Hounded:A Steamy Shifter Mystery

By: Tasha Black

And she was funny.

The world of shifters could be sexy, intense, scary… But there wasn’t a lot of light-heartedness in Van’s past.

Dulcie’s first dry comment didn’t even land on him because he wasn’t expecting it.

But the goofy grin that followed filled him with surprised delight. He didn’t laugh, but it made his chest lighten.

And then, looking down in embarrassment at the joke she thought had failed, she’d taken a sip of her drink.

Her pouty lips parted. The tip of her tongue sucked the straw into her mouth, her eyes closed in ecstasy.

And he was lost.

His body vibrated with a violent impatience to put that look on her face himself. He wanted to lose his fingers in her glossy hair, angle his hardness into her yielding curves. His cock was bursting to take the place of that lucky straw between her plush lips. He wanted to possess her, make her scream with pleasure, and then fall on her lap weeping.

Van didn’t have lovesick feelings about women. He fucked them and moved on.

But that late afternoon, with the sunlight slipping through the window to fill the office with a pink otherworldly glow, he was frozen in place, transfixed by a vision of love silhouetted by twilight, until she put the drink down and turned to him, breaking the spell.

Since then he’d been back again and again.

She had to be getting frustrated with him. His credit wasn’t good enough. He didn’t have enough savings. At least, not as far as she knew. There were no available spaces that satisfied him.

He knew she was attracted to him, his inner dog could smell it on her.

But she gave no sign that she returned his feelings, or was even aware of them.

Maybe it was because she didn’t find him attractive, but that was highly unlikely. Van wasn’t vain, but he knew women liked the way he looked. He was tall and muscular. Some lover in the past had told him he had ‘an angel’s face and a devil’s smile’, whatever that was supposed to mean.

No, his looks shouldn’t be an issue. It was more likely she didn’t respond to him because the only info she had on him told her he was a fighter with a checkered past and bad credit.

Oh, and the rumor that he banged all the women he trained.

And since he’d apparently been struck dumb with lust, he couldn’t seem to share much more.

Not that there was much more.

Now, as she approached him, a shiver of anticipation tickled his spine. She was following, she was with him.

Instinct made him want to stop and press her to the wall right there in the office. This was where they had met. Maybe things wouldn’t feel the same out there in the world.

He shrugged it off and swung the door open, letting a rush of cool fall air buffet them both.

He held the door and she smiled up at him.

His heart constricted again and he felt almost sick with joy.

“Coffee shop?” she asked, pulling a key out of her pocket and locking the office door behind her.

“Yes.” Yes, a thousand times yes. Wherever you go, that’s where I want to be.

She smiled again and they began to walk. The breeze lifted her hair slightly, revealing the line of her neck and shoulder and unleashing her scent. It was like nothing he’d experienced - mangoes and honey and spring air.

Leaves drifted to the sidewalk from the pale blue sky above. Van wondered how he had ended up in this place. He’d been drawn here like a magnet, but why? Why had he found Dulcie? And an apartment? And a way to make a living, to save his miserable hide?

There was something about this town…

“Hey, Dulcie!” a mousy looking woman with a chubby little boy sung out.

“Oh, hi, Roberta! Hi, Dylan! How’s the new place?” Dulcie asked like she really cared.

Roberta smiled gratefully.

“It’s wonderful. We can’t believe you found us a home, you’re a miracle worker. I wish you got paid more for it.”

Dulcie threw her head back and laughed.

“It was so much fun to work with you guys. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Hurry up and win the lottery so we can go castle-hunting!”

Roberta laughed too, and they continued on.

“Seems like you actually like her,” Van said doubtfully.

“Of course I do!” Dulcie looked at him like he was crazy.

“But, don’t your customers make you mad?” he asked.

Dulcie’s brow furrowed.

“Sometimes they don’t understand how things work and they get frustrated. But they always have reasons for what they want, we just have to figure it out. That’s why they need me. I guess I like working with people.”

“Not me,” Van shook his head.

“Hmm, I heard differently!” Dulcie said.

He snapped his gaze over to her, ready to defend himself.

Then he saw she was grinning at him mischievously.

“Don’t believe everything you hear,” he warned her lightly.

“Oh come on, doesn’t anything interesting happen in this town?” she complained with the darkest look he’d ever seen on her face.

Van found himself laughing.

He held the door to the coffee shop open for her.

A rush of pumpkin spice assaulted them.

Van hated stupid things being put in coffee. It was just an excuse to gouge customers. And coffee already smelled so good. Why cover it up with a bunch of artificial chemicals masquerading as spices?

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