After the murder of his fiancé Paul during an armed robbery, Jamie tries to move on with his life while grieving his loss. As a part of that, he goes to the remote cabin in the mountains he and Paul had restored to be their getaway. He plans on using it to hide away from the world -- forever, if necessary.
What he doesn't plan on is making a new friend of the canid kind. A wolf-dog he names Lycus that he thinks is either a stray or a runaway. Lycus comes and goes as the spirit moves, showing up when Jamie needs his company and then vanishing again.
Jamie also didn't plan on the three humans who come into his life. One is Glen, who says he lives in the area and often hunts in the mountain forests. The other two claim to be game wardens searching for a feral wolf -- whose description matches Lycus. Jamie doubts it's the truth, knowing how tame Lycus seems to be.
Despite the fact that he's never seen Lycus, Glen offers to help prove the men are lying. Will they be able to save Lycus from being captured while bonding in a way that might, if Jamie's ready, become more than just friendship?
While they waited for the stew to cook, Jamie got them each a can of soda. Glen settled on the sofa, Jamie on the end of the bed, and they began telling each other stories of their childhoods. Jamie had grown up in the city, Glen in a small town several miles north of the cabin. As they talked, Jamie realized that, for the first time since Paul's death, he was relaxed and enjoying the company of another man. When he did, he went silent, staring down at the floor.
"What's wrong?" Glen asked, obviously picking up on the fact he'd lost Jamie's attention.
"Nothing, really. I'm ..." Jamie shook his head.
"Come on, talk to me."
"It's too soon," Jamie said softly.
"I'm not going to ask for what. I think I know. There's nothing wrong with our being friends and I think we're moving in that direction. I promise you, I have no plans on trying to replace Paul in your life, even if it was possible. I like you as a person and I do want to get to know you better, but that's it, honest."
"Thanks for understanding. I think, no, I know I could use a friend and around here they're few and far between."
Glen chuckled. "Meaning I'm the only person you've met other than clerks in the stores in town."
"Well, actually ..." Jamie wondered if he should tell him about the men who claimed to be game wardens, and decided why not. When he finished, Glen shook his head.
"I've never heard of a warden running around with a cage to trap a wolf, or a bear, or whatever. Yeah, they might stop by to warn people if they thought there was a feral animal running loose, but that's it as far as I know." He looked thoughtful.
Jamie was about to ask what Glen was thinking, but didn't when he realized dinner should be ready. Going to check, he decided it was, and spooned the stew into two bowls which he set on the table. Glen got bread from the breadbox, putting a few slices on a plate, adding a half-used stick of butter from the refrigerator. Meanwhile Jamie got silverware, and then they sat down to eat.
"Not bad," Glen commented after taking a couple of bites of the stew. "Not as good as Mom used to make --" he winked, "-- but definitely on a par with mine."
"Glad it lives up to your high standards," Jamie retorted with a grin.
When they finished, Glen volunteered to do the dishes while Jamie put the remaining stew in a container and stored it in the refrigerator.
"I have a question," Glen said as he dried his hands. "You don't have to answer, but have you seen this wolf those men were looking for?"
"Depends why you want to know," Jamie replied, leaning against the counter.
"I'll take that as a yes. Did it act feral?"
"Hell no." Jamie backpedaled. "I mean, not that I could tell, anyway. It didn't come over to let me pet it, but it didn't try to attack, either."
"It was definitely a wolf?"
Jamie didn't meet Glen's gaze as he replied, "It looked like one to me, even though it wasn't gray like you see in pictures."
"They come in all shades," Glen replied.
"Yeah, that's what the man said. This one is sort of beige and brown. Well, not sort of. It is."
Glen walked over to the bookshelves, studied the contents momentarily, and took out a book. Thumbing through it, he came back to show Jamie a picture of a wolf whose coloring matched Lycus'. "It looked like this?"
Jamie shrugged and nodded, getting out two more cans of soda as an excuse to turn away, handing one to Glen.
"Okay. I think there's something you're not telling me, though."
"Since I barely know you ..."
"That's all right, I understand." Glen opened the can and took a drink.
Rolling his can between his hands, Jamie came to a decision. "I think it's a wolf-dog. Mainly wolf but with some shepherd in it, too."
"Possible, which begs the question, well two questions. Why is it living in the wild and why were those men looking for it? Oh, and why did they lie about what it is?"
"I wondered that myself and came up with two ideas. Either it's valuable, or it's part of some scientific breeding experiment and escaped from the lab."
"Or both, because if it is an experiment it could be very valuable."
"True," Jamie agreed.
"How often does it come around?"
"I've seen it twice, no, three times," Jamie lied. It wasn't that he didn't trust Glen but ... Yeah, I'm not totally willing to quite yet. He seems awfully interested in Lycus which could be a normal reaction to learning about him, or he could be trying to find out how easy it would be to capture him. Especially if he works for a breeding lab and Lycus is an escapee.