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Everyone's heard stories or songs about being a beast of burden. Well, it’s quite a burden to be a beast, too. 


Kane isn’t like most people: he’s not human, for one thing. What he is, is exceptional.


An event from his past led him to stay on Earth, a planet of people that were often scared and hostile to his kind. Even so, Kane ignored all the hateful things said to him and focused instead on the job he chose to do.


That job is everything to him, and it’s his reason for living. When one man shows up—Al, a new hire who keeps smiling at Kane when he should be looking at him with fear and distaste—Kane is faced with a challenge he never expected. He didn't think anyone would ever truly want him, and to discover that a very sexy, handsome man does indeed want him, shakes Kane to his core.


Despite Kane’s best attempt’s at keeping distance between them, he finds himself partnered with Al. Kane knows he needs to push Al away, and he tries. Sort of.


Al isn’t scared off like Kane’s former partners, and if he and Kane can survive the fight that’s coming for them, then maybe they’ll have a chance to discover what it means to love.


Beast of a Time

Hellhound Bound Book 1

Copyright ©2017 Misha Paige

First Edition

Smashwords Edition

Cover design by Beany Sparks

Editor Tracy Light

Proofer Jaymi Lynn

Published by Rainbow Ninja Press

All Rights Reserved

This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission. This book cannot be copied in any format, sold, or otherwise transferred from your computer to another through upload to a file sharing peer to peer program, for free or for a fee. Such action is illegal and in violation of Copyright Law.

 

All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

 

All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


Trademarks Acknowledgment

The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:


Holyday Inn: IHG, Inc

Applebee’s: Applebee’s Restaurants LLC

Mr. Coffee: Sunbeam Products, Inc.




Beast of a Time

Hellhound Bound Book 1



By



Misha Paige


Dedication


For anyone who has ever felt like they don’t belong.

Contents


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

About the Author


Chapter One


“Kane!”

The enraged roar of my boss, handler, and general pain in the ass was music to my ears. I stuck one finger in the air and held it like a maestro’s baton, then I moved it to the beat of the next words he shrieked from his office doorway. “Get your ass in here now!”

Everyone else in our squad room winced. A few grabbed whatever papers they had on their desks and tried to look busy.

Al, the new guy who had started yesterday, quirked an eyebrow at me.

Something about his scent unnerved me, a richness that pulled at me. Even more confusing was the slight feeling of familiarity.

Instead of acknowledging him, I did the same thing I’d done yesterday when he’d tried to introduce himself. I ignored him, making a show of casually taking the files I’d been reading over and dropping them into my desk drawer before locking it.

Now, Kane!” the chief ordered.

Barry Simon smirked at me from his desk, which sat entirely too close to mine for either of our liking. He made a snide comment under his breath. I didn’t hear it all, just the word mutt.

I’d have hated not to lower myself to his expectations, so as I rose from my chair, I grabbed a paper off my desk then leaned over to drop it onto his. When I did so, I let my eyes revert to their natural appearance, which made me look even meaner when coupled with the slightly canine features of my humanlike form.

I have demon-yellow irises with slitted pupils reminiscent of a snake’s—which was kind of funny since I was what humans called a hellhound.

Barry went white as a sheet. I brushed a piece of lint off his suit coat before straightening up.

I smirked down at him. “A mutt is a mix of bloodlines. I’m a pure breed.” I left off the and don’t you forget it part. Judging from the way his slightly unpleasant scent became saturated with the sickly-sweet odor of fear, I didn’t think it was necessary.

“Kane! Stop scaring your coworkers and get in here!” my boss yelled, clearly out of patience with me.

I turned away from Barry and made my way to the chief’s office. Time to face the music.


****


I managed to cram my large, six-foot-seven frame onto one of the wooden chairs in front of Chief Hanson’s desk and waited.

It didn’t take long before he sighed. “Really, Kane? You had to piss on your partner?” He scowled at me as he scratched at one of his silver sideburns. They gave him a distinguished air that suited the authoritarian figure he was.

Every time I was called into his office for an ass-chewing I thought, this must be what being called to the principal’s office feels like.

“If he’s going to call me Fido when I’m in shifted form then he’d best be ready for payback.” The asshole should have been grateful that was all I had done. In my hellhound form, it was quite tempting to take a bite out of whatever annoyed me instead of just lifting my leg to make a point.

The chief ran a hand over his face. “Damn. I thought Perkins was going to work out.”

“I can take a few snide comments and some ribbing but—” Bitterness gave a sharp edge to my words. “He wouldn’t stop treating me like a fucking dog, Chief.”

I leaned forward, just as irritated as my boss. This is what? I counted all of them off silently. Good grief. Perkins had been the sixth partner I’d had this year. “I didn’t endure all the shit the Bureau put me through to get this job just to have my partners treat me as if I’m a poodle.”

For the millionth time since I’d chosen to stay on this world, I wondered if I’d made a mistake in doing so. When the barrier between Earth and the dimension I called home went back up fifteen years ago in 2030, perhaps I should have been on the other side of it.

“Kane, at least give me the courtesy of your attention while I try to salvage the debacle with your latest partner.” Hanson’s voice held an edge that told me he was as close to giving up as I was. “I’ve got one guy left who is willing to work with you—probably because he’s new and hasn’t met you yet.”

“Ah shit,” I swore. “A newbie? What the hell am I gonna do with him? I don’t have the patience for somebody who knows what he’s doing, much less trying to show a kid the ropes.” That’s if he’ll even listen to me.

Hanson pushed a button on his office phone. “Barker, come to my office.”

I almost laughed but held the sound back. “Barker? As if I don’t get enough crap at a crime scene as it is, you’re giving me a partner named Barker?”

Hanson shrugged. “At least he has two names to choose from, unlike your diva ass, Kane-no-last-name.”

I averted my gaze. Where I came from, everybody was given a single name at birth. A second name only came about when a permanent home was found. I’d never had one in my world.

The hope that I would find it here had died a slow, painful death.

There was a squeak as the door open behind me. I decided to be polite and not piss off the chief again, so I stood up and turned around to greet my next ex-partner. The guy was who I’d expected—the man who’d tried to introduce himself to me yesterday.

He was kind of tall for a human, around six-foot-one, but he was thin. Jeez, I could break this guy with my pinky. But he met my gaze steadily and his olive complexion held its color though I towered over him. Since he didn’t flinch when we shook hands, I had to silently admit that he at least had some balls—which would be a refreshing change in a partner. In fact, his dark brown eyes seemed to have a trace of amusement in them.

I was pleased to feel callouses on his skin as he clasped my hand with enough strength that a tingle made its way up the length my arm. Then a spark seemed to travel straight to my dick as I took in his full, cherry-colored lips and the way his sharply defined cheekbones gave him runway-model good looks. His hair was well over regulation length. I swallowed back my discomfort as he moved and his tousled curls caught the light. The color of his hair fascinated me. It wasn’t entirely blonde or brown, but a chunky-streaked mix of the two.

It had to be a dye job, and I almost asked for his stylist’s name. His hair was that striking.

My hound wanted out so he could bury his nose in those curls.

I ignored my reaction. The last thing I needed was to be accused of sexually harassing a partner. If I was so hard up that I wanted to nibble on this dude, then I’d better get out to one of the clubs that catered to demon groupies. “Hello. I’m Kane. Nice to meet you.”

I heard Hanson give a muttered thank God behind me.

A cheeky grin lit up Barker’s face and I nearly swallowed my tongue. “I’m Al. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

His husky voice went straight through me. My blood pumped through my veins as if I’d just run a five-mile sprint. When I realized I was still holding his hand, I dropped it and took a step away. I turned back to the chief as if Hanson was the reason I retreated from him and not from the urge to lick a trail up the smooth column of his long neck.

What in the holy fuck was that?

I forced myself to tune into what my boss was saying.

“Barker here graduated at the top of his class in the academy. He had his pick of assignments and chose the DID.”

Well, that was different. Most people who wound up in the DID—short for Demon Investigation Department of the FBI—were there because that’s where they sent the screwups to die.

Literally die since we dealt with the rogues from my world who had stayed because of all the fresh meat that lived here. The population at home was much smaller, not to mention many of the residents were quite strong and capable of winning a fight. Way too many of my kind had remained here because human prey was so easy to hunt.

Human civilization had been set back quite a bit when the bomb had gone off. Between all the types of inhabitants from my world that had managed to get through and the damage from the explosion, Earth had only recently regained all the tech that had gone to hell in the aftermath.

I eyed my new partner and I asked, “Why would you do such a foolish thing as that?”

Barker just gave me a tiny grin. “I have my reasons.”

I couldn’t care less about my previous partners and their motives and feelings. It freaked me out that my first instinct to his answer was to keep after him until I got another reply that satisfied my curiosity. I had a sinking feeling I was fixing to find an entirely new level of just how wrong a work partnership could go.


****


“My turn to drive again,” Al said with a grin as we left our office building to go out to a crime scene. It was only our second month of working together and luckily this was only the fourth time we’d been called out. Unlike those previous times, this would be a longer trip. It was at least two and half hours from our office in Oklahoma City to the southern border of Kansas.

“No. Let’s take my truck,” I growled, not the least bit eager to try and squeeze myself into his tiny crossover for that long. I’d take the hit to my gas budget if I could avoid the backache from a long ride in his passenger seat. I waved my hand at the elevator in the four-story parking facility. “I’m on the third level.”

He shot me another one of those smiles that tended to almost stop me in my tracks. “No, I insist.” Then he came to a stop at the first row of cars. “Besides, we’re already at mine.”

I looked around but I didn’t see his car. “Where?”

“Right here. It was obvious that my other car wasn’t going to work for road trips, so I got something more suitable.” Al pulled his keys from his pocket and pressed a button on the fob. The lights flashed on a huge tank of a black SUV as the back opened. “Throw your bags in here. Do we need to stop anywhere before we leave town?” After placing his own suitcases in, he turned to me. I was confused. “Kane?”

“You bought a new car because I was cramped in the other one?” I asked.

Al chuckled. “Don’t get too full of yourself there. I hate being uncomfortable for long car rides too.” He gave a playful shudder. “An hour with the two us crammed tight in that other one was enough for me.”

I stayed quiet as I loaded my things into the back then closed the door. After I made myself comfortable in the front seat by sliding it as far back as it would go, I took out some folders then watched while Al competently navigated out of the garage.

He perplexed the hell out of me. I had noticed how many times he seemed to take things directed at me personally.

Last week, when I’d been called to the stand in court, he’d gone with me, claiming to be interested in the case. The courtroom was on the fifth floor, so we had walked over to the elevators. When the doors had opened, I’d seen looks of disgust on several peoples’ faces before I’d started to step in.

One man had sneered at me and said, “I believe this one is full.”

Al had stiffened next to me. “What did you say?”

“No big deal.” I’d turned around, intending to wait for the next one because I didn’t have the time or energy to deal with that kind of crap. Especially not when I’d had to testify about how I’d nearly ripped the arm off a man with my fangs as I’d stopped him from shooting hostages.

Remembering the visceral satisfaction that I’d felt while taking the perp down, and the wild hunger bloodlust always drew, I wasn’t all that sure the people staring at me in wide-eyed fear didn’t have valid reasons for it.

“Kane, get in this elevator.” Al had snagged my arm with a firm grip before he’d spun me back around then dragged me in. As I’d hunched down so my head didn’t hit the ceiling of the elevator car, Al had shot the man who’d spoken a challenging look.

I’d had the surprising realization that I might be the calm one in this relationship.

Partnership, idiot, a work partnership and don’t forget it.

“Did you have a chance to go over the report?” Al’s voice snapped me out of my musings.

It was irritating the way his husky tones never failed to make my hound want to roll over for a belly rub. I dreaded the day I’d need to shift around him because I could see my hound turning into an overgrown puppy all too clearly. “Yeah.” I fell silent again.

After a few minutes, Al huffed. “Are you going to enlighten me?”

I held back a grin. “If someone had been on time this morning, he might’ve had time to be briefed on the case before we had to leave.”

Al rolled his eyes. “Yeah, like the five-car pile-up blocking I-40 was my fault.”

I couldn’t argue that. “At least you did have your to-go bag ready. Hanson has been known to make agents take his instead of wasting time by packing their own suitcases with clothes that actually fit.”

“We’re going to check in with the police in Wellington, Kansas. The county sheriff will also be there.” I picked up the folder of papers I had kept out of my bag to review. “It’s the usual. Missing livestock, some of which are found later in conditions indicating a kill by a large predator. Several sightings of an unnatural creature.” I did my best not to betray my feelings over that description as I read the next part. “Two missing people.”

“All right, that does sound like it needs looking at.” He jerked the wheel, cutting across two lanes of the interstate to take the exit for northbound I-35. Al laughed when I swore and grabbed the oh shit bar until he stopped driving like a crazy man. “How big is this town? Do they have any decent hotels or restaurants?”

I flipped through the papers again. “It’s one of the towns that didn’t suffer too badly in The Aftermath. They had a growth explosion about twelve years ago when oil was still badly needed and they kept it by not fighting the changes to provide more clean energy. They have several solar and wind farms plus agricultural farms.” I made a face. “We have a two-bedroom suite at a Holiday Inn and it has an Applebee’s near it.”

“Not a fan of chain eateries?” Al asked.

“Not really.” It was more like they weren’t a fan of me. Plus, I felt like an even bigger freak when I had to order three meals just to get enough ribs to make a decent dinner. I usually had to shift a lot during these types of cases which meant I had to eat triple or more what I usually did to keep up my energy level.

Al was quiet for a little while, which was not like him at all. In fact, he appeared to be a bit tense.

I thought I had an idea of why that was and I hunched my shoulders. “We can switch to different rooms when we check in.”

“What on earth for?”

I scowled at him. “So you can sleep easily without worrying about me getting all demon-y in the suite.”

Al swore under his breath, shooting me a quick glare before returning his attention to the road. “Get a fucking grip, Kane. You’ve had plenty of time to learn that I’m not the least bit worried about you getting all demon-y on my ass.”

My jaw dropped open and a strangled gasp was the only sound I managed to make.

Al paused, then swallowed deeply. “That may have come out quite a bit more sexual than I’d intended.” He waved his hand at me. “But you’re not an idiot. You know exactly what I meant.”

Yeah, but I had to silently admit I’d enjoyed the pictures that had flashed through my mind at his faux pas. I squirmed in my seat, trying to hide just how much I’d liked those images.

Al slid a quick, concerned glance at me. “Kane, I trust you. I know what you did to get offered a position in the government. Hell, you’re the whole reason they offered any of you guys a home.”

“It’s also the main reason I couldn’t go home.” I’d been traveling back to the gate, intending to return to my world when I’d come across a couple rogues in the aftermath of an earthquake. It was clear by the remains left behind that they had been taking advantage of the chaos afterward to gorge on human survivors. When I found the evil bastards, I’d had to observe them for several minutes to see what was going on, how many of the fuckers I’d have to fight. They were tormenting a child, hunting him through the wreckage, letting him think he might get away before taking him down. Then the bastards would let him up and they’d start the game all over again.

“Why’d you do it, Kane?” Al’s voice shook me out of my memories.

“He was a child.” I closed my eyes. “They wanted a hunt, so I gave them one.”

A challenge in survival, which they had lost—except for the one that had fled as I’d fought the others.

Instead of chasing the one that had got away, I’d stayed with the kid until we’d been separated by humans.

“Did you ever find out what happened to him?” Al asked softly. “Find out anything—”

I cut him off. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Okay, but,” Al bit his lip. “You changed everything that day. I can’t imagine how hard it must’ve been for you.” Al’s quiet words shook me out of the memories. “I’ll actually sleep better if I know you’re close. There’s no telling what we’re going to come across in Wellington. A partner capable of shifting into a hellhound sounds really good to me.”

“Okay.” I could only hope he was telling the truth. I turned to look out the window as we drove on. Most of the beings from my world who had chosen to stay on Earth were the weaker species. And we weren’t demons, just like I wasn’t really a hellhound. I didn’t come from hell, after all, but a world separated from Earth by a thin veil that had ripped open. But humans needed to call us something, something they could understand, so my species were typically named after creatures from human horror stories. Oddly enough, most of us looked more human than beast.

Even so, there were those who preferred to stay on the reservations the government had set up, content to live peacefully. I didn’t fit in with them. I’d tried at first, but it had become clear that I wasn’t capable of it.

I was a hellhound. It was my nature to hunt, so I’d jumped at the chance to earn a spot in the DID and put my skills to good use. But it meant I didn’t fit in anywhere. I was too much other to be widely accepted by the humans and everyone from my world knew I’d be hunting them if they turned rogue.


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