NOT SO AVERAGE JOE
Assassins Inc. 6
coming July 2020
My name is Ion and I'm a handler for the panther council. It's my job to keep the assassins assigned to me safe and informed while they complete their missions. I'm good at my job. I'm just not real good at keeping myself safe so when someone started hunting me, I did the smart thing. I ran.
My name is Storm. I'm a panther assassin. I kill people for a living and I feel no regrets. Ever. When sent to rescue a geeky little human, I was shocked to discover he was my mate. I don't want a mate. I'll keep Ion safe until I can return him to headquarters, but I'll be damned if I claim him, not even when his life is in danger.
I'd known since the moment I was born that I was ordinary. I wasn't fat. I wasn't skinny. I wasn't tall. I wasn't short. I wasn't manly. I wasn't effeminate. I wasn't even overly muscled or frail.
I had basic brown hair. Not light honey brown hair or deep chestnut brown. Just brown. Mouse brown. I had brown eyes, too. They weren't deep chocolate brown or light caramel brown. They were just brown. Mouse brown. All of me was brown except my skin and it was just bland.
There was nothing spectacular about me.
Which made me totally confused as I watched two men pummel each other over me. Me. At least, I think they were fighting over me. That part was still a little sketchy.
I had been standing there drinking a beer when the dark haired guy—who was about to get punched in the face—had walked up to me, leaned in and sniffed, then growled. Blondie had flown out of nowhere and taken the dark haired dude down to the ground and the fight had commenced.
I stood there with my beer in my hand and my jaw hanging down to my chest as the two rather muscular men rolled around on the floor, biting and clawing at each other in between punches.
It really was very weird.
I knew neither of these men. I'd never even seen them before. Maybe they weren't fighting over me. Maybe I had just gotten caught in the cross fire so to speak.
Yeah, that was probably it.
I just couldn't imagine someone fighting over me.
Don't get me wrong. I didn't consider myself ugly by any means, and I'd had my share of dates, and one spectacular relationship that had totally gone up in flames after three months. But I wasn't sitting at home crying into my Cheerios over my lack of love life.
Besides, I was out of Cheerios.
Fight or no fight, the two men were putting on quite the show. It was obvious even to the stupidest man—and I never claimed to be stupid. Boring, yes. Stupid, no—that both men were in very good shape. Muscles were overflowing all over the place.
When they started to roll in my direction, I grabbed my drink and hopped up onto the bar top. I knew I should just leave, but there was no way I was taking off before the fight ended. It wasn't so much that I wanted to know why they were fighting, but more that I was having a hard time tearing my eyes away from all that beautiful tanned skin.
They were really spectacular.
I groaned when my phone buzzed. I wanted to ignore it, but I knew that would be a very bad idea. I pulled it out of my pocket and glanced at the screen. Damn, I knew it. Today was supposed to be my day off, but it didn't look like that was going to happen.
I stared at my drink for a moment before setting it on the counter. I'd like nothing more than to guzzle down the last of it, but if I was headed to work I had to be sober. I wasn't sure why I was needed back to work, but the nature of my job demanded a clear mind.
I glanced at the two men fighting one last time, wishing I could stay and congratulate the winner and maybe console the loser, then hopped off the bar and started for the door.
I was grabbed before I took two steps. I glanced down at the hand on my forearm then up to the man who that hand belonged to. It was one of the guys who'd been fighting. The blond stood behind him.
The man shot me a grin. "You're not leaving so soon, are you, sweetness? The party's just getting started."
I jerked my arm out of his strong grasp. "Sorry, I have to go to work."
I frowned at the tone of the man's amused chuckle. I reared back when he raised a hand toward my face. I didn't know this guy. He had no right to touch me.
"And what's a pretty little boy like you do?'
"I bet you have some rich sugar daddy somewhere, don't you."
I took a step away only to back into another body. I knew without looking it was his buddy. Why the two of them had been fighting, I had no idea, and this point, I no longer cared. They were both quickly losing their appeal.
I stepped to one side and tried to walk around the man in front of me. I frowned when he stepped in front of me. "Excuse me."
"Don't leave, sweetness," the brown haired guy said. "Things were just getting interesting."
"Like I said, I have to get to work."
There was something about this situation that I wasn't getting. I wasn't the sort of man that two guys fought over. Like I said, I didn't think I was ugly, but I wasn't all that either.
This didn't make sense.
"Please, excuse me."
"Hmm, I like the way you say please."
"I'm not interested." I raised my voice so everyone would hear me. I wanted it made clear that these guys had nothing I wanted. Well, they did. It was just too bad their attitude went along with the gorgeous bodies. "Please, move so I can leave."
"Naw." The brown haired guy chuckled. "The party is just getting started."
As soon as he started to pick me up, I lashed out. One kick to the balls and one sharp jab to the throat, and I was released, only to be grabbed by the blond behind me. I jabbed my elbow back into his gut. I heard his breath come out in a quick gust of air. I lifted my leg as I spun in a round house quick and nailed him on the side of the head.
He went down.
The brown haired guy roared with outrage as he reached for me. I shot out with my hand, two quick jabs. He gasped as he grabbed his throat and dropped to his knees.
"No means no, asshole." I stepped around the two men and walked out the front door. I hurried down the street to the bus stop.
After checking to make sure I hadn't been followed, I used my phone to check in and make sure I wasn't being called into work for something life threatening. That would require a cab and not a bus ride.
Nothing seemed blaringly apparent, but looks could be deceiving, and often were, as the two men back at the bar had just discovered. I was small, but I was scrappy. My father had been teaching me self defense since I was in diapers. I knew how to take care of myself.
I just wish every other person on the face of the planet taller than five foot seven inches tall would figure that out as well. My mother had been five foot four inches tall. My father stood at five foot ten inches tall. I didn't have a chance in hell.
Being short sucked.