sasha, on the other hand, wore one of distressed leather with her usual jeans and boots. Exotic, Sasha had been called, if sable hair and green eyes were exotic. Considering she was one-fourth Blackfoot and one-half French, she wasn’t a girl next door. Well, it depended on the next door. She never felt exotic. Looks only got her trouble. There were some of the models that were not what one would call drop dead gorgeous, they photographed beautifully but looking at them face to face you would hardly guess. However, Meera wasn’t one of them. Black hair to her waist, Ichiro had paid well for her to deign to do some pictures for him. She was a Bollywood actress in real life. He pressured her the same way he had Sasha, to wear a single outfit for one last shoot before she went home.
Only twice had Sasha modeled before the last few months, both regarding horses. The second time she met Ichiro. Now because her uncle might kill her she was famous. All because Ethane couldn’t concentrate on not getting killed in Afghanistan if he thought he might get a call any day she was dead, so she’d left.
“Next time make sure I remember to have a day or two before I have to work, I’m going to fall asleep.”
“Did you only get in last night?” Sasha asked surprised.
“I came straight from the airport to the meeting first thing this morning. I haven’t even had one night sleep.”
“Glutton for punishment, aren’t you?”
“My agent recorded the wrong day, it was supposed to be tomorrow according to my calendar. But the way I feel right now, even one night’s sleep wouldn’t be enough.”
It was only then the police officer finally walked off. There was going to be trouble from that man. “So, is it true? Ichiro keeps hinting you’re a big star.” Sasha asked.
Meera laughed musically. “Well I do have two of the Bollywood awards, but it seems like bragging if I bring it up.”
“At least you’ve done something to brag about. Ichiro likes the look in my eyes is all.” The doctorate just seemed like bragging in a setting like that. “I’m not a model. This is a favor for Ichiro.” If you overlooked the fact she’d been doing favors for him since that May, she was not a model. Ethane was coming home, only favors until Ethane came home. It was ridiculous, she wasn’t a model. She raised horses, she had a doctorate in business. Her life was raising horses until a town collapsed in her lap. Until her life collapsed.