Houston’s had a crush on Dustin since the first time he saw him, even though Dustin was a massive dragon when that happened. Since then, Dustin has shifted back to his human form, and Houston’s crush is getting worse. When Houston wants something, he doesn’t shy away from trying to get it, and he wants Dustin.
Dustin doesn’t understand why Houston is so fascinated with him, but he wishes he’d stop trying to talk to him. He’s running from his father, and the last thing he wants is for the clan to find him and threaten the pack.
But Houston knows how to wiggle his way into Dustin’s heart, and he does so happily. When Dustin’s father finally comes for him, Dustin can’t run like he’d been planning to. He didn’t expect the pack to stand up for him against his father, but maybe he should have.
Even though it’s not enough to stop his father.
Houston looked around, a smile blooming on his face. He liked parties, and he liked pack parties even more. During these moments, the pack truly was like a family, with no infighting and bickering, and he lived for this.
As the beta, it was his job to keep the peace, which he did happily. He’d do pretty much anything for Chance, just like Chance would do anything for him. When Chance had asked him to be his beta, Houston hadn’t even thought about it. He hadn’t needed to. If his best friend needed his support, he gave it freely.
And he had. They’d been working together for several years now, and Chance was growing into his role. Houston still wasn’t entirely sure he had what it took to be a good beta, but he didn’t think he was doing too badly, so he wasn’t worried about it. His job was to protect the pack and Chance and to keep everyone happy, and he could do that easily enough.
Especially when parties were involved.
Not everyone was there, but then that rarely happened. Some pack members didn’t come around for these parties, which was a pity because it was fun. It was also a pity because this party was to welcome Theo and his family to the pack, so it would have been good to have more people to do so.
Unlike James, Houston hadn’t been surprised when Chance had fallen in love with Theo. He’d seen it happening and was glad it had. James might not trust Theo and his people, but Houston didn’t think they were here to hurt anyone. If anything, they were grateful to Chance for giving them the possibility of having a true pack and being safe.
Houston took a sip of his beer. He could only imagine what they’d gone through. He’d grown up here, with plenty of people to help him when he needed anything. He’d never been hungry and always had a home, but the same couldn’t be said for Theo and his family. It was good to be able to give them that, which was why Houston was happy Chance had given them the opportunity to become pack members.
He looked around again, but he couldn’t see Dustin. He probably should stay away from the dragon shifter, but he couldn’t. He was fascinated by the thought that a normal human could turn into something as massive as a dragon, and he’d always liked fantasy books when he was a child. Meeting a real dragon was a dream coming true, but it would be easier to make that happen if Dustin gave Houston a chance. So far, he’d pushed Houston away and had kept him at arm’s length, but Houston hoped the party would change that.
He should have known Dustin would be with his family. It was a minor miracle to see him here at the party since Houston hadn’t expected him to come. Wade was eating his weight in pie while he and Theo talked. Dustin hovered close, but he wasn’t part of the conversation.
Houston took another sip of his beer, then inched closer. If he wanted to talk to Dustin, he’d have to corner him, and he wouldn’t be able to do that if he didn’t keep quiet. Dustin would see him coming a mile away, and he’d run and hide.
Houston licked his lips. He shouldn’t be as happy as he was at the thought of hunting the dragon, but the fact that Dustin didn’t seem to know what to do with him made him want to get to him even more. If Dustin didn’t want to talk to him, he’d let go, but the way Dustin reacted to Houston’s presence told Houston that he was trying to convince himself and others about that without too much success.
When Houston got close enough, he held his breath and waited. None of the three men had noticed him, and he could hear them talk.
“I could take him home,” Dustin told Theo in a soft voice.
Theo narrowed his eyes at him. He’d been their alpha until they’d become part of the Mayport pack, and they still treated him as such. Technically, Chance was their alpha now, but no one expected them to view him that way so quickly. Theo had been their leader for a long time. It was normal that they still looked at him when they needed something.
“Neither of you is going anywhere. Wade will be fine.” Theo didn’t sound angry but rather convinced.
Houston almost laughed because he could see the disappointment in Dustin’s expression. He’d no doubt hoped Theo would say yes so he could leave the party. Houston’s man wasn’t a party guy, clearly. He also wasn’t Houston’s man yet, but Houston was trying to change that.
“I’d still like to go home.” Dustin insisted.
Houston didn’t blame him. Pack parties could sometimes be a bit much, even for him, and he’d grown up with these people. This party was tame, though. It was nothing more than a family barbecue with beer, good food, and loud music. No one was dancing, and while there would be a pack run later, it wouldn’t be too rowdy, since kids would be attending.
“It’s important for all of us to be here,” Theo told Dustin. “This party is to welcome us into the pack and to show the pack members that none of us is dangerous, not even you. I know you want nothing more than to go back to hide in your bedroom, and I want to let you go, but can you stay a little bit longer? Maybe until the run starts.”
Houston wondered if Dustin would go back anyway. His expression told everyone around him that he was unhappy and that he wanted nothing more than to leave, but he still saw Theo as his alpha, and Theo had asked him to stay.