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Authors: Stephani Hecht

Tags: #GLBT, #Gay, #Paranormal, #Erotic Romance, #Shapeshifter

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BOOK: The Trials of Gregg
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John felt as if a heavy weight had suddenly been lifted off his shoulders. After having faced this burden on his own for so long, it was nice to know he would be able to be himself. There were others like him, and they understood what he was going through.

“Now we just have to decide who is going to be his mentor and acclimate him to this new life,” Mitchell said.

Dean gave a wicked smile. “I have a great idea. A Hawk took him out of this world, why not have one bring him back in?”

“Who are you thinking of?” Mitchell frowned.

“Gregg.”

Mitchell nodded. “Call him and tell him to come here right away.”

After Dean made his call, they only had to wait for a few moments before there was a timid knock on the door.

“Come in,” Mitchell called.

In walked the most beautiful man John had ever seen. With short, slightly curly brown hair, big brown eyes that had the longest lashes in the world, the guy was delectable enough. But add in his plump kissable lips, trim, muscular build and perfect ass, and there was a fine package all wrapped up in one nice body.

“You wanted to see me, Mitchell?” the newcomer asked.

Mitchell stood. “Yes, Gregg. I want you to meet somebody. This is John. You’re going to be his new mentor.”

John realized right then he was really, really going to like it here.

Chapter Three

 

 

Gregg stood there, momentarily stunned as Mitchell’s words sank in. Then Gregg looked over at the guy he was supposed to be mentoring, and his heart all but stopped beating.

John was one steaming stack of hotcakes, with butter and syrup on top, and damned if Gregg didn’t want himself one great big bite. John had on what looked to be a human military uniform, but one sniff told Gregg the man was a Lion shifter. He looked the part, too, with his short blond hair and light blue eyes. He wore a military cut, and it looked good on him, accenting his high cheekbones and chiseled features. His body…damn, Gregg didn’t even know where to start with that, it was so muscular and tight looking. It was all Gregg could do not to pounce on John and run his hands over those rock hard looking pecs.

“Excuse me, did you just say I was to be his mentor?” Gregg asked.

“Yes, do you have a problem with that?” Mitchell asked.

Gregg shook his head. “No, I’m just wondering why you didn’t pick a feline for the job, since John is a Lion. It would make more sense to me.”

Mitchell put his arm around Dean. “My mate here seems to think that a Hawk would fit the job better. More specifically, you.”

Gregg scratched his head as he tried to roll that comment around in his brain. It didn’t make any sense to him, but since Mitchell was the leader of the coalition, and the Hawks were aligned with them, Gregg had no choice but to obey. If they wanted him to Lion-sit for a while, he could handle it. Especially since John was so frigging hot.

“Sure, you just want me to lead him around and stuff?” Gregg asked.

“Yes, start with that. Then show him to one of the empty living quarters. I want you to work with him from morning to night for at least a week or however long it takes for him to feel comfortable living with us,” Mitchell ordered.

“So, I’m his tour guide into the shifter world?”

“Pretty much. We’re going to take some of his blood to see if he has any living relatives. If so, they can take over, but until we do find out for sure, you’re going to his best friend.”

“No problem, sir.”

Really, I mean it. No problem at all. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time than to be around this perfect god of a man.

“I have a question,” John interrupted.

“Yes?” Mitchell said.

“What about my family back home?”

Mitchell frowned. “I thought you said you were raised in the foster care system.”

“I was, but I grew close to one person, somebody I consider a brother. I can’t just leave him and not let him know what’s going on.”

Okay, that was not jealousy that Gregg was feeling. Because he and John had only known each other for a couple of minutes. It had to be a bad case of heartburn or something. He knew he should never have had those breakfast burritos. They got him every damn time.

Mitchell paused as he seemed to be considering John’s words. “I guess it wouldn’t hurt for you to call him and let him know where you’re at and what’s going on. The whole world knows about us now, thanks to the damn Ravens. Just be prepared, though. He may not take it well. Most humans hate us.”

“Ramon’s not like that,” John argued. “He’ll stick by my side no matter what.”

Okay, it was official. Gregg hated this Ramon. He had never met the guy, but it didn’t matter. He was on Gregg’s despised list, and Ramon was never getting off.

“Why don’t you come with me, John, and I’ll give you a tour of the place?” Gregg suggested, trying to keep his face neutral.

John stood, and Gregg almost gasped when he saw how tall the man was. Crap! Gregg was going to get a kink in his neck from having to look up at John all day long. Maybe Gregg could borrow a pair of Carson’s platform camo boots, just to even out the height difference.

As soon as Gregg got that thought, he dismissed it. He would just end up falling or twisting an ankle. While he might be agile, not even he could walk in those damn things. Plus, only somebody like Carson could pull off that look. On Gregg, they would look plain ridiculous.

They left Mitchell’s office, and Gregg instantly felt awkward. Which was funny. He never had any trouble talking with his friends. In fact, he was second for the title of being a motor-mouth—Ash being the first place winner. Yet here Gregg stood with the best looking guy in history, and he felt as if his tongue were made of lead.

“So what do you think about the place so far?” Gregg finally asked.

“Since I thought they were bringing me here to do medical experiments, I’ve been pleasantly surprised,” John said.

“Oh, they don’t do that kind of thing anymore. The practice was stopped years ago. At least by the US government. I can’t say for sure about the human hunters, though, as those are some sadistic bastards.”

“So I’ve heard,” John said as he scanned the main area of the compound.

Gregg took a look around, too, remembering how impressed he’d been by the place when he had first joined up with the coalition. Of course, Gregg had already known all his life that he was a shifter. He could only imagine how hard this must be on John.

“I guess this is a lot to take in at once, huh?” Gregg asked.

“That would be an understatement,” John murmured. “I mean, I’ve known for a few years that I could shift, but I’ve kept it hidden until now. Then, bam! Everything in my life has changed in a matter of a few hours. I don’t think my brain has had time to catch up yet.”

Gregg felt for John. It had to be so difficult for him. Gregg had always known who he was, where he stood in the world. But John was just now learning who he really was, and he didn’t even have a choice in the matter as far as his future went. It really sucked.

“I’m sorry. I wish there was some way I could make things easier for you. If there are any questions you have or anything you need, just come to me. I promise I’ll do everything in my power to help you out,” Gregg promised.

John gave him a serious, somewhat sad look. “You wouldn’t happen to know of any magic potion that will make me human, would you?”

Gregg’s heart broke at those words, and at that moment, he would have done anything to give John his old life back. But if there was anything Gregg knew about the shifter world, it was that it was a cold, merciless place, and there was no get-out-of-jail-free card.

“No, you’re what you are. There’s no changing that. No matter how much you wish it to be differently. You’re just lucky it was the general that intervened on your behalf. If you had turned in front of some human hunters, they would have killed you on the spot and sold your pelt on the black market. They would have made a fortune, too, since you’re a Lion and one of the hardest shifters to take down,” Gregg said.

He knew he was being blunt, perhaps even a bit harsh, but he wanted John to realize just how dangerous it had been for him to hide out the way he’d been doing. A shiver of dread went down Gregg’s spine as he thought of somebody else finding John and doing horrible things to him. Gregg had seen the remains of some of the shifters after they had passed through the hunters’ hands, and it hadn’t been pretty. In fact, it had given Gregg nightmares.

That wasn’t the only ones that John had to worry about, either. There were slave traders out there that would love to get their hands on a prime specimen of Lion like John.

“You must think that I’m stupid,” John said. “And you’re probably right, but to be fair, I didn’t even know there were others like me until recently. Then when I did, I wasn’t sure you guys would accept me since I was raised by humans. You have to remember, I’m going into this blind.”

Gregg took a few deep breaths as he realized John did have a point. Besides, who was he to judge? He had never been in John’s situation. So Gregg had no idea how he’d react if he were in John’s boots. Hell, Gregg would probably be sucking his thumb and crying for his mother—bitch that she was.

“Okay, I see where you’re coming from,” Gregg conceded. “I may have done the same thing if I were you. Just promise me you’ll be more careful from now on. Now that you’re part of this coalition, we look out for each other. It would upset me if something bad were to happen to you.”

John tilted his head to the side as a tiny smile curled his lips. “Would it now? But we just met.”

Gregg could feel a heat come over his face. Damn him and his big, fat mouth. There it went, getting him in trouble again. He never did know when to shut up. One of these days, he’d develop some kind of filter, or at least he hoped so. Because he was sick of always making an ass out of himself.

“I care about everybody in the cast and coalition,” Gregg said, not meeting John’s gaze.

Now, that was a downright lie. There were some members of their group Gregg wouldn’t mind seeing taken down a peg or two. Every group always had at least one or two assholes, and theirs was no different. The worst one had to be a Hawk shifter named Lawson. For some reason, he’d been going out his way lately to make life hell for Gregg, even though Gregg couldn’t figure out why. He hadn’t done anything to the Hawk, so he didn’t know what Lawson’s beef was. All Gregg did know for sure was Lawson hated him and made no attempt to hide his feelings.

Gregg cleared his throat, then gestured around the big room. “This is the main part of the operations. We monitor the news feeds from all over the world, looking for incidents that may be shifter related. Plus, we also keep in contact with other shifter groups that are our allies.”

“Are the Ravens your only enemies?”

Gregg let out a bitter laugh. “I wish. Besides humans, we have Scorpions, Spiders, Snakes, and Hyenas, just to name a few. We are friendly with Rats and Weasels, but they can’t be trusted.”

John’s mouth parted as his eyes grew wide. “There are really that many kinds of shifters?”

“Yeah, we have almost every breed of animal covered. Some have grown extinct over the years due to wars or infighting. The shifter world can be brutal at times.”

“Then why do you stay in it? Why not just take off and try to pass yourself as a human?” John asked.

If John hadn’t been so new to the world, Gregg would have laughed at his naivety. Instead, he decided to go with the truth, but be gentle about it.

“Some have tried. It almost never works out for them.”

John frowned. “Why not?”

“We can always smell our own kind, and our enemies like to go for a lone, easy mark. Frankly, I’m surprised you survived as long as you have. I’m thinking it’s because you were so big and formable that they were afraid to take you on. Either that, or you were just damn lucky.”

“Why not just take me out when I was younger and a much easier target?” John asked.

“We really don’t have a scent until after our first shift. I guess it’s Mother Nature’s way of protecting the youth since they are innocent.”

Or at least, that had always been Gregg’s theory. Nobody had ever been able to pinpoint the exact reason. Gregg liked to think that maybe somebody above was looking out for them. After all the shit they’d been through the past twenty some years, they were due some breaks.

“Do you have any family?” John asked.

Gregg felt a wave of sadness go through him. “Just my cousin, father, and sister.”

“Why did the Ravens kill them?”

“The Ravens and the Hawks used to work together, until the day of the mass attack on the felines. When the Ravens found out that the Hawks had rescued the children and hidden them away, they were mad. When the Hawks refused to tell the Ravens where the children were, the Ravens became enraged.”

“They probably never imagined that the Hawks would hide them among humans,” John said.

“No, that was the last place the Ravens would look, which is exactly why the Hawks hid them there. When the Hawks continued to stand firm and refused to tell the Ravens where the feline children were, the Ravens went on the warpath. They nearly obliterated the Hawk population. My grandparents and older cousins were among the many that lost their life during the liquidation. The only reason I survived is because my family hid in the loft of the neighbors’ family barn. I could still see through the window, though, and I saw all that was being done to my family and my cast. I watched as they burned the place down to the ground. How they chased down anyone who escaped the flames and shot them. I’ll never forget it as long as I live.” Gregg let out a little shiver.

“How old were you at the time?” John asked, his color going a couple of shades paler.

“I was two.”

“How can you remember that? You were so young.”

Gregg gave another shiver. “There are some things that you don’t forget, no matter how young you were at the time.”

Chapter Four

 

 

John didn’t know what he wanted to look at more, the impressive building or Gregg. Both of them were amazing in their own way. Whereas the feline headquarters was stunning with all the technology, Gregg was a fine piece of work himself. When Mitchell had paired John up with Gregg, John felt like he’d won the lottery. Finally, something had gone his way.

BOOK: The Trials of Gregg
10.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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