Asher is used to being overlooked and not taken seriously as the joker brother. It doesn’t usually bother him. When the pack house is attacked, Asher takes on the mission to hunt down the one responsible. He is tired of their enemy having the upper hand. If he can hunt down Kimi, then they may finally be a step ahead. The only problem is that he can’t only think about himself now because a confession from a wayward pup causes him to become a guardian of a teenager.
Things only get more complicated when a human named Tyler helps him out in a night club to corner Kimi and gets kidnapped for his trouble. Asher is given a choice—trade newly caught Kimi or Tyler dies. Corralling an uncooperative Kimi gets him up close and personal with the vampire, but instead of wringing his neck like he wants to, Asher finds himself drawn to the unmistakable scent of his mate. If that wasn’t enough to test him, the proof the kidnappers deliver to him comes with a stunning revelation—Tyler is also his mate.
“What are you doing here, mutt?” The hostile voice came from the right and Asher responded in kind before he could rein in his temper. His wolf did not appreciate being called a mutt.
“None of your business, leech.” He growled and snapped his teeth, feeling a spike of pleasure when the male vampire blanched and hightailed it out of there. However, another vampire took his place, this one more confident. Asher could tell by the way he walked that this one was dangerous.
“This is my coven,” the newcomer said evenly, assessing him.
“No, it’s Elder Lavi and Elder Van’s coven and Blood Moon Pack has safe passage on coven lands. Did you forget?” Asher leaned forward, crowding the male. He didn’t usually use his height or bulk to intimidate, not deliberately anyway. But he recognized who this must be from talking with Jacko. The wolf was quickly becoming another little brother to him.
From the fine bone structure that spoke of Japanese descent, the long, sleek black hair, the unfavorable scowl and the air of superiority surrounding the vampire, it could be none other than Kimi.
The alliance hadn’t been able to find anything concrete on the vampire, anything that would be evidence of a betrayal. Though a few did suspect he had had something to do with Jacko’s kidnapping and getting the spiked blood to the elders. It had been too sophisticated and large a job for one lone crazy vamp to do. Ley had to have had a coconspirator. The vamp in front of him was the lead suspect so far as he was one of the elders’ scorned ex-lovers.
Kimi hissed and his eyes turned black as the vampire whipped out a short samurai blade. “Watch your tongue, mutt.”
His wolf stilled inside him, watching and waiting. The baiting had been fun, but now there was a weapon. Except he didn’t feel threatened exactly, more like amused. As if this was still part of the game.
“What would you like me to do with my tongue instead, vampire?” he asked.
The male’s face contorted like he’d been asked to eat dirt and Asher hid his smile.
A female vampire that bore a striking resemblance to Kimi appeared next to them, mumbling low and fast in Japanese. Asher smirked to himself, letting them continue to argue about the giant wolf with too many muscles and stupid dark fire hair. There had been an elderly couple in his old pack that moved there from Japan and the kind female had taught him the language and customs of their homeland.
Kimi continued to tell his sister that Asher had propositioned him and the female gasped before launching into a berating his mother would have been proud of, admonishing Kimi for putting the alliance at risk. When she was done, Kimi was glowering at him, but re-sheathed the sword nonetheless.
“Our apologies. Will you excuse us?” She was gone the second she finished saying it, exiting in a blur. Kimi did the same a second later, but not before curling his lip in disgust.
Chuckling, Asher continued on his way to Jake’s lab, his wolf amused and looking forward to confronting Kimi again. He had no doubt the vampire would be back to escort him from the coven property if he got the chance.
Asher knocked on the white, sealed lab door and waited.
There was a release of air and the door swooshed open to reveal the skittish jackal shifter in a long white lab coat, looking as if he hadn’t slept for days. There were dark circles under his eyes and an emptiness that hadn’t been there the last time he’d seen the male.
“I’m here to play guinea pig,” he said as he assessed Jake. There was something wrong there, his wolf was sure of it. He just couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was.
“Oh, of course. Please come in. I have everything almost ready,” Jake rushed to explain, stepping back so Asher could enter the lab. “Is the barbeque still happening the day after tomorrow?”
“Yeah, definitely. Sorry it’s been put off for so long, there was some pack stuff to deal with that needed to be settled. Everyone has locked it in this time though and the vamp elders have decided to make it mandatory to attend, at least for a few minutes.”
“E-everyone will be there?”
“Well, except Sage, but he’s off in one hole or another.” Putting himself in danger no doubt with no regard for anyone else. He’d kept his silence about Sage’s many secrets, but Sage was still not being totally honest with them, he could feel it. It was hard and he didn’t think his brother realized the damage he was doing by going away again and refusing to join the pack. Hopefully when Sage finally came home, there would still be bridges he could salvage.
“Hole?” Jake asked.
There was an interesting scent in the air between them, a mix of curiosity and pain. Jake’s body language revealed the male was paying very close attention.