Author Charlie Richards
Now Available at eXtasy Books!
The Buffalo's Mechanic
Shifter's Regime: Book Ten
Keeping the Peace: While attending a fellow enforcer’s wedding, a water buffalo shifter runs into his own mate in a skittish human in need of protection.
Austin O’Malley doesn’t intend to stay for the wedding reception. He’ll watch the service and offer his congratulations before leaving. While he’s happy for his friend, he doesn’t want to bring down the spirits of the other guests with his dark attitude. Then he plans to head to his mountain retreat and enjoy a secluded vacation that’s been a long time coming. He needs the time to come to grips with the deaths of his two middle brothers as well as what he must do next—reach out to his estranged youngest brother with the news of what’s happened.
All Austin’s plans change when the headiest aroma teases his nostrils while at the wedding. Sitting in the back, he doesn’t know where it’s coming from, making the ceremony the longest twenty minutes of his life. Afterward, he tracks the smell to a cute little twink with soulful brown eyes. A whispered question to a friend he’d seen talking to the man reveals his name is Pete Saugner, a councilman’s private mechanic.
When Austin approaches Pete, he’s alarmed by the fear he spots in the much smaller man’s eyes. A fellow shifter shares what Pete’s scent should have told Austin. His mate is human, although he does know about paranormals. Can Austin figure out how to connect with Pete and keep him safe from a specter from his past?
Excerpt - The Buffalo's Mechanic
The excerpt below contain explicit adult language and sexual content.
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The gates to Regales’s estate appeared to Austin’s right, and he blinked in surprise. They were standing wide open. There were even balloons attached to the wrought iron fence on either side, the white and red objects waving in the wind.
“Huh. Okay.” Austin turned his Stingray into the drive and rolled slowly forward. Spotting more balloons in the perfectly manicured trees, he smirked. “Guess they’re going all out.”
When Austin turned a bend in the driveway and approached the house, he finally spotted several men dressed in suits, recognizing all four of them as council enforcers. One stood on each side of a car stopped in the driveway, waiting for the people to exit. Then the man on the driver’s side climbed behind the wheel and started forward, turning left onto the lawn where dozens of other vehicles were already parked.
Austin frowned, not pleased at the idea of someone else driving his baby.
Stopping where Enforcer Germaine indicated, the tall, slender anaconda shifter grinned broadly at him when Austin rolled down his window.
“Lucky me,” Germaine quipped, eyeing his vehicle appreciatively. “I get to drive this beauty, even if it is only a few yards.”
“Valet?” Austin grumbled, frowning upon seeing Germaine continue to grin at him. “Seriously? Can’t I park myself?”
Germaine tipped his head back and laughed for a few seconds before turning his attention to another enforcer. “What do you think, Laudlin? Think he’s okay to park himself?”
Laudlin—a beefy black bear shifter—tapped his forefinger on his chin. “I don’t know. We’re supposed to be inspecting the vehicles for bombs, you know.”
“What?” Austin snapped. “Seriously? Bombs?”
Head Enforcer Mycroft rolled his eyes while shaking his head at their pairs’ antics. “No way would Austin put a bomb in his baby.” He waved his hand toward where Enforcer Rigel had parked the other car. “Go on. Rigel will point out where to park.”
“Thank you.” Austin tipped his head in deference to his boss, then started forward. As he rolled by Germaine, he flipped the man off, which only made the guy laugh again.
Seeing Rigel waiting at the corner of the car he’d just parked, the alligator shifter beckoning to him, Austin headed that way. After he’d parked where indicated, he rolled up his window and shut off his vehicle. Austin reached over and opened his duffel bag so he could pull out his card for the couple. There was a hundred-dollar gift card to a sporting goods store inside. With that in hand, he exited and locked his vehicle before shoving his keys into his pocket.
“What’s with the valet parking?” Austin asked curiously, falling into step with Rigel.
Rigel flashed a smile his way, his white teeth gleaming in his deeply tanned face. “With the councilman’s gates open for guests, we’re making certain no unwelcome arrivals show up.”
“Speaking of which.” Mycroft checked the time on his phone. “Bought time we closed them. The ceremony should be starting in a few minutes.”
Mycroft hit a few buttons on his phone, probably closing the gates electronically, just as another car came into view. Austin spotted another fellow enforcer behind the wheel—Lyra Kilopia, a tiger shifter—and Germaine moved to intercept her. She grinned and stopped her vehicle, happy to relinquish her car to Germaine.
“Well, damn,” Austin muttered, unable to help the way his eyes widened. “Have you ever seen Lyra in a dress?”
“I have not,” Rigel replied. “But it is a wedding.”
Austin couldn’t take his eyes off Lyra—not because he was attracted to her, even though she was stunning, but because the sight was just too bizarre for words. At least, he thought so. As a kick-ass enforcer, she normally wore cargo pants with plenty of pockets—pockets full of weapons—and a black shirt that clung to her lithe torso.
Right then, instead of Lyra’s normal ponytail, her dark-brown hair was swept in an artful up-do, held in place by a sparkly butterfly comb. She wore a blue and white floral sundress, which dipped to show off her cleavage. The flowing skirt barely reached her knees, showing off her long, toned legs, which were accented by a pair of white, high-heeled sandals. Even her toenails were painted white.
Laughing, Lyra touched Austin’s jaw, causing him to snap it shut. “Well, I can see I’ve shocked the shit out of you all.” Her blue eyes danced with mirth as she glanced around at everyone, and they were all nodding, Austin included. “Well, escort me, Austin. I don’t have a date, either.”
Snapping out of shock, Austin lifted his arm. “Known you over thirty years,” he stated in his defense while Lyra placed her hand in the crook of his arm. “Never seen you like this. You look fantastic.”
“Thank you,” Lyra replied as they headed around the side of the estate house. “You clean up pretty nice yourself.”
Austin chuckled low in his throat. “I’m still in jeans.”
“But they’re nice jeans,” Lyra pointed out, glancing at him up and down. “They accentuate your fine ass.”
Curving his lips into a smirk, Austin murmured, “Thanks.” He indicated the wrapped box she carried in her other hand. “What’d you get them?”
“This is a tranq dart gun for Danny.”
Austin grinned broadly as he nodded. “Nice.”
With a number of enforcers finding human mates, tranq dart guns for protection were becoming popular. After all, not all shifters were too pleased by the acceptance of same-sex pairings or even mating with humans in general. Some things were just slow to change.
When they rounded the side of the house, Austin saw rows of seating set up, and most of the chairs were already full. Councilman Regales stood beside the flower-laden arch at the end of the aisle, and Enforcer Dane stood beside him. Both were in suits—Regales in black while Dane’s was white.
“Damn,” Lyra murmured. “We’re later than I thought. Come on.”
Austin hurried forward with her, silently agreeing. They found seats at the back and settled into place just in time to have to stand again for Danny’s appearance. Austin still didn’t understand the fascination with getting married, but he had to admit, Danny’s smile appeared radiant as he stared at Dane and made his way down the aisle.
Just as Austin retook his seat, a gentle breeze kicked up. He scented the flowers decorating the arch as well as the unique smells of the different breeds of shifters around him. There were several vampires, too.
And something else.
Underneath all that, Austin found his attention captured by a pleasant aroma of pine mixed with…grease. Inhaling deeply, he took in more of that scent. His gut tightened, and his blood heated. As Austin breathed in the smell a third time, his water buffalo rumbled in the back of his mind, urging him to find the source of the smell.
It hit him like a brick upside the head.
Holy shit. My mate is here somewhere.
As much as Austin wanted to do exactly as his animal urged, he knew he couldn’t. The ceremony had started. As Dane shared how he was the luckiest shifter in existence, Austin discreetly swept his gaze over the crowd.
There were only a few people in the seats that he didn’t recognize. His attention bounced between a slender female in the second row to the right, and a tawny-colored-haired man sitting with a group that he knew lived at Councilman Vincentius Goldstein’s estate. He found his focus riveting on that man, and his water buffalo rumbled his appreciation.
Anticipation flooded him at the chance to meet the guy.
Looks like I’m staying for the reception after all.