Author Charlie Richards
Coming Soon to eXtasy Books!
Release Date: June 18th
Tracking the Guard
Kontra's Menagerie: Book Thirty
On the Road: After a leopard shifter is rescued from a scientists' lab, he must track down his guard mate.
Able Lieder hasn’t seen his mate in three days, but he can’t do anything about it. He knows the guard—Olson—doesn’t understand why he feels drawn to him, bringing him treats and talking sweetly to him. He can’t explain it to him, either, since the scientists are keeping him in cat form. When Able overhears the scientists talking about an experiment that will surely end his life, he figures he should be grateful Olson isn’t around to see his demise.
Except, then Able is rescued. A group of shifters arrive and free everyone, led by a grizzly shifter named Kontra Belikov. At first, Able fears that they killed his mate in the process, but Olson is nowhere to be found.
With the help of Kontra’s gang, can Able figure out where Olson disappeared to?
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Excerpt - Tracking the Guard
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Payson returned with the card, and Kontra used it to open Able’s cage. As soon as the door was wide enough, Able burst free. He heard Kontra’s order to stop, but he ignored it.
Instead, Able tucked his head and used his shoulder to shove open the swinging door. He peered around the room, spotting Ryan as well as two others in black garb. There were three dead scientists as well…but no guards.
Spotting a door to the left, Able rushed through it, ignoring the cry of surprise from Ryan as well as the, “Leopard, wait!” from a dark-haired shifter with a scar on his face.
Able spotted a door propped open with another body and bolted through it. Unfortunately, he didn’t know the layout of the place. Plus, a lot of the doors were closed and locked.
When Able needed to double back, he found himself face to face with Payson and Kontra, and he skidded to a stop.
“If you’re looking for the way out,” Kontra stated, narrowing his eyes. “We can show you, but you’re in the middle of a swamp, so I recommend not going anywhere until we can get you all loaded into the box truck we have.”
Huffing a sigh, Able tried to figure out a way to get his meaning across. He shook his head at the bear and chuffed softly, sharing his frustration.
“Oh, kitty charades,” Payson cackled, clapping his hands and bouncing on his toes. “We can do this.” Then he rested his hands on his hips and stated, “One chuff for yes. Two for no.”
Able figured he should appreciate the fact that the pair were willing to try, even if he thought the hyena was a little on the crazy side. He dipped his chin in a nod.
Payson grinned broadly. “Are you trying to find the way out?”
Shaking his head, Able chuffed twice.
“Are you looking for something else?” Kontra asked.
If Able could have grimaced in cat form, he would have.
At Able’s hesitation, Payson piped up, “Are you looking for someone else?”
Able quickly chuffed once.
Kontra and Payson exchanged looks before refocusing on Able. “A family member?” Kontra mused.
Chuffing twice, Able shifted his weight, getting antsy.
“Your mate?” Payson guessed.
Focusing on the weird yet perceptive hyena shifter, Able nodded again as he chuffed once.
“Human or shifter?” Kontra demanded. Then he rolled his eyes and amended, “One for human. Two for a paranormal.”
Able chuffed once again.
“And you believe they’re here?” Kontra pressed.
Uncertain how to respond to that, Able shook his head a little, then nodded.
“Not sure, huh?” Payson replied astutely. “Were you captured at the same time?”
After Able chuffed twice, Kontra pressed, “Then why do you think he or she is here?”
Payson’s eyes widened. “Oh, shit. Is it someone working here?”
Able nodded, chuffing once.
Grimacing, Payson focused on Kontra. “No wonder he was eager to get out of the cage and look. We told him we were taking everyone out.”
“Oh, fucking hell,” Kontra grumbled, twisting his goateed lips into a deep scowl. “Guard or scientist?” Even as he asked, he started them to the left.
After another single chuff from Able, Kontra told him, “I’m taking you to the security room. We can use the monitors to look for your mate.” His voice tightened as he lifted his hand to his ear, which held an earpiece. “Report on guards.”
With Able’s shifter hearing, he was able to hear half a dozen men reporting off that all guards were down. He couldn’t help it. He mewled as distress swamped him.
“Hey, relax, kitty,” Payson urged, patting his shoulders twice. “Fate wouldn’t give you a mate just to have him or her taken away again.” He grinned widely even as he continued walking the hall nude. “Hell, she gave me a mate, so you know she loves shifters to get their happily ever after.” With a wink, Payson added, “Even the crazy ones.”
Able heaved a soft sigh.
Huh. At least, he knows he’s crazy. Odd.
Kontra pulled out a tablet and activated it.
Able noticed a map on it and followed eagerly as the bear shifter began to jog.
Lifting his hand to his ear again, Kontra stated, “Lamar, I’m coming to you. I need you to pull up every camera that has a guard on it.”
“Yes, Alpha,” a melodious tenor replied. After a second, he asked, “May I ask why?”
“Because one of the rescued shifters thinks one of the guards is his mate,” Kontra replied bluntly.
“Ah, crap,” Lamar replied.
That was followed by several other men cursing.
Evidently, it was an open line.
“God damn it,” a deep voice grumbled. “Did we just take out a shifter’s mate?”
“I sure as hell hope not,” Kontra replied. “But if we did, then it was part of Fate’s plan because she’s got a better mate lined up for him.”
“Male or female,” Lamar asked. “So I can narrow down the pictures.”
Kontra peered down at Able and arched one brow.
Able chuffed once, indicating the former.
“Male,” Kontra repeated.
Able felt a measure of surprise that no one said anything about that.
Evidently, Payson picked up on it through his scent. He snickered before saying, “We’re all gay or bi here, kitty.” His grin widened as he added, “You and your mate will be in good company with us.”
“Once the guard answers for his crimes against our kind,” Kontra commented.
Unable to help himself, Able growled.
Scoffing, Payson didn’t sound impressed when he replied, “Relax, kitty. He’ll survive it.”
Able rumbled with annoyance.
They reached the control room without further comment. When they entered, a twink-like blond spun his chair to face them. A huge, armed redhead—a human—in their same black outfit appeared to be guarding him.
“Here’s the first set, Alpha,” Lamar claimed, pointing at the bank of nine screens. His expression appeared kind as he focused on Able. “Let me know when you need me to flip to the next screen.”
Able heaved his front paws onto the counter and peered closer at the screens. After a quick sweep, he didn’t recognize any of the men. He chuffed once with a glance at Lamar.
Lamar punched a couple of buttons, and the pictures changed.
Once again, Able didn’t see Olson on the screen.
Each time Lamar changed the screens and Able didn’t spot his mate, his pulse sped up a little as hope filled him.
“These are the last ones,” Lamar told him softly, changing the screens once more.
After another review, Able eased back to sit on his haunches. He shook his head. Concern and elation filled him in equal measure.
Payson squeezed his shoulder. “Well, damn. That’s good news, eh?” Grinning widely, he added, “He ain’t here.”
Able nodded once.
So where is he?