Noah stared around at the cream colored waiting area to his father's office. It never failed to inspire curiosity whenever he came here. His father was a tall man that favored dark clothing and used as few words as possible. His office was a study of dark wood and deep reds. The waiting area just seemed out of place. Of course, Noah usually just passed through on his way to the office but apparently his father was busy so he was waiting. As patiently as he was capable which was not at all. No he didn't strictly speaking have a job but his father had been the one to call this little meeting and he did have other responsibilities.

One of those responsibilities was keeping an eye on the newly minted member of the pack, Olivia. He didn't necessarily mind this job because Liv was cool shit but sometimes it was too much. She and Connor were always together, always smiling at each other, always gawking when the other one wasn't looking. It was sickening. Yes Noah was very happy for his cousin but it still brought up memories he'd rather do without. Having to see her face every time he went to sleep and then dream about her all night only to wake up to an empty bed was enough torture thank you very much. "Noah." His father's deep rumbling voice was impossible to mistake and was coming from above him. Noah stood up and gave his father a half grin. "Have you been waiting a long time?"

"Nah." The slightest crease formed between his father's dark eyebrows but he just shook his head and motioned towards the giant oak door.

"Come inside." They walked quietly and didn't speak while they did so. Noah had learned that things that were overheard were often repeated rather early in life so he just tended to keep quiet unless he was with people he trusted completely. When the door closed behind them he let out a sigh.

"New secretary?" His father grimaced. "What happened to Iris?" His father may have been many things but the man new what beauty was. Iris was a model/swim instructor that graciously agreed to be his father's assistant when she wasn't busy.

"Photo shoot. This new one is temporary, thank god." Noah smiled. Yeah, his dad wouldn't have let a treasure like Iris go easily. On top of being ridiculously gorgeous, having an affinity for form fitting attractive clothing she was also great with people. It was win win win. "So how are you?" His dad had sat down in his giant black chair that always looked more like a throne and was now leaning back with tented fingers settling that soul seeing stare on his eldest son.

"Things are good. Olivia seems to be getting the hang of all the wolf stuff and there hasn't been any noise on the hunter front. Least not near Uncle Darien's place." Noah shrugged.

"That's what I thought. I have something that could use your help." Noah raised an eyebrow. He didn't have his father's savvy business sense so he tended to just stay out of the way on corporate matters. "Your sister called me from Chicago last night and brought a situation to my attention I think merits a closer look." Hmmm. Elizabeth had called him?

"What kind of situation?"

"It seems several bodies have turned up in the past few weeks that look like they've been attacked by some kind of animal. The closest guess at the moment is a wolf though no one has seen the creature." Noah's eyes popped wide. Dealing with rogue wolves was generally an Alpha's job. His father and his uncles all ruled their own little pieces of the country but Darien was strictly speaking the pack Alpha. Being offered this kind of job made him feel uncomfortable.

"Uh, Dad…"

"I just thought a change of scenery might be nice." Noah smiled. So this was an offer to get a break from the love sick duo for awhile. A welcome opportunity but one that reeked of his mother. He loved the woman to pieces but damn did she meddle. "Besides I believe Elizabeth is fairly set in her choice to remain in Chicago. Despite my request that she return home." Meaning he'd ordered and she'd told him to stuff it. Of all of his children he seemed to have the hardest time with Elizabeth. Perhaps it was because they were so much alike, not that either would ever admit it.

"Sure I could go stay with Lizzy for a few days. If it is a rogue how do you want me to handle it?"

"However you see fit." He said with a negligent wave of his hand. They were quiet for another moment before Noah sighed.

"You're not going to yell at her are you?" His father's face remained impassive. Yes he was.

"My children do not wait in the lobby Noah. I've said this many times."

"She's new and I didn't mind." Nothing changed. "Just try not to make her cry." The big man snorted but didn't comment. "And, thanks Dad."

"For what?" Noah sighed. There were many times in his life he had wondered how someone like his father had managed to snag someone like his mother. The whole mating thing aside they were nearly polar opposites. In fact, they were so much like the mythological Hades and Persephone it was scary sometimes.

"For helping me out even when I don't ask." Erik snorted.

"If I waited for my children to ask for things I'd never be able to help them. You're all unbelievably stubborn to one degree or another." He paused and then turned to look at his computer screen. "You get it from your mother." Noah raised an eyebrow but wisely refrained from commenting. It wouldn't do any good to bring up that Erik was the stubborn one. He'd just deny it.

"I'll call you when I get some info kay?" He nodded.

"Check in with your sister when you get there. Apparently she knows a place you can stay." Noah smiled but agreed and then headed out of the office. He heard his father page the secretary and decided to quicken his step. He unlike his father had no tolerance for tears. Once he was outside he took a deep breath and seriously considered leaving the car and just running the whole way. But he might need the car when he got there. He growled but opened the door and started the ignition. Cars were so not the way to travel.

Carlie stared out at the city below her from atop a roof. It all looked so peaceful and beautiful up here. You'd never guess that underneath that glossy veneer lay a teeming filth ridden cesspool. She lived here out of necessity. She worked for a high ranking member of that filth for the same reason. But truthfully, what would she do if she didn't have this? There was nowhere she wanted to be and no one she wanted to work for. Life was just an endless stream of things to get through for her it seemed. One hurdle after another and no one knew why she kept running the track. Not even her. With a heavy sigh she climbed back down her fire escape and back into her apartment.

The place was filthy and needed a good rub down with some lava soap and an SOS pad. But she couldn't afford those things. All of her spare money went to the hospital and that was where it was needed. She could live in the ever growing squalor if it meant a possible cure. She stripped out of her work clothes and let them fall to the bathroom floor. They needed to be scrubbed out anyway. Once under the hot spray of the shower she imagined that it was the filth of her life she was washing away instead of dried blood that wasn't hers. She tried to remember her life before it had taken her here but found she couldn't with any clarity. She remembered bits and pieces and her brain tended to shy away from them in an effort of self-preservation.

The hot water ran out quickly so she filled the tub and left her clothes to soak in the water. She'd wash them in the morning. She stalked through her apartment, letting the air dry her better than any towel could and climbed into her full sized bed. The mattress dipped heavily in the middle no matter which side it was on and the sheets were worn almost to tatters in some places. But again, money was a concern. The quilt was still good. Probably because the damn things lasted forever. But it was warm and it covered her so she pulled it up to her chin and shut her eyes. Sleep always took forever to come for her. Sometimes she thought her brain just gave up the fight and shut down out of exhaustion. But it was these quiet times when her mind remembered when someone else had slept beside her. Someone warm and safe. Someone who was gone and never coming back.

She opened her eyes to tree branches interlaced above her head. They were covered with fluffy white powder and it was drifting down to her one flake at a time. "You're never going to catch any if you keep your mouth closed." A familiar voice spoke dryly from her right. The voice caused the ache in her chest to become more pronounced; in fact it turned it into a loud screaming train whistle. She turned slowly to see the man she loved leaning against a tree in a leather riding jacket and jeans. Not nearly warm enough for winter but he'd always run hot. His pale blue eyes stared at her in amused exasperation. But she couldn't speak. He wasn't real and she knew it. "You are the one that wanted to catch snowflakes. I said it was ridiculous if you recall." Yeah she remembered.

She closed her eyes and tilted her head back to catch a couple on her tongue. He'd never understood her thing with snow. She'd even taken pains to try and explain it to him but all she'd gotten back was a blank stare. She opened her eyes and saw him still standing there but now there was a small awkward smile on his face. She couldn't help it, that smile always made her smile back. It always had. She closed her eyes again hoping the mirage disappeared and yet desperately wanting it to stay. There was a snicker and then cold wetness enveloped her face and hair. It slid down her coat and weighed her down. She cursed and wiped the clumps of snow off her face and glared at a now hysterically laughing Noah. His hand was on the trunk of the tree like he'd shaken it onto her. "You are such a shit!" She yelled and launched herself at him.

His laughter rang out loud and clear in the woods as she tried to pelt him in the face with snow. She wrestled him to the ground but he kept her hands away easily. He leaned up and kissed her deeply making her drop her snow and wind her fingers into all of that long black hair. Yeah she never stayed mad at him for long. Just like he never stayed mad at her. Some days she wondered if they were actually made for each other like he was always saying. "Am I forgiven?"

"I suppose. I can't actually remember why I was angry which is why you did it so." He smiled. "Are you cold?" She just realized they were seated in the snow. Well, he was sitting in the cold stuff, she was sitting on him.

"Nope. I'm never cold. Are you cold?" He gave her a mischievous looksee so she smiled all demure and batted her eyelashes a little for dramatic effect.

"Maybe a little." He grinned and leaned forward to kiss her again wrapping his big arms around her waist pulling her even closer.

"Guess I better warm you up." His low husky voice was almost a growl when it was like that and she loved it. She loved him. With a happy sigh she sank into the warmth and the kiss.

She bolted upright in bed covered with sweat. For a moment she was disoriented. The dream/memory had been so real she was confused why she was naked in a bed instead of outside in the snow. But the confusion didn't stay, it never did. Life reminded her that the man was gone now and she was alone. She looked over at her alarm clock and shrugged. Three hours was as good as she usually got anyway. She got back up and put on an oversized shirt before padding into the bathroom and starting to work on her clothes. Her mind focused all of its energy onto the task at hand making sure to push back all of those feelings the memories evoked back into their box. When she'd first lost him she'd wondered how long it would take for the dreams to stop coming. Five years later she'd pretty much just accepted that they never would.

Scrub, rinse, scrub, rinse, wring out, hang to dry. That was the rhythm and she stuck to it. Forcing herself to see only the here, only the now. She finished her clothes and drained the rust colored water from the tub. She made her way into the kitchen and took out some day old pizza from the fridge. She only bought groceries when it was absolutely necessary and tended to shy away from take out in general as it was more expensive. But the pizza had been leftovers from a party and she hadn't felt the need to refuse free food. Her phone rang and she glared at it until she saw the caller I.D. "Hello."

"Meeting in a half hour. No need to dress." The line went dead and she glared at it some more. She'd just been working five hours ago and now he wanted her back? With an angry growl she tore the phone from the wall and hocked it across the room. The resulting thud and crash was quite pleasing. After the violence rippled through her body she made her way into her bedroom and picked out some clothes to wear. Life had to go on after all. No matter what.

Author's Note: Hello and welcome to the second story in this apparent series. If you are new here, you don't need to read Love and Submission to understand this one but you may find it interesting. If you are a returning reader welcome back! And thank you for sticking with me! I hope you like this starter and I intend to get more up to you soon. Enjoy!