Breaking the Rules

By: Lynn Hagen

Chapter One



"Harry Bloom."

Hennessey looked at Matt, who had just walked into the Pit. He was in here alone, which was a miracle, considering the bounty hunters hung out here more often than they did at home, but the room was empty except for Hennessey, who was behind the counter making himself some coffee. It was early morning, and he wasn't quite awake yet, having been up all night in one of the back rooms. They were built so the hunters could get some sleep between warrants, but more often than not, they used them for sex with random men.

Hennessey had actually used one to try to sleep, but his insomnia was kicking in again, and he'd paced the Pit half the night.

"Who's Harry Bloom?" Hennessey grabbed the cup from the counter after adding a dollop of milk and took a sip. Ah, now that was what he needed. There was nothing like a fresh cup of coffee to wake the senses. The aroma alone made him sigh.

Matt slid the piece of paper across the counter. Hennessey picked it up and looked it over. It was a capture warrant. "Dude, do you ever sleep?"

"I run a business and Gabriel is teething. I'll sleep when I'm dead." Matt rounded the corner and poured himself a cup of the freshly brewed coffee. They stood there in silence, looking past the glass wall as the dark sky became light, the morning sun slowly rising over the trees.

Hennessey turned and dug in the cupboard, then came away with a travel mug. He poured his coffee inside, screwed on the lid, and grabbed the paper. "Guess I better head out while the town is still sleeping."

"The town's holding a festival in two weeks for the first day of fall," Matt said as he came from behind the counter. "I want everyone on patrol. We don't need any incidents while the townsfolk are out and about enjoying themselves. The LaSalles are gonna help keep an eye on things, and Vane has volunteered some of his leopards. I want this town locked down, do you understand?"

"Shouldn't you be telling Rio this?" Rio was Matt's beta—his right-hand man and go-to guy.

"I'm letting everyone know," Matt said. "If any warrants come through during the festival, I want that shit handled swiftly."

Hennessey raised his mug and nodded as he headed down the hallway. When he passed the reception desk, Stephen sat there, bleary-eyed and yawning. The clock on the wall behind the desk said it wasn't even six yet.

"Morning," Hennessey said.

Stephen grumbled something in return, then laid his head on his folded arms and closed his eyes. Hennessey knew how the male felt. He was exhausted, too, but doubted he'd be able to sleep if he went back to bed. He'd suffered from insomnia as far back as he could remember. Sometimes he was awake days at a time. But when sleep finally caught up with him, it was as though he'd fallen into a coma.

His sleek, black Chevy Impala was in the lot where he'd left it, sitting under the light pole, gleaming prettily as Hennessey headed toward it. He'd just purchased the brand-new car a month ago, and it was fully loaded. He hadn't owned a new car in forever, and Hennessey loved his baby already.

He tucked the mug in the cup holder, started the engine, then pulled from the parking lot onto the deserted street. He drove to Harry Bloom's address, hoping the guy didn't put up a fight—which they always did. Hennessey just didn't have the energy, but he'd do whatever he had to in order to get the lion shifter off the streets.

When he arrived, Hennessey groaned. Two cop cars sat in Harry's driveway. What the fuck was going on? He parked on the street, grabbed his mug, and swallowed some coffee before getting out.

Deputy Jameson stood in the driveway, talking with some guy as Hennessey walked toward them.

"I heard a loud scream," the guy said. "That's when I called the cops. I'm not usually up this early, but Honey had to use the bathroom."

A small dog huddled in the guy's arms. Hennessey slowed so he could hear the conversation and get the lowdown on what was going on.

"You did the right thing," Jameson said.

He didn't look old enough to be a cop. His uniform didn't quite fit him, hanging loosely in a few spots as he wrote down what the neighbor said.

"I heard a roar," the man said as he petted his dog. "Like a lion was in the house." He looked around nervously and lowered his voice, but Hennessey was still able to hear him. "And that's not the first time I've heard it. You might want to check his house for exotic animals."

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