Detective Quinn Manning wants nothing more than to see Diamond Dace, one of Fagerdal's most notorious drug lords, behind bars. After years of the man eluding the authorities, when Manning accidentally stumbles onto an opportunity to catch the powerful dealer red-handed, he doesn't hesitate. But what should be a simple tail instead drops Manning into a real-life world of myth and legend.
Hush is a hulder, a forest spirit also known as a pine tree Mary. Since the beginning of time, his people have lived in the forest, feeding off the energy they derive from the lust and desires of passing hunters. But Hush is an abomination, the only male of his kind.
After a lifetime of starvation, Hush has struck a deal with a human. A simple trade that will give the human what he desires and keep Hush from wasting away completely.
When Manning saves a young man from Diamond and one of his men, his view of reality is altered forever. And Hush, who has never met anyone like Manning, finds the man's attraction to him enough to finally stave off his constant hunger.
Together they set out to rescue Manning's partner, and their connection to one another grows. But can a human detective have a future with a creature of the forest, a creature who isn't supposed to exist?
Manning was trying to make sense of what he was seeing. Diamond was pushing a gun into the mouth of a woman he'd tied to a tree and the goon with him was fiddling with his jeans, or ... He narrowed his eyes. Was the fucker jerking off? Disgusting.
"Freeze! Police." He jumped out from behind a tree and pointed his gun at Diamond only to shift his aim to the guy who'd let go of his dick and grabbed a pistol.
"Stay where you are." He glanced at Diamond who edged away. Shit, he should've brought backup or at least called Jacobs before he'd trailed the black Mercedes.
Diamond held up a hand to his ear as if he was listening into the forest. "It's awfully quiet, Detective." He widened his eyes in an exaggerated manner and took another step.
"Stop!" Manning strode closer to the woman. "It's all right, miss. I'll get you out of here." A quick glance had him halting. It wasn't a woman. Delicate, with long dark hair, and almost silvery eyes, but not a woman.
Diamond's laughed echoed between the trees as he hurtled out of sight. Manning glanced between his disappearing back and the ... hostage? Prisoner? Enemy or victim?
Fuck! He prepared to run, muscles tense, gun at the ready, and then he hit the ground. Rolling he glared at the man tied to the tree. He couldn't have tripped him, but how else did he end up in a heap on the moss? There was nothing he could've stumbled over. A car engine roared in the distance. "Bastard."
The man slumped against the tree, the barbs digging into his chest and Manning winced. Fucking Diamond. He got up and aimed his gun at the goon who surprisingly still was there. "You're coming with me to the station."
He picked a zip tie from his pocket and cuffed the man who shrugged. "You have nothing on me."
"We'll see." He didn't have anything, but he was sure Jacobs could find something they could keep him for. Jerking off in public or something.
He grabbed his phone and asked for a police car to be sent to the Misty Grove Reservation before going over to the man tied to the tree.
"I'll untie you now. No funny business." He pointed his gun at the man to emphasize his point. Shiny bright eyes blinked open as if he'd been napping. Why was he wearing a dress? Was it Diamond's doing? It was a kind of wrap around thing, and he'd tied a string of ivy around his waist. Perhaps not Diamond's doing -- his women were most often wearing tight-fitting dresses that left nothing for the imagination. And his men ... his men didn't wear dresses.
"Dolt." The man's voice was frail and fear etched his face.
Dolt? Manning had been called many things in his line of duty, but dolt? It might be a first. "Yeah, yeah. I'm not gonna hurt you, but you need to come with me to the station for some questioning."
The wire was cutting in on several places and anger bubbled up inside of him. Was it necessary to use barbed wire? The man didn't show much sign of pain but flowers of blood decorated his clothing from where the metal spikes had been buried in his flesh.
Manning reluctantly grabbed a zip tie and secured the man. Where the hell was the police car?