Authors: E A Price
Polar Bears are Forever
(Supernatural Enforcers Agency)
E A Price
Copyright ©2014 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.
Special thanks to Linda Garrison Gray for editing suggestions.
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.
The image used to create the front cover have 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:
Table of Contents
“How much?” rasped Tom ‘the hammer’ Murphy into the phone.
“Five hundred grand.” The answer was given to him nonchalantly by a bored, yet steely voice.
“What?! Half a million? That’s ridiculous! I’m just trying to stay alive not buy a fucking private island in the Caribbean.”
Forty years of shaking people down, building up his empire, and making himself one of the most feared shifters on the east side of Los Lobos and he was getting screwed by a fucking nobody!
“It’s your decision.”
“No, wait! Don’t hang up, can’t we, I don’t know, negotiate?”
Tom bristled at the malicious chuckles that reached his ears.
Apparently, they didn’t negotiate
. “I don’t need the business bad enough. My talents are in great demand.”
“How soon could you do it?”
“You give me your details, and I could find a match within a week. I’d need the money before then.”
Tom felt a wave of excitement course through him that quickly devolved into a coughing fit. He sipped at a glass of water offered to him by his nurse. Finally, calming, he waved her away impatiently.
“I don’t know if I can get the money that quickly,” he lied, still trying to negotiate.
“Then call me when you can.”
“No, wait, I can… I can maybe move some things around…”
Tom growled at the smug tone. “So what do you need?”
“Your medical file and a five percent deposit; that’s non-negotiable and non-refundable in case you suddenly grow a conscience and decide you don’t want to go through with it.”
“Not an issue with me,” he sneered.
“Fine, then it’s non-refundable in case you die in the interim. Do we have a deal?”
Tom hesitated, not from any qualms about what they were about to do, but because he really resented handing over an extortionate sum of money to someone who was obviously weaker than he was.
However, his annoyances were quickly overruled. “Deal.”
“I’ll call you back with details on where to send the money.”
They hung up and Tom stared at the receiver in distaste.
Nobody had ever dared to hang up on him!
Maybe he’d teach them a lesson. If he played this just right, he could get what he needed and keep all the money.
Yep, soon, Tom would be back on top of the world. With that, he lapsed into another coughing fit, and slapped at the weary nurse as she tried to help him. Soon, he’d be back to his old self and all of this would be a bad memory.
Erin fidgeted in her seat. The bright lights, the hard, unforgiving seat, and the tight, itchy pantyhose all conspired to make an uncomfortable situation downright unbearable.
Unobtrusively, she tried to shift in her seat, and the leather against the cheap fabric of her suit created a loud fart-like noise. She cringed, and her cheeks duly turned to raspberry pink.
The Director looked up from the file and raised an unimpressed eyebrow. The slight movement spoke volumes.
Why am I wasting my valuable time talking to someone as inconsequential as you?
She looked down, immediately feeling guilty for even daring to step into his office, never mind for actually having the gall to ask for a job. Erin worked for the SEA or Supernatural Enforcers Agency. They were basically cops who dealt with crimes committed by supernatural creatures. The Agency was created by the Council of Supernaturals who oversaw all matters pertaining to the supernatural world.
She focused on her shoes, a stylish pair of pumps that had set her back more than the monthly budget she allowed herself.
But they were worth it
. They were comfortable, yet hinted at sexuality and gave her confidence where before she had none.
They were super shoes
. Looking at them made her realize she had nothing to be ashamed of. She had every right to be here, and just as much right as any of the other applicants.
She just wished that she hadn’t just spotted a ladder in her pantyhose…
“Hmmm, so you’ve never been out in the field.”
Erin started. It was the first words he’d said since he told her to sit down – ten minutes ago. And was that a question or a statement?
Crap, he was looking at her with an irritated expression
“No,” she squeaked, “no, I haven’t.”
He pursed his lips and lowered his eyes back to the file.
She pinched the skin on her hand. Why couldn’t she have come up with something clever? She could have extolled her virtues and persuaded him that it didn’t matter. She could have told him about the many times she had supported the field agents, and explained how much of an asset she would have been to them if she had been allowed to go out into the field with them. Yep, she could have done all that but instead she chose to parrot back what he’d told her.
Lord, there was no way he was going to give her the job
. She could barely even make it through an interview without falling to pieces; there was no way he was going to allow her out with a team of investigators. He wasn’t going to trust her to interview potential suspects.
Erin licked her lips.
Hell, why was it so hot in there?
She felt beads of sweat prickle over her forehead.
“So, why do you want this transfer?”
She sucked in a breath. It was a question she’d been asking herself over and over, and she still wasn’t entirely sure of her motivations. She wanted to do field work. She couldn’t say why exactly, but she did. She had a yearning to push herself and do more. It was all very well sitting at a desk touching objects in the hope of getting some kind of clue, but she wanted to be in the thick of it.
Not waiting for an answer, he continued, “I mean, you seem to be doing well in the Playa Lunar division. Why would you want to give that up to come here? Most of my agents would love to go to Playa Lunar.” He raised an eyebrow at her.
Erin shrugged. “I’m not from there, and I don’t have any family or…” She was about to say friends and caught herself at the inquisitive look he flashed her. Sh
e wasn’t in the mood to throw herself a pity party.
“One city isn’t much different from another to me.”
“I think the appeal of Playa Lunar rests in its high percentage of shifter residents; shifter agents find it easier to fit in and work undercover,” he mused.
“I’m not a shifter.”
And I don’t fit in anywhere, anyway…
“No, you’re not,” he said placidly.
She wasn’t sure whether that was supposed to be an insult or not so she ignored it. Not that she would have said anything if it were.
was far too chicken.
“There were no openings for a field agent in Playa Lunar, and you have the highest closure rate of any of the SEA offices in the whole country. I figure I could learn a lot.”
The Director leaned forward, resting his elbows on the desk and capturing her with a deadly serious gaze. “Are you trying to kiss my ass?”
Erin almost barked out a laugh at the unexpectedly casual words, but his countenance certainly didn’t court humor. “No, sir. Simply stating a fact.”
He stared at her with unrelentingly cold eyes, and unknowing what to do, she held that gaze until he looked away.
. Maybe she should have averted her eyes to show that he was dominant to her. If she were a shifter, she would have instinctively known to do so.
The majority of the Agency Enforcers were shifters, with a few witches and some vampires peppered in. They did employ a few humans, but generally only as analysts, and rarely as field agents.
Erin was human
She knew the Director was some kind of shifter, but she didn’t know which species. It wasn’t something that was talked about. Probably, other shifters could tell each other’s species and never needed to ask. Erin was too embarrassed to ask. She couldn’t be sure whether it would be crossing a line or not.
He sighed and closed her file. His fingers tapped the cover, and he looked pensive. Anxiously, she wondered whether that was a good sign or not.
He snapped his eyes to her. “When did you realize… I mean when did you start…”
Erin was surprised at the sudden discomfort in the stoic man; he was curious about her abilities but feared whether she would be offended by his questions. She quickly put him out of his misery.
“When I was five.”
The Director gave her a grateful smile and nodded encouragement at her to continue talking. Erin felt buoyed by the first sign of friendliness he had shown.
“I didn’t exactly realize at first. I met a girl called Eloise, and we used to play together. It took a few weeks for my parents to figure out that she was actually a ghost and not just in my imagination. It was a girl who had been killed by her uncle about ten years before. She wasn’t able to move on.
“The visions started when I was 10. I was, ah, living somewhere else then, and a friend of mine, her cat went missing. She had some cat hair on her sweater, and when I touched it, I saw her neighbor, ah, killing it.”
More like torturing and eviscerating it – that had given her nightmares for weeks
. “Apparently they were having an argument over the height of the hedge between their properties.”
He blinked at her. “You had a vision from a single cat hair?”
Erin nodded and rubbed her lips together. It used to annoy the heck out of her having to tell people that story over and over. Mostly they burst out laughing, while others just thought she was a freak.
She thought she saw sympathy flicker over the Director’s face, but it was quickly masked by a look of indifference.
The sympathy was new
He quickly changed the subject. “I was impressed by the reports I heard about the Carradine case.”
A flicker of pride burned within her, but she wasn’t about to let it get out of control. “I got lucky; I got a vision that showed he just faked the fire, and that really he was running to Mexico.”
“Your supervisor informed me that you pushed yourself hard to get that vision, and that the team wouldn’t have found him if it weren't for you.”
Alright, that was enough with the praise. She wasn’t used to it, and it was creeping her out. “She’s too kind.”
Her eyes widened as he actually let out a chuckle and shook his head. “Fran Elway is not kind. She was furious when I called her to get an oral report on you.”
Erin prickled. “She knew I was applying here.”
He nodded and smiled. “She admitted that, but, forgive me for saying so, she never actually expected for me to take it seriously. She was livid when I talked to her.”
Erin shuddered. Fran’s temper tantrums were legendary and the one she threw when Erin informed her she wanted to make a move to Los Lobos was a doozy. When screaming didn’t work, Fran had tried wheedling. But, ultimately, Fran would never give her what she wanted – to be a field agent, so Erin had insisted she apply elsewhere. Of course, Fran had calmed down when she realized that Erin was exclusively applying to be a field agent. Her supervisor had never even considered that she would get past the application stage.
Well, at least she made it further than anyone anticipated.
“So,” he interrupted her reverie crisply, “ we have two openings for field agents. One is in our Delta team, who deal with fraud and identity theft, and the other is with the Alpha team. They deal with our top priority cases, such as serial and ritual killings.”
Erin bit her lip to stop herself from smiling. It sounded like he was actually offering her a job. It sounded like he was actually giving her a chance! Yes, the Delta team would be right up her street. Would it be too much to give the Director a kiss to say thank you?
“I’d like to offer you a place on the Alpha team.”
Her jaw actually dropped at that.
The Alpha team?
Was he kidding? If Los Lobos was anything like Playa Lunar, every career minded agent in the building would be vying for that spot. They dealt with the toughest cases and being on that team was the quickest way to get into the upper echelons of the Agency. The Director himself had once led that team personally.
He furrowed his brow. “Are you okay?”
She opened and closed her mouth a couple of times. “Just surprised,” she spluttered. “I kind of assumed that you would want someone with experience…”
The Director waved his hand at her. “All field agents have to start somewhere, and in spite of what some people in this building may believe, there is no more or no less prestige from working in any of my teams. I put people where I think they are best suited and where their talents would be most beneficial, and I think, for you, that would be the Alpha team.”
“Well… I… uh…”
Come on Erin, use your words
. Just one problem, she had no idea what she wanted to say. She was just making sounds to cover the fact that she was actually speechless.
Okay, maybe she was being a little contrary, but when she envisioned being a field agent, it was starting off doing something a little prosaic like credit card fraud, or maybe someone selling bootleg DVDs. She just didn’t imagine they’d want her to tackle anything major straight away.
Not with her only managing to scrape through the physical and having no practical weapons experience.
“You can take a few days to decide, if you’d like,” he told her, not unkindly.
No, this was it.
This was her opportunity to prove that she was just as capable as the rest. Once and for all she’d show that she was special, that she was worth something. She’d put to rest all the things everyone had ever said about her.
Crazy. Fruit loop. Nutter. Freak
. She’d show them, the other kids, her siblings, her parents…
She could do this.
“I don’t need a few days,” she said decisively, “I’ll take the job.”
He beamed at her and stood up, holding out his hand for her to shake. She followed suit and almost managed to cover up her embarrassment at the loud fart sound the chair made as she stood up.
“Gerry, are you fucking kidding me with this latest recruit?!”
The Director didn’t look up from his computer. ‘Watch your language,” he said placidly.
Gunner gave him a sour look and slammed the office door.
The Director’s eyebrow twitched. “By all means, come in.”
The huge polar bear shifter strode across the room and leaned over the desk. Anyone other than the Director might have cowered at the hulking form, but you had to try real hard to scare a python shifter.
The bear thumped a massive paw on the desk. “She has no experience of fighting or using a gun, no experience with interviewing and she flunked the Agency physical six times. Why am I even wasting my time yelling about this?”
The Director leaned back in his chair and looked at Gunner impassively. “I don’t know; why are you wasting your time? I’ve already told you that she’s your new teammate. You should be preparing her training rather than pointlessly getting angry with me.”
“Don’t I get a say in…”
“No,” the Director coldly interrupted him.
Gunner sank down into the chair facing the desk and growled at the loud fart-like noise. “Why her?” he demanded.
“She has potential.”
“It took her seven goes to pass the physical!” he scoffed.
“But she did pass it.”
“Probably because the instructor took pity on her. Old Sarge is losing his touch.”