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Another shrug from Jayce. “It’s a possibility. How do you feel about someone on your force being part of the APL?”

Kat already knew the answer to that. The APL had gone after Parker’s sister more than once because of December’s relationship with the Armstrong-Cordona pack. As far as Kat knew, Parker would go to hell and back for that woman.

“You got proof?” he asked quietly, his voice razor-sharp.

Jayce shook his head. “Not yet. I just wanted to gauge your reaction. I’ll be in contact soon.” Without waiting for a response, he jerked the door open.

To Kat’s surprise, Parker didn’t try to stop them or question them further. Probably because he knew it wouldn’t do any good. Jayce wasn’t someone who answered questions unless he was good and ready to. As they stepped back into the main room of the station, the hum of noise she’d been able to tune out in Parker’s office increased.

They received a few odd stares, and some downright angry ones, no doubt because most of the police officers knew who Jayce was, and it was a small town, so a lot of people now knew she’d been turned into a shifter. After the way she’d been dragged down to the station, she guessed everyone here knew about her. They might not know the details, but she was still considered different now. And “different” equaled “monster” to some of them. With the killings going on, they probably viewed her as a suspect, even though her DNA had cleared her.

Once they were outside again, her heart rate returned to normal. She glanced at Jayce. “Did you get what you needed?” she asked quietly, even though she already had a good idea what the answer was. She didn’t think they’d be leaving if he hadn’t.

He nodded, his jaw clenched tight. “Got a name to go with one of the scents.”

“That’s good, right?” So why did he look so annoyed?

He nodded again.

Placing a hand on his forearm, she stopped him as they neared his motorcycle. “What’s wrong?”

Jayce finally turned to face her and she realized nothing was wrong. She could see the gleam in his gray eyes, which had gone startlingly dark, and that wasn’t a trick of the light, she was certain. He was incredibly turned on, but she couldn’t scent anything, so she guessed he could actually hide his lust when he wanted to. Something he hadn’t told her.

“Wh—” Before she could utter a word, his mouth was on hers, claiming and hungry. There was nothing teasing or playful about the way his tongue delved inside her mouth. Heat flooded between her legs, her abdomen clenching as hunger overtook her. Clutching his shoulders, she tried to keep her balance, but the kiss was over almost before it had begun.

Tearing his lips from hers, he stepped back, putting a solid foot of distance between them before he slid onto his bike.

“What was that about?” She quietly got on behind him, wrapping her arms around his waist and pressing her body tight against his.

He didn’t answer, but he did put one of his hands over hers, holding her. With his free hand he pulled out his cell phone and typed in a quick text. She read the message before he sent it. Check out Derrick Bird, he’s w/ the Fontana Sheriff’s Dept. Need address.

“Who’d you send that to?” She didn’t say anything about the message. Without asking, she could guess that Jayce had scented Derrick Bird at the house they’d broken into earlier. Nice stroke of luck that he’d been in Parker’s office. Of course, Jayce probably would have been able to pick him out even if he’d been surrounded by the entire station.

“Ryan.” A curt answer that would normally bother her but she could tell something was going on with Jayce so she didn’t push him.

Ryan O’Callaghan was the resident computer genius at the ranch, so it made sense that Jayce would contact him first. Sure enough, Jayce’s phone buzzed again moments later, and an address popped up on his screen.

Kat put her helmet on, then repositioned herself so that she was holding on to Jayce again. Wordlessly, he steered out of the parking lot and she had no doubt where they were headed. She wanted to ask him what was going on, but he seemed to be balancing on a tightrope of control. Over what, she had no clue. The only thing she did know was that his kiss had been full of erotic promises he’d better intend on keeping.

* * *

Jayce steered past Derrick Bird’s house, surveying the surrounding area for any danger. The man’s two-story Colonial-style home was right on the border of the next county and far enough from his neighbors that it would be difficult to hear any shouts unless you were a shifter or a vampire. The well-paved road came to a dead end, which meant one exit for his bike.

After Jayce parked and dragged his bike into the trees, he and Kat set off. He hadn’t said much to her since they left the police station because he didn’t trust himself. Right now all he wanted to do was take her up against a tree and lose himself inside her sweet body. The timing was inappropriate, but after the way she’d spoken to that detective, making it clear she wasn’t interested in the guy, Jayce hadn’t been able to think straight. The way she’d acted had surprised the hell out of him. She might not have even meant it the way he took it, but she’d been like a mate staking a claim. Every cell in his body hummed with the need to claim her, and the longer he was around her, the worse it got.

Even worse than when they’d been dating. He wasn’t sure if it was because he’d marked her as his or if it was because he’d finally admitted to himself what she was to him. The mark had faded, but she now carried his scent. Unless they stopped sleeping with each other, that mating scent wouldn’t fade and no other shifter or supernatural male would come near her. That was something he needed to tell her.

As they walked through the thicket of trees that ran behind the quiet, rural neighborhood, Kat held on to his forearm. Not because she needed to, but because she wanted to. It soothed his inner beast in the same way it had when she’d told that detective in so many words to back off. He’d been ready to make it clear she was taken, but she beat him to the punch.

The closer they got to the cop’s house Jayce realized there were no animal sounds. Nothing. His nape prickled. Most animals stopped all movement and sound when a predator was nearby. He and Kat were predators here, of course, but the silence stretched much farther than it should have.

He paused and Kat did the same, her grip on his arm tightening. “What is it?”

“You hear that?” he murmured.

She shook her head.


Before they could take another step, Connor Armstrong moved into view from behind one of the trees. He looked more annoyed than pissed. “Nice of you to tell me where you were going.”

Jayce gritted his teeth. He didn’t want to be impressed by the appearance of the Alpha. Not many people could sneak up on him. But he knew why Connor was there. Jayce had texted Ryan, but he hadn’t told Connor what he’d found out. Jayce worked for the Council, but he should have at least let Connor know what he was doing out of respect. Instead he’d texted one of the Alpha’s packmates. Not exactly a smart move on his part, but he’d been feeling edgy. The thought of picking a fight with a worthy opponent held a certain appeal. He shrugged, not willing to apologize just yet. “You knew what the plan was.”

Connor growled, taking an aggressive step toward him. “And you were supposed to let me know once you had a name. If you want to use my pack’s resources and live on my property, you’ll keep me apprised of everything, especially if you plan to stick around my territory for a while.” He flicked Kat a glance before looking back at Jayce. “And I’m guessing you plan to.”

“You’re right.” The words scraped his throat like sandpaper.

Connor’s eyebrows rose and his stance immediately loosened. It was obvious that he’d expected more of an argument.

Before Jayce could continue, Kat spoke. “Why can’t I scent you?” she asked Connor.

Her Alpha gave a little smile. “One of my gifts as Alpha is being able to disguise my scent.”

“Oh.” She bit her bottom lip, then looked at Jayce with questioning eyes. He could tell she wanted to know if he could do it too, so he nodded. “I knew you could hide the scent of your lust!” Her eyes widened as she realized what she’d just said. With pink cheeks she turned to Connor. “Sorry.”

Connor just shook his head. “I already checked out the house. There’s someone inside. A shifter, definitely a beta. Probably the guy we’re looking for.”

Jayce wouldn’t know for sure until he scented him, but he doubted there was any other beta hanging out with a member of the APL.

Once the trees thinned to the point that they’d be seen if they continued walking, Jayce stopped and turned to Kat, hating what he was going to say but refusing to let her go any farther.

Connor beat him to the punch. “You can’t hide your scent and we can. As your Alpha, I’m ordering you to stay put unless you’re facing danger. If that happens, I’m ordering you to run as fast as you can away from here.”

Kat’s blue eyes flashed angrily and her mouth opened once, then snapped shut. She shot Jayce an annoyed look as if she knew he agreed with Connor.

Instead of responding and facing her wrath, he wisely kept his mouth shut.

Connor shook his head as they trekked off. “I figured you should stay out of trouble with your female since you’re newly mated. . . . Are you going to bond at the next full moon?”

Jayce’s jaw clenched, but he didn’t say anything since he wasn’t sure if they were out of earshot yet. He had a bad feeling they weren’t and that Kat had heard Connor’s statement.

After a few beats of silence, Connor asked, “Does Kat know you marked her?”

A quick shake of his head. It was embarrassing to admit what he’d done. As enforcer and someone so old, he should have had more control. Kat wasn’t even aware of it, which made him feel worse yet. She didn’t understand pack rules and shifter life enough to know what he’d done. Sure, she’d felt him bite her, but he’d never explained mating to her, and as far as he knew, she was aware of only the bonding process. He had no doubt that she scented him on her, but they’d been having a lot of sex so it was only normal that she would.