By: Laurann Dohner

Justice hadn’t felt like attending the party but it was expected. Kit had asked to be his date but he’d turned her down. She’d hinted that she would consider being his mate last night when he’d taken her to dinner. She’d made it clear he could share sex with her at the very least and he’d regretted agreeing to take her out. He’d just done it because he’d thought that being with someone to talk to for the evening would distract him from obsessive thoughts about Jessie and ease everyone’s worry if he appeared happy. Instead of being a friend, Kit had tried to seduce him.

The four council members sat at a table with him and he studied them. They wanted more control and for him to hand off some of his duties to them. He’d readily agreed to a morning meeting to discuss the matter, looking forward to handing off some of his responsibilities. It would help him by allowing him to work fewer hours and make them feel as if they were doing more for their kind.

His thoughts drifted to Jessie again. Last night he’d barely slept and when he had, it had been to suffer dreams where she was in his bed under him. Waking alone with a raging hard-on hadn’t made for a pleasant morning. He’d showered and gone to the office only to get into an argument with Miles.

Miles had brought the woman who dyed Justice’s hair and his annoying assistant, Tonya, who had hit on Justice previously. She was an aggressive female who tried to lure Species males into her bed. He always felt hunted when he had to deal with her. He pitied the fool who took that one on. She had a mean heart, cold eyes and calculated her actions as if everything were a game.

“What has that irritated expression on your face?” The deep voice belonged to Jaded.

He lifted his gaze to stare into the bright green eyes of the council member. “Do you see my hair?”

“It’s lighter. That shade of brown isn’t your color.” The other guy grinned and touched his own jet-black strands. “This looks much better on you.”

“Stop teasing him,” Cedar, the other council member ordered softly, his voice deceptively cool. “He does a lot for us and I’m sure the stench of whatever they used is bothering him more than us. I can smell it from across the table.”

Someone approached and distracted Justice from their teasing. He knew it was to lighten his mood but he doubted anything could. Tim Oberto smiled as he paused by the table.

“Thank you for inviting us, Justice.” He glanced at the council members before directing his attention once more on the NSO leader. “You still haven’t given me the name of the replacement I need. We have a few leads we’re looking into and I want a New Species onboard before we have a retrieval target to locate.”

Brawn leaned forward. “Replacement?”

“I’m sorry, Tim.” Justice had a lot on his mind. “Tim wants one of our males to join the team that makes first contact if a Gift Female is found.” He met the human’s gaze. “I promise that tomorrow I’ll go over the files, find someone who is good with human interaction and who will volunteer to live on the outside. I assume you have a plan to keep them safe while living there?”

“I do.”

“I’ll choose someone and he’ll contact you by the end of business day tomorrow.”

“Good enough.” Tim glanced at the council members. “Gentlemen.” He fled.

Brawn chuckled. “He doesn’t know us or he’d never use that term when referring to anyone at this table but Justice.”

Justice’s thoughts drifted to Jessie again. After the party he planned to jump the back wall, talk her in to allowing him inside her home and they were going to talk. She would not share sex with anyone but him. That was just how it was going to be or he’d kill the male. He had a plan. They’d swear not to date others. It would keep him from committing murder and he’d never have to see that hurt look in her eyes that he’d seen when she’d realized he’d taken Kit out.

“Speaking of not being gentlemen, I love human women.” Jaded chuckled. “There is something that makes me so hard when I see them. I don’t know if it is because they are so different from our females or if it is because they are just so different from us.”

Cedar laughed. “I am hard right now watching the human I danced with before I came to the table. I’m still having fantasies about her small hands brushing over my body. I know they would feel so good touching me. Her skin was so creamy and while their faces are strange, hers made me think her beautiful.”

“I see the one,” Bestial said and nodded. “I would like to take that dress off her and see if she is creamy colored everywhere.” He growled. “Who is she?” Bestial pointedly stared at Justice. “Who is the human out there? I want her name so when I go after her I have an advantage. I think her thighs would fit perfectly over my shoulders.”