“What about the Sinclairs?” Tate asked with distaste. The Sinclairs, a wealthy and powerful pack from a county north of theirs, weren’t particularly popular in Blue Moon County, or in Tate’s county, either. Tate currently had even more reason than usual to dislike them. He’d been fighting a running battle to keep one of the Sinclair boys, a notorious high school Lothario, away from his eighteen-year-old sister, Megan.
The Sinclairs had been angling for years to get Loch to propose to a member of their pack, Portia Sinclair, because it would result in a powerful political alliance. The Sinclair family was wealthy, and Loch’s family was popular. Portia had taken to the idea wholeheartedly; she had been so infatuated with Loch that she’d moved to Blue Moon Junction and gotten a job at the sheriff’s department to be closer to him.
Tate knew that when Loch had rejected Portia and instead proposed to Ginger, relations between the two families had chilled to sub-Arctic levels.
Loch grimaced. “They’re on my list. That’s political dynamite, of course. When I asked Quincy to give me a list of where all of their family had been, he and Aurora both blew their tops and threatened to sue, threatened all kinds of things. I stood my ground, and Quincy backed down the way he always does. Honestly, I wish I didn’t have to invite them to the wedding.”
“You didn’t have to.” Tate’s lip curled in contempt.
Loch shook his head. “You know how it is with an Alpha’s wedding. I invited the Alpha of every pack in Florida, and their immediate family, to the wedding and the after-party. If I left out only the Sinclairs, it would practically be a declaration of war.”
The after-party was being held in a meadow outside of town. Hundreds of tents had already been pitched. There were a half-dozen bands, there would be roast boar and deer and pig every night, and thousands of shifters would be partying like it was 1999.
Tate nodded. “So, when was the last time that anyone saw the tiara?”
“Ginger brought it there yesterday to be cleaned. She dropped it off at 5 p.m. She came in this morning wanting to show it to a friend of hers, and when Hamilton went to the back of the store to get it, it was gone. It had been put in a safe. The safe had been cracked, the door was gaping open.” Loch’s brow creased in a scowl. “Unfortunately, we’ve got hundreds of people from out of town already flocking here for the wedding, which means a huge pool of suspects. People working on the Beaudreau mansion, guests, family, friends…and the Sinclairs, of course.”
Speaking of out-of-towners…Tate glanced wistfully in the direction that the bobcat whose name might or might not have been Katherine had driven. She’d almost certainly lied to him when he’d asked her name—but why?
Tate’s younger brother, Kyle, walked up and handed a soda to Tate. “Well, slap my ass and call me Sally. You were actually flirting with that bobcat, weren’t you?” Kyle said, with a big grin spread across his face.
Tate popped the top off and took a long swallow, ignoring the question. “Don’t you have a wife around here you should be keeping an eye on?”
“She’s ferrying our younger siblings around somewhere. If anything, she should be keeping an eye on me.” Kyle winked at a middle-aged housewife as she walked by, and she simpered and giggled. Kyle was an incorrigible flirt, but he would never actually cheat on his wife. “So, about this cute little bobcat…”
As if on cue, a van pulled up and a door opened, and a teenaged girl and a half-dozen wolf-shifter cubs spilled out and ran over to Tate, clinging to his legs, flinging themselves against him, hollering for his attention. They were his youngest brothers and sisters, and they were the reason he hadn’t been on a date in years. After the devastating loss of his parents four years ago, his whole world had narrowed and his focus had sharpened to a fine laser point. Family was everything. There was no room and no time for anything else.