Authors: Vella Day
Tags: #Paranormal Erotica, #Paranormal Menage (MFM), #Paranormal Werewolf Romance
Pack Wars (Book 4)
Copyright © 2014 Vella Day
Loving Their Vixen Mate
Copyright © 2014 by Vella Day
Cover Art by Sloan Winters
Edited by Rebecca Cartee and Carol Adcock-Bezzo
Published in the United States of America
E-book ISBN: 978-1-941835-02-9
Print edition ISBN: 978-1-941835-03-6
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author except in the case of brief questions embodied in critical articles or reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events or locales, is entirely coincidental.
To Vella’s Vixens! You are the best street team ever.
ackenzie Wagner waved her cell in frustration then set it on the kitchen counter. “Ugh. Cheryl’s still not answering. It’s been a freaking week since she called.” Mac’s gut soured. She wasn’t psychic, but her sixth sense told her that something bad had happened to her cousin.
Her mother tilted her head in sympathy. “Maybe the law firm offered her that job, and she had to start immediately. If that was the case, she’d have to find a place to stay, which would keep her busy. Or she could have left her charger at home and can’t call. It’s happened before, you know.” Her mother poured the freshly brewed tea over ice cubes and handed Mac a glass.
“I’m not buying it. She could have borrowed someone’s phone or bought a charger. She texted me when she arrived in Florida, and since then she’s called only once. If she landed the job, she’d have squealed with delight.”
“Didn’t you say she was staying at a Holiday Inn? Can’t you call and see if she’s still there?”
Mac picked up her glass and took a sip, hoping the cool drink would calm her nerves. “Good thought, but I already did that. She checked out already.” Mac set the glass back down.
Her mom pulled out the stool at the center island and sat. “That could be a good thing. She might have found an apartment already. You could always call the airline to see if she cancelled her flight home. Then you’d know if she’d landed the job.”
Mac twisted her glass on the counter, leaving wet streaks. “I checked that, too. She hasn’t. Here’s the thing. People always leave a paper trail. Unfortunately, Cheryl seems to be the one exception, and that’s what worries me the most. Since we last spoke, there hasn’t been any credit card charges or outgoing phone calls.”
“You hacked into her account?”
“Yes. Cheryl wouldn’t mind. Besides, it’s what I do for a living.” Mac worked for a PI firm finding people. When she was on a case, she did things by the book. But this was Cheryl, and there were no rules. “It’s as if the Bermuda Triangle has swallowed her whole.” Mac pulled out a stool at the island and sat across from her mom. She stabbed a hand through her long hair, hoping the tension would help her think.
Her mom sipped her tea. “There has to be some explanation.”
“I know, but what? What does Aunt Hannah think?”
Her mom looked away. “She doesn’t know.”
“Isn’t she worried?” The two sisters didn’t get along all that well, but if her aunt reached out, she, too, must have thought something bad had happened.
“Yes, but Hannah thinks this is her daughter’s rebellious streak showing up. You know that Cheryl wanted to move away from here. If she gets a good job offer, she’ll take it.”
Cheryl didn’t have a rebellious bone in her body, but it was true, her cousin was unhappy in Indiana. “She still would have called to tell us she was staying. What do you think we should do? I’m out of options.”
“I’d give her a little more time. I looked up the weather for Gulfside, Florida. It’s been around seventy and sunny every day since Cheryl flew down there. Hell, given the dingy, cold weather we’ve been having, I’m half tempted to visit there myself.”
Mom would never leave Muncie, but it gave Mac an idea. “You know, work’s been slow, and I’m due a vacation. Perhaps I should fly down there and check on her.” Mac stretched out her arms. “I could use a tan, and if Cheryl does have her own place, I could help her decorate.”
Her mother placed her glass on the counter. “Mackenzie. Cheryl’s a grown woman. She can handle herself. You ever think she just might want a little family distance?”
That was her mom’s way of saying that Mac should stay put. She leaned forward. “Cheryl’s a bit naïve. She could be lying in the street bleeding to death. We need to help her.”
Her mom chuckled. “Oh, honey. She’s probably enjoying her freedom. I bet she’s on some sandy beach drinking mimosas. The first interview might not have panned out, and she’s probably embarrassed to call you. Hopefully, she has another one lined up and wants to wait before breaking the good news.”
“Maybe.” Mac tapped her fingers on the Formica countertop. “There has to be some way to get a hold of her to find out what’s going on.”
Going to the police was never an option for her family; closets might be opened—skeletons revealed. Even though Cheryl and her family had no idea Mom had married a werewolf, it didn’t mean someone wouldn’t let it slip during an investigation.
“I’m sure she’ll call when she can.” Her mom’s voice was full of concern.
“That would be nice.” Mac leaned back. “Duh. I’ll call Jay. Why hadn’t I thought of that sooner? He lives in Gulfside.”
“Jay? I didn’t know you spoke with your cousin.”
Here we go again
. Family feuds sucked. “Not every week, but we talk on a regular basis.” Jay came from her father’s werewolf side of the family.
Her mom shook her head. “Your father wouldn’t like it.”
“What are you talking about? Remember, Jay flew up from Florida to attend Dad’s funeral. Jay isn’t like his dad. Uncle George was a criminal, which was why Dad always looked out for Jay.”
Her mother wrapped her hands around the glass, acting as if she needed a moment to think of something else that might convince Mac to keep from running down to Florida. “What makes you think Jay will help? I don’t think he’s met Cheryl more than a handful of times.”
“He’s family.” Mac pushed back her stool, stepped to the other side of the counter, and kissed her mom’s cheek. “I’ve got to go. If I find out anything from Jay, I’ll let you know, okay?”
She prayed her mom was right about Cheryl enjoying a few days of sun and fun. For her cousin’s sake, Mac hoped she had stumbled on some hot guy who owned a yacht, and he’d invited her on a cruise-for-two—a cruise without cell phone service. If that were true, more power to her. Cheryl deserved some happiness.
Mac bundled up to head home. As soon as she arrived, she looked up Jay’s number and called him. The phone rang—and rang. She was about to hang up when he answered.
“Kenzie? That you?” He was the only person she allowed to call her that name. It was her dad’s pet name for her.
“Hey, Jaybird.” It might be a stupid juvenile nickname, but one time when they were playing in the woods long ago, a jay crapped on his head. From then on, the name stuck.
“What’s up? You freezing up there?”
“Go ahead and rub it in.” As much as she loved to hear about another big fish he’d caught, or how great it was to be outside in shorts in December, right now she couldn’t afford the small talk. “Listen, I’m worried about my cousin Cheryl.”
“Your mom’s sister’s kid?”
“Yes. She was headed to Gulfside two weeks ago for a job interview, and I haven’t heard from her in close to a week. She normally calls me every day.”
“What can I do?”
“Do you think you could ask around about her? She was headed down there to interview for a paralegal position.”
“Do you know the name of the law firm? Maybe I could find out if she ever showed.”
“I’m afraid I don’t. My last contact with her was a text that said she’d called a cab to take her to an office on Seaside Drive for her interview. Could you do a quiet search for me?” Jay was a werewolf and understood the need for discretion.
“Ah, sure. Give me a few days. My boss is going out of town, and I’m in charge of the garage. We’ve got cars lined up.”
A few days was a long time. Cheryl had been gone two weeks already. “Listen. Don’t worry about it. I’ve got some vacation time coming so I’ll take the next available flight down there and look myself.” Or was she using that as an excuse for some much needed R&R on a beach somewhere? “Would it be cool if I crashed at your place?” Her finances weren’t in the best shape.
“That’s not a good idea.”
Shit. Last time they’d spoken, he hadn’t been dating anyone. “I can stay in a hotel. No biggie.”
“It’s not that. It’s dangerous down here.”
Her pulse soared. “Dangerous?”
“There are Colters here. Lots of them.”
Dread poured through her. The Colters were werewolves who’d taken to crime more than two hundred years ago. They were the ones who’d killed her dad. She didn’t realize they were more prevalent in Florida than in Indiana.
“I doubt this is about the Colters. Cheryl has no werewolf blood in her. They’d have no reason to harm her.”
“I wasn’t worried about her. I was worried about you.”
He was overreacting because she was half werewolf. “I’ll be fine. You know I can shoot a gun better than any civilian, and I can open most locked doors.” Her dad had taught both of them how to shoot, as well as how to outwit the criminal element.
“You don’t get it, do you? You know a woman can’t defend herself against one of our kind.”
That always stuck in her craw. The men could shift at will, while the only thing a female werewolf possessed was speed and agility. Unless she could get her hands on some poison bullets, they could kill her with little work.
“I’ll be careful.” She wasn’t totally defenseless. She could sense a werewolf if she was near him. Unfortunately, she couldn’t detect if he was good or bad. Damn, but this wasn’t going to be easy.
“What do you think you can do that I can’t?” Jay asked.
Why was he being so stubborn? “You just said you didn’t have the time. I do. Besides, this is what I do for a living.”