Federal Paranormal Unit Bundle: Shape Shifter Paranormal Romance (30 page)

BOOK: Federal Paranormal Unit Bundle: Shape Shifter Paranormal Romance
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This tiny person depended on her to save her life. Total trust, total vulnerability, shined up at her. Jane’s job required her to interact with children, but usually after the child was dead or missing. This one was alive and alone on a strange planet. Emotions filled her heart. She remembered being new on Earth and not knowing anyone. This little girl wasn’t going to feel alone. Not if she could help it.

Seconds after the cab lifted, the light for the second floor dinged and they slowed to a stop. A whimper sounded at her side. Jane squeezed the delicate hand in hers in a show of hope. That poor kid didn’t deserve any of what she’d seen so far. She needed security and Jane would be damned if someone tried to interfere.

On the second floor, a woman dressed in a white lab coat stepped in and smiled, before turning to face away. Everyone remained quiet, a tense several seconds where Jane didn’t breathe until the doors slid open.

The first floor looked like a massive, open storage warehouse. Crates stacked high created a maze of walkways. Men and women dressed either paramilitary style or in everyday civilian clothes passed by, turning down various aisles. Her only option was to follow the lady and hope she would lead them out.

Trailing the woman, Jane took in everything she could. In an open area, a forklift holding three crates raced toward the open back of a semi. The forklift wheels slammed against the slightly elevated cargo hold bed, shaking the crates off the carrying arms.

The wooden boxes crashed to the floor and two came open. Nothing fell out. Both containers were empty.

A tug on her hand brought her attention to their escape route. The woman they followed had swiped her badge over the card reader and passed through a white metal door to sunlight. Others followed, purses and lunch buckets in tow. Must be headed for home. They were so close to being out.

Overhead, red lights flashed and an alarm blared. Shit! Was that for their escape? Jane nearly dragged her tag-along to the exit door. She wiped the badge over the card reader.
Access denied
flashed on the small display. Jane tried it again with the same result. Then it dawned on her that with the red alert, all doors and exits went on lock down. They were so screwed. Fucking hell! Now what?

They needed to hide before someone recognized them. She slipped the badge into her pocket, and touched something already there. The exdiv! She pulled out the gold pencil-like weapon and programmed the explosive, delaying the timer ten seconds. Shit was about to hit the fan. Literally.

After tossing it at the base of the door, adult and child ran for the first row of crates a good thirty feet away. Their actions caught the attention of warehouse personnel. Someone talking into a walkie-talkie hurried toward them.

Just as they ducked behind a row of crates, an explosion threw them to the ground. While dust settled, Jane popped up, surveying the area. Holy shit! She’d forgotten how powerful the exdivs were. It looked like a nuclear bomb had gone off. Dozens of crates were smashed and damaged. Again, they all looked empty.

The way out, a hole big enough to drive a truck through, opened to a rock parking lot with several people getting into vehicles. She snatched Sariana into her arms and took off through smoking debris. It was now or never.

She ran blindly for the woods on the far side of the lot. Her slick shoes slid, climbing the hill to the trees. She slammed onto her hand and knees, nearly dropping her charge. Sariana wiggled free, and both continued up. Hell, she hadn’t had this much solo activity in a long time. And not during the week she came into heat. Good thing she’d continued her training. Even though she’d gained some extra pounds to her already curvy frame, she could still move quickly and kick ass when necessary.

Barking dogs sounded in the distance. Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!

“Come on, Sariana. We have to hurry.” Hand in hand, they navigated the dense foliage, fallen trees, and rocks. The dogs sounded closer.

A man in camo clothes stepped in front of Jane, automatic rifle aimed at her. “Stop.” Jane slid but caught herself, keeping Sariana behind her. She still had the handgun, but what good was that to a machine gun?

Jane pushed Sariana, backing away slowly. “Stop, Jane. I don’t want to shoot you.”

She gasped in shock. Hearing her name scared her more than the gun pointing at her. She pushed Sariana in the other direction to run. The guard called out and raced after them. The dogs were too close. Men’s voices shouted. God. The little girl was going to get caught again.

Nearing a drop-off to the river, they were forced parallel and down an incline. Dogs surrounded them, pushing them to the edge. This was the end. Men approached and grabbed each of them. A large hand slapped over Sariana’s eyes.

No! Jane was frustrated and angry; she kicked back, nailing her captor’s shin with her heel. Asshole. They’d been so close. So close to getting away. The man jerked her down with him. She tore away, lost her footing, then tumbled over the steep slope and into the river. 

 

 

 

 

FOUR

 

Ramirez sighed and ran a hand through his hair. Frustration hit an all-time high. “Yeah, I checked all the rooms. Nothing. Most of the place smells like she hasn’t been here in a long time. Only the front door, hallway, and kitchen.”

“All right. Nose around inside and out for anything new. Brock and I should be there soon, pending rush-hour traffic through town. And Tony…” Cyn sounded more worried than before.

Hearing his name snapped him out of his concerned funk. “Yeah?”

“Hang in there. We’ll find her.”

“Yeah, thanks. See you shortly.” He slid his phone into his pocket and blew out a breath. What to do now? He looked around the tossed kitchen. He pulled his phone out and selected the camera icon and snapped crime scene photos, what there was anyway. Not the best quality, but hopefully finding Jane wouldn’t depend on them.

Focusing on the faux-tile linoleum, he noted a small dark splatter behind the table. On hands and knees, he took a good whiff. Smells were highly concentrated here. Unfamiliar and familiar. It scented woodsy, as if the person had been outside for a while. Definitely male. Several unique factors, but he caught a trace that smelled exactly like Jane. Not enough for family relation, but enough for a link.

That specific smell Tony attributed to Jane’s uniqueness, since he hadn’t noticed it on anyone else. Obviously that wasn’t right. Perhaps this male and Jane came from the same place; some place he’d never been. Anger and jealousy reared ugly and strong. Good thing the guy was dead; otherwise, Tony would have a job for his tiger.

Outside the kitchen door, the ground cover was disturbed by the looks of something heavy being dragged. Trail and smell ended at the tree line. Shit. His hands fisted. He needed to hit something or roar at the top of his lungs.

On the back porch, he stripped down and let his tiger free. Claws digging into the soft soil, he launched into the cool woods. Faster and faster. His tiger loved the trees, vines, scent of bark. Not the cockleburs, though. As long as he didn’t sit on a bush of them, he’d be fine. A slight shiver shook him at that thought. Brock wouldn’t be happy with Cyn’s hands so close to his junk. He didn’t think he’d enjoy it either. That all belonged to his mate.

Oh, you’re certain Jane isn’t your mate.

Frustration lighted anew. With a burst of energy, his tiger leapt across a ravine without missing a step. This area had more shallow streams and creeks than by Jane’s cabin. He must be getting closer to the river. Maybe he’d find a spot on the bank and just sit and listen to the water flow. Calm himself, let his anger and frustration ebb away with the current.

He gave a feline sneeze to clear the pollen and air debris from his nose then sucked in a deep breath. He felt much better. The tiger wanted to keep control while in the forest so Tony gladly agreed. Time to think was what he needed. Think about what?

How Jane drove him crazy.
Oh, you’re certain Jane isn’t your mate.
And that stupid fucking phrase. Grrrrr. He wanted to rip it from his mind. But it reminded him what every shifter’s dream was: to find their true mate. Shit, shit, shit. Maybe he was an idiot going after her in the first place. She smelled so good. Even right now he could smell her.

His tiger tugged on his human conscious. Not now, boy. I’m in the middle of a wet fantasy here. His animal growled at him. What? Tony peered through his tiger’s eyes and saw a pile of river debris entangled in the branches of a fallen tree at the river’s edge. How did his animal get them here? That’s what he got when his tiger led. Lost in the middle of BFE.

His animal told him to fuck off and take a whiff, asshole. So he did. Yum, Jane. Just like his fantasy…Wait. He wasn’t in a fantasy. Urging the tiger closer to the tipped tree, he breathed in more of her fragrance. Then he saw an arm sticking out.

Jane!

In two steps, he was on two feet. He waded into the river, thigh high. This section of the river widened, keeping the flow slower and less powerful. Reaching the pile of discarded take-out Chinese boxes, partially dissolved cardboard pizza containers, Styrofoam cups, moss, pine needles and leaves, he saw a body. Claw-tipped fingers ripped away trash to reveal his Jane, scratched-up and bruised, but alive.

Carrying her gently in his arms, he noted the woods had darkened. Night would be upon them soon. He wanted to hurry, but didn’t want to jostle his precious cargo. He didn’t pay attention to how long or how far they had wandered. Finally, the cabin came into sight.

Another black SUV was parked in the driveway. Hopefully it was Brock and Cyn. He didn’t want to take out a stranger, but he sure as hell would to keep Jane safe.

His shoulder pushed open the kitchen door. Brock and Cyn stood next to the fridge, looking at the spot where the dead body lay at one time.

Cyn drew in a sharp breath. “Tony! My god, what happened to Jane?”

“Found her in the river, close to the shore.” He hurried down the hall to the main room and laid her on the sofa. Now that he could see her clearly, she looked a mess. Mud coated her beautiful red hair and face. Her cheeks were scratched from the tree limbs, as were her bare arms. Bruises dotted every part he could see.

Cyn knelt beside Tony at Jane’s side. “I got this, Tony.”

He growled, startling Cyn. Brock immediately snarled, and Tony’s body lifted and flew against the wall. Color drained from his face as he stared at Brock. He’d never done that to Tony. Ever. “She told you she has it. Now get cleaned up and put on clothes before coming back in here.”

With a glare over his shoulder, Ramirez left the room. It was his fault, though. You don’t growl at the boss’s mate. He knew that. So what made him do it?

Oh, you’re certain Jane isn’t your mate.

After he’d showered - no cockleburs were attached to his ass - dressed, and came back into the living room, Cyn had Jane out of her wet clothes and wrapped in a furry cream blanket. Cyn looked up from her chair when he joined them. “Feel better?”

“Yeah, thanks. How bad is she?” His eyes rested on Jane, silent on the sofa.

“Besides the cuts and bruises, she has a couple cracked ribs, from what Brock could see. We shouldn’t move her. And two very bad bumps on her head. That’s probably what’s keeping her out. Her brain is healing itself.”

“So, we hang out here and wait for her to wake up? How long will that be? What kind of paranormal is she? She’s not a shifter, but can she heal faster than regular humans.”

Cyn sighed and shook her head. “Tony, you know we can’t discuss that. Rule number one.”

“Whoever came up with that rule was a complete ass.” Anger tinged his voice.

Brock looked up from his coffee. “Ramirez—”

“No. Hear me out.” He paced between chairs. “Wouldn’t you think if we understood each of our strengths and weaknesses, we could work better as a team when it came to something someone else was better at?” He stopped. “That’s why Buchanan and I work so well together. We know what we can and can’t do, and know when to step in without having to be asked. That’s saved our butts on more than a few cases.”

Cyn raised a brow at Brock. “He’s got a good point.”

“Tell Wheeler that,” he grumbled.

“Why was that rule made, anyway?” Ramirez asked.

Brock sighed. “There were a few in the group who wouldn’t join unless promised no one else would know what their abilities were.”

“Seriously? Like who?” Ramirez groaned.

Brock grinned. “Everyone, but you and Buchanan.”

“Figures.” Ramirez plopped in an oversized, fluffy chair. “Hey, Cyn, sorry I growled at you earlier.”

Her face softened and she smiled wide at him. “It’s all right. James would’ve done the same for me. That’s what mates do, protect.”

He shook his head. “Oh, I’m certain Jane isn’t my mate.”

Both of his bosses stopped what they were doing and looked at him. He sat up straight. “What?”

The two others glanced at each other then back at him. Cyn said, “The way you sounded when you said that was…mechanical. Like you were programmed to say it.” She frowned and stared at him with curious eyes. “It was really weird.”

He rubbed his hands over his face. “I’m tired and a bit stressed. I’m surprised I even make sense.”

Cyn nodded and leaned back. “Speaking of sense, what do you think happened?”

After a thoughtful sigh, Ramirez closed his eyes. “The only things I found were in the kitchen. Jane’s cell phone was on the floor. Her purse was on the table untouched, which rules out burglary. Drag marks out the back door smell like the dead guy. Trail stops at the trees. I have no idea why she’d be in the river. She was wrapped in a tree, so she came from upstream. Someone must’ve taken her when they took the dead body. Maybe threw both bodies in the river hoping to dispose of them?”

Cyn drew her brows down, contemplating. “I think we should call Erica and Trent to join us up here tomorrow. Erica will be able to tell us what happened in the last minutes. Until then, I think we’re at a standstill. What do you think?” She glanced at Brock.

He grunted and sipped his coffee. Cyn frowned at him. “Man of many words right now, huh?” He grumbled and Cyn smiled and flipped the page of a large book in her lap.

“What you got there, Cyn?”

“I found a photo album on the shelf so I decided to be nosy and helped myself. Quite a family she has here. If I’m correct, based on what I’m seeing, her father is a very important person. He has suits like the royals in London wear during formal occasions. Sashes, buttons, cords, all that stuff. Her mom looks a lot like her. This is a cute photo of the parents holding a newborn.” Cyn pulled a picture from the plastic sheath and turned it over. “The back says Ceaz Kozlo, Kayan Yane Kozlo, Yane Kozlo.”

Ramirez sat straight up in his chair, face pale. His hands gripped his head and he fell to the floor, howling. He rolled onto his back, panting, staring at the ceiling planks. Cyn rushed to his side. “Tony! What’s wrong?”

Memories spilled into his head. Everything from that night: the bar, pizza, sex—incredible sex—her making him forget. His heart jumped with joy, then shock, then anger. His chest rumbled.

“Ramirez! Speak.” Tony’s eyes shot straight to Brock’s, standing over Cyn.

“She
is
my mate,” his rumble deepened, “and she purposely hid this knowledge from me.” He sat up and glared at Jane’s unmoving body. “How could she do that to her own mate?”

“Tony, calm down.” Cyn glanced up at Brock, then back at him, shock clear in her own eyes.

Tony caught their look. He scrambled to his feet. “Did you both know this? And you didn’t tell me?” Their expressions shined guilt. “You bastards!” Brock growled. “Fuck you, Brock. You know mates aren’t to be separated, yet you kept us apart for ten years. Fuck. You.” He strode out the front door, slamming it behind him.

 

 

BOOK: Federal Paranormal Unit Bundle: Shape Shifter Paranormal Romance
4.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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