A mate who’s a possible thief isn’t quite what cop and coyote shifter Cheveyo Parker envisioned for himself. However, one glance at Nathanial – decked out in blue jeans, an open-necked shirt, and handcuffs – and Chev is unable to deny the primal connection he feels between them.
Claiming shifter’s rights to be able to protect Nathanial, Chev teams up with a shifter detective to uncover the truth. But when he starts to investigate what appears to be the theft of a South American Shaman’s mask, he finds something much darker and far more deadly going on.
And when Nathanial goes missing, Chev will need all his coyote instincts to find his mate in time!
Chev nodded. He jotted the information down. Admittedly, the old man wouldn’t be the first to be conned, but Chev’s hackles remained up. Something important was happening here. He guided the distraught man to a chair. “Wait here. I’ll go find out what’s happening, and do what I can.”
Heading through the main foyer of the exhibition room, and past the glass-enshrined collection of ancient artefacts, Chev followed the sounds that echoed around the high-ceilinged chambers. Before he could enter an inner room, two men appeared. One he peripherally recognised as Matthias, but it was the man in handcuffs that immediately drew his attention.
This man could have been the poster boy for museum geeks with his short-cut, sandy-brown hair, large, dark-rimmed glasses. He was dressed in jeans and a caramel-brown, open-necked shirt. But the heat that pooled in Chev’s groin told him something else. Something very, very personal.
He growled, low and feral. Then he swallowed hard, trying to keep the beast at bay. He was a cop. Nathanial was a suspect. He had to keep control.
He waited until Matthias got closer with his prisoner. Nathanial looked as distraught as Smythe. Fear, misery, and confusion rolled off him in waves, the distress so pungent Chev’s throat clutched.
“I spoke to the retired curator. What can you tell me?” He directed his question to Matthias.
The large, burly man shrugged. “We got a call. Mask was missing. Found in his car. Seems open and closed.”
“I didn’t do it,” Nathanial said, his voice almost a wail. “I didn’t. I don’t know how it got in my car.”
“You’ll have time to make a full statement down at the precinct,” Matthias said. “You should probably get a lawyer. You’re gonna need one.”
“I don’t know any lawyers,” Nathanial said. He knees buckled, and Chev moved fast to catch him. Chev’s skin tingled where it came into contact with Nathanial, and Nathanial’s eyes widened behind the thick glass. They were a golden shade of hazel, and for a second or two, Chev was lost in their depths. Then a detested voice boomed from behind them.
“What’s the hold-up here? Get him to the precinct and booked. Matthias, leave him with the uniform and come with me. I wanna check out his apartment.”
“Leave him with me,” Chev said, his voice a soft growl. “I’ll take care of him.”
Matthias eyed him warily and then nodded. “Sorry,” he muttered.
“Not your problem. I’ll deal with it.” He waited for Nathanial to stand, albeit shakily, and locked gazes with him. “My name’s Chev, Officer Cheveyo Parker. I have to take you in. If you’re innocent, you have nothing to fear.”
“I don’t know how the mask got in my car,” Nathanial whispered. “I swear I don’t.”
“I’ll look after you,” Chev murmured. His incisors dropped, and he knew his eyes were taking on the blue tinge that came with a shift. His reactions were instinctual in the close proximity of his mate. His animal side wanted to claim him, but his human side remained dominant and his teeth receded.
“You’re a shifter,” Nathanial said, his eyes growing wide again. “Aren’t you?”
“Yes. What can you tell me about this theft. The truth.” Chev stared intently at the human, bringing his shifter senses into play as he listened, watched, and scented Nathanial.
Nathanial’s voice was soft and husky, and heat bloomed in Chev’s groin. He pulled Nathanial closer, and angled his head so he could claim the soft, full pink lips as his own. He wasn’t going to take Nathanial as his mate now. Not in another’s shifter’s home, and not with the theft hanging over him. That didn’t mean he couldn’t learn how Nathanial tasted, though, or how his skin felt under Chev’s hands, lips, and tongue.
“I shouldn’t want you so much,” Nathanial murmured. “We don’t even really know one another. But right now all I can think of is having you.”
“You’re reacting in part to my pheromones,” Chev replied. “Do you want me to go?” Leaving was the last thing he wanted, but equally he didn’t want Nathanial doing anything he’d regret later.
“I don’t know what I want,” Nathanial said, his voice still soft. “Part of me wants to run away and hide in a corner somewhere and pretend none of this is happening. Another part wants you to hold me and never let me go. But I keep thinking, how can you want me, or even think of loving me when there’s still nothing to prove me innocent?”
“You’re my mate. Guilty or innocent, I would stand by you and love you. But I know in my heart you’re innocent. Let me make you feel loved. Give you something more substantial to hold on to when the doubts try and take control.” He drew Nathanial into a gentle kiss, and gradually deepened it until Nathanial’s erection brushed against his thigh.
Urging Nathanial back and onto the bed, Chev covered Nathanial’s slighter body with his own. He continued kissing, and impatiently unfastened Nathanial’s shirt so he could lick and nip the dusky pink buds that peaked instantly.
“You smell so good,” Nathanial whispered. “So sexy.”
Chev bit down gently at Nathanial’s collarbone. He didn’t want to leave obvious marks, but the beast within wanted something to show that this man belonged to him. He unfastened Nathanial’s pants, delving inside the underwear beneath until his hand closed around hot, hard, damp flesh.