That was a canine yelp. Charli grasped the camera in both hands to steady it and tried not to think about the wolf cub and how badly hurt it had to be that it just sat there and didn’t try to get away from the men. She had been delighted when she heard that the five-wolf pack in the northern part of the wildlife preserve had had cubs this past winter. There were too many options, all of them bad, for how that man had gotten hold of one cub. Where were the other two? Where were the parents, and the rest of the pack?
“Where'd you get it?” the man with the flashlight asked.
“Found it hiding in the back of a den me and Hixon cleared out before he had to take off -- those rangers were getting too close.” The man who had driven the Jeep bent over to look at the cub, then walked away.
The two men with the buck heaved it into the back of the Jeep and one of them grunted loudly and asked, “What'd you save it for?”
“Thought we'd have some fun.”
“Not much left to have fun with,” the man who had carried the guns said. He stepped over and poked at the cub, then yanked his hand back with a curse. The others laughed at him.
Charli hoped the cub tried to bite him.
Cursing again, he drew his foot back to kick. The cub let out a yip like a shriek and flew three or four feet.
“No, no, no,” Charli growled. Her hand shook, but she reached into the holster on her hip and pulled out the flare gun. “Please, God …” She only hesitated a second before pulling it out and pointing her arm straight up in the air.