Detective Catlin Hill doesn’t understand the instant, possessive attraction he feels for the slender John Doe in the hospital bed. But the minute those scared baby blues meet his, Catlin lets his protective instincts rule him. The guy has amnesia, and it’s only from a conditioned response that Catlin confirms his name is Gallo Ricci. After passing the case to a fellow detective, he takes the victim home with him and gives in to lust. For some reason, it doesn’t even faze Catlin when his new lover turns into a horse in his living room. When a group of guys drop by and start talking about mates and centuries of living together, Gallo has a panic attack, proving his past abuse won’t allow him to take charge enough to claim Catlin. Is their relationship doomed from the start? And what’s tough enough to take down a shifter and leave him in the hospital?
Catlin had made him a late supper last night, so maybe he should make lunch for him. Gallo nibbled his lip. Would Catlin mind if I used his kitchen? What should I make?
He started opening and closing cupboards, learning what was available, wondering what he could make. Without thinking, he picked up the phone and dialed a number.
“This is Brad.”
Gallo froze. Shit! Who is Brad?
“Hi,” he finally whispered.
“Gallo? Is that you?”
“Where are you? What happened? We’ve all been worried sick!”
They had been? Who are they? Gallo took a deep breath. “I don’t know. I don’t remember. Who— Shit! Who are you?” he finally blurted out.
That got a pause, then, “Gallo, you called me but you don’t remember me?”
“I have amnesia,” he admitted.
For some reason, Gallo could actually hear the other guy take a deep breath and let it out.
“What were you doing that made you think to call me?”
“I was trying to decide what to make Catlin for lunch,” he answered immediately. That, at least, he knew.
“Who’s Catlin?” Brad asked.
“Detective Catlin Hill,” Gallo said. “I’m staying with him while I figure out what’s going on.”
“Okay. Is he taking good care of you?” Brad asked, clearly worried.
“Yeah. He’s very nice. He didn’t even mind when I turned into an appaloosa in his living room,” he added, a smile tugging at his lips.
“You what!” Brad roared. “Bloody hell, Gallo!”
Gallo felt the blood drain from his face, dropped onto a chair, and nearly hyperventilated at the frustration he heard in Brad’s voice.
“Okay, okay, I’m sorry I yelled, little bit. Your words were just very…unexpected. Just breathe, Gallo, just breathe.”
The other man’s crooning finally got through to him, and Gallo sucked in deep breaths. “I’m sorry,” he finally squeaked out. “I didn’t mean to. I thought he was being attacked by this other guy, and I had to protect him. I didn’t know it was wrong until Brock freaked out.”
“Shit, there were two humans,” he whispered, then he paused for a second. “And you thought you needed to protect one?” Brad’s surprise came through loud and clear.
“Yeah,” he whispered. “I—I thought the other guy was hurting him and—and—” He couldn’t even begin to express the terror that had swept through him at the thought of something happening to Catlin.
“Okay, Gallo, okay. I’m going to let Kontra know who you’re with, and I’m going to tell him what happened. He’ll be able to make certain nothing bad happens to you.”
“The leader of our motorcycle gang. You won’t be able to miss him, just hold on a sec.”
Gallo nodded absently, even though he knew Brad wouldn’t be able to see it. He heard Brad sharing the information Gallo had just told him to someone named Dagus, who promised to call Kontra right away, then Brad returned to the phone.
“Now, you said you wanted to cook lunch for your man, right?”
“Yeah,” he answered, remembering his original reason for the call.
“Okay, tell me what you have in the pantry to work with and I’ll help you whip up something to wow the guy.”
Relief engulfed Gallo. “Thanks.”