Authors: Selena Illyria
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Paranormal, #Romantic Suspense, #Mystery & Suspense, #Suspense, #Werewolves & Shifters, #Erotica
She had to meet
DCPD Drug Unit contact in a short time. Nadia didn’t question why
Crossing needed a drug unit, what they did, or why he’d agreed to meet her. What she needed to do was get in and out of town quickly. Lacking sleep or being jetlagged wouldn’t help her do the job for
. The minutes ticked by on slow hands. She felt sleep tug at her and allowed herself to doze and wake in fits and starts. When her alarm went off again, she let out a pained scream. She reached over, picked up the clock, and lifted it up, ready to throw it across the room. Nadia wanted to destroy that little beeping machine, smash it, punch
and most of all, make that damn alarm stop. Rather than give in to her inner violent instincts, she placed the clock back on the nightstand and pushed the button.
The world became blissfully silent, but now that she was awake again, she couldn’t get back to sleep. Besides, there was no way she could go to sleep. She had no time, and she couldn’t be late. With a grumble, she got up and stomped over to the bathroom, where she turned the shower to cold, hoping it would wake up her sleeping brain cells and make her more alert. She stripped out of her clothes and stepped into the stall. The ice water hit her, and she sucked in a breath. She forced herself to stand under the downpour, grabbed the soap, and lathered up. Once she’d gotten used to the cold, she turned off the downpour and dried off.
It didn’t help. After drying off, she decided to go straight to the coffee. Nadia poured herself a cup of scalding hot liquid and swore when she took a sip, which burned her tongue and throat. With tears in her eyes and anger stirring in her gut, she downed the rest of the hot brew and got ready to go. She tucked her house key into a boot, hid her ID in her bra, and slipped her mobile into her jacket pocket. After she had worked with a pickpocket for a year, she’d stopped using a purse and had begun carrying only the minimum amount. She never used a credit card, debit or otherwise, unless it was an emergency; keys were stored in her shoes or in a place that could be secured to her body.
Any money she needed was tucked away in an inner pocket or in her bra, but never in a pants pocket. She put a few random denomination bills into her secret jacket pocket, set the alarm, and left. The door would auto-lock behind her. Her nerves were raw, but she was nonetheless aware of all the people out and about so early in the morning. She kept watch for anyone who shouldn’t be there. Her neighborhood wasn’t exactly well-to-do, but it wasn’t known for crime or break-ins. There was a good mix of shifters in this piece of
Crossing, mostly felines. So far, she didn’t feel as if she were being watched or followed. She decided walking would help her wake up; driving a car would be irresponsible in her state, and the café wasn’t too far away. As she walked, her mind became less muddled, and her throat and tongue didn’t feel too hot but roughened and achy.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to eat something.
Her last meal had been well over eight hours ago. She was thankful she hadn’t drunk anything when she’d met
. If she had, she’d be feeling crappier than usual.
Her stomach grumbled as the scent of freshly baked scones, pancakes, and buns wafted through the air. She picked up the pace, only to start running to the door. She had to wait as a little old lady beat her to it, slowly opened it, and shuffled inside. Nadia tried not to growl.
Get a move on, Granny!
Instead, she stared through the window at the glass cases being filled and the darting of waiters and waitresses pouring cups of coffee and delivering ice-cold glasses of milk. When the old woman was through the entryway she turned and gave Nadia her sweetest smile before saying, “Next time, you should get up earlier.”
Nadia stared after her, trying to fight down a surge of anger. “Well, fuck you very much too,” she grumbled and ducked into the restaurant. She marched over to an empty table and slumped into a chair. A check of her watch told her she was early, thankfully, and another grumble of her tummy told her it was time to eat—but what? She picked up a menu and looked over the food items: vanilla-bean scones, chocolate-chip muffins, oatmeal with various fruit toppings, and various pancakes with syrups and fillings. The menu declared that everything was made on-site and organic. At that moment everything could’ve been made with spam, so long as she got fed. She flagged down a waiter and ordered some milk chocolate-chip pancakes with macadamia nuts covered in
chocolate syrup and some milk. For now she would avoid coffee unless she needed it, even if that mocha topped with whipped cream being delivered to the table next to her looked too good to be true. She slouched further into her seat and stared out the window, praying that
refused to give her a name would arrive.
Nadia didn’t mind that anonymity; he’d told her she’d recognize him by the mirrored sunglasses. It was a normal accessory rather than a corsage or some sort of crazy scarf or tie. When her food arrived, she dived into it like she hadn’t eaten in days.
made sure she’d gotten something to eat, but it was barely nutritious enough to keep up her energy. They’d given her gruel and water, no protein. Her inner snow leopard had hated it, but at least they were getting fed. The buttery sweetness with the crunch of the macadamia nuts was bliss on her tongue. The dark chocolate was bitter enough to wake up her senses. Her tongue and throat didn’t mind that she was eating. The more food she consumed, the faster her healing powers worked to soothe away the aches and roughness.
An odd musk drifted around her. She scented him before he spoke. Her skin tingled with awareness that someone was standing next to her.
“Am I interrupting?”
At the gruff voice, she looked up, mouth full of pancakes with a fork on its way up to her lips and her free hand cupping the milk.
, she berated herself silently as she took in her reflection in the mirrored sunglasses. She looked like crap: bags under her eyes, skin looking less than fresh, and frown lines around her eyes that refused to smooth out.
He took off his shades, and she found green eyes gazing down at her. His angular features were more pronounced now that his glasses were off. He had shaggy blond hair that brushed his shoulders. His clothes were rumpled as if he’d slept in them, but it looked good on him, suited his image. He held out a hand.
, nice to meet you.”
Rex took the seat across from her. He waved the waitress down and placed an order. “Would you like more pancakes?
Maybe some coffee?”
A knowing smirk flitted across his mouth but never reached his eyes.
She frowned. His scent drifted toward her, sunshine and sweet grass with an edge of lemongrass, but there was something mudding the natural scent. Without a thought, senses on high alert, she shoved the chair back, got up, walked around the table, and inhaled.
“Whoa, we just met, come on.” Rex held up his hands, but that didn’t deter Nadia from taking another deep sniff. He didn’t try to push her away; he sat still and allowed her to investigate him. No one commented or called out at her behavior. Not that she cared. Nadia didn’t like being made a fool.
She let out a warning growl and went back to her seat. “If you’re going to pretend to be a feline, the least you could do is cover up your wolf musk with something a bit, shall we say, stronger. I know a guy. I can give you his number, tell him Claudia sent you, and he’ll give you a huge discount.”
It was Rex’s turn to frown. “Damn it, I thought I was doing a good job covering it up.” A little Southern accent slipped in. His body relaxed into an artful gratefulness that made her envious. There was no way she could do that without looking like she was about to slide off the seat.
“This explains why you’re in the DCPD, a mostly werewolf outfit. So why does DC need a drug unit? The issues of crime and drugs are low, with the exception of the
issue. So what’s going on here?” She dug back into her food.
“Well….” Rex relaxed into his seat. “It may have a low crime and drug rate, but it still needs a drug unit, plus we’re supposed to stem the tide before it starts up. I’m sure
told you about the issues we have with the Council?”
Nadia agreed. “Okay, I get that; you stop it before it becomes a huge issue. So what does this have to do with
?” She wondered if maybe the Council was perpetrating the
issue. Nadia had to call
on that issue.
Rex’s food arrived, and he began to cut into his stack of Southern Comfort Special. “Normally this would’ve been nipped in the bud. There are very few people who could sell any drugs in the first place. But this
thing….” He shook his head. “It started a few weeks ago, a few deaths to start with, but when the Werewolf Summit started up, things got worse. I’ve had to toss people in jail or hide them in the DC Rehab Center to get some counseling. Once I shut down one dealer, two more pop up. I have a lead, but it’s tentative and sticky.”
Nadia frowned; her stomach flipped. She flagged down her waiter for
mocha with extra whipped cream. “Okay, spill.” She wouldn’t ask about the rehab center, not yet anyway.
“Okay, there are these werewolves’ wives who want to do a bake sale,
they also want to lace them with
. I don’t know why, but I’ve made them believe that I’m the only game in town.” Rex began to eat.
Nadia let the info turn over in her head. “Why would werewolves want to lace their baked goods with
? It has no effect on them.”
Rex chuckled. “Yeah, but this bake sale isn’t going to be for the wolves, it’s going to be selling to the felines and other paranormal species as well as to humans.”
Nadia frowned. “Why?
And why baked goods?”
She had an idea, but she didn’t want to give Rex something about her that Urban didn’t have.
Rex took a sip of his coffee before answering.
“Because you have to cut the drug with something.
Too strong, and it will kill instantly. You want your clients to walk away alive so you can get more customers after they’ve sampled things. And anyway, if they fuck with werewolves, regardless of whose wives they are, they’ll be exiled from the pack, possibly killed.”
A sinking feeling started in her stomach. “Who are these wives?”
Rex rattled off a list of five werewolf alpha bitches, and Nadia swore. “Are you serious? I can’t go after them. It doesn’t matter who I’m working for; I’d be killed. Why are they doing this?” She also doubted
would defend her or stand by her when she presented her case to him.
Rex pointed his fork at her. “That is the million-dollar question. From what I can tell, there are no money problems to speak of, so maybe boredom? Maybe they got inspired by that TV show about the mom who sold drugs and decided they could make some extra money?”
Disgust spoiled some of Nadia’s appetite. “Ugh. It’s one thing to deal with felines, but werewolves, especially alpha bitches. You’re sure about this? That they’re behind this?” They had the how but not the why, and it bothered her. Alpha bitches didn’t do shit like this on a whim; there had to be a purpose behind it.
Rex leaned forward. “So what do you want to do? I could talk to
get you in on the investigation if you want.”
“No, no, no. He can’t know I’m in town. Do you have proof of this?” She needed to know if all of this was speculation or actuality before she made her move.
Rex nodded. “Yes, they’ve approached me for a large order of
. They told me it’s for a bake sale, to spice things up. They told me they couldn’t risk traveling with their stores of
, so they have to buy locally.”
Nadia needed to know more about this case, and this didn’t help her much. “Okay, give me the specifics of the case, from the beginning, please. I want to make sure I have all the information before I make a decision.”
Rex gave her a winning smile.
He went over his info. Why he was helping her, she didn’t know and didn’t really care. All she needed to do was figure out the
, which she now knew, get evidence, and turn it over to
, and if he didn’t do anything, take what she knew to
Sounded easier than it was.