Bear to the Rescue(Bear Claw Security Book 3)By: Terry Bolryder
“That is the best protection you could ask for,” Hercules said calmly. Then he looked at Bronson. “You know who she reminds me of?”
“Limes?” Bronson asked, stifling a laugh.
“Yeah,” Hercules said, leaning one elbow on the table. All of them had worked together in a shifter unit in the army. Bronson didn’t think there was anyone who didn’t remember grumpy, sarcastic Limes.
“I keep getting that,” she said. “But I met Limes. I like him. Not just because he’s an awesome programmer. He’s cool.”
“You would think that,” Bronson said, rolling his eyes.
“So did you. You hired him,” she spat back.
“If you two could stop bickering,” Hercules said sweetly. “We could talk about what we’re supposed to.”
Bronson felt ashamed. He was always the serious boss, the responsible one, but with Regan, he somehow always became the schoolyard bully, picking on the girl he had a crush on.
“Yeah, tell us what’s going on,” he said, being purposefully obnoxious by propping up his feet on the conference table and crossing his arms behind his head.
She sighed and leaned back as well. Then she removed her jacket, leaving her only in a tank top that showed lots of cleavage.
Bronson swallowed, feeling his throat suddenly go dry. But she was focused on her story and thankfully didn’t notice her effect on the men in the room.
Hercules sent Bronson a grin, and he gave him a warning glare that made it clear he was to keep his eyes to himself.
Mine, a little voice said. My mate.
Bronson cleared his throat and sat up a little straighter. “Tell us,” he coaxed, this time a little gentler.
She slumped back slightly, rolling up the silver bangles on her wrists out of habit. “Fine. So a while back, this guy was stalking my friend. A cracker.”
Hercules nearly choked. “What?”
“No, not a racial slur,” she said, laughing. “Hackers generally build things. Advanced software, antivirus software. Really high-level stuff. Those who don’t know that much but use what they do know to break into random people’s security for no good reason are called crackers. Because they crack into things.”
“Oh,” Bronson said. “I didn’t realize it was that complicated.”
“It’s a techie thing,” she said, waving it away. “Anyway, this guy got into my friend’s system. Stole sensitive information. Some… pictures that weren’t for him.”
“Let me guess. They were pics for her boyfriend,” Hercules said in a low voice, clearly feeling the anger Bronson was dealing with.
He hated men who tried to take advantage of women. He always felt unreasonably protective of them.
He was well aware that men on the whole were pretty terrible, and that meant it was all that much more important for men like him and Cage and Hercules and Limes to take action against them as much as they could.
“Go on,” he said when she nodded in response to Hercules’s question.
“Anyway, I didn’t even crack into his system. I just provided the police with evidence of what he’d done with my friend. Not just stealing pictures, but the stalking. The harassment. He’d said some seriously nasty stuff.”
Bronson pushed away the dark cloud forming in him and tried to focus.
He didn’t even like the idea of someone harming Regan’s friend. He couldn’t imagine how enraged he’d feel if someone were actually after her.
“So anyway, it turned out he’d been doing it to other women as well. I gave them what they needed to put him in jail.”
“Good,” Bronson said. “Problem solved.”
“Maybe not,” Hercules said.
“What do you mean?” Bronson asked.
“Guys like that, they often… share the stuff they steal,” Hercules said, embarrassed to even have to talk about it. He shook his head. “I saw something about it in the news a while back.”
“Yeah,” Regan said, tapping her nails on the table. “There was a group. They weren’t happy their supply was cut off. I started getting threatening messages here and there. But I really didn’t think these guys were dangerous. They’re just internet warriors. Guys who get all brave behind a keyboard but can’t say anything to your face. I’ve dealt with a lot of them over my career. But I’ve been fine.”
“But you thought you’d be safe here?”
“I also thought it would be an interesting job.”
Bronson narrowed his eyes, not buying it.
She threw up her hands with a sigh.
“Fine. I thought it couldn’t hurt to have a few bear shifters around, just in case.”
“Well,” he said, “we’re around. Now tell us what you saw at your car that made you go crazy.”
“I didn’t go crazy,” she said. “It just startled me. The weirdo ran away as soon as I saw him.”
“And where did you see him?”
A flush spilled onto her cheeks, and she avoided his gaze. “Crouching by the driver’s door.”
He heard Hercules’s hands tighten into fists as his own heart pounded in his throat.