Authors: Karen Nichols
Karen A. Nichols
Copyright 2011 by Karen A. Nichols
Published by Karen Nichols. Copyright, Karen Nichols. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. 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.
This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues in this book are of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is completely coincidental.
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Allromanceebooks.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is an erotic work of fiction for those over the age of 18. This work contains explicit acts of sex including two men and one female; anal sex and oral sex.
There were very few things in their lives they hadn’t done together.
Running their security business from the house was one thing in a long list from schools to military to a few select women. Women who barely accepted the loss when they decided it was over.
Nick Gaines held a large steaming mug of tea in one hand, the other shoved into the back pocket of his jeans as he stared into the layer of April fog spreading inward from the ocean. Things registered while his mind worked out the program that was giving him a headache.
Cars cruising along the coastal road.
People walking on the flat, solidly packed sand of low tide and their annoying dogs barking.
And his partner swearing in the center of the kitchen. He’d rather get involved with the dogs than ask what Jase had lost. This time. Partly because he already knew and chuckled to himself.
“If there were dead people near-by, you’d have woke them up by now,” Nick commented, turning from the window and striding to his desk, forgetting about finding a shirt and frowning at the code spread out on one of the monitors on the surface.
“It’s past their wake up call anyway,” Jase mumbled back, a sharp, “Ah-hah!” heard the next instant. The sound of tapping keys had become such a normal part of their life, it barely registered as he filled the coffee maker, added water and went to the list they had on the fridge for provisions.
Thank god for Mrs. Aimes. The way the pair of them worked, they’d starve if left to their own devices. Nick lifted a slice of toast from the plate Jase placed on the edge of the desk, biting down and holding the toast in his mouth as his hands returned to the keyboard, tapping furiously.
“I think I figured out the problem with the security issue in our system,” his head shook after taking half the slice of toast from his mouth, chewing thoughtfully.
“Someone nearby wants to share our wireless.”
“Bastard,” Jase returned accordingly, inhaling the fresh coffee and opening the late afternoon mail requests for security details across events in the northwest. “We have over a dozen applicants showing up next week. I’ll get started on the background and character checks.” His head snapped up abruptly, a move that caught his partner’s attention.
The sound was small. Very small and wounded.
He was up and flipping locks on the front door, stepping onto the wide cedar porch and listening. The fog smothered a lot of things. Too many things sometimes but he wouldn’t live anywhere else. With eyes and hearing sharper than typical humans, he stood on the edge of the porch wearing nothing but jeans riding low on his hips, feet bare and dark blonde hair raked back.
He saw two people striding from the flat expanse of beach. A third was left on what looked like a blanket, a pack lying next to them on the sand. Sand that had to be damp and damn cold at this time of the morning. The sun hadn’t burned off the fog yet and when the scent of fresh blood struck him, one corner of his lip curled back, the sharp canine catching a glint of light from inside the house.
The people walking didn’t speak, simply got into a car and disappeared down the road.
“What’s wrong?” Nick stepped outside, his head snapping up in a gesture similar to Jase’s. “Blood.”
“There’s a storm coming in. Why would you leave a person on the beach with that kind of storm coming in,” Jase stared toward the unmoving figure on the blanket.
“You really don’t pay attention when the news is on, do you?” Jase glared at him, taking the few steps to the concrete and striding to the edge of the property, the fence and gate still locked.
“I saw them,” Nick said, choosing to ignore the new comment. “When you were slamming things in the kitchen.”
“Stop hiding my fucking coffee and I wouldn’t slam things,” Jase growled back.
“What did you see?”
Nick shrugged. “Three people walking down the sand. Nothing new there.”
“Are you sure? Close your eyes and see it again,” Jase pressed, his hand working the number pad and opening the tall gate. He turned, meeting the dark eyes now 5
focused and returning the stare.
“No…no….” Nick was down the stairs. “The one in the middle wasn’t walking. She was being pulled along. I heard mumbling….protesting,” he said, both men taking off across the empty coastal road and heading down the beach.
The winds had picked up, warm and filled with moisture coming up from the South Pacific and spreading along the coast of Washington. Lightening flashed in the distance as they ran.
“Shit. That was predicted on the news?” Nick shouted above the sound of crashing surf and incoming storm.
Jase just shook his head as the rumbling, thick sounds of thunder finally caught up with the brilliant lightening that had passed a few seconds before. Heavy, dark clouds filled the skies, shades changing as they built and formed; crashed against one another and thickened in billowing piles.
Nick saw the shining blade first, blood running along the sharp edge.
They’d been across the street!
“She’s not dead,” Jase answered the unasked question, his palm on her throat.
She lay on her side on the blanket, her arms out in front of her. Blood had flowed onto the blanket, a wide stain that had them both looking up at one another.
There wasn’t a wound on her. Anywhere. They carefully turned her to her back, thick amber shades filtering over her forehead and pulled into a thick braid down her back. She wore a black tank top, jeans and a pair of running shoes with the tread well used.
“There’s no scent. No fresh wounds….”
“Where the fuck did all the blood come from?” Jase inhaled deeply, a shudder racing through him at the same time it struck Nick full force.
“More to the point, what’d a gorgeous babe like her do to make someone want to kill her?” Nick lifted the backpack, frowning at the weight.
“I’ll grab her,” Jase told him, sliding his hands beneath her and scooping her against him. “You get the quilt and her pack. That storm won’t hold off much longer.” They moved with a purpose, together. As the unit they’d been most of their lives.
Both of them ignored the winds whipping around them. Ignored the fact that neither of them wore a shirt or shoes.
“Did you…” Nick swallowed the words, the pulse at the side of his throat pounding.
“Yeah. Yeah….it’s there. It’s her.”
Both looked into the sleeping features. Tawny hair, pale brown lashes and brows; a sweet full bow of a mouth that demanded attention and an innocent splash of freckles across her nose and cheeks.
More than one elder had told them they were too close to ever find mates on their own. No one offered explanations for why the pair of them had been so close since they first met when they were kids. It simply was. Most thought they were gay.
Neither of them cared enough about the comments to do more than ignore them. The last time they’d visited their individual parents, one of the grandparents had told them both the same thing.
They’d find their mate. But it would be one woman and their wolves would know her instantly.
They looked at one another as they crossed into their property, the secured gate locking behind them.
“So pretty much someone tries to kill her and she wakes up to discover she’s the mate to two shifters,” Jase arched one brow.
“Why does it sound worse out loud than it did in my head?” Nick grumbled, going into the house and holding the door open until Jase was inside with the woman.
He absently threw locks into place, set the pack on one of the chairs and carried the quilt through to the laundry room.
He returned to find her laid out on the floor by the fireplace, a blanket over her as Jase worked to adjust the gas heat. Both of them stood over her, hands rubbing the backs of their necks.
“No scent of poison….no drugs…” Nick dropped to his knees, his fingers gently moving over her head. He winced and looked up at Jase, one hand coming away with blood on his fingertips. “Whoever left her found a way to cover their own scent.”
“They hit her with something,” he couldn’t have stopped the low menacing growl if he’d tried. It was instinctual. He nodded toward her hands. “Look at her wrists.” Nick sat back on his heels, hands on his thighs. The curse that left his lips echoed silently by his friend.
“Someone knocked her out. Slit her wrists and left her to die in the middle of a massive spring storm,” Jase went to the pack on the chair, his hands moving things 8
around and coming up with a forest green wallet. “Books, a few clothes, a laptop and wallet. I’ll pull information.”
“Just let her sleep?” Nick rose slowly, moved to his desk and sat down, absently drinking the cold tea.
“For now,” Jase went to his own desk and powered up the computers there.
“We’ll give it a few hours before getting worried. She seems to be in good health and breathing normally.” He looked at the license he pulled from inside her wallet. “Five-ten, hundred and twenty pounds….which is a lie….she’s less than that. Breanna Cooper.”
“The attempt to kill her….it wasn’t a random thing, Jase,” Nick was up, pacing.
“You think she knew someone was after her….hence she lost weight from the stress,” Jase looked over at him, nodding slowly. “We’ll know when she wakes up. I’ll finish this block and help you with the checks on the applicants. We need more. I’ll put some ads on boards where ex-military read. We’re getting contracts for security work that’ll keep us going into the next century.”
“Protesting a successful business…..tsk-tsk,” Nick chuckled, his gaze once more on the woman lying in front of their fireplace.
“It’s a delicate balance,” Jase said in the silence. “Convincing her to accept us both. To love us both.”
Dark eyes met those of his friend. “Don’t you wonder how the wolf knows?
We’ve seen enough of our friends….” The dark head shook slowly, his hair a deep brown that barely touched his ears and neck, a shank falling now and then over his forehead that was absently shoved aside.
“I wonder more how they convince a reluctant female,” Jase admitted, nothing in his thirty-four years providing answers to that one. “Without being considered psychotic stalkers, that is….”
“Gee….now there’s a happy thought,” Nick shook his head.
“The upside is there are two of us to convince her,” Jase shrugged at the skeptical look from Nick.
“Convincing her….sharing her….selfless and delicate,” Nick said with a sigh, wondering how seriously deranged they both were before turning back to his work.
“Don’t schedule anything for the end of next week. We’re going to knock this out in two days.”
“Touch my coffee and I’ll kill you,” Jase growled in response.
“I’m telling you that caffeine is what will scare our mate more than anything else,” Nick chuckled, deciding he liked the sound of the words.