I turned to leave the counter at The Internets--a delightful little café in the building shared by my new job--and found myself face to chest with a werewolf. I lifted my gaze to his handsome face and barked out a laugh.
“Wow,” I said, jerking my head to indicate we get out of the way before the others waiting in line barreled through us. A need for coffee this early in the morning could make anyone violent.
He turned his smile briefly on the woman behind me and then wrapped his arm across my shoulders and led me away. I chuckled, choosing a seat along the back wall.
“This is a surprise. To what do I owe the pleasure, Mel?”
“You remember my name? I’m touched.”
“As I remember it, we both got touched.” Mel winked down at me, puffing his chest with pride. I patted his hand on my shoulder as we hit the table. “Besides, who could forget your pretty face?”
I sat. Mel grinned, sliding into the chair next to mine.
“Now, what was your name?” Mel made a show of pretending he couldn’t remember, shaking his head slowly before snapping and pointing to my face. “Sugar!”
“Chloe,” I laughed, though that hadn’t been the name I’d given him before. He didn’t mention the difference. “So what are you doing here?”
“I work here, a few floors up. Also, I own the building.”
“It pays the bills, though not as well as your job I would guess. Another mob boss making trouble?”
“Why?” I asked with a wink. “You hoping I’ll put you on a leash again?”
“It could be arranged.” Mel leaned in and ran his fingers over the back of my knuckles. I shook my head as I turned my hand up to give his a quick squeeze.
“I’m out of that business. Just a civilian now. I’ll be working upstairs as well, actually.”
“I don’t buy it,” Mel said, sitting back. He made a show of considering me. “You were enjoying yourself a little too much the last time we saw each other.”
“That’s because the last time we saw each other you were naked. You can be naked while I’m a civilian.”
“Well, yes, but you know what I mean. You’re not the office type. I saw how happy it made you to huck grenades and beat a man unconscious with a fish tank. You’ll get bored.”
“Nah.” I shook my head, lowering my gaze. I didn’t want to get into my reasoning for why I’d left my last employer, especially not with someone who could potentially tell my new boss that I wasn’t entirely on the up and up. “Look, I need you to keep quiet on the exploding mobster thing, all right?”
“What’ll you give me for my silence?”
“I already gave it to you, and good.”
Mel laughed. “Fair enough. Any reason?”
“I’m pretty sure Gwen—my boss—has something a little extra.” I gestured toward Mel. “You know how I mean. My guess is it’s something mild. Some fae blood, probably. But from what I can tell she’s got no idea what’s going on behind the scenes. On top of that, my old job isn’t exactly one you can go blabbing about in polite company, you get me?”
“I got you.” Mel smiled wickedly. “And good.”
I rolled my eyes over a smile. “So mum’s the word, alright?”
Mel mimed zipping up his lips and stuffing the key down his jeans. I was immediately glad it wasn’t a real key. Werewolves will let just about anyone into their pants. We were quiet for a few seconds before he jerked his thumb toward the ceiling.
“So what’s this new boss of yours do?”
“She’s a therapist. We just got the keys to the office yesterday, in fact. Have you seen her around? Dark hair, green eyes, a little pudgy?” Mel shook his head, looking like he was really concentrating. “Really likes cake?”
“Well, this is the perfect place, then. Madeline makes an amazing range of them.”
“I think that’s half the reason Gwen chose this building.”
“I’ll have to keep an eye out for her.” Mel seemed to consider again for a moment. “What makes you think she’s fae spawn?”
“I’m thinking whatever power she has is something mental: mind-reading or maybe empathy. If there’s a large crowd, she gets scattered, responds a little slower. I went with her to look for an office space and some of the buildings left her twitchy or angry, even though they were nice enough.”
“You haven’t asked if she’s different? Made sure she’s not just in need of medication?”
“No. Like I said, I don’t want to get into that side of things with her if I don’t have to.”
“So I shouldn’t introduce myself as Mel Somerset: Werewolf Extraordinaire?”
“Probably not, no. Though, if she’s a mind reader, she’ll already know.”
“All she’ll know if she reads my mind is that I’m wondering what she looks like naked.”
I shrugged like he’d made a point I couldn’t argue with and then lifted a brow. “You’re picturing me naked right now, aren’t you?”
“Since the moment I walked in the door.”