Agent Rhone Craigson has known about shifters for nearly a decade. He also knows there’s a group of them currently hiding out in the remote bayous of Louisiana. When several missing persons reports come to Rhone’s attention, all from that area, his curiosity is piqued…along with a healthy dose of concern. For the safety of, well, everyone, shifters need to stay under the radar.
Rhone needs to know if the shifter group is involved in the disappearance of humans in that area. Due to the fact that there’s a mole in the CIA, feeding the military sensitive information, he decides to visit the shifters in person. When Rhone arrives, he finds the group surprisingly welcoming and forthcoming. Joining them for a meal, he spots a cute, dirty-blond-haired twink that causes an unexpected dose of attraction, who’s introduced as Mickey, a meerkat shifter.
When Mickey claims they’re mates, Rhone knows that means Mickey expects them to bond and live as a couple. While Rhone can admit that he wouldn’t mind getting to know the little shifter, so much is going on within the agency. Can he discover the mole to ensure Mickey’s safety, or is walking away the safer option?
“Afraid so, sir.”
Agent Rhone Craigson sighed deeply, rubbing the bridge of his nose. Lowering his hand, he flipped open the file’s cover. He frowned as he took in the picture of a rough-looking, middle-aged man with cruel eyes.
“He looks like he’d be the one to make people go missing, not the other way around,” Rhone commented absently. Upon hearing Agent Carlton Reed’s snort of amusement, Rhone grimaced. “Sorry. That was stereotyping.”
Carlton chuckled as he shrugged. “You’re not wrong. The guy looks like an asshole.” The technical analyst crossed his arms over his chest as he cocked his head. “Why is this area so important to you? Is it related to a case I haven’t heard about?”
Rhone shook his head. “Not really.” The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end as unease churned in his gut. Smirking at Carlton, Rhone forced his tone to come out even. “And if you hadn’t heard about the case, I wouldn’t be able to tell you about it anyway.”
“So this is a personal matter?” The slender dark-haired man grinned. “That’s not standard procedure, ya know.”
Yup. I’m definitely starting to not trust this guy. Too bad, because he’s good at his job.
Narrowing his eyes, Rhone pinned Carlton with a hard look. “The area came up on the radar of the FBI, and I recognized it because I have a friend in the area,” he lied smoothly. “I just wanted to know if there was an issue down there.” Tapping the picture of the nasty-looking man in the folder, he added, “And according to your find, several people have disappeared around there.”
Good thing I didn’t have Carlton look into the issue of the science lab burning to the ground.
Due to the fact that Rhone knew there was a mole in the CIA—a mole feeding information to a questionable section of the military—Rhone didn’t use the same technical analyst on more than one case at a time. That way, if information made its way back to the military, he would know who to go after. It was probably too simple of a plan, but it was the best he and his boss, Deputy Director Lawrence Reiste, had at the moment. Between them and Agent Slade Wellington, the man Rhone often ended up paired with, they hoped to close in on the mole.
“Well, I’ll keep an eye on it for you,” Carlton told him, his hands lifted in placation. “And let you know if anyone else pops up as missing around there.” Frowning, Carlton cocked his head. “Should we notify the FBI that there’s something hinky going on there? I mean, these sorts of guys don’t seem to be the standard for a kidnapper, but maybe he likes to torture tough guys before disposing of them in the swamp or something.”
Rhone closed the file and relaxed back in his chair. “I’ll handle it,” he said with a nod. “Thanks, Agent Reed. If I need anything further on the three you’ve already given me, I’ll contact you.”
“Sure.” Carlton must have recognized a dismissal when he heard it, for he turned away and started toward the door. “Good luck, sir.” Pausing at the door, he looked over his shoulder at Rhone, a wry smile curving his lips. “I don’t envy you having to work with another department.”
Scoffing, Rhone simply dipped his chin in a nod. Relief filled him when Carlton closed the door behind him, leaving him alone. He knew the technical analyst thought he would pass the information on to the FBI, but that wasn’t his plan at all.
Rhone opened a drawer and pulled out two other files. Placing them on top of the third, he picked them all up. He rose to his feet and headed out of his office, locking the door behind him.
A few minutes later, Rhone stood before Deputy Director Reiste’s office door. He knocked. When he heard his boss order him to enter, he did so.
Closing and locking the door behind him, Rhone watched Lawrence hang up his phone. The deputy director lifted his finger to his lips, and Rhone waited patiently. The deputy director pulled an electronic device from his desk drawer, set it on his desk, and pushed a button.
While Rhone couldn’t hear anything, he knew what the device was doing. In the off chance that someone had placed a listening device in Lawrence’s office, all it would pick up would be white noise. Rhone knew he would be able to speak freely of a sensitive subject that so few humans knew about.
“What do you have?” Lawrence asked, glancing toward the files while indicating the seat before his desk.
Rhone moved toward him. As he placed the files on his boss’s desk, he settled in the chair. Relaxing back, he crossed his legs before him.
“A third man disappeared in the Louisiana bayou,” Rhone stated, tapping his forefinger against the arm of the chair.
As Lawrence pulled the files toward him, he commented, “People disappear in the swamp all the time.” Opening the top one, he arched a brow. “A young man. Twenty years old. Josiah LaFleur.” Lawrence met his gaze. “This man disappeared a few years ago.”
“I had him checked into because someone in Kontra’s gang is looking for him,” Rhone explained. Pointing at the files, he added, “The other two men disappeared near the area they’re staying. One was a security guard for a private company hired by a facility that burned to the ground a few months back. The last man lived in a small town near where they’re staying.”
“You think Kontra’s people are involved?” Lawrence asked softly, pushing the file aside to open the next one. He glanced up at him. “Chase Ingerson. Ex-military.”