Only in My Dreams Page 1

Author: Dana Marie Bell

Series: Halle Pumas #5

Genres: Romance

Chapter One


“Who the fuck are you?” Gabriel Anderson, sheriff of Halle Pennsylvania, and Marshal’s Second of the Halle Puma Pride, was one tired, cranky kitty. He stared at the stranger sitting in his living room and tried to remind himself that jail was a bad place for a cop to wind up in. The intruder had his feet up on Gabe’s coffee table, his cowboy boots twitching in time to the video game he was playing on Gabe’s Wii. Gabe kept his service revolver steady, the safety off, aimed at the intruder. To top it all off the man smelled like a shifter. “Because I like to know who the hell I’m arresting for breaking and entering.”

“Wondered when you’d get in.” The man’s face lit up, his hands waving the remote frantically. “Hah!

Gotcha, you son of a bitch.” The man paused the game and set the remote on the coffee table. “Name’s James Barnwell. And you’re Sheriff Gabriel Anderson, Second to the Marshall of the Halle Puma Pride.”

Gabe’s revolver dipped slightly. “Yeah. So you know who’s sticking your ass in jail.”

The man stood up, and up. His dark blonde head easily towered a good six inches over Gabe, and at six foot two Gabe didn’t consider himself to be a short man. “You really don’t want to do that.”

“Why not?”

The man smiled, the expression warm. His gray eyes twinkled merrily. “Because I don’t think the Senate would take kindly to having one of its own in jail.”

Gabe lowered the revolver but didn’t relax completely. “Senate?” Why would the Senate send someone to Halle?

The Shifters’ Senate was a loose conglomerate of all of the shifter species. It was traditionally headed by a Leo. The main purpose of the Senate was to see to it that humans did not learn of the existence of shifters, with the only exception being human mates. Over the years the Senate had also instituted certain laws that all shifters abided by, one of them being the sanctioning of new Packs and Prides. Every six years the different races would elect one of their own to a seat on the Senate. The current Puma Senator was an older man by the name of Harry Kirland who lived somewhere in the Midwest. Gabe had never met or spoken to the man. Max’s rule was too damn new, and the Senate had a habit of giving a new Alpha a settling-in period before more than congratulatory contact was made.

It was rare for a Senate representative to visit Halle. In all the years the Halle Pride had been here there’d only been two. One was for the Puma Senator’s representative to sanction the newly minted Pride. The other had been a Hunter stalking the rogue the previous Halle Marshal had eventually destroyed. Both times the man in question had been a Puma.

This man didn’t smell of Puma. He smelled of Bear. “Shouldn’t you be talking to my Alpha?”

“If I was here to speak to Mr. Cannon I’d be at his house, not yours.” The man’s smile turned to a grin.

“Besides, he doesn’t have a Wii.”

Gabe closed his eyes and prayed for patience. “Tell me you didn’t break into my Alpha’s house.”

“I didn’t break into your Alpha’s house,” the Bear parroted.

Gabe shot the man a look and holstered his weapon. “How can the Halle Pride be of assistance to the Senate?” Thank God his gran had filled his head with proper etiquette, so he knew what to say even if his tone wasn’t properly respectful. He’d have no clue how to deal with a Senate representative otherwise.

Even if the one standing in his living room wasn’t exactly the kind of person he would have expected the Senate to send.

“By giving us their Second.”

Gabe blinked. He must be more tired than he thought. “Excuse me?”

“We need you to come with me.”

What? No. No fucking way. He’d just come home after working in Philadelphia for years, gaining enough experience to take over the spot of sheriff in his beloved hometown. The town’s council had been thrilled to have one of their own in the position when Adrian Giordano’s father had retired. Gabe had discovered his mate only a week before, but trying to ensure that Sheri, Adrian’s mate, stayed safe had eaten into all of his spare time. They’d just finished cleaning up after the rogue Wolf who’d been stalking Sheri and making her life a living hell. Now that he actually had time to breathe he wanted to settle down and claim his mate. No way in hell was he leaving Halle even for a minute. Not unless he could take Sarah with him.

Just thinking about sweet, tempting Sarah was enough to stiffen his resolve. Images of the dark-haired beauty had been haunting him all week. Whatever the Senate wanted they’d have to find someone else to do it. “They can’t have me.”

The man shook his head. “I don’t think you understand, son.” He headed into the kitchen like he owned it. “You need more coffee, by the way.”

Gabe held back a growl. “I have a mate to claim.”

The man stopped and looked back at him. “I promise you, the task I need you for will take no more than six months. After that, you’ll return to Halle to live your life and claim your mate.” The smile was gone. The gray eyes were somber. “We lost a Hunter, Gabriel.”

“My condolences.” Gabe was sincere. In a lot of ways the Hunters were the elite cops of the shifters.

Their main purpose was to ensure that rogues were taken out before they could do damage to the human or shifter population. If the situation with Rudy Parker hadn’t been taken care of so quickly by the Poconos Pack Alpha, Gabe would have insisted that a Hunter be called in to deal with Parker and the Wolves who followed him. He probably should have from the start. If he had, Belle Campbell would never have gotten hurt and odds were Sheri wouldn’t have been kidnapped.

“Thank you. Daniel was a good friend of mine.” James headed towards the kitchen again. “But that means that this region is short a Hunter.”

Oh fuck. Gabe’s shoulders twitched. A part of him was eager to hear more. This was like a small-town cop being picked out of the blue to become a US marshal. Another part of him wanted this man gone so he could take a shower, rest and fetch his woman home. He had plans for that sweet ass of hers, damn it.

“Why me? Why not one of Rick’s Wolves?” Or even another Puma, like Adrian, the current Marshal?

James smiled again. “Because they wouldn’t be you . You’re the one who’s meant to be this region’s new Hunter.”