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Buried Treasure
 

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Buried Treasure


  

  Spirit of Sage 13

  Buried Treasure

  Love has been right under Drew's nose, and he couldn't be happier. Until shit happens, and he finds he has two mates. Callahan, working at Cafe Anglais for years, punches his way into Drew's heart after saving Drew from Vince Smith, only for them both to realize that Vince could just be their mate, too.

  Drew is a computer geek, a member of Sage's Warrior's Brigade, and has secretly hidden a stash of money in cyberspace from arch enemies, Flashpoint. And they want it back. Hatching a plan, directed by none other than Drew’s father, Flashpoint send Vince to get the money, but Vince realizes he's been played, and tries to make amends for his stupidity. Tragedy has hit Vince already, and he'd be a fool to throw away his second chance at happiness. Can the trio resolve their differences? Or will Vince's ghosts continue to hinder?

  Genres: Action/Adventure, Alternative (M/M, Gay), Ménage a Trois/Quatre, Paranormal, Shape-shifter

  Length: 41,595

  Buried Treasure

  Spirit of Sage 13

  Jools Louise

  

  Siren Publishing, Inc.

  www.SirenPublishing.com

  A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK

  Buried Treasure

  Copyright © 2018 by Jools Louise

  ISBN: 978-1-64243-256-5

  First Publication: June 2018

  Cover design by Harris Channing

  All art and logo copyright © 2018 by Siren Publishing, Inc.

  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.

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

  WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

  If you find a Siren-BookStrand e-book or print book being sold or shared illegally, please let us know at

  [email protected]

  PUBLISHER

  Siren Publishing, Inc.

  www.SirenPublishing.com

  DEDICATION

  Sage is still going strong, with its enemies crawling out of the woodwork, all over the place. It gives me so many more story ideas…and changes are a-foot. Thanks to everyone who’s continuing to follow my saga. I love writing the series. Can’t wait to share more of my crazy shifter world with you soon. JL (: xxx

  ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  I’ve been fortunate to write professionally for the last four years, and live in the beautiful north-west of England, close to the Lake District, and about a mile or so from the sea. Plenty of inspiration, and a great place to write. I worked in retail for many years, then bit the bullet and decided to take a chance at a mid-life-career-change. You only live once! The only way to learn about writing is to write, and make sure to read lots, too, to get inspiration from other writers’ styles as you develop your own. I hope you enjoy this book, and promise there are many more in the pipeline. JL xxx <3

  For more info about my books, check out my website, www.joolslouise.co.uk, Facebook.com/joolslouise1/, or Twitter @joolslouise1.

  For all titles by Jools Louise, please visit

  www.bookstrand.com/jools-louise

  TABLE OF CONTENTS

  Buried Treasure

  Prologue

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Epilogue

  Buried Treasure

  Spirit of Sage 13

  JOOLS LOUISE

  Copyright © 2018

  Prologue

  Silent as death, the large spotted cat prowled close to the wire fencing, his coat blending perfectly with the white and black landscape. He lay prone, ears pricking, emerald green eyes focused intently on his prey.

  An orderly wheeled a man along a covered walkway, accompanied by two well-armed guards. This was no ordinary patient. Nikolai Petrovsky was special. And top of the feline’s hit list. Nikolai was responsible, with his now-deceased father, Dimitri, for the deaths of thousands of innocent shifters in Russia. He should have been sentenced to death, but the authorities had decreed the man would serve a life sentence instead. Apparently, killing shifters was still not enough of a crime to warrant a permanent end to his evil ways. And he was, according to reliable intel, making plans to continue that monstrous regime.

  The orderly spoke to the guards then disappeared inside, as arranged, leaving Petrovsky with the guards. One sentry turned, meeting the cat’s cool stare, nodded, then he and his companion turned their backs to their prisoner, lighting up a couple of cigarettes before wandering back along the walkway a little bit.

  The snow leopard seized his opportunity, leaping six feet into the air and clawing his way up and over the razor wire that topped the fifteen-foot boundary. Jumping down gracefully on the other side, he ran swiftly up to Petrovsky, staring into the man’s blue eyes, which flickered with terrified realization.

  Unsheathing its claws, the intruder raked one lethal point across Petrovsky’s throat, dissecting his jugular in one slice, then shifted again and retraced his steps. The snow that began to fall erased his trail as he exited the compound the same way he’d entered it.

  Glancing back, the large predator watched the guards, who stared dispassionately as Nikolai Petrovsky, aka the Shadow, gurgled his last breath, then slumped, dead, in his wheelchair. Petrovsky wouldn’t be directing any more attacks on shifters. Wheelchair or not, Petrovsky was a mass murderer. Nikolai had made a fatal error. He’d gone after family. Threatening little children, and using them to score in the deadly game he’d played. No more.

  In the dead of night before dawn had even considered stirring, the large cat melted away through the wilderness. There was no place on this earth for the likes of Nikolai Petrovsky. Let this send a message to all those who had considered Nikolai untouchable. Those who followed him, and persecuted shifters, would suffer the same fate. It was time to stop playing nice with the likes of Stronghold, Flashpoint, and Fortress. Shifters were here to stay. Not pay the price for bigots’ and bullies’ delusions of purity. Didn’t they all realize that humankind evolved from the animal kingdom? Shifters were just a little more in tune with their primitive side.

  He sent a silent prayer to the heavens. That was for you, Jayne. Rest in peace, little sister. I’m sorry I couldn’t save you.

  * * * *

  The Commander smiled coldly, striding through the gates of the prison to freedom. His captors were fools for letting him go so soon. And now the town of Sage would pay. Losing a few key players should shake them up. John Hastings. Drew. Dorothy and her son, Arthur needed to die, too. Not to mention Cullen. The fox shifter had helped Drew to steal from him. That was not acceptable. They all thought of him as some minion…that myth was about to be dispelled—brutally!

  A vehicle rolled up, and he eyed the driver suspiciously, then nodded, recognizing an employee, before getting into the SUV.

  “Look at this, sir,” the driver said, handing him a small tablet computer.

  The screen revealed footage from a few days ago. A snow leopard shifter attacking Nikolai Petrovsky in prison. The Commander snarled as the next feed showed the shifter meeting up with a second snow leopard. The idiots must no
t realize he’d had guards in place in case of such an attack to monitor activity. He didn’t care about Petrovsky. He’d been dispensable. He did care that a pair of snow leopard shifters had killed the bastard.

  “Send in the team,” he ordered curtly.

  “Yes, sir.”

  Chapter One

  Drew typed furiously, his fingers speeding over the keys of his laptop, his brain working overtime. The Shifter Network was a social media site used to unite shifters globally that had been compromised by Flashpoint and their allies. It had become an important tool to keep tabs on enemies and buddies alike. It was time to turn the tables on the former and find out who their agents were. It was a project he’d worked on for some time, since his father, Daniel Steadman, had found a way to get to Flint and Moe. He was a lynchpin, clearly giving orders despite his incarceration. But how far did his influence stretch?

  A little algorithm here, an app there, and he would be able to track their movements. His website, Buried Treasure, was just about ready to go live. A couple of bugs to sort out, then…bye, bye, Daniel.

  A noise had him lifting his head, glancing around at his surroundings. Was that a breath? A footfall? He wasn’t sure, but he felt an uneasy chill tracking down his spine, and sniffed the air. Alone in the cafeteria, he felt vulnerable for the first time in ages. It was late, after ten at night, and he’d just finished his last class, shifter biology. He’d gotten distracted with the damned website. Everyone else was gone except for a crew of cleaners. He shrugged. Perhaps that was what he’d heard, but he couldn’t shake the feeling he was being watched.

  Finishing his task, he powered down the computer and kept a wary eye out as he gathered his stuff, heading out to the parking lot where his cherry red Chevy Camaro sat waiting. Just as he reached the vehicle, he felt someone move up behind him and began to turn, only to be slammed face first into the hood, his arm wrenched behind his back, his book bag ramming painfully into his groin.

  “Give us the money,” a voice hissed, and his assailant gave his arm a vicious twist. The speaker was male, and at least four or five inches taller than Drew, his build thickly muscled and his grip powerful. Yelping, Drew gritted his teeth against the agony, trying to focus. He smelled peppermint and coffee, and an earthier scent, all male, emanating from his attacker.

  “What money?” Drew asked, not hiding his fear. He had no idea what weapons the other guy had. Clearly, the assailant wanted information, but as soon as Drew gave it, he was toast. He needed to stall until help arrived.

  The man punched the side of Drew’s head hard. “Don’t play stupid with me, boy! Your daddy tells me you’ve been a busy bee. And you can hack anything. Which means you have the capability to get to the money. So give me what I want, and I’ll let you go free.”

  Drew choked as the man’s arm came around, under his chin, and tightened enough that he couldn’t breathe. He felt sick at the mention of his father, Daniel, who had tortured him for months during several terrible months at a remote cabin in the Colorado wilderness.

  “If you kill me, dweeb, you won’t see anything but prison,” he gasped out, snarling furiously.

  The man chuckled mirthlessly. “Let them try to catch me, fool.”

  A trumpeting roar sounded through the parking lot, and Drew felt faint with relief and oxygen deprivation. Maizie was still here. The dean of the college worked long hours, and he’d often seen her at this time of night as she taught night classes twice a week. His own tutor had already left an hour ago.

  “Now your ass is gonna be kicked,” Drew wheezed. He felt another vicious jab to his head, then a second, cringing under the blows. Daniel, his father, had been a hitter, too, and this was bringing back some scary memories of being utterly defenseless against a larger foe.

  “I’ll be back. Make sure you have the right answers for me.”

  Drew was released so abruptly that he almost fell to the ground, catching himself quickly, refusing to give in to his jelly legs. He stared around, but saw only an empty parking lot—and a large African elephant thundering closer, trunk swinging threateningly. Maizie ran right past him, toward the far end, before stopping and trumpeting again angrily.

  Drew figured his aggressor had transport waiting. He listened intently and heard the unmistakable roar of a truck’s engine, then a vehicle being driven away at speed. He ran over to where Maizie was studying the ground, gazing at the road beyond the narrow belt of trees that shielded the lot from the highway leading to Sage.

  “Don’t shift,” he pleaded as she turned toward him, eyeing him with concern. “I haven’t eaten yet, and I’ve already seen enough tits for one day,” he said snarkily, jerking his head in the direction his mugger had gone, grinning when she tapped his nose playfully with the tip of her trunk.

  He followed her back to her car and was relieved when she used the vehicle as a shield, shifting and dressing quickly.

  “Are you okay?” she asked, studying his face carefully.

  He winced and touched his head. “The bastard hit me a couple of times, but he wasn’t there to kill me.”

  “What did he want?”

  “He gave me a message from my dad,” he said, frowning.

  She patted his shoulder. “So that man’s still trying to get his hooks in, is he?” she asked. “Prick!”

  He grinned. Maizie was not averse to a succinct swear word. “Yes, he is,” he agreed readily. “He seems to know an awful lot about what’s going on here, too. His stooges are everywhere.”

  “Yes, that’s worrying,” she replied seriously. “Flashpoint just keep popping up with their ugly mugs.”

  “I might have found a way to flush ’em out,” he told her.

  “The Shifter Network,” she responded, nodding.

  “Exactly. And this,” he added, showing her the new website.

  “You’ve become a target,” she warned, her focus sharp on his face. “Be careful, Drew. Those boys play for keeps. This is still a game to you, playing at being a spy, having fun using those mad skills you have. But Flashpoint are not anyone to underestimate.”

  “I don’t think this is fun at all,” he assured her, frowning. “My dad gave me a taste of what those fuckers are capable of. And he’s a shifter like us, which makes what he did ten times worse. He’s betrayed his own kind. His reasons may not be the same as theirs, but his greed for power and wealth sure as fuck is,” he said bitterly. “He would have killed his own sons, all of us, just to make our mom pay for disobeying him, and to get his hands on what he felt he was owed. He bled her dry financially, hurt her horrifically, and made us suffer unconscionable horrors.” He stared at her grimly. “You don’t have to tell me this isn’t a game.”

  “I know,” she replied, her tone softening. “Just keep your head down. They know something, too much, about what you’ve been doing. I’ll get the Two Spirit boys down here to check for bugs, etc. We can’t let Flashpoint get their claws into any more of our kids.”

  “Agreed,” he replied. He looked warily at the dark tree line, wondering if he dared to ask Maizie for an escort home.

  “I have to go into town to get a couple of things from the store,” she said casually. “I’m fresh out of bananas and milk.”

  He smiled at her in relief and nodded quickly. “I’ll follow you there,” he suggested as though hadn’t seen the bag of groceries in the back seat of her Ford Explorer.

  She winked. “I don’t relish Sherman or Cracker kicking my ass if anything happened to you, so I’m happy to make the trip into town again,” she retorted and climbed into her vehicle.

  He ran to his car, threw his bag into the passenger footwell, and fired up the powerful engine, trailing Maizie all the way back to Sage. He thought he spied headlights in his rearview mirror and braced for any other confrontations. Parking in front of the home he shared with his large, rambunctious family, he waved as Maizie drove past, and doused his lights. Something made him remain in the car, watching for a few minutes longer.

 
A dark-colored F-150 glided past, slowing noticeably as it passed his Camaro before speeding up again and heading out of town toward the main highway. He made a mental note of the license plate and tag number. Fuckers thought he was an amateur at this, did they? Thought it would be that easy to get back their ill-gotten gains? He’d buried that treasure deep…and only he knew the location. If they killed him, they’d never get it. And he was prepared to die before he let his father get his dirty hands on any money meant for hurting shifters.

  Drew grinned as he saw his mother open the front door, waving cheerfully. She always greeted him and his brothers this way. Even though she ran an artists’ store in town, she was always there when he and the rest of his family got home.

  He would make sure that his mom was never hurt again. And if that meant he had a target on his back instead of her, then so be it. The sperm donor who’d helped create him could go whistle.

  * * * *

  “You failed again,” Daniel hissed to his visitor, keeping a wary eye on the guard standing sentinel at the door. “What the fuck is so difficult?”

  “A ten-ton elephant,” his employee retorted coolly, unfazed by Daniel’s irritation. “You didn’t warn me that we had elephant shifters to contend with.”

  “What the fuck are you? I hired you because you have a reputation for being a bad-ass mercenary,” Daniel growled unsympathetically. “So quit whining and get to Drew again. Fast. We have to get that money. Our funds have dwindled to virtually nothing. We can’t fight a war with no resources.”

  “Sir, yes, sir,” the merc replied, rolling his eyes at the orange-clad prisoner.

 
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