Title: Bishop Takes Knight
Author: McKenna Dean
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Suspense/Mystery
New York, 1955. Rhett Bishop refuses to let her family’s fall from grace stand in her way. But when a happy accident wins her a job with Redclaw Security, the down-on-her-luck socialite soon learns the truth behind the company… and that shifters really do exist. Her feisty approach lands her in trouble when she locates a missing scientist and charms him into coming onboard. Peter Knight dreams of avenging his wife’s murder. But with the nuclear physicist’s reputation in tatters and no sign of justice, he’s settled for slowly killing himself with drink. A chance encounter with a beautiful stranger quickly shifts his misery into a plan to exact vengeance. Brandishing a ray gun with a mind of its own, Rhett plunges down Manhattan’s mean streets to hunt for shadowy assailants and slavering wolves. But with Peter pitting his genius against strange tech and rival relic hunters alongside his enchanting new partner, he’s in danger of losing both his life and his heart. Can the unlikely pair work hand-in-hand and outfox their devilish foes?
The flaming bird hopped a step closer to the window and cocked its head sideways, as though to get a better look at us through the glass.
“Okay, now I feel like a worm in the presence of a giant chicken.” The sourness in Knight’s voice made me give a nervous snort, despite the gravity of the situation.
“A giant flaming chicken,” I reminded him.
He snapped his fingers and said, “I’ve got it! Not a chicken—a Phoenix!”
That dowsed the humor in both of us.
“This can’t be good. First, we’re beset by a pack of wolves in the middle of the city, and now a mythological creature is trying to break in the window? We should make a run for it.” Knight tugged my arm as he eased a step toward the door. I inched back with him. The Phoenix shook itself in the manner of a big dog and tapped on the window with its beak.
We froze and then exchanged a wary glance.
“I don’t think the bad guys would knock, do you?” Knight asked.
“Maybe it’s a trap. Maybe he’s relying on our innate good manners to open the window and then he’ll flame us to death.”
The Phoenix gave a heavy sigh and then the flames went out. The body of the bird shimmered and changed into a man. A naked man. One I recognized.
“Good heavens!” I exclaimed, rushing toward the window to open it.
“Thank you.” Ryker’s voice was crisp as he climbed in from the fire escape. “It’s chilly out here.”
I tried to look anywhere except at him when he climbed into my apartment.
Ryker pulled the sash down behind him and straightened, undaunted by his naked state. “Bishop,” he said in a voice still etched with frost. “I take it this is Dr. Knight?”
Knight turned incredulous eyes on me.
“You know the flaming chi—I mean, this man?”
“He’s my boss,” I said in a small voice. “Ryker. Er, Mr. Ryker. Head of Redclaw Security.” I stared off to the left of Ryker’s bare shoulder. “May I present Dr. Knight?”
“Charmed, I’m sure.” Knight’s voice dripped with sarcasm. “Let me guess—you have to shed your clothes when you change into a Phoenix so they won’t go up in flames.”
“Among other reasons.” Ryker fixed a cool stare on me. “I think some explanations are in order, Miss Bishop.”
I winced at the resurrection of the “Miss” when addressing me. If that wasn’t bad enough, the way I was dressed, Ryker could leap to the wrong conclusion as to why I’d brought Knight back to my apartment. “Um, just a minute.”
I bolted for my bedroom, where I pulled on a cheap housedress and returned to the kitchen. Ryker and Knight stood squared off like two alley cats unwilling to back down enough to let the other pass. Unable to meet Ryker’s eye, I held out my bathrobe while keeping my eyes averted. “Sir. If you don’t mind…?”
Ryker snatched the proffered robe from my hand with poor grace. It was too short, but at least I could look at him without blushing now.
“How did you know to find us here, sir?”
He finished belting the robe and folded his arms across his chest. “Imagine my surprise when reports came in of shots fired and a pack of wolves roaming the streets outside the Moneta Bar and Grill this evening. Someone reported a woman matching your description fleeing the scene with a man, which is how I knew to seek you here at your apartment. Since you’ve been out of the office pursuing a lead that ended in an attack, it seemed possible you’d discovered Dr. Knight’s whereabouts and yet failed to share that information. Would you care to explain?”
“You asked me to find him. I did.” I didn’t understand why he was so mad with me. I got results, didn’t I?
“You didn’t think she’d find me!” Knight’s sudden contribution to the conversation caught us both off-guard. “You promoted her to field agent, and told her to find me, but you didn’t actually think she would, did you?”
“I thought she’d have the good sense to report your location to someone with a little more experience in the matter.” Ryker fixed me in his glare once more. “Why didn’t you use the pin I gave you to call for assistance?”
The pin. I’d forgotten about the ladybug pin. I’d attached it to the inside of my clutch, thinking I’d have it if needed, and then, like an idiot, forgot it even existed.
“Everything happened so fast.” Even though I was telling the truth, my excuses sounded weak to my ears. “The attacks happened as we left the bar. First, by armed men in a car, and then by the, er, wolves.”
“Yes, and if it hadn’t been for Miss Bishop here, I’d be an unwilling captive or dinner for the dogs. They were waiting for me—the men with guns, that is. No doubt relying on my known habit of frequenting that bar and taking ruthless advantage of my history. Miss Bishop got shot protecting me, you know.”
Too late, Knight caught sight of the chopping motion I made with my hand.
“What? You did get injured in the line of duty tonight. He saw the bandage before you covered it up.” Knight thrust his chin forward belligerently.
“Are you all right?” Ryker lifted an eyebrow in my direction.
I nodded, not trusting myself to speak.
“Well, if that’s the level of concern you have for your employees, I’m not certain I want to work for you.” Knight folded his arms over his chest in an insulting manner. “What’s got your knickers in such a twist, anyway?”
“Knight,” I cautioned, shooting him a small frown.
“Am I supposed to be frightened because he can morph into a giant self-combusting bird that might turn me into a charred cinder? In the last hour a secret organization has offered me a job, someone tried to kidnap me, I watched a little slip of a girl coolly drop a man in the alley with Buck Rogers’ blaster, and I got chased by what is, in all probability, a pack of supernatural wolves.” He wiped a hand over his mouth, looking somewhat dazed. “Really, I don’t think I’ve had enough to drink tonight.”
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McKenna Dean lives on a small farm with her family and assorted dogs, cats, horses, and livestock. She loves putting her characters in hot water to see how strong they are. Like tea bags, only sexier!