If Goliath Dickman hadn’t had the most loving and supportive parents he could ever imagine—and he’s seen plenty of depravity during his years on the force—he would have thought his parents hated him. After all, how could they have named him what they did? Goliath would never tarnish the memory of his beloved mother by saying such a thing out loud, however. So when the opportunity arises, he transfers to a deputy position in a small town.
After losing his temper on the first day—thank goodness they’d been understanding guys—Goliath asks the others to call him Ollie, and he settles in at his new place in his new town. He runs across Earl Raukus at a local restaurant and finds himself enamored with the pretty, brown-eyed blond. Unfortunately, Goliath spots Earl laughing and chatting with a black-haired guy across the room, and his hopes are dashed.
Imagine Goliath’s confusion when Earl continues flirting with him. Uncertain, he switches to his default—he clams up, responding curtly. Confused by the hurt that fills Earl’s eyes, Goliath tracks him down…and discovers something the town can’t possibly want getting out. Could the world of shifters truly be real, and what would be his place within it?
“How was your first week, Ollie?”
Pausing in his stroll across the relatively quiet bullpen, Goliath Dickman turned toward Sheriff Anthony Holsteen. He saw the way the slender male leaned one shoulder against the doorframe to his office. The sheriff’s hands were shoved into the pockets of his jeans, and he sported a small relaxed smile.
“Uh, good…mostly,” Goliath replied, and he did his best not to cringe at how tentative his deep voice sounded.
“Mostly?” Anthony quirked one brow up questioningly. The man looked beyond Goliath for a second, obviously surveying who was in the room. Returning his attention to Goliath, he narrowed his eyes and asked, “Someone bothering you?”
Goliath knew that only Deputy Markus Reussmin was in the room. The other deputy was manning the phones. Evidently, in order to speak so freely, Anthony didn’t think Markus would be the person who was bothering him.
In fact, no one was bothering him.
Quickly shaking his head, Goliath dispelled that notion. “Oh, no, Sheriff,” he replied. With a wince, he admitted, “Just still feel bad about the, uh”—he could feel his cheeks heat, but he continued gamely—“the Nathan incident.”
On Goliath’s first day, fellow deputy Nathan Kaldwell had teased him about his name, asking him if he lived up to it. He did, not that he intended to tell his co-workers that. The teasing about his name had been one of the reasons Goliath had moved from a precinct in Nashville. To face the very same problem on his first day had spiked Goliath’s nearly non-existent temper.
Goliath had grabbed Nathan by the neck with one hand and used the forearm of his other to pin the man to the wall. He’d snarled in the man’s face, ordering him to shut the fuck up. Deputy Nereo and Sheriff Anthony had needed to drag him away from Nathan, who’d apologized through his coughing as he’d caught his breath.
Goliath had immediately felt like shit and had begun to apologize, too. At Anthony’s questioning, he’d explained what had triggered his response. Then Goliath had requested that they all call him Ollie.
Stepping away from the doorway, Anthony patted him on the upper arm. “Try to move past it, Ollie,” the sheriff encouraged. “We have.”
“Thanks, Sheriff,” Goliath replied, nodding. “I’m tryin’.”
“I know Nathan doesn’t hold it against you,” Markus piped up from behind him, and Goliath pivoted to include the other deputy in the conversation. The strawberry-blond grinned at him from where he sat across the room. “But if you’re so concerned about it, offer to buy Nathan a beer at the pub.”
“Pub?” Goliath parroted. With a shrug, he admitted, “I’m still not too familiar with locations around here. Working on it.”
In fact, Goliath appreciated the hours out on patrol, since it helped him learn street names and business locations.
“Spiron’s Bar and Grill is the local watering hole,” Markus told him, relaxing back in his chair. He crossed his ankles before him as he added, “And Caribou’s is the local steakhouse. Both open at eleven and serve lunch and dinner.”
“Mama’s Diner is open for breakfast and lunch,” Anthony added, having returned to leaning against the door frame. “Their coffee is decent, but don’t try their lattés,” he warned, making a face. “If you want a latté, go to Miss Martha’s Muffins. It’s a bakery across from the elementary school.”
“Just don’t get their black coffee.” It was Markus’s turn to cringe. “Her bear claws are excellent, however.”
Goliath couldn’t help the soft chuckle that escaped him, and the tension that had knotted up his shoulders began to ease. “Coffee at Mama’s Diner. Lattés and bear claws at Martha’s.” With a crooked forefinger, Goliath tipped his cowboy hat farther up his head. “And Spiron’s is a great bar with pub food, and Caribou’s is for date night.”
Markus barked a laugh. “You got it.”
Appreciating their open acceptance and levity, Goliath smiled as he glanced between his new boss and co-worker. He knew he was going to enjoy this place’s laid-back attitude. When he’d applied to the small-town force, he’d thought that any place would be better than his old precinct’s toxic atmosphere.
This will be so much more than better.
“I think I’ll take you up on that idea and ask Nathan about a beer,” Goliath admitted as he started toward the front door. “Even if Nathan isn’t holding a grudge, it’ll make me feel better, at least.”
Anthony dipped his chin in a nod. “And who passes up a free beer, right?”
Goliath chuckled as he shrugged. “Guess there’s always a right circumstance for that.” He could even think of a few, considering the frenemies he’d had in his old precinct. Not wanting to explain, Goliath ignored both men’s questioning looks. “See you around.”
“Have a good weekend,” Anthony encouraged.
At the same time, Markus waved.
As soon as the door closed, as if on cue, Goliath’s phone rang. He pulled his cell from his inside pocket. Checking the screen, he saw that it was his father—Barton.
Goliath smiled as he connected. “Hey, Dad.”
“Hi, Goliath,” his father greeted warmly. “How was your first week? Everything go okay?” Before Goliath could reply, he continued with obvious pride in his voice, “Did you wow them with your mad police skills?”
“It went just fine,” Goliath replied. With a laugh, he told him, “And it was a quiet week, so I didn’t really have a chance to show off any mad skills.”
“Well, there’s always next week,” Barton stated with certainty. “A small town can’t be quiet all the time.”
Reaching his truck, Goliath chuckled. “Well, one can hope.”
After dealing with the crime in the city, Goliath wouldn’t mind a little peace and quiet. He also hadn’t shared his first day’s faux pas with him, either. Goliath had no desire to explain his name hang-up to his father, seeing as his mother had chosen the name, and she was now deceased.