Math geek Asa Tibbs is no wilting flower, despite being a butterfly shifter with a reputation for fragility. When he learns his mate has been kidnapped, nothing will stop from rushing to his mate’s rescue. Least of all any objections by the Wildcat Hills Pride, whom he’s conveniently neglected to seek permission from.
Xander Powell, alpha of the Pride, is chagrined beyond belief. Not only has he been captured by a gang of deer shifters—an insult to his masculine pride alone—but he’s become the new main attraction of a rinky dink circus? And he can’t even shift to get out of his situation, not without alerting humankind to the existence of shifters among them. What’s a lion to do?
Help arrives on colorful wings when the big beautiful butterfly that is Asa tumbles into Xander’s cell. Together, the two men escape the circus. But their journey home is just the beginning of the honeymoon from hell…and what they discover along the way will shake the foundations of the paranormal world.
This shit sucks.
Asa clung, head down, to a textile canopy attached to one of the circus trailers littering a sprawling park in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Even in the dark, this wasn’t the safest place he could have chosen in which to hide. Not when you were an exotic butterfly colored like a gay pride parade mascot and possessed a wingspan of nine inches.
Fortunately a light rain had begun about two hours earlier, and the circus staff had been too occupied with erecting the big top and feeding the animals to pay attention to exotic spies.
If his mate’s life wasn’t at stake, Asa would’ve thought the whole spying game exciting. However, the sleazy piece of shit called the circus director had not only bought Xander, he’d also tried to tame the proud white lion. Poor Xander couldn’t change out of his animal form, or he’d reveal the secret of shifters to the human world.
Earlier, when Asa had witnessed the director using a whip on Xander because he’d refused to jump through a silly hoop, Asa had almost lost it and attacked.
Attacking wouldn’t have worked in Asa’s favor, considering a butterfly was no match for three hundred pounds of flabby director stuffed into a ridiculous red-and-gold suit.
Didn’t mean Asa didn’t want to shift and shove his boot so far up Director Douche’s ass the guy would taste leather for the next decade. If he’d worn boots.
He’d called his best friend, Jaxon, about an hour before and asked for reinforcements. There was no telling how long it’d take Jaxon to gather the troops and drive all the way up to Rapid City, though.
Asa wondered whether he should try to free Xander on his own. Too bad being naked as a human would put a serious cramp on his elaborate rescue plan. How was he supposed to save the day—and his mate—without looking utterly ridiculous?
His pathetically naked post-shift body had almost landed him in prison once already. The coppers coming his way hadn’t looked too pleased to see a naked man in a public telephone booth.
Asa still didn’t understand the cops’ scandalized looks. Although a bit on the thin side, he thought he looked attractive enough to turn some heads.
His state of nudity aside, even his enhanced shifter strength wouldn’t help him fight against the many beefy men who roamed the circus. He was caught between a rock and a hard place.
A gust of wind hit Asa’s wings. He adjusted his grip on the canopy and scrambled for purchase with his tiny legs.
Asa kept a watch on the director’s trailer. A tall stranger appeared out of the shadows. He hurried past Asa’s perch, startling him. The guy looked like the proverbial villain, huddled in a long raincoat as he crept around the director’s trailer.
Asa agitatedly curled and uncurled his long proboscis. Thank God the stranger hadn’t noticed him.
The loud bang of the man’s fist hitting the director’s door carried through the rainy night.
Director Douche—D.D.—opened the door, a dark glower of annoyance on his face. Asa watched the sour expression quickly slip away, fear taking its place. Seemed the two men already knew each other.
D.D. closed the door behind him, squeezing beside the stranger under the textile roof spanning the side of the trailer. After he’d pulled up the collar of his jacket, D.D. lit a cigarette. Even from that distance, Asa saw his fingers shake.
Who was this villain? And why was D.D. afraid of him?
Secrets. So many secrets.
Although Asa could hear while in his butterfly form, he knew it’d be next to impossible to listen in on the men’s conversation over the noise of the rain that splattered the canopy. Asa wriggled his antennae, instead, to scent the air.
Amid the odors of rain, mud, wet fabric, and the animals close by, Asa detected a faint scent, and his wings began to shake.
He smelled D.D.’s human sweat, the cigarette, and a hint of the booze the guy hid in a flask stuffed in the pocket of his jacket.
And he smelled shifter. The visiting stranger wasn’t human. Asa couldn’t pinpoint what he was, but the scent reminded him of a big predator bird, such as an owl.
If it wasn’t for the fact that Xander was trapped in a cage somewhere on the circus site, Asa would’ve flapped his skinny ass out of Dodge as though his wings were on fire. Birds, as well as bats, were every butterfly’s nightmare. If the strange shifter was one of the bad guys…and if he smelled Asa…Asa would be toast.
Asa wasn’t a coward, though. He’d waited long enough for his mate to come along—he wouldn’t throw Xander to the sharks.
Meanwhile, D.D. and Birdy were engaged in a heated argument. Birdy grabbed D.D. by the collar and shook him like a rag doll.
Did D.D. know who he was dealing with? Did he know about shifters? Also, most importantly, did he know his new main attraction could shift into a man?
Shifters lived in close-knit communities, religiously guarding their existence from humans. The only exception to the rule were human mates. Rare, but not unheard of.
If the director knew about them, things could become ugly. No shifter wanted to end up as a circus attraction—or a pincushion in a secret government lab. God knew humans liked to experiment on things they didn’t understand.
Not that Asa, with his analytical mind and geeky inclination, thought that a bad trait, but it sucked when it came to experiments on living, breathing beings.
D.D.’s eyes were wide with panic. Asa thought he saw the dumbass shake in his boots when Birdy leaned in so close their noses almost touched.