Mate's Appeal(3)

By: Robbie Cox

Eve nodded. “I am, for the most part.” Then she shrugged as she turned back around and settled in her seat. “Some nights, though, it’s hard to keep the nightmares from creeping in.” Eve didn’t want to deal with the nightmares anymore. She took a deep breath. Living it had been bad enough.


Shades bustled with customers as people sought to get rid of the workweek and embrace the weekend. Arlin Landry stood by the front door, making sure the younger residents of Draven Falls didn’t try to slip past through the front doors and trick a busy bartender for drinks. The North Carolina night was cool, in drastic contrast with the sweaty atmosphere of the inside of the bar, with just enough breeze to keep it comfortable without making it too cold. Overhead, the leaves rustled in the wind as the moon continued to climb into the night sky. Outside was peaceful while inside was anything but, especially in the back of Shades where a small group was making enough of a ruckus to drown out the DJ stationed in the middle of the bar. The noise was enough to make Arlin grateful he was positioned at the front door with the door wide open.

Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath as another scream came from the back of the bar. Arlin understood the need to blow off steam, of having fun and getting a little out of control. However, the group that came in earlier seemed to be taking it all to the next level. The noise was enough to give Arlin a headache.

“Here, Dad said you could probably use a drink.”

Arlin turned and saw Drey Hawkins standing there, a bottle of water in his hand that he held out to Arlin. “Thanks,” Arlin said as he took the bottle. He gestured back inside Shades with his chin. “A little crazy in there tonight, isn’t it? That group in the back seems a little out of control.”

Drey ran a strong hand through his dark red hair as he turned his attention back inside the bar, nodding. “Parker Evans and his group. They rarely come to town, which makes the residents of Draven Falls quite content as well as the Paranormal Council. Hyenas,” Drey said with a sneer. “Nothing ever good comes from hyenas.”

Arlin nodded. “Almost as bad as coyotes.” He glanced back into Shades where the group of hyena shifters hollered, playing grab ass with any female who walked by and making a general nuisance of themselves. He could feel his tiger wrestling inside to deal with the annoying group. “I wish your father would let me toss them out on their ass. I’m not sure why they’re even here. They usually stick to the woods closer to the mountains.”

Drey gave a snort of derision. “Someone must have gotten paid.” He slapped Arlin on the back and then turned to walk back inside. Arlin watched the other man leave, knowing the panther shifter drew the eyes of most of the females in the bar, and probably even a few of the guys. Arlin couldn’t say he blamed them. The other man may work the bar at night, but his day job dealing with lumber kept him in strong physical form.

Arlin turned to look at his reflection in the glass of the front door, noticing his own muscular build and dark hair. He smirked as he shook his head. The two of them were built the same, and both received the same amount of attention from the ladies who came into Shades, but Drey wasn’t interested in any of them. He was quite content with the triad relationship he was in with Gavin Covington and Caitlin Carver. That left all the female attention in Arlin’s capable hands. He considered it one of the perks of being a bouncer in a bar.

Another burst of cheers went up in the back of the bar, and Arlin watched as one of the bulkier of the hyenas grabbed a girl and twirled her around, pulling her into his lap, causing her to shriek. Arlin growled as he started to make his way toward the commotion. Now, he had a reason to toss the group out on their asses.

Drey left the bar, crossing the floor to join him, as Arlin passed the DJ and drew closer to the group of hyenas who apparently saw nothing wrong with their behavior. Scavengers, the pack of hyenas disgusted Arlin. They possessed no dignity, no respect for others. They were vermin on society’s ladder.

Arlin stepped closer to the table where the overbearing drunk held the woman, squeezing her to him and grinding her on his lap. She screamed, fighting to get off Parker’s lap, but all he did was rub his dark beard against her cheek in an attempt to steal a kiss from her. She beat at him, and Arlin worried he wouldn’t reach the man quick enough to stop anything bad from happening.

The man, thick of body as well as skull, gripped the woman’s chin and attempted to turn her mouth toward his. Arlin saw the woman open her mouth, only she didn’t scream. Instead, she bit down on the man’s hand, driving her teeth deep into his flesh. He cried out, shoving her away from him and onto the floor. The woman hit the floor, screaming, and then the goon reached down and gripped her by her shirt and jerked her to her feet, backhanding her as soon as she was within reach. “You, bitch!” he roared as he raised his hand to hit her again.