For over a century, Lachlan Addair worked for the Shifter Council as an enforcer. When the ruling body decided to open a new investigative branch, Lachlan was the first to volunteer. Infiltrating and exploring a shifter unit without detection is right up his curious cat’s alley. When Lachlan’s duty to report the causes of strife within a lynx pride has him slipping into Councilman Goldstein’s estate undetected—just for fun, of course—Lachlan stumbles across Thad—his mate. Unfortunately, the wild turkey shifter is standoffish and brusque. He doesn’t trust Lachlan and makes no secret that he thinks the mate-pull is nothing but a trick of the pheromones—something he’s determined to ignore. Lachlan loves a good puzzle and is undeterred. He admires Thad’s loyalty and uses his extensive wiles to cultivate a little of that for himself. When Lachlan is injured wrapping up a case, will it be the catalyst his mate uses to reject Lachlan—his job could bring so much danger to his flock, after all—and send him on his way?
Finally spotting the manor between the trees, Lachlan paused. The lawn and bushes were well manicured, and the water from the fountains tinkled in the distance. Taking stock of the shadows created by the flowering trees dotting the area, he wondered if he could make it without being spotted.
Maybe if I shift and keep low to the ground…
“Take one more step toward my flock’s home, and it’ll be the last mistake you ever make.”
Lachlan couldn’t remember the last time someone had snuck up on him. Hiding his shock, he controlled his pulse and kept his composure. How the hell did a guard get the drop on me? Slowly, Lachlan turned…and just about swallowed his tongue.
The hottest guy he’d ever seen was standing less than ten feet behind him…and he was naked.
His mouth watering, Lachlan took in the stranger’s broad shoulders and thickset body. He sported a heavily muscled frame, and his light chest hair trickled down across a delectable set of abdominals to a dark-blond treasure trail. That bit of hair cradled a beautiful piece of man-meat.
Lachlan licked his lips before grinning widely at the dark-blond-haired stranger. “How about I take a step toward you then?” He couldn’t help the way his voice took on a husky rumble. Lachlan loved sex, and he hadn’t gotten a chance to fuck or be fucked in months. Giving the guard a hungry leer, he offered, “I don’t recall Councilman Goldstein’s guards going nude, but I gotta say…I like the change.”
Unable to hide his thoughts, Lachlan grinned broadly as he rubbed his palm down his own polo-shirt-covered chest. “Well?” He took that step he’d mentioned. “I really do need to see Councilman Goldstein, but I think I could spare time for a tussle.”
While Lachlan figured it was a bad idea—thinking with his dick—he couldn’t seem to resist. There was something about the glowering, dark-blond male. Something that—
With that one step, the stranger’s scent hit Lachlan’s senses. His instant attraction and his thickening cock made sense. Tipping his head to the side just a little, Lachlan grinned broadly at the man who still hadn’t responded.
He seemed to be too busy eyeing Lachlan warily.
And doesn’t that suck?
“You are my mate, handsome.” Lachlan decided to just throw it out there. Lifting a hand toward him, he took another step. “I’m Lachlan Addair. And who might you be?”
“Not interested,” the broad-shouldered man responded gruffly. He crossed his arms over his chest and frowned at him, pointedly ignoring Lachlan’s hand. “Tell me why you’re sneaking in the back way, and I’ll tell the guards you cooperated.”
Hmm, not a guard then? And what does not interested mean?
Lowering his hand, Lachlan decided to play ball. This was his mate, after all. “I’m an investigator for the Shifter Council,” he told the stranger, hoping for some relaxation to his stance. “I came in the back way to gauge defenses…because it’s fun.” Lachlan shrugged, grinning broadly at his mate. “Consider it an exercise that has turned into an obsession. I love finding holes in defenses, and since my job requires me to infiltrate packs to spy on them, I’m extremely good at it.”
“Fine, and why are you here?”
“I’m here to give a report to Councilman Goldstein in person.” Lachlan suddenly realized how strange it was to find a shifter other than a guard wandering the grounds, especially since the man before him wasn’t a lion shifter. If Lachlan’s nose wasn’t mistaken, his mate was some kind of avian. “What about you, my mate?” Lachlan said, deciding to push. “What are you doing wandering the councilman’s grounds?”
“M’name’s Thad,” the avian shifter responded gruffly. “Use it, ’cause I ain’t yours. And I live here.”
Unable to let it go, Lachlan drew another step closer. He saw the tension in Thad’s frame, so kept his hands away from his sides, his palms out in placation. “You are my mate, however, so why are you refusing to acknowledge our connection?” Lachlan couldn’t help but glance down, admiring the way Thad’s thick dick had begun to fill, plumping and extending from his groin. Lifting his gaze to meet Thad’s hazel, narrow-eyed gaze, Lachlan added, “I am yours just as you are mine.”
Thad scoffed, his lip curling in a derisive sneer. “Mating is nothin’ but a trick of the pheromones, and I sure as hell ain’t gonna be run by such fickle instincts.” He pointed in the other direction. “Hands on your head and walk toward the fountain.”
Mentally reeling in shock upon hearing the vehemence in Thad’s tone, Lachlan did as his mate instructed. He lifted his hands, folding his fingers on top of his head, and started toward the nearest fountain.