Angel is nothing like his name implies. Since he was thirteen he's been in one of the toughest gangs in Denver, slowly rising through the ranks, and now he has the chance to become an enforcer. Along with his best friend, he's willing to take that plunge. But what he doesn't realize is that the deep dark secret in the gang is that every one of the enforcers is a werewolf. When he's thrown in with a feral, abused werewolf, and bitten, he doesn't recover well. He's left for dead by the people he thought were his family.
Quintero is on the hunt for his brother, who was captured a year before. Finding Angel, half dead and in the middle of his change, is the closest he's ever come to finding his brother. Angel has all the information this werewolf needs, but Quintero has to help him through the change first. With Angel barely alive, and the trail rapidly growing cold, Quintero is running out of time to save his brother before the gang destroys him for good.
Angel Lucero took a drink of his beer and laughed as his best friend, Dustin, did a handstand beside him. Dustin was just as drunk as Angel and just as happy. Around them, the rest of the gang was drinking heavily too. A football game blared on the big TV that dominated the far wall. Angel liked football well enough, but he was too drunk to care who was winning. The Currs were having a rare good day. For once, money had been decent, the cops had stayed away from them, and none of them were in jail. He’d only gotten out of lockup five weeks earlier. The cops couldn’t get a drug charge to stick, and he’d been let go after they’d held him for as long as they could. He’d been lucky that time—even though he’d slipped, fallen, and gotten caught, Dustin was the one carrying the goods that night, and Dustin had outrun the cops. They never blamed each other when things like that happened. As long as the Currs made money from the one with the drugs getting away, that was all that mattered. The cops rarely got any charges to stick, particularly without evidence. The Currs were good at keeping evidence out of their hands.
Their head enforcer, Mikhail, put his beer down and turned to them. “Angel, Dustin, come with me.” Dustin toppled over, and they quickly followed. Being called to talk privately with Mikhail wasn’t that unusual, but Angel was curious, especially when Mikhail’s girlfriend, Nadia, got up to accompany them, but Mikhail waved her away.
“Where are we going?” Angel asked.
Dustin was having trouble walking straight, so Angel grabbed his arm to keep him upright. Even with years of partying with the Currs under their belt, Dustin was still a lightweight when it came to drinking or drugs. Angel was used to giving him a shoulder to lean on.
“You’ll see.” Mikhail flashed them a dangerous smile and took them to the back of the house, where a black van was waiting for them. “Get in. We’re going for a ride.”
While that wasn’t unusual either, Angel was starting to get a little worried. A strange feeling gnawed at his gut. He didn’t say anything, though. He trusted Mikhail and the rest of the gang. Since Angel had been thirteen, they had been more his family than any of his relatives had ever been. They’d been there for him, cared for him, made his life better. He pushed Dustin into the van ahead of him and took a seat while Mikhail got behind the wheel.
Mikhail started up the van as soon as they were settled. He stayed strangely quiet, making the odd unease deep inside Angel grow worse.
“Are we going to a job?” Angel doubted that was the answer, since Mikhail wouldn’t take just them, and besides, he wouldn’t take someone as drunk as they were. Drunk men made mistakes, and the Currs stayed ahead of the cops and rival gangs by avoiding mistakes. There had to be a different answer, but even as long as he’d been with the gang, he couldn’t figure out what was happening. He suddenly wished he wasn’t so drunk so that maybe he might be able to follow what was happening better.
Mikhail laughed, the dark edge to the sound made him more nervous. “Relax. You two are going to get exactly what you’ve been wanting. Don’t worry.”
Angel didn’t really know what Mikhail would have thought they would want, but he was curious enough to stop asking questions and wait to see where things were going. Maybe they were going to get more beer or some really good weed. The idea of some well-cut coke was nice, or maybe a hot guy, but Mikhail wouldn’t be taking him to a guy. Mikhail was as indulgent with Angel’s sexuality as he was with the straight members of the gang. Angel’s muddled brain wandered around a bit, but he kept his mouth shut even as they left their familiar turf behind, traveling well outside of Denver.
Dustin fidgeted beside him, appearing to grow antsy as the alcohol seemed to be slipping out of his system. “Where the hell are we going?”
He voiced the words Angel wanted to but was too scared to. Since they were leaving their normal part of town behind, Angel was out of his element and doing his best to hide the fear creeping up on him. Sure, the Currs ruled most of Denver, but outside of their territory, with just him, Dustin and Mikhail, things might get rough if they were caught either by the police or a rival gang. Lately, the Currs had been pushing out, taking territory from the other gangs one block at a time. The other gangs were tense and ready to stop them at any opportunity. Mikhail might not be the head of the gang, but he was high enough in the ranks that he’d make a tempting target, and Angel didn’t see any way he and Dustin could defend themselves beyond the pistols they all carried. If there were too many of a rival gang, pistols wouldn’t do much.
“You two have one final test before you get to move up in the Currs. Pass this and you’ll become enforcers. That’s what you want, right?” Mikhail’s voice was mocking.
Of course, they wanted that. The position came with a bigger cut and more responsibilities. They’d wanted to be enforcers ever since they joined the gang.
Angel shared a look with Dustin. He nodded. Whatever this test was, he’d make sure to pass it. He couldn’t go to jail for drugs again. The next one might not be as easy to get out of. And he might not find another cop willing to trade sex for letting him get away.