Mate's Appeal(9)

By: Robbie Cox

Walking over to where the sheriffs stood with the other man, Arlin slid his hands in his back pockets to make himself appear less of a threat. With the damage to the cabin and him being a stranger, he didn’t want any misunderstandings that would cause his tiger to bust loose and get him in trouble again. He’d filled out enough police reports over the past couple of days to know he didn’t want to go through that again.

The man not in uniform turned his attention to Arlin as he approached, an eyebrow arched over narrowed eyes as he watched the newcomer. Arlin just nodded once, doing his best to appear charming and not threatening. He cleared his throat, gaining the sheriff’s attention, and all conversation stopped. “Pardon the intrusion,” Arlin said. “I heard the sirens and noticed the lights down the street. I passed the ladies walking just a bit ago, and they weren’t really paying attention to where they were walking, so I wanted to make sure nothing happened to them. I’m glad to see they’re all right.” He pulled a hand from his back pocket and gestured to the cabin. “Although, this is far from all right, I know.”

Arlin thought for sure the sheriff would be the one to speak first, but instead, the civilian took the lead. “And you are?” He crossed his arms over his chest, definitely doing his best to appear intimidating.

Arlin slid his hand back into his pocket, leaving himself open, remaining as calm as possible. He was the stranger after all, suddenly here during a crisis. “Arlin Landry. My brother, Nathan, owns the cabin up the road. I’m staying here for a bit of a vacation.”

The tawny-headed man nodded, uncrossing his arms and letting his hands discover his own pockets. “Jed Hawkins told me you were coming.” He pulled a hand out of his pocket, reaching out to shake Arlin’s. “I’m Dimitri Everest, kind of the overseer of Bull Creek.” He then gestured to the other two. “This is Sheriff Chet Einstein, and my sister, Deputy Lainie Everest.”

“You didn’t happen to see anyone else on the road as you were driving, did you?” the sheriff asked.

Arlin shook his head. “No, just the two ladies. As I said, they were so lost in whatever they were talking about that they didn’t even notice me behind them. I could tell by the way they meandered over the road as they walked.”

“I don’t meander.”

Arlin turned and noticed the other three women approaching. The shorter one with the sandy hair practically snarling at him.

“And for the record, I did notice you. I just didn’t care. I would assume if you had a license, then you knew how to avoid people walking on the side of the road.”

Arlin arched an eyebrow at the small woman, small but apparently formidable. His tiger growled within, as well, wanting to pounce the little spitfire in front of him, and Arlin felt his cock twitch inside his pants, stirring to life. His heart beat faster as his breath caught in his throat. Why the hell did Jed send me to Bull Creek? “Since I was the one behind you, I’m pretty sure I know how you were walking,” Arlin said. “You were meandering.” Then he shrugged. “I didn’t say it was a bad thing. Why would you be worried about cars running you over in this area, after all? I mean, you were only walking in the middle of the road.”

“The middle….” The woman took a step forward, her hand dropping to the hilt of the knife at her waist. Arlin’s tiger purred inside, instead of growled, and Arlin knew he was in even more trouble than he first thought. “I was walking on the side of the road, thank you, and that heap you were driving wasn’t exactly quiet, you know. I’m sure they heard you in St. Cloud with that clunker.”

“Clunker?” Arlin slid his hands out of his back pockets and crossed his arms, ignoring the looks the others gave him. While the sheriff had a confused expression, the others just stood there grinning. Probably all shifters, Arlin assumed. Then he detected the scent of the witch next to the robust redhead. Yet, she grinned as well. All of them knew what his tiger had just detected, all of them except the short, sandy-haired piece of sass in front of him, that is. He did not come to Bull Creek to find his mate, but it appeared his mate had just found him. So much for a vacation of peace and quiet. “My car is not a clunker, thank you. It’s a classic.”

The short woman laughed. “Classic? That’s what they call something that’s old and worn out, right? Something that has a musty odor? I bet the music you listened to as a child is a classic, as well, being played on one of those oldie stations with a DJ born while 8-tracks were popular. Who the hell are you again and why are you even here?”