Lawrence is one of the council assassins, perhaps the one who ended up with the worst ability—he’s a snake shifter, and he secretes his venom even in his human form. He’s never been able to eliminate it entirely from his saliva and bloodstream, and that means he’s made sure to stay away from sex and hookups as much as possible—until now. When he’s sent to kidnap the son of Gavin White, the man experimenting on shifters, he discovers Griffith is his mate.
Griffith is a geneticist. He works for a shifter-owned company that tries to help the shifters and humans who were experimented on by the Glass Research Company. When he’s kidnapped by a cute blond who tells him his father is doing the opposite—experimenting on shifters to turn them into war machines—he’s horrified, and he wants to help.
Lawrence has no idea what to do with the knowledge that Griffith is his mate. They can’t bond, not with the venom in Lawrence’s saliva, so he decides not to tell Griffith about it. He hasn’t counted on Griffith’s stubbornness, though, and when he has to rush to help his mate, he knows he won’t be able to stay away, even though it would be the right thing to do.
Lawrence threw popcorn at North’s head. When North whipped his head around to find out who the culprit was, Lawrence kept his focus on the TV. He knew he wouldn’t fool North—he had a bucket of popcorn in his lap after all—but it was fun to watch North hesitate about accusing him. He looked from Lawrence to Ulric, who was stuffing his face with the popcorn and would probably have to be paid to waste food by throwing it around.
“Not funny, guys,” North grumbled.
Lawrence disagreed, but when he reached into the bucket again, he hit Ulric’s hand. He wrinkled his nose. “Dude. Are you trying to seduce me or something? We’re not in a theater.”
“And you’re not my type,” Ulric said without looking away from the TV. Lawrence wasn’t sure why Ulric was so focused on the superhero movie. He’d already seen it about a dozen times. The actors were hot, but didn’t it get boring after the fifth or sixth time?
“I’m everyone’s type,” Lawrence said.
Ulric finally looked at him. “Yeah? How come you don’t date, then?”
Shit. Ulric knew better than to bring that up. Lawrence could see he already regretted it from his expression, so he forced himself to smile. “Because no one is good enough for me.”
“It’s fine. Promise.”
Ulric sighed. “I shouldn’t have said that.”
“In his defense, he was focused on the Captain’s ass,” North said.
Lawrence relaxed. “Who wouldn’t be? I mean, I don’t care about superheroes, but the way they look makes it worth having to watch this again.”
Ulric groaned. “That’s all you got from the movie?”
Lawrence loved to tease him about the things he liked—namely, superheroes and food. “Was there anything else to get?”
And just like that, everything was right again. Lawrence settled deeper into the couch and listened to his best friend explain what he’d missed from the movie—and apparently, there was a lot. Lawrence didn’t care much. The main reason he was watching the movie right now was that he liked spending time with his friends. It had become harder since North had bonded, even though both he and his mate still lived at the warehouse. North spent more time with Milo now, as was right, but Lawrence missed him. He still had Ulric—when his face wasn’t in a bucket of popcorn—and Miles, but it wasn’t the same.
Things were changing. A lot of the assassins had found their mates, and it left Lawrence nervous. It was almost like an epidemic, except there was no vaccine against it.
Lawrence would have grabbed two of them if they existed.
It wasn’t that he didn’t want to meet his mate. He’d love to have what North had with Milo, what Win had with Graham, what all the other couples had. He wished he could have it. But even if he did meet his mate, there was no way the two of them could ever be more than platonic friends, and that wouldn’t be right. Lawrence didn’t want to condemn his mate to a life of being nothing more than friends, not when they should have more.
The door to the stairs clicked open, and Win came in. He was holding a bunch of files, and that could only mean one thing—meeting time.
Ulric groaned and waved his greasy hand toward the TV. “Can’t we finish watching this before you explain how fucked up the world is?” he asked.
He’d known better, of course, and Lawrence doubted he was surprised by the look Win gave him. “You can continue watching until everyone else is here, but once they are, you’ll turn it off, or at the very least, pause it. We have work to do.”
Ulric continued to grumble under his breath. Lawrence didn’t blame him. He loved his job, even though he hated the reason he was there to do it in the first place, but the past several months had been fucked up. The job hadn’t been that different, but instead of going after serial killers and rapists, they’d gone after people out to get them.
Lawrence didn’t understand how people could still be so hateful when shifters had been out for fifteen years, although he supposed that watching humans deal with people who were a different color or who loved someone of the same sex should have been a big clue. Win hadn’t officially told anyone yet, but Lawrence had heard that shifters were as involved in this mess as humans were, and he wasn’t surprised about that either. Some people didn’t care who they had to cut down to become rich.
It took some time to gather everyone who wasn’t out on a job. It always did. Win was patient, although the fact that he was softly talking with Roark and Beck might have something to do with it. He probably didn’t even notice how much time had passed.
He looked up and blinked, then did a quick head count before clearing his throat. “All right. People, you can take a copy of this,” he said, handing out the stack to Cora, who was sitting closest to him. “You’ll have time to go over it later. It contains everything we know about the Beasts.”
Lawrence frowned. “The Beasts?”
“Yes. They allied themselves with the group of people who were trying to kill us, and with the government.”
There was a moment of absolute silence as everyone digested that. The government was supposed to be on their side. They were supposed to protect shifters the way shifters protected humans. The council worked with the government to make sure hate crimes and whatnot were taken care of.
And now they were working against shifters?
“You all know I met with Evan’s father.”
“Can we not call him that, please?” Evan asked.