Authors: Faith Gibson
was sitting at a high top close to the pool tables when Dante walked into The
Tavern. New Atlanta’s bar scene was as lucrative as ever. People came from out
of town just for the thrilling nightlife. There were bars and clubs for every
walk of life, but Gregor and Dante weren’t into the busy dance scene. The
Tavern was a hole-in-the-wall biker bar complete with a couple of shitty pool
tables, a dart board that had seen better days, and cheap beer. The women who
came there were after one thing: a one-night stand with a roughneck. Neither he
nor Dante were in search of a hook-up, but that didn’t mean they didn’t enjoy
looking. A hot woman was a hot woman.
sat down, and a cute little blonde waitress bounced over to their table. “Hello,
fellas. What can I get you?”
glanced at her nametag. “Hello, Candy. I’ll have a Budweiser.”
added his order, “A double-shot of Jack, neat.” Candy told them she’d be right
back and flitted off.
was quiet, staring off into space. Normally he was a chatterbox, full of
useless knowledge about bodies and autopsies and strange things he saw in the
morgue. “Hey, what’s up?” Gregor was worried about his brother.
took a minute before answering. “I’m not sure how I feel about this human
bonding, to be honest. I know Rafael is all for it, but what if it doesn’t work
out? What if we meet our mate, and they are nothing more than human? We have
watched Sin go through the heartache of experiencing his wife die. Twice. Is it
really worth it? What if they do get pregnant but can’t handle a shifter fetus?”
conversation was interrupted by Candy bringing their drinks. She leaned across
Gregor, brushing his arm with her breast, handing Dante his drink. “Can I get
you fellas anything else right now? Are you hungry?”
Gregor didn’t bother with the young girls feelings. He would leave a good tip,
but he wasn’t going to encourage her advances. Over the years so many women had
tried in vain to get the nod from both of them. Neither had risen to the
occasion. Dante’s tastes were much more eclectic, and when he did reach out for
female comfort, it was never close to home. Gregor kept a few women on speed
dial in case his rougher side needed to be exercised.
have to agree with Rafael on this. I don’t think the fates would give us a
mate, human or not, who couldn’t handle what we are. I am hoping to get closer
to the good doctor, gain her trust, and subtly ask about her father’s journals.
I still haven’t come up with a plan on just how to approach the subject though.
Oh, fuck me.” Gregor almost doubled over.
is it?” Dante placed a hand on Gregor’s arm.
not sure, but it’s the same sick feeling I was talking about earlier.” He searched
the bar, not seeing any familiar faces. Dante glanced around with him, not that
he would know who to look for. Just when he was about to give up, a sexy voice
infiltrated the room.
Gavin, set ‘em up!” A redheaded biker chick came strutting though the bar. Tight
jeans topped black riding boots. A Harley tank top was tucked into said jeans,
a leather jacket thrown over one shoulder. A black belt with a shiny silver Bar
and Shield buckle wrapped around her waist. Red hair swung in time with her
shit, that’s her.”
couldn’t take his eyes off the show. “Her who? Tessa?”
the chick from the gas station.” Gregor would never forget that ass as long as
he lived. Her smirky lips and those green eyes were a punch to the gut. “Fuck
don’t recall you mentioning a
from a gas station. Would you care
to enlighten a brother?”
few years back, I stopped to get gas. She pulled in at the next pump over. Same
bike as mine only chromed the fuck out. She must have twenty grand in chrome
alone. Anyway, there was no receipt paper in the machine, so I went inside to
get one. She dropped a dollar on the floor and when she bent over to get it,
her ass ended up in my crotch. I swear to the gods, I thought I was going to
pass out right then and there.” Gregor couldn’t take his eyes off the woman
who was waiting for the man he assumed was Gavin to rack the balls on the pool
don’t you go talk to her?”
say what, ‘Remember me, the guy you shoved your ass into’? No, I’ll just watch
from here. If my reaction to her from this far is any indication, I don’t think
I could stand to be any closer.”
if she’s your mate? Do you not want to find out?” Dante had finally lost
interest and returned his gaze to Gregor.
not sure I do. But she can’t be. I mean, I’ve had these same feelings a couple
of times at the Pen, and I know she hasn’t been in there. I’ll just enjoy the
view from here.”
hadn’t been to The Tavern in forever. She was always too busy watching monitors
and checking on her cousins. Tonight she decided she was going to let loose. She
strolled into the bar, saying hello to familiar faces. When she saw her old
buddy Gavin at a pool table, she yelled at him to set up a game. She wouldn’t
play for money. Tonight was about relaxing, drinking a little, and shootin’ the
shit with whoever happened along.
she crossed to the far side of the room she yelled at the bartender, “Yo,
Jimmy, hit me up.” She always ordered a Budweiser with a tequila shot. If she
didn’t have things to do tomorrow, she might have ordered a double shot. She
loved this bar. She could dress like she normally did, maybe embellish with a
little more silver here and there, and feel right at home. She had been to some
of the swankier clubs in the city, but they just weren’t her style. Techno-pop
music blaring through speakers as a strobe light flashed around a room did
nothing for her other than give her a headache. Here she could drop a few bucks
in the jukebox, play whatever rock song she wanted, and kick someone’s ass at
pool, all while just being herself.
didn’t wait for her to reach the table. He met her half-way across the room and
picked her up in a bear hug. “Put me down ya big oaf!” She squeaked out.
dropped Tessa to her feet and yelled over the music, “Trixie girl, where you
been so long?”
away from riff raff like you! Are you ready to get your ass handed to you?”
She cocked an eyebrow and issued the challenge. Tessa never gave a real name no
matter how often she visited an establishment or how well she pretended to get
to know people. Tamian and her mother were the only ones who called her by her
given name: Andrea. She hated the name because Gordon had picked it out. Why
her mother insisted on calling her that was a mystery. Elizabeth hated Gordon
more than Tessa did. Tamian probably used the name because no one else outside
the family did. It could also be since his middle name was Andrew, he felt it
kept them connected.
used a different name in every city she visited, and sometimes it became
difficult keeping them all straight. She tried to stick with names that were
similar, at least ones starting with a T. In her heart she would always be
grabbed a cue off the wall and rolled it on the table to make sure it was
straight. She chalked the end and pointed it at her old friend. “I’m feeling
generous, I’ll let you break.” She grinned her devious smile, the one Gavin
knew meant trouble.
don’t need your charity, Sweet Cheeks. Ladies first.”
barked out a laugh. “I don’t see a lady, but thanks.” She placed the cue ball
close to the rail and lined up the stick, pulling it back a few times then
letting it fly. One solid and one stripe went in. She studied the table,
looking at not only the first shot, but several after. She was that good. “Nine
ball, side pocket.” She always called her shots so when she took someone’s
money, they knew she wasn’t lucky but skilled. After a couple of combos and a
bank shot, she was on the eight ball. As she did with the others, she sank the
black ball in the designated pocket. Grinning at Gavin, she said, “Rack’em.”
brought her drinks and put them on the table nearest her. She picked up the tequila
first and threw the fiery liquid down her throat, slamming the glass on the table.
Gavin set up the next game while she took a few pulls on her beer. Even before
she drank the tequila she was feeling warm. There was a hum present in her body
that shouldn’t be there. She took a look around the bar, checking out the other
patrons. She just about choked when her gaze landed on Gregor Stone.
? She should have eavesdropped a little longer, and she
might have overheard his plan to come there tonight.
pulled her attention back to the game. “You in this one, Sweet Cheeks, or you
gonna stare at the warden all night?”
glared at the man. “Shut it. I was
looking at him. You want to put
some money where your mouth is?” She knew he would. Gavin couldn’t stand
losing to her, but he definitely couldn’t resist a bet, no matter the odds.
on.” He pulled his wallet out of his back pocket and slapped a hundred down on
the table. “That enough for you?”
grinned. “It’s a start.” She busted the balls and commenced to running the
table. When Gavin was down three hundred bucks he finally gave up. Tessa
surveyed the room. “Any other takers?”
I’ll take you.” Gregor was waving a hundred at her.
unease in Gregor’s gut would not lessen. When Gavin picked Trixie up and swung
her around, Gregor’s beast fought to be turned loose. Dante convinced him there
was no better way to find out if she was the cause of his discontent than to
get closer. When she asked for another challenger, he took the opening. He rose
from his stool and walked toward the pool table. She was glaring at him for
some reason. “My money not good enough for you, Red?”
green. Rack ‘em.” She turned her back on him and downed the rest of her beer. When
she sat the bottle on the table she yelled to the bartender, “Jimmy, hit me.”
come here a lot?” He hadn’t been here in a while, but he did frequent the
place enough to have remembered her.
I’m in town, which isn’t often. You gonna rack the balls or gossip all night?”
Her sassy mouth reminded him of their run-in at the convenience store.
you in a hurry?” He arranged the balls in the rack and set them on the dot. He
carefully lifted the rack and hung it out of the way.
just don’t like idle chatter.” Trixie walked to the end of the table where he
was still standing. “Do you mind?” He would have to move before she could
knees weakened. “Don’t mind at all.” He backed up so she could get into
position. As he did, he inhaled deeply. That was a stupid move. The scent of
leather and sandalwood washed over him just as it had a few years ago. He
nonchalantly placed his hand on the table to keep his balance.
me.” Trixie obviously wanted him out of her way. He did move but only far
enough for her to barely get a shot off. When she missed she scowled at him. “You
could give a girl a little room, you know.”
why would I want to do that, Red?” He flashed what he hoped was a sexy smile.
of smiling back she continued to frown at him. “Because just maybe you’re
creeping me the fuck out.”
her out? What the hell? He never had a problem with women before. “I guess you
play for the other team then.” He took a look at the table and counted the
balls since he had been watching her instead of the game. Seven stripes scattered
nicely. He called his first shot and sank it with the cue ball lined up
perfectly for the next one.
the hell would you say that?” She was blocking his way.
me.” When she didn’t budge, he nudged her with his knee. “You could give a guy
a little room, you know.”
the fucking question, Stone.”
she knew who he was. Ninety percent of New Atlanta probably knew who he was,
too. He didn’t hide from the television cameras when reporters came to the Pen.
“So you know who I am, huh?”
continued to stand her ground. “Of course I do, but you didn’t answer my
language. And coming from such a pretty mouth. Would you please move? Or would
you like for me to move you?” He would love to move her. Closer.
not moving anywhere until you answer my question.” The hand not holding a pool
stick was propped on her hip. Taking a big chance, he grabbed her around the
waist and kissed her. Her immediate protests turned into groans, as she opened
her mouth and searched for his tongue. He was just beginning to enjoy the taste
of beer and tequila when she bit him.
you brat! What was that for?”
ever put your hands on me again.” She threw her pool cue on the table and retreated
to the bar area. She grabbed the beer Jimmy brought to her and downed it in one
go. Who could do that? Most men couldn’t even chug a beer without letting up.
just afraid to lose, Red,” Gregor yelled over the music blaring from the
slapped some bills into Jimmy’s hand then stormed out of the bar.
That didn’t go as planned.
of a motherfucker. Tessa knew when Gregor finally got his hands on her she
would be in trouble, but she didn’t realize the bond would be as strong as it
was. She was ready to climb his rock hard body and fuck him right there in
front of Jimmy, Gavin, and everyone else. What possessed him to kiss her? Dammit!
She never lost her cool. But holy Mother of Zeus, his mouth on hers caused her
body to all but melt into a puddle. Her back still zinged where he’d placed his
hand. Her lips were tingling, and she couldn’t breathe.
pulled a pack of cigarettes out of her saddlebag and lit one. Leaning against
her bike, she took a deep pull off her smoke, trying to calm herself. She
should have left the instant she saw him. Now her chances of getting Tamian out
of the Pen were slim. She would have to be extra diligent going to see Belle. Fuck!
She screwed up. Tamian needed her, and whether or not Isabelle admitted it, she
needed her too. Tessa pulled on her helmet and cranked her bike. She needed the
wind in her face to clear her mind. She had a feeling nothing would clear her
body. No, Gregor Stone had just imprinted himself on her, and she debated
leaving the city tonight. Fucking full-blood.
took one last drag and blew a line of smoke out from between her lips. She
snuffed the cigarette out on the sole of her boot then shoved the butt into the
pocket of her jeans. Not bothering with back roads, Tessa headed straight for
the interstate. New Atlanta traffic was always busy, but this late on a
weeknight shouldn’t be too bad. She needed to open the throttle and let her
bike run free. Trying to get her mind off Gregor, she thought about her
cousins. She really should call and check in with Dane. It had been a couple
weeks since he transitioned, and now he was back at work with the police
department. If she got pulled over for speeding, she could ask him to take care
of it. What’s the use in having relatives in high places if you didn’t access
the perks of their positions? It was either that or hack the system and fix the
rode until she was almost out of gas. Ironically, she pulled into the same gas
station where her troubles all started. If the store wasn’t so close to her
house, she would never set foot in the place again. She cut the engine and dropped
the kickstand. She didn’t bother removing her helmet. It was late, and she was
not in the mood to chit chat. She went in the store and dropped a ten on the
counter. “Fill-up on three.” Chester picked up the money and said to her
retreating back, “Good seeing you too, Trixie.”
was really starting to hate that name. She had used it as a joke, but somehow
it stuck. Still, it was better than Andrea. She filled the tank then headed
home. She had a trip to plan, and that meant getting another watcher on
was the youngest watcher for the family. There were a couple of others, but
they had families and didn’t travel as often. She knew Ezekiel was already in New
Mexico, so she called Sam. Samuel Brooks was a cousin who lived in New York. He
was a half-blood whose mate was a human. They had a daughter, Sophia, who
worked in New Atlanta at the library. So far she wasn’t showing any traits of
being a shifter, but they were still keeping an eye on her. Sam was training
Sophia to become a watcher herself.
called Sam’s number. The answering machine picked up after a few rings, so she
left a message for him to call her back. She called his cell and got the same
thing. Even if he were asleep, he or his wife, Monica, would pick up the phone.
She thought about calling Sophia but decided to wait. Tessa had met Sophia, and
she really liked the girl. She reminded her of a bohemian, free-spirited gypsy who
was usually giggling about something. While they may not have much in common,
the girl was smart and knew quite a bit about shifters and their history. Full-bloods
Jonas and Caroline were opposed to the full-bloods finding out about their
half-blooded relatives, they, along with Tessa’s parents, thought it prudent
all offspring be taught their history. Tessa’s father was Xavier Montagnon. He
was from the original line of shifters and was a full-blooded Elder. If anyone
had reason to hide his human mate and offspring, it would be him. Xavier
worshiped Elizabeth and doted on Tessa. Tamian wasn’t as close with their
father since he had spent most of his youth with Jonas. While technically
Xavier wasn’t Tamian’s father, he claimed him as if he were.
phone rang. She frowned when she saw who it was. “Hello?”
need to talk. Something has happened, and we need to strategize.”
was just about to schedule my trip back to New Orleans. I will arrange to fly there
can’t wait to see you.”
too.” The line disconnected. Tessa opened her computer and booked her flights.
This was going to be a long trip.