Never Kiss a Wolf(4)

By: Eliza Gayle

He was gifted with a knack of quiet observance. And a healthy dose of his own crazy. Like had just met like and he felt it clear through to his bones. But what did she desire and what could he do about it? It wasn't sexual and it certainly had little to do with the food she served.

Before he could hypothesize other possibilities, she handed them menus and took their drink order. If not for the slight tremble in her right hand and the barest quiver of her bottom lip when she took a deep breath, she appeared cool and efficient.

Yet something still frightened her.

He stared at her back as she retreated into the kitchen. He had the sudden feeling that a ticking time bomb had just passed into his life.

"What are you doing?"

Greer jerked his head to Calder. "What does it look like I'm doing?" He looked down at the menu she'd given him and tried to read the words in front of him. "I'm trying to decide what I am going to order."

"Bullshit," the bear bellowed, drawing attention from a few of the other diners.

"Cool it, bear. We're supposed to be blending in."

"Yeah, look around. That's not happening no matter what we do. We stick out almost as much as that crazy waitress does."

His wolf was back at it again. Pushing for attention. They both were anxiously awaiting the female to return. Speaking of the devil...

The door pushed open and she carried a tray of drinks. He watched her approach again, this time opening all of his senses to drink her in. Something about her scent made his world tilt a little off axis and he didn't know how to describe it. It was like the opposite of a hothouse flower. Something cool, but not frigid. Soothing like an icy peppermint drop on a brisk fall day.

His head dropped to his hands. Jesus. What the hell was happening to him?

His wolf made it clear then, pushing at his skin and urging him to do something about it. The stupid beast wanted her.

She dropped the drinks on their table, eyeing them both with a hefty dose of suspicion. Not that he blamed her. Shifters were an untrusting sort. Came with the territory. He wanted to talk to her but instead let her take their orders and quickly walk away. For some reason she had no desire to linger at their table and he'd apparently grown tongue-tied.

"She seems skittish," Calder said. "Wonder what that's about?"

"I'm not sure, but I'd sure like to find out."

Calder's gaze narrowed on him at that. He didn't say anything more, but he didn't have to. Greer was pretty certain the turmoil churning in his gut was written on his face plain as day. They waited in silence, both lost in their miscellaneous thoughts. The dull roar of diners eating and chattering with their companions filled the quiet as did the pitter patter of a steady spring rain on the tin roof.

It wasn't until the waitress came back with their food that either of them paid any attention to the other. The nervous frown on the woman's face troubled him more than ever. Whatever it was or whoever it was that made her like this, he wanted to eliminate. He was on the verge of making the offer to make her smile when he blurted out an entirely different question like an idiot.

"What's your name?" he asked.

The dishes in her hand faltered for a second, teetering on her palms.

"What?" She looked at him with genuine confusion stamped across her beautiful face.

Greer cleared his throat and tried again for a more even keel. "Your name."

"What he means is...” Calder turned on that famous bear charm with a Tennessee drawl. “Well, we're looking for someone last seen around here and we are hoping you can help. A place like this, you must see everyone in town at one time or another."

Calder leaned forward and touched her arm. An event that made the wolf growl loudly. A sound that made both of them turn to him in a flash. His lips peeled back from his teeth as the growl grew louder. His friend got the message and released his hold on her. She in turn jerked free and lost her balance. Plates flew through the air as she tumbled to the ground. Greer jumped from the booth, catching her arm before her head slammed into the tile floor.

Relief ripped a smile from him a second before the plates rained down on him, chili cheese fries and all. Dishes clattered to the floor and shattered into hundreds of little pieces. Greer slumped against the plastic vinyl of his seat with a hard thump as cheese dripped down his cheek and piping hot chili soaked through his shirt.

The woman whose name he still did not know started thrashing around and wrenched free from his slippery hold. Black fur sprouted on her arms as she sprang to her feet and ran for the door. By the time she cleared the threshold he heard the distinct sound of her bones popping and a harsh scream rent through the air.