Henri - To Catch a Kidnapper-Book Two
Allyn and Ransom's new friend coywolf shifter, Henri, has been hiding at Allyn and Miranda's house to avoid an insane abductor. Finally deciding he'll be hostage to his fears no more, Henri enlists his friends to help him lure the maniacal murderer into the open so they can catch him, once and for all. They have to get his attention and a ritzy outdoor party thrown by gallery owner Taegan Sauvage is just the place.
Taegan doesn't realize, when he meets his friends at the party, that the man accompanying them will awaken his protective urges. Being a shifter too, he joins the group in their effort to end the threat on Henri's life. What he didn't plan was a serious attachment to Henri.
Will the attraction between Henri and Taegan have a chance to grow or will their search end in death for one or both of them?
CONTENT ADVISORY: Order of series matters in this series. Please do not read out of order.
Henri stood on the third floor balcony of Miranda and Allyn's mansion, looking wistfully toward the skyline of New Orleans. He missed the freedom of being able to go there whenever he pleased. He hadn't been able to since the day he'd escaped from Xavier's clutches. He had thought it would be safe in the city, when he'd became a "pet dog" in the home of Mrs Graham and her children.
"At least they thought I was a dog," he said under his breath, "and it served me well for the time I was there." Then Xavier and his man had found him.
Henri shuddered as he always did when he remembered how the two men had slaughtered the woman and her children because of him. He had narrowly escaped then was offered sanctuary on Allyn Warwick's estate.
I've been here six months and I have no idea if Xavier is still searching for me or if he's finally given up.
"You're in a blue study," Miranda said from the balcony doorway.
Henri turned to smile ruefully at her. "I suppose I am."
"How did the hunt go?" she asked, joining him at the railing. "My brother, of course, hasn't bothered to check in to tell me."
Chuckling, Henri replied, "I suspect he had more pressing things on his mind--like Ransom. The hunt went well. We found the remaining pack members--all two of them, at this point, I'm afraid--and convinced them to move to a safe area Allyn knew about. Then we drew the hunters away before those two were killed as well."
"Fantastic. Allyn says you're a wonderful asset."
Henri bowed his head, embarrassed. "I'm...trying to be."
She hugged him, just as her husband came onto the balcony.
"There you are," John said. "Should I be jealous?"
Miranda laughed. "Nope. You're the only man for me and always will be."
"I know." He walked to her side, ruffling her hair, eliciting a growl from her. Then he studied Henri. "Something wrong?"
Henri shrugged. "Nothing I can do anything about."
John seemed to understand what he meant because he said, "Surely it's safe for you to venture out now...more than just to accompany Allyn on his jaunts to save the wolves."
"I keep telling myself it should be," Henri replied. "Then I think about what will happen if I'm wrong."
"We have to figure out a way to find the bastard," Miranda stated emphatically.
"Don't you think I've tried...with Ransom and Allyn's help? It's hard when we don't know where he took me. Ransom's scoured every database he has access to--and that's a lot. Xavier hasn't shown up on any of them." He smiled wryly. "The good detective has picked my brain dry, which wasn't hard. All I remember is bits and pieces of the lab. That's no help when it comes to locating Xavier."
"Why not use them to teleport back there?" Miranda asked.
"There's nothing distinctive, from what I recall of the place. I was sedated twenty-four-seven, so things are hazy at best. Cage bars, a food bowl appearing on a dirty floor, the kind of generic bathroom you'd find in a million hospitals around the world... The one time I wasn't doped up, I saw a ceiling, since I was strapped to a lab table. It was the day I escaped. However, the only thing I was thinking about right then was where I'd end up, not the room I was leaving."
"You think it was a hospital?" John asked.
"What hospital has cages? I only used that as an example because... Well, it's what the bathroom reminded me of."
"At least Ransom knows what he looks like, after putting you with the sketch artist," Miranda said.
"It hasn't done a damned bit of good," Henri replied morosely. "As he said, there are no wants-and-warrants for anyone named Xavier, last name unknown, who looks like him."
"What if Xavier is his last name?" John said.
"Ransom tried that too. Still no luck."
"It might not be his real name, you know."
Henri nodded. "Ransom figured it was a possibility. Unfortunately, no one resembling Xavier has shown up in any files--police, military, what have you."
"The great and mysterious Wizard of Oz." Miranda smiled, patting Henri's arm.
"He might as well be. The problem is, we haven't found the curtain he's hiding behind." Henri pounded his fist on the railing. "I want my freedom back, damn it!
"Maybe," Miranda said pensively, "if we tested the waters?"
"How so?" John asked.
"The three of us go out somewhere--or even the five of us." She nodded, then smiled. "John, you remember Taegan, don't you?"
"Vividly," John replied. "Amazing hair. Yeah, I know. I shouldn't be checking him out, but it's not often you see a man with black hair striped with white. When I first met him, I thought he was going for a Goth look and had added white streaks--until you told me it was natural because he's a timber wolf shifter."
"Eastern timber wolf, to be precise," Miranda said. "Anyway, he's throwing a party and we've been invited."
John groaned. "Another one?"
"Yes, dear." She patted his arm. "You will survive."
She laughed before continuing. "It's a barbecue, and he's rented the Peristyle at City Park."
Henri sucked in a dismayed breath. "That's awfully public."
"That's the idea," Miranda pointed out. "If we're going to do it, go all the way."
"I suppose. Still..."
"I'll make you a deal," Miranda said. "Before we decide, we'll run it by Ransom and Allyn. If they say no--"
"We'll do it anyway, knowing you," John interjected, grinning.
She grinned back. "Maybe?"