Hounded

BOOK ONE

Lion-shifters Kanon Reyes and Tegan Sharpe aren’t sure what Kanon’s done to earn himself a frame-up for murder, but they’re determined to keep him from a silver bullet and a shallow grave. To do that, though, they’ll have to rely on the sexy Hound sent to arrest him.

As a Hound for Shifter Town Enforcement, Lennox Donnelly is one of the best. But when one of her arrest warrants turns out to be for an innocent man, she’s determined to get to the truth. What she finds are dead witnesses and an untraceable magick–with a killer far more powerful than her. Now, to survive, Lennox will have to learn to rely on more than just herself if she’s to make it back to the men she’s come to love.

Genre: Paranormal Romantic Suspense || Length: Novel || Heat Level: HOT!


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CHAPTER ONE

Lennox Donnelly crouched behind a sparse yellow bush in the middle of the desert. She’d crawled the quarter mile from the billboard where she’d hidden her car to the wooden fence she eased under now. A soft grunt slipped out as her belly scraped the rough grass, and then she was under, safely in the Bayrock Pridelands.

Well, as safe as a Hound from Shifter Town Enforcement could be around here.

The lion-shifters of Bayrock would hardly welcome the shifter equivalent of a cop on their lands, especially when she’d come to tag and bag one of the resident pride males. That tended to get their tails in a twist. Her lips twisted in a wry grin as she lay there, breathing in the thick scent of dirt and dried grass. He shouldn’t have attacked a Hound if he hadn’t wanted to get caught.

Hounds didn’t take kindly to one of their own getting clawed up by a giant-sized kitty cat. Lennox slowly eased herself into another crouch, her hands and clothes stained with the desert-red dirt all around her. A quick scan of the area revealed barren, yellowed rock that stretched for miles, broken only by tufts of weed and the occasional boulder. Well, that and the small cluster of ranch houses sitting several hundred yards to the south.

With the sun still clinging to its perch in the sky, more than a few of the pride members were lolling about outside, meaning Lennox was stuck in wait mode for the time being. Licking her dirt-chapped lips, she decided that having to hunt a pride male in his own territory wasn’t her favorite way to spend the evening. She wouldn’t exactly be able to march in there without drawing the attention of the whole pride, and Enforcement liked their takedowns cut and dried. No fuss, minimal mess.

Meaning her boss would shit sticks if Lennox botched the takedown and he had to send the rest of the pack out to save her ass. She needed to take Kanon Reyes in quietly, but quiet wasn’t something lion-shifters did very well. They were a lot like their wild brethren. Lions, both shifters and real ones, were violent, edgy, and always riding that fine line between aggression and brutality.

Visitors more often than not equated to snacks.

Keeping low, Lennox crept closer to the small ranch. Six houses total. It wasn’t the biggest pride around, and once everyone settled in for the night she should be able to make her move with a minimum of uproar. A car rattled up the road and Lennox froze. The only cars heading up this drive would be other pride members. But she should be fine since she’d planned her clothes to blend in easily with the red dirt and wiry brush that dotted the landscape. She’d dressed for a romp along a country dirt road, and at this point her khaki camos were dusted thoroughly with prairie dirt, and her tan tank top matched her skin. To a car racing down the road, she should be invisible.

The car drove on past, exhaust billowing out in dark, angry plumes, and Lennox waited, breath held. Watching. Taillights flashed in the dim evening light as the car pulled to a stop in front of a two-story house with a wraparound porch. She watched the towering form of a man get out, black hair flipped back in the wind. Had to be her man.

And he was alone. Lion prides, just like in the wild, were typically run by a coalition of ‘alpha’ males. The Bayrock Pride only had two coalition males, and one of her pack mates was supposed to have eyes on Tegan Sharpe to make sure he didn’t make it home in time to come running to his partner’s aid.

One pissed male lion-shifter was going to be bad enough. She licked the grit off her teeth and stretched out, belly-crawling over the dry, cracked grass. All this would have been easier if she’d just shifted into her dog-half and trotted the distance in a low crouch, but she kept her inner Rhodesian ridgeback clamped down. The trip to the ranch would have been easier, but it was a waste of energy and magick that no experienced Hound would risk.

She needed hands to put cuffs on Reyes when she got to him. Hands to slip a gag in his mouth if she needed one. Hands to tranq him enough to make him cooperative. Human logic had won out, so Lennox crept over the ground. Lean muscles bunched as she hung low, scanning the road for any other cars heading this way. Her shoulder holster chafed against the back of her arm as she rolled to get a good view.

All clear.

About damn time. She loved a good hunt.

Quickly working her way closer to the ranch, she was stopped cold by a roar that filled the slowly darkening sky. A tremor ran down her back, raising gooseflesh down her arms in a rush. It sounded again, deeper this time. Throatier. The roar had a physical punch to it. She could feel it rattle in her lungs and she caught her breath at the sheer force behind it.

With nothing more than sound, Reyes left her frozen on the dirt a quarter mile away from his ranch, staring as the pride scurried into their homes. A lion cub pounced on a human sibling before darting in a front door; an impatient woman tapped her foot against the whitewashed porch step before she, too, disappeared inside. Reyes stood on the tan steps of the two-story house in the center, his face tilted back toward the dying sun.

The embers of fading sunshine highlighted the rich tan of his skin, illuminating his profile in sharp contrast to the shadow of his jaw. It made him look hard, fierce. His tongue darted out over pale pink lips, and then his mouth opened again. She could see him shudder and then sway as he roared again. A shudder stole up his spine and his whole body swayed with the force of the sound ripping out of him. It thundered across the savannah sky, leaving Lennox trembling under the force of it, grubby fingertips curling into dirt.

Mine, it bellowed. Mine!

The stark claim settled over the land, and with a final glance across the now-silent string of houses, Reyes let out a satisfied snort and turned on his heel, disappearing inside. Lennox watched him go, strength coiled through every step. Like most lion-shifters, Kanon Reyes was built like a tank—his capacity for sheer power and brutality evident in the shift and play of muscles and skin. He’d hurt one of her Hounds, left the poor man hospitalized. He’d pay for that. Her jaw tightened.

She was going to take the violent bastard down.

Hard.

***

Kanon stretched out across the leather sofa, a bowl of popcorn balanced on his stomach as he flicked through the channels. A few hundred channels, and he’d have thought he could find one decent thing to watch. Frustrated, he settled on a rerun of Halloween. Maybe watching Michael Meyers kill people would make him feel more at ease.

The night felt off, and it bugged the hell out of him.

The house was too damn quiet.

One finger tapped the volume button until the sound level rattled the walls. Nights without Tegan at home were long, dull affairs that put his teeth on edge. But it had been a choice between a night home with the pride without Tegan or a night negotiating territory with the Idaho Basin Pride’s coalition.

He’d passed on the latter.

Kanon didn’t have the temperament for it. The bastards had trespassed. In Kanon’s book it was simple: A quick slice of claws and they wouldn’t be an issue anymore. Tegan had more patience, more finesse. And then, when all else failed, Tegan would kick their asses as cleanly as Kanon could have.

The new shifter laws required that all shifters belong in easily catalogued groups, and for lions that meant being classified as part of a pride. There was still the occasional rogue lion-shifter, but they had to report their permanent address and every job they worked to Shifter Town Enforcement and suffer the random check-ins. Which meant a Hound could show at any time to make sure they were staying on the straight and narrow. After Kanon had almost eaten the last Hound, when the bastard had showed up unannounced in the dead of the night, they’d opted to give pride life a shot. There were less check-ins and hassle from the Hounds.

All in all, pride life should have been a bonus.

The woman on screen screamed as the man in the mask jumped out at her. Kanon tossed another kernel of popcorn in his mouth. Stupid woman. They were all too stupid to live in movies like this. Didn’t anyone know when to look behind them?

A soft creak sounded from the porch and Kanon gave an irritated huff. Except, pride life meant he was suddenly responsible for a handful of others. Their kids, their families. Born a rogue, he didn’t have much need for a big family. Didn’t like having to watch everyone else’s backs. He wasn’t good at it. He liked his space and his freedom. Outside of Tegan, Kanon much preferred to be left alone.

And in the end, the pride intruded as much as the damned Hounds did. He couldn’t even watch a movie in peace. The floorboard creaked again, the whisper of it almost lost completely under the wail of the dying woman on screen. But it’d moved around the wraparound porch to the side of the house. Someone sneaking in, then. It wouldn’t be the first time one of the pride females had tried to sneak in. Lionesses in heat didn’t tend to think about much beyond the urgent need to mate.

Then again, if Kanon was fair, nor did most males. He just wasn’t the father type. That and he already had Tegan.

Soft footfalls and the quiet groan of the aging floorboards allowed Kanon to track her progress to the window he’d left open in the dining room, hoping to let in a cooling breeze. No luck. Which meant he also couldn’t catch the intruder’s scent. Kanon munched on a handful of popcorn and stared blankly at the movie, every other sense on high as he tracked the person sneaking into his house.

Could also be another male, looking to try and take the pride. He tensed, but waited. Listening. Kanon knew the moment a shoe touched the hardwood floor in his dining room and right then, he had another piece of the puzzle. Whoever it was, she was soft and easy on her feet, like a huntress stalking a zebra. Definitely female. No male lion moved that lightly on his feet.

The steps paused, just a brief hesitation before creeping closer to him, but she didn’t rush. She was clever enough to wait until she was sure he was actually watching the movie. He felt like grinning. This was almost fun.

She paused close to the room, if not in it, and Kanon had to force himself not to turn his head. Instead, he inhaled a quiet breath, keeping it slow and easy as he tried to catch her scent. Definitely female, but beyond that he wasn’t sure. There was no wind to work in his favor, and just then Tegan’s stupid air freshener let out a blast of cinnamon so strong it burned his nose. Another TV victim fell dead.

“You know I’m here,” the woman said.

“Honey, I knew you were there the moment you stepped on my porch. Just figured I’d wait and see what you were gonna do.” He didn’t look, though, damn, he wanted to. Instead he waited for her to decide; let her figure out her next move. She sounded sultry. Like the kind of woman that could lure a man to his grave just by the sound of her voice. Like a siren in the middle of the damned ocean.

She’d made it this far. What was she going to do now? Bail and run or keep on coming? A wave of desire flooded him at that last thought. Please keep on coming. He wanted to see where this would go. It was already more entertaining than the movie.

“Kanon Reyes?”

Tension crept into a knot between his shoulders. “That depends, doesn’t it?”

Carefully, he set the bowl on the carpet and slid to the edge of the couch, turning to get a good look at the woman in his living room. Damn. She had dirt all over the front of her clothes, and her skin-toned tank top clung to every curve of her body. Her combat boots looked worn and comfortable, wrapped lovingly around strong legs. She also had the reddest hair he’d ever seen.

But she wasn’t a lioness.

Kanon’s gaze drifted to the gun holster and the ugly butt of the gun he’d bet was packing silver.

His nostrils flared as he sucked her scent down deep.

Canine. Kanon cringed. Hound. Fuck.

“Who are you?”

“Lennox Donnelly.” He saw the glint of silver cuffs dangling out from her back pocket as she took a step forward, confirming his suspicions. Shifter Town Enforcement. If they’d sent a dog after him, it’d be a ridgeback.

Probably a whole damned pack.

“Kanon Reyes…”

“Save it.”

There was a creak on the front porch again, faint. Heavier. Male this time. Damn.

So they had sent a pack.

She reached a hand around and tugged out her badge.

The steps on the porch headed straight for them. Confident, quick. Her attention flicked to the door, her body going tense as she reached to pull her gun. Not a Hound, then. He was on his feet before he heard the key slip into the lock, moving to block her shot. He reached out towards her with one hand, the word coming on a low growl, “Don’t.”

Her gaze locked with his. She didn’t give a rat’s ass what he wanted, and Kanon stepped towards her, violence entrenching itself deep in his gut, threatening to erupt. Her eyes turned hard as she leveled the gun on him, but at least it wasn’t aimed at Tegan.

The door swung open and his partner stepped in, black hair shaggy around his face. Tegan froze. His growl was instantaneous as he glanced from one to the other, before turning to face off squarely with the woman pointing a gun at Kanon. “Who the fuck are you?”

“Lennox Donnelly,” Kanon said before she could spit it out. “And she was just about to explain why she thinks she’s supposed to arrest me.”

But he knew. He just wanted to hear it from her. Hear one of Shifter Town Enforcement’s many little lies. She stiffened, shoulders tensing, and he could almost picture her hackles rising all the way down her spine. Kanon swallowed.

Hellfire. She was something different, all right. Not exactly beautiful…the gun, the rough and rugged edge to her, the fierce blaze of confidence in her eyes as she flicked her attention between them—calculating the risks. Drop dead was stamped all over her pretty little face, right along with the dust smears and the rust-colored hair, a few loose strands hanging around her face, bringing out the green in her eyes. Green that wouldn’t carry true to her dog.

Even as she pointed a gun at him, he wanted her. His tongue made a wet line across his lower lip. He was every bit as stupid as the idiots in the movie screaming behind him. Worse, probably. No one in the movies ever got the hots for Michael Myers when he came after them with an axe.

“You attacked a Hound.”

No he hadn’t. The son of a bitch had sucker-punched him. Kanon had just made damn sure he’d finished the fight. If the Hound hadn’t wanted to play with a lion, he shouldn’t have started it.

“That was your dog’s fault, not Kanon’s.”

Tegan took a step closer and Lennox stiffened, her gaze darting between them. She couldn’t shoot them both. With a slight baring of teeth, she holstered her weapon, briefly lifting both hands in a no-harm gesture. Confidence clung to her as she braced herself to stare them both down. She never once looked away. Never once backed down.

“Look, I’m not here to argue or negotiate. I have a warrant for your partner’s arrest. That’s it. If you have an issue with it…”

“I have an issue with it, honey,” Kanon drawled.

The look she shot him was every bit as fiery as her copper red hair.

“Then take it up with the courts.”

“No. I’m taking it up with you. We both know in a court case between a Hound and a lion, I don’t stand a chance. You all are supposed to do whatever you’re ordered—”

“And you don’t have an obedient bone in your body.”

Kanon closed the distance between them in a single stride. She radiated heat, warmth, but he could now see the slightest tremor in her hands. Scared. But a cornered dog fought back. People were like that, too. She wouldn’t go down without a fight.

“I didn’t start that fight, and the minute you lock me up, I’m a dead man.”

He’d had issues with Hounds in the past, and a lion with a troubled history wouldn’t get a jail cell; he’d get a short stay in a holding cell followed by a swift execution. Better dead than alive was Shifter Town Enforcement’s lion-shifter motto.

Tegan grabbed his shoulder and squeezed, the tension zinging between them. Wild, restless. One look at Lennox, the calm professionalism stamped over her face, and certainty settled in his gut.

They were going to have to kill a Hound. Kill this Hound.

Spend the rest of their lives looking over their shoulders for something Kanon hadn’t even started. God damn it. He should have killed that stupid dog when he’d had the chance.

“Then you shouldn’t have assaulted a Hound.”

She reached for her cuffs when Tegan caught her wrist. “You are not taking my partner. Not for something he didn’t do.”

The threat hung in the air.

Lennox stiffened. “I could have you charged for obstructing justice. You’re not helping yourself, Mr. Sharpe.”

“Tegan,” he said, and Kanon watched as Tegan gently took the cuffs from her hand, wincing at the touch of silver against his fingertips before he tossed them aside. They hit the hardwood with a soft clunk, but she didn’t move to grab them.

The pulse in her neck jumped.

Her lips thinned. Kanon watched as a subtle readiness settled in her muscles. Here came that fight.

“Lennox,” Tegan said, imploring, but she bared her teeth at the sound of her name coming from him.

Tegan gave her a grim smile.

“Lennox,” he repeated, drawing it out, “Kanon did not attack your Hound. I have witnesses who could prove it. Your man swung first.”

“So, what, you punched him back?”

Kanon gave a quiet huff. The edge of a smile curling his lips. “Yeah. I did. Then he kept on hitting, and I thought, Fine, I’ll play.”

He watched her lips thin, the corners lifting in a slight grimace.

“I don’t start fights with Hounds. Tends to get me a bullet right here.” He poked his forehead. “Be kind of stupid, don’t you think?”

“Lions don’t tend to think.” There was a sour note to her voice as she glanced away, staring back towards the dining room and the open window she’d climbed through. Kanon waited, watching as she ran down her options. She had to know. Sexy as she was to him right now, Kanon wasn’t going peacefully. Maybe if a cop had asked him to go downtown, sure. But a Hound? Downtown for them meant, Hey, come see the electric chair. He’d pass.

A sigh burst out of her, a sharp blast of breath as she took one last look at freedom and turned back to them with a nod. “And you have witnesses to prove this?”

“Yeah,” Kanon said.

“Then let’s hear what happened.”

***

Tegan closed his eyes in relief. Yes. He didn’t know what he’d have done if…

“Thank you,” he whispered.

“Don’t thank me. Just open that handsome mouth of yours and start talking.”

Tegan grinned. Handsome? One glance at Kanon, and Tegan could see his partner was half smitten with the Hound already. Not that Tegan blamed him. She was big and she was bad, but Lennox Donnelly also had a heart. A fair streak. And he was going to run with that for all it was worth.

“Anyone in the bar that night would vouch for Kanon. We’re regulars, never had an issue there before. Hell, the owners will vouch for that.” He didn’t add that Tristan and Carolyn Hale were also friends of theirs. Still, every bar regular and wait staff in that bar knew the two of them by sight, and they’d never once been in a tussle with someone there who hadn’t deserved it.

The Hound had deserved it, but he didn’t say that part either. Not when she was beginning to sway. And sway she was, those sharp eyes considering his words, and Tegan pounced on that opening. “I’ll take you there myself. Kanon doesn’t start fights.”

Normally. Lennox’s raised eyebrow told him she expected there was a ‘but’ to that, but she didn’t insist.

“Fine, but I’m driving.” That was a bit too neat for Tegan’s taste. He shook his head, but even outmanned, Lennox wasn’t about to back down. “I’m not going to have Kanon bailing. You can drive separately, he can’t.”

“You’re not exactly in a position to be bargaining,” Kanon said, but Tegan waved him off. She had a point, and they were already asking her to take one hell of a leap of faith already.

“Fine. Your word, though, that you’ll see this through. You’ll give us a shot to prove Kanon’s clear.”

It was her eyes that gave her away. Soft, and they glanced down at the question, almost submissive, but Tegan wasn’t foolish enough to think this Hound would ever be submissive.

“Hounds don’t bargain with lions,” she whispered, only to drag her bottom lip between her teeth as she stared up at him. Her chin dipped in the faintest nod. “Fine. I swear to you, I’ll give you the chance to prove to me your partner is innocent. I’ll go to the bar; I’ll meet your witnesses.

“But I make the final call. If I don’t deem their statements accurate or believable, or if what they say contradicts you or each other, I’ll tote both of your asses off to Enforcement. Got it?”

Tegan found himself smiling at her direct, fierce intensity. “Got it.”

“Then where are we going?”

Tegan couldn’t help it then. He let his gaze drift down over her dirt-layered pants, the tank top that was damn near the color of her skin. She wasn’t thin. At least not the wiry lean he was used to seeing in Hound females, where they could probably wear a bikini, but a sharp eye wouldn’t miss the jut of a hipbone beneath the skin.

No, she was thicker. Still slender, but with muscle and weight to her. A solidity he was more used to seeing in lionesses. Dirt smeared her cheeks, and her hair was a tousled mess of the reddest rust he’d ever seen. Several tendrils had fallen loose from a knot on the top of her head, and they dangled just out of reach. He itched to reach out and touch, to test the silk of it against his fingertips.

Shit. Now, he was every bit as smitten with her as Kanon.

She’d agreed to let them prove it, and now he was thinking about running his hand through that long, long hair. Yeah. She’d just as soon break his hand as let him do that.

Tegan caught Kanon’s eye, his partner giving him an impish grin, and Tegan couldn’t help but smile back. Kanon was a natural flirt, a joker, especially under stress. It was how he coped. Tegan opened his mouth to stop his partner, but Kanon beat him. With a gesture to Lennox’s dirt-stained outfit, Kanon said, “You can’t wear that where we’re going.”

Tegan covered his smile with a small cough. He gestured towards her dirt-stained outfit. “You can’t wear that where we’re going.”

“Bullshit I can’t.”

The muscle in her jaw flexed, tense, and he could see the warpath opening up between them. Damn, the woman would do battle with just about anything if a man riled her right. And the more stressed Kanon was the more buttons he tended to push. Tegan winced as Kanon snatched a strand of that hair, knowing damn well Kanon might be blowing everything. But at the same time, Tegan couldn’t quite blame him. He couldn’t say he’d be acting any better if there was a chance he’d be staring down a silver bullet tonight.

And Tegan wanted to know what her hair felt like. For the night to feel normal.

Club Metro would let just about anyone in as long as they were wearing clothes, but Tegan wanted to see her without the dirt, in clean clothes, with all that hair loosely draped over her shoulders. Actually, he’d have liked to meet her without the possibility of Kanon getting arrested looming overhead. It was hard not to like her and if things went bad she wasn’t going to walk away.

Not when she caught Kanon’s hand, so ready to fight. He’d invaded her space and damn, but she didn’t yield an inch. But it was more than that. She didn’t berate Kanon for touching her hair, didn’t suddenly decide to go back to trying to arrest him. She held her ground, almost as if she’d already figured out that he was just dealing with the situation the best way he could. Laugh or cry, right?

Tegan let out a low rumble, almost akin to a purr, and stepped closer, trapping her between them and the dining room. She could run, but she’d have to back down for that. Lennox Donnelly looked like she’d rather shoot them both first.

But she was still trying to be the nice Hound. “I thought you wanted help.”

Kanon looked her up and down from head to toe. “You’re filthy. Your hair is a mess. You have dirt smudged on your cheeks.”

Kanon licked a finger and reached out to swab a spot when she jerked back, a laugh floating from her.

“Is that your game? Seduce the Hound meant to drag you in?”

“No, Tegan actually intends to take you to the bar.”

Her gaze flitted back to Kanon. “And you?”

Kanon lifted his shoulders in a shrug, his grin growing wider. “We can go to the bar.”

“We are going to the bar. Unless your witnesses are fake. If that’s the case, then we’re all going down to Enforcement.”

“They’re real,” Tegan whispered, heard the warmth in his own voice. She didn’t have to do this, didn’t have to tolerate any of this, and for a moment, he really thought of stopping Kanon. But hell, if the shit hit the fan tonight, he’d be damned if he didn’t get something good out of the night too. He reached forward and snatched a piece of her hair, giving it a small tug. “Then you should probably clean up. I can show you to the bathroom.”

Her death glare would have been enough to make most men cower. It only turned Tegan on more. “I’m going as is.”

Fighting back a laugh, Tegan let her hair go with a shrug. “Might as well roll you in a few mud puddles first.”

Kanon snorted. “Or dump her down a manhole along the way.”

“She does stink a little.”

“Like wet dog.” Kanon edged closer, his hand finding the back of her neck just as she flattened her palm against his chest. A smile touched her lips, half amused, half warning.

“All right. Enough. Where’s the bathroom?”

That was something Tegan had no problem showing her. They scooted her up the stairs and into the guest bathroom, even letting her shut the door and lock them out. He didn’t think for one second she’d run. She wasn’t the tuck-tail-and-bolt kind of girl.

Tegan shook his head at the sound of the lock turning over, and with it, the night’s earlier play and joking faded, hard reality flooding back in. He glanced at Kanon. “She has the patience of a fucking saint.”

Tegan watched the lines around Kanon’s eyes deepen as his partner looked away, stress no doubt eating at him. “Hey. Don’t. Tristan, Caro, the staff, they’ll clear you.”

“You think it’ll be enough for her?”

He hoped so. Tegan glanced back at the closed door between them and the Hound. He’d come too damn close to losing Kanon tonight, and the thought left him hollow. Exhausted.

“I think we have the best shot with her. No other Hound would have let you get away with half that shit.”

“It was stupid.” But Kanon smiled anyway, a tight, worn smile, but one nonetheless. Kanon closed the distance between them and wrapped his arms around Tegan’s waist, holding him tight.

“We got lucky,” Tegan murmured, knowing damn well Lennox could hear everything. “Though you should probably stop the stress flirting.”

“Maybe.” Kanon pressed a kiss to the crook of his neck, then trailed several more across his collarbone, nipping over his pulse.

“Kanon,” Tegan whispered, his voice drying up as Kanon leaned in to steal a kiss. The tap water in the bathroom stopped.

Kanon pulled back “I figure in case she reneges on our deal and turns me in, I might as well get you one last time.”

“It’s not going to happen.”

“Having you, or her breaking the deal?”

“She won’t break her word.” Tegan pressed a kiss to the corner of Kanon’s lips. “And you always have me.”

Kanon gave a satisfied groan, and cuddled closer.

“You are not screwing each other outside this door.”

Tegan smiled. They probably had given her that impression.

Kanon called out, teasing, “Not yet, honey, care to join?”

Tegan closed his eyes and shook his head, but he could feel Kanon tensing, reality creeping back in, and he bit back the lecture.

“I would rather jump out the window. Put your pants on so I can come out.”

“Damn,” Kanon said. “Reckon we should take them off first?”

The bathroom door jerked open and Lennox stumbled straight into them, catching herself on their shoulders. Lennox gave a small growl, stepping back, startled. “You all have no sense of…” Her voice died in her throat and she turned away, lips pursed. “Let’s go to the bar. Now.”

Lennox stepped around them both and headed for the stairs. “I’ll meet you at my car. It’s by the billboard for that new grocery store in town. Behind a few bushes. And I’ll be watching, so don’t try and run.”

Her sultry tone turned dark, as she glanced between them, and then met Tegan’s gaze. She’d heard everything. “I hope you’re right and you can clear your partner’s name.”

A shadow slipped over her face as she headed down the stairs.

Tegan’s gut twisted.

She hadn’t looked very confident.

***

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