Attain Walsh knew something was odd at Nicholas Lindson’s ranch. Ever since his best friend married Sandra, things have turned…strange. Wanting to get to the bottom of things, Attain begins to show up unexpectedly. He’s shocked to stumble across Nicholas making out with someone other than his wife. The idea that his buddy was a cheat had never crossed his mind. Unable to help himself, Attain confronts Nicholas…and learns that the marriage is a sham. Both Nicholas and Sandra have separate partners. Not only that, but his friend’s partner—Bodb—isn’t human. He’s a gargoyle. When Attain meets more of them, he’s shocked to find himself attracted to one of the huge beasts—a dark-blue gargoyle named Ssimeas. Then he learns about mates—someone the gargoyle considers the other half of their soul—and Ssimeas claims that Attain is his. But Attain is a confirmed bachelor. He has no desire to be anyone’s soul mate. Can Attain convince the gargoyle to leave him alone? Or will the male’s flattering pursuit sway him into turning his life upside down?
Something fishy was going on at Nicholas Lindson’s ranch. Attain Walsh felt certain of it. Ever since his best friend had married Sandra and moved full time to his ranch, things had…changed.
Attain could have chalked it up to Nicholas and Sandra building a life together. Except, whenever he dropped by the ranch, he never saw Sandra. When Attain asked after her, Nicholas would smile, laugh, and offer some excuse as to her absence.
On top of that, Attain had spotted a lot of new ranch hands. He had also been introduced to an older man named Bodb—no last name offered. Nicholas had claimed he was a cattle rancher from Montana who was studying the differences between their state’s practices.
Never heard a bigger fish story in my life.
Lifting the TV remote, Attain clicked the button. He wasn’t watching it anyway. After setting the remote aside, he rose to his feet and stretched his arms overhead. Attain twisted this way and that until he felt a satisfying pop in his lower back.
“Gotcha,” Attain muttered.
Attain had been spending way too many hours in a chair behind his desk. As an attorney, long hours were expected, but recently, his father had been piling on the work. He was barely keeping up even when pulling twelve-hour shifts.
Lowering his arms, Attain grabbed his beer bottle. He swigged back the last of it, trying to dispel the memory of his meeting with his father that evening. It didn’t work.
As Attain had been headed out of the office, George Walsh had called, “Attain, come into my office before you leave.”
Knowing an order when he heard one, Attain had changed directions and obeyed. He hadn’t immediately sat, hoping whatever it was his father needed would be brief.
George had leaned back in his desk chair, steepled his fingers, and eyed him for a few seconds. “Now that Nicholas has settled down, have you thought about following suit?” He lifted one dark-brown eyebrow imperiously, as if daring Attain to give him the wrong answer.
Good grief. Not this again.
Attain mentally groaned, but he kept his annoyance off his face. What was it with parents meddling in their kids’ personal lives? Instead, Attain grinned broadly and waggled his eyebrows, hoping to instill levity in what he knew George expected to be a serious conversation.
“Afraid not, Father.” Attain shoved his hands into his suit pants pockets and forced a soft chuckle. “I’m like you when you were my age.” Twisting his grin into a roguish smile, he winked. “A confirmed bachelor. Too much work and too many gorgeous ladies to enjoy the company of.”
George’s eyes narrowed, and the lines around his lips tightened. “And I also told you that when I did marry your mother, it was the best decision I ever made.”
Attain smiled, thinking of his deceased mother. “Yeah. Mom was special.” Even as she excelled at being the perfect social wife, she’d still managed to be a warm and caring mother. “One of a kind.” Attain sighed, dipping his chin as he met his father’s brown eyes, so different from his own, since he’d inherited his mother’s clear baby blues. “I’m waiting until I find that special lady like you did.”
Hearing his father’s soft harrumph, Attain hoped the conversation was over.
He wasn’t so lucky.
George rested his hands on the arms of his large chair and asked, “What about that Chrissy Alderman? She’s a lovely lady and seemed quite keen on you at Nicholas’s wedding. Have you taken the time to get to know her better?”
Attain racked his brain for a suitable response that wouldn’t cause his father to chastise him for besmirching a young lady’s honor. “Uh—” Real eloquent, Attain. Get your head in it. After clearing his throat, Attain hurriedly commented, “No, Father. You know how busy we are right now.”
He realized work probably wasn’t the greatest excuse, but it was the best he’d been able to come up with when put on the spot by his father.
“I thought as much,” George commented, nodding. “I’ll give this new case to Edward, so when you finish the Buckwater and Stewardship cases this week and next, you’ll have some time freed up.” Then he gave Attain a wide smile that sent Attain’s internal alarm pinging. “In fact, come over Saturday evening for dinner.” George rose from his chair and picked up his suit jacket, pulling it on as he continued speaking. “Drinks at six-thirty.”
As if Attain didn’t already know that.
Attain just knew his father was up to something, but he couldn’t refuse. “I’ll be there,” he promised, even though it was the last thing he wanted to do. “What will Candice be serving?” Attain asked, referring to George’s cook.
Turning, Attain headed toward the door when he saw him pick up his briefcase. As he walked with George out of their offices, locking up behind them, they chatted about Candice’s planned dinner. His mouth watered at the prospect of enjoying her pot roast and apple turnovers for dessert.
Sighing deeply, Attain finally managed to pull himself into the here and now. He decided if he was going to spend Saturday evening with his father, talking about work, he was going to have a little fun earlier that day. Attain smiled evilly as he grabbed another beer.
“Plus, me showing up at the ranch unannounced on a Saturday morning is the last thing Nicholas will expect.”
With that thought floating through his mind, Attain headed to his home office to finish some reading he’d been putting off.
Attain drove his Chevy Avalanche down Nicholas’s ranch’s driveway. Glancing left and right, he took a moment to admire his buddy’s ranch. Normally, he had to focus on the gravel road, since he usually drove his Ducati when visiting the man.
The change in engine noise was another part of his plan.