Hounded:A Steamy Shifter Mystery

By: Tasha Black

Of course, after Templeton’s body had been found the next morning, a look of fear frozen on his face, she didn’t really need to worry about him anymore.

The police had taken her in as an accessory to murder, much to Henry’s chagrin. Henry wasted no time appointing Jack Wenderly as the head of the Rudolph Barrymore Foundation. Then he’d spent almost every waking hour since visiting with Beryl and planning her defense.

Dulcie didn’t need to guess. She could read the bright waves of love between them.

Still, she’d be sure Henry got a good prenup when the time came.

They pulled up in front of the building. As always, Dulcie admired the sturdy brick of the Victorian facade.

“Ready?” she asked Van.

He nodded and they moved to the front door.

Dulcie leaned over the knob to open the lock box. In a perfect storm of optimism, the combo was W-I-N.

She slipped the whole box off and handed Van the key that was inside.

“All yours,” she told him with a smile.

“Half Henry’s until I buy him out,” he corrected her, but he was smiling too.

After Henry had recovered from that night in the clearing, he decided it would be a good idea to learn how to protect himself.

Van had offered him private lessons at the mansion, but Henry told him he had something else in mind. Another way to use his uncle’s money to improve the town.

Van unlocked the door and held it open for her.

Inside, light streamed in the enormous original windows and burnished the pine plank floors.

It was perfect.

The perfect place to open a martial arts school for adults and children, a gym where the community could learn self-defense and discipline.

And upstairs, the MMA studio Van had dreamed of, a place for him to train hard with the handful of downstairs students he hoped would show promise.

Dulcie looked up at Van.

His jaw was still tense.

“Are you okay?” she asked. “Is this… too much?”

“It’s not enough,” he said darkly.

“What more could there be?” she asked, stunned.

And then he was on his knees.

The light coming through the palladium windows glimmered in his eyes.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small box.

Dulcie began to tremble all over.

“Dulcinea Alette, will you marry me?” he asked.

Her eyes were so full of tears she could barely see. A week ago this would have scared her to death. But she was done being afraid. Thanks to Van.

“Yes,” she said, wondering at her own steady voice, and at the sure feeling that was behind it. This was right. This man made her whole.

He slipped a ring on her finger, then looked down at it with great satisfaction.

Dulcie blinked and saw the prettiest little diamond in a ring of gold.

“But, Van, how did you ever…” she broke off, wildly embarrassed that she had almost asked him about money at a time like this.

“It’s okay.” He smiled crookedly and he was more handsome than he had ever been. “I’ve been saving money since the first time you told me to. Back when we first met. And now it looks like I don’t need it for a down payment anymore.”

The rasp in his deep voice was making her feel feverish.

“And I’m glad,” he said. “Because I could not wait one more minute to make you mine, Dulcinea.”

She wrapped her arms around his neck and he lifted her off her feet, cradling her in his arms.

Dulcie’s mouth found his and she lost herself again in the heady taste and scent of him, of her fiancé.

His tongue stroked hers as he carried her to the single piece of furniture in the place.

He placed her back on her feet in front of the red leather sofa in the office that would be his.

“Put your arms up, baby,” he said.

Dulcie raised her arms and he lifted her dress over her head in a single motion.

Then he was on his knees again.

“What are you doing down there? I already said yes,” she giggled.

“No more jokes,” he reprimanded her, but a smile tugged at the corner of his lips.

“Why not?” she teased.

“Because I don’t want to talk with my mouth full,” he said.

His teeth were on her panties before she could laugh.

And then Dulcie was lost again, delirious with the pleasure of his mouth and his hands.

At last he laid her down on the sofa and eased his weight on top of hers.

“I love you, Dulcie,” he whispered, as soon as he was inside her.

But the white halo around him had already told her that.

“I love you, too, Van,” she whispered back.


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