Ferreting Out the Truth (MM)
What happens when a closeted animal activist and were-shifter hires a "problem fixer" to save his friends from being wrongly convicted of murder?
Ryan Hunter soon finds out when he slinks off to meet a mysterious stranger named Ian West, another were-shifter who possesses not only a dangerous reputation, but also the prestige for successfully performing unusual tasks, regardless of any legal restrictions he might face.
But to Ryan's pleasant surprise, he finds Ian not quite as menacing as he was led to believe, and also extremely attractive. Sparks immediately fly between them, and Ryan can only hope that once the urgent mission to save his friends is complete, he and Ian might be able to get to know one another better, despite their enormous differences. Not only is Ryan hiding his true sexual orientation from those who know him best, but he has the ability to shift into a raven, whereas Ian, openly gay, has the unique ability to shift into a ferret. Can the men cope with the hurdles awaiting them in their secret undertaking, as well as those they must face in their personal lives?
“Go home and live your life normally. I’ll be in touch,” Ian says.
“Maybe I want to stay and finish my beer.” Ryan doesn’t know why he’s challenging Ian. He needs the man’s help, and pissing him off might change his mind.
Ian raises his eyebrow. “This doesn’t strike me as your kind of bar.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“This place isn’t really suited for someone associated with Mr. Anderson. He and men like him are the high-end type, not used to frequenting quiet holes in the wall.” Ian shrugs.
“Just because I’m engaged to his daughter doesn’t mean I’m the same kind of man as him.” Ryan likes Mr. Anderson most of the time, but they have very different views. There’s a reason why Katie asked him to play boyfriend all those years ago, then fiancé. Her father would never approve of her doing anything other than dating and marrying a hetero white guy with a good job.
“You said he was like a father to you,” Ian points out.
“We don’t always like our fathers, and we don’t always want to be like them.” Ryan certainly doesn’t want to be anything like his own father, who’d not only taken off when Ryan was five with his secretary, but had seriously embezzled funds from his work partners and clients.
“That’s true enough. Stay if you like, little Raven. It’s no skin off my nose, but I think there’s something else you don’t know about this bar that might make you want to take flight.”
“What do you mean?” The mischievous look in Ian’s eyes should scare him. It shouldn’t be a turn on, but it is.
“Look around. If you’re a smart boy, you’ll get it.”
Ryan glances around subtly, not wanting to stare at anyone. There are small groups of people all around, and at first it seems like any other bar, till Ryan notices a few humans of the same gender holding hands and sitting close together. Ian sees when it slots into place in Ryan’s mind, because he grins like the Cheshire cat.
“It’s a gay bar,” Ryan whispers.
“Not somewhere Mr. Anderson’s future son-in-law should be found hanging out with a homosexual.” Ian smirks.
Ryan’s hormones want to do a happy dance at the knowledge that Ian is, in fact, gay, but he can’t do anything about it. He’s here for business, not pleasure. “I’ve been to gay bars before, and Mr. Anderson will never know I was here. Kind of the point of coming here tonight was no one knowing about it. I took two taxis and walked the rest of the way. And I paid in cash. I’m not some kind of super spy, but I know how to keep a secret.” Ryan has snuck out to many a bar. He’s even gone to them with Katie.
“Most straight guys are scared of gay bars, unless they’re bi. Plenty of men who marry women can like the same gender.” Ian looks him over like he’s trying to work out a tricky crossword puzzle.
“I’m not bi,” Ryan says, lying. He only likes men sexually, has only ever slept with men, ones who didn’t mind that Katie was in his life, that he was her cover story to the world.
“I need a cigarette. Come outside with me?” Ian asks, but it feels more like a demand than a request.
Ryan downs the rest of his beer and stands when Ian does, following him out of the bar.