Being Marshall's Park's resident mascot, Monty the Meerkat, wasn't exactly what Finn Thomas envisioned when he arrived in LA seeking fame and fortune. Although he did get to walk the red carpet every once in a while... when there was a parade. Finn loved his job but to say he wasn't used to being accused of kidnapping, wrestled to the ground by a maniacal father and locked in a cell with a hairy biker, would be an understatement. But that’s exactly where he finds himself when he meets a little girl with a grazed knee who's looking for her daddy.
Aiden Reid came from money and privilege. He'd expected his parents’ reaction to the news that he was going to be a father. Although being thrown out on the street with a check in his back pocket when he refused to sign the adoption papers, shocked even him. In Santa Monica he moves in with his eccentric aunt and life is good. Good that is, until Aiden loses sight of Kayley at the local zoo, Marshall's Park. When he spots her being led away by a man mountain, one word flashes before his eyes... kidnap! Of course, the freak says he works at the park, but Aiden calls the cops and has the lying bastard arrested. The following day, he learns that the lying bastard was telling the truth and has grounds to have him arrested for assault. How the hell is Aiden going to convince Monty the Meerkat not to press charges?
Half an hour later with two burly security guards helping him search, Aiden had zipped past frantic, bypassed crazy and bought a hotel on terrified. What the hell was he going to tell Patti? He couldn’t breathe, there was no air. What the fuck was that? There was open air all around and he couldn’t get any of it into his lungs. His vision began to cloud as his anxiety built—then he saw her. “Kaylee!” He yelled; blessed air filling his mouth, and he began to run, chasing down the monster who was stealing his little girl. Even from four hundred yards away the guy was well over six feet and as broad as he was tall. What kind of freak was this guy? No slouch at six feet Aiden was what you would call more of a lover than a fighter, but this was his baby and he was taking this asshole down. One of the security guards shouted Aiden’s name and he frantically flapped his hands towards the freak and Kaylee, shouting, “She’s there! Stop him!”
Aiden reached them first, panic driving him on. “Get away from my kid!” He screamed, hitting the man mountain square in the back with a Tarzan-like yell. Catching a glimpse of confused green eyes, Aiden grunted in satisfaction as the freak went down like a felled tree. Luckily enough, Aiden had the element of surprise on his side. El Freako was too stunned for a moment to retaliate—but only for a moment.
The guy managed to somehow get an elbow up to pop Aiden a good one across the cheekbone and pain exploded in his face, his eye immediately filling with water. But he wasn’t letting go of this guy for anything. He straddled the guy’s back and kneeled on his bicep before scrabbling for his other hand and yanking it halfway up the man’s back. “You freak! You filthy pervert! Is this how you get your kicks? Stealing little kids? I’m gonna see you go away for a long time for this, man. If you’ve touched my baby I’ll kill you, do you hear me?”
“What… fuck?” The freak mumbled, trying to turn his head, but Aiden had him firmly face-planted on the ground. “Not steal… work…”
“We’ll take it from here, sir.” Both security guards finally reached them, obviously more out of shape than he was. But then, Aiden thought, they probably weren’t used to chasing down degenerates in the family-friendly park.
“Daddy!” Kaylee screamed, tears escaping from her thick lashes.
“It’s okay, baby,” Aiden soothed, clambering to his feet as the security guards grabbed the freak, and scooping her up into his arms. “Daddy’s here. You’re safe now, baby.” The relief at having her tiny arms wrapped around his neck was so overwhelming it brought him to his knees as he cradled her to his chest.
“Daddy, they’re hurting Finn!”
“Don’t worry, they’re going to arrest him. He can’t hurt you,” Aiden reassured, rubbing tiny circles on her back. Her ear-splitting scream was not exactly the response he expected and he winced at the vibrating of his eardrums. “Kaylee, calm down, honey. Daddy’s here. Everything’s alright now.”
“I work here,” the freak ground out, struggling against the grip of the security guards.
“Likely story,” Aiden spat, his gaze taking in the T-shirt emblazoned with the park emblem, rage burning the back of his throat with its acidity. “You bastard! How many kids have you lured away with that sickeningly sweet smile? How do you sleep at night?”
“I work here you asshole! Kaylee, honey, it’s okay, I’m fine.”
“Don’t you talk to her you sick son of a bitch!” Aiden yelled, turning Kaylee’s head so she couldn’t see the display. “Where are the cops?”
“Cops?” The freak’s eyes widened in disbelief and Aiden felt a surge of satisfaction in his gut. He probably thought he’d been clever, but Aiden had him dead to rights and the deviant was going down.
“For God’s sake. I work here you moron! Check with management. I found Kaylee on the path behind the stage. She was crying because she was lost and she’d hurt herself. I was taking her to Katie at Meeting Point 5.”
“A likely story, son,” said one of the security guards.
Aiden watched in stunned amazement as the giant asshole protested his innocence, and was still insisting he worked at the park when the cops led him away. He couldn’t believe how long the man was prepared to carry on the charade. It beggared belief how low the degenerate was prepared to sink.
AVAILABLE 15 FEBRUARY 2013