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Protect and Serve: Hounding the Beat

Genre: Contemporary, Humour, Paranormal, m/m/f non-traditional Romance, Novella, (R-18)

Since pounding the beat is no longer an option, how is Sam’s life suddenly more arresting?

Bobby loves his work, but his fellow police officer, Chantelle, more. Unfortunately, they work in the same department, and they will need to make some life-altering decisions soon. Some lives have already altered. Take his friend, Sam: a drunken driver has left him with a damaged leg and permanent limp. Sam’s rethinking his career and his future for several reasons, one being that he’s very much in love with Bobby, and a little in love with Chantelle. If explaining to Sam that they are happy to consider a ménage relationship doesn’t complicate things, how is Bobby to tell Sam that he and Chantelle can turn furry at will?

If his voice doesn’t turn a little ‘husky’ in the attempt, he first has to live long enough to explain. Someone out there has a vendetta, and ideas that may end their future before it’s even began.

Available from Changeling Press.

Read an Excerpt…

“Did he say bathroom for my sake? I’ve heard Sam use franker words for taking a trip to the loo.” Chantelle sounded surprised. Her smell indicated amusement, as did the twitch of her lips.

“Probably. He does try to be polite around you.”

“Polite, but…” They looked at each other.

“Moody,” they said in unison, laughing. The waiter came over to them; they ordered.

“You really think Sam would be into the three of us if we offered?” Bobby asked.

“Yes.”

“And you don’t mind sharing your guy?”

Chantelle pursed her lips. “I wouldn’t like sharing you with another woman,” she admitted.

“Hypocrite.”

“Yeah, I know. I take it you mind the idea of sharing me with Sam?” The lilt of her voice made it a question. She looked thoughtful. Her smell was pensive. Concern tightened the skin around her eyes.

“You blame me for wanting you all to myself?”

“No. I just… He’s not going to put up with this. He’s going to quit his job.”

“He’s probably going to quit his job, anyway, even before the accident. He was good at it, but I can’t say he ever felt it was his calling.”

That had been easy to pick up in Sam’s scent. When people loved what they were doing to a degree where it fulfilled their spirit, it left a detectable odour. General happiness was less distinct. Some days Sam was generally happy, but he’d never felt fulfilled that Bobby could remember. Not physically, emotionally, or sexually. Bobby had deliberately ignored these things, because they were men, and a man didn’t ask another man about his “feelings.” Even when Sam had been injured, they’d laughed it off, slapped each other on the backs. The officers at the precinct had called Sam a lucky sod for being confined to a desk job, and let him hide behind the pretence. He had let Sam shrug and say, “Them’s the breaks.”

“He’s no happier behind a desk full-time than I would be,” Bobby acknowledged.

“True, but it’s not just the job. He’s going to move.”

“Move?”

“Ask him. He’s ready for something to change, because if it doesn’t, he’s going to curl up under the pain.”

“Pain?”

Chantelle sighed. “Christ, you…” She seemed to struggle for the right word and settled for, “Men! You’re all the same no matter the species. Pain of the accident, of wanting someone he thinks he can’t have, of not knowing where his life is heading. He needs something to change, a completely new beginning, and that includes moving away from everything and everyone he’s known. I’ll lay odds.”

“How can you know…” Bobby stared at her. “Don’t tell me you can smell that.”

She smiled a strange I’m a woman and I know everything smile.

“Fine. I’ll ask him.”

“And if I’m right? Can you reconcile with that? With not having Sam in your life? Because that’s what it means, you know. If Sam moves away, he intends to gradually break ties with us. He has to, for his sanity.”

“I’m not even sure about his loving me.”

“Smell him.”

“I have. All I’m getting is belligerence.”

“Of course you are. We need to get him in the right situation.”

“What are you suggesting?”

“We eat. We chat. We take this party back to… your place with a bottle.” Bobby was sure she’d almost said our place. No one knew of their relationship except Sam, and both had their own homes to go to, but Chantelle spent many a night at Bobby’s home. One day their luck was going to run out. They’d be discovered. Even in the unlikely event they were allowed to keep working at the same station owing to a lack of manpower, they’d never work the same rota again.

How much more complicated was the work situation going to be if they brought Sam into their relationship? Would theirs be the first British Police station to have to deal with a ménage situation? He didn’t think they’d written that into the rulebook yet. “We get him relaxed,” Chantelle finished saying.

The idea of Sam and relaxation didn’t quite go together. Chantelle shook her head at his expression.

“There’s no point, though, if you’re not happy about this.” Chantelle leaned over the table, her attitude urgent. “Bobby, he’s already been gone too long for your average trip to the bathroom. I’d say he’s taking his time to avoid us. He doesn’t even want to be with us over a meal.”

Turning her head, she gazed out the window, speaking to him while looking outside. “I love you no matter what you decide. My heart is yours, and the only way I’m ever going to leave you is owing to some misfortune or disaster. None of this would be a problem if you and Sam hadn’t been an item before I came along.”

The waiter had brought their drinks, and Bobby almost choked on his first swallow of beer. “Sam and I are not an item.”

She looked back, chewing on her lip. “No? Before the accident, what was your relationship like? If you’d realised Sam’s feelings, would you have made a move?”

With dog species, humping was a dominance thing regardless of sexuality. Among shapeshifters lines could blur, and that could get even more complicated. “I’ve never wanted to dominate Sam. Our working relationship was equal.” He said it, but his voice sounded questioning even to his own ears.

“It was? Did he ever defer to you?”

Bobby rubbed his thumb and index finger over his forehead, pinching the skin. He was getting a headache. “Sometimes.”

“All the time. Given the chance he would have rolled over onto his back, all four paws in the air.”

“Sam doesn’t have paws.”

Chantelle grinned at him. “Metaphorical paws. If he’d presented to you, what would you have done?”

“Fine. If I’d realised that was what he wanted, I would have taken advantage.”

“And when I came along?”

“I… I don’t know.” Could he have just discarded Sam like that? His animal side might have done, regretfully, but his human half wasn’t so sure. Put those two sides of his personality together, and it would have been a struggle to abandon Sam.

“But it never happened and now you’re with me.”

That by itself was a miracle. Two shapeshifters of the same type working for the force in the same precinct? The chances of that happening had increased only because Chantelle had sought Bobby out as her mate. Knowing that, how could he deny her anything?

“So we just leave Sam to get on with his life?” Chantelle continued. “If you’re happy with that, then fine. If you can look at Sam and see him making puppy dog eyes at you, deny you love him, and still walk away, then that’s what we’ll do. If we do and you regret it, I just don’t want that regret to eat away at our relationship. Accepting him as ours might be easier.”

Bitch! He thought it, but didn’t say it although he wasn’t at all sure she didn’t see it in his eyes. Know it all, interfering… lovely, wonderful, fantastic, sexy bitch of mine. She had him down to rights. “Why did you have to tell me how Sam feels?”

“Because to do less would be a betrayal. It would be like I’d lied to you, and you’d smell the anguish on me. Besides, I think we can all be happy. I’ll never love Sam the way I love you, but Sam wouldn’t need me to. I, on the other hand, can cope with you loving Sam and he you. But you need to hurry and make up your mind if you want to see this through because he’s going to be back any second.”

© Sharon Maria Bidwell, all rights reserved.