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To Love & Protect His Omega Cover

WIP - To Love and Protect Book 1 - Chapters 3-4

Blurb for To Love and Protect Book 1: Gunnar swore to serve and protect, but he couldn't save the omega he loved…

Police Detective, Gunnar swore an oath to serve and protect, but he couldn't save the one closest to him. Now he's a single alpha dad raising an 8-year-old daughter. But when they adopt a sick kitten, will a hot veterinarian with his own secrets offer a second chance at love?

Pursued by a relentless stalker, omega veterinarian, Liam, packs up his entire life and moves across the country to start over. He has lost faith in romance and instead devotes his new life to saving his animal patients. But when a handsome alpha detective and his daughter come into Liam's exam room with a kitten who needs a miracle, will Liam give romance a second chance?

Can these two men overcome their pasts to make a family together? Even as a final threat from Liam's past threatens not only their relationship but their lives.

Note: These chapters were posted from the betaed, but not fully proofread version of the book. This means there are proofreading errors in the text. I have used this version for the website as a security measure in case someone downloads the book and tries to publish it off as their own. The fully proofed version on Kindle, Nook, & iBooks,  Kobo, Google Play, Scribd & Smashwords.  

Chapter 3 - Gunnar

After Adam's death, the Captain had asked Gunnar three times he wanted to transfer out of homicide. Three times, Gunnar had said no. Whether or not he was a homicide detective, people would keep killing people. But if he stayed on the job, he'd be able to bring closure to their families. And if he did his job right, he would at least ensure the killer never had a chance to try again.

Still, each body exacerbated the wound in his heart. He'd hoped by now it would scar over, but it still hurt. And inside of that hurt rested a slow simmering fury. Nothing he did could bring a loved one back. The best he could offer was answers. And sometimes, not even that.

His new partner, Juanita, handed him a cup of convenience store coffee as he crossed the precinct office to his desk. “Rough morning?” She asked.

“Olivia's kitten got sick. I thought he was going to die.” Gunnar took the coffee and opened up the perforated section on the lid. “The poor thing hadn't eaten in days, and I didn't notice. Sign me up for Dad of the Year.”

“He's doing better now?”

“The vet was good.” Competent, good-looking, and kind. Gunnar shook his head at himself. He really was the worst, ogling the doctor who had acted so quickly and professionally to save their pet's life.

“That's good,” she said. Juanita was a no-nonsense beta with a solid frame that would have been chubby if she didn't spend so much time in the gym. They'd been together for a little over three months, and Gunnar liked her, but he couldn’t trust her. Not after what had happened with Charles. Juanita was cautious with Gunnar as well. Maybe she’d heard the rumors about his meltdown, and the perp he’d had to ‘let walk.’ Cops gossiped like lawyers and old fishwives.

Or maybe Gunnar was reading too much into the situation. Anyone would be pissed if their perp walked on a chain of evidence technicality. Gunnar had handled everything properly, but the critical fluids sample had gone missing, and as lead detective on the case, he’d been responsible. Even if the fault lay with his partner. Even if Gunnar could have proven it, which he couldn’t. He’d had only circumstantial evidence.

A partnership of three-years wiped away by suspicion and doubt.

They’d transferred Gunnar to give him ‘a fresh start,’ which was the polite way of shuffling him under the rug. Not that the change was entirely a bad thing. At least after selling the old home and moving to a new place, everything Gunnar saw didn’t remind him of Adam. Gunnar was healing. He only thought about Adam every few minutes instead of every second of the day.

“Don't bother sitting down,” Juanita said as he put his bag on his chair. “I was about to text you with the address of the scene. We caught a case. I tried getting it assigned to somebody else but – –.”

Gunnar had a sinking feeling in his gut. “Why?”

“Witness on the street first called it in as an OD.”

Reported as an OD. Which meant a body, laying out for how long? Overnight? Gunnar's skin went cold. Adam had left been out overnight. Stabbed and bleeding and until he died.

“Gun? Gunnar?” Juanita had a hand on his upper arm.

It had been a year. Gunnar had gone through the therapy sessions, said what he was supposed to say, did what they told him to do, and now he had to hold it together. As a homicide detective, it was his responsibility to speak for the dead and ensure they got justice.

Gunnar blinked and forced himself to take a sip of the coffee. She'd put too much sugar in it, as usual. “I'm sorry,” he said. “I’m just tired from this morning. Thanks for this.”

“I tried to get Wilkins to take this one. There's a GSW in a warehouse near Pratt circle, but – –.”

“It's fine. Fill me in on the way to the car.”

Juanita did. The body had been called in as an overdose, unfortunately common in Liberty's de facto red light district. The victim was male, likely a prostitute found slumped, back leaning on a dumpster, legs spread with the crotch of his skinny jeans slit. One of the EMTs noticed probable ligature marks on the neck. Maybe he'd gotten them as a part of his night’s work. Maybe he'd been murdered. It was their job to find out.

A uniformed officer stood outside the circle of police tape. He was stocky, with a square jaw and a snub nose. Gunnar didn't recognize the officer, but Juanita called out, “Thompson!”

Officer Thompson looked relieved as he waved them over. “Detective Xi.”

Next to him stood a young woman with a long blonde wig, slightly off center. Her nails were cut short and painted bright red. She stood with her back to the crime scene. She'd been crying, and mascara ran in trails down her face. She blotted her tears with a now dark gray, shredding tissue, which shadowed the area around her eyes like she'd been punched.

The weather was getting warmer, but she was still underdressed for it in a hot pink miniskirt and a form-fitting tank top that bared both her midriff and her tits almost down to her nipples. In the bright sunshine, her clothing looked out of place, and Gunnar wondered briefly who she had been doing so late to have her out, still in ‘uniform,’ at this hour of the morning.

Officer Thompson nodded to them both and said, “This is Carla. She called it in. Carla, this is Detective Hernandez and Detective Justice.”

Carla looked at them skeptically, “Justice, huh?”

“Yes, ma’am. Can you tell us about your friend?”

“I thought he ODed, but why they send out two detectives?”

“We’re here to find out what happened.”

Carla folded her arms beneath her chest and swallowed. “His name's Reese. Or it at least that's what he tells…,” She sobbed. “Told people. I gave him the Narcan. Sometimes the shit they put in the drugs will make you stiffen up when you OD, but he was cold. I should've seen he was cold.” She wiped the damp gray tissue under her eyes again.

Juanita pulled a fresh one from her purse and handed it over. “How long have you known Reese, sweetheart?”

“About three months. We ain't close. He was high most the time, always telling people he was going into rehab, but he was high.” Carla shrugged. “I hadn’t seen him since Monday, and maybe was thinking he’d gone through with the rehab this time, gotten away, you know.” She shook her head. “Course he didn’t. Sometimes the drugs is all that helps with things, especially when you've got a sweetness and you, like Reese did. He was too trusting, always trying to see the best in his clients, and always thinking one of them was gonna sweep him away likely was living in some movie.” She shook her head. “I don't know much, but I do know we live in a no movie. You do what you have to, and you try not to get knocked up.”

They asked her more about Reese, his drug habit and his clients, but Carla and a couple of other girls had been at a party, so she hadn't seen him that night. “You want to talk to Dom. He ummm…, manages the omegas.”

“Reese was an omega?” Gunnar cut in. He shouldn't have been surprised. He had been doing this job long enough to know that the people society said needed the most care were the ones who got the least help.

Carla nodded. “He’s a small town kid. Was.” She gripped the tissue in her fist. “We didn’t talk much. I mean, I know I’m falling apart but…we didn’t even talk that much, you know. Busy. And I’m a beta. Dom keeps the omegas on a tight leash, I mean…”

Not tight enough. Considering. Though dollars to donuts, Dom, was the one who had hooked Reese on drugs in the first place.

“You know where he might find this Dom” Gunnar asked.

Carla's fist tightened on the tissue, and she averted her gaze. “He's around. I don't really deal with him. Don't tell anyone I said anything about Dom, okay? Please.”

Juanita put a gentle hand on Carla's shoulder. “We don't want to get you jammed up.”

“Everybody's going to know I've been talking with you.” Carla shook her head. “Pino's already gonna be mad I'm so late.”

“Pino's your boyfriend?” Juanita asked, but all of them knew it wasn't a question, even as it was a lie. Pino was her pimp. At least Carla seemed clean. She didn’t have the tremors of long-term addiction, and while her teeth were a little crooked in the front, they looked white with no hints of decay at the roots. At least not yet.

Gunnar hated this part of his job the most. He could speak for the dead, but ultimately, it was living who suffered.

“Officer Thompson, why don’t you take Gunnar over to speak with the ME. I'll be along in a few.”

Gunnar nodded, grateful to his new partner. As an alpha and a man, he already had two strikes against him in keeping their witness comfortable. If there is anything else to learn from her, Juanita would have a better chance of finding out and building a rapport to follow up with her later. “Sure thing, Nita.”

Thompson reiterated the basics of the case as Gunnar snapped on his latex gloves and fitted the crime scene booties over his boots.

As he ducked beneath the line of police tape and approached the body, his footsteps muffled by the crime scene booties, a feeling of wrongness swept over Gunnar.

Gunnar walked a slow semicircle from the far corner of the dumpster around the body. The man's knees were bent with legs spread. Rigor had taken hold, stiffening him into a statue that was both pitiful and obscene.

It didn't look like an OD. Reese’s jeans had been slit, but the underwear beneath, a bright red and slightly shiny fabric, was intact. That was the first thing that didn't make sense. Male prostitutes usually didn't need to provide ready access to their cocks.

Maybe his jeans had been cut in the rear as well, but Gunnar wouldn’t know until the body was moved for processing. Either way, the bruising around Reese’s neck was severe. They’d presumably been covered by a bright red scarf of what, at first glance, seemed an identical material to the underwear. The scarf was now untied with an end hanging from each shoulder, probably when the EMTs had been assessing him.

His death could've been an accident, a client’s ‘game’ gone too far ending a panicked body dump in the bright hours after dawn when this area was the least active. But Gunnar didn't think so. The site was too exposed, and the positioning was too deliberate.

Someone had murdered this man. With intent.

The medical examiner, Dr. Garmin, a tall, dark brown man with wide brown eyes and long braids pulled into a rough bun at the base of his neck, knelt beside the body. He glanced up as Gunnar approached. “Preliminary cause of death looks like manual strangulation,” the doctor said. “Best guess between midnight and 2 AM.”

“That's prime time for this neighborhood. Someone would have seen. You think the body was dumped here after he died?”

“It's possible.” The doctor pointed at Reese's wrist. “Do you see these marks here?”

The doctor pointed to sharp, narrow depressions in the skin. Gunnar felt ill. “Zip ties?”

“Looks like it.”

It made no sense to jump to conclusions. Zip ties were easy enough to acquire at the local home store. Still, cops used zip ties.

Gunnar felt disloyal for even thinking it. He was new to the precinct, but he and some of the other alphas had gone out for drinks last Friday, while his mom was watching Olivia for the evening. It had been pleasant, shop talk and some sniping about sports. Normal night. Normal guys.

Gunnar was so wrapped up in his own thoughts, he nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard Juanita mutter, “Es un pobre,” from behind him. “Poor man, left out here like so much garbage.”

Gunnar’s gut agreed. The world's oldest profession was still also one of the world's most dangerous. “Did Carla give you Reese’s last name?” he asked.

“Not yet,” Juanita said. “She was pretty spooked when you asked about Dom.” Juanita’s tone was level, but Gunnar couldn’t help feeling like he’d screwed up. Alphas did better playing bad cop than acting as a kind, helpful ear. Juanita added, “And who knows if Reese is even his first name. We’re going to have to run his prints. He was strangled?”

“And likely dumped,” Gunnar said. “Possibly zip tied before that.”

“Carla did say she hadn’t seen him around for a couple of days.”

“Doctor, could those scars on his wrists been for a day or longer?”

Dr. Garmin looked up. “It’s possible. They look raw, but if he was pulling at them for a while, they wouldn’t have been able to scab over.”

Juanita knelt down beside the body. “His hair looks dyed.”

Honey brown with touches of blond. His eyebrows were a darker brown. His face had an almost boyish look that in combination with his frame, reminded Gunnar vaguely of Dr. Chandler. Even dead, the omega’s scent still clung. Cotton candy, now mingled with the scent of rot.  

“Carla’s right. He was an omega,” Gunnar said.

“You can smell it on him even now?”

Gunnar shrugged.

“Must've been dangerous for him being in this line of work. If he got pregnant.”

“Maybe. I figure he used condoms. Or maybe he just gave head.” Gunnar hated thinking about this. His alpha instinct led him to want to protect omegas. For a moment, the memory of Adam in the morgue, waxy and pale with a deep gouge on his cheek, overwhelmed him. Gunnar tasted antiseptic on the back of his tongue. According to the autopsy, Adam had been stabbed in the side from behind, thrown down, and stabbed again twice more before his assailant had taken his money and ID and ran.

This was different.

“I think we should look for similar cases,” Gunnar said.

“You think someone did this before?”

“I don't know.”

After fruitless knocking on doors, and a quick, tasteless lunch, Gunnar and Juanita made their way back to the precinct.

Gunnar had been searching through cold cases to see if any resembled how Reese had died when his cell phone began vibrating in his pocket. He glanced up at the old, stuttering clock in the records room. Outside, the sun might be shining, but here it was always gray. He pulled out the phone, and his heart began to beat a little faster when he saw the number for his daughter's after-school program.

Had Olivia gotten into another fight? After she had broken a little girl's nose who, in Olivia's words, had deserved it for being so mean, Gunnar had warned his daughter that if she lost control like that again, she would have to stop her Kung Fu training for a month and miss the early summer tournament. She'd promised, but as upset as she had been today, Gunnar wondered if she'd be able to keep it. And what he would do if she failed.

He picked up the phone. “Detective Justice,” he said automatically. “Is everything okay?”

“We were calling to verify that you had picked your daughter up at school.”

Verify? “What are you talking about? She's with you on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays until 5:30.”

“She didn't come to the bus stop, and one of the other students assured us she was going home with you. Your kitten, Puff, is sick, and – –.”

“And you just decided to trust another eight-year-old and let my daughter wander off on her own!” Gunnar was both furious and terrified. His stomach churned; his skin was cold. He could barely hear the pathetic and frankly guilt toned protestations of the counselor on the phone.

Where was Olivia?

Memories of Adam, cold on the slab, floated behind his eyes. Except for this time, the body wore Olivia's face. Small, broken.

The woman was still talking. Gunnar couldn't hear her. Her words are like noise. They didn't have meaning. Just guilt.

Gunnar hung up the phone. He had given Olivia a simple, pay-as-you-go, flip phone to use just in case she got into trouble. She hadn't called, but he could call her. He tapped the second automatic number of his contacts, the first had been reserved for Adam, and he couldn't bring himself to use it anymore and listened as it rang and rang.

He had failed his husband. He would not fail his daughter. He was a cop, in a police station. He'd get somebody to put out an APB. And an orange alert. Whatever he had to do.

His phone started ringing again. He didn't recognize the number. A part of him wanted it to go to voicemail, just to keep the line free, but what if it was someone who had found Olivia?

He picked the phone up again as he ran up the stairs from the record room, taking them two at a time.

You've been reading To Love and Protect

To Love & Protect His Omega Cover

Gunnar swore to serve and protect, but he couldn't save the omega he loved…

Police Detective and single dad, Gunnar Justice swore an oath to serve and protect, but he couldn't save the omega closest to him. Now he's raising his 8-year-old daughter alone. But when his daughter adopts a sick kitten, will a hot veterinarian with his own secrets offer a second chance at love?

Pursued by a relentless stalker, omega veterinarian, Liam Chandler, packs up his entire life and moves across the country to start over. He has lost faith in romance and instead devotes his time to saving his animal patients. But when a handsome alpha detective and his daughter come into Liam's exam room with a kitten who needs a miracle, will Liam give romance a second chance?

Can these two men overcome their pasts to make a family together? Even as a final threat from Liam's past threatens not only their relationship but their lives.

To Love and Protect His Omega is a single dad Omegaverse romance with mystery, action and all of the feels.

If you love Omegaverse m/m romance that keeps you turning pages into the wee hours of the morning, start reading To Love and Protect now!

Grab It Now:

QMDIRECT

Formats include: Mobi (Kindle), ePub (Nook, iBooks, Android) & PDF (Computer, Kindle, Print.) 

Chapter 4 - Liam

Princess growled on the table as she came up from her anesthesia. Liam double-checked the glue on the incision and said, “Do you mind watching her for a few more minutes while I run Lucky around the block? When she's lifting her head, you can put her back into her cage.”

Princess was a long-haired Persian cat who had come in for a spay and gone out of her way to let them know how she felt about her veterinary experience with her claws and teeth. Carolyn had a bandage on her right wrist, and unfortunately common badge of honor for even the most dexterous techs.

“Sure thing, Doc,” Carolyn said. “At least I got lunch.”

Liam shrugged. Life in the ER was either feast or famine, and though this was a small family clinic, they too got patients in fits and spurts. Liam glanced over at Puff, who was curled up on the heating pad with his tail over his nose. He and Carolyn and had taken turns hand feeding him through the day, and he was beginning to show signs of recovery.

Liam closed the door behind him to the treatment room and stepped into the open space between treatment and the two exam rooms. This building had originally been zoned residential, and it still had a single family home layout. To his right was a small bathroom, and beyond that, a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf held bags of cat and dog food for sale. Mostly prescription.

To his left, on top of a three drawer chest, sat a mini fridge, beside that a bowl of fruits and a pile of granola bars. Liam brought lunch in a Tupperware container from home, but even though there was a microwave, he usually found himself grazing on fruit and granola rather than sitting down either in the back or in the front waiting room for a full meal. As often as not, he'd take his lunch home for dinner.

Liam slipped two granola bars into his pocket and grabbed a banana. His apartment was a ten-minute walk from the clinic with an eccentric older client of Dr. Griffin’s, Mrs. Davis, who welcomed the menagerie. One of the benefits of working at a vet clinic was he could keep Lucky with him in the office all day.

Usually, Liam just let Lucky out in the yard when he had to go, but if he got some extra time, he liked to take Lucky out for a quick walk. Lucky was a Pitbull mix with golden fur and a perpetual, goofy grin. Like most animals who were given the name Lucky, his early life and anything but. His right ear was mangled, he was missing an eye, and his tail had a crook in it where it had been broken when he was a puppy. His skin was also scarred from where his previous owners had forced him to fight.

The dogfighting ring had been broken up, and thankfully Lucky was rescued before it was too late, but it had taken months for the young dog to truly trust Liam and relax. Now, he was a perfect angel most of the time, lounging beneath the desk or padding up to greet the clients and accept their affection as his due.

Liam took the leash off of the hook and said, “Lucky! Ready for your walk?”

Lucky let out an excited yip and crawled out from under Pam.

“You have about twenty-five minutes until your first afternoon appointment, Dr. Chandler,” Pam said cheerfully. She looked at the banana in Liam’s hand. “That's not all you’re eating, is it?”

“I'm fine, Pam.”

“You're too skinny. Did you finish the lasagna I made up for you yet?”

“It was delicious.” It had been. Pam’s cooking put Liam’s to shame, which he readily admitted.

“Good. I've been experimenting with the tofu meats for you.”

“You're the best, Pam,” Liam said as he hooked the leash on to Lucky's collar. “You have my cell if you need me.”

“I think Carolyn can manage the place on our own for 20 minutes, doctor,” Pam said with a laugh.

“This place wouldn’t function at all without the both of you,” Liam said. “I just do what I’m told.”

“That’s right.” Pam grinned and waved him to the door. “And I’m telling you then to get out of here and get some sunshine. You’ve been working hard. I heard Princess through the door when you were giving her the sedation.”

“Carolyn bore the brunt of that one. “

“Go! Shoo!” Pam waved at the door again. “My ankle needs a rest from all the grooming.”

Liam felt a stab of remorse. Having Lucky here was convenient for him, but he didn’t want to impose his dog on the unwilling. “Is Lucky bothering you?”

“Lucky’s great. Now get out.”

Liam let Lucky roam ahead as they made their way down the street. It was slow going. Like most males, he had to stop at every tree stump and uneven patch of pavement to sniff to mark his territory.

It was a beautiful day, sunny and not too warm. Liam let himself enjoy the warmth on his skin as he devoured his banana and started on the first granola bar. Normally, Dr. Griffin would join him on the afternoon shift, but she was away this week on a rare trip to see her granddaughter in San Francisco. Liam was honored the doctor trusted him to manage the practice unsupervised after only having been there for a couple of months. He loved his work and the low-grade fear that somehow Damon would find him had begun to fade as spring advanced.

Maybe Liam could risk dating again.

Gunnar’s face flitted across his memory, and Liam blinked it away. No more alphas. He’d look for a beta instead. One who was an animal lover like himself. Liam and Lucky made a full circuit of the block, and after a brief stop at one of the local cafés for a spinach and feta filled croissant, they returned to the clinic with time to spare.

As Liam opened the door, over the rattling chimes, he heard a child’s voice. Olivia stood in front of the desk talking to Pam. The girl wore navy blue slacks and a short-sleeved, white button-down shirt. Not a uniform, but definitely school colors. The shirt was unbuttoned, and beneath it with a T-shirt with the logo for martial arts studio. She had a bright red book bag on the floor beside her, leaning against the wall.

Lucky hopped around, pulling on the leash as Liam shut the door.

Oliva looked over at the door, and her face broke out into a wide grin. “Dr. Chandler! Is that your dog?”

Liam glanced at his watch. It was just past four. Had the alpha and his daughter come back early? “We belong to each other. His name’s Lucky.”

“He only has one eye.”

“Yup, he and Ferrous, my cat, are a matching set. Lucky’s missing the left eye and Ferrous is missing the right.”

Olivia laughed.  “That’s weird.”

Liam asked, “Where's your dad?”

“Olivia just walked in by herself,” Pam said, locking her gaze with Liam’s. “She was just explaining this to me.”

“My dad's coming.” Olivia looked down at the ground. “Later.”

Later? Liam hadn't had any kids of his own, but he didn't have to be a parent to know Olivia wasn't telling the whole truth.

Olivia asked, “Can I see Puff? Is he okay?”

“Puff is doing much better now,” Liam said. “Is there another adult with you? Your stepdad?”

Olivia furrowed her brow. “I don't have a stepdad. Or stepmom. It's just me and dad.”

“Oh, I thought because of your dad’s wedding ring – –.”

“Dad wears his 'cause he's sad. About daddy. I wish I had a ring too, but dad says I have daddy's nose, so I guess that has to be good enough.”

Carolyn had been right. The alpha was wearing his wedding ring because he was still in mourning. Which made Gunnar, and any thoughts about him, strictly off limits. Even if Liam had wanted to have those kinds of thoughts, which he didn’t. Liam said, “I'm sorry. About your father.”

“I wish I had a stepdad. But only if he's a nice one. Can I see Puff now?”

Liam looked over at Pam. She gave a minute shrug.

“Let me see if Carolyn has gotten our last surgery patient back in his cage.”

“You do surgery!”

Liam slips twitched. “Yes, I do surgery, and we do x-rays, and lots of other things.”

“Cool!”

“How did you get here?”

“I took the bus from school. I looked it up on the computer, and wrote down the directions.” Olivia squared her shoulders, and her chest thrust out with obvious pride. “It wasn't hard. It costed $2.25 though. That's a lot.”

“How old are you? Ten? Your dad lets you take the bus all by yourself?”

Olivia looked at the ground again. “I'm eight. My birthday was on Sunday.”

“Eight?” Liam was surprised. “You're very tall.” But it was more than the height that made her seem older. Her maturity was probably an unfortunate result of losing her bearer dad so young. Losing a parent aged you. Thankfully, Liam’s mom and dad were both hale and hearty, living together on their farm. He hated having to be so far from them now. Hopefully, by Christmas, he’d be able to visit them at home. If he didn’t go out anywhere, it would be safe. Damon would have to have moved on by them.

Olivia said, “I'm in the top 10% of my grade for height.”

So Olivia had taken the bus on her own, likely without notifying anyone of where she’d gone. If her dad found out, he’d be tearing his hair out of his head. A real challenge considering the alpha’s short buzz-cut, not that the haircut actually mattered. It’s an expression, Liam.

Sometimes he needed a muzzle for his own brain. Thankfully, Puff's file was still on the counter in the back treatment room so Liam would be able to call Olivia's dad and let him know where his very independent and resourceful daughter was, hopefully before the alpha had found out and started to panic.

In the back, Carolyn was on the floor, lifting Princess on her towel into one of the bottom cages. The grumpier the cat or dog, the closer to the floor they were housed. Princess was growling in earnest now, and as Carolyn closed the kennel door, the cat hissed and made an awkward swipe at Carolyn's fingers on the door.

“Feisty!” Carolyn said. “It's always the Princesses and the Preciouses.”

Liam nodded. This rule of thumb was especially true for the cats.

“You were right,” Liam said.

“Of course. What was I right about?”

“He's not really married. Mr. Justice. I need to call him. It seems his daughter worked out how to use Liberty's public transportation system. Today. On her own.”

Carolyn raised both eyebrows. “The little girl, Olivia, she’s here?” Carolyn stood up and looked through the door’s window down the hall. “She sure is. She came by herself?”

“On the bus.” Liam walked to the pile of today's active files and began rifling through them until he found Puff Justice. “I'm going to give her dad a call. Hopefully he hasn't found out yet. Otherwise, I bet he's worried sick.”

Liam flipped through the file until he found Gunnar's cell phone number. Using the office line, he dialed.

After two rings, it picked up. “Detective Justice.” Gunnar sounded out of breath.

“This is Dr. Chandler at Griffin's veterinary office.”

“Is Puff okay?”

“Doing fine. I'm calling about your daughter.”

“The afterschool program just called. She's not there. Oh God, did you see her on the news? I haven't – –.”

“She's fine. She's here.”

“She's where? At the clinic?” Gunnar let out an audible breath. “Did her grandmother come and get her from school? She should have called.”

“I don't think so. It looks like Olivia worked out how to get here on her own. On the bus.”

“Oliva’s not allowed to take the bus by herself! I didn't even know she knew how to take a bus.”

“Your Olivia seems like a very resourceful young lady.”

“She's grounded. How do you ground an eight-year-old? I was just getting ready to put out an Amber alert.”

“I don't think she wanted to upset you.”

“She can't do this. We have rules in our house. She could have been killed.”

“It is broad daylight, and she doesn't look any worse for the – –.”

“Do you think an abductor or murderer gives a shit how sunny it is outside?” Gunnar sounded furious.

Liam should've known better than to say anything. Let alone try and argue with the man. “I'm sorry, Mr. Justice, I just wanted to let you know where she was in case you hadn't been aware. Olivia is welcome to spend the afternoon with us, and we will see you at 5:30 unless you want to come in earlier.”

“Wait!”

“Yes?”

“I'm sorry. I didn't mean to lash out. I'm glad you called. That's more than the afterschool program did when one of the other kids just told the counselor Olivia wasn't going to be in today. How could they have just left without checking in with me? It's irresponsible. And after Adam, I don't know… I'm sorry. I'm not trying to dump this on you.”

Adam must have been his husband. Liam said, “My condolences for your loss.”

“It's been over a year. You don't have to do the condolences.”

Considering Gunnar was still wearing his wedding ring, it seemed like condolences were in order, but Liam didn't want to do or say anything to upset the man again. “We're happy to have Olivia for the rest of the day. I'll show her how to hand feed Puff, and will keep an eye on her and make sure she doesn't go off on any other bus rides until you can get off work.”

“I can't impose even more on you and your office. I'll come to get her right now.”

“It really is fine. I'd like to have some more time to monitor Puff, and I like kids. We're done with surgery, and I will find her some jobs to do to keep her busy while Puff is sleeping.”

“You really don't have to do this.”

“I want to. You're having a tough day, and I know what that's like. Don't worry, everything's okay here.”

“Th–thank you,” Gunnar said, his tone low and a little gravelly. For a brief, horrifying instant, Liam wondered if this was something like what the alpha sounded like in bed. Low. Commanding.

I'm the worst.  

The man was still in mourning, and he'd had two traumatic shocks in less than eight hours. Maybe more, considering what he did for a living.

“Glad to help, Detective Justice,” Liam said.

“Gunnar.”

“Excuse me?”

“If you're going to babysit my kid, least you can do is call me by my first name.”

Liam smiled. “And you can call me Liam.”

“Thanks, Liam.”

“No problem, Gunnar.”

Gunnar ended the call. A click. A dial tone. Slowly, Liam put the phone back on the receiver.

“You're still smiling,” Carolyn said.

Liam's face warmed. “I'm just happy I could help him. I'm lucky I got him in time. He was going to put out an Amber alert.”

“Yup, you’re definitely wearing the ‘happy to help’ smile. Not the ‘I like this guy and want to learn more smile.’ Definitely not.”

“Shouldn't you be making up the surgery packs to run through the autoclave?”

“Already done,” Carolyn said and pointed at a stack of surgical packs the counter. “Just need to fill it and run it, but I wanted to wait until Princess was up and at ‘em.” She peered into the cage. “Right, Princess?”

Princess growled and whipped a paw out through the bars of the cage.

Carolyn smiled. “Looking good,” She stood. “So he's on his way? Your detective?”

“He’s not my detective.”

“Right. He’s on his way?”

“Probably.”

“He's a nice guy.”

“Seems like it.”

Then again, just because they seemed nice didn't mean they were. No matter how attractive Gunnar was or how kind he seemed, Liam was better off with a beta. Both of his parents were betas, and they were happy together. Maybe other omegas were better judges of an alpha’s character. Liam has learned the hard way he was not.

Still, he couldn't stop himself from grinning as he went back to the desk to talk with Olivia and Pam again.

You've been reading To Love and Protect

To Love & Protect His Omega Cover

Gunnar swore to serve and protect, but he couldn't save the omega he loved…

Police Detective and single dad, Gunnar Justice swore an oath to serve and protect, but he couldn't save the omega closest to him. Now he's raising his 8-year-old daughter alone. But when his daughter adopts a sick kitten, will a hot veterinarian with his own secrets offer a second chance at love?

Pursued by a relentless stalker, omega veterinarian, Liam Chandler, packs up his entire life and moves across the country to start over. He has lost faith in romance and instead devotes his time to saving his animal patients. But when a handsome alpha detective and his daughter come into Liam's exam room with a kitten who needs a miracle, will Liam give romance a second chance?

Can these two men overcome their pasts to make a family together? Even as a final threat from Liam's past threatens not only their relationship but their lives.

To Love and Protect His Omega is a single dad Omegaverse romance with mystery, action and all of the feels.

If you love Omegaverse m/m romance that keeps you turning pages into the wee hours of the morning, start reading To Love and Protect now!

Grab It Now:

QMDIRECT

Formats include: Mobi (Kindle), ePub (Nook, iBooks, Android) & PDF (Computer, Kindle, Print.) 

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To Love and Protect His Omega (WIP)

NEW – To Love and Protect His Omega Book 1, Chapters 3-4

After Adam's death, the Captain had asked Gunnar three times he wanted to transfer out of homicide. Three times, Gunnar had said no. Whether or not he was a homicide detective, people would keep killing people. But if he stayed on the job, he'd be able to bring closure to their families. And if he did his job right, he would at least ensure the killer never had a chance to try again.

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To Love and Protect His Omega (WIP)

NEW – To Love and Protect Book 1, Chapter 5

“Did you find anything?” Juanita asked as Gunnar returned to his desk. The usual noise of the squad room didn't even register until his partner spoke. His daughter was safe. That was the most important thing. Not how kind and accepting the omega had sounded over the phone. Not the omega. Liam. Dr. Chandler.

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To Love and Protect His Omega (WIP)

NEW- To Love and Protect His Omega – Chapter 6

White roses. Liam wanted to take the vase and throw it out the door into the middle of the street and let the cars and trucks grind the glass and roses into dust. The smell settled in the back of his throat, and his vision blurred.

Hold it together. You have to hold it together.

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To Love and Protect His Omega (WIP)

NEW – To Love and Protect His Omega – Chapter 7 (Gay Romance)

Gunnar kissed his daughter goodnight and then, exhausted, went to the kitchen for a cold glass of juice. He would've liked a beer, but after drinking himself into a stupor the week after Adam's death, Gunnar had poured all of his alcohol down the sink and refused to keep any more in the house. So juice it was. Apple, golden yellow, and at least with a touch of seltzer it went down like soda. He took the glass to the living room couch and sat down.

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