Officer Tian Chavez goes undercover at a college in Durango, Colorado as Tian Whithern, a gangster. It’s not the first time he’s taken such an assignment, since he looks years younger than he actually is. Finding out who’s offering strength-enhancing drugs to students and other townspeople takes a jaunt around the crazy maypole when he discovers the truth. It’s not drugs that give the ability, it’s completing a mate-bond with a paranormal creature. To his shock, he learns that gargoyles, shifters, and even vampires are real. Now, he needs to come up with a viable cover story.
To make matters even stranger, Tian runs across Chef Roman, a gargoyle who seems to think they’re mates. While he finds the huge male attractive, Roman isn’t an exceptionally personable individual. Tian isn’t certain what to make of him or his gruff, bumbling attempts at seduction. When he realizes accepting a life with Roman would mean the end of his work…plus other drastic changes to his life, can he decide on what’s the right path?
Tian sprawled on the cushions for all of three seconds, trying to get his brain to accept and process what he was staring at. It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was kind of impossible.
Scrambling to a sitting position, Tian righted himself. “What are you?” he gasped, pleased he’d finally managed to find his tongue…even if he couldn’t get it to say anything else. “What? What are you?”
The monster, creature, beast? He didn’t know what. Its nostrils flared, and it stared at Tian with piercing purple eyes. Purple? Really? It made sense, since the thing was orange. To his shock, the male actually swept his gaze over him in a surprisingly hungry way.
The hairs on his arms stood on end, and a chill went through him. It took him a second, and he didn’t think he’d ever admit it to him, but it wasn’t revulsion. Instead it was, he wasn’t sure, really.
Pride? Smugness? Arousal?
Pushing that response aside, because it was really weird, Tian took a deep breath, then another. He forced his racing heart to slow. So far, the creature hadn’t made any aggressive moves.
Mocked him, yes, aggression, no.
He’d said something about him trespassing and had called him a human. Obviously the creature knew what Tian was. That meant he knew they were different…and he could talk. That meant he was sentient, right?
Well, holy shit.
“I’ve gone down the rabbit hole, haven’t I?”
The creature’s copper orange-colored lips curved up in what appeared to be an almost wry smile. “Does that mean I should call you Alice?”
Gaping, Tian’s eyes widened once more. He shook his head once, then blurted, “You know about humans? You know about movies?” Frowning, he lifted a hand as he watched the deep-ochre-skinned creature grin widely, showing off loads of sharp, sharp teeth and take a step closer to him. “Whoa.”
The male crossed his arms over his chest—because, yeah, that was easy to see, too, since he was wearing a loincloth. He lifted one brow as he growled, “I already told you that you’re safe.” Cocking his head, he added, “Of course, you were probably so panicked you didn’t hear me.”
Huffing a deep sigh, he uncrossed his arms and rested them on his hips. His purple eyes peered into his own as he cleared his throat. “Very well. Let’s start from the top.” He pointed at the sofa. “Are you going to freak out if I sit?”
Gaping, Tian gathered enough sense to slide to the right, leaving the left two cushions available on the long sofa.
The creature groaned softly as he eased onto it. He settled on the crack of the pair of cushions, positioning himself far closer than Tian would have liked. Seeing how he rubbed his hip, an odd pang of concern filled Tian.
Where’d that come from?
Tian was a foster kid, then he went through the police academy. While he’d made a few work friends on the force, due to his undercover work, he’d never grown too close to any of them. If they’d gotten a cramp in a muscle while working out, he’d offer advice on how to ease it. That had been about it.
To feel concern, an actual desire to ask what was wrong? The picture of someone’s hands exploding on either side of their head in the new silent euphemism for mind blown…that popped into his head.
What the hell?
Tian couldn’t seem to come up with anything else.
Okay. Start at the beginning.
“My name is Tian,” he mumbled. After swallowing, he licked his lips and peered over at the creature. “Do you have a name?”
“I do,” the beast rumbled. “My name is Roman.” He rested his left forearm on his thigh as he turned at the waist to sweep his gaze over him more fully. “In case you’re wondering, I’m a gargoyle.” The man’s nostrils flared once more as he openly inhaled Tian’s scent. “I should also let you know that we are physically attracted to another by scent…”
Roman narrowed his gaze and swept his focus up and down Tian’s torso. “And I find your smell damn fantastic.”