Chapter One: For Your Protection
Albert Williams looked at the man before him. He has asked for a favor because he fears for his daughter’s life. He will be the next mayor and has plans for their city, plans that not everyone wants to see come to light. He has received many life threats, but none scared him. Not until he received one threatening his daughter’s life. That was when he knew something had to be done.
And what better way to protect his only child but to hire Shifters.
“I have the perfect team to protect your daughter,” the man said with a smile.
Albert nodded and handed the man a picture of his daughter. He has spent most of his career keeping his daughter out of the spotlight because of his fear of precisely this happening.
“She can’t know she’s being followed,” Albert said, watching the man before him look at the picture of his daughter.
The man nodded. “I will call you when the team is in position.”
“Thank you, Mr. Pistola.”
The man grinned and held his hand out to Albert. “Please, call me Tony. And it is my honor to protect your daughter. She is a lovely girl, and I will make sure she stays safe.”
Albert nodded. “I was told I could count on you.”
“And you can,” Tony said, then turned and left the office.
Albert collapsed into his chair and wiped his hand down his face. For years his daughter has been out of the spotlight. How the fuck had the blackmailer found her?
Tony Pistola looked at his watch as he left the office of the future mayor. He must find a team in the next hour who can watch over the man’s little princess.
“Argh,” he grumbled.
Yes, he had assured the mayor that he had the perfect team for the job, but he had to say something. His best team was on a mission in Russia. Not that he will need his best team. This was going to be a cakewalk. The threats the mayor receives every day, he says nothing, but he gets one threatening his daughter’s life, and he goes bananas.
Tony pulled his phone from his jacket pocket and hit speed dial for his company’s office. He may not have the three best Shifters on hand, but he can find someone to keep an eye on the pretty young lady.
“Hey Alison,” he said when his receptionist answered the phone. “Who is available for the next month?”
“Uhm, I’m not sure, boss,” Alison said, lifting the books up and opening the first few pages. “What is the assignment?”
“Watching the future mayor’s daughter.”
The line went quiet, and Tony wondered if they were disconnected.
“Albert Williams has a daughter?” Alison asked.
Tony almost laughed—because that is the exact same reaction he had just thirty minutes ago.
“Yeah, and he has received a life threat on her. But I don’t think it’s much to investigate. Just need a couple guys to follow her around….”
“How did he keep her out of the public view for so long?” Alison asked, interrupting Tony.
Tony shrugged, then remembered she couldn’t see him and smiled. “I’m not sure, but somehow someone discovered her and threatened to kill her if he doesn’t pull out. The man wouldn’t give up being mayor, and I don’t blame him. He has tons of plans that will be good for the city. So, we just need to keep his daughter safe for the next month until voting is over, and he can….”
“He will need protection twenty-four-seven once he becomes mayor,” Alison interrupted.
Tony opened his car door and pulled himself inside.
“I can see what you are thinking, Alison. This is a short term….”
“Fine,” Alison said with a sigh. “I know you don’t like the man, but he does have better plans than any other Mayer before him.”
“He does, and that is why I agreed to protect his daughter, even if she turns out to be a snooty little brat as I know she will be.”
Lyra Williams looked at herself in her mirror. She looked like hell swept past her. She grunted and walked into the shower. Okay, so volunteering to help clean the side of the road for three days wasn’t the best decision she has made in a while. She smiled as she leaned forward and let the water run down her back. But it sure felt good to do something for the public, even if no one knows who she is.
She has never used her real last name—just Lyra. That’s all anyone has ever known her as. She knows what would happen if they knew she was rich and the daughter of the future mayor. Lyra frowned as she looked up at the water.
She had learned her lesson a long time ago.
Don’t tell anyone who your father is—because they will never look at you the same.
And they don’t.
She washed before the water turned cold on her and wrapped a large towel around her body.
Lyra grunted. Her mother probably wanted to set her up with some prince or something…
“In the bathroom, Mother!”
The door opened, and Janessa Williams stood in the doorway, watching her daughter.
“You volunteered again,” Janessa said with a smile.
Lyra smiled. “When do you know me to not volunteer?”
Janessa let out a sigh. “But did you have to do it today? I have set up a date for you….”
“Ah, Mom,” Lyra said with a roll of her eyes. She knew this was coming. “You know I don’t like these dates….”
“Yes, well, you need to find….”
“No, Mother, I don’t; you do.”
Janessa watched her daughter brush her hair and wondered what happened to the little girl who was excited to do whatever mommy wanted… She grew up into this beautiful, intelligent woman.
“Please,” Janessa asked.
Lyra turned to her mother. “What is in it for you?”
Janessa smiled. “He’s a shifter and the son of the man responsible for everything good that has happened to us.”
Lyra blinked. “You mean, Dad’s supporter.”
Janessa nodded. “Wouldn’t it be exciting to date a Shifter?”
Lyra snorted. “Sure, Mom, just great.”
Lyra wasn’t the biggest fan of Shifters. Not since the bitch who attacked her, because Lyra had said hi to the crazy Shifter’s boyfriend. Which had been a friend of Lyra’s since kindergarten. Shifters are all territorial and crazy as bats. Fuck, maybe the bitch shifted into a bat…
“Lyra?” Janessa asked. “Where did you go?”
Lyra moved past her mother and into her bedroom. “Was just remembering the crazy Shifter who was dating Mickie a couple years ago. She attacked me just for saying hi to my friend. And saying, I knew him first, didn’t go over well.”
Janessa sighed. She remembered that incident too well. Lyra had been in the hospital for two days after the attack, and it had taken everything in her to keep her husband from suing the female Shifter’s family.
“Not all shifters are like that. And didn’t Mickie dump her after she attacked you?”
Lyra turned to her mother. “Yeah, and she put him in the hospital for a week.”
Janessa sighed, “okay, well, let us not judge them all by the few….”
“Fine, Mother, I will go on the stupid date,” Lyra begrudgingly agreed.
Janessa smiled. “Thank you, dear.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Lyra said, then smiled at her mother. “Can you help me find the right outfit for the date? Even if I don’t want to be there, I still want to look nice.”
Janessa grinned. “But of course, my dear.”
Maverick Rivera watched his friend pace the floor in front of him. “What has you so tense?”
Codie stopped and turned to his friend. “My father has set me up on a blind date,” he said with a growl.
Maverick chuckled. He just got back from Russia and got a 911 message from his long-time friend. Not what he had expected when he rushed to his friend’s condo. But to Codie, blind dates are hell brought to life. Especially this close to their favorite holiday.
“Do you know anything about her?” Maverick asked.
Codie shook his head. “Only that she’s Albert Williams’ daughter.”
Maverick whistled. “Our future mayor?”
Codie nodded, and Maverick laughed.
“I didn’t know Albert has a daughter.”
“Neither did I, until my father told me that I was going on a date with her. Why would he keep her a secret?”
Maverick shrugged. “To keep her safe?”
Codie snorted, “more than likely, it is because she is ugly, and they are too embarrassed to put her out in public. Oh my God, Mav, what if she has a hunched back?”
Maverick laughed and shook his head. “You have a wild imagination.”
Codie grunted. “Why else would he keep her locked away from view?”
Maverick shrugged his shoulders.
Codie looked at his friend. “How was Russia?”
Maverick shrugged again. “Got the job done….”
“Did you have to kill someone?” Codie asked in a whisper.
Maverick smirked. “You know I can’t tell you that.”
Codie sighed, “I think I took the wrong path when we got out of college.”
Maverick laughed, “don’t be too jealous of me. At least you’re not putting your life at risk every time you go on a mission.”
Codie scrunched up his nose. “I don’t know. I am thinking this date may put my life in danger. I mean, come on, she has got to be a dog for her father to keep her hidden and have to set her up on blind dates to get anyone to go out with her.”
Maverick shrugged his shoulders. “Maybe she’s a beauty.”
Codie’s phone beeped, and he picked it up off the table and groaned. “I don’t think so,” he said with a shake of his head, holding his phone out to Maverick. “I had one of my friends take a picture of her as she left the house to head to the restaurant.”
Maverick looked at the picture on Codie’s phone and squinted his eyes. She wasn’t a hunchback, but she was a big girl with long blond hair. He couldn’t see her face, but she was big enough to almost make one of him, and he’s a large Shifter, with arms almost as big as his legs.
“So, she’s a bit overweight,” Maverick said when Codie pulled the phone away.
Codie snorted, “A bit overweight?”
Maverick sighed. “What are you going to do?”
Codie grunted, “I just caught the twenty-four-hour flu.”
Lyra walked into the bathroom of the restaurant and stared at the wig on her head. Why her father insisted she wears it was beyond her. She straightened her clothes and frowned at her figure. She had to promise her father she wouldn’t take off her disguise, but God, did he have to go this far?
She left the bathroom with a deep sigh and headed back to the table she had been led to when she first walked in. Maybe if it goes well, she can take him somewhere secret and show him the real her.
Lyra ordered a glass of wine for her nerves and picked up one of the complimentary breadsticks. She usually doesn’t eat bread like this, but she’s hungry, and her date is thirty minutes late.
-Two hours later-
Lyra tossed the last breadstick onto the table and stood. She has been stood up. With a heavy sigh, she paid for her drink and headed out the door. A van with a broken headlight swerved around the corner, and Lyra watched in slow motion as the man in the back seat leaned out the window with a large gun in his hands. She didn’t have time to duck and screamed when the gun fired. Three bullets flew past her face, and one hit her square in the chest.
Her last thought was a thanks to her father for being overprotective.