The law firm looks like something out of a fairytale storybook. The building is old and rustic, with vines growing on the sides of the old Victorian. It was obviously once a house, but it’s been converted into a legal office. Fitting, I suppose. Shifters are weird. Why wouldn’t a shifter law firm be even weirder?
Oh, I’m not supposed to know about shifters. I’m not supposed to know I live in a shifter town or that the lawyers of Bradshaw, Kansas are not actually human. Nope. I’m supposed to understand and accept that weird things happen in this town for no reason at all, but I don’t buy it.
From what I can tell, I’m one of the only humans living here. That doesn’t bother me one bit. The shifters in Bradshaw are kind and accommodating and I think there’s some secret law that all shifters have to be fine as fuck because everyone I know is just beautiful.
There’s no other word for it.
They’re all just so beautiful.
Standing outside the offices of Casa, Fee, and Lyon, I have to wonder what the attorney I’m meeting with looks like. Casa. I’m meeting with Casa. I glance at the piece of paper in my hand.
2:00. Ronan Casa. Call if I’ll be late.
The note is scribbled on the back of a torn-off piece of notebook paper. I wrote it down while I was talking with the receptionist at the law firm. I tried to explain my situation as well as possible, but I’m not sure I did a good job. She didn’t panic or seem to be overwhelmed with the situation. Not like me. No, the receptionist seemed to be perfectly in control and I’m not going to say I’m not jealous because I am.
I wish my life was under control.
I wish I had that poise, that perfection she seemed to exude.
The time on my cell phone says 1:58, so I finally take a deep breath and head up the stairs to the large wraparound porch. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to just walk inside or ring the bell, and I spend a few seconds fidgeting before I finally ring the doorbell.
“Come on in,” a pleasant voice calls out, and I push open the heavy wooden door. As soon as I step inside the entrance, I relax. There’s a foyer with a large staircase leading upstairs. The stairs are roped off with a small sign that says private. To my right is a sitting room and to the left looks like an office. There’s a hallway leading straight ahead and I assume there are other offices and probably a kitchen down there.
“Hello?” I say. I know I heard someone call me inside, but I don’t see anyone now. I’m not sure whether I’m supposed to check in with someone or just take a seat on one of the nearby chairs, so I stand nervously in front of the door and fidget.
For the millionth time, I wonder if I’m doing the right thing by meeting with a lawyer. Maybe it’s not really necessary. Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe Lester isn’t so bad. Maybe I’m just being a huge weirdo. Meeting with an attorney is a huge step and there’s part of me that doubts myself and my ability to make the right choices.
Only, when I think about the situation rationally, I know I’m not freaking out. I know I’m being realistic. The situation with my neighbor has escalated. It’s gone on far too long and it’s time to stop. It’s time to end things and the only way I know how to do that is to get help.
I’m not a shifter.
Maybe that’s the root of the problem.
While Bradshaw is a pretty modern town, the truth is there will always be people who think humans don’t belong. There will always be people who feel that humans are the ones who rule the world and who should be taken down, taken out. There will always be people who think that we’re not good enough to live in a world of shifters.
This knowledge doesn’t make the situation easier to deal with, though.
“One second,” a voice calls out, and then the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in my life walks down the hallway. She’s got long, wavy blonde hair and she’s wearing a white blouse with a black pencil skirt. Her bright red heels click loudly on the floor as she walks down the hallway. “You must be Lara.”
“I am,” I say, but I’m so busy gawking that I don’t really know what else to say. She’s beautiful. She seriously looks like she just walked out of a magazine.
“Sorry about the wait,” the woman lowers her voice. “I was barefoot in my office, but can you imagine what these guys would do if I answered the door like that? They’d have my tail,” she giggles. “So I had to put my shoes on before I came out. Took me a few minutes.”
Instantly, I feel more at ease. She’s just a real person like me. She’s just normal. Here’s a woman who wants to be comfortable at work, but who struggles to maintain a professional appearance.
“I’m Joyce,” she says, and holds out her hand for me to shake.
“What a beautiful name,” I say, taking her hand.
Joyce laughs. “No need to beat around the bush,” she says. “It’s an old woman name, I know. What can I say? My parents are very traditional. They named me after my grandmother. She’s dead now, but she was incredible.”
“I’m sorry about your grandmother. I’m sure she was an amazing woman.”
“She was,” Joyce smiles. At first glance, I’d guess she’s close to my age. I’m 25 and I don’t think I look half as pretty as Joyce. Somehow, she’s made me comfortable, though, and I’m not thinking about how frizzy my hair is or how nerdy I look in my glasses. Instead, I’m thinking that maybe there’s hope for me. Maybe today won’t be so bad.
Maybe everything is going to be okay after all.
“Come on, then,” Joyce says, motioning for me to follow her. We don’t go into the front office. Instead, we walk down the hall, passing two doors in the process. Then we stop in front of a third. She knocks on the door and pops her head inside. “Lara Berkshire is here to see you,” she says.
“Send her in.”
“All right,” Joyce turns back to me. “Can I get you a coffee or bottle of water?”
Even though my throat has suddenly gone dry, I shake my head. “No thank you,” I say politely. “I’m okay.”
Joyce smiles knowingly at me. “Everything is going to be just fine. Casa is the best.” She turns and walks away and I’m left standing in front of the slightly-open office door. This is it, then. This is the moment when everything changes. I push the door the rest of the way open and walk inside.
The moment I step into the room, I calm instantly. Like Joyce, this man has something soothing about him, something comfortable, something I can’t quite put my finger on. He’s staring at something on his desk, but he looks up at me and flashes me a brilliant smile.
“You must be Lara.” He stands and walks around to shake my hand. “I’m Ronan Casa.”
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Casa,” I manage to say. I speak the correct words and I’m very proud of myself because instead of saying nice to meet you, what I want to say is please take my panties off with your teeth.
Ronan takes my hand in his and suddenly, my body is covered in goose bumps. Suddenly, all I can think of is sex. Suddenly, the room is very, very hot and I’m going to die if I don’t get fucked immediately.
Ronan drops my hand immediately, like it’s on fire.
“I…um…I’m sorry,” I say, even though I didn’t do anything wrong. He can’t read my mind, so he has no way to know what I’m thinking. This is good. This is a good thing. It’s good he can’t tell that I want to know what it’s like to take off that button-down. It’s good he can’t tell that I want to know what it’s like to carefully undo his belt. It’s good he can’t tell I’m wondering exactly how big his cock is or if he knows how to use it.
Ronan looks at me curiously. Then he sniffs the air. Oh, he tries to be discreet, but I see the way his nostrils flare and that’s when I remember that I live in Bradshaw.
I live in Bradshaw and this is a shifter town.
And he’s a shifter.
And this means he can smell everything.
He knows exactly how turned on I am right now.
I close my eyes, ready to die of embarrassment. If the floor could open up and swallow me whole right now, that would be great.
“Miss Berkley, was it?” He says, motioning to one of the chairs in front of his desk. “Please take a seat.”