Charlie’s latest novel, Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing releases today and Charlie was kind enough to share an excerpt with us!
Snarky agent Cooper Dayton and his sweet, werewolf partner Oliver Park are back in this fourth book of the Big Bad Wolf series, Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. Between hunting for a new house and navigating recent revelations regarding the power dynamics of his relationship, Cooper is almost relieved to be sent on a nice, distracting case. This time the guys are going undercover at a couple’s counseling retreat. In the following excerpt, Cooper and Park are settling into their cabin before meeting the suspects—er, other guests, when Cooper finds out that he needs to have his “Alpha Quotient” tested. Maybe this case won’t be quite the distraction from his own problems he was hoping for, after all…
“Find anything interesting on that?” he asked, indicating Park’s phone. Vanessa had reiterated that all guests were requested to meet at the lodge at four and that they were welcome to explore until then or just “have a lie down,” which Cooper supposed meant sex. The only requirement was that they log onto the retreat site and complete “some initial consent forms, questionnaires, you know the deal.”
“No, nothing unexpected. Plus, we have to sign up for some trust-building activities. Looks like everyone on staff pitches in to teach at least one each. Too bad we can’t split up and cover more ground that way.”
“Yeah, splitting up for the trust-building activities during couples’ camp. Not sure even I can swing that one,” Cooper said dryly. “So what are we talking about here? Three-legged race? Hot dog eating contest?”
Park sounded amused. “This isn’t fifth-grade sleepaway camp, Cooper. It’s a werewolf couples’ retreat.”
“Right. So, how to tantric sex and a get-to-know-ya orgy under the full moon?”
Park was suspiciously quiet. Cooper rolled to his stomach and propped himself up on his elbows. “Tell me that’s not it.”
“Oh, yeah, no. No full moon needed,” Park said distractedly, reading something on the screen with a frown. “Unrelated question, you packed your Venetian mask, right?”
Cooper considered throwing a pillow at him, but was too comfortable to move.
Park continued, “In all seriousness, though, you’re going to have to take your AQ before we can sign up for any of these.”
“My what?” Cooper frowned. He’d heard that term somewhere before, but had to search his memory for it.
“Your Alpha Quotient test,” Park said simply, still flicking and tapping at the screen.
Cooper scrambled upright. “What? I—but—what?”
Park was biting down a smile. “They want everyone to take it, to get a sense of strengths, weaknesses, our interpersonal dynamic.”
“Yes, but… I’m not…a wolf,” Cooper said blankly, head spinning.
Park shook his head sadly, still tapping on the screen. “Ten minutes at counseling camp and the first dark secret has already emerged. Dr. Claymont did warn us.”
“No, but—can you look at me, please?”
“Give me ten seconds,” Park said. Cooper watched him tap at the screen and then put it down. “All right, I just finished mine.”
“You took yours already? Just now?” Cooper cried, dismayed. “Why didn’t you tell me? I could have watched!”
Park’s eyebrow rose. “You mean cheat?”
“Cheeeeat,” Cooper hedged. “There’s a lot of gray area around that, isn’t there?”
Park’s right eyebrow jumped up to join the other. “I know what I want to talk about in our session tomorrow, anyway.”
Cooper shot Park a look and shifted on the bed, feeling jittery. “What did you get? Can I see the test? How many questions are there? How the hell did you just take it right here while we were talking? Is that still valid?”
Park held up his hand and Cooper’s mouth snapped shut. “It said we get our scores back during our session with the counselor tomorrow to discuss them. I’ve taken the AQ many, many times in my life. This one had some new stuff, but nothing I can’t do while talking to you at the same time. Question types and number vary.”
“How personal are we talking here? Do I give a medical history? Favorite sex position?”
Park gave him a sharp look. “It has nothing to do with how you like to fuck.”
Cooper waved him on impatiently. “Then give me some examples.”
Park sighed. “There’s always a number of hypothetical situation questions.” He smiled slightly. “For example, your mate says you should buy a place together, then comes up with excuses not to attend half of the house viewings and relentlessly scoffs at the other half. What would you do?”
“Is the right answer guilt him about it when he’s feeling vulnerable?” Cooper asked dryly. “Because, boy, no wonder you dominate this shit.”
“Then there’s the questions where a sequence of events is described and you have to guess the motivation behind them. A man steals another man’s notebook containing information about said houses, then hides it under the couch pillow rather than get caught reading it. Why? Then your basic rating questions, like, on a scale of one to ten, how strongly do you identify with the statement I am a sneaky little—”
Cooper tsked. “How strongly do you identify with the statement suck my—”
“Very strongly. Ten out of ten.”
About the Book
Book Description: Agent Cooper Dayton and his partner, Oliver Park, are going undercover—at a retreat for couples who need counselling. They do say the best cover story is one that’s close to the truth…
Agent Cooper Dayton is almost relieved to get a phone call from his former boss at the Bureau of Special Investigations. It means a temporary reprieve from tensions created by house hunting with Oliver Park, his partner both in work and in life. Living together in a forever home is exactly what Cooper wants. He’s just not keen on working out the details.
With a former alpha werewolf missing, Cooper and Park are loaned to the BSI to conduct the search at a secluded mountain retreat. The agents will travel to the resort undercover…as a couple in need of counseling.
The resort is picturesque, the grounds are stunning and the staff members are all suspicious as hell.
With a long list of suspects and danger lurking around every cabin, Cooper should be focusing on the case. But he’s always been anxious about the power dynamics in his relationship with Park, and participating in the couples’ activities at the retreat brings it all to the surface. A storm is brewing, though, and Cooper and Park must rush to solve the case before the weather turns. Or before any more guests—or the agents themselves—end up dead.
Follow Agents Dayton and Park’s romance from the beginning. Read the first book in the Big Bad Wolf series, The Wolf at the Door, available now from Carina Press!
About the Author
Charlie Adhara writes contemporary, mystery, paranormal, queer romance. Or some assortment of that, anyway. Whatever the genre, her stories feature imperfect people stumbling around, tripping over trouble and falling in love. Charlie has done a fair amount of stumbling around herself, but tends to find her way back to the northeast US. When she’s not writing, Charlie is reading, hiking, exploring flea markets and acting as an amateur cobbler for her collection of weird shoes.
To learn more and stay updated, follow Charlie on the usual suspects!