Intergalactic intrigue, sizzling sexual tension, and a giant snake shifter to be vanquished. Things are never dull.
Enjoying much-deserved R&R on the black sand beaches of the ruling Authority’s planet Enitrus, Cliff Blood is not happy when his brother Matt and his lover Rum show up to spoil his vacay with bad news. It seems Brand Lotus, evil snake-villain with a plan to take over Earth by force, has been discovered heading back to Earth and he’s targeting the Bloods’ favorite cops.
Problem is, the Blood boys aren’t going to make it back to Earth before Lotus gets there, so Littlejohn and Petra have to fend for themselves, while negotiating a new development in their relationship that already has them slightly off-balance.
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Petra glanced at her watch and frowned. Littlejohn was two hours late getting to work, and she was pretty sure he wasn’t dead. So that meant he’d probably gone furry again and was in that apartment licking his own balls. She grimaced. Okay, that wasn’t quite the visual she’d been hoping for.
Tucking her shoulder-length brown hair behind her ears, she knocked again. “I know you’re in there, Ralph. Just open the door and let’s talk.”
Snuffling ensued on the other side of the door, and she could swear she heard him whine. She grinned, knowing just how to tweak him. “Bark once if you think I’m pretty.”
The whine turned to a drawn-out groan and something heavy hit the door. Petra leaned her forehead against the scarred wooden surface and traced what looked like a nail gouge with her fingernail. “You can’t avoid me forever, Ralph.”
Silence met this statement and then the sound of something big sliding against the door. She pictured Littlejohn leaning against its wooden surface, listening to her breathe. “I can try.”
She grinned. “Finally, he speaks. Come on. Open the door or your neighbors are gonna get a lot more information about you than you probably want them to have.”
She heard his sigh, stepped back and composed her face into a neutral expression, and waited as he opened the door. Littlejohn stared down at her with piercing gold eyes. He looked different absent the usual dark suit. Deliciously different. His broad, dimpled chin was covered in golden stubble and his dark blond hair had grown out enough that the curls he usually tried to tame had erupted along his neckline. His hair looked as if he’d combed it with a pastry blender.
She looked up at him, surprised as always by how much taller he was. She was five feet ten inches tall, but, at six foot four, Littlejohn dwarfed her. He wore only white silk boxers that had black paw prints all over them. Petra bit her tongue on a teasing comment about the boxers and stepped past him before he could change his mind and close the door again.
The cramped, dusty living room looked as if an intergalactic battle had been waged in it. It also smelled a little bit like wet dog. Fortunately the smell probably came from Matt’s dog, Scruffy, who was sprawled on the couch chewing some kind of bone, rather than the canine shifter standing in front of her.
Littlejohn blinked sexy, golden eyes as if he thought she might hit him. Petra frowned. “Stop looking like I beat you and tell me what’s going on in that beady little brain of yours.”
Littlejohn turned away, scooping up a pile of newspapers and fast-food wrappers and indicating the chair they’d been covering. “Have a seat. You want something to drink… or eat?”
Petra shook her head. “I’m fine. Quit stalling.”
Littlejohn dropped down onto the couch beside Scruffy and reached out a hand, absently scratching the little dog’s tangled brown fur. “Nothing’s wrong. I’ve just been monitoring Authority comms for word on Lotus.”
He shook his head, his sexy gaze sliding away from her.
“Well you can’t just sit in this apartment forever. The Bloods will let us know if there’s something we need to know. Go get cleaned up and dressed and I’ll give you a ride to work. I can fill you in on what’s happened over the last week on the way.”
Littlejohn held her gaze, a stubborn tightness to his jaw. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
Petra stepped closer, her fingers tightening into fists as anger replaced confusion about his behavior. “Oh for God’s sake, Ralph, it was one kiss. One tiny kiss…” Though they both knew it had been a hell of a lot more than just a kiss. “You need to soldier up. Nothing’s changed between us.”
His gaze sharpened and he stood, taking two long strides to close the space between them. “Nothing? You’re not that stupid, Pet. Everything’s changed.”
She pushed her jaw out and leaned closer, angry heat rushing to her cheeks. “Like what? What’s changed, Ralph?” Dammit, she’d make him say the words. Then maybe they could move beyond their current stalemate.
He leaned in too, until they stood so close their noses almost touched. “My name, for one thing.”
She blinked, anger softening under her confusion. “Your name has changed?”
“No, woman! You’re calling me Ralph now. You used to call me Littlejohn.”
If it weren’t for the fact that his whole body had gone rigid, his golden eyes flashing with rage, Petra would have thought he was joking. “That’s what you’re mad about?”
Seeming to realize how stupid it sounded, Ralph made an effort to de-tense, lifting his head slightly to move out of her space. “It’s not the name. It’s what it represents.”
Petra shook her head, giving up. She just didn’t have the energy anymore. When she’d lifted onto her toes and kissed him that night after they’d fought Brand Lotus and his hot puppies out in the country, Petra had just intended to reward him for letting her take him to the hospital. But what had started out as an innocent (maybe) smooch had quickly turned to an inferno when Littlejohn had grabbed her around the waist and hauled her in for a toe-curling, tongue-tangling inferno of a kiss.
Petra had relished the kiss. She’d been an active, enthusiastic participant in it. But then he’d suddenly broken it off, apologized, and walked away, leaving her feeling bereft. And the next day, Littlejohn had been different. Colder. Almost angry.
She’d tried to find out what was bugging him. She’d spent hours and days going over and over it in her mind. But she had just run out of energy to figure him out. If he didn’t want to be with her -- well, Petra had never had a problem finding men who thought she was worth being around. She didn’t need Ralph Littlejohn’s attention.
She nodded and stepped back, turning away. “You know what? I don’t care anymore. I just wanted us to be friends… but it seems you’re incapable of getting past one little kiss, so…” She started toward the door. “I’ll see ya around, Littlejohn.”
A low growl was all the warning she got.
He grabbed her wrist and yanked her around, pulling her against his long, hard body with a firm but gentle tug. She gasped as her breasts smacked up against his chest and looked up, feeling the first thin ribbon of fear as his growl deepened, finally turning to words. “You know damn well that was a hell of a lot more than a simple kiss, Pet.”
She swallowed, licking her suddenly dry lips. “What was it then? Tell me, Littlejohn.”
His gaze devoured her face, his hips arching to press a monumental hard-on into her belly. He lifted a hand to skim super-heated fingers over her bottom lip, tugging it down as his gaze locked on, his chest still rumbling under a growl. “It was life-changing. It was…” He lowered his head until his breath fanned her face with sweet heat. “It was terrifying and addictive.” His lips touched hers, lightly, oh-so-lightly, but the impact of that feathery touch slammed through her, turning her muscles to jelly.
Littlejohn tightened his arm around her waist when her knees gave out, holding her against his delicious length. “And I never wanted it to stop.” He lowered his lips to hers and groaned as she lifted her arms, twining them around his neck and giving herself over completely to the kiss.