Wolf Tales 11--coming December 2010
"...This is the 11th book in the "Wolf Tales" series by Kate Douglas, which lives up to and exceeds the other stories thus far. The readers will find themselves caught up in sexually erotic pleasures that will make your wildest fantasy pale but make your dreams explode with pleasure.
Reviewed by Melody Prater for Affaire de Coeur magazine
"...Must read series of amazing alphas and their women!!...I could not stop reading until I reached the very end. I was completely invested in finding out if they would succeed. I will be going out and buying as many of these books as I can find to get everyone's individual story.
"...Ms. Douglas has once again found a way to incorporate steamy scenes within an intense storyline to keep this series going strong...I definitely say hurry up and bring on the next installment of steamy sex, hot men, sexy women, and the Chanku world!"
"...Douglas, a master of human and lupine sex scenes, completely outdoes herself in this latest Chanku clan tale. Even with a chart at the beginning of the book, newcomers to the series are bound to be confused by all the characters, but the story is so thrilling and the sex is so hot and varied that it really doesn't matter."
©Kate Douglas 2010
Wolf Tales 11
Tiny motes of dust sparkled in shimmering beams of morning sunlight, stirred by the silent departure of the man who'd joined with them throughout a most enjoyable night of sexual excess-as if sex with his lady love and one of his dearest friends could ever be considered excessive.
Smiling at such a ridiculous idea, Adam Wolf stretched out on his left side and rested his right arm over the smooth curve of Liana's hip. He gazed at the brilliant sunbeams and thought of Igmutaka and the night just past as he softly stroked Liana's warm skin. The spirit guide generally left before the morning sun touched the windows of their small apartment, returning to his cougar form and the freedom of the Montana mountains.
Igmutaka knew he was always welcome in their bed, desired as much by Adam as he was by Liana. With memories of the night fresh in his mind, Adam leaned over and placed a soft kiss on Liana's shoulder. She tasted of salt and glistened with the soft dew of perspiration; her fair skin showed the subtle marks of sucking mouths and grasping fingers, even a few reddish nips from sharp, wolven teeth.
Marks Liana would wear with pride. She was, after all, a powerful and much loved Chanku bitch. She sighed in her sleep and turned to him. Her lips pressed against his chest in a sleepy kiss, reminding Adam of the convoluted twists and turns that had led him to this time, this place, this perfect moment.
If anyone had told him just a couple of months ago that he would love this woman who now held his heart, Adam would have cursed them as a liar. If someone had suggested that the cougar prowling the huge Montana estate Anton Cheval and his Chanku pack called home would manifest himself as an absolutely beautiful, albeit somewhat androgynous male, and insinuate himself into Adam's life-and his bed-he would have laughed outright.
But Liana, once a goddess and the woman responsible for his mate's death, had claimed Adam as thoroughly as Eve had once held his love. And Igmutaka, that son of a bitch, had not only unveiled his human side, he'd revealed an affinity for sex matched only by Adam's own.
Laughter bubbled up out of his chest. He rolled to his back, body shaking and eyes tearing with the effort to keep himself quiet.
Liana rolled over, opened her eyes and stared balefully at him. “What, my love, is so damned funny?”
Still fighting the laughter that wouldn't die, Adam shook his head. “Us. This.” He leaned close and kissed her. “Igmutaka and that damned Louisville Slugger of his.”
Obviously biting back a grin, she raised a very expressive eyebrow and dryly offered, “He is quite impressive.”
“A little more than impressive when it's shoved up my ass.”
Liana shrugged daintily. Then she raised her arms over her head and stretched her lithe body along his full length. “As I recall,” she whispered, “you were the one who introduced him to the pleasures of the flesh.”
He grunted, nuzzling her neck. “The son of a bitch took to those pleasures pretty damned fast, if you ask me.”
“Something for which I will be forever grateful.”
Chuckling softly, Adam inhaled her seductive scent. He couldn't possibly be getting hard again. Not after the night they'd just spent-one that had involved very little sleep. Kissing his way along the smooth line of Liana's throat he took another deep breath. “Actually,” he grumbled, “you were the one who suggested he join us in a little ménage a trois. If you'll recall, Ig didn't have a clue what was coming next.”
Laughing softly, Liana rubbed against Adam. “I do recall. One of my better suggestions, don't you think? I wouldn't worry about Igmutaka. He handled himself beautifully.”
“Handled himself? I don't think so. More like he was handling you and me!” Adam snorted, and then both of them were laughing and touching and kissing. Somehow Liana managed to slide her body over Adam's full length with an almost sinuous grace, until she covered him like a living, breathing blanket.
The hard tips of her taut nipples tickled his chest. The tuft of tightly curled blond hair between her thighs brushed the ridge of his now swollen cock and tangled with his own damp thatch of hair. Laughter died and thoughts of Igmutaka fled as Adam's cock rose between Liana's slightly parted thighs and she slowly arched her spine, sliding her damp heat along his full length.
Groaning, he wrapped his arms around her back and rolled her beneath him, slipped the thick length of his erect penis between her buttery folds and thrust hard into her hot, sleek channel. Her muscular vaginal walls rippled along his cock as she adjusted to his length and girth. Both of them shuddered deliciously when the sensitive tip of his penis brushed across the hard mouth of her womb.
Adam closed his eyes, fighting for control. He knew he must look like a man in pain as the cords in his neck tightened and his lips stretched into a flat grimace from his efforts. He arched his back and flexed his arms to keep from flattening Liana's slight frame with his weight.
She sighed and shifted her hips, tilting just right to accommodate his size. Adam took a deep breath, then another until he felt he could hold on, but damn it felt good, the heat and the life of her, the free and loving welcome he felt whenever he entered her body.
The body of a goddess. She'd been the one he prayed to, the one the packs had looked to for help and guidance. The one who had proven herself to have feet of clay-she had failed her beloved Chanku too many times to count.
Failed in many ways, yet been reborn in others.
She'd been cast out of her immortal office and into Adam's arms. Now Eve, once his mate, excelled in Liana's old role. Eve ruled now, with a firm hand and a vigilant yet loving eye. She answered prayers and worried and watched over the Chanku from that other dimension where gods toyed with the lives of men.
While here, on this plane, a man made love to a goddess.
Slowing his deep thrusts, finding a deliberate, measured rhythm he could sustain, Adam gazed at the woman whose neglect had almost ended him, yet whose uncompromising love had healed his heart. She opened her wide gray eyes and smiled up at him.
A smile that flashed straight to his heart like a bolt of lightning, taking his breath, branding him. It was time. Doubts and baseless concerns disappeared. She was his, the woman meant to stand by his side, to bear his children, to share his thoughts. He took a deep breath, aware of the pounding in his chest, the rush of blood in his veins. He wanted that most intimate of bonds, forever. Connected as only Chanku could be.
“Bond with me tonight, Liana. Be my mate, for now and forever.”
Her vaginal muscles rippled over his shaft in a subtle reaction to his soft request. Her fingers brushed the rough stubble covering his jaw. “Are you certain, Adam? Have you truly forgiven me? Will you ever be able to forget my failures?”
He shook his head. “I can't forget what happened. I don't want to, because it's led to this time, this moment. It's led me to you Liana. I loved Eve with all my heart, but I never realized my love wasn't enough for her. She has what she needs, now.” He kissed Liana's mouth, sliding his lips over the softness of hers. “And me? I have what I need, Liana. What I want. The question is, can I be enough for you? A woman who was once a goddess, who has been loved by men much better than I'll ever be, for more centuries than I can imagine?”
She laughed against his mouth and teased his lips with her tongue while her body held him deep inside, clenching and pulsing around his erection. “Adam, you are such a rogue! You know there's no lover better than you. More important, there's no man who could possibly put up with me. I love you. I can imagine no other for my mate. I would be...”
Her body jerked and then went ridged in his arms. Her eyes flashed wide and bright.
“Liana? What's wrong?” Adam shoved himself away from her. His cock slipped free of her warmth as he gathered her up in his arms, held her against his chest. He tried to link but her mind was closed to him. Blocked. “Liana? What's happening?”
She blinked. Shook her head, frowning. Then she stared at him, frightened and wild-eyed. “No, Adam. No.” She clutched at his shoulders and her fingers dug into his flesh. “This is terrible.” The words rushed out on a whispered breath of fear.
Baylor Quinn checked to make certain the big SUV wasn't overlapping a parking space on either end of the one he'd just managed to squeeze into. Then he turned in his seat and grinned at the two women in the back. “Okay, ladies. We're here-downtown Freeport, Maine, and all the shopping your hearts' desire.”
His beloved Manda laughed and rolled her eyes. “It's only taken us a year to convince you guys to bring us up here, so don't act like it's all your idea.”
Shannon Murphy jabbed her lightly in the ribs. “Careful. Jake's still not certain he wants to be here at all. It's taken me ages to drag that man out of the woods. Don't blow it now. My credit cards are burning a hole in my handbag.”
Jacob Trent merely snorted.
“See?” placeShannon shook her head as she reached for the door handle. “What did I say? He is such a Neanderthal.”
“Now that's an interesting concept.” Jake climbed out and opened Manda's door. “A shapeshifting Neanderthal. Wonder if he'd shift into a dire wolf? Those suckers were big.”
“You're plenty big enough for me, sweetheart.” placeShannon winked at him. Then she shut her door and met the others on the curb. Her eyes were twinkling when she kissed Jake. “Why don't you and Bay grab a cup of coffee and pursue the concept of shapeshifting dire wolves. Manda and I have shopping to do and a whole town full of stores waiting just for us...and your money.”
Laughing, Manda and Shannon linked arms and headed toward the long row of shops along the main street. Baylor stood beside Jake, watching the smooth sway of Manda's slim hips as she walked away from him. Then he sighed and turned to Jake-his lover and truest male friend. “We'll be lucky if we hear from them for hours. Coffee or a cold beer?”
Jake laughed. “We'd better wait until later this afternoon for that beer. I think it's going to be a long day. Coffee for me.”
Bay followed him into a small coffee shop not far from where they'd parked. Manda and Shannon had been arguing for a weekend away from home and a chance to shop in the little town of Freeport for months now, but it was still difficult for Bay to relax in unfamiliar territory.
“It's okay, you know.” Jake set two coffees down on the small table Bay'd found near the front window and took the seat across from him. “We haven't had any threats for a long time. The girls are both sharp and they're well-trained. They can take care of themselves.”
Bay shrugged. He picked up the cup and stared at the dark brew. “I wish I could relax, Jake. I can't. I've been inside Manda's memories and I know the nightmare she lived.”
Held captive by a man who was driven to learn her secrets, Manda had spent twenty-five years as his prisoner, subjected to horrendous experiments and vicious sexual attacks. She'd lost her childhood, and only now seemed to be recovering the sense of herself, her confidence as a free woman.
The image of her, crippled by her body's inability to complete a shift one way or the other, trapped for years in a deformed shell that was half human and half wolf, would haunt Baylor until his dying day. With thoughts of Manda's life before she'd discovered her true heritage much too clear in his mind, he gazed into Jake's amber eyes. “Think how your life would be if you hadn't gotten to placeShannon in time when those bastards tried to snatch her. We've been damned lucky so far. Some day that luck's gonna run out.”
Jake planted both hands on the table top and stood up. “We can't live our lives in fear, bro. Think the way you do when you're the wolf, about letting go and living for the moment. ” He took a swallow of coffee. “It works for me. See? Right now, at this moment, I gotta take a leak.”
Bay chuckled, shaking his head as Jake sauntered across the small shop. Curious eyes of interested women at nearby tables followed him as he headed to the back where the restrooms were located. Bay couldn't blame them for looking. Jake had an aura of sexuality about him that couldn't be denied, as well as a devil-may-care attitude that buried a much deeper persona. The combination of sensual aura, rugged good looks, personality and intelligence was definitely seductive.
Still, Bay had to admit that Jake was right. Sometimes Bay spent so much time reliving the past and worrying about the future, he forgot to relish the present.
Maybe he needed to work on that.
A shift in air currents caught his attention. A large man wearing a dark suit and tie slid into Jake's empty chair. Bay's head snapped up as recognition slammed into him. He hadn't seen his old partner since he'd left government service. “Rolf? What the hell are you doing here?”
“I was gonna ask you the same thing.” The man glanced toward the door, then in the direction Jake had gone. “It's been awhile, Bay. We've missed you.”
Baylor shook his head. “It was time to get out. The last job left a bad taste in my mouth.”
“It also left a lot of good men missing and presumed dead. What happened?”
“Can't talk about it. Still classified.” So classified that even his superiors in the service had no idea what had happened the day he'd been sent to kill Jacob Trent and kidnap the woman who was now Jake's mate. “What brings you to Freeport, Rolf? You're still with the service, right?”
Rolf nodded. “Officially? Recruiting.”
Bay sipped his coffee. “Unofficially?”
“Still looking for the missing agents. We've followed their trail as far as Bangor, but they seemed to just disappear off the face of the Earth at that point.”
Bay set his cup down and sent a questioning thought in Jake's direction. He wondered what was taking his buddy so long, wondered why he'd run into Rolf here and now. It was much too unsettling to be mere coincidence.
As far as Bay knew, Rolf had no idea he'd been assigned to work that final job with the missing agents. No placePlaceNameidea PlaceTypeBay had been part of the team that had, as Rolf said and for all intents and purposes, disappeared off the face of the Earth.
Bay's addition to the team that was sent to kidnap Shannon Murphy had been a last minute change ordered directly by Milton Bosworth, the late Secretary of Homeland Security-a change in personnel that never made it to the books.
Even Bosworth hadn't known that the bodies of those agents would rest forever at the bottom of a flooded, abandoned quarry deep in the wilds of northwestern Maine. Even if he had, Bosworth was dead now, a fact that filled Bay with a quiet sense of satisfaction since the discovery that Bosworth had been the one responsible for Manda's cruel treatment, for the horrible acts committed against an innocent child.
But, what if the service knew more than he realized? Bay frowned and stared at Rolf through the steam from his cup of coffee. “I want the truth. Are you following me?”
“No. Should we be?” Rolf shook his head as if answering his own question. Then he glanced about the room again and lowered his voice. “Bay, when I saw you, I knew I had to say something. We've got history, man. You kept me alive on more than one occasion. Listen up...you're working for that hotshot California agency now, Pack Dynamics, right?”
When Bay nodded, he continued. “I overheard a conversation yesterday I probably should have missed, but when I saw you and that other guy walk in here...well, let's just say it was too fucking weird. Coincidence like that doesn't just happen, and I knew I had to say something. Look, there's talk that our people tried to get Pack Dynamics to pick up a job. PD refused. The guys at the top weren't happy and they're looking for leverage.”
Again, he glanced around as if he feared someone might be watching. His unease made Bay uncomfortable, but before he could comment or question Rolf, the man focused on him once again.
“They were talking about the fact that a couple of wives of PD agents are pregnant. About how vulnerable that made the agency. Word is, someone's going to try and kidnap them, hold them until PD agrees to do the job. I don't have any dates or any idea what the job entails, but whatever it is, our guys are willing to take some desperate and totally unethical measures.”
Before Bay could respond, Rolf glanced over his shoulder again. He must have seen Jake as soon as Bay did, because he practically lunged out of the chair. “Look, Bay...I don't have any details, but you were someone I could trust when you were still with the service. There's no one there like that. Not anymore. Be careful. Things have changed. Not in a good way.”
He was out the front door before Jake slipped into the vacant seat.
“Who was that?”
“Give me a minute.” Bay dialed Lucien Stone's private line in San Francisco. Luc answered immediately.
“Luc, I just got a very strange warning that members of the agency I used to work for might be after Tala and Lisa. Keep them under guard until we can figure this out, okay?”
Luc's terse answer chilled his blood. Bay listened a moment and ended the connection. He felt Jake in his mind and merely filled in the details. “It's too late. Someone grabbed Tia, Tala and Lisa less than an hour ago. Their mental connections disappeared at the same moment. No one can reach them.”
Jake stood up. “Let's find our girls. I don't like this a bit. We need to get to San Francisco.”
“You find the girls. I need to talk to Rolf.”
“The guy who was just here?”
Bay nodded. “Yeah. We worked together a few years back. He just showed up and told me about the threat against Pack Dynamics, that Tala and Lisa might be in danger.”
“He came all the way up here to tell you that? How the hell did he knew you'd be in Freeport?”
Bay shook his head. “He claims he was surprised to see me, but that he felt he owed it to me to tell what he'd heard. Says he's up here on the trail of some missing agents.”
Jake's head snapped around. “Our missing agents?”
Again Bay nodded. “Same. Go find the girls.”
Jake nodded and took off down the street. Bay cast his thoughts out for Manda as he scanned the busy street in search of the agent. Manda's sweet presence slipped into his mind. He sent her a quick warning, told her to watch for Jake.
Something made him turn just as a man in a dark suit stepped off the curb onto the crosswalk at the corner. Baylor recognized Rolf immediately and started forward. A black SUV swerved off a side road and accelerated up the narrow street. Bay barely had time to cry out a warning before the heavy-duty grill connected with the lone pedestrian in the crosswalk.
Rolf's body flipped over the hood, cracked the windshield and spun across the top of the SUV. He caught for a moment on the luggage rack and then tumbled to the ground in a mangled heap of broken bones and torn flesh. There was no sign of movement, no sense of life. Bay glanced once at the retreating SUV and raced down the sidewalk, running for all he was worth in the direction of Manda's horrified mental cry.
Mik Fuentes and AJ Temple stormed into Luc's office as he hung up the phone. With all his heart, Luc wished he had something positive to tell the guys, but Baylor's call had merely confirmed what he already knew, what he'd learned only moments before.
He'd been uneasy all morning, but he hadn't figured out why. Now he knew. Tinker McClintock muscled his way past Mik and AJ. “What the fuck's happened?” He leaned over Luc's desk, his chest heaving with each breath he took. “I can't reach Lisa. Her thoughts are gone. Flat out gone.”
“Same with Tala.” AJ grasped Mik's arm, holding on to him as if he needed the support. “Neither one of us had tried to contact her all morning. I mean, it's just a fucking shopping trip, right? But when we tried, we couldn't raise her. No mental signature...”
“No answer on her cell. Nothing.” Mik shook his head.
Shaking his head, Luc said, “They've got Tia, too. At least I think they do.” He ran his hand across his eyes and took a deep breath. “I can't reach her either.”
“Who's got her? What the fuck's going on?” Tinker looked as if he might leap across the desk and go for Luc's throat. Mik slung an arm over his broad shoulders and gave him a quick hug.
“Give Luc a chance, Tink. We're all in this together. Luc?”
“Shit. I never expected anything like this. It didn't seem like that big a deal.” Luc turned away and struggled to gather his racing thoughts. None of this felt real. It was too horrible a nightmare to be real. He took a deep breath and faced his packmates. “They've been kidnapped.”
“Fuck.” Tinker's entire body sagged. Mik tightened his hold on the big man.
AJ grabbed the desk for support. “Who? What do you know?”
Luc hardly knew where to begin. “I turned down a job a couple of days ago. Very few details, but I didn't like what I heard. I've never trusted the bastard who wanted to hire us. Honestly? I think he's nuts, like certifiable, and what little he told me-and he told me damned little-didn't make sense. That alone made me wary. I said Pack Dynamics wasn't interested, especially without details. He insisted. I declined, told him he'd have to find someone else. Thought that was the end of it.”
“Who the hell's behind this?” Tinker's voice pulsed with anger. “How much do you know?”
“Not nearly enough. Not yet. The guy who called? He was once part of Bosworth's team.” Luc walked over to the cabinet against the back wall and opened the cupboard. He pulled out an unopened bottle of Hennessy cognac. Their pack leader, Anton Cheval, had given the bottle to him almost exactly three years ago. The events of that time-when they'd rescued Tia's father from kidnappers-felt like a fresh wound as he removed the stopper with shaking hands and poured a glass of the rich amber liquor for each of them.
Obviously confused by his actions, the other men took the glasses he handed to them. Then Luc held his glass up and faced Tinker, AJ and Mik-three men he loved more than he'd ever imagined possible. “A promise, gentlemen. Anton Cheval gave this to me after we'd successfully brought Ulrich Mason home when he was kidnapped. We will bring our women home safely. There are no alternatives, no other possibilities. We will bring them home and the ones who took them will pay. I swear this to you.”
He sensed their joint resolve as each one took a sip of the smooth liquor, and he relished the heat as it slipped down his throat. Then he walked to the window and stared out at the traffic passing by on Marina. He kept his thoughts open for any sign of Tia, and felt the anger within him build. No more. He'd had it with constantly being on the defensive. It was time to take the offense.
“We need to go over everything. Every single detail. What have you got so far?” AJ stepped up beside him. His voice was steady now, and though Luc knew it had to be killing him, AJ obviously had his temper and his anger under control.
He stared into the liquor in his glass. “I got a call about twenty minutes ago. Same voice as the guy who'd wanted to hire us, telling me he had Lisa and Tala. No word on my wife, but he gave me details for the job. The president and First Lady are scheduled to attend a concert at the Civic Auditorium tonight at eight. Our job is to make certain the president doesn't leave the building alive.”
“What the fuck?” Mik grabbed Luc's shoulder and spun him around. “Are you fucking nuts? Assassinate the president? You're fucking kidding me. This dick thinks he can hire us to...”
Luc nodded. “I didn't know what the job was, originally. Only that I don't like the politics of the man behind it, and when he came to me with a supposedly top secret project, I knew I wasn't comfortable taking orders from him. I had no idea in the beginning what he was proposing, but from the obscene amount of money he offered, I just...”
Shaking his head, he sighed and turned away from the window. “Once they snagged the women, I got the details, along with their promise that the minute the job is carried out, Tala and Lisa are free. No mention of Tia. Not a word.”
He glanced at the three men. “I called Anton first. I wanted him involved immediately, but Liana had already warned him. She sensed the kidnapping when it happened. I'd barely hung up the phone when Baylor called from some small town on the Maine coast. He'd run into a guy from the agency he used to work for. The man warned him of a plan to kidnap your women. He'd heard talk of it within his agency. From the way he talked, Bay thought they were in on the deal, but he's not positive. For all we know, they were offered the job and turned it down as well, but Bay didn't think so. He thinks it's their hit.”
Tinker softly asked him the question that had Luc close to breaking. “No word of Tia?”
Luc shook his head. “The guy who called didn't mention Tia. Neither did Bay. I can only assume they've got Tala and Lisa. I have no idea where my wife is. No idea if she's even alive.”
“The babies?” AJ rubbed his shoulder, offering comfort.
He felt his voice break and cleared his throat. “Beth and Nick were babysitting the girls over at their apartment. I reached them mentally, the minute I got the call. Right now, they're on their way here. I figure this is the safest place we've got. Better than the compound where you guys all live. The security's not as good there. They've got orders to stay here, inside, out of sight until we get the women home safely.”
Mik stood close against his other side. “Did Anton have any ideas?”
Luc swallowed and nodded his head. “He does. He's got a suggestion, but he wants me to run it by the three of you first. We know your women and babies are at risk. Obviously, there's no way we can give in to these bastards. We don't do jobs like this. We work for good, not against it. Hell, even if we hated the man leading our country, we don't work that way. The problem is, if we don't take the assignment, the women die. Anton has a plan. He's still working out the details, but it sounds risky.”
Mik chuckled, but there was no humor behind his laughter. “Has Anton Cheval ever had a plan that wasn't?”
Keisha Rialto stood in the doorway to her mate's office. The wind howled outside. Part of her thoughts were with their sleeping daughter. Lily'd been fussy all morning, and Keisha hoped the blustering storm wouldn't wake their little one from her nap. Her focus, though, her worry, and her love were for the man seated at the large oak desk near the big window.
Something had drawn her to him, a powerful sense of need she could no more ignore than she could her daughter's cries. Anton raised his head, and the anguish in his eyes pulled Keisha across the room and into his arms in a heartbeat.
“What is it? I can't see your thoughts, my love. There's nothing but darkness and so much pain. What's wrong?”
He pulled her into his lap and held her close. She felt his heart racing, sensed the subtle opening of his mind to hers, as if a dark cloud slowly faded away and allowed the light to pass.
But there was no light in this knowledge. Keisha gasped. “All three of them? Even Tia? But what of her babies? And Tala and Lisa? They're both so close to their due dates. I don't understand. Who? Why?”
Anton shook his head. “Tia's little ones are safe with Nick and Beth. As far as who and why? We have an idea-a good idea, but it's one that makes me sick inside.” He sighed and very softly kissed her cheek. “It appears I need to make a call. I've been searching for another way to help-our low profile is the most important thing we've got to keep us safe, but there's no way around it. I have to share the knowledge of our existence and hope it goes no farther than this one man, but it's the only hope we have if we're to prevent a terrible tragedy.” He chuckled. “At least I think the man's trustworthy.”
He wrapped an arm about Keisha's waist and held her close as he bent down and reached for a small panel in the side of his desk, one hidden beside his right leg. Keisha felt her own heart race to match the pace of Anton's. She'd known the panel existed-even knowledge as closely guarded as this was shared in the mating bond-but she'd never known Anton to release the secret catch, nor to remove the small box contained within.
He took what appeared to be a slim cell phone out of the box, plugged in a power cord and attached it to a strip on the underside of his desk. There were no numbers on the phone-nothing more than a series of buttons across the top.
He pressed the red one and held the phone to his ear. Keisha heard it ring twice. A man answered. His voice was familiar, one she'd heard often on the nightly news. She'd even seen him once, in person at a distance, when she and Anton had attended an event in Washington DC many months ago.
Wind buffeted their sturdy home, yet even above the roar Keisha caught the sound of her daughter's restless cry. She slipped off of Anton's lap and headed for the door. Closing it softly behind her, she heard her mate's deep and steady voice.
“Yes, Mr. President,” he said. “My name is Anton Cheval. I had hoped never to have to call this number.”
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