The One Thing Money Can’t Buy
“Why me?” Crossing his arms, Quaid Poullon stared down his brother. Standing at six foot eight, he and his litter mate were almost even in height, but where Ernest went into finance and management during college, Quaid opted for the enforcer squad through the council. When he and his superiors had a “falling out” Quaid came home and quickly found work at a shifter run security firm. He’d done some jobs for Ernest before, but nothing as urgent as this one proposed to be.
“You’ll have to see him for yourself to understand.” Ernest’s evasiveness and the hint of glee on features so like his own didn’t help. “All you need to know for now, is that the person you’re protecting is a tiny hedgehog shifter who has issues with his prickle and who’s just won the one point six billion dollars, which when paid out this afternoon, including interest was closer to one point eight billion.”
“You want me to play body guard for a fucking lotto winner?” Quaid shook his head. “No. No way, no how. You know how those idiots get when they suddenly have more money than sense. Partying all night, throwing their money and their attitude around like they’re fucking god. I’m not doing it. Get someone else.”
“I really need you on this, Quaid,” Ernest said, suddenly more serious than he had been. “Cari came in with a lawyer from the Fanshaw pack. They’d already forged a power of attorney and were planning on having all the funds transferred to a specially set up pack trust account.”
Quaid frowned. “What’s an itty bitty hedgehog doing with those assholes?”
“That’s the problem – he’s not.” Leaning back in his chair, Ernest steepled his fingers and rested them on his chin. “Cari asked for sanctuary with the pack when his prickle kicked him out. The alpha turned him down. Apparently, that was months ago.”
“That alpha’s not known for being the caring considerate type.” Quaid wasn’t going to question why his lion was suddenly alert, worried about a hedgehog being alone in town. “So, what’s the connection?”
Quaid’s fury mounted as he listened to his brother explain about the hedgehog’s tie to Douglas and Barry Fanshaw. “That bastard Douglas. I bet he hasn’t even approached the prickle to see if your winner could get back in. He’s just ripping the little guy off.”
“That was my thought,” Ernest agreed. “The thing is, even though Cari’s signed up to receive his winnings anonymously, the pack know who he is. They’re determined to get their hands on that money, one way or another. You know all their tricks.”
“Yeah, persuasion, seduction, and if they don’t work, they’ll kill the little guy and steal it all.”
“I don’t think Cari’s that worldly and from what he said, I don’t think he has anyone else in his life except some no good friends he works with, who seem to spend all their time putting him down. Those friends were Douglas’s suggestion as well, so Cari told me.”
“Are you always this invested in one of your lotto winners?” Quaid knew his brother handled billions of dollars every year. The Lotto Commission didn’t discriminate, the lottery open to paranormals and humans alike. Every week a dozen winners trundled through the offices, often leaving millions of dollars richer than when they arrived. That’s when the trouble started. Up to sixty percent of people who won more than a million dollars were broke within a year of getting their money. Oftentimes they were left worse off than before they bought a ticket.
“There’s just something about him,” Ernest said, twisting his hand back and forth in the air. “I can’t explain it. I just know he needs help from someone he can trust, and my first thought was you.”
“I’m not going to let him treat me like dirt,” Quaid warned.
Ernest chuckled. “I don’t think you have anything to worry about on that score. Look, just meet him, okay? And if you really can’t handle the idea after you’ve seen him for yourself, I’ll put Parker and Ranger on the job instead.”
For some reason, the very idea of Parker and Ranger, both guys Quaid worked with, being near a newly rich and vulnerable hedgehog made his skin prickle. “I’ll meet him, but I’m not making any promises,” he warned, already mentally planning what appointments he was going to have to reschedule to take on his new job. A small hedgehog was going to need round the clock protection, especially if he had a pack sniffing up his ass.
Cari carefully signed his full name at the bottom of the last document and then double checked it to make sure it was the same signature as all the other pages he’d signed. He didn’t want anyone to question it was his signature on the line, although all of them had been witnessed by a rather dour looking crow shifter who barely said two words as he handed page after page for Cari to sign. Tax declarations, insurance forms, bank notifications, and ID certification. Initial here, sign here. It was all very confusing, although Cari made a point of reading every page, even if he knew he looked geekier still in his glasses.
The Lotto Commission was very careful about ensuring their money went to the right persons and Cari was secretly impressed, although slightly worn out with it all too. He’d barely slept since knowing he’d won the money and there was a part of him that was still worried the whole thing had been a dream. He wasn’t going to be one hundred percent sure he was about to be rich, until he saw the money in his account.
The other thing that had been plaguing his mind all afternoon was Douglas and Barry’s betrayal. Cari didn’t like using such harsh words about anyone, but he couldn’t think of their actions in any other way. Douglas might have been condescending towards him during their sessions, but Cari always believed that was just his wolf’s arrogance shining through. He didn’t believe the man would deliberately conspire to steal from him, although… Cari remembered the thirteen receipts he had in his expenses box at home, all for substantially more than he paid on his rent each week. Considering Douglas spent most of their sessions either ignoring him or putting him down and letting him know he was completely flawed as an individual, Cari was coming to realize he’d been ripped off. Anytime he dared to ask Douglas if he’d heard from Cari’s prickle, the man just brushed him off and held his hand out for money.
“Is there anything else I need to do?” he asked, handing back the last of the papers. “Did Mr. Poullon need to see me again, or should I go now?”
“Mr. Poullon wants you to stay here until he comes back with your bodyguard.” The crow wouldn’t even look at him and Cari thought he would just leave. But the crow edged closer. “Stick to your body guard like glue. Those wolves have got your scent and love to hunt,” he whispered so low, Cari could barely hear him. “Don’t let them catch you off guard.”
“Wait, what?” The snick of the door let Cari know the crow was gone. What a strange man. Taking off his glasses, Cari rubbed his eyes and then put his glasses back on again. The crow left his copies of all the documents in a neat pile. Maybe it would be a good idea to read over them again while he was waiting. The crow’s warning didn’t make Cari feel any better about heading home. He was halfway down the first page of a lengthy bank declaration that was meant to prove he wasn’t involved in any money laundering when the door to the office he was in opened again. Twitching his nose, Cari caught a sniff of the most amazing scent.
Quaid knew immediately he’d be taking the job. One look at the lucky lotto winner was enough to convince him and that was without the beautifully sweet scent of thyme and blackcurrants that permeated the office. The cute hedgehog was tiny, at least two feet shorter than he was, and slender enough to fit his whole body in one of his pant’s legs. His spikey hair seemed to mimic a hedgehog’s shifted form, an interesting mix of blond and black strands that spiked in all directions. Cari’s face was slender, with a sharp chin that came down to a point. His button nose was sprinkled with faint freckles and the wide eyes that were staring up at him from behind adorable glasses, were a curious mixture of browns and yellows. Hazel? Quaid wasn’t sure. He just knew his life had irrevocably changed from this point forward.
“Caractacus Hudson, I’d like you to meet my brother, Quaid. Quaid this is our billion dollar winner. I’m hoping you’ll agree to protect him while he navigates the joys of suddenly becoming a rich man.”
I’ll be protecting him a lot longer than that, Quaid thought as he pushed back his lion who was keen to come out and meet their new mate. If he put a bit of swagger in his walk as he crossed the distance between them, no one would know but his brother and Ernest was already smirking.
“Mr. Hudson, I’m truly delighted to meet you,” Quaid said as he reached for Cari’s hand. Raising it to his face, Quaid didn’t lick, although he was sorely tempted. Instead he took a long deep sniff, a small sigh escaping his lips as Cari’s scent infused every cell in his lungs. Yes. This was who he’d been waiting a lifetime to find.
“You… you’re going to be my bodyguard?” Cari’s nose was twitching madly.
“For a while, until we get to know each other better.” Conscious of his smirking brother, and the fact his mate wasn’t safe, Quaid forced himself to let go of Cari’s hand and straightened, addressing his brothers. “Is there a back entrance we can use out of this place? There were a dozen cameras at the front entrance when I came in.”
“Cari’s asked for anonymity, so it’s our duty to ensure he leaves the office unhindered by the media,” Ernest said smoothly. He chucked a set of keys at Quaid. “Take the elevator down to the basement garage and use my car for now. They won’t be expecting you to use that.”
“Do you have a car?” Quaid asked Cari who still looked stunned. “How did you get here?”
“Uber,” Cari said faintly. “I met Bobby here. I er… I’m not sure what to do now.”
Quaid scowled at Bobby’s name falling so easily from Cari’s lips. “What are your plans now you’ve got your money? Were you thinking of taking a holiday, or something like that? Because now might be a good time to do it.”
“I wasn’t planning on doing anything.” Cari seemed to be completely frazzled by the question. “The money’s not in my account yet.”
“It probably is,” Ernest said. “It was transferred two hours ago and most banks process transactions within the hour.”
If anything, that answer seemed to throw Cari off more. “I should probably go home,” he said, looking anywhere but at Quaid. “I have to do my laundry for work tomorrow, and pack my lunch and…”
“You can’t go to work tomorrow,” Quaid said just as Ernest asked, “Where do you work?”
“I do data entry at Schofield and Connors, the statistical analysis company,” Cari said, his cheeks a pale pink, but his fists were clenched on top of a stack of papers. “I can’t take another day off. It was difficult enough asking for time off today – my boss asking questions. My desk will be piled up….”
“You do realize you don’t have to work anymore, don’t you,” Ernest explained gently.
“But how will I…? Oh.” The pink on Cari’s cheeks got brighter. “But even if I give up my job, I still have to work out my notice.”
Cari has to be the most clueless billionaire I’ve ever met. Quaid decided to take action. Sitting around waffling about jobs and notice when Cari had enough money to buy the whole town twice over was ridiculous. “We’ll get you home and make plans from there,” he said firmly.
“You’re coming with me?” Was it Quaid’s imagination or did Cari seem relieved about that.
“I’m staying with you.” As far as Quaid was concerned, their mating was a done deal. All they had to work out was the logistics. Even if his new mate wasn’t in danger from a ruthless wolf pack, Quaid would still be camping on his doorstep. “Ernest, can you get my go-bag from my truck and send it to Cari’s address. It’ll have everything I need for a week or so.”
“But, but,” Cari was still protesting when Quaid lifted him to his feet and propelled him towards the door.
“Being your bodyguard means in the interests of your safety, please do as I say.” Quaid hustled his mate towards the elevator. “We can work out the ins and outs when I know you’re in a safe place.”
“The office looked pretty damn safe to me,” Cari muttered. Quaid decided to ignore it. But as he stabbed the button for the basement garage, Quaid had to wonder how badly his mate’s safety was going to be compromised if those damn wolves opened their mouths. And they would – he was sure of that.
City Dragon’s Book 2
Ever since his father was killed, Samuel Hollingsworth has worked hard to cultivate a meaningful relationship with the dragon half of his soul. Things were going well for a while, and then their mate rejected them, and now his and his dragon’s connection took on added importance as they tried to keep each other’s hopes alive. But it wasn’t easy, being patient, trusting the Fates had a plan for them, when the man they wanted was on the other side of the country and showed no signs of coming back.
Vampire elder and coven ruler Raoul didn’t have time for weakness. He was determined to keep his coven and his city safe and if blood was spilled to get the job done, then he was going to be the one who was spilling it – every single time. Even a chance meeting with his beloved in New York didn’t deter him from his duty. Riding on a dragon’s back might be fun for some people, but he had more important things to do.
But the Fates will not be deterred even when it comes to stubborn vampire rulers older than dirt. A chance kidnapping sets in place a chain of events that test Samuel and Raoul’s fragile bonds to breaking point. When a bomb goes off and everything Samuel and Raoul hold dear is in danger, will Samuel be strong enough to stand by his mate’s side?
Can be read as standalone, but reading book 1 will help readers understand a few of the secondary character’s motivations more easily – such as Samuel’s brother Dirk and his mate Jon. This is an MM true mates paranormal romance story intended for adult readers. Mpreg elements are included but aren’t the focus of the story line.
Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07K5J3PHV
Smashwords - https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/905237
Dragon’s Fire Excerpt
“That sounds a lot like Leonard’s truck. Why didn’t he at least knock on the door?” His cousin’s vehicle had a very distinctive exhaust. Opening his front door, Samuel peered out, his view of the road blocked by a crate. “What the fuck? Is this the freaking package Rastin was going on about?”
Wandering around it, Samuel couldn’t see any markings indicating where it had come from. It stood taller than Samuel by at least a foot and was that much wider as well. The only thing on the box was Samuel’s name written in black marker in block letters. “You’d think they’d have stayed long enough to help me get it inside,” he muttered. There were no handles – no way of moving the damn thing, but Samuel couldn’t leave it where it was. It was blocking his front door and he still wanted dinner delivered.
Reaching out, Samuel laid his hand on the box and then chuckled at his foolishness. It’s not as though I’m some sort of diviner able to see through freaking plywood. But even as he thought that, his dragon stirred and whispered through his mind. Use our claws. Quickly.
Samuel’s hands suddenly became huge long claws and his mouth opened in shock. He’d never partially shifted any part of his body before. Quickly, the crate must be opened now.
Trusting his dragon, Samuel used his claws to pry at the edges of the front of the box. The screws holding it down were short, and the wood basically came apart in his hands. The urgency from his dragon was compelling, and with just part of the screws removed, Samuel shoved his claws deeper into the wood and pulled hard, falling backwards as the slab of ply landed on top of him.
“Ow.” Samuel rubbed his head where it’d hit the porch before shoving the ply off his chest. “Shoddy freaking packaging.”
“I quite agree, but then I didn’t think much of the two who kidnapped me either.”
Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no. Peering up slowly, Samuel met the flashing red eyes of the vampire he’d fallen for, still framed by the remaining sides of the box. Raoul was shirtless, nothing but a pair of sweatpants covering his huge frame. Even his feet were bare, something Samuel found strangely erotic. The Raoul’s words sunk into his beleaguered brain and he jumped to his feet.
“Someone kidnapped you? Please, don’t think I had anything to do with it. I swear, I would never, I could never….” Think, think. “Dirk. I’ll call Dirk.” His older brother would know what to do. “You can have the plane, take the plane. The plane can take you back to San Jose. I’ll get my car. Take you to the airport, or, or, I can call a cab. Oh, fuck. When they said package, I didn’t think they meant… that they’d do… I didn’t have anything to do with this.”
Raoul stepped out of the crate and Samuel prayed the earth would open and swallow him up. His mate did not look happy.
About the Author
Lisa Oliver had been writing non-fiction books for years when visions of half dressed, buff men started invading her dreams. Unable to resist the lure of her stories, Lisa decided to switch to fiction books, and now stories about her men clamor to get out from under her fingertips.
When Lisa is not writing, she is usually reading with a cup of tea always at hand. Her grown children and grandchildren sometimes try and pry her away from the computer and have found that the best way to do it, is to promise her chocolate. Lisa will do anything for chocolate.
Lisa loves to hear from her readers and other writers. You can friend her on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/lisaoliverauthor), catch up on what’s happening at her blog (http://www.supernaturalsmut.com) or email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/lisaoliver
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