I gritted my teeth. “Don’t you have someplace to be?” Like, anywhere but here?

Josh adjusted his baseball cap, and I caught another glimpse of those inhumanly beautiful blue eyes. “No place I’d rather be than right here with you, Marie.”

“Go away,” I said, turning back to my computer. “I’m busy here.”

“Busy with your list? Rounding up yeti for lonely were-women?”

I glared. “Go.”

He laughed and leaned forward, his big shoulders looming over my desk.

My skin prickled with awareness and I stared at him, waiting.

His nostrils flared and Josh tilted his head, then looked satisfied with whatever he’d smelled. He glanced back down at me. “Turns out Beau doesn’t need me. Sounds like the conversation’s over.”

He lifted three fingers to the air, then counted down to two, then one.

The door to the conference room opened.

A large man with inky black hair stormed out of the office. Beau followed, a grim expression on his face. At his heels, Bathsheba tugged on her long, white-blond ponytail, looking nervous.

The tiger clan leader seemed coldly furious, and I avoided making eye contact with him. He was mean looking, like a lot of the larger predator types. His arms were enormous and corded with veins, but his large, brutish features had an appeal. And he looked strong. Really damn strong. Strong was good.

I slid my list out and made a note of “tiger” under “were-anything.”

“Calm down,” Beau told him. “Let’s talk about this rationally.”

“Rational?” Vic Merino roared, the veins bulging in his neck. The big man snarled, his shoulders hunched with fury as he turned to glare at Beau. “One of my clan just turned a human. Do you know what this means? It means I’m now stuck with a fucking human who can’t figure out why she wants to turn into a fucking tiger every now and then. My clan didn’t need this shit.”

“I’m sure things will be fine,” Bathsheba began soothingly.

Vic turned his withering glare on her. “Fine? My clan will be forced to pay reparations to every other clan for breaking the law. Once the other clans find out what mine has done, they’re going to bankrupt us. And we’re also going to have to pay off her parents to keep them silent. We’re fucked.” His eyes grew fierce and wild. “My wife is pregnant with our child. You want me to be calm and rational while that idiot is taking food out of my mate’s mouth?”

Beau stepped in front of Bathsheba, silently protecting her, his glare fierce. “Don’t take that tone with my mate, Vic.”

Vic snarled back at Beau, baring his teeth . . . then dropped back a foot, pacing away. “Sorry. Fuck. I’m just a little stressed right now.”

I discreetly crossed “tigers” off my list. Yikes. I wasn’t sure I could deal with that kind of temper.

A muscle ticked in Beau’s cheek. “I’m just as angry as you are. But shouting isn’t going to turn her human again.”

“And what am I supposed to do? They’ve got me by my fucking balls and my clan by my wallet. Who am I going to complain to?” He crossed his arms over his broad chest. “She already tried to go to the police once, and we had to shut that shit down fast.”

“No human police,” Beau said, not moving from his protective stance in front of his wife. “You know what we have to do.”

That stopped the tiger’s furious pacing. “What do you propose?”

“The law changes today. Here. Now,” Beau said with a slice of his hand through the air. “First the trouble with the wolves and Sara, and now this. Things are getting out of control, and it threatens the safety of everyone. Maybe people think that because I’ve taken a human mate, the rules have relaxed. That’s not the case. Bathsheba’s life was threatened. Her sister’s been under constant attack. If anything, it’s proven to me that humans and weres shouldn’t mix.” The look on his face was grim. “From here on out, we’re moving to a no- tolerance policy. No unapproved turnings. Anyone who does? Can join their newly turned friend in permanent exile.”

Permanent exile?

“Exile?” Johnny said, echoing my thoughts as he stepped out of the conference room, the redhead trailing behind him, her hand clutched in his. He swallowed hard. “We’re exiled?”

“We haven’t decided yet,” Vic snarled. “Why don’t you go show your girlfriend how to control her change so she doesn’t make another fucking scene in public?”

The girl flushed a bright red, and Johnny scowled. He grabbed the girl’s arm, and they made a hasty exit out of the room.

Beau rubbed his face, seeming decades older. The tiger alpha looked like he wanted to ransack something, and Beau shook his head. “We’ll sit on this for a few days before deciding what to do about his disrespect.”

“And the girl—”

“Will be included in his punishment,” Beau agreed. “We have to be firm on this. If it gets out that someone’s gone and changed a human, we’re all at risk. Zero tolerance.”

“But won’t that be seen as hypocritical after you’ve taken a human mate?” Bath asked, her voice quiet. “Your men are lonely.”

“And the men are not acting rationally. I’m not protecting them—I’m thinking of you, of Sara. Of every single human woman that’s going to be hunted and turned into something she doesn’t understand unless we put a lid on this.” He fixed a fierce gaze on all of us.

No one said a thing.

Beau turned to Bathsheba. “I need a list of all packs and clans that have an extremely low female ratio. We need to make sure the males are kept occupied. The last thing we want is a string of human women turned by men who can’t keep it in their pants.”

She gave him a blank look. “I’m sorry, were you asking me as your wife, or your assistant?”

I sucked in a breath, expecting someone to explode.

But Beau only chuckled, leaning in to kiss her cheek. “I’m sorry. Could you please help with this? I promise I’ll look at those resumes for an assistant once things calm down.”

She gave him a mollified smile and nodded. That was the thing I never got used to with shifters. They preferred it when their women talked back.

“But—” Johnny began.

“No excuses,” Beau clipped as he jerked around to fix the man in his gaze. His teeth bared, and I realized he was furious. Barely controlled, despite his loving manner with Bathsheba. “No one else is turned, or they’ll be exiled permanently.”

My heart dropped into my throat, and I very quietly scratched out “were-anything” on my list.

That just cut down my list of available choices . . . considerably.

After all, I was trying to get someone to turn me.

Chapter Two

My mother died when I was eighteen. She gradually withered away, going slowly mad from a disease that had the medical people baffled. It’s called fatal familial insomnia, and it’s exceedingly rare.

I remember thinking nothing of it when I’d wake up for school and find out that my mother had been up all night, watching reruns on TV, unable to sleep. She’d laugh it off and say that she’d nap during the day. No one in my family thought too much of it at first. After six months, my father began to worry. She tried taking pills and medications to help her sleep, but they only made things worse. She went to see specialist after specialist, only to be told that no one could help her. When they made the final verdict—fatal familial insomnia—we realized what was in store for her. She was going to die a slow, painful death, and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

Mother deteriorated more quickly than we anticipated. Within months, she began to see things. When her

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