Snarky agent Cooper Dayton and his doting, werewolf partner Oliver Park are back on the case in this fourth book of the Big Bad Wolf series, Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.
This time the guys are going undercover at a couples’ counseling retreat. Between murder, werewolf politics, impromptu therapy and an approaching storm, Cooper is in danger of finding himself in the dark more than once on this case. In the following excerpt, when a bit of subterfuge almost gets too steamy, they lose the trail of a potential suspect and Cooper has to admit to Park that he hasn’t been feeling quite…himself.
Cooper and Park emerged into a room that was much warmer than downstairs. The air felt wetter, too, and he could hear water faintly nearby. Looking around, it appeared to be a sort of high-end locker room sans lockers. Or at least not the sort of lockers one expected. There were two fashionably enormous benches of dark brown distressed leather, wooden cubbies with doors stained mint green, and a curiously antique mirror. Along one side of the room was a counter with three sinks in the form of stone basins, and around the corner Cooper could glimpse shower doors and what appeared to be a steam room.
“Cooper?” Park asked hesitantly, and it hurt Cooper’s heart how confused he sounded.
He plastered a reassuring smile on his face. “Too bad we didn’t catch them. My fault. Did you pick up anything, though? Any sound or smell? But we should probably head up before anyone else comes looking. We really should get back. Don’t want to draw too much attention. Going to get a reputation—”
“Cooper,” Park interrupted firmly. “Please, you’re—just—slow down for a minute.” He stepped hesitantly closer. “What happened down there… Are you okay? You’re not really acting like yourself.”
Cooper looked down at his shoes. Honestly, he didn’t quite feel like himself. But how were you supposed to tell your lover that you were rattled by an unprecedented fantasy of fucking them in front of the entire retreat? He knew fantasies didn’t equal real-life desires. But still. Where the hell had that come from?
It was the suddenness of it that bothered him more than anything else. An almost alarming flip from professional and alert to…that. His mood was all over the place. He’d blamed it on having to take the AQ again, but even this morning in bed he’d felt a bit more intense than usual and if he was being honest, his mood had been all over the place since falling into the river yesterday.
“I’m…” Cooper started. But he owed Park more than vague reassurance that he was fine. That was for other people. Park was his romantic partner and his work partner; it was important he knew he could trust Cooper.
“I’ve just been feeling a little weird today.” He flapped his hand, frustrated by his own inability to explain. “Exhausted one minute and completely…hyper the next.”
Park was listening to him patiently, looking intent and supportive. As if whatever Cooper said would be treated as seriously as any other case that they could then problem-solve together.
“And horny,” Cooper blurted. “I’m intensely horny out of nowhere and was this close to sucking you off just now, potentially murderous voyeurs be damned. In fact, voyeurs welcomed.”
That wiped Park’s sweet and caring expression clean away. “Oh,” he said, shocked, and a slight flush colored his cheeks. “I…oh.”
“I’d like to buy a consonant now, please,” Cooper said.
“…’kay. I mean, right. Is that something you’d be interested in doing? Someday. When we’re not on a potential crime scene, I mean.”
Cooper felt a burst of affection for Park. “No. I mean, I don’t know? I haven’t thought about it. My point was that I feel…off. Weird.”
Park frowned thoughtfully and cupped Cooper’s face in his hand and stared into his eyes. “Pupils seem normal. Fever’s not back.” He ran his hand carefully across Cooper’s scalp. “Any tender spots? Did you sleep poorly? Eat something that didn’t agree with you?” Cooper said no to all of the above. “What exactly do you mean by weird?”
“I don’t know, I just don’t feel like myself? I haven’t since—”
Cooper jerked out of Park’s gentle hold, heart beating fast.
“What? What is it?”
Cooper backed up a few steps. “Oliver…don’t laugh at me.”
Park’s expression turned perplexed. “I just checked you for skull fractures. I’m not in what you might consider a jolly mood.”
“No, not… I was wondering, you can’t—” Cooper stopped. Ridiculous question. He should not have brought it up. But he still just needed to be sure. “I mean, if you were to…bite me… Really bite me ’til I bled, while in fur, that wouldn’t— Would that affect me in some way? Please don’t laugh. Or be angry,” he added in a whisper
Park looked about as far from laughing as it was possible to get. Angry, on the other hand…
When he spoke, his words were so tightly controlled Cooper shivered. “No. It wouldn’t affect you. Who bit you until you bled?”
Agent Cooper Dayton and his partner, Oliver Park, are going undercover—at a retreat for couples who need counselling. They do say the best cover story is one that’s close to the truth…
Agent Cooper Dayton is almost relieved to get a phone call from his former boss at the Bureau of Special Investigations. It means a temporary reprieve from tensions created by house hunting with Oliver Park, his partner both in work and in life. Living together in a forever home is exactly what Cooper wants. He’s just not keen on working out the details.
With a former alpha werewolf missing, Cooper and Park are loaned to the BSI to conduct the search at a secluded mountain retreat. The agents will travel to the resort undercover…as a couple in need of counseling.
The resort is picturesque, the grounds are stunning and the staff members are all suspicious as hell.
With a long list of suspects and danger lurking around every cabin, Cooper should be focusing on the case. But he’s always been anxious about the power dynamics in his relationship with Park, and participating in the couples’ activities at the retreat brings it all to the surface. A storm is brewing, though, and Cooper and Park must rush to solve the case before the weather turns. Or before any more guests—or the agents themselves—end up dead.
Follow Agents Dayton and Park’s romance from the beginning. Read the first book in the Big Bad Wolf series, The Wolf at the Door, available now from Carina Press!
Charlie Adhara writes contemporary, mystery, paranormal, queer romance. Or some assortment of that, anyway. Whatever the genre, her stories feature imperfect people stumbling around, tripping over trouble and falling in love. Charlie has done a fair amount of stumbling around herself, but tends to find her way back to the northeast US. When she’s not writing, Charlie is reading, hiking, exploring flea markets and acting as an amateur cobbler for her collection of weird shoes.
To learn more and stay updated, follow Charlie on the usual suspects!