Authors: Ruby Shae
(The Enforcers, Book 3)
(The Enforcers, Book 3)
Copyright 2015 by Ruby Shae
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
About This Book
After years of travelling for work, private assassin, Tobias Black is ready to plant some roots. When his sister’s mate offers the perfect solution, the powerful wolf shifter relocates to bear country. His first mission is to protect his new boss’ sister, but when he meets his mate, things get complicated.
Bear shifter, Layla Price, is sick and tired of men and their stupid macho games. She’s tall, thin and beautiful, but she’s also bold, confident and strong. Above all, she doesn’t need a man to take care of her, which doesn’t sit well with most men, especially shifters.
Tobias makes the ultimate sacrifice to keep Layla safe, but every decision has consequences, and spending nearly every hour of every day with the she-bear is enough to drive them both insane. When Layla insists she doesn’t need his help, Tobias works against the clock to finish the mission and protect his feisty mate.
(The Enforcers, Book 3)
Tobias Black dropped his backpack on the floor and looked around the spacious living room of his new apartment. Clean and efficient was the best way to describe the sight that greeted him. The furniture was inexpensive, functional and well-cared for, and even though the place had been closed up for over two weeks, he caught a whiff of the chemicals used during the last cleaning.
He walked into the bedroom and found the bed stripped of sheets and pillows, the nightstands void of any personal belongings, and the hamper empty. Clothes and shoes occupied one third of the closet, but the rest was empty, and the dresser drawers were only half full.
The bathroom was completely bare of any personal hygiene products, and there were no clean towels hanging on the racks. On his way to the kitchen, he opened a cabinet in the hallway and found all the linens neatly folded and waiting for him as if he were a guest instead of the new resident.
The refrigerator and freezer were empty, and the only thing left in the cupboards were the dishes, pots and pans. Jase, his new brother in-law, hadn’t been kidding when he’d said he hadn’t planned on returning. The apartment had been left sterile and lifeless, ready for a new tenant.
He pulled out his cell-phone and texted Violet, his sister, to let her and her new mate know he’d arrived okay, and then he called his potential new boss, Logan. The man answered on the second ring.
“This is Price.”
“Hey, it’s Tobias,” he said. “I arrived about fifteen minutes ago.”
“Great. How was the trip?” Logan asked, his voice less gruff than before.
“Uneventful. Long, but not too bad.”
“Good. Do you want company for dinner, or would you rather meet up in the morning?”
“Morning, if that’s okay,” he said, hoping Logan didn’t take offense. “This place is bare, and I need to pick up a few things. I’d also like to get a feel for the neighborhood. Anything I need to worry about?”
Luckily, the man seemed to understand his mindset.
“Unless you’re cozy with panthers, you should be fine. Wolves pass through here pretty regularly and there’s never been a problem.”
“Got it,” Tobias acknowledged. “What time tomorrow?”
“Let’s do nine,” Logan said, shuffling some papers around. “I can introduce you to some of the team, give you a detailed tour, and go with you to meet the alpha. Do you want me to send an escort?”
“Nah, I should be good,” Tobias said. “Just text me the address.”
“Will do. See you tomorrow.”
He pressed the off button and nodded to himself as he quickly replayed the conversation in his mind. Jase had filled him in on the unstable treaty between the bears and the panthers, and it reminded him of the battles back home between the wolves and the cougars. Being a hybrid, he’d learned a long time ago to never judge someone solely based on their animal, but some breeds were more trouble than others. The nearby clan of panthers were one of those breeds.
The bears were a different story, however, and he knew he wouldn’t have any trouble fitting in.
Logan seemed like a man of few words, and Tobias liked the fact that his new boss didn’t try to force him into making an appearance at dinner. This new job was a lot different from his usual work, but he’d had a lot of experience with people in powerful positions. Many of his previous clients had a lot of money, and they often forgot they didn’t own him and he wasn’t hired to act as their personal trophy.
He was trained to kill, and he was damn good at it.
He took another look in the fridge, and cursed. He’d been hoping for a hidden beer, or even an unopened bottle of water, but the bright white interior mocked him, and he closed the door.
Suddenly, the long journey caught up to him, and he plopped down on the sofa with a heavy sigh. As much as he wanted to pick up the things he needed, the thought of getting back into his truck didn’t sound appealing at the moment. He stretched out his legs, leaned his head back, and closed his eyes.
His sister’s mate had been accurate and truthful when he’d described the apartment and the contents inside. The layout and functional furnishings were perfect for him, and packing up Jase’s personal things would be a breeze. Tobias was an excellent judge of character, and he hadn’t doubted the man, but he appreciated another confirmation that his sister was in good hands.
For the first time in ten years, he had a permanent address that wasn’t the house he’d grown up in, and it felt both good and strange. Leaving a paper trail was never a good idea, especially in his business, but unless he wanted to claim residence to a sleeping bag or a hotel room, it was time to plant some roots.
His sister was now sharing her home with her mate, and Deals Gap had never really felt like home to him anyway. He’d grown up there, and had a wonderful childhood with his parents and sister, but he’d always known that he was different.
Though he was only half wolf, he could do things other shifters merely dreamed of. Hybrids were jealous and full-blooded beasts wanted his blood. Women of both classes, as well as humans, threw themselves at him, but he’d never been interested in forming relationships with anyone.
He was faster and stronger than other shifters, and he possessed the skill to move with stealth grace. He could also mask his scent, which made it virtually impossible for others to find him. When he was younger, he’d bested his parents, teachers, friends and acquaintances without even trying. Once he’d grown older and honed his skills, he’d learned how to turn his gift into a lucrative profession.
Unfortunately, travelling the world and acting as the grim reaper got old. When Jase offered him the opportunity to grow some roots, he’d jumped at the chance. He knew what it was like to work with a partner on the job—and lose them—but he didn’t know what it was like to have a support system, or a place to truly belong.
He’d used his skills for killing, to take care of himself and others, but he’d never been part of an organized clan or pack. Back in Deals Gap, the leaders of the hybrids had tried to recruit him multiple times, and entice him to stay home, but he’d never been able to stick around for longer than a week or two. He’d been loyal to the leaders while in town, but he’d always known he’d need to find another place to permanently call home.
Luckily, his family understood.
His parents had left Deals Gap for warmer weather when Violet finished high school, and his sister had always known he wouldn’t settle there. He’d confirmed it when he’d given her his portion of the house. She’d wished him well and made him promise to visit often, which he did. Now that she’d found her mate, he would still visit, but he didn’t need to worry about her so much.
He could focus on other things.
Like building a solid reputation in his new community.
As much as he’d like to find a mate, he knew his chances were slim. Women always flocked to him for sex, but not much else, and when they found out about his job they usually ran.
Even though he would always protect her, he didn’t want a mate who cowered in the corner. He wanted a strong woman who could hold her own in a fight, and then handle him in the bedroom when his wolf fought for control.
He took a deep breath, shook his head, and sat up straight. Women like that were rare, and of the few he’d met, including the white cougars, finding one he wanted to claim seemed impossible.
He growled, grabbed his keys, and left the apartment with purpose.
Dwelling on things out of his control pissed him off, so he decided to focus on the things he could control. For now, that was food.
He had an empty stomach, an empty fridge, and a town to explore.
Layla Price looked around the club and sighed. A spinning disco ball hung in the center of the dance floor, and the colors from the other light machines reflected off it, sending colored light to every space in the room. The bass of the music blasted out of the speakers and vibrated through her body, and she began to question her decision to leave the comfort of her apartment.
Her bear grunted, as if to say I told you so, and Layla rolled her eyes. Her bear wanted sex as much as she did, and hadn’t complained until they’d surveyed the patrons in the club. There wasn’t a man in the place that appealed to either of them.
Maybe I’m being too picky?
She scanned the room again, mentally noting each man’s imperfections, and frowned. At five feet, eleven inches tall, not many human men measured up to her ideal height for a man, and the few shifters in the place were already taken. It didn’t matter though, because most shifters gave her a wide berth.
It was one of the reasons she avoided serious relationships, and instead, occasionally sought out one night stands. Human men were intimidated by her strength, but it angered most shifter males. They wanted to protect and fuck females, and as soon as they figured out that she didn’t need protection, even for a one-night stand, they usually left her frustrated and unsatisfied.
The only shifters whom she didn’t repel were the clan Enforcers, and that probably had something to do with her brother. Logan was the Lead Enforcer for the clan and though she wasn’t part of his team, he’d been teaching her how to fight since they were kids.
Layla turned to see her longtime friend, Danny, standing behind her.
Danny was also a shifter, and although he couldn’t be classified as weak, he wasn’t an alpha. He’d never measure up to the clan Enforcers. That hadn’t mattered to her, though. What had mattered was he’d never been jealous of her strength.
He was an inch shorter than her, with a medium build and green eyes that didn’t seem real. He wasn’t cover model material, but he was attractive, and if she didn’t already know how it felt to kiss him, she would have pounced.
Unfortunately, she did know. They’d gone out a couple of times last year, and after their first kiss, she’d hastily moved him into the friend zone.
She’d had better chemistry with strangers.
“Hey, Danny. How are you?”
“Good. What are you doing here alone?” he asked.
As if he didn’t know.
“I’m looking for someone,” she said.
“Someone to fuck?”
His blunt words made her pause, and she assessed him more carefully. Either he’d been in the club longer than she’d realized, or he’d started the party before he’d arrived.
“Yeah,” she admitted. “Who did you come with?”
“A couple guys from work, but they took off.”
“How are you getting home?”
As much as she didn’t want to take care of him, she didn’t want him driving drunk, or doing something equally stupid. She’d take him home if he needed a ride.
“Why? Are you worried about me?” he asked, taking a step closer.
“Of course,” she said. “Drunk driving is dangerous. You could get yourself, or worse, someone else, killed. It’s also illegal and against clan rules.”
“Always the protector,” he sneered. “Don’t worry. I’ll ask the bartender to call a cab when I’m ready.”
“Okay, good,” she said, looking away.
Her bear bristled at his mocking tone, but she brushed it off. Danny was a sweet man, and a good friend. Obviously he didn’t handle his liquor well.
“What about that guy?” he asked.
She followed his finger to a booth in the opposite corner of the room. A blond man sat alone and studied the crowd. When they made eye contact, he smiled and she melted. He was perfect.
“Oh, he’s perfect,” she said.
“You should go talk to him.”
The encouraging words were a stark contrast from his contemptuous comment moments before, and she suddenly wanted to get away from him as soon as possible.
“I will. See you later, Danny. Take care.”
“You, too,” he laughed dryly.
The empty and insincere noise made her pause, and she turned to look at him again. As if sensing her unease, he smiled wide.
This time his encouragement was more believable and she smiled back.
“Thanks,” she said.
Layla moved across the room and toward her target with ease, and her excitement grew as the distance between them dwindled and his features became more defined. He blatantly watched her maneuver through the crowd, and then her bear let out a low growl of approval when he slid out of the booth in time to greet her at the same time she arrived at his table.
He was only an inch taller than her, but his chest was wide and his arms were big.
“Hey beautiful,” he said. “Do you want to have some fun?”
“Definitely,” she replied. “Let’s get out of here.”
“Can I come?”
Rage swamped her, and she turned to face the rude, self-righteous voice behind her. Blondie must have seen the furious expression on her face, because he quickly intervened.
“Sorry about that,” Blondie said. “Sometimes he doesn’t think before he opens his mouth. This is Tony and I’m John.”