Paul Ashland is the son of the town’s grocer and a gamma bear. Rare to the species, gammas are lost in the hierarchy and often treated as omegas. Bullied because of his birthright, Paul tries to stay quiet and not ruffle feathers in order to make his way through life.
When Master Sergeant Tristan LeCarre comes to town, feathers are bound to be ruffled. He shows up in the nick of time to stop an unfortunate incident, but not before the wolf shifter sets his sights on Paul.
Two betas have had their eye on Paul for years, and things turn ugly when Tristan gets in their way.
The pair finally left, and Paul could breathe again.
The wolf trailed a few steps behind the duo and watched through the swinging doors as they left the store. He turned and eyed Paul carefully.
Paul met the man’s stare and really allowed himself a moment to take in the wolf’s appearance. He was gorgeous, but not necessarily in a pretty guy kind of way. His features were sort of plain, all but his silver eyes and heavily fringed lashes. What made him truly attractive was a sense of raw power rippling under the surface.
He drew in a deep breath, the warm scent growing stronger. “Yeah… I’m good… thanks.”
“These guys come in here often?”
Paul shook his head. “Every once in a while when they’re hard up and in between pieces of ass. I seem to be the default when they have no one else to sexually harass.”
“Fun, fun,” the wolf said. “We can take care of that.”
Paul frowned. “While I appreciate the assistance, I don’t need anyone fighting my battles.”
“That’s too bad, Paul.”
Paul tilted his head, confused. “Who are you?”
Paul stood a moment, waiting for more information than a name. When it was apparent no more was coming, he prodded further. “And?”
Tristan’s eyes flashed, and he looked away. He gazed at the back of the store, appearing interested in the boring scenery. The scent filled the air, wrapping itself around Paul. He knew it had to be coming from Tristan.
“I work with Deacon. I was asked to swing by the store to make sure you two were okay.”
“I don’t need Daddy Deacon keeping tabs on us.”
“He’s not keeping tabs on you. The request came from your father.”
Paul paused a moment, observing the male. “If my father wants to keep an eye on us, he can do it from here—without sending one of Deacon’s dogs to prowl around,” he said, unsure why he felt so incensed. Deacon had likely sent Tristan in an attempt to keep Glenn happy.
While Paul still wasn’t completely on board with his father finding love again, he was trying to be supportive.
A hand snaked out and grabbed his arm as he tried to pass the wolf.
He was dragged closer, and his heart slammed into his chest. Thumping away madly, he didn’t understand the sensation. More of the rich scent filled the space around them.
“I’m no dog,” Tristan growled. “No obedient hound at Deacon’s feet. I did a favor for a friend’s mate—one that seemed to be perfectly timed in my opinion.”
“I could’ve handled them.” It wasn’t the first time Jericho had gotten into his space.
“You shouldn’t have to handle them. They should leave you alone… if that’s truly what you want.”
Paul’s head whipped to the side. “What does that mean?”
Tristan shrugged. “Some people get off on playing the victim.”
“You think I’d encourage that kind of behavior?” Paul yanked his arm away. “I wasn’t playing the victim.”
“You didn’t fight. You just stood there, letting that asshole touch you.”
“Because fighting only leaves you bruised and broken. Trust me. I know from experience.”
A flash came to those silver eyes. “They’ve hurt you before?”
He watched a tick form at the side of the male’s brow. “Nothing major. They like showing off how strong they are when I fight back. So, I don’t provoke them anymore. Don’t poke the bears.”
Tristan stepped closer, inhaling Paul’s scent. “That’s no way to live.”
Paul clenched his jaw, trying not to drink in the scent of the man before him.
Tristan stared down. The wolf was several inches taller than Paul, and his chest was much wider and more muscled. His palms itched to spread along the wolf’s body and feel the heat and strength there.
“No one should have to live with a bully in their life.”
Paul met the male’s stare. “Not like I can make them suddenly disappear.”
“No, but they can have leashes put on them if they can’t control themselves.”
Paul chuckled. “I’d like to see someone try that. It won’t end pretty.”
“We’ll see,” Tristan said before backing away. He faced Paul until he reached the swinging doors. He spun and exited, leaving Paul standing there trembling.
Henry pressed one of the swinging doors open, a stupid grin on his face. “Well, well—your knight in shining armor got in here faster than I could.”
Paul felt his face flame. “He’s not my knight in shining armor.”