Authors: Selena Illyria
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Paranormal, #Romantic Suspense, #Mystery & Suspense, #Suspense, #Werewolves & Shifters, #Erotica
He wove around the various tables and settled down, only to realize they weren’t alone. Rex from the La Luna Café sat with her, drinking coffee. Urban growled at the intruder.
, Rex is a friend and updating me on the
case.” She gestured toward the empty seat next to her. “Order breakfast; we have news.”
Rex directed a grin toward Urban but got right down to business. “One of the women I’ve been watching for the
case has turned up dead, a combo of too many muscle relaxers and wine; at least that’s the preliminary theory. Her husband was the one you found in the cabin, dead. The coroner is putting a rush on the results, with pressure from
, so we’ll know if it was murder or an accident.”
Urban thought over the new information as he perused the menu. “Okay, so I don’t have to call in a toxicology test for poisons?”
Rex shook his head.
He’s doing them for both bodies.”
“If he was poisoned, it was probably from a mushroom mixed in with his soup. Easy to hide, but the question is, why all these deaths? Also, what was up with the display of domestic violence at the camp?” Nadia asked.
Urban looked over at her. “Why bring that up again?”
Nadia rolled her eyes. “The pack doesn’t allow that type of shit to happen in front of outsiders. Do I look or
a wolf to you?” She gestured at herself.
Rex leaned over and sniffed her, much to
annoyance. “Back off, beta, or you’ll get my fist denting your face,” he replied, his voice low.
“Ah, shut up.” Nadia pointed at Rex. “B, you know the pack to allow that kind of display to happen during a visit from people who could call the police who may not have ties to werewolves. That’d be a bad thing, as in investigations and questions and possibly a breaking up of the pack and a takeover by another pack. I thought it over while you were at the gym. That scene doesn’t add up when you’ve had no reports of any violence or altercations between husbands and wives, even alphas.”
Urban thought it over. “Fine, I’ll concede that it was odd. If it was a major deal and people, as in other packs, complained and made a big enough stink, then yes, that could happen, and
would make sure that it would happen. He doesn’t tolerate that shit. This could cause a land grab by other packs in the area and shift the balance of power in the state. Could that have anything to do with the
Nadia didn’t think so. “They’d have to make a lot of money for that, and they’d also have to do a lot more killings to destabilize the packs. Too many deaths would be too suspicious, and getting the insurance money would take time. So far we have one pack alpha and his wife dead. We need more information; we need to know about who’s connected to the packs and the women involved, and
, I forgot my baked goods at the park area! I bought you pie,
.” Nadia smacked her forehead.
Rex held up a hand and said, “I’ll get it, but I want to test the goods first. I have an idea. Do you have a receipt?”
Nadia dug into her jeans pocket and produced a slip of paper. “Here you go. You thinking the
in the cakes and pies? That stuff wouldn’t affect werewolves or other shifters, only feline-shifters or humans.”
Urban agreed. “That’s feasible, but why?”
Rex shrugged. “I’d say money. We need to figure out who the ring leader is and find someone weak enough to break. I’ll keep investigating and get back to you. Hopefully, I’ll have something for you soon.” He pushed back his chair and stood up. “Nice doing breakfast with you.”
Nadia turned to Urban. “Play nice. He’s my source in this investigation, and besides, he’s not interested in me.”
Urban didn’t ask. His stomach grumbled. He decided to focus on ordering.
The waitress came up to their table. “I’ll have the Southwest omelets, hash browns, turkey sausage, and orange juice. Thank you.”
“Nice way to avoid the subject. How was your workout?” She sipped her coffee and looked at him from over the rim.
How are you doing?” They had had a pretty intense night. He wanted to make sure that she wasn’t hurt too much.
She shifted in her seat.
“Fine, just a twinge or two.
Nothing a little yoga and maybe a shift might cure.” Her expression was light and carefree, but he could see her putting up walls between them.
Urban shook his head.
“No, nothing a massage wouldn’t cure.
Nadia rolled the cup between her hands. “Well, if you’re offering…yes.”
Urban reached out and she took his proffered hand; he gave it a squeeze. “I’m always up for giving you some care and loving.”
She ducked her head and gave him a small smile. His food arrived, and he had to turn his attention to eating. “So what would you like to do today?” he asked.
She shrugged. “Take over the world? I have to do my own independent investigation in the feline community. They won’t take kindly to having a werewolf with me.
Dinner at my place?”
His heart squeezed, and he couldn’t stop the grin on his face.
Do you want me to bring anything?”
She shook her head. “No, I’ll get everything, no worries. Don’t be late; seven o’clock.”
Nadia pushed back her chair, placed some bills on the table, and rounded toward him. She dropped a tender kiss on his cheek. Urban refused to accept that; he needed his woman to know how much he cared about her. He reached up, pulled her head down to his, and took her lips in a branding kiss that burned him right down to his soul. Urban pulled away, breathless, his heart pounding against his chest as arousal threaded through his body.
Urban admired her plump, swollen, red lips and gave her a smack on the ass. “Now, off with you.”
For a second she didn’t move, just stared at him with wide brown eyes so dark and deep he could fall into them. Emotions swirled in their depths that he couldn’t read. The walls slid down, and he saw a bit of fear mixed with arousal and yearning. She took in a deep breath and stood up. With a snort, she left him.
* * * *
Poppy examined her list of members of the Gardening Club. The names were dwindling down. Last year, she’d had to get rid of Doreen and her husband. This year alone, she’d lost Zelda and Joey. Now she’d had to lose Stan and Caro. All she had left were Madeline, Janice, and their husbands. She needed to recruit more names, but who could she trust with this type of operation? None of the other alpha bitches wanted to do what it took to change the course of their lives. Despite her assurance that Michael would never leave her for a younger model, she wasn’t getting any younger, and times weren’t changing fast enough. There was also Michael’s attitude to consider.
The alpha males that were left weren’t exactly
and that was fine by her. It would mean that Michael would have less competition to take on
when the time came. After he’d won and taken his place as the Alpha of Packs, then the last stage of her plan would go into action. Finally, the women would rule the roost and the men would do what they said, well, what
said. The plan for making sure Michael wouldn’t be a problem had been made far in advance; all she’d have to do was give the word, and it would be enacted. For now, she had to figure out how to position Madeline and Janice into place; they were both married to alphas
had yet to really, truly assert their powers.
It didn’t help that things weren’t perfect. With Stan and Caro’s deaths, the police were sniffing around, and it would only be a matter of time before they figured out that both parties had been killed. If they put the pieces together and it led to her, she’d be long gone. The Summit had four more days left in it and so far it was peaceful, almost boringly so. She’d considered stirring up some trouble, but that wouldn’t do in the least. There was also
to consider. Michael would have to challenge him, and there was that odd feline-shifter to take into account. The woman hadn’t come back to pick up her order, and that was a relief. The women were still baking up replacements with the non-tainted flour mixture. It wasn’t easy with the men coming in and out of the main cabin’s kitchens trying to snag a bite to eat or a free sample without paying for it. They’d only managed to bake replacements for a third of her order.
Poppy looked up from her list to find her feline-shifter contact standing before her, a smile on his sensual lips. He placed a hand on the long table laden down with baked goods. “My cousin came by yesterday; she left here before she could take her order with her. She paid via the credit card of her boyfriend, Urban,
brother. Do you still have it?
, Poppy muttered in her mind.
She placed a bright smile on her face and got the large box out of the mini fridge they kept near the table for such cases. “Here you go. Thank you for coming to get it. I wasn’t sure where to send it.”
He shrugged and accepted the box. “Thank you for keeping it. Hey, can I snag that bear claw? I’m starving.” He pointed to the pastry.
Poppy grinned. Those bear claws weren’t laced with
. “Excellent choice; here you go.” She picked up the bear claw with a napkin, placed it in a bag, and handed it to him while accepting his money. If he could act like they were strangers, then so could she. Their fingers brushed; an electric shock danced up her arm and her nipples tightened. He showed no signs of being affected. She pushed down her reaction, made change, and gave it to him.
“Have a nice day,” she said as she watched him walk off to his dark red Corvette. She paid close attention to the way the denim cupped his perfectly molded ass like a second skin.
He gave her a wave over his shoulder, got into his car, and drove off.
“Who’s that?” Michael demanded from behind her.
Poppy didn’t turn around, nor did she flinch when Michael gripped her upper arm.
“Don’t need his kind ‘round here. Wrap up your stupid-ass bake sale. You need to get your ass in gear to start acting like my alpha bitch, understand?” He gave her arm a squeeze and then a shake.
Poppy bowed her head, anger simmering in her veins. “Yes, Michael.”
“Good girl.” He released his hold and walked off.
“Maybe I should get that plan rolling early,” she muttered to herself as she picked up her list once again. Poppy decided that Michael needed to go now; she could champion another person to challenge
or Urban. She may tell people that he loved her and would never truly hurt her, but she felt herself reach her limits on tolerance of his actions. Poppy had no idea if he truly loved her or just loved using her as his private punching bag. Nor could she ignore his flirtations with beta females. No, it was time for Michael to join Caro,
, Stan, Joey, and all the others she’d killed.
* * * *
Michael walked along the riverbank. His wolf was silent, had been since he’d married Poppy. In fact, he hadn’t been able to talk to his animal at all over the last few years. Doctors had told him nothing was wrong with him and it was all in his head. He knew better: that bitch was poisoning him; at least those were his suspicions. Being around other alphas had only brought out his insecurity. They were shifting at will while all he could do was watch. No one knew about his predicament and they never would, not unless Poppy said something. He’d wanted to challenge
for the Alpha of Packs status, but instead he decided to get the hell out of Dodge. No, next time, in five years, he’d challenge
, but the way he was now, he’d get slaughtered and lose his pack status as alpha. He turned to go back to the campground. A sharp prick on his heel drew a whimper of pain. He paused to stand on one leg and pick up his other leg. Michael looked down at his wounded heel. Blood gushed from the site and stained his foot.