Eloise is a woman on a mission. She needs to find a date for the annual hospital ball, and fast. The trouble is she's not only man-free but after her bastard of an ex had a nasty little curse hurled her way, no human guy will touch her with a barge-pole. Not after one date ended up with green acne, another with a nose like Pinocchio...the list went on.
Out of options, Eloise ends up at the offices of the Paranormal Protection Agency. She's not sure what to expect but she certainly doesn't expect Jared Stone. No-one expects Stone...
© 2012 Mina Carter
“Please be able to help,” I muttered as I looked up at the sign over the door in front of me. It read ‘Paranormal Protection Agency’ and if you’d asked me six months ago if I’d be here knocking on their door needing help, I’d have told you to take more water with it. Now? I’d have the bottle from you quick as a flash and you could keep the damn water.
“Jared, I know you were a cop but for fucks sake, when did ‘protect and serve’ become ‘protect and service’?”
Since my name wasn’t Jared and I’d never been a cop, it was obviously someone else getting the dressing down. But I still stopped halfway through the door and considered doing an about-face to escape from the irate female voice.
Yeah, a place that proclaimed itself as the ‘Paranormal Protection Agency’ was bound to be a little different, but that was a little far out, even for me.
Given the current conversation going on further back in the officers, my timing was as much a SNAFU as my life. Staring down the business end of a nasty little curse my bastard of an ex had arranged after we split, and with an important function tonight, I was rapidly running out of options and that more sacred of commodities: time.
Before I could turn around and beat a hasty retreat, a male voice issued from further within. Deep and rich, it sent a soul-deep shiver through my body right down to my curling toes. There’s nothing as sexy as a man’s voice, especially the deep, gravelly ones and this one had more gravel than a landscaped garden.
“Sorry boss, but she was hot, and by that I mean haaaaawt. Besides, how will I satisfy my mate when I find her if I don’t take advantage of every learning experience now?”
“Jared! She was a fucking German Shepherd!”
WTF? A German Shepherd? What kind of place were these people running?
“And I’m a wolf. Your point is?”
The reply was so nonplussed that it caught my interest. With a sick sense of fascination I stepped through the door and let it close silently behind me.
The office beyond was standard for small offices the world over. A cluster of desks sat under one of the windows while a lone plastic plant guarded the door. I checked. Yup. Scrunched up sticky notes in the pot indicated it had been used as target practise. Seemed normal so far. I shivered and ventured further into the lion’s den.
“My point is you don’t screw the client’s pets! The last thing I need is for my best shifter to be banged up for…what the fuck would that be called anyway? It’s gotta be illegal.”
I pursed my lips at the thought as I headed toward the back of the office. If both participants were technically animals, would the law give a damn? Long practise kept my mouth shut but it was a struggle. That had always been my problem: open mouth, insert foot. No apparent intervention of brain.
“No screwing the client’s pets. Got it, boss.”
There was a pause, and I reached out to knock on the half open door in front of me, but something warned me to wait.
“Does that mean I’m okay to screw the client’s wives instead?”
“Just checking the ground rules, boss.”
I stopped at the near bellow of outrage, recognising a woman only just holding onto control in the face of total male provocation. Any woman who’d been married was more than familiar with the feeling and I felt a sense of kinship with her.
“Out, just get out! Before I get Cal to kick your ass from here to kingdom come!”
“Awww don’t be so mean, Iliona. You love me, you know you do!” A male laugh sounded, rich and silky, as the door was yanked open. Startled, I withdrew my hand and stepped back sharply, not wanting to get trampled by however many paranormals spilled through the opening.
Just one man filled the frame, the width of his shoulders blocking the light from within. I was forced to look up, which was no great surprise. At five foot nothing in my bare feet, pretty much everyone was taller than I was. What did surprise me was the fact that I was in the presence of a god, or at least the movie version of one.
Tall, dark and handsome didn’t cut it. Ice-blue eyes focused on me, zeroing in with the accuracy of a laser-sighting system. The ice warmed instantly, the blue flooding with heat as his gaze swept my body with a slow, assessing look.
Tingles ran riot over my skin, covering each inch after his warm gaze moved on. I squirmed, clenching my thighs together, needing to do something, anything, to try and ease the sudden, savage ache between them.
Heat swept over my cheeks. I forced myself to stand upright and look bored as I waited for him to look me in the eye again. Although short, my bust was big enough that the girls regularly held conversations with members of the opposite gender. So much so that I’d long since gotten past the whole clickey fingers ‘my eyes are up here, buddy’ thing. It got old, fast. These days I just waited for attention to return to my face. If it did, the guy was a keeper.
To his credit, he looked up within seconds, the assessment swift but full of interest as he stalked toward me. I back-pedalled instinctively, the automatic desire to retain my personal space warring with the need to get all up close and cosy with the lean hard body under the simple t-shirt and rugged cargo pants. He didn’t give me an option, determination in his eyes as he easily backed me up to corral me in a corner.
My shoulders hit the wall and I brought my hands up as an ineffective ward.