Jack knew he’d get in trouble for helping the police rescue Amani from the crane, but the shark never dreamed part of his punishment would be working at Kinky Kritters. The job proves to be a safe haven from the members of his shiver who would just as soon torment him for turning on them as look at him. It’s tough to endure, but Jack hopes one day they’ll grow tired of picking on him and find a new target so he can go on with his life.
Harold enjoys his work as a cop, alongside his partner Nero. When Nero starts spending more time at Kinky Kritters to be closer to Amani, it’s only natural that Harold follows along. He’s assigned to watch Jack as his punishment plays out. There’s something about the shark the hound finds interesting, and he decides to push a bit to try to find out what makes the shark tick. He’s surprised as he starts making a real connection with Jack.
Even though he’d probably been to Kinky Kritters no fewer than a dozen times before, going there tonight made Jack nervous. It had only been a month since he and his friends—ex-friends more like—had kidnapped Amani, and since then he’d been scared to even drive on this side of town. Lady Leo could hold a fierce grudge. He knew she’d have it out for him if she ever saw him again, despite the fact he’d called in the tip that led to Amani’s rescue. Things like that didn’t matter to the lions. Jack was pretty sure she’d hate him forever because he’d been part of the group that had hurt her son. He couldn’t really blame her. He was a shark. He understood what it meant to be prone to irrational actions. There were a lot of things in the world that shouldn’t be dropped, and injury to family was one of them.
Which was why her invitation to be there promptly at ten had been so strange. He’d expected death threats, not a neatly sealed envelope containing a heavy vellum letter. She’d written it all out in her fine script, too, so he knew it was genuine. Whenever the sharks had dealt with her in the past, he’d seen her careful text. But none of it made sense. He just wasn’t sure why she would want him there.
He walked through the glass doors of the office building that served as the home for Kinky Kritters. He wasn’t sure what went on in the offices on the higher floors, but down below was the club. Bethany, Amani’s sister and Lady Leo’s daughter, was in her place behind the desk in front of the elevators. When she met his gaze, he quickly ducked his head. Her eyes were hard and dangerous. There was no flirting play in them, as there had been the other times he’d been there.
“Downstairs,” she snarled. Jack quickly hurried past her. “And if you ever so much as lay a finger on my brother again, I’ll shift and tear out your throat!” she called after him as he hurried into the relative safety of the closest elevator.
He didn’t blame her for being mad at him, and he knew he deserved it. He’d kidnapped another shifter and then sold him to an old man, for who knew what purpose. Jack had never been told what Amani had gone through at the hands of the crane, but he’d imagined the worst.
The club wasn’t open, since it was only mid-morning, but it was far from empty. Lady Leo stood next to the bar, deep in conversation with a uniformed cop Jack recognized. He’d come to his house after Jack left the tip about Amani being taken. There were a few other uniformed cops too, none of them standing as close to Lady Leo, though. Maybe he was her new lover.
Behind them, propped up against the bar, was Amani. While the others paid no attention to Jack, he seemed focused solely on him. As Jack watched, Amani touched the arm of the cop talking to his mom. The cop kissed Amani’s cheek—definitely not his mother’s new lover—and then Jack had all the attention in the room as everyone stopped speaking and turned toward him.
“At least you had the balls to come down here.” Lady Leo’s voice was icy as she lifted her martini off the bar. She walked away from the others, taking two long steps toward him. “You’re here to be sentenced. I know, the shifters’ council already saw to your punishment. You’re on probation, and you risk exile from Nevada if you so much as get a speeding ticket in the next year. That’s not a punishment. That was their way of giving you a cute little slap on the wrist and sending you over for me to deal with. You see, half the council are regular patrons of mine, and the other half wish they had the guts to be. So when I told them I wanted you to myself to make you pay for what you did to my son, they gladly handed you over. And if you hadn’t come willingly, my men would’ve made a nice soup out of your carcass. You have no friends, and no one’ll save you from me. Do I make myself clear?”
Jack had never felt as powerless and afraid in his life. He was a shark. He should never shake as badly as he was shaking now. He thought about Amani—he was a lion, and yet they’d made him feel scared too. He nodded as he looked over her shoulder at Amani. The cop had moved in front of him, shielding him. “I understand.”