Nicholas Lyons, chief physician to the Lyons clan of shapeshifters, has mourned the death of his promised lifemate until a rogue shapeshifter reports having seen her at an exotic animal sale. Accompanied by Marie Lyons who is no stranger to the dark side, her new lifemate Anthony, and the imperious Lady Bat, he embarks on a frantic search for Eve through the dangerous world of exotic animal trafficking.
Eve, whose first memories are of recovering from an injury at an isolated animal refuge, has lived through a succession of owners in a world filled with cages and cruelty. When Eve meets Marie at the exotic animal sale, she begins to have flashes of a different life – a life in which she was something other than feline. Her last sale, however, has landed her as prey to exotic animal hunters and the clock is ticking.
Without warning, Marie’s thoughts intruded into Nick’s mind, as they had occasionally since she’d arrived at Lyons’ Den. Nick ducked his head. If he spoke up, she would bite his head off, but he must. “It wasn’t your fault, Marie. No one blames you and you shouldn’t blame yourself. It’s been fourteen years.”
Marie’s eyes rounded. “How… You heard me, Nick. I thought I had learned to control my thoughts.” She paused, then glared his way. “Just what did you hear?”
“Enough to know you feel guilty about not helping Eve.”
She pulled a milkshake out of a bag and handed it to Anthony, who nodded his thanks. She took the other shake for herself and tore into a chocolate turnover. “Stay out of my mind, Nick, or I might think some thoughts you’ll wish you hadn’t heard.”
He didn’t envy Anthony his feisty wife. His Eve had always been shy and gentle. Maybe she would have become more outgoing once they were mated, but she had died too young in a plane crash with most of her family. Or so they’d thought.
The death of Eve’s grandmother, Ellen Perkins, a couple of weeks ago, while she was trying to murder Marie had left too many questions unanswered. At the time of the double tragedy fourteen years ago, the People had been in too much pain to demand answers. When Marie, a newcomer to Lyons’ Den, had shocked everyone with the claim she had met Eve a few months earlier at an exotic animal sale, the People faced a cold trail. But Cynthia, the People’s chief of security, with all of the People’s resources at her disposal, was a force to be reckoned with. If Eve was still alive, Cynthia and her people would find her. He was afraid to hope for too much.
Lady Bat sucked up the last of her shake with a disgusting gurgle, then handed him the empty cup. “Little Kit,” she said to Marie, “we can hear you a hundred yards away, even inside the Arby’s. You must work on your control or someone could hear something better kept private.”
“It’s happened again, hasn’t it?” Marie’s shoulders drooped. “I just can’t get the hang of it yet.”
Lady Bat reached over and patted Marie’s arm. “It is no secret you two are in love and that you both enjoy sex. It could have been worse. The clan’s secrets are safe. Your thought control seems to be coming along nicely. We must work on learning to control your feelings, my dear.”
“My Kitten has done very well.” Anthony brushed Lady Bat’s hand away and replaced it with his own. “If we’re to believe you, she was unaware she was using certain powers when she lived with the humans. I will see that she learns what is needed.”
Even when worried about his Eve, Nick enjoyed the sparring between Lady Bat and Anthony. The imperious Lady Bat, the clan’s ancient matriarch, and Anthony, the clan’s esteemed king, had been engaged in a tug-of-war over a twenty-two-year-old girl since she’d been born. He would be concerned about the girl’s welfare, if she were anyone other than Marie. The girl was perfectly capable of managing Lady Bat and Anthony. He wondered what she would be like in twenty years or two hundred. Maybe he and Eve would be able to enjoy the show together.