Roarak Halfhide of the Halfhide pack understands his duty. He’s found his pack a home, now he just needs to keep them safe and fed. It doesn’t matter that Sam, one of the workers at Cup o’ Sugar, makes him want to shirk his duties and spend his time sipping coffee in one of the booths.
He doesn’t even like coffee.
But things don’t always go as planned, and when there is a threat to Sam, Roarak can’t pretend to be just another coffee-loving customer. He has to protect his mate.
He hadn’t more than taken a sip, struggled to suppress a shudder as he swallowed the bitter fluid when Sam showed up. He was paler than normal, and he was always a little too pale in Roarak’s opinion. Not that he didn’t look good, Roarak loved the way his light brown hair seemed to have a life of its own, how his large hazel eyes looked bigger next to his delicate nose, but he always looked scared half to death. And more often than not, Roarak smelled fear on him. He’d always figured it was him causing it, but today Sam’s gaze bounced around the cafe, the sour scent growing in intensity long before Sam noticed him.
Roarak almost choked on his coffee when Sam instead of scurrying back into the kitchen came toward him. “Sir, you need to leave.”
“Sammy!” The woman glared at them and claws prickled at the skin on Roarak’s fingertips. No one snapped at his Sam.
“Be right back.” Sam’s singsong voice was all wrong, it was too bright, too melodic, and at the same time his heart was speeding up. “You have to leave.” The words were hardly audible, but Roarak had good hearing, far better than any human.
“It’s not safe here.”
The beast inside of him growled. “And why is that?”
Sam shook his head and edged away. Roarak snatched his wrist. “Why?”
“I-I don’t know. Something bad will happen, soon.”
Roarak couldn’t tell if Sam was guessing, if it was fear talking, or if he had information about something going down. “I’ll be right here enjoying my coffee.”
“No.” The desperation in Sam’s eyes almost made him want to leave, but there was no way he’d abandoned Sam if there was a threat.
“You have to leave. If you stay people will get hurt.”
“Me in particular or if anyone stays?”
“I know it doesn’t make sense.” He was hissing, the words coming so fast Roarak had to focus to make sense of them. “But you’ll become a monster if you stay and people will be injured, most likely killed.”
Roarak bit the inside of his cheek. Was he joking? No, the fear was real. “How do you know?”
Sam groaned and snatched his hand back. Roarak wanted to kiss him so bad it hurt.
“Same way I know you don’t like coffee.” He gestured toward the display shelf of cakes. “Or any of the cakes, pies and cookies.” Sam’s eyes glazed over, becoming unmoving and unresponding. With a frustrated groan, he blinked in rapid succession.
Roarak wanted to ask what had happened but didn’t. “You’re right, I come here for other reasons.” He winked while cursing his own stupidity. Flirting wasn’t why he came here. He’d convinced himself he was all right with settling for pining from afar for the rest of his life. Talking to Sam had never been the plan. Plus he should be worrying about the monster comment and that Sam knew him coming in for coffee was a ruse.
“We do serve juice, you know? And tea.”