- Stolen Surrender
Tessa Shaw knows there’s more to Vegas than bright lights and slot machines.
The city has secrets—a hidden world of shifters, magic, and danger. But she has secrets of her own. Being the empathic daughter of a magician with the inability to transform into her wolf is not something Tessa wants anyone to know, especially the inquisitive detective Phelan Rand.
When Tessa becomes the target of an enemy shifter intent on stealing magic to destroy her family, she has no choice but to trust the sexy wolf shifter with her life...and possibly her heart.
Phelan Rand thought taking the new job with the special investigation division was going to advance his career, not hinder it. When he’s assigned a security position at the alpha’s casino, he knows he’s in trouble. Working undercover means being around Tessa. The enticing female is his partner’s sister and his new alpha’s niece, a situation that definitely puts her on the top of his do-not-mess-with-ever list.
Entrusted with Tessa’s safety, his greatest challenge will be resisting the tempting she-wolf—hard to do when his inner wolf insists that she’s his mate.
“You’re not hearing me, Rand.”
Of course, Phelan Rand could hear him. Hell, half of Las Vegas probably heard him. The asshole bear shifter was bellowing so loud, Phelan’s cell phone was vibrating. Besides, ignoring wasn’t the same as not hearing, was it?
“You will be working as undercover security at the Fox and Hound for the next week. The Kerns are having some theft problems, and I expect you to take care of it.” Brock Quinn, the commander of the Vegas Special Investigation Division, paused for a moment, then continued. “Before you start to argue, let me make myself extremely clear. That was an order, not a request.” The call disconnected, and Phelan growled, tossing the offending phone across the seat of his truck. Sometimes his boss could be a royal pain in the ass. Tonight was no exception.READ MORE
Phelan was a detective, damn it. He should be involved with murder investigations, not wasting his time guarding a casino. He’d worked eight years in the San Diego homicide division dealing with thieves, murderers, and rapists before transferring less than a year ago to the special branch of law enforcement specifically created to deal with any crimes involving people who weren’t completely human.
For some reason, Vegas attracted them in large numbers. Quite a few of the businesses on or near the strip either catered to, or were owned by, one type of shifter or another. That didn’t include the handful of magicians and psychics who either performed in visiting shows or had taken up residence in the city. Though their presence wasn’t advertised, some humans were aware of their existence. For the most part, they coexisted without too many problems.
Maintaining that coexistence and ensuring the safety of the general public was the main reason the division had been created. Phelan had taken the job with the special unit to advance his career, not hinder it. Being pulled off this case was a blow to his ego, made him feel like a rookie again, and was fucking insulting.
If that wasn’t bad enough, this particular assignment was going to cause him a huge problem. A problem he didn’t care to discuss with anyone, especially not his partner and pack mate, Ryland Kern. Working at the casino meant being around Tessa. Ryland’s half-sister was the most enticing female he’d ever met. The petite she-wolf had the most amazing pair of dark eyes, an unusual smoky shade. She’d filled every sexual fantasy he’d imagined since he’d met her, which was the equivalent of six months, two days, and however many hours ago. Not that he’d been pathetic enough to keep track.
The fact that she was his new alpha’s niece only made it worse and put her in the top ten spots on his off-limits list. From what he’d observed, and he’d observed a lot, most of the males in Tessa’s family were more than a little protective of her.
Seeing her at the monthly pack meetings was one thing. He could keep his distance and go home to an ice-cold shower. A week of being in the same building with her for hours, catching her scent, and knowing there was nothing he could do about it was going to be torment. He’d rather be beaten over the head with a lead pipe than have to endure the temptation of the one woman he desired and knew he could never have.
Along with reminders of Tessa came his wolf’s constant yearnings and insistence to ardently pursue the deliciously sexy woman. For some reason, the animal had made up its mind that Tessa belonged to them. He wanted to mate her, to claim her. Even now he pushed at Phelan to go after what he thought was his.
Ignoring his wolf’s urgings, he focused his thoughts on the newly reported murder, the reason he’d driven to the north end of the city in the first place. Technically, he wasn’t supposed to know anything about the crime, but Ryland always managed to keep him well informed. He was the best partner Phelan had ever had and another reason he kept his distance from Tessa. Dating Ryland’s sister might strain their working relationship.
This was the third homicide case he’d been pulled off in the last month, and it was starting to grate. Temporarily reassigned or not, he’d already responded to Ryland’s call. The least he could do was put in an appearance and support his partner. If he happened to gather some information about the case while he was there, even better.
Phelan knew the minute he arrived on the crime scene that Brock would hear about it and he risked a shouting match, one where he did most of the listening. Right now he was too irritated to care. Any aggravation he caused his boss far outweighed the prospect of receiving another shitty assignment.
He slid out of the truck and slammed the door. The evening air was warm, thick with humidity from an earlier rain storm, and coated his skin with a thin layer of moisture. Reaching for some much-needed calm, he tipped his head back and glanced at the brightly lit sky. Fragments of darkness speckled the background beyond the array of light from the hotels, casinos, and flashing marquees. It always amazed him how busy and alive the city seemed long after the sun had set.
He turned away from the main strip and headed down the sidewalk leading to the rear of the Woodland Acres Hotel and Casino. The impressive ten-story complex designed to replicate a fantasy forest comprised an entire city block and was owned by Grant Fowler, a powerful grizzly bear shifter.
Having met the man on several different occasions, Phelan knew he’d be upset and difficult to deal with once he discovered a murder victim had been found near the edge of his property. If he was working the case, handling Grant would have been his responsibility since Ryland had no patience for him. Now that he was off the case, his partner would happily direct Grant and his complaints to Brock. He couldn’t hold back a grin as he imagined how that conversation would go.
Reaching the end of the block and the entrance to a shadowed alleyway, he found a crowd of onlookers being kept back by several local patrol officers. After showing his badge and receiving an approving nod from one of the men, he ducked under the strip of yellow plastic strung across the opening.
He’d taken only a few steps into the confined area when the heavy stench of blood, stagnant water, and death accosted his wolf’s heightened sense of smell. He breathed through his mouth to minimize the burn to his nostrils and reduce his animal’s agitation.
So far the only detail he’d received was that the victim was a woman and had been found by one of the hotel’s employees who had stepped outside to smoke for his break. There were numerous plastic bags, along with shredded produce boxes, sitting on the concrete slab next to an overflowing Dumpster. Someone had tossed her body on top of the pile of trash.COLLAPSE