Royale Stakes

By: Lynn Hagen

Chapter One



Declan had the shittiest luck ever. Seriously. He’d just been standing there, minding his own business, killing a Hunter, and the cops had shown up. Bane, the Dark Knight who had been with him, had gotten away, but after the cops had surrounded Declan, he had no choice but to surrender.

After all, he did have a dead body at his feet.

One of the cops told him a neighbor had spotted Declan and called. That was what happened when you killed a guy in a random backyard.

Declan could have taken the cops down and hauled ass, but the preternatural community—especially the leaders—frowned on shifters changing their form in front of humans. It was a big no-no. Oh, and killing cops, too.

Declan wouldn’t have done it anyway. He had mad respect for the men in blue. Just not when they had their government-issued nine-millimeters pointed at his head and chest.

Now he sat in prison—in some fucked-up orange outfit, itchy socks, ugly-as-shit plastic sandals, and, fuck me, he didn’t want to think about the recycled underwear he had on—as he awaited his bail hearing. He’d been sent to county because the local jail had been full.

His only hope was that Bayne had called the right people to get him the fuck out of here. If Declan was assigned a public defender, he might be screwed. Not that there weren’t public defenders who knew how to do their job, but with the way his luck was running, he’d be stuck in here until his trial.

And that shit wasn’t going to work. Declan would break out of this hellhole before he had to stay here that long. He wasn’t sure how he would, but he’d find a way.

Declan had been in here for only a day, but his lion was going insane. It kept watching the guy who paraded around as though he was some badass, intimidating the other inmates.

He was a big son of a bitch, and Declan was itching to take him down. But in his current mood, he might rip the fucker’s throat out.

That would be bad.

“Declan Royale!”

Declan whipped his head around. He had no idea why the guard wanted him, but he prayed like hell it was because someone who could help him was here.

The guard cuffed him, then led Declan to a room with a single table, two chairs, and steel mesh on the single window. Bending that mesh wouldn’t be a problem if he decided to get ghost.

He sat and suppressed a growl when the guard locked his cuffs to the table. The cuffs, of course, were a joke, too. Declan could snap them off if he wanted to.

The guard didn’t say a word and neither did Declan. Small talk wasn’t one of his strong suits. He tended to say shit that got him into trouble, and since he was already in one hell of a bind, Declan kept his yap shut.

The door opened and in walked Saul Capezio. Fucking seriously? It was the guy who had helped save Joelle when the mate had been kidnapped. Saul had seen Hunters taking Joelle into a downtown office building and had called the right people, which led Kivani, Joelle’s mate, to the building to rescue him.

Declan and Saul hadn’t quite seen eye to eye that night and he’d rudely dismissed Saul. Saul had insulted him, and Declan had tried to go after him to pound his face in, but Kivani had stopped him.

Now here the prick stood, smirking at him.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” Declan snarled.

Saul set his leather briefcase on the table. “I wasn’t exactly thrilled when Maverick called me about your arrest and asked me to be your legal counsel.” The smug bastard took a seat and crossed his legs, resting his hands on his knees. “You were found standing over a dead body, Mr. Royale.”

“I was strolling through the backyards and came across it.” Declan wanted to cross his arms over his chest to appear just as superior as Saul, but the cuffs got in the way. Declan was so damn tempted to yank them free, but that would be bad.

Plus, how superior could he act when he was cuffed to the goddamn table?

“Or you were looking for your lost dog when you found the body?” Saul said. “What did you say to the cops when they arrested you?”

“I haven’t said a damn word to anyone except you.” What did Saul take him for, an idiot? Declan had been in this game far too long to become suddenly stupid. This might be his first arrest—which was a miracle considering the type of life he led—but knew not to say a word until a lawyer worked this problem into his favor.