Chasing His Cottontail
The Hoppity Series
Peter's been half in love with Luke Holland for as long as he can remember, but his best friend's very human brother has always been off limits -but when werewolves come to town this bunny shifter is going to have to decide whether he's ready to fight for what he's always wanted.
Luke Holland is tall, dark, and human. He's also off limits for daisy obsessed bunny shifter, Peter. But when werewolves start hunting Peter in the woods around New Hope he's going to need Luke's help to fight the intruders. Of course, when Luke discovers the truth about Peter he's never going to stop chasing his cottontail.
Daisies. Yummy, yummy daisies. Peter scampered across the sidewalk and wriggled under the holly bush that bordered Mrs. Gregor’s garden. Lilies were fun, their pearly petals gleaming in the moonlight, and he loved the scent of verbena. He’d definitely go for a strawberry if he could get one, but he just adored daisies.
He buried his face in the closest patch and took a deep breath. His nose twitched against the nearest petal and then—he took a bite.
Delicious. One long ear flopped down toward the ground. He really should have saved them for last, but that would have taken more self-control than Peter possessed in his tiny bunny body.
How many licks did it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? Peter had no idea. He always went straight to the good stuff. It took less than a minute to finish the first daisy. He didn’t mourn it, not when there was another just waiting for him to nibble. After the third flower, he lost count of how many daisies fell to his wobbly eared gluttony.
His fuzzy tail twitched happily. When he was done with the daisies, he was going to eat the snapdragons and the sunflowers. Yummy, yum, yum. His head twisted as he tried to get at a vexing blossom. Was it getting harder to see around his padded hips?
Maybe Benji was right. Maybe he should lay off the nasturtiums, but Peter couldn’t help himself.
There was just something about running in the moonlight that made his belly rumble.
Not that there was anything filling up his daytime hours. As a bunny, he was an invincible flower-eating machine. As a human, he was a chubby accountant with no social life to speak of. He hadn’t gone on a date since high school and—except for his best friend Benji—the closest thing he got to human contact every day was ordering his lavender latte at the Morning Glory.
The coffee house and bakeshop might be on the edge of town—a forty-minute walk from his apartment—but it was worth walking past three other coffee shops and a bagel store for their homemade lavender syrup. If he were lucky, then he could catch a glimpse of Luke Holland, Benji’s older brother and the star of Peter’s every illicit dream.
Damn. There was a man Peter wanted to dip in strawberry sauce and coat in sunflower seeds.
And when he was done licking him clean? He’d finally indulge in the red-hot sex he’d been fantasizing about since he’d seen a twenty-one-year-old Luke walking past Benji’s bedroom fresh out of the shower, wearing a robe, and glistening wet. Peter’d been twelve at the time. He was pretty sure the sight of Luke had jumpstarted puberty.
Long, lean limbs, muscles built out walking in the woods and working in the Holland family’s wilderness store. Just a hint of dark scruff around his square cheekbones. Even then Luke was a wild mountain man, but over the years, his penchant for flannel had turned into a bad habit.
It’d gotten so bad; Peter popped a boner every time he saw a hint of plaid. If he ever did get a chance to strip Luke down, he’d make him leave on his plaid flannel shirt—the blue and gray one that matched his weathered eyes and still smelled like pine resin months after Wilderness Outfitters stopped selling Christmas trees.
Hippity-hoppity. The thought made him lose track of what he was doing. Not that it mattered. Nothing was ever going to happen. Every time he got within sniffing distance of Luke Holland his mouth went dry and he forgot how to form words. He could barely say hello to the man. He’d never get up the nerve to ask him out on a date.
A pale petal tickled his nose. If he couldn’t nibble on Luke Holland, then he could still devour daisies. He took a jagged bite.
“Damn thief.” Something hit the ground nearby. A rock? Rabbits had an almost three-hundred-and-sixty-degree field of view. Peter didn’t even need to turn his head to see Mrs. Gregor standing on her front porch.
The woman was five foot nothing with a busted hip, but in bunny form, she looked like a giant dressed in a big circus tent of a nightgown that hung around her knobby knees. She was a mean old witch, but her garden was the nicest in town. Another rock catapulted toward him, coming close enough to make the air rush past Peter’s little bunny head. The old biddy had good aim for someone in her nineties.
Peter thumped his feet and let out angry bunny squeals, swearing at her snap peas and cursing her carrots.
He was getting ready to launch a new litany of curses in the evil Mrs. Gregor’s direction. Crud. She was bending down to reload. Maybe it was time to make like his namesake and hop on out of the joint before he ended up in the garden shed.
The public gardens were empty this time of night. He could still chow down on the fancy roses they’d planted near the mayor’s plaque. The thought left him shaking with barely suppressed bunny laughter.
Right until another rock landed less than two feet away.
Time to go. Peter straightened his ears, fluffed his tail, and ran like the hounds of hell were after him.
Two minutes later he was sidling down Main Street, laughing his little bunny ass off. They’d just planted some new rose bushes in front of town hall, and he wanted the first bite.
Oooo. An eerie howling started somewhere far behind him. Oooo. Ooooh. Aa-ooooh.
Wolves. The whole situation seemed a lot less funny. The howls were getting closer. Not a good sign. Peter could handle himself out in the forest with natural wolves. He’d head back to civilization or turn back into a human and make a lot of noise. It was enough to drive off any normal animal, but if the wolves were this close to town, then there was nothing normal about them.
Werewolves wouldn’t be scared away by street traffic and if he turned back into human form…
Peter shuddered at the thought. He definitely wasn’t going to turn back into a human. Not even if the wolves caught him and threatened to braise him in wine with carrots and pearl onions.
The best he could hope for was to hunker down and hope the wolves passed him by. He darted back and forth between the Morning Glory and the used bookstore searching for a place to hide.
The wolves were quiet now. That wasn’t necessarily a good thing. It could mean they’d left—heading for the woods on the south side of town—or they could have decided to quiet down while moving through the city streets.
What were werewolves doing in New Hope anyway? Peter had heard rumors about a pack near Chicago, but he’d been careful not to ask too many questions. Werewolves were smart, vicious, and kind of icky. They were all hierarchy and pack structure. They spent too much time hanging around their own kind and not enough time interacting with real people.
And what they did to any bunny shifter unfortunate enough to cross their path? Unthinkable, Peter shuddered.
There was a sharp scream the next block over.
Shit. Peter circled back around and found what he was looking for. A chink in a brick foundation wall. It wasn’t big enough to let a wolf through—if he were less scared then he wouldn’t even try it, but with his heart beat-beat-beating so fast it might explode he was willing to try anything. He’d read somewhere that if a rabbit could fit its head through a hole, then the rest of the body would squeeze through.
Did that still apply if the rabbit had a bad habit of following up his ice cream with more ice cream?
There was a soft scuffing noise behind him. He froze and tried to look innocent. Another noise and a dark shadow turned into the narrow space between the two buildings.
Wolf. Peter’s entire body vibrated.
The beast sniffed twice. Its gaze narrowed in Peter’s direction. Its lips pulled back to reveal a mouth full of sharp, strong teeth.
A soft breeze ruffled through the wolf’s dark fur. There was a long pause, then the asshole’s friend showed up.
A burst of adrenaline zipped through Peter’s body. No more waiting. Either he’d fit through the hole or he’d die trying. He zipped forward, propelling himself with his powerful hind legs.
His head fit through the hole! Then his shoulders! The brick felt like it was closing in around him. It pulled at his fur and seemed to tighten around his hips. He’d have bruises in the morning, but it didn’t matter…not when he was slipping through the hole and falling down toward the floor. His entire body twisted as he struggled to get his feet underneath him. He overcorrected, hit the ground at an awkward angle, and skidded a few feet across the cement floor.
That was going to leave a bruise.
He wobbled forward a few more feet, searching for any dark corner to hide in, before collapsing in a heap of jelly. Everything would be okay in the morning. The sun would be shining, and he could go home to pack. He’d lived in New Hope since he was eight years old, but if werewolves were coming around, then it was time to move on.