Technical Threat (Westin Force #4) - Julie Trettel

Chapter 1

“Caleb McCrea Tarron, you know I’m right. You have a stable job, a good income, and you’re even looking at buying a house. It’s time you find yourself a mate,” Nonna insisted.

I groaned cringing over the use of my full name. I had regretted confessing that to her since the moment the name had rolled off of my tongue.

“Nonna, I love you, but I don’t want to settle down and for the millionth time, I am not going to mate the first girl I see just because you want great-grandpups.”

“I’m not getting any younger, you know?”

I looked at my watch thankful to see I was running late and had a solid excuse to leave. I leaned down and kissed her forehead. “You remind me of that regularly these days, but I’m not buying it.”

“Caleb, I just want to see you settled and happy.”

“I am happy, Nonna. I have you, don’t I?” She started to protest but I cut her off. “I really am late. I warned you when I got here that I do have to work tonight.”

I didn’t want her to fret over what I did for a living, so I always kept it vague. Surprisingly, it was the one thing in my life that woman didn’t constantly harp on me about.

The thing was, I technically wasn’t even related to my Nonna. She’d basically adopted me when I first arrived to Westin Pack after having accepted a mysterious job with Westin Force. I wasn’t usually so spontaneous, but I had taken the job sight unseen with very little information about what I was actually getting myself into.

Three years later and I was still grateful for having the courage to make that leap.

The truth was, if they’d told me I would be moving into a wolf pack territory I would have turned the job down immediately. When I arrived in Westin Pack territory and was introduced to Kyle Westin, the Pack Alpha, and his Beta and head of security, Patrick O’Connell, they explained a lot of things that had been conveniently omitted when I initially accepted the job.

I was a fox, not a wolf. Foxes weren’t pack animals. That wasn’t the worst part though. To a wolf, foxes were more closely related to cats. Sure, I was still technically considered a dog, but traits and mannerisms of fox shifters were definitely more in line with cats. I didn’t think that would go over so well. Most wolves would have turned me out the second they discovered I was a fox, but the truth was, they didn’t care.

Kyle Westin wasn’t like any other wolf I’d ever met. Sure, he was strong and territorial, but his concept of family extended far beyond his mate and children. I was an only child, and it was just me and my parents growing up. I was mostly raised in the human world with this hidden secret that left me with few friends and no one I could really let get too close.

I had always longed for more and I had thrown myself into work at a young age seeking just that.

I had thought I was satisfied with my life, but joining Westin Force had helped give me that sense of belonging that I had been missing and craving without realizing it.

Kyle and Patrick hadn’t cared what I was, they wanted me for the skills I could provide them. Growing up an only child with no real friends meant I spent a lot of my youth online. Gaming was great, but most of them came easy to me and wasn’t a challenge.

That was why I started dabbling in coding, building my own games, and when that got boring too, I started cracking codes. Turned out I was really good at it too. I loved the challenge. Nothing was better than breeching a firewall or sneaking one of my own programs through without being detected.

Sure, it was far from legal, but that just added to the excitement of it all. That fear of being caught was exactly the adrenaline rush that kept me pushing until I knew I was amongst the best of the best.

Unlike other hackers, I never actually stole anything. I could break into a banking system with my eyes closed at this point, but it had never been the treasure that did it for me, it was the hunt. Maybe that was the fox within. I wasn’t really sure, but whatever it was I needed it like I needed coffee in the morning. It