Authors: Eve Langlais
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“Absolutely not.” Funny how Gavin kept repeating it and yet Broderick continued to pester.
“Come on, dude. Do this one favor for me.”
“One? Don't you owe me like a dozen at this point?” And yeah, he kept track. A practical man, Gavin fully planned to call them in one day.
“All I'm asking is that you talk with the girl. Once you meet her, you'll agree with me. She's innocent, and if someone doesn't step in and do something to help her, they're going to throw her ass in jail and toss away the key.”
“As I recall, you said the same thing about Simon, your lawn guy.”
“So I misjudged in his case. How was I to know he was an ex-biker with a brother in jail for murder? He seemed like such a nice guy.” Gavin could practically see his friend squirm at the reminder. “This time, though. I'm telling you, the girl is innocent and could use someone on her side.”
“My answer is still no.”
“But I haven't mentioned the best part. I'm pretty sure she's being framed by Fabian Garoux.”
The juicy tidbit dangled before him, surefire bait to pique his interest. At the mention of Fabian, Gavin stopped drumming his fingers and swung his chair away from his lofty view of the cityâthe advantage of a penthouse office suite. Expensive but worth every damn penny. “What the hell does Fabian have to do with this?”
“Did I forget to mention that the man this woman supposedly murdered was his enemy?”
As were lots of other people. Fabian didn't have many close friends, probably because he was a prime example of an asshat.
“Have you stopped to consider that maybe she was hired to do the hit?” While it was not exactly common, women were just as capable of assassination as a man. Gavin remembered a pair of twins in bikinis he once crossed paths with whose victims often died with a smile. A smart man, who intended to live ripe into his old age, he steered clear of the invitation to celebrate their acquittal. Winning didn't make his clients innocent. He was just that good.
“No way was she hired. My gut says she's telling the truth about being framed.”
“Your gut also keeps dragging you back to that Mexican place, even though you have to chew antacids like a candy-stricken addict for days afterward.”
Broderick groaned. “Such pleasurable pain. And stop changing the subject. Talk to her. Hear what she has to say. If you don't believe her, then no harm. She keeps her public defender and goes to jail. But if you believe herâ¦”
Then Gavin would take on the case pro bono just for a chance to screw with the dirtiest dog around. Fabian Garoux, biggest crime lord in the city. Slippery bastard with too many bodyguards, always a ready alibi, and the wolfsbane of Gavin's existence. Also known as his creatorâand the alpha Gavin refused to roll over for.
“Fine. I give up against your expert nagging. I'll see her. What jail are they holding her in?”
“Funny thing you should ask. Someone posted her bail. Anonymously. A hefty half-million dollars. Know anyone with cash like that?”
That piece of dangling steak just got bigger. Fabian had that kind of money. The thought of tying him to a serious crime practically made Gavin wag his ass in delight. Good thing it remained planted in his chair. Wolves could get away with shaking their tail. Grown men in suits? Not so much.
“That is some serious dough.” But chump change for Fabian. “Get her to set an appointment with my secretary.”
“No need to delay. She's already there.”
“What do you mean, she's there?”
“I mean there, as in sitting in your reception area. I dropped her off at your office just before I called.”
And Gavin never knew of his visitor because his secretary had left to fetch them both lunch.
As Broderick hung up, midchuckle, Gavin grumbled under his breath. “No-good, meddling feline, always trying to help every bloody stray that comes his way.”
A less nice guy would have eaten the furball. However, Gavin counted Broderick as one of his closest friends and had since his
. It was Broderick who calmed Gavin down the first time he morphed into a wolf at the insistent brilliance of a full moon.
As Gavin was suffering from a full-blown panic attack, first from the pain of shapeshifting, then from dealing with the horror of the knowledge he'd chased down a rabbit and eaten it rawâwhich still made him want to heaveâBroderick was the one who'd found him and offered him a towel to gird his naked loins when he awoke the next morning, naked on the forest floor. Pine needles, for the curious, did not make the best of cushions, unless attempting a homeopathic version of acupuncture.
Back to Broderick, though. If his bud wanted something, then Gavin would provide it. He always did. Why did it prove so hard to hate the good guy?
Dammit, I keep trying.
And failing. Stupid best bud.
I gotta remember to chase his mangy butt up a tree the next full moon.
Watching him climb down bare assed the next day always gave Gavin a good chuckle.
Fabian Garoux, on the other hand, wouldn't get the same courtesy. This was one instance where Gavin was kind of glad Broderick had involved him. Anything to do with Fabian was of interest to Gavin. Especially anything that might allow him to punish the arrogant jerk through legal means.
Standing, Gavin stretched to his full height of six feet three before heading to his door, a thick, double-hung, steel-framed, and insulted vault of a portal, which he'd had installed when remodeling the office. A safe place to change if caught unexpectedly downtown during a forced moon shift. While werewolves in London might run rampant, werewolves in New York City got shot at. For those who wondered, silver or metal bullets hurt and could kill, while buckshot was a literal pain in the ass to remove.
Opening the door a crack, Gavin glanced out and, at first, didn't see anyone. His visitor blended that well. Head ducked, shoulders curved, the woman blended into the background.
When he cleared his throat, she immediately startled and raised her head. The biggest brown eyes framed in long, dark lashes met his. Met and snagged his gaze.
Punched him as well in an emotional sense.
She's the one.
He stepped back and, as if afraid the devastatingâunwantedâconviction would follow, slammed the door shut.
Then stared at the thick portal.
What the heck just happened?
NothingÂ â¦ and yet everything. The world had obviously tilted on its axis because nothing felt the same. He teetered as if off balance and he couldn't deny a change within him. He couldn't have said what it was or what it meantâ
âbut he sure as hell felt it. And it had something to do with the woman.
A woman he'd just rudely ignored and slammed the door on.
Not being a pussyâunlike Broderick, that big feline hairy bastardâGavin took a deep breath and told himself to man the hell up. There was nothing scary about a frightened human woman.
A woman who was gone.
As he stared at the empty reception area, he realized he'd have to do something he'd sworn never to do. Chase after a woman. And he'd thank his inner wolf to simmer the hell down. He wouldn't lope or run or loll his tongue while doing it. Even a wolf in legal clothing had an appearance to maintain.
Perhaps a little more aggressively than needed, Megan jabbed at the elevator button. Then stabbed it again for good measure, even though the light illuminating the down arrow showed her request already in progress.
But she needed the cab to arrive faster.
I need out of here.
I should have never come.
How had she let herself get talked into it?
Oh yeah, she remembered, Broderick with his husky purr and genial smile. She'd happened upon him by accident exiting from her attorney's office, her vision flooded with tears because she'd stubbed her toe on the way out, anger making her clumsy. Why the ire? Because the courts saddled her with an idiot for a lawyer, one who wanted her to plead guilty.
Even though I'm damn well innocent
Peeved, her toe throbbing, her eyes watering in the most annoying fashion, and then her colliding clumsily with a broad-shouldered man, when he'd asked, “What's wrong, sweetie?” she'd replied.
“Wrong? What isn't wrong? That idiot is talking twenty-five to life. But I didn't do it.” Although she was tempted to murder her public defender for his treatment. Then at least she'd deserve incarceration.
Who knew blurting her woes to a stranger would result in a chance to make things right? Next thing she knew, Broderick had dragged herâalmost literally, since he wouldn't take no for an answerâto a cafÃ© and plied her with a whipped-cream-topped cafÃ© mocha. Sugar and sympathy soon had her spilling her story, which was totally unlike her. She didn't usually unburden to strangers. She blamed it on stress.