Title: A Touch of Danger
Series: Surviving Vihaan, Book One
Author: Elaine White
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: February 10, 2020
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Genre: Paranormal, LGBTQIA+, action/adventure, Alpha males, bonded, big cat shifters, college, spying, law enforcement
Drew’s life sucks. Saving money to escape his homophobic family is one thing, but his only paying gig at the moment is playing his father’s “only gay in the village” plus-one to every LGBT friendly business event.
Then his brother comes up with a plan. Sheffield needs someone to go undercover for his police investigation. Drew has all the qualifications: he’s gay, he has experience with exotic animals, and he’s college-aged. And he’s easily bought.
Going undercover to solve the mystery of a college campus smuggling ring was never in his plans. Neither was hot, perfect, house captain Rylee. The inside jokes about cats, animal prints, and talk of a place called Vihaan that forbids same-sex relationships, are just the tip of the suspicious iceberg.
Little does Drew know that he’s about to expose more than an illegal smuggling operation. The truth could be more lethal than he could imagine. And, despite it all, it might be his own secret past that kills him before the truth can be unveiled.
A Touch of Danger
Elaine White © 2020
All Rights Reserved
“Care to run it by me again?” Drew rubbed his jaw, trying to stifle his laughter while his brother prowled the small office.
“We think they’re smuggling exotic animals,” Sheffield explained, with a drawn-out sigh.
“Through a fraternity house?”
“Yes.” His brother glared, as though he was the crazy one for questioning this “case” he’d been asked to consult on.
Drew took a slow, steady breath and asked, “You know this, how?” He was trying not to sound judgemental, but he wasn’t buying this story. What the hell would a bunch of fraternity brothers want with exotic animals? He paused…the idea conjured uncomfortable images. He hoped there was no “bear pit” with the animals or dubious sexual practices. He had a weak stomach and didn’t want any part of that kind of investigation.
Still, his brother was the big bad cop in the family. Drew was the runt; the unworthy second son. Abandoned to do whatever he wanted with his life because he was already a disappointment. There wasn’t much he could do to lower his position in the family. But he was no cop, no action man, and no Sherlock Holmes. He knew nothing about solving a case or how to look for evidence of “foul play”. And he was allergic to certain animals.
“We’ve had reports of wild animals on the grounds. When we sent an officer to investigate, he was attacked by a large cat. When we tried to run the names and identities of those living in the house, we came up with nothing. These people don’t exist,” Sheffield explained, shaking his head as he paced the length of the tiny room. “We sent in another man, undercover, to grab whatever DNA he could get his hands on. What he brought back…well, the hair came back feline. Exotic cats—a panther, a lion, and a cheetah.” Now Drew was getting the heebie-jeebies. He wasn’t sure he wanted anything to do with exotic cats. He wasn’t allergic to cats, which meant he would need to try harder to wiggle out of this. “I’m not a cop.” And this was getting weirder by the second.
“No, which will work for us. The last few cops we’ve sent in undercover have been caught quickly. These guys are smart and professional.” The heavy stare Sheffield levelled made Drew want to shrink. But he wasn’t a five-year-old anymore. “You are a college kid looking for somewhere to belong. It will be tough. They’re private and secretive. They barely socialise outside their group of friends, and they don’t date outside the house.”
“Seriously?” Raising his hands, Drew asked for a pause as he considered those words. This job went beyond weird and into the downright kinky. “You mean—”
Sheffield nodded, a grin spreading across his lips. “They’re gay, bi or trans. They call themselves the LGBT House of Acceptance,” he revealed. Arching an amused eyebrow while pretending not to find it hilarious.
“Nice name,” Drew scoffed, knowing what Sheffield was implying.
“This isn’t anything to laugh about. These guys are serious illegal traders, and we need to shut them down,” he argued. The growl could have been funny if it wasn’t for the fact he was being used.
“Let me get this straight, brother of mine. You suggested me for this because I’m gay, right?” he asked, getting straight to the point.
“Yeah. You! It won’t help me much.”
Sheffield waved off his concerns and sneered in his usual dismissive manner. “You’re a hermit. This will be good for you,” he claimed. Drew knew he didn’t give a shit whether it was good for him. Sheffield was like their dad—he thought being gay was a choice Drew made when he turned sixteen and came out to the family. A choice made to piss off everyone and gain attention because the almighty big brother had been accepted into the Police Academy. Fuck them. He wasn’t as narcissistic as his family.
“I happen to like being a hermit.”
“Will you do it? Because I need to tell my supervisor, and then we need to fit you for a wire. You’ll be going in tonight.” Sheffield stopped his pacing to level Drew with an intimidating stare which hadn’t worked since he was ten.
Nothing like short notice.
“No wire,” he decided.
“Excuse me?” He growled—fucking growled!—and Drew wanted badly to do a fist pump, in victory.
“You said these guys are smart? Professional? They’ll spot a wire. They’ll probably cavity search me,” he teased, wiggling his eyebrows. Sheffield was practically pimping his brother out to criminals. Not like he’d turn down a good frisking if the company was good-looking. “Let me handle it. I’ll get your evidence and report back in a week. This Saturday.”
Hell, he was being paid. He’d dress in a monkey suit and do the hula if they asked. Maybe he could use the cash to get out of this shit hole?
Sheffield raked both hands through his short dark hair. “The boss won’t like this,” he complained, in a quiet, unsure voice.
Rising from his seat, Drew tried hard not to smile. “Yeah, well he’s not done a great job so far, has he? We’ll try it my way, and, if it doesn’t work, we’ll do it your way,” he offered.
He was going to get what he could out of this. Out of this town and well away from his family. Sheffield was bearable in small doses, but the rest of his family were vipers snapping at his heels. Each one determined to ignore and berate him when he needed them. Ready to jump on board and use him for their own means when they needed a boost.
Doing this, for a bit of cash, was like when he’d attended an LGBT fundraiser with his dad a year ago, in return for a year’s worth of college tuition. As long as it got him away from his family, he had no dignity and no pride.
Not a shred.
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Meet the Author
Elaine White is the author of multi-genre MM romance, celebrating ‘love is love’ and offering diversity in both genre and character within her stories.
Growing up in a small town and fighting cancer in her early teens taught her that life is short and dreams should be pursued. She lives vicariously through her independent, and often hellion characters, exploring all possibilities within the romantic universe.
The Winner of two Watty Awards – Collector’s Dream (An Unpredictable Life) and Hidden Gem (Faithfully) – and an Honourable Mention in 2016’s Rainbow Awards (A Royal Craving) Elaine is a self-professed geek, reading addict, and a romantic at heart.