Book 1: When It Will Rayne, It Will Pour
On a mid-October night in Yellowrose, South Dakota, a violent blizzard blew in, causing the temperature to drop dramatically.
Instead of closing up my office, I stayed in to do the paperwork on my fifth “skip” of the month, Olivia Jensen.
Arrested for money laundering, fraud, and conspiracy, Olivia had been bailed out to the tune of fifty grand, and like most criminals, when her court date rolled around, she’d skipped.
I had been hired to track her down and bring her in.
It had only taken a day and a half to do so, but I ran into a small annoyance when I crossed paths with her boyfriend and his three pits.
The dogs were the easiest part.
Once the boyfriend turned them loose and they charged at me, I fixed them with a menacing look and held my ground.
One by one, they turned around and hightailed it out of there, tails between their legs.
The boyfriend was another story. He’d seen the dogs practically trip over themselves to get away, but with him being mostly brawn rather than brains, he didn’t take their departure seriously.
With his fists raised, he came at me. I quickly deflated his bravado as I landed a solid punch to his jaw. It was satisfying to watch him crumble to a heap at my feet, clearly down for the count.
With the boyfriend and dogs out of the picture, I was able to drag Olivia’s worthless ass, kicking and screaming, back to jail. And for my trouble, I was rewarded with a nice chunk of change.
The work I did was draining, and the days were long and treacherous. I never knew what to expect from one day to the next, but I loved it that way. It kept me busy and on my toes.
On those rare occasions when I had some downtime, I ended up feeling like the walls were closing in on me. So most of the time, I moved on to the next job with little to no break in between.
My business card read Slater Services, and my services ranged from bodyguard to bounty hunter to private investigator.
The nature of my job shifted from one client to the next, depending on their needs.
Tonight, I was using Olivia’s paperwork as an excuse. I hate—and I mean hate, with a real loathing passion—the cold.
Just the thought of the blizzard raging outside sent a shiver down my spine, and there was no way I was going out unless the blizzard slowed significantly or came to a complete stop.
Minutes quickly added up to hours, and with the storm still going strong, I finally admitted that I couldn’t avoid the raging snow much longer.
I would have to make the dreadful walk to my truck soon.
I had begun clearing my desk when I heard the faint sounds of car doors being slammed over the howling wind outside. I immediately froze, and my eyes glanced up at the clock. It read 1:45 a.m.
A sense of unease washed over me as alarm bells went off in my head. Nobody in their right mind would venture out in this tempestuous blizzard unless they were desperate or up to no good.
I reached into my desk drawer to pull out my Glock 19, and I leaned back in my chair, waiting for the knock that was bound to come next.
The knock never came. Instead, my office door came crashing in. I aimed the Glock firmly at the door and shot off several rounds. A male voice hollered out in pain, and someone returned fire.
I threw myself backward and took cover under my desk.
The sound from the gunshots was deafening in the small space of my office, but I heard a female voice scream, “Stop!”
Immediately, the shooting ceased.
I peeked around the edge of my desk, but thick, whirling snow and pelting ice made their way through the doorway, obscuring my vision, making it difficult to identify anything.
Eventually, it settled enough for me to make out three figures.
A female and male stood with their weapons drawn, faces shrouded in snow, and the giant mass of another male loomed on the floor clutching his leg, where several of my bullets had connected.
The huge male on the floor had reddish-brown hair that was cut close and a full beard to go with it. He was big and husky, with green eyes that shone full of hate.
Even laid out, I could tell he was taller than the other two. My guess was that he was at least six foot eight.
A forest-green long-sleeve shirt stretched over his bulging build, and black jeans and steel-toe boots finished the rest of his attire.
“Who are you, and what do you want?” I demanded, projecting my voice over the howling wind.
“I’ll kill her,” the male on the floor swore as he bled profusely. He cursed, undid his belt, and wrapped it tightly around his massive thigh to slow the bleeding.
A smug smile played across my face. Without even aiming, I had hit one of his major arteries. I wasn’t one to usually brag, but I had to give myself props. That was a pretty amazing feat.
“Bruce, shut the hell up!” the woman barked. “Rayne Slater, we have an assignment for you.” Her words were infused with a strong Spanish accent.
“The answer is no, so leave,” I shot back.
If they thought I’d work for them after they’d rudely barged, uninvited, into my office and had the audacity to shoot at me—even if I did fire the first shot—they had another think coming.
The blizzard’s frigid air quickly replaced the warmth of the office. Each breath exhaled like a cloud of smoke. I had tried to avoid the cold by working late, but now I regretted not leaving earlier.
“Now see here, sweetheart, that ain’t gonna be happenin’. We’ve come a mighty long way for yer assistance, and we ain’t leavin’ till we get it,” the standing male said with a heavy Southern drawl.
“So put your weapon away, and let’s talk about this, real pleasant-like.”
He was one to talk. He had his gun leveled at my desk!
“Well, you should have thought about that before you kicked my door down,” I quipped. “Besides, I don’t like being shot at. So walk back out, get in your car, and leave, because I’m not for hire.”
“Let’s kill her and find someone else,” the injured male ranted.
“Keep it up, Bruce,” the female hissed.
Her words were laced with a veiled threat, but Bruce didn’t seem troubled. He grabbed a nearby chair and pulled himself onto it with great effort.
The blood seeping from his wounds was starting to slow, which wasn’t a good sign for me.
“Slater, we’re not taking no for an answer. So let’s all put our weapons away and talk. The night is late, and we have other business to attend to.” The female addressed me this time.
“You first,” I shouted, remaining crouched behind my desk.
Surprisingly, they listened to my demand and holstered their weapons. The Southerner walked over to my busted door and propped it against its frame to keep the blizzard out.
“Much better,” he grunted and shook the snow off his black trench coat.
With the blizzard no longer filtering in, I studied the Southerner and the female closely.
He was about six foot two, with dark hazel eyes.
His coal-black hair was barely visible beneath his black Stetson hat, and dark jeans and custom black cowboy boots peeked out from below his trench coat.
The female looked Latina, with shoulder-length russet-brown hair and brown eyes. She wore a maroon peacoat with matching five-inch suede stilettos and black leather pants.
The stilettos made her tower over the Southerner, but only by a few inches.
I analyzed their features. The first thing that jumped out at me was that they weren’t human.
At first glance, they seemed human enough, but if you paid attention, you’d notice their underlying carnal power, from the predatory reflexes in their stances to the primal instinct in their eyes.
Humans just didn’t possess it.
I’d come across their kind before. I’d even worked with one, years back. But for the last five years of my life, I had done everything in my power to steer clear of them.
However, what I had standing before me now were three larger-than-life shifters. The female was a puma, Bruce was a grizzly bear, and the Southerner was a black bear.
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