Valentino's Cowboy [Brac Village 10]

By: Lynn Hagen

“Oh, come now,” Valentino said with a devastatingly handsome smile. “You’re not afraid to kiss me are you?”

Abe opened his mouth and the strangest noise passed his lips. He wasn’t sure what it was, but he could feel his face burning with embarrassment. The noise was almost like a squeak and a burp combined.

Valentino’s head jerked back as his eyebrows flew up. “I’m not sure if that was a yes or a no.”

Abe was completely and utterly horrified. He had to get away! He could hear the twins laughing behind him and his mate was staring at him as if Abe was a cute little dimwit. He did the only thing he could think of…Abe shimmered out.

He groaned when he found himself in a closet. Abe had always sucked at shimmering. It didn’t matter how much he had practiced, he never ended up where he intended to go. And now he had no clue where he was at.

When he heard heavy footsteps outside the closet, Abe held his breath. There was no telling whose closet he was in. The scent of mothballs filled his nose as he watched the shadow move back and forth under the crack of the door.

“And why should I wait?” someone with a deep and raspy voice asked. “The world should know that these vile creatures prey on innocent human beings. We could save lives if the human race were aware of the dangers all around them. Lester Berkeley already fled. I have men looking for him, but I have a feeling he won’t be so easily found.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” the second man said. “But if the paranormal creatures’ existence is revealed to the world then you would no longer hold your power as the head Vampire Hunter. Every yahoo with a gun and half a brain cell will go hunting. The order and discipline of our men who we have worked hard to achieve will fall to the wayside.”

“How so?” the first man asked.

“Our teams are structured and organized. They not only kill anything not human, but they gather intel. If the public finds out those abominations exist, then the vampires and other paranormal creatures will go into hiding, making our job that much harder,” the second man argued. “Our fight must remain in the dark or you will lose your seat of power.”

“Or,” the first man countered. “Those abominations against nature will be wiped out that much quicker. I already sent a team of spies into Brac Village. I’m gaining more intel than I could have ever hoped to gain just chasing them down.”

Abe broke out into a sweat as he listened. His heart was beating so fast that he could hear the blood rushing in his ears. He didn’t know who these men were but knew that they were arguing about exposing the paranormal world.

He needed to get home and tell Ahm what he had heard. The Shadow elf was part of the Ultionem—seven paranormal creatures who held a great deal of power—and would know what to do. Abe just prayed like hell that he didn’t shimmer himself into the room beyond the closet.

Chapter Two

Abe had relayed what he had heard to Ahm. He hadn’t gotten a look at any faces and never caught a name, but the Shadow elf seemed to know who he was talking about. That made one of them.

“You never heard who won the argument?” Ahm asked as he placed his daughter, Ashayla, over his shoulder and patted her back. “They didn’t say whether they were going to expose us or not?”

Abe shook his head, still amazed how much Ahm had mellowed out and how much he hadn’t. When it came to family, the Shadow elf seemed to have infinite patience—everyone else was just out of luck. Thank goodness the elf viewed Abe as family. “They were still arguing when I shimmered out of there. One of them had come too close to the closet and I panicked.”

Unfortunately, Abe had shimmered into the apartment above the diner and had to call for a ride home. He was grateful that Bryce had come and picked him up. Abe didn’t want to see Chauncey or Chance right now.

“No,” Ahm said as he bounced the baby gently. “You did the right thing. Thank you for letting me know right away. I’ll handle it from here.”

Abe had no problem with that. As long as he didn’t have to face the full Ultionem council, he was happy. He could go back to his problem of worrying about Valentino. His mate was gone by the time Abe had returned. Since he knew the man was the town vet, Abe knew where to find him.

He just didn’t want to find him right now until he worked out why his brain took a vacation when the man was near. That had never happened before, but then again Abe had never been serious about his flirting.

“Abe,” Gavin called out. “You have a phone call.”

Who in the dickens would be calling him? Abe had been disowned by his tribe, didn’t have any friends aside from the men on the Lakeland ranch, and he had no family. The men on the ranch were nice and Abe got along with pretty much everybody, but as far as having a buddy, Bryce was the closest thing to a friend.

Curious, Abe walked into the kitchen and grabbed the phone off the counter. “Hello?”

“Would you care to join me for dinner?” Valentino’s voice was light and teasing, making Abe ache low in his groin. No one had ever affected him that way. He was standing in the middle of the kitchen with an erection. Abe hoped like hell no one walked in right now.