Prudhoe Rison relaxed in the booth seat of the diner. Sipping the last of his coffee, he stared out the window. His thoughts swirled through his mind.
That was how long Prudhoe had been ignoring his duties as an elite fae enforcer. All because for a fleeting moment in a restaurant bathroom, he’d caught a faint smell that had caused a pull in his gut. After that, every time he’d even entertained the idea of leaving, his stomach had clenched.
His chest ached ever-so-mildly, even now.
Rubbing absently, Prudhoe swept his gaze over the quiet streets. A car would occasionally drive past, and he stared at the occupant. After so long searching the area, he knew most people by sight, if not by name.
Gotta fix that. Gotta meet the rest of those living in the area.
Prudhoe sure hoped that whoever he’d sensed at the restaurant hadn’t been a tourist. If he was, he would never have a chance at meeting him.
Four realms, I sure hope it’s a guy.
While Prudhoe didn’t have a problem bedding the occasional woman, he’d never felt truly comfortable with it. He always had to be careful, mindful of his size and strength. With men, he could relax that control... at least, a little bit.
Having always been bigger and broader than most fae, it had made sense for Prudhoe to go into the military. He’d had an aptitude for hand-to-hand combat, which had drawn the attention of his superiors. They had quickly guided him toward the specialized training needed for him to become one of the fae king’s specialized, elite warriors.
Prudhoe was strong for a fae, which meant he constantly had to be mindful of his strength while dealing with humans. Having the opportunity to interact with shifters and other paranormals had been a welcome change. They’d also helped him locate Lord Elron Paxton, the fae prince who’d been missing.
His disappearance had been the whole point of Prudhoe traveling to the human plane.
Hearing the waitress’s voice pulled Prudhoe out of his thoughts. He turned and smiled up at her—Katie. Having visited the diner nearly every day for a mid-day meal, she knew him by name.
Katie’s smile slipped from her lips, and her brows furrowed. “Uh, oh. That chicken fried steak you love so much hasn’t given you heartburn, has it?”
Realizing he still rubbed his chest in discomfort, Prudhoe lowered his palm to the table. “No, I’m fine,” he assured, offering her a small smile. She’d grown friendlier over the past week, and he feared his return visits were giving her the wrong idea. Gods, I sure hope not. “I’ll take the check when you get a minute.”
Even though her brows furrowed, Katie still nodded. “Coming right up.”
Prudhoe stared into his empty mug vacantly as he brought up a mental map of the town. Recalling where everything was, he tried to decide if there were any streets or places he’d missed. Other than the street with the small town hall and community center buildings, there wasn’t much.
“What excuse do I have to go to the community buildings?” Prudhoe muttered as he rubbed the back of his neck. “Maybe pretend I’m interested in starting a business.”
“Oh, did you say you’re starting a business? What kind?” Katie had returned while Prudhoe wasn’t paying attention. “If it’s a motorcycle repair shop, you’ll be in for a lot of competition, because everyone knows that Jethro’s is the best around here.” She placed the ticket on the table as her look turned coy. “Of course, I’d always be happy to steer business your way instead. Sure you don’t want another cup of coffee?”
Prudhoe realized he still clutched his empty mug. Shaking his head, he pushed the cup away, then reached for the ticket. He thought quickly, then talked out of his ass.
“Naw, I was thinking guided motorcycle tours.” Prudhoe began sliding to the edge of the booth seat so he could rise as he added, “You know. Rent bikes to those with motorcycle licenses, then lead them on a tour of the area. Show them the sites.”
“You mean like Mount Rushmore?”
Prudhoe nodded as he stood. “Yeah.” He knew the national monument with the presidents’ faces etched in the cliffs wasn’t too far away from the town. “Plus some good picnic areas and view areas.”
Having spent a few weeks riding with the now-virtually disbanded Diamondbacks biker gang, Prudhoe had come to know the area well. In fact, if he managed to find his paramour, it would mean he would need to stay on the human plane. As a fae, he could easily magick money into existence, but he would need to keep up appearances.
A seasonal job would be just the thing... and Prudhoe did love riding his motorcycle.
Hope my paramour likes to ride.
Gotta find him first.
“Wow!” Katie gushed. “Well, once you get up and running, I’ll totally be your first customer.” She finished that line by offering a blushing smile while peering at him from beneath her lashes.
Yep. Time to stop coming here.
Prudhoe still returned her smile while giving a curt nod. “I saw the restaurant’s information board.” He picked up the ticket and took a step toward the front. “So you’ll definitely know about it.”
Fortunately, there was already another waitress standing at the counter ringing up another customer, so Katie had no reason to follow him.
After paying for his meal, Prudhoe headed to his bike. He swung his leg over his big Harley Kingpin. After a glance around to determine direction, he fired it up and started out of the parking space.
Prudhoe slowly rumbled along the street, watching for the one he needed. Spotting the sign for City Hall, he flipped on his blinker and headed left. He saw the building ahead and on the left and flipped on his blinker again.
Just as Prudhoe was about to turn, he scented something... something that made his mouth water and his gut clench. He slammed on his brakes and froze. The sensation eased, so he glanced behind him to confirm the road was clear, then backed up a little.
It felt as if his heart skipped a beat in his chest. Turning left was wrong. Swallowing hard, excitement thrumming through him, he peered to the right and swept his gaze over the good-sized, two-story building.
That was another building Prudhoe had had no inkling to enter. He did now, though. The honk of a horn yanked him out of his shocked stupor.
Prudhoe lifted a hand and waved, then turned on his right blinker and rolled into the parking lot for the library. Making his way toward the other parked vehicles, he felt his heart rate increase. Sweat beaded on his temples, and his stomach clenched.
Although the sensations weren’t what Prudhoe considered comfortable, he headed in the direction that increased the feelings. He stopped in a parking space between a Ford Taurus and a Can-Am Spyder. Glancing between the vehicles, Prudhoe turned off his bike and swung off it as he decided which one was drawing him like a moth to a flame.
Unable to help but look over the three-wheeled conveyance, Prudhoe realized it was very, very modified. Not only did it have handrails, but there was a storage rack with hooks behind the seat rather than saddlebags. It appeared capable of having something clamped into place behind the seat which, upon closer inspection, Prudhoe saw that there was a lever that locked it into position. When it was unlocked, it appeared to swivel.
Prudhoe couldn’t help but wonder who drove the pretty gold vehicle.
Dismissing the notion of walking into the library and asking, Prudhoe focused on why he was really there. My paramour may be inside. He didn’t want to do something that would put him in a bad light—like being a demanding asshole.
Reaching the door, Prudhoe pulled one open and stepped inside. He found himself in a small mudroom. There were tables on the right side covered in books. A sign reading Free hung over it.
Prudhoe didn’t bother looking at the selections. Human books rarely interested him. Instead, he crossed the fifteen feet to the second door and entered the library proper.
Sweeping his gaze around the place, Prudhoe scoped it out. He saw rows upon rows of bookshelves filled with all manner of books to his left. To the right was a number of wooden tables with chairs, and along the wall were some computer bays with large dividers offering the illusion of privacy.
Straight ahead of Prudhoe was a huge desk. Signs indicated where one could return books as well as where one would check them out. There was even a sign that said Information, as if the average Joe walking in couldn’t figure that out on his own.
Prudhoe held in his snort of amusement, but just barely... and only because there was an older woman sporting a gray bobbed hairdo who was eyeing him warily.
No sense scaring the local wildlife.
After giving the lady a small smile and a dip of his chin in acknowledgement, Prudhoe headed toward the left. The right area, after all, was empty. He strolled down one aisle after another, forcing himself to keep a slow pace. Even though he would have preferred to stride swiftly, checking out each person as he passed, Prudhoe didn’t, seeing as he didn’t want to look like he was hunting.
Even though I am.
Turning onto an aisle in the romance section, Prudhoe felt his feet stall. He almost turned around and skipped that row. His heart hammering in his chest, discomfort filled him.
Prudhoe felt his skin crawl, uneasiness flooding him. Katie stood beside a young man in a wheelchair. She nodded her head every few seconds, perhaps agreeing with the guy. With the way Katie caught her lower lip between her teeth, it appeared more likely that she was accepting his counsel.
Why the hell is Katie here? Did she follow me?
He’d just taken a step backward when the pair looked his way. Opening his mouth, he prepared to say... something. Meeting the young, wheelchair-bound man’s pale-brown eyes, however, caused all thoughts to flee from Prudhoe’s mind—all except one.
My paramour! At long last, I have found him.
“Hey, Prudhoe,” Katie greeted warmly, heading toward him. A smile lit her features, and a blush darkened her cheeks. “I had no idea you enjoyed reading. What kind of books do you like?”
Prudhoe clenched his jaw for an instant, then decided it was high time she got the message. “I enjoy gay romance.” He decided to go for blunt. “Makes me feel like I got a shot at finding my own guy someday. Know if this library has a section?”
Katie’s eyes widened, and her jaw sagged open. Her cheeks took on a deep pinkish hue, and Prudhoe just bet it was for a different reason than before. Sliding her gaze to the left, she stared at the books as she blinked quickly.
For a few seconds, Prudhoe thought he’d been too blunt and had offended her. To his relief, however, she soon returned her focus to him. Her blush still darkened her cheeks, and while her lips remained in a smile, there was a slyness to the look and an odd gleam in her eyes.
Turning, Katie waved toward the young man in the wheelchair. “I’d like to introduce you to Korvyn. He works here at the library.” With a wink, she added, “And I bet he’d be able to make some fantastic recommendations, since I know he enjoys that genre, too.” Katie stepped past Prudhoe as she called, “See you later, Kor! Let me know when my book comes in.”
Then Katie was gone.
Prudhoe didn’t watch her go. His gaze was riveted to Korvyn, instead. Upon hearing that his paramour enjoyed gay romance, anticipation filled him.
That’s a good sign. Right?
Deciding blunt was working for him, Prudhoe strode toward the young man he wanted to soon make his own. He held out his hand, suddenly loving the human habit of shaking hands when meeting someone new. It gave him an excuse to touch.
“Hi, Korvyn.” He smiled, doing his best to keep his hunger from tinging his expression. “I’m Prudhoe. Prudhoe Rison. It’s nice to meet you.”
Korvyn reached out and took his hand.
Instantly, a zing of heated arousal surged through Prudhoe, causing his blood to fire in his veins. His mouth watered, and his heart thudded wildly.
I will soon make this human all mine.