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Bear Meets Girl (Pride #7)(6)

By:Shelly Laurenston

Division director, unit commander, and black bear sow Lynsey Gentry looked up from the files on her desk and smiled at the polar bear taking up a lot of her doorway. Although, thankfully, this building had been created with shifters in mind, so the doorways were taller and wider and the chairs sturdier.
She motioned to one of those sturdy chairs in front of her desk. “Sit.”
With a heavy sigh, the polar walked into her office.
“Well, I’d like to say welcome,” she began once he’d dropped down across from her, but when Crushek only scowled—more—and kind of grunted, she knew the man wouldn’t be making this easy on her. He was one of the few shifters on the force who’d never asked for a transfer into her “Division with No Name” as Dez MacDermot liked to call it. The man loved what he did, but things had changed and he would have to roll with it. Especially now.
“Let’s lay this on the table,” Lynsey said, deciding to cut straight through the bullshit. “You didn’t ask to be here. I know that. I know you like working undercover. I get it. But you’re needed here. There’s no getting around that. So, and I say this with kindness, suck it up and get over it already.”
The scowl worsened, only now it was tinged with confusion. “How is that with kindness?”
“When you get to know me, you’ll realize that it really is.” She briefly tossed up her hands. “I demanded your transfer, because you’re needed here.”
“Needed for what? I don’t kill on order.”
“Neither do we.” When he scoffed, she added, “I don’t speak for The Group or KZS. They have their own agendas.”
“Then why do you work with them?”
“Because they get shit done while we keep order.”
“Keep order? Don’t you mean we cover their tracks?”
“If necessary.”
“I’m not a trashman, Captain. I don’t clean up after killers.”
“It’s Chief Gentry.” Lynsey leaned back. “And are you comfortable up there on your high horse, Crushek?”
“I just mean—”
“You sit there in your safe little world—”
“With drug dealers and gun-running biker gangs?”
“—and you’re completely unaware of what’s going on with your own.”
Crushek nodded. “Right. We’re being hunted. But we’re always being hunted.”
“That shit’s only part of it, and that’s really what The Group and KZS are for. They handle the big-game hunters and the lowlife dogfighters. Sometimes we step in and clean up to protect ourselves, and other times—”
“And other times what?’
“And other times we’ve got our own troubles among our own kind.”
“You want me to arrest—”
“When they’re doing something illegal, yes, I want you to arrest our own kind. Let’s face it. Our kind can get away with a lot of shit because they’re big, mean, and will eat the witnesses. Or, at the very least, get the hyenas to eat the witnesses.” She picked up a stack of folders she hadn’t managed to go through yet. “We’ve got meth dealers, bookies, hitters, leg breakers.” She dropped the folders. “And do you think we can really send in a bunch of full-humans to take down a hyena-run meth ring? Or bear-run bookmakers?”“We’ve never got in their way before.”
“Of course we have, but in this day and age, it’s harder to protect all our kind unless we can get there first. Unless we deal with it first.”
The polar, agitated, folded his arms over his chest. “So you didn’t hire me to ...”
“To what?”
Crush shook his head. “Nothing. What do you need me for exactly?”
“I brought you here because of your stellar record. You’re good, Crushek. And I was tired of waiting for you to get off your ass and see it was time for you to move to the next level. Okay?”
“Yeah.” The polar’s big arms loosened and he gazed directly at her. “So ... who am I going to be partnered with now?”
“Well ... you get along with MacDermot, don’t you?”
Cella met Smith at the front door of the Brooklyn precinct. As always, being cat and dog, they sized each other up.
“My, my, someone looks casual,” Smith remarked, looking over Cella’s seen-better-days sweats.
“And I thought Levi stopped making that particular style of jeans in 1976,” she shot back.
Grinning, they walked into the precinct and Chuck, the guard manning the front desk, glared at both of them. “No fighting on the elevator,” he warned them.
“Who? Us?” Cella asked before the doors closed.
And once the doors closed ... ?
Cella swung first, connecting with Smith’s shoulder. The She-wolf growled and swung back. The pair quickly put each other in headlocks and stayed that way until the elevator stopped at the eighth floor. The doors slid open and Dez MacDermot was there with a cardboard box in her hands.
She gave an annoyed sigh. “Both of you cut it out!”
She stepped into the elevator, forcing her way between the pair. “Honestly. Can’t take you bitches anywhere.”
“The dog started it,” Cella quickly stated.
MacDermot stared at her. “Really? Chuck?” she called out.
“It was the feline,” the guard said over the elevator’s speaker.
Smith laughed and Cella rolled her eyes. “Everybody’s a goddamn rat... .”
The elevator doors opened again and the trio stepped out on the ninth floor. On each floor of this building the cops handled different crimes or research, mostly specific to shifters. But the ninth floor housed the elite team members and detectives. MacDermot had proved she belonged on this floor a long time ago.
“What’s all that?” Smith asked MacDermot, gesturing to what she held in her hands.
“Just some research. I’m not finished yet, but Gentry wanted me in her office. Figured I could drop these off at my desk.” MacDermot gave Cella a once-over. “You look very ... casual.” 
“I’ve got a game tomorrow.”
“Okay, if you feel that’s really a good enough excuse.”
“Both of you are such bitches.”
MacDermot walked to her desk, dropping the papers and folders off there, before smiling and winking at the male now sitting at the desk across from hers.
Cella barely glanced at the man, noticing the surprise on his face when she passed, but he looked away so quickly that she didn’t think much about it. Until she stepped into Gentry’s office and stopped.
“What?” Smith asked her when Cella went stiff.
Lifting her head, Cella sniffed the air. “Hey ... hey! Isn’t that ... ?”
“Leave it alone, Malone,” MacDermot warned her.
“Come on, Desiree.” Smith shook her head. “You must know her by now.”
Jesus Christ, what was she doing here? Of course, if she’d been at MacDermot’s party, they must be friends, but there was no way that woman was a cop. In fact, Crush had just assumed she was some rich feline that MacDermot had met through her husband. The Llewellyn Pride were very wealthy lions and knew lots of other wealthy cats. But no self-respecting rich New York feline would be caught dead in those sweat clothes with those rips, holes, and bleach stains; or those battered sneakers, no makeup, and her hair in a sloppy ponytail at the top of her head. Yeah, okay, she’d come from the gym, but she didn’t have time for a quick shower either? Instead, she was offending everyone with her overwhelming scent. The scent that part of him wanted to roll around in until he was completely saturated with it.
Dammit! That was not what he meant!
See? This was the problem. The woman was completely throwing him off. Damn her.
And who the hell was she exactly and why was she here in what Crush now considered “his” house?
Calm down, he told himself. She hadn’t even recognized him. Mother of the Year had barely glanced at him, so it was nothing. Apparently, she woke up with a lot of naked men she didn’t know, so how could she remember just one? So he wouldn’t even think about it. Nope. He wouldn’t think about it ... or her. It was not a big deal that feline was here. He wasn’t sure why he was freaking out at all.
Calmer, Crush sat back and, wondering if they had a soda machine somewhere on this floor, heard feet running just before the feline leaped into his lap with her ratty sweats and delicious scent.
“Hi!” she chirped loudly, her arms loose around Crush’s neck, her tight butt wiggling on his cock. “So how’s my boyfriend? My cute, adorable boyfriend.”
Boyfriend? Crush stared at the woman. “What are you talking about?”
“Don’t you remember Sunday morning? You. Me.” Her voice dropped lower. “Alone?”
“Yes. I remember. I’m also trying to forget.”
“You are so cute. Just as cute as ... something.” She paused a moment, glancing off. “Hhmmh. What is worthy of your level of cuteness?”
“I am not cute.”
“You are cute.” She pinched his cheek. “Just adorable with that vicious scowl. Bet you scare all the bad guys.”
“Now you’re being condescending.”
“Can’t help it. It’s in my DNA. Like my stripes.”
A She-wolf with cold yellow eyes stepped up to the desk. “Ain’t ya gonna introduce us?” she asked the feline, and what backwoods did they dig this chick up from?