Published by: Holliday Publishing
Release Date: 05-27-2022
When Jack—the tiger shifter turned PI—gets a visit from an old friend …
…the friend is hiding a dangerous secret.
What happens when a cunning rogue tries to steal a treasure—and Jack’s girlfriend, too?
Tess is enchanted by a mysterious eagle that keeps visiting her at her pawnshop. But eagles aren’t the only thing endangered when a criminal mastermind decides to make Dead End his home.
Luckily, her shooting skills are almost as good as her pecan pies.
Two alpha shifters in town…
…may be one too many.
What’s a woman who just wants to run her pawnshop and quit stumbling over dead bodies to do?
What happens when the danger is coming from inside the shop?
You’ll love this laugh-out-loud addition to the Tiger’s Eye Mysteries series, because Dead End, Florida hasn’t been this strange since the vampire started driving the blood bank bus.
Get it now. Because sometimes it takes a tiger’s eye to see the truth.
A Barnes & Noble TOP 5 FAVORITE INDIE BOOK OF THE WEEK!!
Tiger’s Eye Investigations
Memo to File
From: Jack Shepherd
It has been subtly (ha!) hinted—yes, I heard you, Tess—that, as the principal of Tiger’s Eye Investigations, I should participate in writing my “own darn case reports.”
Therefore, from here on out, I will be including my viewpoint on the events that occur in each case.
(Tigers hate typing.)
“We really don’t need to make a big deal out of my birthday,” I lied, raising my voice to be sure Jack heard me, since I was currently hanging upside down inside the well in his backyard, taking cell phone pictures of some strange markings on the very old bricks that lined it.
When I’d protested this whole plan, he’d pointed out that I wouldn’t be able to hold him upside down by the ankles, which was a valid point, since I was a mostly human pawn shop owner and he was a tiger shapeshifter, currently in human form but still with supernatural strength.
“Of course we do, Tess. It’s your birthday,” he called down, continuing the conversation we’d begun when I’d driven over to his place with two dozen donuts an hour earlier. Sunday was my day off, and after church I’d thought I’d do a nice deed. Next time, I’d just go home and take a nap.
“Are you done yet? I’m hungry. Hurry up, so we can go get lunch.”
“You just ate twenty-one donuts!” Stupid tiger metabolism. Sadly, the other three weren’t enjoying being upside down in my stomach. Maybe I should have stopped with two, but I’d barely snagged the last pumpkin spiced donut before Jack got it, and hadn’t been about to relinquish my claim.
I quickly took several photos, some with flash and some without, of the markings, which looked like runes or hieroglyphs. How he’d noticed them in the first place, I didn’t know. Tigers loved water and swimming, but I doubted that included hopping in the well.
“I got them. Pull me up.”
He did, but shifter strength meant I came flying up and out of the well, only to be caught in a pair of very muscular arms.
I made an “oof” sound, and a pair of gorgeous green eyes laughed down at me.
“How are you even beautiful upside down?” he asked, not waiting for an answer before he kissed me.
I was still getting used to the idea of being in a relationship, but the kissing part I really loved. Being able to touch him and not worry about seeing how he’d die—I’d already seen his first death—was a gift. The kissing itself was amazing.
Toe-tinglingly, brain-meltingly amazing.
Just when we got to the mmmm part, where thoughts of finally doing more than kissing started floating through my mind, his phone started buzzing.
I sighed, and Jack groaned.
“You should answer that,” I said, stepping back and pulling my long red hair out of the bun I’d wrapped it up into when it had become clear that I was going down the well. Jack watched, all of his attention suddenly intensely focused on what I was doing.
“Shouldn’t you answer your phone?”
“Huh?” He reached out and pulled a strand of my hair though his fingers, a faint amber glow touching his eyes.
A lovely warm feeling of purely feminine pleasure swept through me. I’d dated before—although not much, given my problem—but never anybody like Jack. When kindness, strength, and integrity came wrapped up in a six foot, four inch package of pure muscle, wavy bronze hair, and a face that belonged on the shifter version of GQ magazine, it was a little hard to believe that a guy like that was dating a small-town pawnshop owner like me.
His phone stopped buzzing, and mine started. I glanced down at the screen, to see a picture of the mayor, and I sighed.
The mayor, also known as my Aunt Ruby, was almost certainly calling about plans for my birthday party. Since I really didn’t want a birthday party this year and was actually thinking about going out of town for a few days, maybe with my best friend Molly, I’d been trying to avoid this conversation.
I should have known better.
“We could pretend we lost our phones,” Jack said, his lips quirked up in a smile.
“Sure. That’ll work. She’ll just send the police after us.” Aunt Ruby hadn’t quite gotten the message yet that the sheriff’s department wasn’t her personal law enforcement division, in spite of a few tactful conversations Susan Gonzalez, the new sheriff, had initiated with her.
I answered the phone. “Hey, Aunt Ruby. Long time, no see.”
An hour and a half, actually, since church. I’d left her chatting with Pastor Nash about the upcoming holiday lights festival. Dead End, being a small town in the South, had more festivals than a tiger had stripes. Not that I’d ever counted Jack’s, when he was in his tiger form, but it was a lot.
“Where did you run off to? We wanted you to come to lunch.”
Before I could answer, I heard the low rumble of Uncle Mike’s voice in the background.
“No, I’m not telling her to leave Jack behind. Hush,” she said, her voice slightly muffled.
Uncle Mike muttered something about putting an extra steak or six on the grill, and Jack slanted a grin at me. His superior tiger hearing meant nobody had private phone conversations when he was around, a fact that Uncle Mike was quite well aware of, which meant my uncle was poking at my…tiger.
Nothing new there.
“Tell him I’ll bring the steaks and some beer,” Jack said, laughter in his voice.
I passed the message along and Uncle Mike suddenly sounded more cheerful in the background.
“He says that would be lovely,” Aunt Ruby translated. “I’ve been too busy with mayor stuff to do much baking, Tess. Do you happen to have any pie you could bring over?”
“I made a pecan and an apple after work last night. I’ll stop by my place and pick them up. See you in half an hour or so. Oh, wait—do you want to talk to Jack?”
“No, why would I need to? You’re bringing him, right?”
“Didn’t you just call him?”
“No, not me. See you soon.”
We hung up, and Jack put his arm around me, pulling me close. “Did I ever tell you that you’re the perfect woman?”
I could feel my cheeks heat up. “Well, ah…”
“Pecan and apple,” he said reverently. “It’s like I’ve died and gone to heaven.”
I narrowed my eyes and elbowed him in the rock-hard abs. Perfect woman, my foot. He’d been talking about the pies. “That could be arranged. The dying part.”
Jack laughed and pulled his phone out of his pocket, glancing down at it and then frowning. “It was Susan.”
I could feel my whole body slump. “Oh, no. What now?”
Calls from the sheriff rarely meant good news, and the year we’d just been through had left me with a slight case of PTSD. Too many dead bodies. Body parts. Crazed stalkers. Deranged political officials. Irish mob bosses. Ghost pirates. Leprechauns.
Too many…just too many everything.
“I’m inclined not to call her back. She didn’t leave a message; maybe it’s not important—”
The phone started buzzing again.
“Let’s add ‘maybe it’s not important’ to the phrases we never say, with ‘what else could go wrong?’ and “it can’t get any worse,” okay?” I looked around for wood to knock, salt to throw, or a bomb shelter to hide in.
Jack put Susan on speaker. “Hey, sheriff. What’s up?”
“Hi, Susan,” I said.
“Shepherd, Tess,” Susan said, sounding tired. “This is…weird.”
“Oh, there’s something different,” I groaned. “Weirdness in Dead End.”
“How weird?” Jack asked. “Dead body weird? Pirate gold weird? Leprechaun weird?”
Surprisingly enough, these were all things we’d encountered during the year.
“Missing statue weird.”
I looked at Jack, puzzled. “What? What statue?”
“The twelve-foot tall statue of Jedediah Shepherd, Jack’s great-great however many times great grandfather? The one out in front of City Hall? Has to weigh several hundred pounds?”
“It’s gone. Vanished. Like it never existed.”
“What? When did that happen?” I stared at the phone and then back at Jack. “We just saw it there the other day, right, when we went for ice cream?”
He nodded. “Friday evening.”
Susan’s sigh came through the phone. “Yeah. Well, I saw it last night, at around eight. Andy saw it at midnight, when he went off shift. Our temporary guy wouldn’t notice a statute if it walked up to him and bit him in the butt, so that’s no help. And yet, as of nine this morning, when the first report started coming in, it’s gone.”
I blinked. “How is that even possible?”
Jack suddenly whipped his head to the left, staring off into the distance, and his eyes hardened. “I think I have an idea.”
I followed his gaze and saw an enormous bald eagle, beautiful and majestic, glide across the sunny November sky toward us.
Right toward us.
Really, really, exactly toward us.
“Jack? Is that bird…attacking us?”
“What?” Susan said.
“I’ll call you back, Susan,” Jack said grimly, ending the call and turning to me. “I’m going to get a shotgun.”
“Jack! You can’t shoot an eagle! It would be awful! And it’s illegal to shoot them, anyway,” I said, grabbing his arm.
“Not this one.”
The eagle, still heading toward us, shrieked out a loud scream like I had never, ever heard from an eagle before.
“That doesn’t sound like an eagle. That’s the call of a red-tailed hawk,” I said slowly. Uncle Mike and I had done some bird watching, back in the day.
The eagle was still headed straight for us.
“Should we run?”
“I’m not running.”
“But the eagle—”
“It’s not an eagle.”
I started backing up, preparatory to running away from the eagle that seemed to be heading straight toward my face. “Jack. What do you mean, it’s not an eagle?”
“It’s not an eagle. It’s a Scot.”
“A Scottish what?” I tried to remember any Scottish birds that looked like eagles and hung out in Florida but came up empty. “There’s a Scottish crossbill, but it’s only found in Scotland.”
Jack glanced at me, eyes widening. “Tess, you know the strangest facts.”
“Yeah,” I said modestly. “I read a lot. I kick butt on trivia night.”
“Not a Scottish bird,” he growled, still watching the eagle, which suddenly swerved, smoothly changing its flight path to soar left of where we stood and to the roof over Jack’s back porch, where it landed, settled its feathers, and then stared at us.
“A lying, backstabbing, treacherous, Scottish thief,” Jack muttered, catching my hand in his to stop me when I took a step toward the porch.
A shimmer of light and magic, very similar to the one that surrounded Jack when he shifted shape, formed around the eagle and, moments later, a very large—and very naked—man sat on the roof in its place.
My mouth fell open, but I couldn’t think of any words that could possibly fit the situation. Jack said a stream of them, but they sounded like very bad words in a language I didn’t know.
And the eagle—now man—laughed at us both.
“Jack, Jack, Jack. That’s not very nice, and it’s not true, either.” The eagle man winked at me. “When I stabbed you, it wasn’t in your back.”