Protected Mate (Catamount Lion Shifters #1)

Free Protected Mate (Catamount Lion Shifters #1) by J.H. Croix

Book: Protected Mate (Catamount Lion Shifters #1) by J.H. Croix Read Free Book Online
Authors: J.H. Croix
was trying to balance the need to give her space with his own need to find a way to know if she felt what he felt. The mere thought that she’d stay for a visit and then leave Catamount made his heart clench. He wished like hell he wasn’t trying to deal with the fallout from Callen’s death in the midst of this. It chafed on his conscience that he couldn’t talk much about his concerns about what happened to Callen. He worried she picked up that he was holding something back and misunderstood what it might mean.
    His phone buzzed again. This time Jake’s number flashed on the screen. “What’s up?” he answered brusquely.
    “You got a minute?” Jake asked.
    “Just finishing up at work. Do you want me to stop by?”
    “That’d be good. I’ll be in my office for another half hour. Can you make it before then?”
    Dane clicked off his computer and stood. “On my way.”
    Minutes later, he rested a hip against Jake’s desk. Jake’s office was a few blocks away from his. Jake had multiple computer screens covering his desk. The hum from his computer server was constant. Jake claimed he needed a separate office from home, or he’d never take a break. Dane had seen the lights on at his office at all hours, so he could imagine it would be much worse if Jake didn’t keep some type of divide between home and work.
    “So?” Dane asked.
    Jake swung around in his chair, his eyes serious. “You’re not going to like this,” he said flatly.
    Dane gut coiled. “Just tell me Callen didn’t risk our safety by accidentally revealing who we are to the government.”
    “I can’t say he did that, but I can’t say he didn’t. I don’t even know what to do with what I found. I’ll say this much: this needs to stay between you and me until we get a better idea of what was going on.”
    The knot of worry in Dane’s gut tightened. If Jake thought they needed to keep this quiet, it could only be bad news. He eyed Jake carefully. “You know I won’t say anything. What the hell did you find?”
    Jake took a deep breath and leaned his elbows on the desk. “So I hacked into the email of the Fish and Wildlife guy, Hayden Thorne, and did a lot more digging into Callen’s computer files. Far as I can tell, he’s nothing more than a red herring. I think he might be able to help us, but I don’t think he’s our problem. Callen was working with some guy out in Montana to sell...” Jake paused and shook his head. “Damn if I know how to describe it, but here goes. I think Callen was trying to sell our services for some high end money.”
    “What the hell does that mean?”
    Jake ran a hand through his hair. His eyes were bloodshot, his clothes rumpled, and his hair looked as if he’d run a hand through it too many times to count. “Callen had multiple email accounts under different aliases. The surface one, the one we first looked at, was the only one he used to communicate with Hayden. He seemed to be trying to pump him for information. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Hayden’s a shifter himself. But that’s another issue altogether. Anyway, he used some other accounts to communicate with a guy—no idea who this guy is, never mentions any names—and the deal was Callen offered this guy shifters to use for drug smuggling. For some serious money.”
    Dane’s stomach felt like lead. “You can’t be serious. There’s got to be a mistake.”
    Jake shook his head slowly. “Trust me, I said the same thing to myself. I’ve been up almost day and night combing through these email accounts. Once I tracked down the alias accounts, I almost lost it. I didn’t want to say anything until I knew for sure I could trace everything back to Callen. He did a decent job of covering his tracks, but he wasn’t savvy enough to know how to mask his internet service provider address completely, so that’s how I linked everything back to him. I can show you all of it. I’ve saved it on a separate flash drive and backed

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