Sometimes truth is more dangerous than fiction. Ever since Fox shifter, North, joined the coalition to work as their psychiatrist, he’s had two rules. One— never get involved with a feline. Two—never, ever, ever get involved with a feline. Not only is North not eager to make any lasting connections, but he doesn’t want any drama in his life. Tiger shifter, Dominic, has drama as his middle name, and he loves every minute of it. Not only does he intend to live life to the fullest, but he’s not about to make any apologies for it. So, when he finds himself drawn to the super serious and super straight-laced North, Dominic is confused. He’s also scared, because North is the only one who could break through Dominic’s shields. That’s the last thing that can happen, for if the rest of the shifters discover who Dominic really is, they will all be in danger. Will Dominic be able to keep his secrets or will the whole coalition pay the price for his lies? .
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Chapter One E ven before they passed through the opening of the makeshift, pathetic attempt at a fortress, Marie knew all they would find was death, destruction, and suffering. Raising her head, she sniffed the air. Her Tiger shifter senses picking up the stench of decay, fear, and burning flesh. It seemed to intermingle with the thick layer of smoke that hung in the air. Even so, she could clearly see the bodies of all the feline shifters scattered on the ground. “What in the hell were they thinking? They should have known this was a death trap,” Ivan growled as he kicked over a charred cooking pot. A tall man with dark hair and an even darker attitude, the Panther shifter was her second-in- command and closest confidant. Or rather he’d been those ever since Marie had been forced to send her brother away. She knelt down and considered a Raven feather that stood stark amongst the carnage. Larger than normal since it hadn’t come from a normal bird, she picked it up. Her stomach clenched as she stared at the damning piece of evidence. This was not good—not by a long shot. 1 .
North’s Complication “So much for our treaty with the Ravens,” she murmured. Ivan scoffed, “That treaty vanished with Dominic. Now that he’s gone, and the head bird can’t have his toy, he’s going to take it out on the rest of us.” Anger and more than a bit of guilt washed over Marie. While their feline coalition might be small, they’d been around for centuries. She knew that most of the other felines thought her group was eccentric and a bit wacky. Truth to be told, most days she would agree. Not only did her coalition cling to old ways, but they had strange practices that no other coalition had ever taken part in. The worst one being the act of offering up the youngest royal family member as a form of treaty. Not only was the idea barbaric and dated, but when it included Ravens, it became downright nightmarish. Marie knew that had Dominic been turned over to the Ravens, her brother would already be dead. Or if not, he would be wishing he were. “Are you trying to make me feel guilty for what we did?” she asked. As she cast another gaze over the dead coalition members, she did feel a bit of guilt. “Is his life more important than all of theirs?” Ivan waved a hand over the carnage. “Dominic was just going to be the first. How long do you think before the Ravens demanded more sacrifices? The next one could have been Anton.” As soon as Ivan flinched, Marie knew she’d struck home. Ivan was as protective of his younger brother as she was hers. “They should have come to the coalition 2 .
Stephani Hecht headquarters when I told them to,” she said, her heart breaking as she thought about how many felines would be devastated. “Marric knew that if he did, your father would make him give up all his wives.” “Just two of them. Father would have let him keep the other three.” After all, that was one of their many unique differences. Unlike most packs, murders, or coalitions, polygamy wasn’t only accepted but embraced. So long as the central figure remained male. Mustn’t forget that important fact. “Marric loved them all,” Ivan pointed out. Marie cursed. Of course he had, and who was anybody to tell him differently? She hated that once again her father’s bullheaded ideas had made the coalition suffer. She’d once held onto the hope that her older brother, Adam, would someday challenge her father for leadership and things would change, but even that hadn’t worked out. Now the only thing that stood between the coalition and her father’s insane ideas was her, and in her group, females were consider the lowest of the low. The only reason she was even allowed to lead the team was because of her royal title and nothing more. She was the only woman who enjoyed that privilege, too. All the others were there for breeding, cleaning, and fighting, nothing more. Even her own mother had suffered until the day their father killed her in a fit of rage. She let out an angry growl as she looked across the carnage. “They should have been better trained or, at the very least, equipped to handle this kind of 3 .
North’s Complication situation.” “Since Marric refused to follow all the rules, your father didn’t think the man’s family was worth the cost or resources,” Ivan replied. It both pleased and surprised her to hear the anger in Ivan’s voice. At least then she knew that she wasn’t the only one appalled by the situation. “Let’s not dodge the issue. Father was pissed because Marric was hogging five females all to himself. Plus, it didn’t help matters that he refused father first fuck rights.” Ivan cocked a brow. “When did you get a potty mouth?” “When did you start talking like a twelve year old girl? Really, potty mouth?” Shaking her head, she yelled to the other felines, “Start a fire, so we can burn the dead. Search the area for more evidence and make sure to take back what you can. Take pictures of everything else. I don’t care how small it may seem. If these bastards left behind so much as a smudge, I want it on film as proof.” Normally a group of warriors would have balked at taking orders from a female, but these felines had worked with Marie for years. They were loyal to her only, and more than once they’d put their lives on the line to help her. Like when they helped Dominic escape. Her chest clenched as she wondered why she was thinking of him so much. Was it seeing the damage that the Ravens could cause, or was there some other reason? What if he’s in danger? 4 .
Stephani Hecht No! Dominic was safe and living with a new coalition. One that didn’t even know who he really was. She hoped it stayed that way, too. Because if the rest of the shifter world found out that Dominic Soothslayer, third heir to the royal Treblem Coalition crown was alive and living in Flint, his life would be in mortal jeopardy. * * * * Dominic opened his mouth wide, knowing he was doing a pretty good impression of a fish, but not caring. “Come on, again!” A tired sigh was his reply, “Really? You do realize that people could be watching us?” “I don’t care. Baby, fill my mouth up, one more time.” Xavier rolled his eyes. “Yet people tell me that I’m the one who needs to grow up.” The Eagle still tossed another M&M at Dominic’s mouth. It went high, the red candy sailing through the air. The harsh lights from the cafeteria ceiling made it hard to see, adding another level of difficulty. Then again, Dominic wasn’t the champion food-in-mouth- catcher for nothing. And yes, that was the official name. He’d even had a t-shirt made up to celebrate it and everything. He arched back, his lips parting farther. The candy now was coming right at him. It was almost too easy. Just as his lips were about to capture the food, his chair tipped over. Dominic tried to surge forward and 5 .