Shifter Forces Agent Holt Rainmaker is beyond pissed that he was captured. It was supposed to be an easy mission. Draw out The Collector, then arrest his sorry ass. The last thing Holt expected was to end up in a cage, but things aren’t all bad. If he hadn’t gotten captured, he’d have never found Bastian, the quiet shifter he knows belongs to him. He thought he’d never find his mate, but nothing could surprise him more than the blast of need that fills him when a pissed off grizzly comes to their rescue.
Agent Decker Stauder has seen a lot in his twenty years with the Bureau of Paranormal Affairs, but the case he’s been working the last six months is unlike anything he’s tackled before. Shifters are going missing nationwide, and more are vanishing every day. Little did he realize when he tracked down The Collector, he would end up finding not one mate but two.
Forty-three and married to his job, Decker never expected to settle down. But once he scents Holt and Bastian, all bets are off. Not only is he claiming them, he’s going to bury the man who dared to cage his mates.
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Copyright ©2018 Dulce Dennison
Holt groaned and slowly opened his eyes, wondering why he felt like he’d been buried under a mountain of boulders. His muscles twitched and ached, and a sour taste filled his mouth. As his surroundings came into focus, memories of the mission-gone-wrong slammed into his head. He growled as he stared at the bars encircling his cage. Reaching forward, he was about to grip the iron when a voice stopped him.
“Don’t,” said a soft male voice. “They’re spelled.”
Holt retracted his hand and turned, seeing a form huddled in the corner. He approached, then halted when the man seemed to shrink even farther. Whoever he was, it was apparent he’d been treated badly during his captivity. The last thing he wanted to do was scare the man even more.
“I won’t hurt you,” Holt said.
“You won’t be given a choice, if you want to survive.”
“Who are you?”
“Bastian Bowers. And don’t ask how long I’ve been here because I don’t know. The days blur together. I lost count a long time ago.”
Was this one of the first shifters taken? Holt didn’t remember a Bastian Bowers being on the list. Was it possible more were taken than they’d realized, and their list was incomplete? Considering how many shifters they knew had been taken, the thought was staggering. He wanted to get closer, scent the male and figure out what was going on, but from the huddled form in the corner, he knew that getting any nearer wouldn’t be a good idea. Not yet anyway.
“I’m with Shifter Forces,” Holt said. “My name is Agent Holt Rainmaker.”
“It’s not like them to be sloppy enough to take an agent,” Bastian said. “Were you in the wrong place at the wrong time?”
“Something like that. I was bait, but it didn’t turn out the way I expected. None of us realized they were using magick to abduct people.”
“How exactly did you think they could kidnap an almost seven-foot-tall bear, not to mention all the other predators they’ve picked up?” Bastian asked, a bit of bite to his tone. “It’s not like they meekly went along.”
Holt ground his teeth together. He didn’t like hearing that he and his team had been incredibly stupid or knowing that more shifters might suffer because of it. The man wasn’t wrong, though. They should have considered the fact someone was helping them, or that it was in fact a magick wielder who was kidnapping the shifters. They’d been so focused on the big picture of saving all those who were missing that they’d overlooked a few details. Really big ones it seemed. A rookie mistake that he was now paying for. His people wouldn’t stop until he was returned, though, so there was that. He reached for the underside of his polo collar, feeling for the thin disc that had been pressed there before his mission, and realized his tracker had been removed. How the hell had The Collector even known about the tracker, much less where it was located?
“Have you seen the person who took us?” Holt asked.
“There are several people involved, of varying races,” Bastian said. “They have fae, witches, some humans. I’ve seen a variety of people since I was taken. Some come back more frequently than others. They like to torture us so don’t show any signs of weakness, or they’ll use it against you.”
The man slowly stood, and Holt was surprised that the male was about his size. Maybe not as bulky, but they were the same height. The way he’d been huddled in the corner, Holt was expecting someone smaller. When the shifter stepped into the light, Holt’s breath froze in his lungs. A beard covered his jaw, a bit unruly thanks to captivity, but it did nothing to disguise the shifter’s full lips. Gray eyes studied him, assessing. He was probably trying to figure out if Holt was a threat in some way, and he couldn’t blame the man. The shifter pushed his dirty blond hair back from his face, or maybe the color was more of a light brown. It looked like he hadn’t showered in at least a few days, so it was hard to say for sure what color it was.
Bastian moved in closer, sniffing the air. “Wolf?”
Holt nodded, holding still and letting the man come to him.
If the shifter needed to check him out in order to feel safe, then Holt would let him. His top priority was ensuring the safety and well-being of all those captured. If he died in the line of duty, so be it, but he wasn’t going down easy.
“They probably picked you up for fighting, then. Others like me were collected for breeding purposes,” Bastian said. “There are a handful of endangered species here, like me. I’m a pine marten.”
“Breeding?” Holt’s lip curled in disgust.
“Yeah, well, they aren’t having much luck with me,” Bastian said.
“Why is that?”
He smiled faintly. “I’m gay. They found two girl pine marten shifters and have paraded them around in front of me, even made them strip naked, but my cock didn’t so much as twitch. They tortured me when I wouldn’t comply, so I admitted that I’m gay. I have a feeling I won’t be here much longer.”
“What are they going to do with you?” Holt asked.
“They don’t want me for fighting, and since they can’t breed me, I’ll be deemed useless. I imagine I have a matter of days, maybe hours, before they came take me away to be executed. They can’t exactly let me roam free.” He frowned. “Unless they have other plans for me.”