Authors: E A Price
Supernatural Enforcers Agency
E A Price
Copyright ©2016 by Elizabeth Ann Price
All rights reserved. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Sadly, as much as the author wishes they did, shifters just don’t exist… but she’s ever hopeful.
Table of Contents
Penny grumbled as she elbowed her way through the department store.
Oh yeah, this was a wonderful time of year.
The perfectly coiffured cashier gave her a fake smile and Penny cut her off before she could say anything. “Right, I need a small bottle of Blue Sunset Night perfume. No, I don’t want the large bottle. No, I don’t care that it works out slightly cheaper. I don’t want any free samples. Nor do I want to try your new perfume Black Sunset Night. I’m not looking for a makeover. I just want the perfume gift wrapped and ready to go. Okay?”
The female on the perfume counter gave her a tight smile before sniffing the air. Penny groaned. The woman’s eyes lit up, and she purred contentedly. Great, cat shifter – that’s just what a bird shifter needed.
“Oh! This must be your favorite time of year,” she said in a disturbingly gleeful voice. “You must be loving all this.” The cashier waved a manicured hand around the bedlam that was Westcott’s Department Store. Security was trying to break up several fights while kids were pulling decorations off the Christmas tree and hurling them at each other.
Penny scowled. Right, because she was a penguin shifter she had to love Christmas right? Her inner beast flapped indignantly.
“Can I have the perfume please,” she ground out.
The cat shifter gave her a smile and actually started wrapping her item without a fuss. Penny adjusted her shopping bags, trying to lighten the stress on her aching shoulders and she told herself to calm down.
Just three more presents to go.
Penguins and Christmas did
go together at all. But everyone thought they did because penguins lived in the cold and because Santa lived in the cold, right? The reasoning was inane. And it wasn’t even accurate.
About the penguins, that is
she couldn’t speak for Santa
. Some penguins lived in the cold but others lived on the freaking beach.
Penguins have absolutely nothing to do with Christmas at all! Do penguins work in Santa’s workshop? Do penguins pull his sleigh? Hell no – then what are they to do with Christmas?!
She hated the fake jollity; she hated the fights over the tiniest thing –
who cares whether the cranberry sauce had too many lumps in it
- she hated having to pretend that she was enjoying spending time with people she went out of her way to avoid the rest of the year. She really hated having to fight her way through screaming crowds to buy gifts that her family were bound to hate.
But, more than anything, she hated it because with her family it was always, ‘when are you going to settle down, Penny?’ ‘What happened to your new boyfriend, Penny?’ ‘Didn’t your last boyfriend’s flavored popcorn business take off, Penny?’ ‘When are you going to get a real job, Penny?’ ‘Another cat ran away from you – isn’t that eight in the past three years?’ Yes, it was the dreaded questions that made an otherwise happy penguin shifter into a pathetic mess of neurotic fury.
Her penguin chuffed sympathetically. Ugh, it wasn’t easy when you had three older siblings who were all dentists and mated with kids. Meanwhile, she was chronically single and working as a waitress at a fifties roller diner.
She was actually really good on the skates. Nobody would think so given her natural pear shaped body, but she could really skate. She also skated in a women’s roller derby team. Her name was flappy racer –
yes, it wasn’t the best name
- but it was all great fun, and she got paid for doing it. Course, her family, didn’t see it that way.
No, they preferred to stick their hands in people’s mouths all freaking day long.
Penny fanned herself with a DVD she just bought for one of her brothers-in-law. It was Great Trains of North America – he liked that kind of thing.
It was her own fault she was trapped in this damn store. She’d done all her shopping online – like a smart ass – and arranged to have it delivered that morning.
Unfortunately, she’d slept through her alarm and missed the delivery guy. The asshat had now taken her parcel away, and she wouldn’t be able to get to it until after Christmas. He left a card telling her so with a picture of a snowman wishing her happy holidays. So now she had to fit all her shopping into one day.
It was a nightmare!
And crap she only had a half hour before the store closed and still three people left to buy for and if she didn’t get it right, they’d make her life a misery for the whole year. She hated this stupid holiday.
Diaz whistled as he entered the store. His inner jaguar growled in encouragement. Awesome, he still had half an hour to get all his gifts.
That meant bottles of booze for the males, a selection of scarfs, perfume and chocolates for the ladies, and a buttload of stuffed animals for the kids. He’d just wrap them up and hand them out randomly. A gift was a gift after all, and all his family was just grateful for anything they were given.
He and his inner beast loved this amazing holiday. Seriously - food, drink, Christmas parties where he was actually allowed to walk around kissing his co-workers… He rubbed his jaw as his beast grumbled about that. He probably shouldn’t have tried to snatch a kiss from Lucie the hedgehog shifter, her wolf mate sure can pack a punch and Cutter wasn’t reasonable or easy going like him. In his defense, Lucie did taste really good; he just probably shouldn’t have said it out loud.
Diaz worked at the SEA – Supernatural Enforcers Agency. They were like cops for supernatural creatures. He led his own team, the Beta Team, and they dealt with robberies. It was a good life, and his mama was so proud of him. His three brothers drifted from job to job, and each had, at least, four kids. Diaz wasn’t sure what the headcount was at that moment. Nieces and nephews were just a sea of short, dark heads running around causing mayhem on special occasions.
Invariably his brothers moved in with their mama whenever they lost a new job –
they were fiery tempered
. But Diaz exceeded expectations and managed to hold onto his job and his own apartment – and he would never tell his brothers its location in case they tried to come live with him.
However, Mama was pretty scathing about his dating life. She wanted him to settle down and make her some more grand-kitties. But she didn’t really like any of the women he dated; she said she couldn’t talk to them.
Well, he didn’t date them for their conversation skills
He dated a lot; it was just that each relationship rarely lasted longer than a few weeks. Something about them not liking his long working hours or his flirty nature with other women.
He really ought to call his mama and let her know he wasn’t bringing Candace over on Christmas. They’d been dating for two weeks before she called it quits. She really didn’t like him ducking out of the movie they were seeing and not coming back for two hours.
She was only waiting for him to pick her up for half an hour.
. Speaking of Candace… He spotted her behind the perfume counter. His jaguar huffed, unimpressed. Yeah, she was pretty. But she was under the impression that prettiness meant that she didn’t actually require a personality as well.
However, he was kind of counting on her employee discount to buy his gifts. He wondered if he could still finesse his way into getting it.
She was serving a customer, but given the hard set of her mouth, she’d scented him. Damn leopard shifter almost had as good a sense of smell as him.
Diaz frowned as he felt a shiver through his body. His jaguar growled, questioningly. It wasn’t unpleasant - no, quite the opposite. He’d go so far as to say it was
. He was suddenly very aware of everything around him, and his jaguar was virtually wagging his tail excitedly like a damn dog.
He shook his head and sidled his way through the crowds; they generally parted for him. His nose wrinkled as he scented Candace. She could be smelled from a long way away. She used three types of perfume and allowed them to fight it out to see which one won – she made his beast sneeze.
But it wasn’t quite as offensive as usual. There was something tempering it. There was a strong smell of what –
. It was very Christmassy, very enticing, very…
He tried not to laugh at himself. Someone probably just had a drink from the coffee shop on the second floor.
Fancy getting a hard on because of cocoa!
“Hey, baby,” he cooed at Candace.
Her eyes flashed, and she bared her fangs. His confidence did stutter a little at that – leopards were not to be taken lightly. They looked like models, but they were often fiercer than the males of the species.
Candace pouted artfully. “I’m busy, get lost.”
She snorted and turned away.
“She’s serving me; you can wait your turn.”
His jaguar purred as he looked down at a small female with a fierce expression. He gave her a dazzling smile and to her credit, she just looked fiercer. It was adorable really. And her expression couldn’t hide her hotness. Large silver eyes, long black lashes, a button nose and dark pink lips currently pouting.
. Maybe a good Christmas could become a great Christmas.
He sniffed and grinned as his jaguar drooled. Ah, the source of the gorgeous smell. He wondered if that was her natural scent. Oh, he just wanted to rub himself all over her. And a penguin, too – how very festive.
“Don’t,” she snapped.
“Don’t what?” he asked innocently. If it was 'don’t think of me naked', then she was too late. She was already nude and doing unspeakable things to him in his mind.
The penguin shifter rolled her huge liquid eyes. “Just because I’m a penguin doesn’t mean I love Christmas, okay? So you can nip those comments right in the bud.”
He gave her a lazy, sexy grin. She gulped ever so slightly. “Sure… so you don’t know Santa?”
She growled and tried to turn away from him, but she only ended up crashing into a large bull shifter and dropping half her shopping bags.
“Dumb bitch,” snapped the bull.
Diaz had a grip on the bull’s shoulder before he could utter another word.
“Walk away,” growled Diaz as his beast snarled.
The bull winced slightly. The stranger was bigger and brawnier, but Diaz had a lot of teeth, and he seriously doubted the bull shifter practiced kickboxing with some of the biggest, meanest shifters in the SEA. Diaz was working his way up to challenging Helga – the polar bear shifter nurse.
She was the gold standard in toughness at the SEA.
“Whatever,” muttered the bull, slouching away.
The penguin shifter bent down to retrieve her bags. Diaz helped her, right after he paused for a couple of moments to watch her ass waving around in front of him – it was a perfect heart shape.
“I could have handled that,” she said, grumpily.
“Of course,” he said with an agreeable smile. But no way in hell was he letting a bull shifter talk to his penguin that way.
Diaz smirked as he retrieved some panties falling out of a small gift bag. He rubbed the material between his fingers. “These for you?”
She snatched them out of his hand. “If I was twenty pounds lighter,” she muttered.
Diaz shrugged. “You don’t need sexy underwear to impress a guy – naked will be fine.” He looked her up and down. “Yep, naked. But if you do want sexy underwear, I like the fun stuff. You know the ones with fluffy bits around the cups.”
She blushed, and lord was that the hint of a smile? Yes, this could very well be a very merry Christmas.
“Here’s your perfume,” snapped Candace to the penguin. The cat was bristling with jealousy. She turned to Diaz, dismissing the other female, and gave him an ingratiating smile. “Now, what did you want, honey?”
“Uh…” he looked at her for a second, heard the snort of the penguin, and when he turned back, she was already fighting her way through the crowd.
“Well?” demanded Candace.
“I can’t remember.”
He lost sight of the penguin and his beast, unusually subdued, whined. Diaz soothed him. Not to worry, he could follow
“Ma’am, the store is closing in two minutes.”
Panic clutched Penny’s chest. “No, I still have to buy a gift, I can’t…”
It was all that stupid male’s fault
. He made her all hot and bothered with his insinuations about her being naked. She had to go and fan herself in the bathroom for ten minutes before she calmed enough to continue.
It wasn’t just her who found him so unbelievably sexy – it was her inner animal, too. She started flapping around like there was no tomorrow. It was a little embarrassing.
The store clerk gave her a bored look. “Well, if you’re still in here after we close, they lock the doors so you can stay and finish shopping. We have to let you stay. Course, I wouldn’t buy anything breakable because it’s Christmas Eve and we want to get home. We won’t be very careful with your purchases.”