Home > Dragon's Heat (City Dragons #1)

Dragon's Heat (City Dragons #1)
Author: Lisa Oliver

Chapter One


“What is it, Essie?” Jon Erskine didn’t bother looking up from the pages of figures on his desk. “There is something wrong here and I’m damned if I can put my finger on what it is. I said I didn’t want to be disturbed.”

“Actually,” Essie’s pert tone made him look up. “What you said was, I don’t want to be disturbed until that big shot client Raoul fobbed off on me arrives. He’s arrived so I’m disturbing you.”

“His appointment wasn’t until two o’clock.” Jon pushed his dark curls off his face to glare at his computer. It read 2.05.

Shit, that means I’ve worked through lunch again.

“I did leave your lunch on the side table as requested,” Essie added as though reading his mind. Jon often thought that his personal assistant had special powers. “I imagine it’s cold by now.”

Or over-cooked, Jon thought with a sigh. His daily order of steak salad, hold the salad, was freshly made to his specific requirements. His stomach rumbled, letting him know what he was missing. “Please remove the tray and give me five minutes before letting Mr.…. Mr.…?”

“Hollingsworth, Dirk Hollingsworth. Owner and Chief Financial Officer of Hollingsworth Holdings.”

Of course he is, Jon thought crossly. He hated working with family firms. As a forensic accountant, it was his job to track down fraudsters and embezzlers. Finding criminals in a family owned enterprise was always fraught with danger, usually for the investigator, especially when it came to working with paranormal companies. As a dog shifter, Jon found working with paranormals easier than in the human world, but his shifted form was often an issue with clients. His German Shepherd, or Alsatian, depending on where you were from, was respectable enough among other dog packs, but not considered highly by the more exotic shifters.

He idly wondered what paranormal family the Hollingsworth’s were affiliated with. All Raoul would say was they were high up in shifter circles. Not that it bothered him. While most shifters looked down on him because he didn’t shift into something predatory like a wolf or a bear, they soon changed their tune when they realized he was blessed with the keen intelligence, loyalty, and tenacity of his breed.

Pulled from his thoughts by the sound of his office door closing and realizing he was on a five-minute countdown, Jon hurried to the small bathroom attached to his office. He’d been working on the Gordon account for over a week; usually falling asleep at his desk in the early hours. He’d found their missing money. That was the easy part. Finding how the money got stolen in the first place was proving more difficult. The fact that the owner, Vern Gordon, wasn’t interested in those details was suspicious enough. Jon’s gut told him Vern’s brother was responsible but he had to prove it first.

Another family firm, Jon sighed as he splashed his face with water and looked at his reflection critically. His facial features hovered between pretty and handsome; his dark hair streaked with lighter shades that turned almost blond when he managed to spend time out of the office. Which wasn’t often. As the most highly qualified forensic accountant in the U.S., he was called in on cases that spanned the globe. Hollingsworth wasn’t exceptional, having traveled from New York to his office in California. Some of his clients came from as far away as Australia.

“I’d better make an effort to look the part.” Jon shrugged off his limp shirt, finding another hanging from the rack he kept for just such an occasion. His pants still held a crease and he eased his jacket over his reasonable shoulders, straightening his cuffs. Running his fingers through his hair, recognizing it was long overdue for a cut, Jon smiled at his reflection, then frowned, settling for an expression in between. “It’s not as though I need to be too friendly. These guys are asking for my help.”

Reminding himself his shifter status had no bearing on his ability to do his job, Jon sauntered back into his office, taking the time to slide the papers on his desk into his drawer. It wouldn’t do to give his new clients the idea he was careless with confidential papers. Not that they were clients, yet. This was a preliminary interview so Jon could assess the case. If he didn’t want to take it, nobody could force him to. It was one of the perks he got for working privately.

/~/~/~/~/

Dirk Hollingsworth glared across the room at the pretty receptionist. Wolf shifter, if he wasn’t mistaken, and he was always right. Not that his glaring did any good. She was busily typing on her keyboard apparently uncaring he’d been waiting for ten minutes. Ten minutes! Didn’t she realize his time was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars a day?

“I thought you promised to leave your temper at home,” Bryce, his personal assistant murmured. “This guy is the best in his field and I called in a lot of favors simply to get this appointment.”

“I don’t deserve to be kept waiting. Doesn’t this guy know how much of an honor it is I am even in this cruddy office?” Okay, so he was being unfair about the decor. The office was decorated in understated chic designed to put clients at ease rather than overwhelming them with ostentatiousness. He’d been offered a variety of refreshments clearly designed to cater to any manner of paranormal. He wouldn’t have refused if he’d known he was going to be kept waiting.

A discreet bell sounded and the perky receptionist stood. “Come on through, gentlemen. Mr. Erskine will see you now.” She headed down a long corridor barely wide enough to hold three people walking together. It was clear she took on a protective role – ensuring her boss wasn’t bothered with unwelcome intruders. Dirk privately admitted she was doing a good job. No amount of bluster and throwing his weight around got him in that office any faster.

A strange heat climbed up his spine as he got closer to the dark wood doors at the end of the hallway. He sniffed. Essie’s scent was strongest, probably because she walked up and down the hallway ten times a day. But there was another scent, not as strong but a million times more alluring, until Dirk realized what it was. Dog? Male dog. Hell no!

“I just remembered I have another meeting,” Dirk stammered as his dragon fought to get free. He’d be squashed if he attempted a shift here. Shoving his files in Bryce’s direction. “You take care of this. I’ll meet you back at the hotel.”

“Dirk?” But Dirk was heading in the other direction. Essie had opened her boss’s door and Dirk got a quick glimpse of a strong man with the most appealing face he’d ever seen. Praying he’d caught his spirit in time, he sprinted down the hallway like a frightened rabbit.

 

 

Chapter Two


“Well, that was interesting,” Jon snapped as Essie let one man into the office. “Usually they wait until they get into the office before they start with the sneers and insults over my pedigree.”

“I apologize for my boss.” The handsome wolf introduced as Bryce took the seat offered him and politely asked Essie for a cup of coffee. “I don’t know what got into him. He was desperate for this appointment. He’s given me the authority to fill you in on all the details of our situation and answer any questions you might have.”

“No disrespect for all the hard work I am sure you do,” Jon said, scowling at his now closed office door. There was something fishy about the man’s hurried exit and his dog was keen to get out into the hallway and have a sniff around. “It’s just that I generally prefer to interview the man in charge. You’d be amazed at how many company directors and officers send in their underlings thinking I won’t investigate them personally. That’s why I insist on meeting the bosses first.”

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