In a world where all supernatural beings are either dominant or submissive, Shiro Amano doesn’t have many choices. As a submissive, any dominant walking into his bakery can order him around. He hates it. All he wants is to live his life in peace and bake pastries he can spike with emotions far away from obnoxious alphas.
Pitch Rhys wants a mate, but he won’t settle for anything but a true mate. As a powerful wolf shifter, he has subs flocking around him, but his true mate is hiding in the kitchen of a bakery and refuses to see him. He can order him to, of course, but since he threatened Pitch with a knife when he allowed his power to leak, he doesn’t think it’s the way to go. Instead, he’s settling to see how many pastries and cups of coffee he can consume in a day.
Two years ago, Shiro escaped an abusive relationship, and he’s not looking for a new one, but when word gets out Shiro is an unmated sub, dominants are invading the bakery. Pitch does his best to scare them off so he can woo Shiro at his own pace, but things escalate too fast. Will Pitch be able to get Shiro to trust him before it’s too late? Can he convince him he wants nothing more than to make him happy and keep him safe?
Pitch wanted to talk to Shiro. He wanted to watch Shiro. But he’d developed angel skills and was having a polite conversation with Astra while she cleaned away the baked goods.
The fear he’d smelled on Shiro when he’d stepped into his space was messing with his head. Most subs wanted him to be in their space. They clung to him, attracted by the power, but Shiro had looked like he wanted to run.
Not all submissives were like those in the clubs, he reminded himself. No way Shiro was mated, though. A sub could still be controlled, but it was much harder for someone who wasn’t their mate to do it once they were mated.
“What do you do, sir?”
“Pitch, you don’t need to call me sir.” Sir made him sound old, and he didn’t like to think of himself as old. Though he guessed he might appear old to Astra. He glanced at Shiro who walked around the table putting up the chairs. How old was he? Thirty? Pitch rubbed his neck. He’d turn forty-two in October.
When he turned back to Astra, she was watching him with a blank expression. He took a sip of the coffee that had been divine a few seconds ago and almost spit it out. He couldn’t describe what it tasted like, but it was the worst coffee he’d ever had.
Astra knocked on the counter and lowered her voice into a whisper. “You leave him be or all your coffee here will taste like rat poison.”
He stared. He hadn’t believed she had it in her to threaten him. One fortune cookie and one tough cookie. He grinned. “I’m not gonna hurt him.”
“You’re not gonna do anything. He’s been through enough, and if you touch him, you’ll have an entire clan of bears breathing down your neck.”
Pitch flashed teeth. He might enjoy a feisty sub -- maybe. He wasn’t sure he’d ever met one before -- but he would not stand to be threatened. “He doesn’t belong to them.”
“He’s not mated.”
She stared at him. “I think you should leave now.”
Pitch growled. “I’m not leaving.”
The smile she gave him was sweet, the tone was not. “Actually, sir. We’re closed. I need you to leave or I’ll call the cops. Understood?”
Pitch growled, put the cup on the counter, and considered ordering her to ask him to stay.
She crossed her arms over her chest. “I wouldn’t if I were you.”
Shiro walked into what Pitch assumed was a cleaning cabinet next to the lavatory in the corner as far away from him as he could get.
Astra held up a finger. “One, it’s illegal here. We’re on human soil. Two, if you ever want Shiro to talk to you without holding a knife in his hand, then you tread carefully, understand?”
Tread carefully? Why would he tread carefully when all he could do was tell Shiro what to do? He could order him not to touch a knife.
“I see the wheels spinning, and don’t even think about it. Shiro is no ordinary sub.”
“He’s a bear?” He couldn’t be a bear.
“No.” She rolled her eyes, and he guessed it was a valid reaction. He wasn’t a bear. Bears weren’t submissive.
“He hates being controlled, and his mate got off on forcing him to do things.”
Pitch snarled. Not at the controlling part, but at the mate. Shiro didn’t have a mate, he could sense it deep in his bones.
“Leave.” Shiro stood a few steps away from him, another knife pointed in his direction. This looked more like a Swiss Army knife. “No spitting, hissing, snarling, or growling in my bakery.” His almost black eyes were hard as flint, and while they didn’t meet his, they were focused on his face. Not many submissives could stand as tall as Shiro did in his presence. Dominants cowered ever so often too.
“You have a lot of rules.” Pitch nodded and slowly neared the door.
“We’re on human soil.”
“Yes.” Pitch wanted to add that they wouldn’t be for long since they were closing and would be heading home soon, but it sounded more like a threat than he meant for it to be, so he kept his mouth shut. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Have a lovely evening.” He nodded to them, unlocked the door, and stepped out into the late afternoon sun. He’d wait around and see where they went. At a distance, of course.