Mate's Appeal(4)

By: Robbie Cox

However, Arlin reached the man first, grabbing his arm and spinning him around. The tiger within Arlin struggled to break free, the orange and black striped fur oozing from his flesh as he tossed the man away from the woman.

Drey reached the woman as Arlin reached out and gripped Parker, shoving him toward the entrance. “Time for you to go,” Arlin growled. He struggled to control his anger. Men didn’t attack women. Period. He had watched his father beat his mother too many times when he was a kid to ever allow it to happen in his presence again.

Parker spun, thrusting his thick chest out at Arlin. “Keep your grubby hands off me, you circus act. Don’t think I don’t know what you are.” The man spat on the floor. “You think you’re so superior, but all you are is a doorkeeper.” Then he laughed. “And a doorkeeper for panthers at that, smaller animals.”

Arlin felt his animal growl, but he kept the tiger tamped down. They’re just words of a drunk. Calm down. He gestured to the door again. “As I said, it’s time for you to go.”

Parker looked past Arlin to the woman, a leer twisting his lips. “Don’t worry, sweetheart. I’ll be around to finish what we started.” He gave her a wink.

Arlin’s tiger refused to hold back any longer, and as Arlin swung to punch the man, his hand transformed into a tiger’s paw, fingers shifting to claws as he sliced into the man’s face, a growl ripping from him. Parker’s head snapped to the left, his body turning with the force of the blow as Arlin reached out and gripped him by the shirt, lifting him into the air and tossing him toward the back wall. Parker was hurled through the air, arms flailing as he landed hard on a table covered in bottles. Glass shattered, splintering in all directions as the man slid across the table and rolled onto the floor. Arlin didn’t slow down, ignoring the cries of those around him telling him to stop. He heard Drey’s voice, and Jed’s, but nothing would temper his anger at that point. No one—NO ONE—made comments like this hyena just did to a woman. Not in Arlin’s presence. There were lines, and the man on the floor crossed them.

As Arlin reached down to yank the drunk to his feet for another toss across the room, Drey reached him, yanking his arms away from Parker, who was on his hands and knees, panting for breath, cuts across his arms. “Stop! Arlin, enough,” Drey said as he pulled Arlin around and away from the man on the floor. “I think you made your point.” Drey shoved Arlin toward the bar as another of the bouncers approached to haul the hyena out of Shades. A couple of the serving girls surrounded the woman who had been the object of the brute’s unwanted attention.

Arlin allowed himself to be steered away from the scene he had caused, his shoulders rising and falling with his heavy breaths, his muscles still taut with his anger. He knew he shouldn’t have done what he did, should have just kept shoving the man toward the door. Parker was just running off at the mouth and probably would have forgotten what he said once he sobered up. However, Arlin had lived with a man like him before and refused to allow any other woman have to deal with the chauvinistic jackasses of the world if he could help it. Tonight, he could help it.

“What the hell were you thinking?” Drey snapped once they were in the backroom and away from the customers. “You don’t attack people in Shades. You just toss them out on their asses.” Drey shook his head, his red hair swishing across his forehead.

Arlin blew out a breath of frustration, hoping to calm his nerves. “Sorry. I can’t handle men like him who think women are their property.” He shook his head. “Watching him just brought back memories I thought I had dealt with already. I guess I was wrong.”

“You think?” Drey shook his head. Then with a deep breath, he said, “Take the rest of the night off. I’m sure Dad will call you tomorrow, but I doubt anything will come of this. Everyone knows Parker’s an ass. I doubt he’ll get much sympathy from anyone around Draven Falls. Just lay low tonight, and let it blow over.”

Arlin nodded, taking deep breaths, his nerves still raw from the encounter. “Tell your dad I’m sorry.”

“Will do. Now, go get some rest. Tomorrow’s a new day, and I’m sure he’s not going to give you two days off in a row.” Drey chuckled, doing his best to make light of the situation, Arlin knew. However, with tensions between the paranormal factions of Draven Falls and the humans who dwelt there, Arlin knew Jed wouldn’t be able to ignore what happened entirely. Arlin didn’t know what the consequences would be, but he was sure there would be some sort of fallout. Parker was ass enough to try and press his point somehow and stir up more shit just to make Arlin’s life miserable.