“They found the body last night.”
Mace Llewellyn watched the police activity going on in front of his Pride’s home. He knew when he saw one of the Pride males waiting for him at LaGuardia Airport something was wrong. Still, hearing that a Pride male had been found with the back of his head blown out did take him by surprise. But only for a moment. He shrugged his shoulders. “And?”
Shaw, one of the more recent additions to the Pride, smiled. “I’m just doing what she asked me to. She said to pick you up at the airport, and that’s what I did.”
Rubbing his hand over his head, Mace sighed. Damn Pride bullshit. He didn’t have time for this. Or for them. His sisters and cousins. Waiting in that house like fucking queens of the Serengeti. They still hadn’t figured it out. Mace no longer wanted this. The day he signed the papers making him the property of the United States Navy, he ceased to belong to the Pride. Fourteen years in service had made him a man with a purpose.
He had two goals in his life at the moment, both of which involved his future. The first would work itself out with few problems. He would finally start his own business. He already had the financial backers and a partner. The second would be more difficult. He needed to find a woman. Not any woman, but the woman who had haunted his dreams and fantasies for longer than he could remember. The woman who deserted him more than twenty years ago. True, they had only been fourteen at the time but, damn her, it was the principle of the thing. He would find her. He would find her and he’d claim her.
The potential reality that she may be married with six kids or living in Istanbul as a nun never crossed his feline mind. He knew what he wanted. So he would have her. But, as usual, his sisters were in his way.
“Not sure why I should care.”
“Neither am I. Personally, I’m glad to see Petrov gone.”
Mace gave the man a sidelong glance, unable to hide his smirk. “Did you kill him?”
“Oh please.” Shaw studied his fingernails. Then he unleashed his claws and studied them as well. “Do you really see me bothering with killing him?” He looked at Mace. “I mean…really?”
The man had a point.
“Besides, he did know how to party. Petrov had…exotic tastes. So, anyone could have killed him.” Shaw resheathed his claws. “And what did you do to your head?”
Mace rolled his eyes. “Couldn’t exactly have a mane in the United States Navy, now could I?”
“I guess.” Shaw cracked his big neck. “She probably just wants to see you. You are her only brother.”
And the only Breeding Male of the Llewellyn line.
No. They would not have that conversation again. About his duty to the Pride and the Llewellyn name. He’d done his duty for his country. The Navy reluctantly cut him loose. He wasn’t about to go back into another service that would last a lifetime.
And he sure as hell wasn’t about to let them trade him out to another Pride like a New York Mets pitcher.
Shaw, however, clearly enjoyed his life. As the top Breeding Male of the Llewellyn Pride, he couldn’t ask for better. For some, being a Pride male was a great existence. The females fed you, bore your cubs, and made sure you lived comfortably. In return, you simply needed to help them breed when they were ready and protect them and their cubs from other Pride males. On the surface, it seemed great. For some it was. But not for Mace. He wanted more. He wanted his own mate. In particular, the girl he’d lost so long ago. She would be his and his alone. He had absolutely no intention of being in service to the Pride females like some rutting bull.
“I’m not coming back.”
“Don’t care. I could care less what you do. Although I would like you to get out of my car now.”
With another sigh, Mace grabbed his duffel bag and stepped out of the Mercedes that Shaw picked him up in. He didn’t go through the front door with all the media activity, but went around to the side. Several uniformed cops and a Pride male stood by the side entrance. The Pride male glanced at him, scrutinized his shaved head, and then let him in with a laugh. Mace fought the desire to snap the man’s neck. A fight he almost didn’t win.
He slipped into the back of the house, through the kitchens. The staff glanced at him but kept working. The holidays were their busiest time because of all the balls and charity events. Although Mace didn’t know a less-spirited group than his sisters when it came to the holidays. Mace reached the other end of the kitchen, pushing the swinging door open, when his phone rang. He dug into the front pocket of his jeans and pulled out the cell phone.
“Hey. It’s me.” Watts. An old friend who knew how to find information whenever and wherever he needed it.
“What did you find out?”
“She’s still living in New York. Divorced.” Mace closed his eyes and let out a silent breath. He’d hate to start killing people at this stage in the game. Especially some poor schmuck who happened to marry the wrong woman. “And you’ll love this. She’s a cop. NYPD.”
“Really?” He knew that had always been her dream, but he always wanted to be a hockey player. That didn’t mean he ever strapped on pads and joined the New York Islanders.
Mace glanced out one of the big windows looking over the garden. He saw them standing around. Uniformed cops drinking coffee and talking amongst themselves. Mace looked down the hall leading to his sister’s office.
“Are you still there? I’ve got more.”
“Tell me later. I gotta go.” Mace closed his phone. He licked his lips and tried to slow his breathing. She couldn’t really be here…could she? But hell, if she were then he’d always been right. A sign from the goddess Druantia, Queen of the Druids, herself—she belonged to him. She would always belong to him.
He made his way to his sister’s private offices, hearing the arguing before he even reached the door. He could hear her getting good and frothy with someone, too. Not surprising. Last thing the Pride needed was a bunch of cops searching into their lives. But Petrov had not only been his sister’s employee and one of the Breeding Males, he lived on the premises. Since a shot to the back of the head usually indicated murder, the cops had every right to check the house out.