Chasing Payne (Therian Agents Book 1)

By: Chantel Seabrook
Chapter 1

Chase glared at the man who stood in the doorway of his office. He slapped a folder down on top of the shitload of paperwork already heaped on his desk. “Dammit, Jacob, I don't have time to babysit a fucking recruit.”

Jacob Oliver sighed and shoved his hands in the pockets of his slacks. Shoulder-length black hair was pulled back at the nape, revealing strongly defined features. He looked like the meticulously trained warrior the Therian Agency had created him to be. “I know, but I need you to do this for me.”

Shaking his head, Chase stared into the eyes of his boss and best friend, and knew he'd already lost the argument. “Who is he?”

Jacob grimaced. “Lora.”

Chase's jaw dropped. “As in your baby sister, Lora?”

“She graduated from the academy in April. The Council hired her last week.”

Irritation turned to fear, and a muted growl vibrated in his chest. “And you let them? You know how dangerous this job is.” His lion snarled and paced inside him at the thought of Lora confronting the merciless rogue shifters he dealt with on a regular basis. There was no denying that the girl was brilliant. She had a quick wit, and natural charm that made her easy to be around, but she'd always been impulsive and highly emotional. A dangerous combination for a field agent.

Not to mention the girl had inherited the best of the Oliver genes. Golden eyes, rimmed with thick dark lashes, chestnut hair that framed a perfect, almost pixie-like face. Mixed with the restless, sexual tension that seemed to radiate off her in waves, every male agent within a mile radius would be after her.

Chase gave a brief shake of his head and sighed. “What were you thinking?”

Jacob's expression darkened. “I didn't realize she'd applied. By the time I found out, she'd already been informed of her acceptance.” Collapsing in the steel chair across from Chase, he frowned, and rubbed the back of his neck. “I didn't come here for a lecture.”

Chase clenched his teeth and fought for patience. “You know I'd do anything for your family, but you can't seriously think this is a good idea?” He owed Jacob's family more than he could ever repay. After his mother's disappearance, and his father's death, they had practically adopted him and his brother into their family. But of all the Oliver siblings, he'd always fought an irrational need to protect Lora. Handing the girl a gun, and sending her into the field, didn't exactly sit well with him. “Is she even old enough to work here?”

“She's twenty-two. One year older than we were when we started,” Jacob said, tapping one finger on his knee as he watched Chase thoughtfully. “But you'd know that if you ever accepted Ma's dinner invitations. She misses seeing you.”

Chase cringed inwardly at the mention of Anna Oliver. It had been well over a year since he'd accepted one of her invitations. The woman deserved better from him, but trying to keep his younger brother from self-destructing had become a full-time job. “Speaking of your mother, you do know she's going to kill you when she finds out about this.”

“She's the one who urged her to take the position.” Jacob rubbed his palms over his face. “Lora's not a child anymore, and we're all trying to be supportive and give her the independence she wants.”

Chase rolled his eyes. “Or at least the illusion of independence.”

“She'll be safe with you.”

“If you want her safe, give her a fucking desk job,” Chase snapped. He had a hard time believing that Anna Oliver, Alpha werelion, and an overbearing mother would accept her youngest daughter's new independence that easily. The woman would have his head if anything happened to the girl.

“She's starting first thing Monday morning.” Jacob propped an ankle on his knee and leaned back. “Will you supervise her, or should I assign someone else?”

Son of a bitch and dammit to hell. He did not need this. “If I do this, then you give me full control. If she screws up, she's gone.”

Jacob rose from his chair, a satisfied smile curling his lips. “Agreed.”

“You're a real ass, you know that?”

Jacob chuckled. “So I've been told.”

* * *

Lora wiped her hands on her black pants and blew out an uneven breath. The lioness within her paced like the temperamental beast she was. Overemotional to a fault, it had taken one nearly fatal event to learn to control her dual nature. She had severed the connection years ago, making it impossible for her lion to emerge, but that didn't mean the beast didn't fight her on a daily basis.

Today the struggle seemed nearly unbearable. The very thought of seeing Chase Payne again set her hormones on overdrive, and her big bad kitty scratching to get out.

What was wrong with her?

She was being ridiculous, acting like some emotional teenage girl swooning over a high school crush. Chase was her brother's friend, and now her boss. He was way out of her league, and she needed to get rid of all unsolicited thoughts ASAP. She was here to do a job, and she wasn't about to let some adolescent crush ruin her chances of advancing towards her goal as a Therian field agent.

Anxiety raced through her. She needed this job. It was more than just a paycheck; it was a chance to redeem herself. An opportunity to stop those of her kind who would use their strength and animal abilities to cause harm. They were predators, rogue Metamorphs that allowed their animal nature to govern their actions. Dangerous not only to other shifters, but also to the oblivious humans they shared their world with.

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