Spring has finally arrived along the shores of Lake Erie and no one is happier than skunk shifter, Templeton Reed. Now that the snows have melted, he can frolic and play on the grounds of Lupei Manor, the formidable home that he shares with his life partner, Mikel Lupei, the alpha of the Lake Erie pack. What a pity that his joy is short lived.
Not only does a stranger appear to shake things up in the manor, bodies begin showing up on the grounds as well! Could the newcomer to the pack be the one viciously killing innocent humans and shifters? Or is there a more nefarious force at work lurking just outside the boundaries of the ancient manse Templeton, Mikel, and their LGBT friends call home?
"Son of a human," Mikel snarled. He stripped and shifted. I stood with his clothes over my arms, watching the wolf work the scent. He padded to the lake, snuffled the shore intently, and then slowly made his way back to the corpse. I turned my head to stare at Erie when he shoved his head under the bloody sheet to smell the body. The water seemed almost tranquil today. How I wished we were planning our spring fete instead of standing here beside a dead man. Mikel tapping my arm brought my attention from the Great Lake back to him. I handed him his pants.
"So, what can you tell us about this poor man's fate?"
"He's human." Mikel zipped his trousers vehemently. "And he was killed by a large animal, either wolf or bruin. Whoever did this dragged him through the lake to mask the scent. I'll have to gather the pack to scour the woods. Damnation."
"Oh dear me," I sighed. "I suppose the call must be made then."
Mikel threw his head back and stared at the soft white clouds ambling past. "Yes. We have to notify the Elder counsel. That is standard operating procedure when a human is involved in mystical matters. Damnation!"
I reached out to pat his thick bicep. I wasn't sure he wanted consolation but I offered it anyway. He placed his hand over mine.
"Let me know when they plan to arrive. I'll take a long stroll through the woods."
Mikel's lip rolled as he turned to look down at me. "I hate that as well. You should be at my side. This mansion is as much your home as it is mine."
"Yes, well, the times they aren't a changing as rapidly as needed," I smiled then snuggled into his wide chest. His arms cinched around me tightly, his smoky shirt smashed between us. My ear rested over his strong heart. "If one of the Elders saw me here it would raise questions. I know we have a lie all in place, but I for one do not wish to put that lie to the test. Better I enjoy the forest for an hour or so while they attend to this mess."
"I love you beyond words, Templeton," Mikel said into my black hair. "Someday, I swear, we shall not have to hide our love for each other."
"From your mouth to the Elders' ears," I whispered, then tipped my head up for a kiss. We both needed one. Pity it couldn't be a longer one, but it was tender.
V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a flock of assorted domestic fowl, and three Jersey steers.
When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand.