A murder case where the stakes are personal…
in more ways than one..
Rules are made for a reason. But nothing in the official Shifter Affairs handbook covers what to do when you’re forced to partner up with your true mate.
Especially when Lyla has a penchant for fighting for the underdog and finding herself in dangerous situations. But with a serial killer on the loose and the body count rising and hitting closer to home, only one rule matters.
Nobody threatens a shifter’s mate and lives.
Nancy Corrigan may earn a small commission from affiliate links in use on this page.
- ISBN e-book = 978-1-953075-35-2
- ASIN e-book = B09ZP9VTR2
- Series = Shifter Affairs
- # in Series = 3
- Publisher = Cherokee House Publishing
- Author = Nancy Corrigan
- Genre = Paranormal Suspense Romance (Fiction)
- Mainstream Fiction (open-door) version of URI by Dana Archer
"There is mystery, action, romance, emotional angst, and so many twists you have to know more!" - C. S. ★★★★★
"This story read a little like an episode of Criminal Minds or possibly even Law & Order: SVU with a decidedly paranormal twist." - Jacqueline ★★★★★
"This was a very well written shifter story." - Diane ★★★★★
"Kindle melting sexual tension!" - Sylvia L. ★★★★★
"Wow! This story was intense!" - Elise V. ★★★★★
"This suspense romance paranormal kept me glued to the pages!" - B. Angel ★★★★★
"This fabulous story which will keep you on the edge of your seat and highly entertained!!" - K. S. ★★★★★
"Nancy Corrigan is just as great as Lora Leigh with her Breed's Series or Christine Feehan is with her Carpathian Series!!" - Kym Jones ★★★★★
"Do you want to know what your choices are?" Uri's tone takes on a lulling cadence that leaves my skin tingling. "Or shall I just pick for you? Decide. My patience is not endless."
"What are my options?"
"Either you become a victim to those who are killing the shifter homeless in this city. Bryon stops being a pathetic excuse of a male and claims you in a way these other shifters won't question." Uri draws me closer, his hardness pressing into my stomach. "Or another male makes it clear you're not a toy up for grabs."
A shaky exhale leaves me trembling in Uri's arms. I've lost control of this situation, and Uri's led me into the real reason he brought me back here alone. "You haven't given me choices. You've given me your justification for doing whatever it is you've planned all along."
"Not all along. Just since I hunted you down here tonight and found you in another dangerous situation." Uri bends his head to mine and skims his parted lips along my jaw to my ear. "Now I have no choice, especially after you so eloquently used air quotes to point out my failings as your mentor."
"So you're going to claim me as your...your toy?"
"Possession sounds better, don't you think?"
"Not really." Both leave a heaviness low in my belly.
"Hmm..." Uri turns my head and brushes his lips to the base of my throat. "Then how does..."
Uri doesn't finish his words. He slides his palm up my spine and bends over me. I arch into him and tip my head back, giving myself to him. That's what it feels like, anyway. I'm surrendering. This game, my body, my heart--I'm not sure what I'm giving up. I only know I can't resist this man.
I snatch Uri's wrist as he tucks my hair behind my ear and wait until he looks at me. "Beloved human. You said that's the official term for what I am to you now, but it's not how you view me. So how do you view me?"
Uri shakes off my hold, tosses my jacket over my legs, then turns his back on me and walks to the door.
"Uri." I hop off the pool table, my jacket falling to the floor. "Answer me."
"Mine." With his hand on the door handle, Uri finally glances at me. "That's how I view you. That's how other shifters will view you. You're mine."
"Lyla. Come here." Uri drops to his knees and holds my face in his hands. Then he stares at me. Time stands still with just his gaze on me. My rough breathing slows as the lust turns into something else, something softer. "Thank you, my little mate."
And just like that, my heart races in an attempt to escape my chest. "Mate? Is that what I am to you? Your mate?"
The huge golden lion blocking my hallway lifts his head and zeroes in on me with pale yellow eyes.
A small squeak escapes me, the sound as primitive as the urge to run tensing my muscles. I grip the doorframe, my nails digging into the wood, and fight the prey instinct. That's what it is too. This is Uri in his lion form. It has to be. I heard his voice downstairs. No other shifter would come up here and sit in front of my door looking like he wants to devour me. Then again, the predatory way this lion is watching me doesn't give me any indication of sexual interest. It looks like it wants to hunt me.
"Uri?" My voice sounds as afraid as I feel. There's no hiding it. I want to run.
The lion pushes to his feet, and the leather purse hanging from his neck swings before settling against his chest.
Tension drains from my body. It is Uri. That's his man bag that I accidentally teased him about. And the lion's sleek, powerful muscles and the slight sway to his body as he walks echoes the way Uri moves--confidence and strength in every step.
The lion's rough yet soft mane brushes against my hand as he passes me. With purposeful strides, the lion walks to my closet, catches the purse's strap on the knob, then lowers his head, extracting himself from the purse and shaking his mane once free.
My hand over my mouth hides my smile, but no doubt the hope--the excitement--show. I drop my hand.
"Are you giving that to me?" Either that or he's started carrying it again. He hasn't worn it the last few times I've seen him.
The lion turns his big, shaggy-maned head and focuses on me, studying me with the intensity of a predator before lowering his head in what resembles a nod.
I shut the bedroom door, slamming it a little too hard and shaking the pictures on the wall, but I don't care. The hand-me-down purse hanging on display is the most beautiful present I've ever gotten from any man. I hurry over to where Uri's lion hung the purse, drop to my knees, and skim a finger over the worn seams and the scratches in the leather, then look over my shoulder at the lion standing at my back. "Is this a present? For me? As in, you're giving me a present?"
A rough cough carries on the night breeze. It’s got that forced edge to it, as if someone is trying to clear their throat. Or get my attention.
I move to the edge of the lit circle cast by the lamplight. Darkness looms ahead of me. The next streetlamp is out. So is the one after that. I can’t even see the end of the alley. That’s where the coughing is coming from. That’s where I can hopefully get my information from. Otherwise, the file on the latest body to have found its way to me will be closed unsolved. Without any other leads, I have no choice.
Another killer will walk free.
Murdered shifters don’t get the same investment of resources as slain humans. If they did, I wouldn’t be here. A fully trained Shifter Affairs agent would. But I am here. I’m not about to leave empty-handed either. I’ve had my fill of death for the week.
My gaze strays to the opening of the alleyway. A car drives past. No one else walks by. No one is following me that I can see. If I learned anything since becoming a Shifter Affairs agent, it’s that as a human female, I’m at a severe disadvantage in the shifter world.
The heavy weight of the gun in my pocket is Shifter Affairs’ attempt at evening the odds. I slip my hand into my jacket and wrap my fingers around the grip, but the weapon offers me little comfort. I don’t know how to shoot. The video tutorials assigned as a prerequisite for that class are buried in my list of to-do tasks. Once I make it through those, I get a box of bullets and one-on-one training. In the meantime, I have an empty gun.
Eh…sometimes the illusion of power is all that’s needed to make your point, and this empty gun is a heck of a lot more than I ever had walking through these city streets—or growing up on them.
Another forced cough compels me forward. I leave the safety of the lamplight and follow the cobblestone sidewalk. A homeless man is propped against a doorway. I walk by him. He’s too small to be a shifter.
A huddled form leans against the recessed door of a run-down boardinghouse, the luxury choice of the working homeless. Going by the mound of blankets, the person might be large enough to be a shifter. I take a hesitant step closer. Another cough, this one quieter than the last, reaches me from farther down the alley.
Tightening my grip on the gun, I head deeper into the darkness. Movement from up ahead catches my attention.
A massive man steps from the shadows, then settles on the sidewalk a few feet from where he emerged. “What are you doing out on a night like this, Miss Lyla?”
His features are hidden, but the voice is familiar and exactly the one I was hoping to hear. I move closer to where the Royal bear shifter I came here to find is sitting, legs stretched out, against the side of a building. With his head bowed and arms crossed, Bryon could’ve been sleeping. He’s not, though. He’s watching me through the wild, greasy strands of his dark hair. The glow to his brown eyes is unmistakable.
Taking a cue from his posture, I crouch next to him. The hem of my jacket brushes the wet ground, but a dryer vent on the opposite side of Bryon warms the air, making this section of the street he’s claimed almost bearable. Though, I doubt the cold bothers him. He’s not even wearing a jacket. Then again, as an immortal, he doesn’t need to worry about freezing to death. His only concern is keeping his head attached to his body and his heart intact.
“Well, Miss Lyla?” His voice lowers, compelling me to lean closer if I want to hear him. The stench of alcohol and stale cigarettes clings to him. He’s not drunk, though. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him drunk, even though he usually has a bottle of some cheap alcohol nearby. “Are you going to tell me why you’ve braved an ice storm when you have a nice warm bed waiting for you?”
“I need information.”
“I don’t help Shifter Affairs agents.” Bryon slouches and tugs his collar up, then rests his head against the wall. “Move along, little girl.”