Hounded:A Steamy Shifter Mystery

By: Tasha Black

Acknowledgments





Thanks to the unstoppable women of Woodland Creek for creating a world for us to play together:



Scarlett Dawn, Aria Kane, Lia Davis, K.N. Lee, Hope Welsh, Calinda B, Alexia Purdy, A.E. Gatta, J. Rose Alexander, J.M. Witt, Carina Wilder, Sarah Makela, Emily Walker, Elle Thorne, Nicole Blanchard, Tia Louise, Mandy Rosko, J.D. Hollyfield, Mindy Larson, M.C. Cerny, Xandra James, Raci Ames, Isobelle Cate, April Aasheim, Cherie Marks, Rachel M Raithby, Ever Coming, Jenni Moen, and K Webster.



And special thanks to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for writing The Hound of the Baskervilles, and bringing the curse, and the ghostly hound of the moors to life. It was a pleasure to pen a sexy shifter take on his classic tale of mystery.





To The Black List, a more fun-loving crew of raucous readers I have never met! I’m so lucky to have these adventures with you!



And to my author friends, Sylvia Frost, Elle Thorne, V.M. Black, and so many more. You girls make a solitary job feel like a party!





Chapter 1





The front door swung open almost violently. In the slight movement of air that followed, Dulcie learned everything she needed to know about her visitor, without even turning from her peaceful view of the duck pond out the window.

The man who entered the office was a shifter, some sort of wolf or fox, most likely. He was the epitome of tall, dark and handsome. Sleeves of tattoos snaked up each well-muscled arm.

“Hi again, Van,” she said, spinning her desk chair to face him.

“Hello,” he replied abruptly.

Something in his dark raspy voice, tinged with the slightest South American accent, tickled Dulcie’s insides, but she pretended not to notice. Keeping things professional was the only way to survive as a real estate agent, especially in a town as unique as Woodland Creek.

“Let me guess, you’re looking for a cozy little condo with a view of the woods?” she teased, managing to keep a straight face.

“Very funny,” he acknowledged mirthlessly. He ran a hand through his too-long hair and lowered his glance to her laptop screen.

Dulcie had the dubious pleasure of sensing that what he was really doing was checking out her breasts. Being an empath had its perks.

She resisted the urge to arch her back. Somehow, the idea of his eyes on her body made her pulse race. Dulcie was a soft, curvy girl - and usually quite comfortable with her body. But Van was a rock hard personal trainer, which made her feel a bit self-conscious. And he was… that other thing she didn’t want to think about.

He was probably only sizing her up as a potential client.

She pulled herself back together sternly.

“Sorry. There are no new commercial spaces. But the Clapton’s still have their place,” she offered, hoping he would finally take her up on it.

It wasn’t that there were no commercial spaces in town, just none that would rent to Van. His credit score was inversely proportional to the extreme hotness score Dulcie would have assigned him.

Not to mention the other stuff on the report and financial form.

Have you ever made a late payment? Yes.

Have you ever been incarcerated? Yes.

Have you ever been obligated to pay child support? No.

She’d stopped reading right there, while he still had one thing going for him, and shoved the whole stack of papers into an envelope. The most important part had already damned him - the credit scores across the top of the page.

They weren’t nearly good enough for the kind of place he wanted. If Al and Bernadette Clapton weren’t so sweet, they wouldn’t let him have their space either.

Especially considering what he wanted to use it for.

“I told you already, that’s not the right place for me,” he growled, storm clouds forming over his gorgeous dark eyes. “It’s too small, and too far off the beaten path.”

Dulcie shrugged and tried not to picture hopping up off her chair to comfort him, pushing his black leather jacket off his shoulders as she nuzzled his gorgeous—

“Any news on the place next door?” he asked, ruining Dulcie’s perfectly good fantasy.

“Look, I know you’re not from here, but there’s a huge market for occult stuff here. That place is nowhere near closing shop,” she explained, not for the first time. “You’re just going to have to wait.”

He spun around and began to pace the pine floor and Oriental carpets of the real estate office.

“It’s probably for the best, Van,” she added as gently as she could. “You need to work on your credit and save a little more.”

“Dulcinea, I know I’m not the ideal client,” he said. And, as if hearing his mouth on her whole name weren’t enough, he placed a hand on the top of the desk and leaned in close to her.

The air he displaced carried his spicy scent the last foot between them.

Dulcie wanted nothing more than to quietly pick apart the bouquet of his breath and body scent. Frustration, excitement, sandwiches…

“But I know what I want.” His voice was quiet but the gravity of his tone vibrated between them. “And I will not stop until it’s mine.”

He was so close to her now. She couldn’t keep her eyes from the curve of his cruel mouth.

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