03 - You Only Live Nine Times

 

 

You Only Live Nine Times

(Supernatural Enforcers Agency)

E A Price

Copyright ©2015 by Elizabeth Ann Price

All rights reserved.  Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author.

 

Disclaimer

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

 

Front cover

The image used to create the front cover has been deemed to be in the public domain, and available for reuse. No offense is meant in the use of it.  It was found at the following website:
http://lifethejoy.com/2014/01/its-going-to-take-a-confident-sexy-couple-to-pull-this-off-i-like-it/

Prologue

“Not long now, my love,” crooned the doctor, stroking their beloved’s dead cheek.  “Not long before you will be whole again.”  The doctor pushed their beloved back into the freezer.  “Igor!  Get the car, we’re going out!”

“Yes, Doctor…”

*

Isis Martin growled as her four-inch heels sank into the wet, muddy grass.  Probably not the best footwear for hauling ass around a cemetery but, hey, they made her legs look amazing.  Plus, she really hadn’t been intending to do this when she dressed that morning.  Stupid LLPD – couldn’t they handle anything on their own?

Isis was a tiger shifter and an agent for the Supernatural Enforcers Agency.  Having just been assigned to the Alpha team of investigators she had recklessly, and uncharacteristically, volunteered to take on this assignment to allow her team leader to spend the evening with his pregnant mate.  Boy had that been a mistake.  Still, it took her away from having to listen to baby talk –
ugh
.

The Los Lobos Police Department requested backup, and here she was.  The LLPD dealt with human crime.  Anything that had a supernatural element, be it shifter, witch, vampire, warlock, zombie or – rumored once – alien, was the jurisdiction of the SEA.  If the LLPD had asked for them, it meant that they suspected the situation would be supernatural.  Normally she was all for taking cases away from the shifter-hating, lazy-ass cretins that made up the LLPD – she could not express how much she hated them – but a cemetery in the middle of the night was not somewhere she wanted to be.

She slapped her flashlight against her palm as the batteries spluttered and died.  Her vision was enhanced by her animal side, but she sure would love for her light to be working at that moment.  “Piece of fucking junk.”

Terrific
.  Alone, in the dark, in the middle of a graveyard.  Yep, it was the start of every bad horror movie she used to love - she’d been a total addict when she was a teenager.  Good job she was a kick-ass tigress, or she might be a little creeped out at that moment.

And where the fuck were the LLPD?  Wasn’t this their party? 

Her tiger let out a wary yowl as she heard a twig snap to her left.  Why was there always a random twig for the bad guy to step on and spook the heroine?

Isis rested her hand on her gun.  Her first choice would be to shift and let Ms. Kitty – that’s what she called her tiger – loose.  But humans had an unfortunate habit of screaming and wetting their pants whenever she let her frisky feline loose.  And they called her a pussy!  If any of the idiot LLPD was stomping around, she didn’t want to give them a heart attack accidentally.

She couldn’t hear any other strange noises, but the wind was starting to whip up something fierce.  So much for the glorious Los Lobos nights.  She scented the air and almost gagged at the smell of rotting flesh.  What the crap?  Okay, yeah, it was a cemetery – but the bodies were in the ground right?  Oh, it was that kind of horror movie. 
Well if it came with Rick Grimes from the TV show, she’d be okay with that. 

Isis was considering cutting her losses and just turning round.  She’d never admit it to her friends, or her mother – who had an unhealthy interest in her daughter’s sex life – but a nice, warm bath beckoned.  And after that, she planned to lay in her bed, eating cookie dough, catching up on Elementary and snuggling with her cats Minion, Lucifer and Brimstone. 
What?  They’re pretty names.

It wasn’t to be, however.  With barely a ‘what the fuck’, a mighty push from behind promptly had her toppling into a freshly dug grave.  She face-planted onto something squidgy, and with a yelp that was hardly befitting of a tigress, she realized she had landed on a dead body.  A fairly fresh dead body, and one that had just been divested of his arms.

“Gross!” she snarled as her tiger snapped her jaws.

Even worse, someone must have witnessed her less than elegant belly flop into the grave, as footsteps neared.  Unless it was the one who pushed her – in which case she was all for round two – she just wanted them to go away.

Isis twisted round, mindful of where she was putting her hands.  A light shone directly into her eyes and she growled.

“Ma’am, are you okay?”  The deep, chocolate voice made her pause and had her tiger purring like a kitten.  “Here, take my hand?”

And, for the first time in her thirty-year-long, man-eating life, Isis simpered and even swooned a little as she reached for the strong, masculine hand. 
Maybe the day was salvageable after all.

Chapter One

Earlier that day

Something wet and raspy tickled her toe.  “Mmmm, stop it,” mumbled Isis from under her pillow.

It didn’t stop
.  No, it was joined by two more equally wet and raspy tongues, and soon pincer-like teeth started nibbling.  “Okay!”  Isis threw the pillow onto the floor and propped herself up on her elbows so she could glare at the offending nibblers.  “I’m getting up – happy?”

Her three cats, Brimstone, Lucifer and Minion, all gave her guileless looks in return that she didn’t believe were genuine for one second.  One by one, they leaped off the bed with a grace that would make a gazelle envious.  They sauntered toward her kitchen awaiting their morning meal.  Isis wasn’t naïve enough to think that her three hellcats lived with her because they enjoyed her company.  No, they deigned to stay with her because she fed them top-grade salmon on a regular basis and had a balcony from which they could come and go as they please.  As for Isis?  Snooty cats who did whatever they wanted and tormented the neighborhood males?  They were her freaking soulmates!  Keeping them for company meant that she was never tempted to do something insane like find a live-in boyfriend or get the urge to bring a mini Isis into the world.  No, the pitter patter of three cats who may or may not be evil geniuses was more than enough for her.

“You shouldn’t allow cats into your bed!” chided her mother, Cleo.

Isis narrowed her eyes as her inner tiger, Ms. Kitty, let out a huge yawn.  “Good advice, Mom, shame you didn’t follow it when you were alive.”

With that, Isis hopped out of bed and ambled through the ghost of her mother.  Her form turned into smoke before reappearing again.  “I find it very disrespectful when you do that,” sniffed Cleo as she followed Isis into the kitchen.  She hovered over the ground wringing her hands, looming over Isis like a… well like the ghoul she was.

“Consider it payback for materializing in the bathroom whenever I take a shower,” retorted Isis as she grabbed the salmon out of the refrigerator and started carefully slicing it into bite sized pieces. 
Nothing was too good for her hellcats.

“How was your date last night?” asked Cleo with interest.

Isis smirked.  “I’d hardly say it was a date.”  Nope, a wham-bam-thank you-ma’am on the top of his sporty Jaguar, was more like it.  Hey, it was a really cool car and when the zebra shifter from tech support offered her a ride she was powerless to resist.  And since Isis was coming into heat, she virtually sexually assaulted the unsuspecting shifter the moment they hit the city limits.  They ended up pulling off the road so she could have her wicked way with him.  Sadly, he just proved that he bought the car to make up for certain other deficiencies… let’s just say her pussy was not impressed.

Cleo clucked her tongue.  “Isis, you’ll never get a husband if you carry on like this.”

“Here’s hoping.”  She grinned and drank half the milk straight from the carton.  Her tiger groaned in appreciation.  Yes, she was a kitty who liked milk – she could care less that she was a stereotype.

Her mom frowned at her.  “That’s really unhygienic.”

Isis shrugged and put the carton back in the refrigerator.  “Who cares?  It’s not like anyone else will be drinking it.”

Brimstone rubbed against her leg and let out a plaintive yowl.  Isis picked her up and stroked the black feline.  “Except for you, my smushy, little, button-nosed princess.”  Brimstone let out a regal purr and practically sneered at her mom.

Yep, all the cats could see her ghost mom.  She didn’t understand it, but apparently cats were pretty au fait with the netherworlds. 
Go figure
.  It was perhaps the reason why Isis had some psychic ability.  She was a full-blown tiger shifter – thanks to her tiger shifter father, yet she could see the odd ghost – thanks to her psychic mom.  She was hardly a strong psychic and had never seen visions, but now and then, an extremely annoying specter would pop into her life and bug the crap out of her.  Like the one who had currently set up residence in her apartment.

Isis rolled her eyes at the ghostly frown on her mom’s face.  “I’ve told you before; I’m not interested in mating or having tiger cubs, okay?  I want to be young, hot and promiscuous.  Then I want to be the middle-aged, but still a sexy woman who chases after inappropriately younger men.  And then I want to be the old crone who leers at the young men and makes them feel uncomfortable.”

Cleo huffed.  “Just because I had a bad experience with a male…”

“A bad experience?!” roared Isis.  Her tiger woke up and snapped her jaws at that.  In boiling rage, she dropped Brimstone to the floor.  Naturally, the lithe kitty fell on her feet, but she still afforded Isis a glare that promised retribution later.  “Fucking hell, mom, even in death you’re delusional.”

“Don’t swear at your mother.”

“Hey, this is my apartment, I will swear as much as I fucking well like.  You don’t live here.  You don’t belong here.  You should be in the afterlife bothering other dead people about their swearing.”

“I won’t leave this plane until I’m sure you’re happy,” Cleo told her gently.

“Well, I’m fucking ecstatic,” snarled Isis.

Cleo had the nerve to laugh at that, and Isis threw a frying pan at her.  Of course, it went straight through her ethereal form – but it made her and her tiger feel a little better, and it stemmed the loud guffaws.

Her mom was outraged.  “If I had been alive…”

“We wouldn’t even be having this conversation.  Now, I have to get to work, and I’m sure you have to get back to haunting something or planning what you’re going to do next to piss me off.”

Isis strode through her mom, ignoring the sigh of annoyance.  Her tiger grumbled lowly, and Isis fought the urge to scream.  Maybe she needed an exorcist, or the Ghostbusters or something.  A whole three years of her mom hovering around, trying to get her to mate and have babies was becoming intolerable.  There was no way in hell that Isis was ever going to mate. 
Not a snowball’s chance
.

*

Isis checked her make-up in the shiny surface of the elevator panel.  Her tiger preened; perfect, as usual.  Lipstick teeth and clumpy mascara were just things that happened to other women.  She spent far too much time and money on her make-up to allow that to happen.  She needed make-up that would look fabulous both while she was stuck in the office doing paperwork and chasing perps.

Age, however, was not something she could account for.  She tut-tutted at the tiny lines starting to appear around her eyes.  She had just celebrated her thirtieth birthday, and while the age thing wasn’t a big deal, the potential effects on her beauty were starting to niggle. She surveyed herself critically.

She was considered one of the hottest women at the SEA.  Seriously, the asshole men in that place had done a poll –
at least the pervy ones had, the nicer males had declined to be involved
– and she had come out on top along with her lioness friend, Avery, and the particularly graceful swan shifter, Cecile. 

Not that the dumb poll meant much.  Different men had different tastes.  Truth be told, Isis thought of herself as pretty but not beautiful.  Her lips were a little too thin, her nose a little too pointed, her eyelids a little too droopy, her fiery red hair was chemically enhanced and her b cup bust was padded to turn it into a c cup.  But, she had a nice toned figure, enhanced by ridiculously high heels she spent hours practicing running in, and her face and hair were artfully done in such a way that nobody noticed any minor flaws. The fact is, if you act sexy, people will think you are sexy.

She pondered her plans for the evening.  Her tiger was feeling more than a little frisky with her oncoming heat and she wondered about perhaps hitting up one of her male friends for a little nooky.  She wanted something a little more satisfying than the previous night.  Her tiger sneered in agreement.  The zebra shifter should spend a little less time worrying about his car and his hair, and a little more about satisfying the female he happened to be with.  FYI to him – when it comes to sex, taking your moves from a jackhammer is never going to end well.

Work was quiet at that moment. Her regular team leader, polar bear shifter Gunner was still on leave for his honeymoon with his psychic mate, Erin.  And his second in command, wolf shifter Cutter, was on leave with his mate, the spunky little hedgehog shifter, Lucie.  That left the rest of the team comprising of Avery, a gator shifter called Wayne and their tech support and squirrel shifter, Jessie to pour through unsolved case files.  Isis had just been transferred to the Alpha team; they dealt with murders.  She was pretty surprised by the transfer.  She spent a good six months actively trying to get on the team before she gave up.  To be put on the team without any effort was kind of a pleasant shock. 

She was glad of the brief respite in work, though.  It meant she could try and find her center and prepare for her heat.  Very few species of shifters went through heats, or if other species did they were mild.  Quite a few cat shifters did, and it resulted in heightened fertility, a change in scent and a huge desire to mount any male who came within a foot of her.  The regularity of heats actually varied from shifter to shifter.  Thankfully, Isis only went through heats a couple of times a year.  She had a tigress friend who worked in HR who suffered through them every month.  Unsurprisingly, she was mated with eight children.  It also meant that they couldn’t get pregnant outside of their heats, but during them they were super fertile.  The fertility thing was kind of a load of Isis’ mind – she never had to worry about protection outside of her heats and whenever they hit, she locked herself in her bedroom with some sturdy vibrators and a decent supply of batteries. 
No kittens for her
.

However, her heats also made her seem more attractive to other male shifters – in particular to male tigers, which was never a good thing in her opinion.  She tried to avoid them as much as possible around those times of the year. 
Speaking of which…

Isis straightened as a male tiger shifter from tactical stepped into the elevator.
Fucking typical
.  Her tiger almost gagged at the abundance of body spray trying to cover sweat.  Buddy, body spray is not a replacement for bathing.  He smirked at her, and she did an exaggerated eye-roll in return.  For one thing, she was not in the mood for bullshit flirting - she only enjoyed bullshit flirting that she instigated.  For another, she was not interested in cat shifters of any kind – especially tigers.

“Hey,” he drawled while eye-fondling her.

“Hello,” she replied, coolly.  Her tigress squared her shoulders; the male had six inches and easily eighty pounds on her, but if it came to it, she reckoned she could take him.  She had a signature move that she saved for dickwads like him.

“You’re Isis, right?”

“Correct.”

“I’m Smith; I just joined from Playa Lunar,” he told her proudly.

Isis gave him a wide smile that anyone who knew her would be running from at that moment.  “I know, rumor has it that your ex took out a restraining order against you, so you had to move.”

The big guy’s smile slipped a little.  “You shouldn’t believe rumors.”

“Even if they’re true?” she asked, tartly.

Smith cleared his throat.  “A buddy of mine told me that you, ah, you know…”  He trailed off and raised an eyebrow at her.

Her tiger let out a snort of disgust and turned her back; the animal wasn’t in the mood.  Between the change in her scent and her somewhat easy reputation, she knew exactly where this was going.  Not that she was going to make it easy for him.  “No, I don’t.”

“He said that you were
friendly
.”  The word friendly came out as a soft rumble as his eyes flashed yellow in desire.

Isis affected innocence at the direction of this irritating conversation.  “I’m very friendly.  Can’t you tell by the fact that we’re talking to one another instead of standing in awkward silence?”  Which she would infinitely prefer.

“No, I mean
friendly
.”  He was almost purring by this point.

“Do you want to borrow my lipstick or something?” she asked, mockingly.

A flash of anger marred his angular features for a few seconds before he reined himself in.  “What I mean is that he said you were a girl who liked a good time.”

“You mean like dinner and dancing?”

“No, I mean, you know, a
good
time,” he growled impatiently.

“Oh, you mean fucking?”  She said it in such a neutral, straight voice that he blinked at her for a few seconds before a predatory smile crept over his dumb face.

“Yes, exactly, fucking!”  He seemed mightily relieved that she brought it up.  “So how about it?”

“No, thank you.”

Smith frowned.  “Come on, Allen said you were up for anything.”

“I’ve never done anything with Allen, so he really isn’t an authority on my sexual proclivities,” she scoffed.  Her tiger swished her tail; the beast was not interested in the conversation, but she couldn’t help a smidge of annoyance to seep through.  “And while I do enjoy satiating my needs with no strings attached sexual encounters, I don’t just drop my panties and bend over for any asshole with a dick.”

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