A private eye. His hardnosed secretary. A dastardly cult and
a werewolf curse. If you like your mysteries noir, Shifter, P.I.
is for you.
New Orleans detective, Rick Plazier is hired by a client to look
into her possibly cheating husband. In an effort to prove her
investigative skills, Rick’s receptionist, Amy Chang agrees
to follow the same woman on behalf of her untrusting husband.
Working from opposite sides, Amy and Rick uncover much more than
a case of faithless spouses. A deadly paranormal society plans
to hold an auction of human beings and one or the other of their
clients may be a target.
Amy’s disappearance prompts Rick to finally comes to terms
with his shapeshifting curse and use his wolf aspect to track
and rescue her. But will the pair acknowledge their constant arguing
is due to mutual attraction and will they move from bickering
Previously published as Moon Over Bourbon Street at Liquid Silver
Mrs Giggles - 89
an enjoyable story with enough substance to pack a pretty hard
JERR - 4/5 stars
Reviewed by Karen Haas
“This story had me laughing out loud all the way through.
The characters are well developed and even the secondary ones
are charming and adorable. While there is some sexual tension
between Rick and Amy they don’t get together until the very
end. The sex is well worth the wait and the story is so much fun.
... there is plenty of fast-paced action and our hero and heroine
have to admit their feelings and work together to save the day."
Joyfully Reviewed - Reviewer Jo
"The passion and fear both Rick and Amy go through will keep
you flipping the pages. I know they had me doing so. "
Running. Four legs propel me along as smoothly as the Titanic
cutting through the ocean--before the iceberg. The cool night
breeze ruffles my fur and I lift my muzzle to scent the air. Rich,
pungent odors surround me but I focus on one. I wait, frozen in
the shadows of the underbrush. The clearing in front of me is
lit by bone-white moonlight and my quarry enters the scene like
an actor stepping into the spotlight.
All of my senses are concentrated on one point. A low growl rumbles
in my throat and the fur at the nape of my neck rises. My victim,
sensing danger, freezes then begins to run. I spring into the
clearing, blocking him. He darts with evasive moves right and
left, but I’m on him every second. My body is energized,
twisting and turning effortlessly in pursuit. My roar shakes the
leaves on the trees as I leap and land on my prize, ripping him
apart with claws and fangs. Coppery warmth spurts in my mouth.
I devour my prey in huge gulps.
Later, I lift my dripping muzzle from a pool of water and sniff
the breeze again. I’m still hungry and the rest of the long
night lies before me. I lope through the woods to search for more
food, every cell vibrating with life. It is good to be alive and
running free in the forest.
* * * *
I woke up with the sun in my eyes, a blinding headache and an
extreme case of cotton mouth. Felt like I’d been on a three-day
bender in Tijuana. My tongue ran over my furry teeth and I almost
gagged. “Fuck!” I rolled over to my side and spit
the offending object on the floor. It was white and furry and
would have been really cute once ... attached to a rabbit’s
ass. Damn, I hated when that happened.
I blinked in the sunlight blazing through the window and looked
around, trying to place myself. I recognized the industrial green
carpet pressing patterns into my cheek. My office. Shards of glass
were scattered around my naked body and felt like they were embedded
in my skin, too. I lifted my groggy head, banging it hard on the
underside of my desk. Waking up like this was always a bitch and
it happened about three times a month, my own personal PMS days.
I crawled out from under the desk, and climbed to my feet, stretching
my aching back until it cracked. Glancing down at my nude body,
everything appeared all right except for an assortment of scratches
and cuts, which was par for the course. My dangly bits were still
dangling as they should. My muscles and bones worked properly
together to propel me across the room to the coffeemaker in the
front office. It was a fine day to be alive, almost human and
solving crime in New Orleans.
As I put the coffee filter in the basket, the front door opened
and my secretary, Amy Chang fought to get through the door with
a shopping bag in one arm and her huge purse slipping down her
“Little help here,” she called when she saw me frozen
with my hand poised above the ‘on’ button.
“Just a minute.” I looked around, desperate to find
something to hide my groin from Amy’s view. Why couldn’t
I have woken up at home or out in the woods somewhere? Why did
it have to be the office?
“Now would be good.” The bag slipped from Amy’s
arm and I dove to catch it before it hit the floor. My reflexes
were quick despite the pounding in my head and my general exhaustion.
I intercepted the bag and offered it to back to Amy.
She rolled her eyes, gesturing toward the tiny fridge in the corner
near the coffeemaker with an impatient nod of her head. “Over
there.” The ‘dumbass’ was understood.
I carried the bag across the room and set it on the floor by the
fridge, conscious of her eyes scanning me from head to toe the
entire time. My ass burned red with shame. I turned to give her
full frontal just to let her know she didn’t make me nervous,
only to find Amy at her desk searching through her purse for something.
She didn’t even glance up.
“So, did you kill anybody last night?” Her voice was
as bland as tapioca.
“Why do you say shit like that?” Amy and I have been
working together almost a year. She’s known my secret for
nine months. “You know my condition is perfectly safe. I’ve
never killed anyone!” I thought of Mr. Rabbit and doubted
he would agree.
“Not that you remember anyway.” Amy took a tube of
lip balm from one of the many pockets of her purse and applied
it to her mouth. “If you wanted to be sure, I could chain
you up a few nights a month. I wouldn’t mind doing it.”
A picture of little Amy in dominatrix leather with a riding crop
in one hand and me chained to the wall in her apartment flashed
through my head.
My pause was long enough to make her lift her head lifted and
glare at me. “Perv!” Her dark, almond eyes narrowed.
She shook her head and her black hair brushed her shoulders. “Get
your mind out of the gutter and put the groceries away.”
I sighed at the lack of respect from my employee. Grabbing a jacket
some client had left on the coat tree by the door, I tied the
sleeves around my waist in a makeshift loincloth then obeyed Amy’s
As I stuffed a package of cheese and a small container of milk
into the fridge, I thought about the possibility of killing someone.
It scared me that Amy might be right. Just because I hadn’t
hurt anyone yet, didn’t mean it wasn’t possible. For
safety’s sake, I should incarcerate myself during my monthly,
but the idea of being confined was repugnant. I’d grown
to crave the exhilaration of running wild in the woods, even if
I woke the next day feeling like I’d been run over by a
truck. Dreams of my wilder self were encroaching on my sleep more
often these days. Sometimes, it was hard to separate the two halves
and remember which one was really me.
I jammed the last item in the crowded fridge and forced the door
shut. “Amy, will you do me a favor and go to my house for
She exhaled loudly as she closed a file drawer.
“Hey, sorry. I didn’t ask to wake up here.”
“Fine. But if I don’t get these bills sent out today,
we don’t get paid. If we don’t have incoming cash
flow soon, we won’t be able to pay the rent, we’ll
lose the office and both of us will be out of a job.”
I love Amy’s eternally optimistic attitude. It brightens
my day. But seriously, she is the mistress of collections. Her
job title is receptionist, but I rely on her for her research
skills and her amazing ability to shake money out of recalcitrant
clients. Forget sending some big guy with brass knuckles. No one
can stand against the piercing eyes and cleaver-sharp tongue of
a five-foot-one Chinese woman with past-due accounts in hand.
Amy is tres formidable.
“I suppose you want me to call the glazier, too.”
She looked at the broken window above my desk. “You know,
if you’re not going to lock yourself up, you should at least
put some dog doors in at the office and at home. And, for God’s
sake, keep some extra clothes around so I don’t have to
start my day out looking at that!” She nodded toward my
groin then turned and swept out of the office.
I watched her go, admiring her brisk walk and her firm ass, then
grabbed a mug and filled it with coffee. Returning to my office,
I risked glass shards in my bare feet as I sank down in my swivel
chair. I leaned back and took my first sip of the day, propping
my legs up on my desk. The aroma of coffee alone was usually enough
to perk me up, but the morning after a change it barely roused
me. I was lethargic and all my senses seemed dull in comparison
to the vibrant impressions of the world I experienced in my other
form. An aching sense of loss of that savage self coursed through
me. I hated the morning-after feeling of being trapped in a limited
human body. Should have been used to it after two years. Wasn’t.
Hot, moist air seeped in through the broken window. The air conditioner
whined as it struggled to keep the heat and humidity at bay. I
picked up the phone, called the glass repair guy and set up an
appointment. It was the third time that year and I wondered if
my insurance company would believe another vandalism incident.
I relaxed into my chair again and had just drifted into a doze
when the front door of the office opened. My eyes flew open and
my legs came down off the desk. It was too soon for Amy to be
back from my apartment. It must be a client. And me without a
thing to wear.
Cursing Amy for not locking up after herself, I untied the sleeves
of the ugly, brown corduroy jacket from my waist, slipped my arms
into them and buttoned it to cover my bare chest.
“Hello?” A woman’s voice floated from the front
I considered hiding until she went away, but Amy would kill me
for missing out on possible business. Smoothing down my wild hair
with one hand, I cleared my throat and called out, “Receptionist
is out for coffee. Come on back to my office.”
My naked lower half was hidden behind my desk. The jacket looked
ridiculous, but at least I was covered. I opened a file to make
myself seem busy. When the client appeared at my open door, I
glanced up with the distracted air of someone pulled away from
“Can I help...?”
The words froze in my throat. The woman was absolutely gorgeous!
Blond hair streaked with even paler gold highlights tumbled down
to her shoulders. The worried crease between her perfectly arched
eyebrows didn’t detract from her pure beauty but only added
to her appeal, giving her a vulnerable look that turned my guts
to jello. Her body was firm and lithe with high, round breasts,
curvy hips and long legs. She was dressed in a light blue tank
top and a pair of jeans I wanted to be peel off her like a wrapper
from a candy bar. Her eyes were a pale blue that sparkled with
reflected light. I was caught in their blinding rays. She was
the fantasy client from detective novels, the blonde in peril
who walks into a private investigator’s office seeking his
The blonde and the detective usually ended up in bed before the
story was through.
Or she turned out to be a femme fatale and nearly got the detective
I was grateful that my desk blocked not only my naked lower half
but also the boner bumping against the underside of my desk. I
cleared my throat and remembered my manners, gesturing toward
the seat across the desk from me. “Please sit down. Can
I help you?”
“I hope so.” She perched on the edge of the chair,
hands clasped in her lap, mesmerizing gaze assessing me. “You
are Richard Plazier?”
Those gorgeous eyes rendered me mute for a second. Was I? I started
then answered, “Yes. Yes, I am. Rick. That’s me.”
“You’re younger than I expected.”
I sat up straight and tried to look older. “Um, thanks.
What can I do for you, Ms...?”
“Addington. Angela Addington.”
I reached across the top of my desk to shake her hand, embarrassed
I couldn’t stand up and greet my client properly. I would’ve
enjoyed touching her smooth skin more if I wasn’t sweating
from wearing a corduroy jacket in ninety-degree weather.
She looked curiously at the broken window and the few shards of
glass glittering on the surface of my desk.
I jerked my thumb at the window. “Delinquents. It was like
that when I got here this morning.”
“Oh no. Was anything stolen?”
“No. Just teen vandalism I guess. How can I help you, Ms.
“Call me Angela.” She dropped her attention from the
window and twisted her hands together, toying with a pair of rings
on her left hand. “It’s my husband, Brian.”
She bit her lip and fell silent.
“What’s the problem?”
“We only met a month ago, at a convention in Las Vegas.
I know, ‘what happens in Vegas...’ Well, maybe I should
have let it stay in Vegas.” She drew a long, shaky breath.
“This is not coming out right. I sound like an idiot.”
“No. Not at all.” Usually I’d offer a cup of
coffee to an upset client, but I was in no condition to get it
“My husband owns a lot of real estate in and around New
Orleans. ‘Trump of the bayou,’ he calls himself. He
was speaking on land development at the National Realtors’
Convention at the Riviera Hotel. I was attending the convention.
I used to be a dancer, but just got my realtor’s license.
I had big plans to do more than push houses in the suburbs. There’s
still money to be made in real estate if you have the right connections
and know what you’re doing.” The woman reached into
her purse then withdrew her hand, empty. She gave a little shrug
and smiled. “Keep forgetting I gave up smoking.”
Her leg jiggled and her long, red fingernails tapped her purse
as she continued. “After Brian spoke, a mutual acquaintance
introduced us. I was attracted to him right away. We shared an
instant connection, talked all night, and ended up skipping the
rest of the convention.” She sighed. “At the end of
three days, we were married in one of those stop ‘n’
go wedding chapels. I was excited to move to New Orleans and start
a new life, but after we got here, I began to realize how little
I really know Brian.”
Her story wasn’t new. After four years as a P.I., I’d
heard every cheating spouse scenario. They usually started with
‘I thought I knew her/him.’
“You have some suspicions about your husband?”
“I don’t know. On one hand, he’s generous and
loving.” Tears welled in Angela’s beautiful eyes and
I wanted to lean forward and wipe them away. “But I think
he has secrets. I don’t know if it’s another woman
or some illegal involvement or maybe only a sexual kink he’s
afraid to share with me, but there’s something he’s
holding back. Something I can’t get him to confide in me.”
She gave a harsh laugh. “Marry in haste, repent in leisure
as they say.”
“Have you considered divorce? It wouldn’t be the first
Vegas wedding that went sour.”
She shook her head. “I’m not ready to take that step.
I still love Brian. Most of the time things are wonderful and
I could be completely imagining all this. I’m just not sure.”
“So you want me to investigate, see where he goes, who he
meets, that type of a thing.” I tapped a pen on the paper
in front of me. “What raised your suspicions?” My
clients usually reported late night phone calls or hang-ups, suspicious
credit card receipts or frequent overtime at work. They were usually
right in adding them up to equal a cheating spouse.
I got distracted watching Angela’s lush lips shaping words,
imagining them doing other things besides speaking. When I tuned
back in, she was saying, “...phone conversations late at
night and hang-ups whenever I answer the phone myself. It sounds
bad, doesn’t it?”
“I wouldn’t jump to conclusions. I had a client once
who was convinced his wife was cheating. Turned out she was planning
a surprise party for him.” It wasn’t true. I saw that
plot on a sitcom once, but I sometimes used the scenario to relieve
“Sure.” My naked, sweating ass was sticking to the
faux leather seat of the chair. I was burning up in the heavy
jacket and really wanted the beautiful blonde to go now. “Look,
why don’t you give me all the information you can about
Brian’s routine and I’ll find out if there’s
anything for you to worry about.”
“All right.” She wiped her eyes and sniffed. “I
feel awful doing this. If it turns out I’m imagining the
whole thing, I’ll feel so guilty for not trusting him.”
I didn’t suggest she simply communicate with her spouse,
asking flat out where he went and who called at night. If my clients
took such a drastically simple step, I’d have no work at
“Just think how relieved you’ll be when it turns out
to be nothing.” I paused. “And if it is another woman,
well, you need to know.”
Angela showed me a wedding photo and a couple of other photos
of her husband. She filled me in on his job, hobbies, and favorite
restaurants, then shared details like his cell phone number, email
address and the bank accounts she knew about.
I examined the photo, wondering if Brian had indulged in cosmetic
surgery. It was hard to believe someone could be so blessed physically
as well as financially. He was classically handsome with black
hair, blue eyes and the strong jaw of a GI Joe. Together, Brian
and Angela made a stunning couple--too flawless to exist in real
life. The man had to have dark secrets to hide, something to counteract
all that perfection.
I took notes on everything Angela told me and kept a picture of
Brian for his file.
“Okay, I’ll check out everything you’ve shared
with me and talk to you soon.” Sweat ran down my sides and
I was ready to strip the damn jacket off right in front of Angela
if she didn’t leave soon.
“Thank you.” Her smile was dazzling. “You have
no idea what a relief it is to share my fears with someone, even
if they turn out to be groundless. Thank you so much for helping
me out, Mr. Plazier.”
“Rick,” I corrected, returning her smile. It’s
been my experience that clients are always effusively grateful
at first, less so after you confirm their worst fears. By the
time they get my bill, their appreciation is pretty much gone.
That’s where Amy and her ability to squeeze blood from a
stone comes in.
“Rick,” she repeated softly, intimately. “Thank
“Well, Angela, that’s my job.” I tried not to
sound too pretentious, as I reached across the desk and shook
her perfectly manicured hand once more.
Angela stood up. She looked puzzled when I didn’t rise to
see her out. “Well ... goodbye.” She crossed to the
door of my cubicle and walked out into the main office.
I stared after her shapely ass swaying back and forth and let
out a little sigh. Such beauty deserved to be worshipped. I already
despised Brian Addington for being such an asshole as to take
his beautiful wife for granted. I also hated him in advance for
the hours I would spend sitting in my car eating cold pizza or
sipping endless cups of coffee at café tables.
Most of my work consisted of waiting for people to do something,
followed by a few exciting moments of shooting tawdry photos.
Unlike the depictions of private eyes in TV shows, there really
wasn’t a lot of crime-solving involved in my line of work.
I’d yet to solve a single murder or case of police corruption.
The moment the office door closed behind Angela, I stripped off
the heavy jacket. I went to the restroom, splashed myself with
cool water and checked out last night’s bramble scratches
and glass cuts on my arms and torso. The scratches were already
healing--one of the few perks of my lycan affliction--but I still
doused them with hydrogen peroxide from the medicine chest. It
bubbled up white in the jagged lines.
I rinsed and dried off then padded back to my office. The desk
and file cabinets had been purchased at a going-out-of-business
sale. They were circa 1960-something, serviceable pieces that
would probably outlast my business. The ancient computer took
up way too much room and was as slow as molasses. But when I’d
finally broken down and purchased a new one the year before, Amy
had commandeered it, leaving me with the tired, older model. The
only marginally attractive thing in my little office was the potted
tree in the corner, but that morning its leaves were drying up
and dropping from the heat invading the office.
I stared at the open window through which tropical July air poured
in. Who knew how long it would be before the glass guy showed
up? I decided to cut a square of cardboard to keep out the worst
of the heat.
While I was balancing on my office chair, fitting the cardboard
to the open window, Amy returned. She walked into my office and
the chair I was standing on rolled away from the window on its
casters. I pinwheeled my arms to regain balance, jumped off the
moving chair and landed lightly on my feet in front of Amy.
She looked down at my sad, sleeping penis. “Jesus! What
happened to the jacket?” She set the shopping bag of clothes
and a styrofoam cup of coffee on my desk. “For God’s
sake, put your pants on.” She turned with a flip of hair
and stalked out of my office.
I looked in the bag to see what she’d brought me. It was
more casual attire than I would have chosen for a day in the office,
but I was glad to dress in a comfy T-shirt, jeans and broken down
I sipped the coffee as I walked out to Amy’s desk to tell
her about our latest client. “Got a new job already this
morning. A woman named Angela Addington. She wants her new husband
Amy raised her eyebrows. “You interviewed her naked?”
“Yes, Amy, we were both naked,” I drawled sarcastically.
“I wore the jacket and kept my bottom half hidden behind
“Did you remember to ask for half up front? Did she pay
with cash, check or credit card? Did you give her a receipt? Does
she understand that the rest is due after you’ve signed
off on the case?” She fired off questions at the same time
as her fingers flew on her computer keyboard. Amy was a multi-tasking
“I was trapped. I could hardly parade around the office
to do paperwork. You’ll have to catch her later for payment.”
“Crap, Rick!” Amy picked up a handful of the bills
in front of her and waved them. “See these? They’re
bills. Bills we owe!” She tossed them to her desk one by
one. “Electric. Phone. Gas. Plus the expense sheet you turned
in for the Wiesel case. These must be paid. You have to learn
to collect from the clients if I’m not in the office to
I used to hit on Amy when she first came to work for me, but after
I got to know her, I wouldn’t dare. She was scary. Her sweet,
heart-shaped face and tiny, compact build reminded me of a pretty
little cat--a feral one that would claw your hand if you tried
to pet her. I’d only tried that once.
“I’ll do better next time,” I said mildly. I’d
learned it was easier to apologize than argue with her. “Thanks
for picking up my clothes, by the way. And I already called the
glazier. He says he’ll be in later this morning, but you
know how that goes.”
Amy nodded. “What’s the lowdown on the Addington case?
Does she think her husband’s cheating?”
“Maybe. Something’s up with him.”
“It always is.”
I could hear her mental addition of ‘Fucking men!’
Amy was a very angry woman.
I couldn’t help watching Rick’s ass as he walked away
from my desk. God, it was a fine ass and looked just as good in
a pair of jeans as it did naked. That morning wasn’t the
first time I’d had the chance to make the observation. I’d
seen my boss nude more than was probably appropriate for an employee,
although always in an innocent context.
When Rick entered the doorway of his office, he glanced back at
me. I quickly turned my eyes to my computer monitor and the spreadsheet
that filled the screen. I aimlessly pointed and clicked a couple
of times with the mouse to make it look like I was busy. The last
thing I wanted was for Rick to think I was checking him out.
There should be a support group for women who are perpetually
attracted to untrustworthy assholes--but that pretty much describes
all men, doesn’t it? I could see myself at my first group
“Hello, my name is Amy Chang and I’m a recovering
Ass-aholic. Actually, I’m not recovering too well. I was
used and dumped by one guy, only to develop an impossible crush
on my womanizing boss. Let me tell you all about it.”