Alaskan Tigers Book Eleven
Brooklynn Armstrong’s law enforcement career comes crashing down when a fugitive shapeshifts in front of her. Too stunned to do anything, she’s flung out of the way and reports the incident only to have her badge taken from her. Determined to prove what she witnessed, she ends up in the world of the paranormal—unaware of how deep she’s ventured.
Barely a day back in Alaska and Carran has been given a mission to detain the lion shifter in Pittsburgh who exposed himself to two police officers and reunite him with his daughter. He’s worked to secure a permanent position with the Elder guards, and this mission might be the clincher. But when a woman stirs emotions within him, revealing the past that he keeps hidden deep inside, will the future he fought for still be what he wants?
Carran opens a new world to Brooklynn, but it’s her who saves him. She forces him to come to terms with his past. Will she accept the future he’s opening up to her?
He wanted nothing more than to tear their clothes off them, press her against the wall, and bury his shaft deep within her. “Fuck, baby, I want you.”
“Are you trying to distract me?” She wrapped her arms around his neck.
“No, but is it working?” Wanting his hands free, he walked around the dresser and pressed her back against the wall. With her pinned between him and the wall, he took hold of the hem of the shirt and raised an eyebrow. “You’re still wearing my shirt.”
“Your point? It looks better on me than you, anyway.”
His hands slid under the thin material. “I think you look better without it. I want you naked like you were last night.”
“I’ll have to think about that.” She arched into him as his hands slid under the material of her bra.
“What was that?” He tweaked the nipple, hardening the little bud in his fingers.
The floorboard in the hall creaked and the scent of Taber drifted toward Carran. He pulled his hand out from her bra and tugged down her shirt. “What, man?”
“We’ve got to get a move on it. The wolves lost their pup.”
Brooklynn Armstrong grabbed a throw pillow from the sofa as she made her way toward the window, squeezing the pillow with everything she had. Her anger bloomed further, stealing her breath and making her body shake with rage. A fucking psych evaluation. Really?
If only she’d kept her mouth shut, she wouldn’t be in this position. After seven months partnered with Officer Donovick, she found out she couldn’t trust him to look out for her. Everything fell apart after he denied seeing what she’d witnessed, when he turned his back on her and left her looking unstable.
How could he lie about what they’d seen? The man was dangerous and it was their job to protect the citizens from… She didn’t know what to call the suspect. He wasn’t human if he could shapeshift into an animal. But how was that even possible?
Each morning she picked up her badge and strapped on her weapon to keep the citizens of this city safe. With things like him running around the streets, they were in danger. All her life she wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps and be a police officer. Now everything she worked for was slipping from her grasp and she didn’t know how to stop it.
The dingy alley filled her vison and the stench from the garbage drifted toward her until her stomach churned in protest. Adrenaline pumped through her veins. In a dead-end alley there were a few ways this could end and only one of them was peaceful—his surrender.
“Stop.” Donovick stood at her left, his gun drawn and aimed at the back of the suspect.
Realizing he made a wrong turn, leaving him no place to go, he spun around to face them again. “I’m not going back. We’re the same…how can you do this? You know if they find out they’ll kill me.” His gaze was on Donovick, as if he wasn’t even seeing her.
Confused, she wanted to glance toward her partner, to see if this made sense to him, or if the suspect was just drugged up and spouting nonsense. Instead, she took that as the opportunity and stepped farther out of his direct eyesight. She eased in closer, keeping her movements to a minimal, so as not to draw his attention, and replaced her drawn gun with the non-lethal electroshock weapon. If she could get within fifteen feet of him, she could bring him down and give them the opportunity to arrest him before the situation got any further out of control.
“Don’t.” Donovick’s words echoed off the buildings, only to be followed by a growl.
Material ripped and shreds of clothing flew through the air. The man before her…
“What the fuck?” Her eyes widened and her jaw went slack. Her brain refused to process what had happened, as if that would change the fact that where a man stood a moment before there was now a fucking lion! There was no way this was happening. She had to be dead or unconscious. She dropped the non-lethal weapon in her hand, sending it crashing to the ground. Once again pulled her gun from the holster, but she couldn’t aim quickly enough before he pounced.
There was no time to react, no time to scream, as the lion launched itself toward her. She stumbled backward, trying to get away, but she was no match for the animal’s speed. She flew through the air until her back slammed against the side of the building and her head cracked against the bricks. Fighting to stay conscious, she didn’t think about what would happen to her if she let the darkness close in around her. Images of Donovick, his wife, and their three-year-old son filled her mind. She had to do something.
“Just go. Get out of the city…before someone else stumbles on you, someone who isn’t one of us.” Donovick holstered his gun, his gaze still firmly on the lion. “But did you have to do that?” He nodded in her direction. “How am I going to explain her condition and what she saw?”
She slammed her fist into the pillow over and over. One of us. What had Donovick meant? Why had he let their suspect go? Was Donovick one of them too? Could he change into an animal? Her thoughts were jumbled with questions. The nausea from her concussion rose within her, only serving to anger her more.
“Damn you, Donovick! They took my badge.” The first tear of loss rolled out of the corner of her eye. Maybe it wasn’t permanent. There was still a chance she could get her badge back, but it seemed too small for her to hold out hope. Even if she did, she couldn’t stay in Pittsburgh. The news of what she’d seen traveled throughout the department. Cops liked to gossip. When it was about one of their own, it was even juicer. No one there would ever trust her as their partner again. She’d have to leave, and after she was cleared, with a little luck she’d find some other police department to hire her. Maybe then she could bury this whole thing and pretend it never happened.
She gazed at the side of Mount Washington, watching an incline carry tourists up to the observation deck that would give them a panoramic view of Downtown Pittsburgh. Staring out at the lights of the city, her anger mixed with grief. This incident could cost her a lot more than just her badge. What was she supposed to do with her life if she couldn’t be a cop? She wasn’t sure what she was more upset about: losing the career she had worked so hard to gain or being forced to leave the city she had fallen in love with. Three years as a police officer—two with another department, before accepting her current position—but only a year in the city and both losses seemed equally devastating.
But now, looking over the city she loved, she sensed something hiding within the shadows. She knew what she saw was real, though vampires, werewolves, and other shapeshifters were just in movies or books. They didn’t exist in the real world. At least, that’s what she’d thought until a few hours ago. Now she wasn’t able to live blissfully unaware. If she wanted to prove her report, she had to find him and somehow force him to shift.
How she’d make him reveal his inner animal would be a problem for after he was detained. Would a full moon work? If so, she had less than forty-eight hours to find him, otherwise she’d have to wait until the following month. Too much could happen in that time and he could be released.
Without glancing toward the sofa, she tossed the pillow in that general direction and headed toward the only other room in her small apartment, the bedroom. If she was going to head out into the night, she needed to change out of her uniform and into something less conspicuous, something that would allow her to hide a couple weapons. No way would she hunt the very creatures that went bump in the night without arming herself. It was an absurd idea, but she wasn’t crazy…no matter what anyone thought.
* * *
Having the Brown brothers on hand with their pilots’ licenses and private plane to get the Alaskan Tigers’ guards wherever they needed to be had spoiled Carran. He hadn’t been prepared for the torture he’d suffer when Ty told him he was booked on a commercial flight. The plane was larger but he didn’t have free range to walk around the aisle as he normally did. Even being in first class did little to allow him to stretch his legs. By the time he arrived in Pittsburgh, his beast was on edge, ready to break free and run.
The instant he stepped out of the airport, the wind whipped around him, sending his long black and gray hair sailing off his shoulders. The scent of crisp leaves and the chill in the air told him fall was in full swing. Unlike Alaska, where they’d already had their first snowfall, Pittsburgh was in the midst of cool weather as they prepared for the coming Halloween season. Eager to get the job complete and return home, he made his way toward the rental car waiting for him.
Finding a lone lion shifter in Pittsburgh shouldn’t take him long. His backup had to wrap up another mission but they’d be meeting him here within a few hours. They’d detain the shifter and evaluate his needs before deciding what to do with him. If they were going to eliminate him before he turned true rogue, there were a couple of questions Carran had. The first one being, what had the man been thinking when he shifted in front of two police officers?
Turi, Trey, and their mate Ivy had just expanded the forum they’d created and included a search program which searched the web for key words. The police report of the incident was one of the things the new program had picked up on, alerting them to the lion’s presence. Carran, who had just returned after almost a month assisting the new Alpha of the Connecticut Tigers, had hoped Ty and Tabitha would have sent someone else for this mission.
Carran had finally returned to Alaska less than a week ago and had been looking forward to getting back into the swing of things when Ty came to him with the latest assignment. He had hoped the conversation between him and his Alpha would have gone a little differently. For several months he’d been a temporary guard for Tabitha, filling in as needed, but his Elders had plans to expand her guards based on new threats, and Carran had his eyes set on one of those spots. He wanted to be a permanent addition to the Queen’s guards. To prove himself, he had been taking up additional duties. First by training Spencer so he could protect Mason, the Alpha of the Arizona Tigers, and then by spending his time in Connecticut assisting them. It seemed like that wasn’t enough to prove his dedication to the Alaskan Tigers and Tabitha’s cause.
Ty’s cryptic message played through his thoughts. You’re a valuable member of the team, even more so in the coming months. I know you want to be here, we all do, but first Tabitha needs you to go to Pennsylvania and detain the lion shifter. You’ll understand soon enough. What did his Alpha mean? Why would it be more important for him to deal with this lone shifter than work on another assignment for his Elders? What about the rogues, who were still one of their biggest threats? Or the Alpha who refused to commit to Tabitha as Queen of the Tigers?
Hearing his name made him glance around as he crossed the parking lot. Half a dozen cars down, he caught sight of an ally. The parking lot light was out, allowing him to wait there, hidden in the darkness so he wouldn’t be spotted by humans. Carran had no problem seeing Red standing there. The recently promoted Elder guard for the West Virginia Tigers held a new air of confidence since the last time Carran saw him. It seemed as though the new role fit him well. Red’s main duty was guarding the Elders’ home and sometimes guarding Lukas, the clan’s Lieutenant.
In jeans and a t-shirt which strained against Red’s chest, he looked causal as he waited leaning against the driver’s door of Carran’s rental SUV. If an airport security guard stumbled upon him leaning against the rental car without proper identification and half hidden in the darkness, there was no doubt they’d find him suspicious. Red would have been hauled off for questioning, either because they thought he was there to steal a car off the lot or something more sinister.
“What are you doing here?” Carran came to stand directly in front of Red. “I thought my backup was several hours behind me, still tying up loose ends of their mission.”
“They are, but Jinx sent me with this…” With a grin, Red unzipped the duffle bag that was resting on the hood of the SUV.
Inside the black bag was a duplicate of Carran’s arsenal that he carried each day. Since he’d handed off his weapons to Ty before entering the airport in Alaska, he felt as though someone had cut off his arm. Yet another drawback of flying commercially and further proof that the Brown brothers had spoiled them by being there whenever any of the Alaskan Tigers needed a lift. Weapons were a key to their survival and to keeping others safe. In the human world, he couldn’t shift if there was a threat to him or someone else and being without weapons would narrow his options.
“You look relieved.”
Knowing there were plenty of security cameras around, Carran resisted the urge to strap the weapons on. “This is the best thing you could have brought me. Well, that and some good coffee would have been nice. You didn’t fly in, so where’s your car?”
“It was a rental and I already turned it in. No use both of us having one when we’re going to the same place. You know your way around this city, not me.”
Carran hit the unlock button and grabbed the bag from the hood. “Get in. Once we’re out of the airport complex I’ll gear up as I drive. Any idea where he’s heading?”
“No, but there is something else we should deal with.” Red opened the passenger door and climbed in. “The officer who filed the report…”
“Armstring, wasn’t it? What about him? Connor checked—I got a text from him. He’s human.”
“Armstrong,” Red corrected. “Human, yes, but also a she.”
Before Carran put the SUV in drive he checked his phone to read Connor’s message again: Armstrong is human. “Connor didn’t mentioned Armstrong was a woman. Ambrose shifted in front of her. If he’s thinking at all, he’s going to circle back and eliminate the witness.”
“Not just Ambrose, but also her patrol partner Officer Donovick. He’s a wolf and belongs to a small family wolf pack on the outskirts of the city. The pack is searching for her and when they find her, she’ll be given an ultimatum—either get out of town or pay with her life. Donovick is in some hot water with the Alpha for not stopping her before she filed the report. She was unconscious from the attack and his commanding officer ordered him to the station for questioning about the incident. Instead of calling in one of the pack, he left her alone.”
Carran tugged the wheel to the left, forcing the SUV to take a sharp left turn as he headed to the address Connor texted him earlier. At the time, he didn’t think he’d need the information but now he was glad the clan’s wolf geek was on his game. Officer Armstrong had no idea what she was up against and would end up getting herself killed if they didn’t find her before the wolves did. “We’ll have to get to her first.”