SOS (multi-author series)
by B.J. McCall
Ebook ISBN: 07380-02380
[ Paranormal SciFi Romance, MF ]
Special Agent Zac Sweet has handled strange assignments for Fish and Wildlife, but his new mission, finding a missing shifter stone for a powerful wizard, gives strange a whole new definition. Toss in a new partner — a sexy feline cop with attitude — and the case really gets interesting.
An agent for Fish and Wildlife’s Special Outreach Service Division, Zac Sweet had reported to extraordinary individuals, but never a wizard. This was what he liked about S.O.S. Every case brought a unique challenge.
Zac often worked with other agencies, but Magus Borch wasn’t a government man. He was the leader of the Chamber, a group of powerful wizards.
Borch’s dark hair, punctuated with streaks of white, was long and fell over his velvet-caped shoulders. His dark eyes were fierce and his arched eyebrows were thick. His hands were large and his long fingers were tipped with white nails. A medallion hung around his neck from a heavy gold chain.
Borch didn’t stand or offer his hand, but remained seated behind his massive green desk. The smooth surface looked like scales and the supporting legs had clawed feet. Odd.
“Have a seat, Agent Sweet.”
Zac slid into one of two guest chairs. The surface of the desk shimmered. Given his job, he’d seen a lot of weird stuff, but nothing like this. Curious, Zac reached out.
“I wouldn’t do that,” Borch said. “Atanga doesn’t know you well enough to let you pet him. Dragons can be testy.”
Zac pulled his hand back. A dragon desk fit Borch’s peculiar office well. In one corner, an ornate chest hovered without any visible means of support, and the pictures on the walls changed randomly from landscapes to portraits to abstracts. In another corner, a pile of stones glowed in various shades of blue and green.
Curious about this off-the-books operation, Zac focused on the coming task. “Magus Borch, I am unfamiliar with the particulars of this case.”
Borch ran his hand over the desk as if to soothe his dragon. “I’ll enlighten you when the rest of the team arrives.”
“An interagency task force?”
The office door opened and the scent of cat swept in. Not stinking tomcat, but lady feline.
Zac rose from his chair and turned. The kitty was tall with long black hair shot with gold, green eyes and lush pink lips. She wore a black jacket and tight black pants that clung to curves that made Zac utter a soft moan beneath his breath. The cat ignored him and gave the wizard a warm smile.
“Good morning, Magus Borch.” The cat slid her hand over the desk, caressing its surface. Her fingers were long and her nails were polished in a bold pink. “Hello, Atanga,” she said, an underlying purr in her voice.
The dragon’s scales shimmered, changing from dark green to bright emerald.
Zac loved a challenge and decided one way or another after their work was done this sexy cat was going to purr for him.
“Good morning, Cattus,” the wizard said with a broad smile. “Thank you for coming.”
The cat removed her jacket revealing a white top stretched over high, firm breasts and a shiny badge hanging between them. A kitty cop. Things were getting interesting.
“Cattus, I want you to meet Agent Zac Sweet from Wildlife.”
Finally, she focused those green cat eyes on him. “Wildlife?” She looked at Borch. “Why is Wildlife involved?”
Zac ignored the disdain in her voice. “Nice to meet you, Cattus.”
“It’s Detective Love,” she said, stroking the badge. “Antiquities.”
“Love it is.”
Magus Borch raised his hand and pointed at the chairs. “Sweet. Love. Sit down.”
Zac tried to stifle a snort.
The cat shot him a look that said she’d heard it.
He gave her his sweetest smile. She turned away and smiled at the wizard.
“There’s been a theft. A theft that threatens us all.” Borch looked at each of them in turn. “Are either one of you aware of the shifter stone?”
“I’m not,” Zac said.
“I’m familiar with the myth,” Love said. “The stone exists?”
“Before we proceed, I must ask both of you to take an oath never to reveal anything about this case. Not the smallest detail.”
Zac had seen things in his job that defied logic and reason. “All S.O.S. officers are sworn to secrecy.”
Love swiveled in her chair to look at him. “Wildlife Special Outreach. Aren’t you the guys that deal with bears stealing picnic baskets?”
“The forest rangers get the exciting assignments like lions, tigers and bears,” Zac said. “Special Outreach gets the boring stuff, like working with Antiquities.”
The detective’s eyes narrowed. She looked ready to spit.
Bless the moon, sex with Love was gonna be hot.
Borch cleared his throat, interrupting their exchange. “Agent Sweet, place your left hand on the desk.”
Zac touched the desk. Atanga’s scales were smooth and warm. “I swear never to reveal the details of this case.”
Love placed her hand on the desk and took a similar pledge.
“Dragons take oaths of secrecy very seriously and so do I,” Borch said. “Thank you.”
Zac had no problem keeping secrets and he definitely didn’t want to get on the bad side of a dragon or a wizard.
“The shifter stone,” Borch said, touching the medallion lying against his chest. “Many eons ago a great wizard captured the magic of shapeshifting and trapped the power inside a black sphere. While the magic was held within the sphere all shifting ceased. The shifter communities were panicked. Strange vibrations were sensed. Things became unstable. Wild winds, horrific thunder, skies laced with lightning.”
Borch told the story as if remembering the events firsthand. Zac wondered if Borch was the wizard who had created the shifter stone.
“The wizard tried to undo his spell,” Borch said. “The instability worsened. The magic was too strong, too unstable to be contained, and the sphere broke apart. The vibrations ceased and stability returned. The wizard wanted to destroy the pieces, but feared he might extinguish shifter magic. To protect the magic he spread the three pieces throughout the world. The pieces were entrusted to shifters. One of the keepers contacted the Chamber to report the theft.”
The detective gasped. “The stone really exists. If word gets out every archeologist, relic hunter and amateur sleuth will be looking for the pieces.”
“That is why you must never speak of this mission,” Borch said.
“What happens if the pieces are put back together?” Zac asked.
“The instability would return and it’s likely shifters would be trapped in their present forms.”
Being trapped in one form? Zac thought about his pack. The ramifications were shocking. “Holy shit.”
“Unthinkable,” Love said. “Such power would attract evil forces.”
“What does the piece look like?” Zac said. “How big is it? How much does it weigh?”
“Knowledge of the stone is limited. Only the keeper can answer your questions. Her name is Bala Ayze. She owns Eagle Gemstones.” The wizard gave them an address for a small town in the desert called Quartz. “The keeper will assist you in any way she can.”
“You said the keepers of the pieces are shifters,” Love said. “What type of shifter is Bala Ayze?”
“Golden eagle,” the wizard said.
“How many are on this task force?” Zac asked.
“Just the two of you,” Borch said. “No one but the heads of your agencies knows about this operation and they do not know it concerns the shifter stone. Trust no one. Keep a low profile, but get the piece of the stone at all costs.”
“Why us?” Love asked.
Zac knew the detective was questioning the reason Wildlife Special Outreach was on the case.
“Agent Sweet is a tracker and an experienced, armed operative. You have the necessary skill to identity the piece and detect a fraudulent substitute. You and Atanga have history, Cattus. I trust you.”
“We’ll find it,” Zac said, thinking Borch had hired him for his tracking skills as well as his ability to protect Detective Love.
“Godspeed,” Borch said.
Love slid her hand along Borch’s desk. “Wish me luck, Atanga.”
The desk shimmered.
“If the need arises, Atanga is available,” Borch said.
This case was unusual. Zac usually chased down poachers, like the members of the Exotic Club. The crazy foodies liked to consume rare and endangered species. Who knew, perhaps a fire-breathing dragon might come in handy.
Zac followed Detective Love out of the wizard’s office and into an elevator. “I have wheels. Official.”
“I think we should keep a lower profile,” Love said.
They stepped out of the elevator into a subterranean parking garage. “Do all wizards have downtown offices?”
“Magus Borch lives in the mountains, but the Chamber owns this building,” Love said. “Let’s take my car.”
The cat stepped up to a luxury sports car and slid behind the wheel. Low-slung, red and shiny, the fancy car would cost at least three years earnings at Zac’s current pay scale. Antiquities must pay well.
“Definitely, a lower profile,” Zac said, dropping into the passenger seat.
Love started the engine and entered the address for Eagle Gemstones in the GPS system. “Buckle up, Sweet.”
Zac clicked the safety belt and checked the GPS. “Are you familiar with Quartz?”
“Never been there, but I like the desert. Straight, flat roads and high speed limits.”
The cat navigated easily through city traffic and entered the highway. She slid into the fast lane and glanced at him. “You must be good to catch Magus Borch’s attention.”
“Is that a question?” Werewolves had extremely sensitive olfactory systems. Useful when tracking suspects.
“How good are you?”
He inhaled. “You’re wearing Night Blossom, your hand cream has a citrus base, lemon. Your bath soap is flowery, honeysuckle. You spilled catsup on your pants and tried to clean it off with commercial hand soap. Your jacket is brand new. You recently treated your leather boots.”
“Bravo for you. How did you know my jacket is new?”
“Unlike your boots, the scent on the jacket is too fresh for long-term wear.”
“Maybe I just got it out of the cleaners.”
“Then I’d detect the cleaning solvent. Nope, it’s new.”
Love hit the gas and took a ramp onto a toll highway. The special high-speed road was available to law enforcement and any citizen with the skill and the coin to receive the highly coveted express permit.
“Are you carrying?”
His high-tech weapon was small and light, but deadly. Snugged against his back, the firearm was hidden by his loose shirt. When he shifted, his clothes and weapon morphed with the change. “I’m armed. Are you?”
“Antiquities officers are issued stun guns.”
“How does that work for you?”
Love glared at him. “You may have the firepower, but this is my case, Agent Sweet. Are we clear?”
Zac grinned. “I don’t mind a woman on top.”