On the hunt for a vicious killer, Kelsey discovers that the true threat lies closer than she could have ever imagined.
It’s been months since Trent Wilcox was sentenced to exile, but Kelsey hasn’t given up on finding a way to bring him home. Grayson Sloane doesn’t share her enthusiasm. Loving two men is challenging enough without them being at each other’s throats, and she is unwilling to compromise on the future she knows is meant for them.
Kelsey’s only hope for bringing them all together comes in the form of the Hell lord who insisted on Trent’s exile – Gray’s father. Lord Sloane is willing to acquiesce on Trent’s punishment if Kelsey will do one little job for him. A stray wolf is on a killing spree in Wyoming and he’s killed a number of witches in Lord Sloane’s service. The situation is made all the more complicated by the presence of a sinister werewolf cult in the area. Lupus Solum is known for being cruel to their own kind, and even worse to outsiders.
Caught between a craven wolf cult, a brutal killer, a Hell lord, and a mounting pile of bodies, Kelsey is going to have her work cut out for her. But if she can solve the case, she might have a chance to earn her happily ever after.
Release date: December 4, 2018
Publisher: DLZ Entertainment LLC
Print pages: 367
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“How does that make you feel, Gray?” Felix Day was in full-on shrink mode as we sat in his office, the late afternoon light illuminating the soothing interior.
“It makes me feel like murdering Trent.” Gray was using his calmest tone. Well, his most sarcastic tone, but it was also calm. Mostly. He wasn’t pleased with his current occupation.
“And Trent, how does that make you feel?” Felix asked.
“It makes me feel like I’m wasting my day pass, man.” There was nothing calm about Trent. He was perfectly exasperated. It was obvious the day had not gone according to plan.
But then what had he expected? Probably not thruples therapy.
As for me, I just wanted my guys to get along. It had been a full six months since my wolf guy had killed my demon guy’s brother. Now that sounds worse than it really is, a fact I’ve been trying my damnedest to get Gray—the demon hottie—to see. Gray’s brother had gone by many names on the Earth plane, but Stewart had been his most frequent alias. On the demonic plane, he’d been known as Nemcox and had been totally evil. He’d learned a secret about the king’s son…
I’m moving too fast. Like I said, it’s been a while. I should catch you up. I’m Kelsey Owens. I’m this weird thing that happens when a lone wolf forgets to wear a condom and humps a human lady. I’m what’s known as a Hunter. It basically means that I’m pretty strong and have a lot of werewolf senses, but I can’t actually turn into a wolf, though I do have a demon arm—and that’s another story entirely. I work for the King of all Vampire, who also happens to be the king of the supernatural world. I’m his Nex Apparatus. It’s kind of like a combo sheriff and assassin, with a dash of therapist thrown in. I’m involved with a gorgeous half-demon named Grayson Sloan and an insanely hot alpha wolf named Trent Wilcox. We had a few super-sexy encounters together and then came the aforementioned murder. But I didn’t see why that had to mean the end of our threesome. After all, the king and his wife and partner had gone through a ton worse and still got it on all the time, and in fairly public places.
I might be horny. Super horny. And my bio clock had started ticking. I wanted some baby making, and I couldn’t do that while my men were fighting, hence the therapy.
“You’re here on sufferance, wolf.” Gray was using his super-superior voice, the one he used when he knew a suspect was guilty and he could prove it. In the last few months, he’d gone back to his original job. Gray is a Texas Ranger. Not the baseball-playing kind. He’s a cop of the highest order and he works in the Ranger’s specialized crimes unit. By special they mean weird shit no one else wants to work. Basically he deals with supernatural crimes.
We’re kind of coworkers when you think about it.
It was his other job that worried me. Gray is also a dark prophet. Every now and then his eyes go midnight black and he starts to speak in what I like to call prophet rap. It’s usually a jumble of crap that doesn’t actually make any sense at all until you’re on the other side of it, but it impresses the other demons. Especially Gray’s dad, and he’s the one I worried about.
“I thought I was here to discuss potential parole,” Trent shot back with a shake of his head. “I thought you were willing to talk to me and find a way to work this out.”
Trent used to be the head of the king’s security. He had a great career, benefits, job security. Then he met a girl.
Yeah, I kind of wrecked that for him. Again, hence the therapy.
“This? You refer to the murder of my brother as this? I don’t want to work this out with you,” Gray replied, sitting back. “You misunderstand me, wolf. There is no parole. The king is high if he thinks my father will allow that to happen. The only reason you weren’t killed in the first place was to keep the peace. You will never be allowed your former place. And I have my reasons for helping Kelsey see you on a regular basis. I want Kelsey to fuck you out of her system so we can go back to normal.”
We were far from normal.
“I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Felix said, taking in the three of us with an academic air. “Kelsey is dual natured, as you know. Unlike most were creatures, she’s not fully integrated. I know werewolves like to talk about their ‘wolf’ as being something that lives inside them, but that’s a euphemism. For Kelsey the ‘she-wolf’ part of her soul is separate, and she has different needs from the human portion.”
Not exactly. Honestly, the longer I live and accept the fact that I’ve got this gift, the more the she-wolf and I get along. I totally don’t lose control and try to kill people anymore. She-wolf and I kill people with purpose now, and we’re in total agreement on what we needed and that was sex.
“I’m perfectly willing to take care of all her needs.” Trent got that smirk on his face, the alpha wolf smirk. I shouldn’t find it sexy, but I do. “How about you go and talk to your father about this bullshit punishment and I’ll spend the few hours I have here in bed with our woman.”
I was actually all on board with that plan with the exception of losing Gray. I’d had a taste of symmetrical fucking and I wanted more. Not that I didn’t enjoy my sexy times with each of them, but there’s something about having four hands on my body that does it for me.
Gray snarled Trent’s way, and I am not even ashamed to say that did something for me, too. “You aren’t here to fuck Kelsey. You’re here to potentially answer for your crimes.”
“I killed a demon who was going to find a way to drag the woman we both love to the Hell plane.” Every word that came out of Trent’s mouth was clipped and sharp. He’d leaned forward and I could feel his frustration. “I would think you would thank me.”
I winced because Trent wasn’t a model of diplomacy. “I think…”
Gray stood up, looming over my wolf. “Thank you? For killing my brother?”
“Gray, let’s sit back down and discuss this,” Felix said, his voice an oasis of calm. At one point in time, well, many if you think about it, he’d been an angel. The winged-from-Heaven kind. He’d fallen for a woman named Sarah. Literally. He like descended from the Heaven plane, and I’ve heard rumors that the queen herself chopped off his wings with a chainsaw. Zoey Donovan-Quinn gets to do all the cool shit.
For a moment Gray looked like he would push the issue, and then he ran a frustrated hand through his dark hair and moved to the window. Felix’s office had floor-to-ceiling windows that offered a spectacular view of the city of Dallas. The building we all live and work in is placed deep in downtown, nestled among a bunch of skyscrapers. It was bustling, but predictable for the most part, although the building across the street from us gets a lot of police attention. I don’t know what they do there, but helicopters buzz it, and a surprising amount of people get shot up in there. I think I should send a witch in to cleanse the space or something.
It was time to start an actual dialogue that had nothing to do with male posturing. “I…”
Gray turned and pointed a finger Trent’s way. “You’re the one who should be thanking me. Your head is still on your body. If my father had his way, you would be a corpse decorating his palace.”
I groaned. We’d been over this about a million times, and Gray was wrong. He hadn’t had anything to do with Papa Sloane not demanding Trent’s head. That had been all Neil Roberts. Nemcox had far more to answer for than the secret he’d learned about Lee Donovan-Quinn.
Trent stood. “You realize you’re talking about him like he’s right. Your father. The Hell lord. You know at one point I thought you were a pretty reasonable guy. I thought you understood that your demonic family is fuck-all evil.”
Trent was right, but I’d learned family can be a touchy subject for Gray. “I…”
Gray moved toward Trent like a bull about to charge. “Evil? This coming from the guy who was raised by a cult? Yeah, I found out all about that. You were Lupus Solum’s golden boy. Does Kelsey know? Does she know you were part of a specialized breeding program? That your mother became some kind of priestess? Does she know they thought you might be the wolf king?”
No. I hadn’t known that, and if Trent had wanted me to, he would have told me. I knew he’d grown up on what many would call a collective, or maybe a commune, but it was totally a cult and apparently werewolves know how to do creepy and weird. Lupus Solum stood for Wolves Alone. Stood? Stands. They’re still out there, and they don’t like half breeds like me. Or traitors like Trent. Or anyone who isn’t one of them.
Trent growled, a low sound in the back of his throat. “I got out. I left my evil as fuck family behind the first chance that came along and when they killed my wife, I took revenge on all of them. Including my father. You can’t kill him because I already did. You see the difference? You’re kissing Daddy’s ass while I’m trying to be better than mine.”
“You have no one to be loyal to,” Gray shouted back. “You have no pack. You’re the strongest alpha around and yet you don’t lead. You don’t care.”
Trent’s eyes went steely. “I have my pack. They have nothing to do with blood and everything to do with love. And I assure you I’ve been more than loyal.”
“To the king?” Gray asked. “You’re not loyal. You do his dirty work and he hands you a paycheck.”
“Well, you seem to be loyal to a Hell lord,” Trent shot back. “Damn, man, I thought you were dreading your descent, but maybe you want to go a little early. You want to wear those horns of yours full time?”
And that’s when Gray launched himself at Trent. My men went tumbling across the space, claws coming out.
It was everything I feared. I’d had some hope when Gray had been the one to drive me out to Trent and make sure he had a place to stay. I’d known he was doing it for me, but in the back of my mind there had been some hope that Gray understood what Trent had to do. That hope was lost now.
I started to get between them, but Felix shook his head.
“Let them get it out of their systems,” he said with a beatific smile, as though they were simply two toddlers pulling a toy between them and not massive, muscley supernatural creatures complete with claws and fangs and killing instincts. “There’s a reason I use this large space as my therapy room. Most human therapists use more intimate spaces, but I find my clients end up throwing down one way or another. Don’t worry. Everything in here is fortified by magic. They can’t truly damage anything but each other.”
That statement didn’t make me feel better since I hadn’t been worried about the furniture.
Trent was on his back, but he’d managed to get a hand around Gray’s neck. Blood started to seep where his claws dug in.
“I think I should break this up.” When I’d scheduled this session, I hadn’t imagined that it would end with the two of them rolling around together. Well, I kind of had, but not in a violent way, and I was supposed to be in the middle, damn it.
Felix waved me off. “They’re fine. They’ve needed this for a while. Let them punch it out and they’ll probably feel better. What Gray should remember is that you need Trent to balance out your she-wolf.”
Gray punched my “balance” right in the face. “She can find another wolf. Hell, I’ll help her. We’ll take applications and everything. Or fucking bring back Marcus. He’ll work.”
That brought a low growl from the back of Trent’s throat. “I will not be dismissed, asshole. She’s my mate. I’ll be hers long after you’re on the Hell plane serving your father.”
I groaned because they both knew where to stick the knife in. Gray is what’s called a legacy. His mother was an earthbound witch who made a deal with a demon. In exchange for hopped up Hell lord sperm and power, she’d given birth to a powerful halfling who was allowed thirty-five years on earth before descending to serve his father. Gray’s time was running out and I still had zero idea how to save him. I knew one thing. I wasn’t losing him to a contract he’d never signed.
Gray’s fangs made an appearance as Trent managed to roll him over and get a few punches of his own in.
“Do you want some tea?” Felix asked. “I’ve found these things can take a bit of time. We’ll swing back to the talk when they’re through.”
I slumped back into my chair. Nothing was going the way I wanted it to. “This isn’t going to work, is it?”
“I wouldn’t say that,” Felix replied. “You need to be patient.”
I ignored the groans from the fight. We still had some time in our hour and I wasn’t going to waste it. “I don’t understand. Gray is reasonable about everything except this. Trent is right. I was dying. I was lying there dying and Nemcox was going to let it happen. If it had been anyone else, Gray would have fought like hell to save me. He would have helped Trent.”
I could remember that day and it sat between me and Gray. It had happened quickly and Gray had always had a soft spot for his brother, but I remembered how close to death I’d come. Only Trent’s action had saved me, and because of Gray’s stubbornness it had also broken us.
It didn’t make sense to me. Gray and I had been living together since that day and he was reasonable. He was loving. He was getting along with everyone in the building, and that had not always been the case. He even facilitated my getting to see Trent, but when they were in a room together, he went a little crazy.
“Gray cared for his brother,” Felix began. “I know Nemcox was a demon, but they’re capable of love, too. It’s twisted and warped and usually ends poorly, but for Gray, his brother was the one positive thing about his family. Gray doesn’t view family in the same manner people with healthy relationships do. I actually think if they would sit down and talk it out, he and Trent would discover they have much in common. They both grew up in dysfunctional families. I knew Trent had grown up in Lupus Solum, but I didn’t realize he’d been considered one of their chosen. I would love to explore that. I’ve heard stories but never directly from a source. But I digress. We need to remember that Gray has issues with his familial relations. Nemcox was loyal and that imprinted on him at an early age. I’m sure in the back of his head, he thought if he had to go to the Hell plane, at least Nemcox would be there to help him.”
I hadn’t thought about it that way. Despite the fact that my stepdad sucked, I have two brothers and a mom who love me. Hell, my bio dad died before we could meet and I still know he loved me. I’ve learned in the last few years that having people to depend on is everything. When someone loves you it can be a protective barrier against the shitty things of the world. It’s easy for me to dismiss Nemcox because I have a lot of people to fall back on. Trent didn’t have any family he cared about, but he was practically a member of the king’s family. He’d been with them for years, and the king tended to treat Trent more like a brother than a servant.
Did Gray feel alone now?
There was a smashing sound that made me start and gave Felix no pause whatsoever. He simply leaned forward. “I believe an apology from Trent would go a long way. He doesn’t have to apologize for killing Nemcox. He merely has to make Gray believe that he understands why Gray would be angry. That anger is more about loss and fear than rage. Imagine mourning someone everyone else hates. Gray has no one to bear part of the burden.”
See, this was what we should be talking about, what we would be talking about if the guys hadn’t decided to murder each other. I ignored the long howl that shook the walls. “So I explain to Trent that he’s not getting in my panties until he apologizes.”
That seemed pretty simple. Trent liked getting in my panties. I was sure he was looking forward to doing it on a comfy bed for once. Since he’d assassinated Nemcox in order to protect the king’s son, Trent had been living in a tiny cabin north of Dallas. It wasn’t much more than a kitchen and a bedroom, and thank god someone had built a bathroom, though the hot water in the shower wasn’t reliable. I’d been spending time with him when I wasn’t working. We’ve gotten into a nice routine. I go up when the moon is full and run with him. I’ve gotten some serious knee scrapes because Trent will do me in the woods.
But I had to wonder if living alone was starting to get to him. Trent isn’t a loner. He’s used to having other wolves around him. He might not have a traditional pack, but he spent much of his time with my uncle Zack and Neil Roberts. For years he’d lived here in Dallas at the council headquarters, surrounded by people who consider him family.
“No, that’s not what I meant at all,” Felix said with a sad shake of his head. “First of all, we should talk about using sex as a manipulative tactic. That can cause serious problems in a relationship.”
Women had been doing it for thousands of years. I didn’t see why it had to stop with me. I glanced over and saw Trent had Gray on the floor. He stood over my demon and his booted foot was about to come down on a place I had use for. It was time to take control.
“Don’t you dare kick him in the balls, Trent Wilcox. I need his sperm.”
The boys stopped. I mean they went completely, utterly still. They were like statues for a moment, and a thrill went through me because I finally had their attention.
Trent broke first. “I’m sorry, what did you say?”
I hadn’t exactly meant to just put it out there. I’d meant to ease them into it. And yes, I knew it was the wrong time, but Gray was on a clock. I had no idea what the Hell plane would do to his swimmers. I needed them now. It can be very difficult for a she-wolf to conceive naturally. I was planning on getting on Dev Quinn’s schedule. Or maybe offer to babysit his son Rhys. “I said I want to have a baby.”
Never had I imagined that I would think those words, much less say them out loud. I never thought I would have a family like that. It’s not that I don’t dig kids. I actually prefer them to most adults, but I couldn’t conceive of myself in a maternal role. That all changed when I was trying to help Gray through his transition to dark prophet. I acted as a balance for his mind that night, but I also had a vision of all my possible futures. The worst? Everyone dies and I’m left all alone. The best—my kids. My half-demon son and tiny she-wolf daughter. I’d seen them. At the time I’d discounted that vision as something that could never happen, but then I’d opened my heart to Trent and it all fell into place. Now I wanted that vision to be true more than I’d ever wanted anything in my life.
Trent reached out a hand, the silence in the room almost stifling. I was surprised when Gray took it and allowed himself to be helped up. He got to his feet and wiped the blood off his face, and then both my guys took their seats again. They’d found a mutual fear, and it was me.
Gray looked to Felix. “I feel confused and a little afraid.”
Trent nodded. “I feel anxious and also horny.”
Gray pointed at him. “Yeah, that’s in there, too.”
Felix gestured toward the seat I’d sat in. “I definitely think we should talk, Kelsey. Perhaps I should clear the rest of my afternoon.”
These did not look like men who were eager to hit the insta-dad button, and my stomach kind of knotted. Were they going to tell me something like “hey, you’re a nice lay, but I don’t know about kids.” I knew I was pushing them, but something deep inside was telling me this was the time. I needed to do this or it might not happen.
It couldn’t not happen.
How did I tell them I’d seen our babies and I wanted them now?
There was a knock on the door and I practically breathed a sigh of relief when my uncle walked in.
Zack Owens was a handsome man who looked like he was about twenty-five years old. He was closer to forty, but he was also the king’s servant, and that meant he took the king’s blood. The vampire king’s blood was way better than Botox. “Kelsey, Trent, Daniel needs to see you. Gray, you’re more than welcome to come along, but Lord Sloane will be here soon and we have a development Daniel wants to talk about before he gets here to discuss Trent’s status.”
Saved by the freaking bell. Someone had died or was going to make someone else die or planned to blow up shit that made a lot of people die, and I welcomed it because it meant I could put this discussion off.
I wasn’t sure how I would look either of them in the eyes again, but I was more than willing to put off the moment when they told me they didn’t want to have kids.
“Don’t you think we should discuss this?” Felix asked, looking concerned for the first time.
“Gotta work. The king calls,” I said as I ran out the door.
I felt my men behind me but just kept on walking. Therapy would have to wait.
* * * *
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