“You need to go to Atherton,” they said. Easy for them. The higher-ups at headquarters don’t have their whole world on the line. When Detective Damon Kelly’s bosses send him across the state on a “simple” cyber fraud case, he never thinks he’d meet his mate, then risk losing Kieran by doing his job. No matter what other possible angles Damon works, his partner Grant Davis is sure Kieran’s best friend Corey’s their guy, and Grant is bent on bringing him in.
After the birth of their Alpha’s son, the Atherton Pack needs another beta. Kieran Baxter couldn’t be happier to accept. What Kieran doesn’t expect is for all hell to break loose his first week on the job. Clashing with his mate at every turn, and fighting a human cop who wants to arrest Corey for hacking a government database, wasn’t part of the plan either.
As more evidence piles up, a bigger, scarier picture comes into focus that could threaten not only the Atherton Pack, but everything the world knows.
“How’s fatherhood treating you?” Kieran asked, wanting to think about something other than his fucked-up relationship with Damon for a minute or two.
“I haven’t slept more than two hours in a row in the last week, and I can’t remember the last time I was this happy.”
Kieran was happy for his friend. He really was, even though Ben was looking a little worse for wear. The permanent smile on his face told Kieran everything he needed to know. “Tommy seems to be adapting well to being a father.”
Ben’s eyes softened as he searched out his mate in the crowd. The love he could see shining in them made Kieran’s heart hurt for what he didn’t have.
“He’s everything I could have asked for and more,” Ben said, then reached into Kieran’s little Esky and stole a beer.
“Hey, fuck off. They’re mine,” he groused.
Ben laughed. “Too bad.”
He cracked the bottle open before Kieran could make a grab for it. Ben fought Kieran off with one hand as he tried unsuccessfully to recover his stolen beer. They looked like a couple of kids. The others were laughing at their antics. Ben turned his head away and put the bottle to his lips.
“Asshole,” Kieran bitched, although he had to admit to feeling a little better, sitting here surrounded by his friends.
“So, how long do you give it before Corey abandons his station at the barbie when he thinks no one is looking and sneaks off with Ethan?” Samuel asked.
“I give him ten minutes,” Liam said.
“Five,” Ben announced and pulled out a purple five-dollar note from his pocket and held it up. Liam, Samuel, and Kieran all dug deep as well.
“Seriously?” Kieran asked when he saw Liam pulling out coins and counting them in his hand. “You’re kidding, right?” He burst out laughing when Liam shook his head. “Idiot,” he affectionately teased.
“So how long, Sammy?” Liam asked. If anyone other than their close circle of friends tried to call Samuel Sammy, he doubted they’d live to tell the tale.
Samuel thought for a moment. “I give him fifteen minutes.”
Kieran checked his watch, then glanced up at his friend, who was currently turning lamb chops and steaks. He shook his head as he saw Corey glance around the yard.
“You’re all wrong. I give him a minute. Two tops.”
They all settled back with their beers to watch. And lo and behold, a minute and a half later, Corey handed the tongs to Declan as he stalked across the porch to where Ethan stood chatting with Tommy and a few other pack members. The three adult men beside him all groaned like little boys as Corey took his mate’s hand and practically dragged him to the side of the house and out of sight from their guests.
Kieran laughed and motioned for everyone to hand over their money. He happily took it and shoved it into his pocket, even Liam’s coins.
They chatted about all sorts of things as they waited for the food to be cooked. Kieran did notice, though, that no one mentioned Damon and the current investigation. He was thankful for that, as it was the last thing Kieran wanted to think about.
“Grub’s ready. Come and get it while it’s hot,” Declan called out from the porch. Kieran’s stomach growled at the mere mention of food. The smells carried on the breeze didn’t help.
All four of them jumped up like their seats had been electrified and headed to the table currently groaning under the weight of all the food. When you were feeding a pack of hungry shifters, you had to make sure to cater appropriately.
Corey never disappointed when he hosted. Speaking of, Kieran looked around for his friend. Corey and Ethan were still conspicuously absent. He tried not to think too hard about what the pair was currently getting up to. His friend certainly had come a long way from the man who never wanted to meet his mate only a month or so ago. It really was amazing how much a mate could change your life.
Toni Griffin lives in Darwin, the smallest of Australia’s capital cities. Born and raised in the state she’s a Territorian through and through. Growing up Toni hated english with a passion (as her editors can probably attest to) and found her strength lies with numbers.
Now, though, she loves escaping to the worlds she creates and hopes to continue to do so for many years to come. She’s a single mother of one and works full time. When she’s not writing you can just about guarantee that she will be reading one of the many MM authors she loves.
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