Authors: Laura Wright,Alexandra Ivy
BAYOU HEAT 13-14
Copyright ©2015 by Alexandra Ivy and Laura Wright
Editor: Julia Ganis
Cover Art by Patricia Schmitt (Pickyme)
Formatting by Sweet 'N Spicy Designs
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the author.
An electric buzz raced through the New Orleans hospital. The sort of buzz that could only mean one thing…
Dr. Angel Savary had just arrived.
With muffled giggles, the female staff scrambled to catch sight of the tall man, whose lean body was currently emphasized by a light cashmere sweater and black jeans. Not that the women gave a shit what he was wearing. All of them, even the elderly charge nurse, fantasized about tearing off his clothes to expose the chiseled muscles they could see rippling with every fluid movement.
And if his lickable body wasn’t enough, he was also flat-out gorgeous. His hair was white-gold and clipped short while his eyes were as dark as polished ebony. A startling contrast that never failed to capture attention.
And his features…they were stunningly beautiful.
There was no doubt he was all male. Raw, dangerous, lethally sexy male.
But his features were finely chiseled and gorgeous enough to melt a woman’s heart, not to mention her panties.
Today, there was an extra buzz in the air as another man strolled down the corridor at Angel’s side. No one recognized the six-foot-plus male with golden hair and gold-green eyes, but he made more than one female sigh with pleasure.
Ignoring the avid gazes that followed him as he strolled down the hallway, Angel led his companion into his office and firmly shut the door.
Instantly he grimaced. The large room that was elegantly furnished with a heavy walnut desk and matching bookshelves had always seemed comfortable enough. Especially since he spent only a few days a month at the hospital, preferring to remain in the Wildlands as much as possible. Now he realized the space hadn’t been designed to accommodate two alpha puma shifters.
Leaning against the edge of his desk, Angel leashed his cat’s aggressive reaction to the prickles of heat that filled the air. Not easy when Raphael, the leader of the Suits, was prowling from one end of the office to the other.
“Have you found anything?” the older male demanded.
Angel’s lips twitched. Raphael was a skilled Diplomat, but the past few months had taken their toll on all of them.
A crazed goddess. The near extinction of their species. A traitor. And now a new enemy was creeping out of the shadows, threatening to be equally dangerous to the Pantera.
They were all twitchy.
“It’s only been two days,” he reminded his companion.
Raphael came to a halt, folding his arms over his chest as he studied Angel with a lift of his brows.
“Like I said. Did you find anything?”
“Pushy bastard,” Angel muttered. He’d returned to New Orleans after it was discovered that human women were being impregnated with Pantera semen. The medical community wasn’t that large. There had to be someone who knew something. Unfortunately, the laws regarding patient privacy meant that it’d been more difficult than he’d anticipated. “My searches haven’t produced any direct connection to the Haymore Center,” he at last admitted.
“But?” Raphael prompted.
“I traced a series of blood samples and reports being sent to labs in both New York and Miami.”
“Is that unusual?”
Angel lifted his hand to rub the tense muscles at the back of his neck. Damn. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d slept more than an hour or two. They’d been in constant crisis mode for so long it was becoming the new normal.
“There’s a rigid protocol that the hospital uses to protect their patients’ privacy.”
Raphael scowled. “Explain.”
Angel reached behind him to pick up a stack of papers from his desk. He’d gone through them a dozen times over the past forty-eight hours.
“They have specific codes in the computer system,” he explained, pointing toward the rows of numbers that lined the left side of the papers. “They use well-known, highly respected laboratories.” He shuffled through the papers to the delivery forms at the bottom of the stack. “And if they transport specimens they use the same courier service each time.”
Raphael gave a nod. “And the ones you traced?”
Angel replaced the papers on the desk, his expression grim. He’d nearly missed the orders for blood work, as well as DNA testing on a handful of patients. It was only because he’d specifically been looking for anything the least bit sketchy that he’d spotted the odd requests.
“They were listed in the computer with encrypted codes,” he said. He hadn’t actually printed off any of the paperwork, afraid it would alert whoever was going to such an effort to keep them secret. “They were sent to labs that aren’t listed in any directory and the samples were transported by a private company.”
“There could be a legitimate explanation—” Raphael shook his head, realizing what he’d just said. No hospital would go against policies and procedures. Not in this age of malpractice lawsuits. “Okay, it’s probably illegitimate, but it might not have anything to do with us,” he added.
Angel shrugged. He couldn’t argue. It didn’t matter how hard a hospital tried. It was impossible to avoid human nature. Creative accounting. Prescription fraud… “It’s all I got for now.”
Raphael resumed his pacing. Larger than Angel, the male was wearing a pair of black silk pants and white shirt that he chose in an effort to look more civilized.
“Was there a pattern?” the older male at last asked.
“Women of childbearing years. And infants.”
Raphael sucked in a sharp breath, fully understanding why Angel had been so interested.
They didn’t understand exactly what the Haymore Center had been trying to accomplish before Stanton Locke had burned it to the ground, but it certainly involved Pantera, pregnant human women, and babies.
Angel gave a sharp laugh. “Trust you to sum it up in one word,” he drawled. “No wonder you’re a Diplomat.”
Raphael flipped him off. The two had been friends for decades despite the fact they were both alphas. They’d been drawn together by their mutual devotion to their people and their willingness to sacrifice whatever necessary to protect the Wildlands.
“Any clue who might be responsible?”
“It has to be an administrator at the hospital,” Angel readily answered. He’d devoted hours to deciding who could be secretly testing the patients. “Only someone with a high security clearance would have the clearance to access every step of the procedure without alerting someone along the way.”
Raphael cocked his brow. “That narrows the process.”
Angel nodded. It did.
“There are five I intend to investigate further.”
Raphael glanced toward the desk that was stacked with files. Angel had taken a temporary leave from accepting new patients, but there was a constant flood of paperwork. Sometimes he suspected humans made shit up that he was supposed to fill out just to piss him off.
“Do you need Xavier?”
“No.” Angel wasn’t a computer whiz, but he had enough training that he could run the necessary searches. “It’s better if I try to do this internally. Besides, Xavier has enough to do with tracking down Hiss.” He studied Raphael’s grim expression, noticing the lines of stress etched on his friend’s bronzed face. No one took the disappearance of the traitorous Pantera any harder than Raphael. Wait. Maybe Parish, the leader of the Hunters. That male had nearly lost his fucking mind when it was revealed that someone had managed to slip past their guards and take the male who had betrayed them. “Any luck?”
“Nothing so far,” Raphael admitted, his voice thick with frustration. “Payton is working with Lydia to track and sort through Locke’s finances to locate any other properties where Hiss might be hidden.” Angel nodded. Stanton Locke was the human who owned the Haymore Center. They all hoped that by finding the man, they could not only locate Hiss, but the bastard would reveal his nefarious plans toward the Pantera. “And the Healers are trying to work with both Reny and Séverin to try and recover their lost memories.”
Both the Pantera had been held in secret labs, although both struggled to recall precisely what’d happened during their captivity.
There was the potent stench of perfume before the door was shoved open to reveal a tall woman with bleached blond hair and a lush figure.
Sashaying into the office, the woman came to an abrupt halt as she caught sight of Raphael standing in the center of the room. Her eyes widened, a blush stealing to her cheeks before she sought out Angel’s amused gaze. The woman didn’t know she was in the room with two puma shifters, but her body was reacting to their potent pheromones.
“Hello, Elan,” he murmured in a low voice that made her visibly shiver.
“Forgive me, I thought you were alone.”
He offered a regretful smile. “Perhaps we can speak later?”
“Yes,” she breathed, obediently backing out of the office. “Of course.”
Waiting until the door closed behind her retreating form, Raphael sent him a mocking glance.
“No wonder you don’t mind working overtime.”
Angel shook his head. The woman was beautiful. And she’d made it painfully clear she was available. But she was nothing more than a tool.
“Elan happens to be the personal assistant to the Director of Finance for the hospital,” he said. “She has the codes I need to get into the man’s computer.”
Raphael heaved a deep sigh. “Damn.”
“I hoped you’d decided there was more to life than duty.”
Angel gave a snort. Like any cat, he loved to play. And there’d been more than a few females who’d warmed his bed over the years. But from the day he’d watched his mother die from a rare Pantera disease, he’d focused all his energies on his work as a Healer.
He hadn’t been able to save his mother, but he could save others.
“Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black, or some such shit?” he demanded.
Raphael shrugged. “I might have been a little obsessed with my responsibilities.”
Angel folded his arms over his chest. “A little?”
The older male’s lips twitched. “But I managed to have enough fun to end up with a gorgeous mate and a precious daughter.”