Hunting DangerBy: Lynn Hagen
Brac Village 27
Deputy Dillon Sloan finished his report then pushed away from his desk, stretching. He didn’t mind the legwork part of his job. It was the paperwork he detested. His fingers were cramped, and his back ached from sitting for over an hour as he typed with both index fingers.
“Hey,” Deputy Vincent Stransky said as he sat on the corner of Dillon’s desk. “I heard Newt’s parents are still in town and the boss’s folks are coming over for dinner to do a meet-and-greet. You wanna head over there and see if disaster unfolds?”
Normally, Dillon would’ve been all for that, though he doubted the dinner would erupt into chaos. He’d met Sheriff Werth’s folks, and they were nice people. Newt’s mom was a bit extreme, but Mr. and Mrs. Bradley had been worried about their son when gunmen had stormed the station and killed two deputies.
“I’ll pass.” Dillon had loved the sheriff’s dog, had enjoyed petting and playing with the German shepherd every time he came over, and had even joked once about stealing Max away from Werth.
So Dillon’s mind had been sufficiently blown when he’d walked into his boss’s house to discover that Max was not only a shifter but his mate.
Talk about getting hit from left field, and Dillon was still trying to work all the shit out in his head. No, he didn’t want to go over there with Vince. Not until Dillon figured out how he was gonna handle the situation.
“Since when do you pass up an opportunity to see our boss squirm?” Vince asked.
Then again, maybe Dillon should go. He wanted answers. Max had deceived them all, and Dillon wanted to know why. He should give his mate the benefit of the doubt, but if he didn’t like Max’s reasons, Dillon was out of there.
He didn’t like being duped.
Dillon could’ve just asked the sheriff what was going on, since he was Max’s owner, but Dillon had been actively avoiding his boss since that night. Had the sheriff known about Max all this time? Had he known Max was Dillon’s mate and hadn’t said a word? That didn’t seem like something Werth would do, but Dillon wasn’t so sure anymore.
He shoved his seat back, stood and nodded. “Let’s go crash a dinner.”
Vince smiled. “That’s the spirit.”
Instead of taking his own car, Dillon crawled into Vince’s SUV. Vince talked the entire ride, but all Dillon did was nod and pretend he was listening.
How the hell, in all the time he’d been alive, had Dillon never heard of dog shifters? He thought about the little twink who had stood in the entrance of Werth’s hallway that night and Dillon’s panther yowled. The guy had been sinfully sexy, until he’d seen the man shift into Max, the dog Dillon had grown to love.
Shock didn’t begin to describe how he’d felt. How he still felt.
When Vince pulled into Sheriff Werth’s driveway, Dillon started having second thoughts. He sat in the passenger seat and stared at the house, wondering if he should go inside or walk away.
His choice was taken from him when Newt came outside, smiling at them, Max running out the door behind him in his dog form. Max stopped and stared at Dillon through the windshield.
It had been two weeks since that night, and all Dillon had thought about was his mate. And there he was, his beautiful coat of fur shining under the dying sunlight.
Max took a step back, as though uncertain what he should do as Vince got out and gave Newt a quick hug. Newt looked Dillon’s way and cocked his head. He said something to Vince, and Vince went inside as Newt approached the passenger side.
“It’s none of my business,” Newt said when Dillon opened the door, “and Orlando would kill me if he knew I said anything, but just so you know, Max has been impossible to live with since you walked out. All he does is mope, and I’ve even heard him crying in the den a few times.” He laid his hand on Dillon’s knee. “Just give him a chance to explain himself.”
Max’s reasons better be damned good ones because Dillon couldn’t think of anything that would’ve stopped him from telling Max that they were mates.
In truth, Dillon was more hurt than angry. Wasn’t he good enough for Max? Didn’t his mate want him? The only reason Dillon had found out about Max was because he’d accidentally stumbled on his mate shifting. What if he hadn’t? Would his mate have continued hiding who he was to Dillon?
He looked through the windshield at Max, who sat on his haunches by the front door, and his chest squeezed tight. Dillon had been lying to himself when he said he’d walk away if he didn’t like what Max had to say. He felt like a complete idiot, but Dillon would stay. Shifters had only one shot at happiness, given only one mate, and…Dillon scrubbed a hand over his head, unsure what to do.