Authors: Jennifer Ashley
He wanted to grab the guns from the cops and break them, just to scare them, but Graham dialed it back. He needed to find Misty.
He lifted his hands to show they were empty. “Hey, this is my friend’s store. I need to make sure she’s all right.”
“A human owns this store,” the cop closest to Graham said.
“Well, no shit. Her name’s Misty—Melissa Granger. She called me, scared. She in there? Is she all right?”
Maybe watching Eric deal with humans for the last eight months had taught Graham something. The cops still eyed him warily but believed his worried tone.
“No one’s inside,” the lead cop said. He had black hair buzzed short, a flat face with acne scars, and a big nose. He held his Beretta steadily, still pointing it at Graham. “Place is torn up.”
“But her truck’s here.” Graham pointed at the black pickup sitting quietly in a space a little way from the cops. “She was here. Where is she now?” His fears mounted as he spoke. He couldn’t stop the growl in his throat, couldn’t stop the sparks on his Collar.
“This is a crime scene,” the lead cop said. “You don’t need to be here, Shifter.”
“No? This store belongs to my
might be in trouble. I don’t see you doing anything about it.”
The pistol didn’t waver. “Why don’t you go back to Shiftertown so we can do our jobs?”
“Why don’t I go on in there so I can look around? Maybe figure out where she is?”
“Turano, call Shifter Division,” the lead cop said. “We need to contain one.”
Graham stared at him and then moved his gaze to the one called Turano, who was reaching for his radio.
“Aw, screw this shit.”
The cops tensed, expecting him to charge through them, but Graham turned his back and walked away, making for his motorcycle. He made a show of starting his bike, giving the cops a collective dirty look, before he pulled out of the parking lot.
Graham rode down the street and around the corner, then took the delivery entrance into the alley behind the shops. There was one cop car back there, and one cop. Graham roared up, dismounted his bike, and headed for the back door.
When Graham didn’t stop, the cop drew. Graham whirled around and had the pistol out of the man’s hand and broken into two pieces before the man could react.
When the cop opened his mouth to yell, Graham punched him, once in the face, then once in the temple. The cop folded up, and Graham lowered him gently to rest against the wall.
“Sweet dreams.” Graham stepped around the cop and through the door, which led to the back office and storage.
The thick steel door hadn’t been forced, which meant it had been opened from the inside. Probably by whoever had broken in taking the back way out. A glance into the shop revealed a mess: flowers, glass, and water all over the place. A dripper that ran constantly inside the refrigerated section had broken open, turning the refrigerator into a lake. The water wasn’t gushing anymore, which meant someone had been smart enough to turn it off.
Graham stayed out of sight of the cops picking their way through the scene at the front door. He didn’t have to go all the way into the shop though. He smelled Misty’s blood, along with the scents of four—no, five—humans. Humans who smoked heavily, hadn’t bathed in a couple of days, and one who’d been partaking of weed.
Graham got all that from a few long sniffs. He also scented that they’d taken Misty out back and loaded her into a vehicle. He growled, his blood heating with rage, and went back outside.
The day was already warm, August in southern Nevada. Heat made scents brighter. Graham smelled motorcycles and a car or truck, and these had taken Misty away. Too bad scent couldn’t tell him the make and models of the vehicles and where they’d been heading. Graham only knew they’d taken Misty.
He stepped over the unconscious cop, started up his bike, and rode out. A mile down the road, he pulled into another empty parking lot, took out his cell phone, and made a call.
“Hey,” he said to the Shifter who answered. “I’m gonna need some backup.”
New York Times
bestselling and award-winning author
has written more than fifty published novels and novellas in romance, urban fantasy, and mystery under the names Jennifer Ashley, Allyson James, and Ashley Gardner. Her books have been nominated for and won Romance Writers of America’s RITA (given for the best romance novels and novellas of the year), several
RT Book Reviews
Reviewers’ Choice awards (including Best Urban Fantasy, Best Historical Mystery, and Career Achievement in Historical Romance), and the Prism award for best paranormal romance. Jennifer’s books have been translated into more than a dozen different languages and have earned starred reviews in
More about the Shifters Unbound series can be found at
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