Hi, everyone! My name is Dulce Dennison and I’d like to share part of my upcoming book with you. Grizzly Affair is part of my new series, Bureau of Paranormal Affairs. I’m waiting on a release date, but you can always check out my website or sign-up for my newsletter to stay up to date! (link below)
Please keep in mind this is an unedited excerpt. I’m going to call it PG-13 because of the murder in the beginning, but there’s no sex in the scene.
I hope you enjoy it 🙂
Darkness filled him, narrowing his world to this one moment. Blood soaked through his pants and coated his hands as he knelt beside the too still, mangled body. The copper tang of the teen’s blood teased his nostrils. His nose flared as he searched for other scents. Gun powder residue and the stale smell of sweat hung heavy in the air.
A gun was clutched in the young man’s hand, his fingers gripping it even in death, and yet the weapon hadn’t been able to save him. Slashed across his sternum, the killer’s claws had dug deep, all the way to the bone. His clothes were torn in other areas, his belt had been partially torn from him. The clues were adding up to a terrifying, grizzly picture.
Roarke scented the air again as his gazed scanned the crime scene for clues. This wasn’t the first victim, and if Roarke couldn’t catch the bastard responsible, it wouldn’t be the last. Up to this point, the killer had targeted male prostitutes. But this one was different. There were no indications of drug use, no condoms in the victim’s wallet. Was the killer branching out or had the young man just been in the wrong place at the wrong time?
“This is definitely our guy,” Spencer Keats said as he surveyed the scene. “If we don’t catch him soon, we’ll be on every channel in the country. You know how much the Bureau hates bad publicity.”
Roarke stood. “There has to be a pattern. The first known victim was in Chicago. The second was in South Bend, Indiana. But now, victim number five is in Atlanta. Where is he going?”
“I still say they aren’t planned. I think our guy is picking up young boys then gets frustrated when they won’t give him what he wants and he kills them.”
“They’re prostitutes living on the streets. There isn’t much they won’t do for the right amount,” Roarke reasoned.
“What’s that super sniffer of yours telling you?”
“No semen. He didn’t get very far before he killed this one. Maybe that was his motivation. Either he couldn’t get it up, or the victim resisted.”
Spencer ran a hand through his shirt, blond hair. “I don’t like this. Rogue shifters are one thing, but one bent on murder?”
“The lab ran the sample three times,” Roarke reminded him. “No match was found in the system, but the DNA suggested a hybrid.”
“Which explains the instability,” Spencer muttered. “He obviously has impulse control issues. My gut says there are more murders. Unless some switch flipped in this guy’s head, there’s no way his first murder was last month. Not unless he was just turned, and what’s the likelihood of a just turned hybrid?”
Roarke sighed. “I’m afraid I have to agree with you. We need to have the rookies run a search on all reported murders nationwide for the past five years, see if anything pops up that matches our guy’s MO.”
“I’ll call it in while you check out the rest of the scene. Maybe we missed something on the first walk through. Then you’re going to the hotel for a shower and a change of clothes.”
Roarke nodded and looked around the room. He began a slow circuit of the space, sniffing for something he may have missed as his gaze touched on every square inch of the room. He knew from experience they wouldn’t find anything new. Fingerprints and DNA did them no good when the killer wasn’t registered in the system. According to the shifter laws of 2023, formed when shifters came out of hiding, all shapeshifters were required to have DNA and fingerprints on file with the government. Those who didn’t comply were termed “rogue” and would be arrested and put to death if they committed a crime. If you weren’t registered, you didn’t have rights.
Spencer motioned to him from the doorway and Roarke stepped out into the sunshine. With the smell of death and decay surrounding him, he’d forgotten how beautiful it was outside. Spring was in the air, which spelled trouble for a bear on a never ending job. The urge to mate would hit him hard and Roarke would be powerless to stop it. Last mating season, he’d damn near lost his job when he’d holed up in a motel room for three days with a willing male.
“I passed on our thoughts about there being more murders and Rawlins said he would put a team on it.” Spencer began walking toward their SUV. “He asked why the hell we couldn’t have thought of that weeks ago. I told him we were too busy chasing a trail of mangled bodies. Pompous ass.”
“I say we go get you cleaned up and grab a bite to eat. We missed lunch and I know that beast inside of you has to be starving.” Spencer held out his hand. “Keys.”
Roarke pulled them from his pocket and handed them over. He climbed into the passenger’s seat and patiently waited for Spencer to get in and start the vehicle.
“Speaking of my beast, there’s something you should know,” Roarke said as they pulled out of the parking lot. “My mating heat is going to hit soon. Since I don’t have a mate, my bear is going to seek the first available, and willing, male. It’s going to possibly put me out of commission for a few days.”
“So we take a break.”
Roarke shook his head. “The mating fever is going to hit our killer too. It means more murders if he can’t find someone willing and able to handle the frenzy. Think double or even triple the body count we have now.”
“Fuck. We have to catch this guy!” Spencer slammed his hand against the steering wheel.
“I would say he has to slip up sooner or later, but he seems to be a professional. You’re right, the kills aren’t planned, but he’s done it so often that he knows how not to get caught. Since he isn’t registered, he doesn’t fear leaving his DNA behind. The only way we’re going to catch him is if we find a witness that can speak to a sketch artist. Even then, it’s no guarantee. You know how reliable witnesses are.”
“Yeah, three people all witness the same crime, and we end up with three different suspects.” Spencer shook his head. “As much as I want to catch this guy, I’d be just as happy if the killings suddenly stopped. Am I the only one who feels like we’re chasing a ghost?”
“Oh, he’s flesh and blood. And sooner or later, we’re going to catch the asshole,” Roarke vowed.
Spencer pulled into the motel parking lot and Roarke headed for his room. Before the door could close behind him, Spencer made his way inside and got comfortable at the small table. Sometimes having a partner was a pain in the ass. Roarke went into the bathroom and stripped out of his bloodstained clothes and started a hot shower. Steam billowed around the curtain and he stepped inside, grabbing the soap and washing away the taint of the crime scene. As blood swirled down the drain, he reached for the shampoo, letting his fingers dig into his scalp.
Roarke rinsed the shampoo from his hair, tilting his head back under the hot spray of the shower. The more he thought about the crime scenes, the more the situation bugged him. He knew it was a shifter, but if they were dealing with a made shifter, it was possible the man just didn’t have control over himself. Not that the government cared. He was a rogue, and based off the deaths, he would face execution. There wasn’t anything Roarke could do to save him.
The fact the man hadn’t turned himself in showed that he knew what he had done was wrong. But he wasn’t trying to hide the bodies. It was a puzzle, and after ten years as an agent, Roarke was getting tired of puzzles. He was starting to wish he’d become a firefighter, even if shifters did shy away from fire. He’d rather face a burning building right now than the possibility that the murders would go unsolved. He had a feeling his ass would be chewed if he didn’t present the murderer soon.
Roarke shut off the water and dried off, wrapping the towel around his waist. Steam filled the room and the door handle was slick under his palm. The cool air of the hotel room washed over him as he stepped out of the bathroom. His partner sat at the table by the window flipping through crime scene photos from the previous victims.
Spencer looked up, scanning him from head to toe. “Not that I haven’t seen it all before, but don’t you think someone would get the wrong idea if they saw you running around in a towel? I believe it was you who said things should remain professional between us.”
“Is your nose still out of joint that I wouldn’t sleep with you that night we got drunk?”
Spencer shrugged. “I told you it was more than the alcohol talking. I haven’t made it a secret that I want you.”
“You aren’t the fling type and I can’t offer you anything more. I’m not the type of man to take a mate. I’m married to my job, same as you. Casual sex, yes. Long lasting relationship, no.”
Spencer snorted and turned back to the photos as Roarke pulled on a pair of gray slacks. “You know, we found semen at every crime scene except this last one. Are we sure it’s the same guy? All the others were known prostitutes, but this kid is clean. Could the claw marks just be a coincidence?”
“You think the trail has gone cold and this body is just throwing us off track?”
Spencer scratched the back of his neck. “It’s possible. I downloaded the report from the police while you were in the shower. Kid’s in college, a freshman, comes from a good family, makes good grades. He was last seen leaving a party with an older man. From the witness accounts, the man was well dressed and well spoken. Does that sound like a rogue shifter to you?”
“No, it doesn’t.” Roarke picked up the file and leafed through it. “So he could be anywhere in the country by now. If this isn’t our guy.”
“Want to pack it in and head back to the office? Wait on another lead? You can’t deny you’d rather be home when you go through your heat.”
“Two shifters killing young men?” Roarke pursed his lips as he studied the photos again. “I guess it’s possible, but what are the chances? It isn’t like the shifter population is plentiful, especially in the south. Most of them moved to Canada where the laws are a little more lax when it comes to my species.”
Spencer tipped the chair back on its hind legs and folded his hands behind his head. “I guess if there’s another body, we’ll know for sure.”
“This is bullshit! Someone shouldn’t have to die in order for us to do our fucking jobs. I hate waiting. Every shifter has a unique scent. What if I posed as a local prostitute and waited him out? I’d be able to smell him the moment he came within a hundred yards of me.”
Spencer’s lips tipped up on one corner. “If you’re wanting to play the part of a prostitute, I’d be happy to purchase your services.”