Authors: Marianne Morea
Tags: #werewolf, #werewolf and vampire, #werewolf family, #werewolf paranormal romance, #werewolf romance vampire romance paranormal romance thriller urban fantasy, #werewolf romance werewolves and shifters, #werewolf and vampire romance, #cursed by blood series, #urban fantasy suspense, #werewolf saga
Lily considered them both for a
moment. Neither was going to budge, not even to let her through to
reception. There was no arguing the point, so why waste more time
and energy? Pick your battles—at least that’s what Beverly always
She pursed her lips. “Okay, but let me
do the talking first. I already prefaced to Ryan this case might
require extra help. He wasn’t too thrilled about it then, but since
letting him in on what I saw at the crime scene, he might be a
little more obliging.”
Ryan?” Sean asked, lifting
Lily nodded. “Detective Martinez. He
suggested we use first names, since I’m working with him on the
Q.T. I may be a NYPD profiler, but I haven’t officially been
assigned to this case, for obvious reasons.”
Sean frowned. “He suggested?” His tone
was not a happy one.
Lily just looked at him. The last
thing she needed was Sean’s alpha nature making him go all
proprietary on her. Between that and Jack’s moods bouncing around
like a pinball machine, it didn’t bode well. She’d come this far in
establishing herself as independent and professional, she didn’t
need two macho overbearing Weres to blow it for her now.
Standing on the sidewalk this long,
they were starting to attract attention. From her peripheral
vision, she caught the girls at reception glancing their way with
more than just a passing interest. Not that she blamed them. Both
men were model gorgeous, each looking like they belonged on the
cover of a romance novel, bare-chested and smoldering.
Visiting hours on Sunday began at
eleven a.m., and it was already near lunchtime. People milled
around hospital grounds, and kids played in what was left of the
snow in Bellevue South Park. First Avenue was abuzz with shoppers,
despite the cold, and the day was wasting as they stood there
This is silly, and I’ve
got an appointment to keep,” she huffed out, and stalked toward the
main doors, leaving both Weres to follow her in from the
A young woman dressed in pink scrubs
smiled up from behind the reception desk. Flowers waiting for
delivery to in-patient floors covered the flat polished surface,
but the woman’s eyes did a double take, glancing past Lily to stare
at Sean and Jack as they came in the door.
The woman actually stood,
unconsciously licking her lips. “May I help you?” she asked, her
Yes…you certainly can,”
Lily said, her over-solicitous tone dragging the woman’s gaze back
toward her. Flashing a guiltless smile, Lily casually slid one of
the vases to the side, essentially blocking the guys from the young
women’s line of sight.
Flashing her NYPD
identification, Lily explained why she was here and what she
needed. Not surprisingly, her name was the only one on the visitors
list, but she didn’t capitulate until she had priority passes for
each of them. A single word from Jack in his silky rumble would
have saved her time and aggravation, but Lily would rather gag. As
Alpha-female indeed, and green-eyed monster
Smiling sweetly, she thanked the girl
and then pointed herself and the guys toward the elevators at the
far end of the hall.
Not nice, Lily,” Sean
murmured, as they walked away from the desk. Nevertheless, he
slipped his arm around her waist and kissed the side of her
I thought the pink scrubs
were sexy,” Jack said, glancing back over his shoulder to wave at
the young woman still watching them with her mouth open.
Nice, Jack. Why don’t you
go back and see if you can get her digits. I’m sure she’d give you
anything you asked for,” Lily teased.
Nah, humans always end up
trailing after me like a puppy. You know what they say, once you go
Were, no one else comes near,” he chuckled, lifting his hand to
scratch just beneath his jaw line.
So says the poet laureate
of York County, Maine,” Sean noted dryly, as the elevator doors
slid open. “Last I checked, you were still the pup around here.
Keep scratching like that and your leg’s going to start to
Ha, ha, very cute.
Nevertheless, as our resident human, Lily could tell you I’m right.
That’s if she’d fess up,” he shot back, stepping into the elevator
car. He did a military about face, and wearing the same stupid
smirk added, “Especially after the stereophonic symphony of heavy
breathing I overheard last night.”
Was the boy crazy, or just
Not taking his bait, Lily ignored
the hot flash of temper reddening her cheeks. If they wanted to
accomplish anything this morning, confrontation was not a good
idea. Today required a slow burn, so she pressed her lips together
and smiled. “Okay, fine. Yes, you are correct. Weres rock the
bedroom. Now can you please just press the button for the lower
lobby and shut up?”
Sean laughed, gathering her in his
arms. “Glad you think so,” he whispered against her
Lily raised herself to her tiptoes and
brushed a kiss onto his lips. She caught a glimpse of herself and
Sean in the mirrored wall across from where they stood. Their
reflection and what it meant overwhelmed her, that he loved her,
that all this was real.
She stepped back from him
and cleared her throat, her eyes trained on the blue-dotted
wall-to-wall carpeting lining the floor of the elevator.
Get your head in the game, Saburi, you’re a
professional. Focus. No distractions…regardless of how
The elevator bumped to a stop, and she
cleared her throat again. A chiming ding announced the lower level,
and the doors slid open to the same industrial tiled flooring she
remembered from the last time she was here. A broken fluorescent
bulb in the ceiling panel outside the elevator buzzed, adding to
the friendless feel of the place. With a deep breath, she stepped
out first into the long sterile hallway.
Wow. This place definitely
has the ‘dead man walking’ vibe down to a tee,” Jack said with a
Lily shot him a look that said, ‘Shut
it now or I’ll shoot you,’ earning her an ear-to-ear grin from the
young hunter, but Sean intervened.
Cork it, Jack,” he
whispered. “Let Lily handle this. At this point, we’re only here to
observe, so save the commentary, okay?”
Jack shrugged, but didn’t say another
word. The double doors at the opposite end of the hall swung open,
and an intern in green scrubs, complete with surgical booties and
hair cap, wheeled a gurney toward the morgue’s entrance. With the
swipe of an I.D. card, the automatic doors swung open in tandem,
and he disappeared behind them, stretcher and all.
Guess somebody didn’t make
it,” Lily said softly, swallowing hard against the atmosphere of
death that was all of a sudden abundantly obvious.
The morgue doors opened again, and
Ryan stepped out into the hall. Sean’s head snapped up, his nostril
flaring slightly. Whatever was left of Jack’s earlier grin melted,
and both men turned in the direction of the morgue.
That’s Martinez?” Sean
asked, his head cocked toward Lily, the question a harsh
The alpha’s eyes flashed yellow, and
the menacing warning sent alarm bells peeling through her head.
“Yes, that’s Ryan,” she answered haltingly, her eyebrows puckering
at his sudden hostility. “Did I miss something?”
Sean stepped forward, pushing Lily
behind him as Martinez walked toward them. She stiffened, not
knowing what Sean sensed, but she trusted his instincts enough not
to question him…yet.
The air around them crackled with
anticipated violence, and she bit her tongue watching Sean’s back
and shoulder muscles tighten.
You’re late,” Martinez
said, as he came up to where they stood. “And I see you brought
company.” His expression wasn’t a pleased one, but to his credit,
he extended his hand, “I’m Detective Martinez, Lily’s partner in
all this craziness.”
Sean’s eyes flashed, and he grabbed
the detective by the throat to shove him up against the wall. “Who
sent you? Who do you work for?” he growled, compressing his hand
until the man’s eyes bulged.
Holy Christ!” Sean’s arm
moved lightning fast, and Lily bolted to where he stood like stone,
staring into Ryan’s red and purple face. She pulled on his arm, but
it was rock solid and wouldn’t budge. “Have you lost your fucking
mind? Let him go! He’s a New York City Homicide Detective! He’s no
threat to us, you giant hairball!” she said, only to have Sean
snarl for her to get away.
Jack shot to his other side, knowing
better than to touch the wolf at this point. “Calm down man! You’re
going kill him before he can even answer you.”
I asked you once,
Cougar…who sent you?” Sean’s voice was low, but there was no
question as to his intention. He would kill the cop if he didn’t
answer. With a frustrated growl, he pulled Ryan away from the wall
and shoved him back again, hard. “Answer me, Cat!”
Ryan rasped out, “N.Y.P.D,” while his
hands scrambled for his gun, but he couldn’t reach it.
He’s serious, man, so
unless you want to eat that steel of yours, I suggest you keep your
hands at your sides.” Jack added, gesturing with his head for Lily
to move away.
Back away? Yeah, right. She was having
none of it. Gritting her teeth, she pulled on Sean’s arm even
harder. “Answer you? You need to answer me! What Cougar? What is
going on, here?” Her eyes flashed between both men.
They were between the elevator bank
and the main doors to the morgue. Thank God no one came down here
unless they had to, but that didn’t prevent the concrete walls from
acting like an echo chamber. How no one came in or out during all
the commotion, was a miracle. Nonetheless, Lily kept both sets of
doors on the other end of the hall in her peripheral
On their way over the last time,
Martinez had mentioned that a few morgue techs had rigged music to
play through the intercom whenever their boss was otherwise
occupied. According to the reception desk, the deputy medical
examiner was in a meeting for most of the afternoon, leaving
instructions for whoever was on duty to help her and Martinez
should they need it.
Faint lyrics from
filtered through the hallway, and Lily thanked God for small
favors. She didn’t care why or how, but knew their luck wasn’t
going to hold much longer. Someone was bound to show up sooner or
He’s bleeding, and he’s
turning blue. Let him go, Sean. This is not the way the Alpha of
the Brethren handles things…,” she trailed off.
It was a low blow, and she knew it,
but she also knew she needed to snap Sean back to his senses. He
was her mate, and for some inexplicable reason, he was in extreme
Sean’s head snapped around. Ire flared
deep in his eyes at the accusation, and his shoulders stiffened,
but after a moment, his natural blue streaked the yellow depths of
his irises and Lily knew she had reached him. The alpha had
regained control of the wolf.
Ryan slumped against the white painted
concrete, stretching his neck upward as he gulped in air. Still
growling, Sean paced in front of the man, clenching and unclenching
Lily scowled at Sean, her eyes
narrowed to the point of daggers. “First Jack goes all off-the-wall
moody on me, and now this. All I know is, someone better explain,
and I mean now!”
Sean ignored her, his eyes trained on
Jack. “You let her traipse around all week with a Cougar? What the
hell were you thinking, Jack? I was there when Mitch briefed you on
the attack up at the Compound, or didn’t you think the
assassination attempt would extend as far as to include
Sean, what the hell is going on?” Lily stood glaring at the big
wolf with her hand on her hips.
Both wolves ignored her. Jack pressed
his lips together, but his gaze sparked with anger. He inhaled
deeply, the muscles in his shoulders and biceps bunching, in
restrained resentment. “You need to calm down! I’ve never laid eyes
on the man before, so how could I know he was a Cougar, or any kind
Sean!” Lily prompted
This time he answered her, but his
eyes stayed locked on Jack. “Parr hired a tracker, a WereCougar.
Very skilled and very stealth. He made his move out in the woods a
few days ago, but I killed him before he could kill me. Edward’s
denying it, but everyone knows he was at the center of the plot.
He’s laying low—for now.”
Lily threw her hands in the air. “I
don’t give a shit if Parr is so far underground he’s eating Chinese
food in Shanghai. Assassination? That’s what we’re dealing with on
top of everything else? And how do you know Ryan’s a
Cougar,” Jack interjected
angry and impatient before she could finish. “And how do you think
we know? Duh?”
Lily clenched her fists, and squeezed
her eyes closed for a moment. “Cougar, whatever. I haven’t sensed
one thing, not one Were attribute in all the time I’ve spent with
him. No scent, no inkling.”