Boone's Baby(3)

By: Stormy Glenn


“Just what kind of place is this?”

Jackie’s perfectly white teeth gleamed in the daylight. “It’s a craft store, sort of. For a commission, I provide space for local artists to sell their wares.”

Boone smiled as he rubbed his fingers over one of the quilts. “I thought I recognized this. Kye Hara made it, right?”

“Yes.”

“He’s good.” Boone could see how carefully each stitch was made on the handmade quilt. Kye really was good. He was still smiling as he turned to face Jackie. “Kye is sewing stuff all the time. You should see his sewing room. It’s filled with things he’s working on. I’ll bet you’ll get a lot of business from him.”

The broad smile on Jackie’s lips seemed to wobble just a bit. “You know Kye Hara?”

“Oh yeah. We live together.”

“Oh.” Jackie clasped his hands together and stared anywhere except at Boone. He acted as though he was suddenly nervous. “He seems really nice.”

“He is, although he drives my brother and Neumus crazy on a regular basis.”

“Your brother and Neumus?”

Oops!

How in the hell was he supposed to explain his brother’s relationship to a stranger? It wasn’t as if he could tell Jackie that Hugh, Neumus, and Kye were all mated to each other. He hadn’t been able to get close enough to Jackie to scent whether he was a shifter or not. Well, he had when they shook hands, but he’d been too distracted by Jackie’s looks to concentrate on how Jackie smelled.

“Kye is my brother-in-law.”

There.

That was simple.

“Oh?”

“He’s married to my brother Hugh, and then they have a third in their relationship, a man named Neumus.”

Yes!

The glorious smile was back.

Oh, wait. Boone scratched the side of his head. Why in the hell did he care if Jackie smiled or not? He couldn’t even tell if Jackie was a man or woman, and he needed to know that before he got interested—except a little voice in the back of his head said it was too late for that.

He was already interested.

In a woman…maybe.

Hell, he needed his head examined.

“Can you show me the vandalism?”

“Oh, yes, of course.” Jackie’s smile made Boone’s knees weak. “I didn’t notice it right away because I came in the front this morning. It wasn’t until I went to take some boxes out back that I noticed the spray paint on the wall by the back door.”

Boone followed Jackie to the back of the store. It took everything in him to keep his gaze above Jackie’s waistline. That ass really was a work of art. Boone bet he could bounce a quarter off it and get change back.

Damn.

“It’s probably just some kids, but…” Jackie shrugged. “I thought it should be reported in case it wasn’t.”

Boone was going nuts. He had to know if Jackie was a man or a woman—preferably a man. Beyond stripping Jackie naked, there was only one way he knew of to tell if someone was a man or a woman, human or shifter.

He needed a good sniff.

Boone made his strides just a little longer, hoping to get to Jackie before they reached the back door. Crowding him or her from behind wouldn’t seem so weird if they were both going out the back door at the same time.

Boone groaned when the phone rang and Jackie veered off toward the counter, waving a hand back toward the door. “Oh, I need to get this. I’m expecting a call from a distributor. The paint is right outside the door on the wall.”

With no other choice, Boone pushed the back door open and stepped outside. The paint wasn’t hard to find. It was bright neon orange. It wasn’t until he pulled out his cell phone and stepped back to take pictures that he actually saw the words drawn out with the paint.

“Well, shit.”

Leave or die

Not very nice. Boone had to wonder if the threatening words were aimed toward Jackie or just a bunch of kids goofing off. The knot starting to form in his stomach said the latter.

Boone snapped several pictures of the words on the wall and then the area surrounding them. Beyond finding paint drops on the ground, there was nothing else, not even leaves. Jackie kept the place pretty clean.

Boone checked to make sure the door was still closed and then leaned down close to draw in a good lungful of air. Noxious paint fumes burned the hairs in his nose. The scent was strong enough that Boone sneezed.

“Bless you.”

Boone glanced up to see Jackie in the doorway. He quickly stood. “Did you hear anything or see anything else out of place?”

“No. The paint is still wet, so it couldn’t have happened that long ago, but I didn’t notice anything until I found it.”

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