Zale Zelinski is a billionaire, and pack Alpha Tawera is a runaway fae. Their worlds are about to collide in more ways than one.
Zale Zelinski is a CEO, a playboy, a pack Alpha and a billionaire. When attacks are made on livestock in nearby farms, suspicion falls on the shifter community.
Tawera, one of the patupaiarehe of the nearby forest, is horrified to find his family is planning his marriage—one he doesn’t want. He runs away to hide in the human world.
When the two meet, instinct takes over before both recover their wits. But when they meet again, Tawera recognizes that Zale is the mate he has dreamed of.
However, while there’s danger nearby, Zale keeps Tawera at arm’s length, prepared to let him—as well as others—think he feels nothing.
Time is against them as Zale slowly uncovers a nest of betrayal, treachery and murder. Then his enemies strike at those dearest to him.
Even if Zale can track down those responsible for the attacks and bring them to account, can he keep the love of an increasingly estranged Tawera—or will he lose him forever?
General Release Date: 11th October 2022
Stretched out on his yacht, Zale looked out at the sapphire-blue waters. The day was perfect—cloudless sky above and still water below. He could hardly have wished for anything more.
Except he did. The problem is, I’m not sure what it is I want. I feel restless all the time, even doing things I enjoy. Sailing or swimming usually settles me down, but not today. Maybe another swim… Perhaps I have an excess of energy. The time of the full moon is close, after all.
As he stood, his move was copied by the muscular man who’d been sitting and reading opposite him.
“No need, Kevin. I’m just going for a swim. We know there’s no threat around here. Security is constantly monitoring.” He flared his nostrils, smelling the air. “And I don’t detect any scents that don’t belong.”
“I take my role as Beta seriously, Zale. I don’t want anything happening to the pack Alpha on my watch.”
Although Kevin was undoubtedly good at what he did or else Edwards would have appointed another in his stead, it didn’t mean Zale trusted him implicitly. Kevin had been vice president of the company, as well as his predecessor’s Beta, when Zale had challenged for both. According to my informants, Kevin had been next in line for CEO and, most likely, pack Alpha. I’m yet to see any kind of dynamism to show why.
But Zale hadn’t reached the pinnacle in both the pack and business without being strong, cunning and courageous. His title might be inherited, but the bulk of his personal fortune came from hard work and good business acumen.
The pack had welcomed him, but Kevin was as distant now as he had been then. Zale had insisted the man remain as vice president and pack Beta, even paying him far more than the outgoing Alpha had. Much easier to keep track of him when he’s under my nose.
“Well, feel free to join me, if you wish. But if it’s my personal safety you’re concerned for…” Zale indicated a man who looked both slight and almost boyish in comparison to either of them.
“I thought they didn’t like water.” Kevin grimaced.
“Werecats like Kiley are very much at home in water. He can probably outswim me, despite my upper body strength. Fancy a dip?” Zale turned his attention to his best friend, bodyguard and business advisor.
“Sure, I could do with a cool down.” Kiley shrugged off his T-shirt.
The chest he revealed was pale and fur-free, contrasting starkly with Zale’s powerfully muscled pecs, which were liberally coated with dark hair. Well, mostly dark. There’s a little salt mixing with the pepper these days.
“From here?” Kevin jerked a thumb at the side of the craft.
“Why not? Cats have no problems jumping heights.” Kiley’s grin was wicked, and Kevin growled in response.
“Neither do I.” Zale swung his legs over the rail and executed a flawless dive. Rising to the surface, he squinted up at the side of the yacht where Kiley was perfectly balanced on the rail.
Flying out from the boat, Kiley somersaulted twice before hitting the water with hardly a splash, and Zale chuckled softly. Fucking show-off, but I’d be lost without him. Zale waited for Kiley to surface, then clapped slowly, but the Cheshire-cat smile on his friend’s face never wavered.
“I’d take a bow, but it’s hardly the place.” Kiley glanced down where he trod water. “So, was this entirely for a cool-down—or a quiet chat, too?”
“Swim with me.” Zale flicked water at Kiley, then began to swim, cutting powerfully through the water, but Kiley caught him up within seconds. He swam past, toward a small crop of rocks. With sensuous ease, Kiley seemed to flow out of the water to lounge on the rocks, admiring his fingernails.
“What’s keeping you, old man?” Kiley called out, and Kevin allowed his fingers—or rather one finger—to make a suitable reply.
“Fuck you,” he yelled out for good measure.
“Ooh, anytime, anyplace, anywhere.” Kiley rolled onto his back, laughing loudly.
The suggestion was a long-time joke between them. Zale sighed to himself as he reached the rocks. I’m going to have to assign Kiley a desk job soon. I can’t keep risking him being hurt, or worse, protecting me.
“Shove over and stop hogging the space.” Zale used his upper muscles to easily haul himself onto the rock, then flopped alongside Kiley.
“I think we’re far enough away.” Kiley regarded Zale with half-closed eyes. “I ran a check on the yacht before we left, and there were no bugging devices on board. Unless you think he has a submarine, he’s not listening in.”
“I wish I could feel I trust him. But as much as you put the best interests of the pack first, to go from believing you’re the natural successor with no challenge to an empire of this size, well, I’d be seething.”
“But you are a natural Alpha, Zale. There’s a big difference between someone who thinks they have what it takes and someone who really has.”
“Mm-m,” Zale grunted. “You may be right. There were rumors that my predecessor was going to sell the company out. That’s one of the reasons I challenged him. I also felt the pack needed more authority. Some on the fringes are almost feral because they’ve been neglected for so long. The odd one doesn’t present a problem, but an ill-disciplined group of ferals is a dangerous thing.”
“True.” Kiley nodded. “Leave that with me. I’ll sniff them out.”
“Kevin’s girlfriend doesn’t make it easier.” Zale suddenly pointed and, taking his cue, Kiley sat up as if looking for something Kevin had seen.
“The ice bitch herself? Princess Tippy Toes? Fuck, I can’t imagine a worse mate than that one. Imagine her whining in your ear all day. Maybe that’s why Kevin always looks like he has a rod shoved up his ass.”
Zale chuckled despite the situation. “Not impressed, hmm?”
“She forgets just how good a cat’s hearing is. Calling me a permanently on-heat alley cat is hardly likely to endear her to me.”
“I wasn’t aware of that.” Kevin also sat up, this time frowning. “You should have told me.”
“And what? Look as if I went running straight to you? As if I couldn’t fight my own battles? Nah, bro. Better this way. Firstly, she doesn’t know that I know. Secondly, she doesn’t know how keen my hearing is. Thirdly, none of this pack have ever seen me shift. When they do, they’ll come running to you like puppies looking for their momma.”
“There is that.” Zale’s grin matched Kiley’s. “And you’d probably be quite correct. Serve them right, too—especially Princess Tippy Toes. I wish I’d known that nickname sooner.”
“I can just imagine her face if you used it.” Kiley cackled loudly, and Zale joined in.
“Well, I guess we should swim back. I’m having a party at the villa over in Hawkes Bay. I thought it time the pack all got to see me—from my vice president to the cleaners, pack, human or otherwise.”
“Will you use it to rub Tippy Toes’ nose in it?” Kiley smirked, and Zale’s smile widened into a full baring of his teeth.
“No one treats you or your mate badly and gets away with it. In fact…” Zale stared at a point into the distance and Kiley sat up straighter.
“You aren’t thinking of—”
“Aunt Honoria? Yes.” Zale chuckled, a dark sound devoid of humor. “Yes, I am. She’d manage Fay’s bad behavior, even in the midst of a full-blown party. And if ‘Tippy Toes’ so much as breathes out of place, Honoria will know.”
“And take care of it herself.” Kiley nodded.
“Privilege of age, she calls it, and who am I to argue? Come on. Let’s get back before Kevin gets too suspicious. As a Beta, I expect him to assume we’re talking about him. I want him on his toes. He, unlike the lower ranks, was left to grow complacent. I want him alert…at all times.”
“Crafty. Race you back, old man.” Kiley moved sinuously into a crouch and was already in the water before Zale could move.
With a rumbling laugh, he dived after Kiley, but his mind was already on pack business.