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The Beast in Him (Pride #2)(3)
Author: Shelly Laurenston


“Does she know?”

“I don’t know. They were going to call her today, give her the weekend, and bring her in on Monday—but I’ve been afraid to call home.”

Smitty didn’t blame his friend. Sure, they may have been Navy SEALS together, caught in the middle of firefights, invading foreign countries, doing whatever their government asked them to do. But not once had they ever felt a fear equal to having a smiling Desiree MacDermot-Llewellyn ask you if you wanted salt for your potatoes.

“Well, we’ve got a few more hours here at least.”

Mace finished off his coffee. “Thank God. I can’t go home... She made me pot roast last night.” He crushed the empty coffee cup. “Inhuman. The woman is inhuman.”

Smitty finished off his own coffee and tossed the remainder in a trash can. He glanced at the TV screens. They’d set up cameras everywhere they could think of. This being their biggest job to date, Smitty wanted it going off without a hitch. So far, the team had stopped at least fourteen people trying to sneak into the party. When Mace told him a couple of months before they’d been offered a job as party security, Smitty’s head nearly exploded off his body. Security for a party or rave were for guys who had criminal records and couldn’t become cops. It sure wasn’t for the well-armed team they’d assembled since Smitty and Mace opened their business. Then he heard about not only the party but the party throwers. This wasn’t some bullshit event, but a computer geek’s wet dream. The major players in computers—millionaires to billionaires—from around the country came to the party and had for the last five years. Getting an invitation something you could almost put on your résumé. The amped-up security was to protect the serious heavy hitters that even Smitty, who could give a shit about PCs except when he needed to send an e-mail or download some porn, recognized.

Within a few days it went from “that bullshit job we have to do” straight into an all-hands-on-deck event. Thankfully, they now had the manpower—former military-trained shifters looking for a new life among the civilians. So far they’d hired only three full-humans, and they were Dez’s best friends.

“We better go back inside.” Mace pushed open the back doors. “You guys okay?” he asked the two males and one female monitoring the screens and keeping in close contact through headphones with the entire team.

“Yup,” the female answered as she quickly flipped through channels, those gold leopard eyes picking up everything.

“Good.” Mace slammed the doors after Smitty jumped out and the two headed back to the party.

They quickly checked on front-door security and walked inside the building, a four-story brownstone the company that hired them owned. They weren’t a big company but apparently quite powerful. Computer and database security specialists or whatever. To be quite honest, Smitty really didn’t care. Their money was green enough, and they had lots of it.

Smitty and Mace stepped into the main ballroom and glanced around.

These people definitely knew how to throw a party. This wasn’t some mere—and boring—black-tie event. This was a geek party to the nth degree. Hardcore tech music, old-school video games lining the walls, an insane amount of food and liquor—all free—and a hot waitstaff dressed up like those disturbing Japanese animation girls. He’d never seen so many girl school dresses paired with garter belts before in his life. Yeah, these people definitely knew their audience.

“Smitty?”

Smitty faced his business partner.

“This is Sierra Cohen. Miss Cohen, this is my business partner Bobby Ray Smith.”

Smitty shook the female’s hand and sized her up at the same time. Yum. Jackal. There weren’t a lot of jackals in the world, but the few he’d met were damn cute.

Using his most charming smile, Smitty asked, “So, this is your business, Miss Cohen?”

“Oh, no. No, I’m just a hard-working employee. The owners aren’t very comfortable with the general public. So I’m kind of the face of the company.”

“I can see why, darlin’.”

She gave a throaty laugh and took a step closer. “I have to say, Mr. Smith—”

“Smitty, darlin’. Everybody calls me Smitty.”

“Smitty, I have to say I was very glad to find... uh... our kind with a security business. I know my employers felt much safer with your team than with the full-humans we usually hire for this event.”

“Well, we are available for any security needs you may have. Actually, any needs at all.”

He had to bite the inside of his mouth to keep from laughing when he caught Mace rolling his eyes in disgust. Before Detective MacDermot came along, it would have been an ugly fight between the two friends to see who got this little honey into bed first. But now that the big-headed lion had mated and married the lovely and big-breasted cop, poor Smitty was all on his own.

“That’s very good to know. I’m sure there’s something you can take care of for me later tonight.”

“Any chance,” Mace cut in, “you two can put a hold on this lovefest until the job is done?”

“Don’t mind him, darlin’. He’s married.”

Mace snarled and Sierra looked at him in confusion. “Married? Why?”

“Because it made my sister want to set herself on fire.”

Smitty laughed, clearly remembering the way Missy Llewellyn growled and snarled her way through the ceremony. Then Sissy Mae, Dez, and Ronnie Lee, Sissy’s best friend and next in command, spent the entire day torturing Missy. Definitely fun to watch.

“My employers are big on marriage,” Sierra added absently. “Marriage and pups.”

“Aren’t we all big on our pups and cubs?” Mace asked, although he looked like he really didn’t care what her answer might be.

“Sure. But they’re really big on their pups. Anyone gets too close and they get really tense.”

Smitty frowned. “Wolves?”

Sierra shook her head. “No.” She turned and nodded toward the enormous doorway. “Wild dogs.”

Surprised, Smitty watched Sierra’s employers walk into the room. There had to be about ten of them and, he guessed, not the full Pack. They wouldn’t leave their pups alone except with other dogs they trusted.

Seeing them immediately reminded him of a sweet little She-dog he used to know. And, like her, they weren’t large like the other shifter breeds. In fact, wild dogs were the only breed that shifted into a smaller animal. As human, the men weren’t usually taller than five-ten or five-eleven and the women five-eight or five-nine. They were wiry and lanky, and watching them move, Smitty guessed they were a lot stronger then they seemed.

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