Series: A Pack of His Own (#1)
Multiverse: Searchlight (#1)
Book Length: Novella
Page Count: 518
A psychic vampire, werewolves, and war with TruWolves terrorists – how can they find time for love?
Hunter’s Claim: Luis Delgado, psychic vampire, can deal with lust. That’s one of the fun parts of being a psychic vampire. What he can’t handle is falling in love with the half wolf who wants nothing to do with him.
Almost nothing. Charlie can’t resist the sex. But Charlie has become alpha of an eros pack, whom he must protect at all costs, and the TruWolves terrorist group wants to destroy everyone who supports peace between the straight and LGBT wolves. How can there be time for love?
Tracker’s Fate: Ethan is afraid his job as a tracker — execution chief among his duties — will keep other wolves away and cripple his soul. Jeremy wants children. He is not bisexual, though, and can’t imagine seeking out a female wolf just to have pups.
When these two are thrown into a murder mystery where the bystanders are not so innocent, can Ethan and Jeremy find their way to true love?
August in Tampa, Florida, shouldn’t exist in a universe with sane physical laws. August in the dry heat of the Southwest made sense. The widely variable season that passed for summer in the far Northeast was to be expected. But the 100 percent humidity on top of 105-degree temperatures of Tampa were suited only for Spain and its neighbors. The countries where Luis Ramón Delgado’s family had come from.
Well, most of his family. His closest family — mother, brother, two aunts, and half a dozen cousins — came from Puerto Rico. They were the black sheep of the Delgado clan. His father had been the same up until the bastard had left his wife and married a proper Spanish psychic vampire.
Puerto Rico was hot and sticky like the west coast of Florida. But at least Luis’s island home possessed merciful breezes.
Yes, he thought as he leaned against the alley wall and listened to the psychic world around him. But in Florida it rains almost every afternoon. I simply detest oppressive heat, and I would be as miserable at home as I am here.
Not that he was exactly miserable. Atrocious weather aside, Florida in general — and her cities in particular — gave birth to a continual supply of food. All he had to do when hungry was walk out his apartment door, turn left, wander about six blocks, and misery would surround him.
Luis moved behind a Dumpster as two teenage kids stalked past. He was hungry now, and their postures bespoke a feast of negativity and self-aggrandizement. But…
Yes. But. He was on duty. And while it might be twenty minutes or more before Ethan returned with a report on the location of the TruWolves terrorist cell, Luis must be ready in case his tracker partner arrived early. Ethan Warner wouldn’t turn him in for unauthorized feeding, but neither did Luis want to put the werewolf in that uncomfortable position unless there was no other choice.
He stepped away from the Dumpster and looked both ways in the alley for Ethan’s wolf form. Another downside to Tampa in August — at least this August; he couldn’t say he’d particularly noticed before — was its lack of wolf-scent-carrying wind. Just a whisper of Ethan’s location would do.
Had his tracker partner been gone too long?
As had happened during the past year or so, fears of Ethan being captured by Gary Gavin, the founder and matriarch of the TruWolves, tried to scramble Luis’s thoughts. And as he had a hundred times before, he set the fear aside, grasping at a bit of amusing contradiction to ease his troubled mind.
Gary Gavin. Gigi to some, and matriarch to me, isn’t male. Or female. Sai is a different gender. He wasn’t tempted to laugh because sai, when used by transgender werewolves, was the loose equivalent of the human term “intersex.” To Luis’s way of thinking, everyone had a right to declare their gender and/or sexual orientation as they saw fit. No, he was amused by the word sai itself, the transwolf term for “gender neutral” or “my gender’s none of your fucking nevermind,” because it reminded him of a Japanese word that could be loosely translated to “dagger.” And also because Ethan, whom Luis knew to be a Japanese werewolf, had used the comparison between the two words to teach Luis. That was Ethan’s way: show by something memorable so the lesson wouldn’t need to be retaught.
Here came another kid, maybe early twenties this time, bopping down the sidewalk like he hadn’t a care in the world. Hands in his pockets and gawking up at the nighttime sky as though he saw the stars despite Tampa’s downtown lights. Luis purposely turned away. The kid had greasy hair and tattered sneakers. And didn’t seem to give a shit. He would make the perfect victim for a quick feeding if Luis stared too long.
“You got a dollar?” the kid asked. His question was accompanied by the brief flicker of a streetlight on metal.
Luis considered the knife the kid held. The tip of the blade was less than a foot from Luis’s chest. What am I supposed to do when they start walking into my clutches? He smiled, lips closed. “Sure.” He pulled his wallet from his back pocket. With the guy’s full attention on the bit of empty leather, Luis slipped into the young man’s open mind.
You don’t want to mug me, he sent. Then he laughed. That line reminded him of a movie he’d seen recently. He followed it up. You want to go to the local employment office in the morning and rethink your career choice.
The kid nodded.
Luis tucked his wallet away and took the knife from the human’s slackened grip. Before you go, you want to feed me.
The youth nodded again.
Lean against the wall. And relax. This won’t hurt. Luis allowed the young human’s physically well-hidden determination and fear to cascade into his mind. He consumed them like meat and potatoes.
He dipped back in and found little in the way of other aggression. What brought you to this crossroads, kid? He kept the thought to himself. With a sigh, he gave back a little of the energy he’d taken in the form of calm reassurance. You’ve already done something better with your life. Go find out what it is.
The youth nodded again. Smiled. Then he turned away.
He looks like my baby cousin. Sighing, Luis pulled six folded bills out of the hidden pocket in his jeans. Hey, kid. Hold up. He pushed the hundred dollars into the young man’s hand. Go on. Hide that, and go get your future.
He meant to watch until the kid disappeared, but his ears brought him news. Apparently Ethan had taken his advice and sheltered his mind well. There was the sound of clicking nails on concrete.
His tracker partner appeared less than ten seconds later. Luis watched him hesitate at the other end of the alley. Then Ethan, in wolf form, padded to where Luis stood, and sat beside him.
“You stink of magic,” Luis said.
Luis scanned the immediate vicinity. No other humans had noticed them as of yet. “I wish you could talk or communicate some other way when you’re like this.” He nudged a pile of clothes out from under a fall of mostly clean newspaper. “Can you change?”
He glanced down into Ethan’s inscrutable dark eyes. Was the werewolf laughing at him?
Luis looked away the instant Ethan started shifting to the human guise he wore most of the time. Not because he hadn’t seen his tracker partner naked before, and not out of any sense of shame or propriety, but because they didn’t need to be found out at such a delicate moment. SearchLight provided its trackers with ways to redirect human senses, but that was no excuse for carelessness.
Especially so close to a potential terrorist hive. Lair. Whatever werewolves called their sanctuaries.
“The den’s empty,” Ethan said from a place behind and below Luis’s left elbow. The rustle of cloth accompanied his words. “I don’t think it’s been so for more than a week. Maybe only forty-eight hours.”
“Did the TruWolves know we were coming?” That argued for a leak within SearchLight’s Tampa-based offices, a powerful precog werewolf among the terrorists, or a telepathic werewolf with strength the likes of which Luis hadn’t seen since his days in Professor Charlie McLaughlin’s classes at SearchLight Academy.
Charlie. He closed his eyes and breathed. It shouldn’t feel this fresh close to five months later, especially not when all Luis had hoped for was a single interplay of bodies.
“That’s my thought also,” Ethan said.
Luis’s mouth fell open. He conquered the urge to say something along the lines of Why am I still obsessing over him? and dragged his mind back to the conversation they were having. Ethan wasn’t talking about Charlie. He meant the terrorists.
Fully clothed now, Ethan stood beside him. “Do you want to check it out?”