Home > Lion's Quest (A Lion's Pride #12)(9)

Lion's Quest (A Lion's Pride #12)(9)
Author: Eve Langlais

Impossible. A tiger couldn’t match the speed of a car. Still, he didn’t ease up on the gas until he reached the bright lights of the city. It didn’t take much time to make the trip this time of night, although street parking proved to be a challenge. Eventually, he entered his apartment without seeing a single tiger.

He pulled out the key. The metal was cold enough he couldn’t hold it for long. He dropped it with a clang onto the table and went to bed.

The next day, he woke late morning. He peered out the window and saw a guy standing across from it, cigarette dangling from his lips, appearing to stare right at his window. Not that he’d see anything. The glare of light would prevent him from seeing in. Peter kept an eye out and could have sworn the same guy in different spots smoked and watched. First in a ball cap, then a hoodie, then nothing but his bald head.

He told himself he was being paranoid. No one was spying on him.

He fired off a message to the people who wanted to buy the key. Let them have it. He couldn’t stand touching it for long. Funny how the fake key he’d had made, so similar in appearance, didn’t give him the same feeling. It didn’t make him shiver.

The buyers replied with instructions, and that was when they started pulling some shit. Rather than paying half now, half on the trade, they wanted to do the whole amount only once he handed over the key. Smelled like a double cross to him. He messaged them back and said half now, or no key.

The money arrived not long after, but the trust was gone. He wrapped the key in used panties, put it into an envelope, and mailed it to himself in the States. The return address was for a prostitute who also had a side hustle in worn garments.

The fake was stashed in a hidey-hole. The day after he handed it over, he had a flight booked to take him home. He’d be on a plane by tomorrow night.

That night he woke to heavy breathing. Huff. Huff. Huff.

It reminded him of an animal. Impossible. Unless a rat got inside his apartment.

Huff. Huff. Huff.

He was being dumb. No one could be inside. He’d locked his door and windows. It was probably something stupid like in that segment on America’s Funniest Home Videos where the mind conjured up all kinds of weird things at sounds that turned out to be innocuous.

Just in case, though, he reached for the gun he kept under his pillow, only to have something slam into him. Teeth grazed his throat, paws with claws pressed into his shoulders.

In his dream, he relived over and over the unmanly whimper that emerged from him. Relived the terror.

The tiger had found him.

It would have been easier if it had mauled him to death then and there.

The dream always fast-forwarded at that point until he was inside the cage. Too short to stand. A bucket sat in the corner. And most worrisome of all, the old lady stood in front of it, wrapped in a robe, hair crazy, eyes even crazier.

But it was the things she did to him, the things she made him think he saw…

Peter woke twisted in his sheets. Sweating. Heart pounding. Fear clenching him tight. It took him a moment to calm himself from the nightmare.

Nothing new. Apparently quite normal given he’d gone through something traumatic. Blah. Blah. He just wanted to stop being afraid all the fucking time.

Then again, his paranoia might save his life. He thought he was going nuts again when he convinced himself the new neighbors were spying on him. To prove himself wrong, he ran a small test. Decided to run to the liquor store, leaving Nora behind.

As he browsed for a bottle, he’d wondered if she’d be the one following him or her beefy partner. Or he was wrong and she wasn’t spying on him, just a flirty woman—with baggage.

However, his sixth sense proved right. He walked out of the store and startled his cute neighbor. No denying she was keeping an eye on him. The question being, was Nora following him because of his sister, or was it the people he’d screwed out of the key?

After all, he’d received partial payment, but they never got what they paid for. They never would. He’d not suffered to fail now.

Since he couldn’t trust anyone, possibly not even his sister, there was only one thing to do. Move on.

First, he rolled out of bed and hit the bathroom, the one place without a camera. Did they know what he could do with his phone in there?

The footage he’d hijacked previously now came into play. The video stream was pushed into the live feed so that whoever watched wouldn’t see what he was actually doing. Packing to leave.

The heavy metal key, still just as shivery cold, went into an inner pocket of his knapsack, one with a zipper so it wouldn’t accidentally fall out, along with a flint and some chalk. In the larger section went his clothes, extra footwear, and protein bars. He would have taken the old book of fairytales with him; however, at its age and size, the pictures he’d stored in a cloud online would be more practical. The book itself he kept tucked inside the linen cabinet, between the folds of a towel. It would be found if someone tore his place apart, but he couldn’t bring himself to destroy it. The thing was priceless. The cover, the pages, every illustration and text done by hand. No one even suspected he had the original.

Just like no one knew he had the real key. He’d kept them busy chasing the fake that someone finally located inside his apartment. Meanwhile, the original waited for him in a postal box back home.

With all his things packed, including his passport with his new fake name, Peter swung the knapsack on his back and then climbed out of his window onto the fire escape. He didn’t dare use his front door. Time for a stealthy escape since he didn’t want his shadow tailing him.

Not where he was going.

He thought he’d made a clean getaway until the morning after his arrival in Switzerland when he woke to a weight on his chest and a purring voice that said, “Where do you think you’re going, Peter?”



Chapter Six



Rather than reply to her query, Peter asked one of his own. “What the fuck are you doing following me, Nora?”

She’d yet to ease the pressure on him. It should be noted, she enjoyed the position a little more than she should. “Why did you run, Peter?

“Maybe because I don’t like being spied on.”

“When did you figure out I was watching you?”

“The sandwich was when I got suspicious.”

“Why is everyone freaking out about that damned sandwich?” Pamela had lectured her a few more times about economics and profits and other boring stuff that amounted to make the sandwiches puny or else.

“You and that job weren’t well suited.”

“Neither were you and yours,” she sassed right back.

“You’re right, it wasn’t.” He grinned, a little too cute and boyish.

She wouldn’t let him fool her again. She kept her guard up. “Most people don’t assume they’re being watched.”

“Unless you’re a man in my position. Not to mention your cameras were less than discreet.”

She grimaced. “The best they could manage on short notice.”


“You don’t really expect me to answer that, do you?”

“No. But you did just confirm you were hired. Hopefully with a discount given you were less than subtle.”

The dig might have stung more if it were false. Problem was he’d intrigued her from afar and she’d wanted to get close. And now that she pinned him, she wanted to get even closer. “Subtlety is not a requirement for my job.” Not entirely true. After Arik freaked out on her, assuming she’d messed up, he’d told her to do whatever it took to find Peter and then stick to him like glue. As for Zach, he took apart the apartment Peter left behind.

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