His Soul To Keep cover
Part of the Redemption's Price series:

To save his soul, he risks condemning the world.

Boulder pride security chief Gabe Kincade is losing his mind. It's the only explanation for remembering a past life in ancient Egypt as one of Maahes's warriors. Meeting a gorgeous scientist his jaguar says is his mate is a complication he can't afford—and can't resist. Ares is after him, and if the god catches him, he's dead. Again.

Wildlife geneticist Autumn Dailey has spent the last fifteen years tracking big cat DNA. She's on the verge of a huge discovery, and the key might be in the samples from her cougar population study. Being kidnapped by people who turn into cougars proves she's found her something huge. Gabe Kincade showing up and promising to protect her from an unhinged alpha is an unexpected bonus. So is falling in love with him.

But Ares knows who Gabe really is and what he can do. The Greek god of war will do anything to take possession of his soul. Including a temptation from his past capable of destroying Autumn. To save her, Gabe has to save himself. No matter the cost.

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

“Get it together, man. You don’t have time to go insane.” Gabriel Kincade turned away from the bathroom mirror and went outside on his back porch. Maybe looking at the beauty of a Colorado fall morning would help erase the lingering dream. A dream of the sands of Egypt hot beneath his jaguar’s paws, where the heat was almost a living entity and the great pyramids of Giza were nothing but a landmark telling him how much further until he reached home and safety.

His jaguar paced restlessly beneath his skin, the need to shift making him itch. It wanted to return to the heat of the Egyptian desert. Not face another Rocky Mountain winter. Which at once made no sense and all the sense in the world. Jaguars were jungle cats, and craved heat. But they weren’t indigenous to the African continent, so why the hell did his jaguar insist it was home?

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He checked his watch and hissed. Almost late. Back inside and he dressed in his slate blue suit, a cream shirt, a gray tie, and his cat’s eye cuff links. No one in his pride understood the comfort he derived from dressing this way. Including himself. But it made all the difference when he had to interact with the human world.

Same deal for the leather interior of his almost-luxury SUV he’d bought six months ago. Brand new. Some assumed him pretentious and snobby because he’d gone to law school at Harvard and always had a new car and expensive clothes. The trappings brought comfort and peace. If only he could figure out why, since no one else in his family was attracted to the same things.

He slid behind the wheel, turned on the seat warmer to banish the chill, and headed toward the university for his breakfast meeting. Meeting with sirens weirded him out, but it was necessary to cement the alliance Dad and David Michaels were trying to build.

As he pulled into the parking lot, his phone buzzed. He parked, and lifted it from the cup-holder. Owen, his youngest brother and future alpha of the Boulder pride. “Hey.”

“He still doesn’t get it, Gabe. I can’t talk to him yet.”

Gabe leaned his head back, staring through the sunroof at the brilliant blue of a perfect October morning. “It’s been almost three months. You have to at some point. He knows how bad he messed up. All he wants is a chance to earn back your trust.”

Owen sniffed. “He proved to me he’s a siren. There is no earning back my trust.”

David Michaels, newly minted leader of the Denver symphony and the only brother Owen had known for over twenty years. They’d been closer than close. Until David turned himself in to the old symphony leader to save his brother and mate, then fell prey to the woman’s control and shattered the brother he’d sworn to protect.

Thinking about it still made Gabe want to rip the siren’s throat out. But he refrained due to how much it’d hurt his only sister, David’s mate. “His curse is broken. I think you owe him a chance to make things right.”

“I don’t owe him a damn thing.”

Gabe straightened. “You’re wrong there, little brother. Our whole family owes him everything. I’m saying it aloud for my benefit too. As mad as you are at him, you’d regret it the rest of your life if he died with this rift in place.”

Silence on the other end.

“Just remember Berenice was controlling him through a blood bond. He truly didn’t recognize you. If he had, he’d have found a way to get rid of her without hurting you.”

“Talking to yourself again?”

“No.” He killed the seat warmer and the engine. “I was there, remember? I know siren blood control when I see it.” He’d always known. Another piece of knowledge he couldn’t explain. “Ask Maahes if you can use his cabin as neutral ground to meet with David. If he didn’t love you, he wouldn’t be busting his ass trying to get you to talk to him.”

A huff—part cat, part man. “I’ll think about it.”

“Good. I’m late for my meeting, so I’ll talk to you later.” He ended the call, slid the phone into the inside pocket of his jacket, and headed into the cafe with his tablet in hand. These breakfast meetings were designed for him and his symphony counterpart, one of David’s council members, to get to know each other and figure out how to work together to keep Ares from making more trouble. They rotated between Denver, Josh’s territory, and Boulder, Gabe’s territory.

Stepping into the cafe made his jaguar tense. He didn’t like the sirens. Or having to be nice to them. Gabe paused to give his jaguar a moment to adjust. Human and siren scents mixed with warm syrup, cinnamon, chocolate, coffee, bacon, and eggs. Out of habit, he sorted the living scents. Nine sirens, in addition to the one he was meeting with. Two shifters carrying his pride scent, and one who didn’t. Almost forty humans.

He looked at every siren. Not a single one could meet his gaze. Except the one he was meeting with, Josh Hall. His darker skin tone and lighter build like David’s made him almost pretty. But the siren had a core of steel and had already proven loyalty to his leader. As well as being willing to face the strength of the Boulder pride when he’d deemed it necessary to save David. That, Gabe respected.

Gabe made his way though the tables and took the empty chair. Said nothing until the waitress came over to take his order and fill his coffee cup. “Owen called me a few minutes ago.”

Josh sipped his coffee. “David tried to see him last night. Didn’t go well.”

“He’ll come around.”

“Wish he’d do it faster. A couple of Western symphonies have figured out he’s David’s weakness. They’ll go after him at some point.”

Gabe grimaced. He’d been teaching Owen how to fight, but he still had a long way to go before he could defend himself without help and harness the power of his alpha status. He might’ve pinned Dad on the Fourth, yet Dad was right. Owen wasn’t ready to take his place. At the current rate of progression, he might never be.

All because David had fallen prey to Berenice’s control and fed on his brother.

“The New Mexico symphonies are sending reps to talk to us in a couple weeks. They want to meet with your pride as well.”

Gabe drowned his French toast in maple syrup, then sliced into it. “We’re not the dominant pride there. Why us?”

Josh lifted one eyebrow. “You really expect me to believe the New Mexico alpha makes big decisions alone?”

Gabe shrugged. “Had to try.”

Josh let out a low chuckle and shook his head. “This is still weird for me too.”

“Glad we’re on the same page.”

The conversation turned to their scheduled topic of Halloween and all it entailed. Maybe this year would be quieter, since the Denver symphony was no longer an enemy.

Gabe accepted a refill on his coffee, savoring his meal. Another thing he never took for granted and didn’t understand why. The company wasn’t half bad either. In another world, he and Josh probably would’ve been friends.

Another customer came in, and the person’s scent made his jaguar sit up. Gabe looked to the door and the stunning woman heading for the counter. Her path brought her right by his table, and he breathed her in. Cool and crisp, with a hint of water lily and pomegranate—a scent he’d never found around here, and one that made his jaguar homesick. Long brown hair pulled back in a braid. Luminous, soft-looking skin the color of the desert sands his jaguar claimed as home. A facial structure similar enough to Mom’s to whisper Latino or Hispanic ancestry, probably one of her parents or grandparents.

Ours. Mate.

Gabe squelched the urge to turn in his chair and keep his gaze on her. Never had his jaguar said anything about a woman. Or a man. He was almost tempted to argue, but arguing with himself never ended well. Especially when the jaguar started it.

“Morning, Autumn. Usual?”

“Of course.”

His jaguar went boneless, the two words not even directed at him as persuasive as just the right kind of stroking on his fur. Mate. Her voice was, simply put, the sweetest of music. Not too high, not too low. If she whispered his name, he’d be gone forever.

Keeping his attention on his plate took every bit of concentration he had. And still her scent wouldn’t let go, and her chit-chat with the lady at the counter kept stroking his fur. Mate.

He looked heavenward without moving his head. I know that. She’s human. So much for not arguing with himself.

Mate. Ours.

She sailed past him on her way back outside, a cup of coffee in one hand and a bag in the other. Muffins, according to his nose. Apple cinnamon and pumpkin. Excellent choices. Her braid swayed along her back, contrasting with exquisite beauty against the hunter green of her jacket. Black dress slacks and plain loafers teased him with visions of her in a skirt and heels.

No. She was a total stranger and he had no business undressing her in his mind. Talk about rude and inconsiderate.

She went to the silver sedan beside his SUV, set her muffins on the roof, and dug into her purse. A broad-chested man came up beside her. Autumn went stiff and her eyes widened. The glass couldn’t hide the acrid bite of fear in her scent. The man grabbed her arm, and coffee sloshed over both of them.

Gabe shoved back from the table. “Excuse me, Josh.” He had to check his stride so he didn’t run out the door.

“Get your hands off me.” The fear wasn’t in her voice, but the other man was a shifter—his scent marking him as a cougar—and he scented it the same as Gabe. He saw it in the satisfaction stealing over the man’s face. Gabe’s jaguar rose up, begging to be unleashed and spill the other shifter’s guts. Claws pricked at his fingertips, three of them slicing out anyway.

“Not until I get my answer.”

“The lady said to let go.” Gabe stopped a couple feet from the shifter, arms crossed.

The other shifter looked him up and down. “Bug off, Kincade.”

Recognition hit. One of the secondary wardens from the Teton pride. “I’m the one who lives here. So why don’t you do as the lady asked and go home?”

“You’re just like your father, meddling in things that don’t concern you.”

Gabe couldn’t help it. A low growl came out of his throat. The warden appeared to realize what it meant, because he released Autumn and backed away. Gabe continued staring at the warden as he climbed into a big truck. The Teton alpha was a piece of work, and his wardens weren’t much better.

“Thank you.”

Gabe turned his full human attention to Autumn, his jaguar still focused on the threat to their mate. “He’s bothered you before?”

“Can’t take no for an answer.” Autumn set her half-empty coffee cup on the roof of her car and looked at her sleeve and pants. “Blast. I’m already late.”

“May I get you another cup of coffee while you clean up?” Damn. Too eager.

She studied him, her head tilted to the right just enough to show off the slope of her neck. “I guess. This is the first time he’s taken off without me threatening to call the police. Thanks for that.” She unlocked the car and set the muffin bag on the seat, then locked it up again.

He walked beside her back into the cafe, held the door, and went to the counter for her coffee while she continued into the ladies room to clean up. What on earth did the Teton pride want with this woman?

She joined him at the counter, grimacing at the stain on her dark shirt. “Thank God I didn’t wear white today.” She lifted her head. Met his gaze. “How did he know you?”

Human meant he couldn’t tell her the whole truth. “My company has had some business dealings with his employer. They weren’t pleasant.”

Autumn looked him up and down, obviously taking in his clothing and the way he carried himself. “Who do you work for?”

“The Kincade Group.”

“What do they do, exactly?”

His jaguar sighed with intense pleasure at the sound of her voice. The man seized the chance to keep talking to her. “A lot of development, architectural design, commercial properties, some infrastructure engineering. That kind of stuff. We’ve been part of Boulder for over a hundred years.”

“I had no idea they had such roots in the area. Pretty cool.” She glanced at the clock on the wall. “I’m almost late. It was nice meeting you. Thanks for the help and coffee.”

He opened his mouth to say something to make her stop, but she sailed past him and was in her car so fast all he could do was stand there and gape as she left.

“You’ll get nowhere with her, so don’t even ask me for her name.”

He faced the hostess, working on keeping his face from giving anything away. “Wouldn’t dream of it. How much do I owe you?”

She rang him up and he paid, with another cup of coffee to go. If Autumn was his mate, Bastet would make sure they met again. Under better circumstances. That was one of the best things about mates in his world—you couldn’t hide from each other. When it was time, it was time, and nothing short of death could stop it.

Josh grinned as he stood from his chair. “I won’t tell a soul.”

“You better not.” Gabe’s jaguar growled in the words. He left the cafe, coffee in hand, and slid into his SUV. He pulled his phone from his jacket and dropped it in the cup-holder beside his coffee. It buzzed as he cranked the engine. He hit the button on his steering wheel to answer the call. Bluetooth was a wonderful invention.

“It’s Erica. You busy?”

“No. What do you need?”

“For you to come to the lab. I’ve been sending stuff to John for almost a month now, with no real answer. He has to know about this.”

Gabe backed out of his space and headed for the University of Colorado campus. “What’s going on?”

“Not discussing it over the phone. You have to see it. Now’s a great time because my boss is running late. If you’re close, you might beat her in.”

“Ten minutes.” He ended the call, the coffee in his stomach turning into the most vitriolic of acids. Bobby, Dad’s second warden, handled all of the science related things right now since most of the people involved were from his pride. Including Erica. Trying to send the info straight to Dad explained why he hadn’t seen it. Unless it had Bobby’s name on it, nobody knew Dad had to see it.

He parked and went inside. Erica met him. “My boss just got here, but it’ll still be a little while before we have the morning meeting. She didn’t look too happy.”

Gabe followed Erica through a maze of halls and into a small office. A massive plasma TV mounted on the wall dominated the space. “What’s going on?”

Erica turned the TV on and an incomprehensible mess appeared. “We’re mapping wild cougar population DNA right now. Somehow, seven of the Teton pride cougars got tagged and collected from.”

Gabe crossed his arms loosely and stared at the mass of colorful graphs. “Some of our DNA was collected during the last cougar population study. Why is it different this time?”

Erica went to the screen and tapped a spot left of center. “There’s something really strange going on with it. I’m collecting samples from our pride to do some comparisons, off the record. I want to get you so I have a better cross-section to work from and figure out if it’s in the human DNA or the animal.”

Gabe turned his full attention on Erica. She was a submissive, and he could pull every last detail out of her if he wanted. But he didn’t. It violated her, and made him feel like a slimeball. She was also a certifiable genius and had been working with their DNA for over twenty years. Besides, something else was more important. “Why did you go outside the chain?”

Erica lowered her gaze, without lowering her head. Her soft black curls fluttered around her face. “It’s important. If I’m right, the Teton pride is in big trouble.”

Gabe took a step toward her. Relaxed his posture and kept his voice gentle. “Dad hasn’t seen any of it. Bobby screens this stuff and goes to Dad when he has all the information he needs to explain it.”

Erica scuffed her shoe on the carpet. “I thought it’d be faster to go straight to John.”

“Not with this. He glazes over when DNA gets mentioned.” Gabe stroked her cheek. “Everything you’ve sent to him, send it to me and Bobby. We’ll make sure he’s briefed so we can figure out what to do.”

“I’m sorry,” she whispered.

He pulled her into a hug. “It’s all right. It’s not like there’s a time bomb involved.”

Erica accepted the reassurance, then stepped back and turned to the screen. “I wouldn’t say that, exactly. I need permission to share it with a human scientist I know.”

Gabe opened his mouth, but Erica’s raised hand stayed him. “She knows about us. Since my boss doesn’t, I can’t go to her.”

Gabe nodded. “I’ll see what I can do.”

Erica beamed. Took up station beside him and walked him back into the maze. Pomegranate and water lily made him stop at a junction, his jaguar rolling around in the scent and his human body frozen.

Autumn came around the corner, stopped, and put her hands on her hips.

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