Authors: Olivia Arran
Copyright © 2016 Olivia Arran
All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the author.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locals or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Please note that this work is intended only for adults over the age of 18 and all characters represented as 18 or over.
Edited by Jersey Devil Editing
Cover Design by Jacqueline Sweet
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, Book 3 in the Alpha Protectors series, releases, please sign up for Olivia’s
at the older alpha, snapping to attention at his words. “Someone’s trying to kill you?”
“Maybe. I’m not sure. But that’s not why you’re here.”
“Why the hell not?” If that wasn’t a good reason to hire me, then what was?
David shrugged, his body still strong and powerful despite his advanced years. “When isn’t someone trying to kill me? When I contacted your boss I did explain the situation to him.”
Something Jason had apparently forgotten to include in the assignment details.
Not that I was surprised.
In the months I had worked for the Freelance Undercover Resolutions division of Sunclaw, or
for short, I had come to the conclusion that the alpha pair who ran the company liked to leave little surprises for their team to discover for themselves. Macey, the she-wolf in the alpha pairing and my other boss, said it kept us sharp.
Sharp, my ass. She liked messing with us. And none of the five men in the team were safe when it came to her scheming. Given that we were strong, bad-ass alpha wolves, each one of us trained in everything from deadly hand-to-hand combat to assassinations to mounting highly classified covert ops, you’d think she’d exercise caution. But, nope. We didn’t scare her. And I wasn’t surprised—Jason, the white-haired coyote she called her mate, had a few screws loose if you asked me. Luckily he was on our side. One of the good guys.
“Humor me,” I said. It was
a command. I wasn’t used to kowtowing to other alphas, and I wasn’t about to start now.
Dark eyes narrowed, taking my measure. Then a sharp nod, as though I had passed some sort of invisible test, or some equally asinine bullshit. “My beta was murdered two nights ago.”
“And you’re thinking it’s a message? That you’re next?” The beta was the first line of defense in an alpha’s inner circle, his right-hand man. Remove him and it was suddenly a whole lot easier to get to the main target.
“Like I said, maybe. A development company has been trying to purchase the pack land. They put in an offer, which we refused. Then they increased the price, tripled it, in fact.” He handed over a letter, motioning for me to read.
I let out a low whistle at the amount written there in black and white.
“And you turned it down?” Serious question, because not a lot of people could have walked away from that kind of money.
He spread his arms in an encompassing gesture. “This is our home, where the pack has always lived.”
Yeah, the pack thing. Some packs believed their land was sacred, that the spirits of their ancestors lived on around them, forever tied to their home.
More like they were stuck in their ways and afraid of change. It would take a bullet to make them move.
Me? I didn’t do the pack thing. I liked my life, making my own choices without anyone telling me what to do or judging me. No rules to follow or feelings to dance around. The guys on the team didn’t give two shits if I had a different woman warming my bed every night. Or more often warming a wall, or the front seat of my truck, but hey, who cared. My teammates, Cole, Vin, Greg, and Abel, didn’t judge me.
But to each their own. Everyone had the right to choose their own path, to do whatever the hell they pleased with their own life. So long as they didn’t try to involve me.
“You think your beta was killed by the developers?”
“Not think. I know he was. He was executed... a bullet through the head not even a mile from here.”
A fucked-up way to go. “This was after you’d refused their latest offer?”
At his nod, I leaned back in my chair, rubbing the scruff on my chin in thought. “They’ve escalated. Any idea why they want
land?” It was a beautiful slice of nature, acres of rolling pasture with a forest thrown in for good measure. The only downside? It was fucking miles away from anywhere. The nearest town was over an hour, and that was as the crow flies, or the wolf runs. “It can’t be to build on,” I continued, voicing my thoughts out loud. “There’s got to be something else here that they want.”
“Whatever it is, they’re not getting it. That’s where you come in.”
I let out a dry chuckle, my lips curling at his statement. “I’m not exactly a man of words. You’d be better off finding a person trained in negotiation—”
The alpha leaped to his feet, his composure breaking for a split second, allowing me a glimpse at the anguish within. “We’re past negotiation with those bastards. Joe was my friend and they killed him. A man I’d known since childhood, a good man... gone. Just because they want something they can’t have.” His voice rose with every word, punching through the air. He slumped back down into his seat, but his back was straight, his eyes glaring and defiant.
“Okay,” I murmured. “What do you want me to do?” I was good at my job. Fuck that, I was the best. If he wanted me to go in and kill every last one of those self-entitled corporate pricks, I’d do it.
But I’d need proof first. Which could be tricky, although Greg, the team’s IT specialist and general all-around geek, could get me in. That guy could hack anything, and rewiring? Snap! Easy shit.
My groan was almost audible.
. Not a good idea to appear bloodthirsty in front of a client. “Then, what?”
Goddammit, if this turned out to be babysitting duty—
“I need you to protect my daughter.”
My heart sank like a pool ball into a pocket. “That’s not going to make the problem go away.”
Dark brown eyes lasered into me as the alpha let his power trickle out in a little display of dominance.
Whatever. He wasn’t my alpha, and I wasn’t his pack. I snapped back at his power with a hint of my own.
His eyes widened, flaring burnished gold with his wolf.
“Yeah. Don’t try that again,” I growled. I wasn’t rattled; I was pissed. And reminded once again why I didn’t do pack. Ever.
“You’re stronger than I thought.”
“Looks can be deceiving.”
“In your case they most certainly are.”
I tilted my head, accepting the nearest to an apology I was going to get. Most people underestimated me. It was one of the things that made me so good at my job. Around humans it didn’t matter, but other shifters liked to fit everyone into a nice neat fucking hole. Hierarchical bullshit.
Most of the time I didn’t even remember I was doing it. It was like flicking a switch: I turned it on or off. Not even my teammates could get a read on me when I was playing underdog. Nice, normal shifter guy—just your average Joe Wolf.
“I had wondered how you were planning on infiltrating my pack
coming out of it alive. You might want to turn the dial up a little bit more while you’re here. It’ll make things a little easier.”
“Around my daughter.”
Ah, yeah, the girl I’d be babysitting.
David continued, “Chloe is a lieutenant in the pack.”
So, she was one of the alpha’s inner circle of wolves, duty-bound to protect the pack. Which meant she was a hard-ass. Visions of a severely handsome woman, her body compressed tightly with muscles, floated through my mind.
Not my type at all. I liked my women soft and curvy, with plenty to grab hold of and sink my teeth into. Blonde, brunette, I didn’t care. As long as they weren’t redheads.
I hated redheads. My wolf fucking loved them though, the sadistic bastard. Still looking for
Our mate. The woman who had fucked us over.
I bit back the snarl, my teeth aching with the effort. She didn’t belong in my head, didn’t deserve a flicker of my attention. I was over her, had drowned her out. Replaced her with countless faces I didn’t want to remember.
I turned my attention back to the alpha who was watching me, a guarded look on his face.
Probably thinks I’m unstable.
Most pack wolves thought loners were. “Lieutenant. Got it.”
Tweaking power up to a five.
That should do it.
“The second part of your task will be to find out who is betraying me.”
was more like it. “Any idea where I should start?”
“My inner circle. They are the only ones who could have betrayed Joe, who he would have trusted enough that they could have gotten close enough to put a bullet between his eyes.” His voice was hoarse, the reality of what he was asking me to do sinking in.
He couldn’t trust anyone. Not even… “Chloe?”
“She didn’t do it.”
I had to tread carefully and avoid my usual cut-the-bullshit approach. “David, you asked me to come down here so I could investigate your pack. No, screw that, investigate your inner circle, the wolves you should be able to trust above everyone else. You
me to be impartial. If your daughter didn’t do it, then she’ll be cleared, along with everyone else who’s innocent. You’ve got to let me do my job.”
His shoulders sagged, the weight of my words hitting home. “I don’t like it.”
“You don’t have to.”
He leaned forward, his hand smacking down on the small table between us. “You’re that good?”
Now that question was an easy one. “Trust me, I’m the best.”
I stood, more than ready to start my assignment. I was already at the door when his words reached me.
“Angel? One last thing. No one can know who you really are and why you’re here, including my daughter.”
Did he think this was my first time at the rodeo? I didn’t even bother with a reply, instead throwing him my best condescending smirk before stalking out of the door.