Pacifico Lopez stared at the elevator door. Anger had brought him to New York City. Just the smell of this werewolf office tower made him want to bare his teeth. For months he’d applied his software conglomerate’s resources to track down an international book piracy operation. At last he had proof the werewolves’ World Wide Publishing, WWP, was stealing ebooks by the millions and giving them away free from an unknown location.
Pacifico pulled himself as tall as his five foot two height allowed. His black fedora and shoulder pads added height and bulk and he’d need every centimeter to face Dominika Romano. Online photos showed she looked like an older version of her daughter Sybilla, who’d for years terrorized his town of Shipsfeather. Tall with terrible fierce beauty, the Romano women were alpha from their Mediterranean noses to the tip of their plumed tails.
With a whoosh the door parted. He stepped onto the black ninety-ninth floor marble lobby. The gold letters WWP floated over the receptionist’s head next to a swirly abstract logo that looked like a wolf swallowing a penguin. Pacifico removed his hat, grasped his briefcase tighter, and marched toward the desk with all the confidence of a CEO of the world’s dominant software company. Known to prefer to do business electronically, the financial press called him the most brilliant recluse since Howard Hughes.
Ready to do battle, he would expose damned Dominika if she didn’t shut down the scam ruining the book world. Werewolves only entered publishing to dominate and intimidate other publishers and demoralize librarians and dog-shifters dedicated to disseminating knowledge. The woman behind the desk looked up and opened her mouth. When he strode past, she demanded, “Where are you going?” to his well-tailored back.
He heard the receptionist phone security as the soles of his Italian-made shoes tapped stone-tiled floor, sending echoes against walls lined with museum quality paintings.
The hall ended at a huge double door labeled D. Romano, Publisher. Pacifico didn’t slow but pushed open the door and stepped inside, primed to demand Dominika end all illegal operations immediately or he’d point all Zoogle’s resources into shutting down WWP, ruining her personally, impeaching her former husband Senator Dante Romano, and if necessary revealing them all as werewolves. That last would, of course, be the last resort, for exposing werewolves would also expose the worldwide community of dog-shifters whose librarians kept safe the world’s knowledge and literature.
As the door closed behind him, his brow wrinkled and he blinked. Instead of the terrifying werewolf he’d expected, a petite young woman peered at him over reading glasses.
His eyes scanned the office the size of most New York bistros, black leather except for the red carpet under the ebony desk and book-lined walls. Behind the desk a window framed a classic New York skyline. He squinted in the midafternoon light to see the woman who leaned over a messy pile of papers. Whoever she was, she was not Dominika Romano. Perhaps a secretary or gofer, but not the most powerful woman in a city run by powerful women.
The woman stood, her delicate body draped in a black dress, a white cardigan pulled over her shoulders.
He stepped closer, “I’m looking for Ms. Romano,” and noticed exotic periwinkle blue eyes against her pale face.
Her voice was hesitant as she smoothed her blond curls. “I am Ms. Romano. Who are you?”
He saw a flicker of recognition in her eyes before he replied, “Pacifico Lopez, Zoogle Corp. But you’re not Dominika.” He smelled a faint scent of frangipani and his face flushed.
She snugged her sweater tight over her chest. “That’s my mother. She’s out of town. I’m Atlandia Romano. Her daughter.” Then added, “Mr. Lopez.”
Pacifico realized he was staring. Atlandia looked nothing like her mother or Sybilla. This lovely woman didn’t look like she could even be a werewolf. His face softened and he smiled, then remembered he’d come on serious business.
Behind him doors flew open and two ugly security guards entered, burly werewolves that appeared to be wolf-hyena crosses. The bigger one growled, “Want us to hurt him, miz?”
Atlandia shook her head. “I’m fine. Leave us alone.”
When they left, she raised her chin and asked, “Why did you come, Mr. Lopez?”
Pacifico stepped closer to the desk. “I have information that WWP operates an international ebook piracy operation. I want your mother to shut it down.”
The look on Atlandia’s face told him she had no idea what he was talking about.
“You must be mistaken, sir. This is a legitimate publishing company. Not financially successful, but I try to publish—”
The door burst open again and Sybilla Romano stepped in looking as mean as in the days she was Alpha of the Shipsfeather Pack. Her black Armani suit and knife-sharp stilettos accented her werewolf bitch style suit. Her raven chignon was pulled so tight that the edges of her darting dark eyes slanted up. “Landy, whatever is this dog doing in Mother’s office?” She approached Pacifico, looked down her prominent nose at him, and laughed. “Dog-shifters should be leashed. Or are little lap dogs an exception?”
Pacifico bristled. “Sybilla, this is not your business.”
“Ha! Chihuahua-Shifter, you have no business with my little sister.” She turned to Landy. “Will you put the dog out. Or will I have to do it?”
Landy rubbed her hands together and seemed to shrink next to her sister’s powerful persona.
Sybilla snapped at Pacifico, “Get out! Now scat!”
Pacifico didn’t move. He looked at Landy who seemed too frightened of her sister to speak. He removed a gold pen from his inside jacket pocket and wrote on a business card. Sliding it across the desk towards Landy, he said, “My card,” and with a nod strode past Sybilla and out the door.