Originally from Long Island, New York, Shelly Laurenston has resigned herself to West Coast living, which involves healthy food, mostly sunny days, and lots of guys not wearing shirts when they really should. Shelly is also the New York Times bestselling author G.A. Aiken, creator of the Dragon Kin series. For more info about Shelly’s books go to www.shellylaurenston.com. Or to check out G.A.’s dangerously and arrogantly sexy dragons.
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Ricky Lee knew as soon as he saw Reece’s wounds that he would end up having this conversation with their eldest brother, Rory. It was something to be expected. Rory Lee Reed was the oldest and the most uptight of the three of them but Rory had always felt it was his role to take care of them— even when they didn’t need it.
Now, true, one could make an argument that Reece Reed always needed someone to take care of him because he seemed to stupidly stumble into deadly situations. But the truth was, their youngest brother knew exactly what he was doing and enjoyed every minute of it. And Rory enjoyed acting put-upon.
And what did Ricky enjoy? Well, as it turned out, Ricky enjoyed watching Rory get all upset while Reece willingly walked into stupid situations to get his ass kicked. It entertained him. Like NASCAR and good American beer.
Reece said something and Rory looked at Ricky. “What did he say?”
“You didn’t understand that?”
“With his jaw wired and his throat still recovering from that nicked artery? No.”
“Ricky,” his brother growled, “you’re irritating me.”
“Reece says he can do the job fine.”
“How? His jaw is wired shut! Because you didn’t keep him out of trouble like I told you to!”
“I’m not my brother’s keep—”
“Shut up!” Rory put his elbows on his desk and dug his hands under his baseball cap and into his hair. He scratched his scalp and made lots of snarling noises.
Poor guy. He took all this so seriously. The minutiae of it, anyway. Ricky and Reece only took their cases seriously. They cared about the clients, wanted to make sure they were as safe as possible. That was their job after all. Protection specialists. That’s what their business cards said. Honestly, the Reed boys couldn’t have a job more perfectly fitted for their natures. When their Packmate, Bobby Ray Smith, had been discharged from the Navy, he and his best friend, Mace Llewellyn, started this protection agency. Their older Tennessee Packmates and kin were none too happy about the idea but Ricky, Rory, and Reece all felt that it was getting a bit crowded in Smithtown, Tennessee, so they’d taken Bobby Ray up on his offer to start fresh in New York. It had been a good decision for all of them.
Llewellyn Security was doing really well, their business growing every day. Though most of their clients were shifters, they happily took on full-humans. Heck, money was money. And the more money they made from the full-humans and the richer shifters, the more they could help out those shifters who didn’t have the money to pay but desperately needed their help. The one thing Ricky truly loved about his kind, no matter the breed or species, was their willingness to protect each other. Sure, lions might fight wolves, wild dogs might fight hyenas, and bears might slap around everybody, but when their kind faced real danger from the outside world, from the full-humans or the full-human governments, they all worked together. It was just understood that all Pack, Pride, or Clan issues took a backseat to the survival of shifters worldwide.
Yet while the bigger shifter-run organizations like The Group or KZS handled big scale situations that might involve one or more governments, it was the smaller companies like theirs that handled individual cases. Because the less full-humans saw any evidence of the existence of shifters—the less full-humans had to die in tragic “accidents.”
Mace Llewellyn walked by Rory’s office. He was staring down at some paperwork and barely glanced at them, grunting out a, “Hey,” before walking on. It would have been meaningless if Reece hadn’t gurgled a return greeting at him.
Mace walked back several steps and slowly looked into the office until his eyes rested on Reece. “What’s going on with his face?” he asked.
“Jaw’s wired,” Ricky told him, not one for beating around the bush.
“Why’s his jaw wired?”
“Fight with Novikov.”
Closing his eyes and letting out a big sigh, the lion male demanded, “How many times are we going to have to talk to you about not fighting with Novikov before a big job?”
Reece gurgled something and Ricky translated, “He didn’t start it.”
“I don’t care!” the lion roared.
Ricky looked at Reece. “He doesn’t care.”
“Is something wrong with his ears?” Llewellyn asked. “Has Novikov hit him in the head so many times that he no longer understands English?”
“Just trying to be helpful.”
“No. You’re trying to piss me off.”
Maybe a little . . .
Llewellyn pointed at Rory. “Fix this, Reed. Fix. It.”
Once the lion stormed off, Rory glared at his two younger brothers.
Yeah, he looked mighty pissed.
“It’s no big deal,” Ricky said. “You just have to find one backup. I’ll still be there.”
That seemed to be something Rory might be able to tolerate until Reece’s eyes rolled to the back of his head and he passed out in the chair. Sweat beaded his forehead, and his entire body sporadically shook as it worked to heal itself.
The fever was actually a good thing for shifters. It allowed their bodies to heal quickly and with little additional damage. But healing shifters couldn’t be left alone. They had a tendency to shift to their animal form and back to their human form several times over. Nothing harder to explain to the general public than coyotes found hanging out in a restaurant’s cold storage or bears hanging out in someone’s pool. So Reece couldn’t go home alone and, at least in the beginning, Ricky couldn’t ask one of the females of the Pack to take care of him, because the fever could make a body a little . . . amorous. Now, if their baby sister, Ronnie Lee, was around, she could do it. Fever Love, as it was sometimes called, was never directed at one’s kin. But the other females in the Pack were fair game, and Reece had had enough trouble with them in his past. Which meant that Ricky would have to take his brother home . . . now.
Looking at Rory, his brother watching him with a slight sneer to his lips, Ricky argued, “I’m sure finding one more backup shouldn’t be too—”
“Pick up that idiot and get the fuck out of my office!” Ricky shrugged. “All right.”
Standing, Ricky grabbed Reece’s limp hand and dragged him out of the chair and out of the office. He’d pick him up off the floor when they got to the elevator. Right now it was just kind of funny passing all those offices with his brother dragging along behind him.
That wasn’t a good attitude, was it? No. Probably not. Fun? Absolutely!
But not a good attitude.
Page Count: 400 pages
Publisher: Kensington; Reprint edition (June 30, 2015)
There’s nothing like a good ol’ boy wolf. And ace security expert Ricky Lee Reed serves, protects and seduces with all the right moves…
Sure, Toni Jean-Louis Parker has to be the responsible oldest sister to a crazy-brilliant clan of jackal siblings. But now she’s cutting loose for some hot, sweaty, no-commitments fun—and the sexy, slow-talking, swift-moving predator assigned to keep her family safe is just the right thing to shapeshift her love life into overdrive. Trouble is, he’s starting to get all obsessive wolf on her every time he looks in her direction…
Getting serious about anyone isn’t in Ricky Lee Reed’s plans. Hell, even now he doesn’t really have a plan—outside of catching whoever is threatening this dangerously brilliant family. But the more he sees of Toni, the more he’s howling for her. And whatever it takes to convince her that what they have is everything, well, this wily wolf is down for the sizzling chase…
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