GRADY took a swig from his beer, then nodded in the direction of a group of women who’d just taken a table close to where he and his friend sat. “What do you think about any of them?”
Dacian turned his head for a look before focusing back on Grady. “Not bad, but I think I’ll pass. They aren’t exactly what I’m looking for.”
“I have to say the same thing.” Grady watched one of the women put a plastic tiara on the head of another that had “Bride” on it. “It looks as if it’s a stagette, which means they wouldn’t be interested in a guy trying to pick them up, anyway.”
Dacian chuckled. “True. They’re here for a good time that involves lots of alcohol. Don’t be surprised if their table gets noisy after they have a couple of drinks.”
There was a loud outburst of laughter from that direction. “It’s already started,” Grady said with a smile.
He and Dacian were single cougar shifters who had no interest in dating the females of their kind. Human women held more appeal, especially now that his cousins, Taylor and Blaise, along with his brother, Jase, had ended up mated to humans and were extremely happy. Grady wanted that.
“I think this night is going to be another bust,” Dacian said after he finished his bottle of beer, then signaled their waitress that he wanted another.
Grady first met Dacian three months ago, after Jase had introduced them. Dacian was Blaise’s go-to guy for anything to do with computers and the Internet. When Jase had needed a way to track Caleb, Blaise’s cousin who’d tried to poison Blaise’s father, Dacian had been the logical choice. He’d given Jase a computer program to track Caleb’s location every time the other shifter used his cell phone. It’d worked for a little while, but Caleb now appeared to have gone deep into hiding. It was Dacian’s project to see if he could find any clues as to where Caleb had gone.
“Maybe the bar scene is getting old,” Grady said. “We should try the mall or something like that instead. After all, that’s where Blaise met his mate, Harley.”
Dacian nodded. “I guess we could give that a shot. There definitely would be a lot of women there, but a grocery store can be just as good.”
“You’re welcome to try that, but you’ll be on your own. That’s not exactly my ideal spot to pick up a woman. I can just picture getting slapped if I went up to one and asked if I could compare her melons to the ones the store has for sale.”
His friend barked with laughter. “That’s what I like about you, Grady. You probably would do something that stupid just because you can.”
Another loud burst of laughter came from the women who were having the stagette. There was a tray of shots in the center of their table, and they pounded them back pretty fast. One looked at Grady and winked while she pursed her lips in a kiss. He smiled but made no move to go over there.
The waitress brought Dacian a fresh beer. She asked Grady if he wanted another, but he shook his head. She left to wait on another table. “So, any progress on finding where Caleb has slunk off to?” Grady asked.
“Nothing yet. The asshole has done a better job of keeping his tracks hidden than he did a few months ago. I think Caleb smartened up after his last encounter with Jase, which isn’t working in our favor.”
Jase had managed to track Caleb to an older apartment in the low-income section of Anchorage, a place none of them would have expected him to go. His brother had come close to capturing their prey, but Caleb had used Katarina, Jase’s mate, to make good his escape. She’d been the superintendent of the building at the time. That had been the last time they’d seen Caleb.
Now it was Grady’s job to bring him in. As a cat shifter, Caleb wouldn’t be facing human law enforcement. No, his fate would be decided by Taylor and Blaise’s father, Nate, the leader of their family group. Even though Caleb wasn’t Grady’s cousin, he was cousin to Taylor and Blaise. Their father was the older brother of Caleb’s father.
“Well, let’s hope he didn’t smarten up too much,” Grady said. “I need to find him.”
“Don’t worry. I’m not giving up yet. He’s bound to make a mistake. It’s only a matter of time.”
Grady hoped so. He was afraid that as time went by, the chances were Caleb was no longer in Anchorage. If that happened to be the case, it was more than likely that Caleb would never be found.
After Grady downed the rest of his beer, he said, “Since nothing is happening here, I’m going to head home.”
“All right. I’m going to finish my drink, then I’ll go home as well. I have a new game that’s calling my name. I’ll probably stay up all night playing it.”
Grady shook his head with a grin. Dacian was a huge computer geek, but he didn’t look like one. He was the largest cougar shifter Grady had ever seen. At six foot seven, with a body thickly padded with muscles, Dacian had the build of a werewolf.
“You’re going to fry your brain if you do that too often.”
Dacian chuckled. “Not a chance.”
“I guess I’ll have to take your word for it. I’ll give you a call in a couple of days to get together again.”
Grady stood, pulled on his jacket and headed for the bar’s entrance. As he passed the stagette’s table, the same woman who’d blown him a kiss let out an appreciative whistle. He smiled and shook his head as he kept walking. There was no way he was going to get involved with that. A group of women who’d been drinking large amounts of alcohol usually spelled trouble.
He zipped up his winter jacket once he stepped outside. A fresh layer of snow had fallen while he’d been in the bar. Now that it was mid-winter, the white stuff was piled high on the sides of the streets from the plows. Grady shivered as a gust of cold wind blew his way. He shoved his hands deep into his pockets and hunched his shoulders. He wished he could shift to his cougar form. His thick fur did a better job of keeping him warm than the jacket he wore.
Another gust of wind hit him, bringing the scent of another. Grady let out a low growl as he jerked his head in the direction the scent had come from. He took a quick look around to make sure no one was around, then put on a burst of speed no human would be capable of.
Grady followed the scent to the end of the street, which was a parking lot. He saw two men standing in the deepest shadows. He recognized one immediately. It was Caleb. The man with him was human.
Not caring who saw him, Grady put on another burst of preternatural speed and ran toward his quarry. He’d be damned if he let Caleb slip through his fingers after having no leads on his whereabouts for months.
The wind suddenly changed direction and blew from Grady’s back and toward Caleb, who jerked around. Grady caught a flash of teeth as Caleb snarled and made a run for it. Grady didn’t give it a second thought as he gave chase.
His prey led him through backs of buildings and down alleyways. After turning onto one of the latter and coming out on a street that was lined with industrial buildings, Grady swore under his breath as he slowed to a fast walk. Caleb was nowhere to be seen. His prey had gotten a little ahead of him, but he hadn’t thought he’d manage to get away.
Grady came to a stop and looked around. Caleb hadn’t gotten that much distance between them. He had to be around there somewhere. A cougar shifter didn’t have the ability to just disappear into thin air. They had magic inside them, but not to that extent.
Something slammed into the back of Grady’s head, knocking him to the ground. A second hit came before he had a chance to gather his wits about him enough to roll out of the way. The blow made him see stars, and darkness hovered around the edges of his consciousness. It felt as if his head had almost cracked in two.
The sound of a police siren coming saved Grady from another blow. Dazed, he vaguely heard a metal pipe being dropped to the ground near him and then footsteps running away. A car came to a screeching stop a few feet from where he lay at the side of the road. The door opened, and another set of feet hurried toward him.
Grady reached up and felt the back of his head. Wetness came away with his fingers, and the smell of blood filled his nose. He groaned. Caleb had done a number on him. He knew it was his prey who’d gotten the jump on him from his scent.
“Don’t move,” said the person who crouched beside him. The voice was female. “Let me check you to see where you’re hurt.”
“I already know where I am. It’s my head.”
“Let me have a look.”
Grady turned his face in the woman’s direction and had a split second to see she wore a cop’s uniform, and how beautiful she was, before she clicked on a flashlight and aimed it at him. He closed his eyes as the light hit them and sent a surge of pain through his skull.
Fingers gently touched the spot where Caleb had beaned him. Grady sucked in a sharp breath when she hit a particularly sore area. At least his head had to still be in once piece. The woman cop surely would have said something by now if it wasn’t.
“Sorry,” she said. “I just want to see how bad this is. I think I should call an ambulance. You’ll more than likely need stitches.”
That had Grady surging to his feet. He moaned and clutched his head. The quick movement made it feel as if it would fall off. “No hospital. I’ll be fine,” he said with his eyes closed as he concentrated on stopping the world from spinning.
She grabbed his arm to steady him as he swayed a trifle in place. “I’m pretty sure you have a concussion. The doctor will want to keep you in the hospital for observation. I’m going to make the call.”
Grady snapped his eyes open and took hold of the cop’s hand that held her radio. “Please don’t do that. It might look bad, but it really isn’t that serious.”
It probably was as bad as she thought, but as a cat shifter, Grady healed a lot faster than a human. By tomorrow the wound would be almost a hundred percent gone, and because of what he was, there was no way he could go to a hospital. One little blood test and the doctor would know there was something different about him.
“I have to disagree with that,” she said.
He focused fully on her face. Able to see in the dark as well as if it were daylight, Grady had no problem seeing her. She wasn’t just beautiful, she was very, very beautiful. Her eyes were an unusual light blue. What he could see of her hair that wasn’t tucked under her uniform’s hat was auburn. Plus, she was tall. He guessed her to be around five foot nine. Being six foot three, he liked his women not to be too short.
He looked at the nametag pinned to the front of her jacket. “Well, Officer Sage Moran, we’re going to have to agree to disagree. There’s no need for an ambulance.”
“What’s your name?”
“Grady, I have first-aid training.” She lifted her flashlight and shone it into his eyes, which caused him to groan. “From the looks of you, my assumption of you having a concussion has to be correct. You really need to see a doctor.” She jerked her hand with the radio out of Grady’s grip. “I’m calling an amb—”
Grady took hold of Sage’s hand again and tugged her to his chest before he brought his lips down to hers. He couldn’t think of anything else to distract her, and the thought of kissing her had come to mind more than once since he’d seen her face. He kissed her deeply, pushing his tongue between her lips to get a good taste of her. Not sure if he could get arrested for coming on to a cop, he decided to get as much as he could.
He licked and sucked and couldn’t hold back from purring like the big cat he was as Sage’s fingers gripped his arm tighter and she kissed him back. Grady’s cock grew hard. The scent and taste of her filled his head, pushing some of the pain away. She sighed into his mouth, and it took everything in him not to take her to the ground and see how far she’d let him go.
The scent of Sage’s arousal wafted around them. From the way she continued to kiss him as if she were going to crawl inside him, Grady had the feeling she wasn’t going to put an end to this any time soon. He wanted nothing more than to let their kiss go on, but the pounding in his head reminded him all too well where they were.
He lifted and looked at Sage. Her eyes were closed and she breathed at a fast rate. Her lips were puffy from his kisses. Damn, even wearing her cop’s uniform she looked delicious enough to eat. He definitely had to see her again.
“See? I’m okay,” he said. “Will you go out with me?”
Sage blinked open her eyes, suddenly aware of where she was and what she’d been doing. Talk about totally unprofessional. She’d been so completely involved in sucking face with Grady that anyone could have snuck up on them—like the guy who’d hit Grady with the metal pipe—and she wouldn’t have cared. This was the first time since becoming a cop she’d let her guard down while on duty.
She looked at Grady and had to admit his gorgeous looks were mostly to blame for her bad behavior, as well as the toe-curling kiss he’d laid on her. Even when he’d been down on the ground, Sage had to have been blind not to see he was a hunk. He had features a male model would kill for. His tawny-blond hair was on the long side, perfect for a woman to bury her fingers into and hold on as she kissed him for all she was worth. His eyes. They were such a light brown they were damn close to gold. She’d never seen anything like them, and right now, they appeared to be eating her up. Plus, he was tall. She had nothing against shorter men, but at her height, she wanted to be able to wear heels and not feel as if she towered over the guy she was with.
It dawned on her what Grady had asked. “You mean like a date?”
He gave her a sexy crooked grin that made her pussy clench with unfulfilled desire. “Yeah. A date. Then we can continue where that kiss ended.”
At first, Sage didn’t know how to answer Grady. Since she’d started her career as a police officer, she really hadn’t taken the time to date. She worked long hours, and her being a cop wasn’t something a lot of men could handle. Sometimes she had a hard time shutting off that side of her when she wasn’t on the job. She had to have a tough personality to do it.
“I…ah…” Now she sounded like an unsure teenager being asked out on her first date. It’d been a long time since she’d had sex, but she hadn’t thought a mind-blowing kiss would strip her of the confidence she usually had in spades.
Grady put his arm around her waist and tugged her even closer. There was no missing how hard his cock was as it pressed against her stomach. Sage quickly swallowed back a moan before it pushed past her lips.
“Just say yes,” he said.
Sage heard herself agree to the date before her brain could catch up with her mouth. Grady took her lips in a hard, fast kiss, then let her go. She vaguely heard him ask for her address, which she gave him. He also asked her when would be a good time for them to go out. She mumbled that tomorrow night she was off work. He said he’d see her around seven and then turned and ran toward the alley closest to them.
She shook her head, coming out of the haze of arousal that’d taken her over after Grady had kissed her again. What was the matter with her? She didn’t normally act so ditzy around a guy. She realized Grady had left before she could call an ambulance for him.
Sage took off at run in the direction he’d gone, but once she reached the alley there was no sign of him. For someone with a head wound, he sure could move fast. Deciding there was no point in trying to chase after him, she returned to her cruiser and got inside. She turned off the flashing lights before she put it into Drive and drove away.
She really couldn’t believe she’d so quickly agreed to go out with Grady or that she’d allowed him to distract her enough to slip away without making sure he went to the hospital. Tomorrow night she’d get to see if he’d had someone look at his wound or not.
For the rest of her shift, Sage went from looking forward to seeing Grady again to dreading it. With no way of contacting him, it wasn’t as if she could call and cancel. Then there was the fact she’d given him her home address without knowing anything about him. At least being a cop she would know how to handle him if things got out of hand. The big question was, who would handle her if she got out of hand with him and jumped his bones?