Pierce Rinkon lives a simple life. Having been born with a learning disorder as well as a disability, he knew he was considered by most to be a little on the dim side. That doesn’t stop him from enjoying his life, though. His work as a receptionist for his small town’s sheriff’s office allows him plenty of interaction with others. For fun, Pierce runs, boxes, and finds men interested in a quick romp. After all, he doesn’t expect anyone to be interested in him long-term. While out on a morning run deep in the woods, he spots an old acquaintance—retired deputy Mac. When Pierce heads over to say hi, he watches something crazy happen…an animal changes into a man. As he’s struggling to process what he’s seen, a good-looking dark-haired guy named Daevon makes it plain he’s interested in him. Except, Daevon isn’t human, and he turns into a scary-looking wolverine. On top of that, Pierce discovers Daevon is smart, educated, and is a retired college professor. How could Daevon possibly be interested in a dumb, small-town hick like Pierce?
After shaking out his arms, Pierce Rinkon began unwrapping the tape around his hands. He ignored the sweat dripping down his body as he grinned with pleasure. Spending twenty minutes beating a heavy bag always left him feeling good.
“Great intensity, Pierce,” Anthony stated, slapping him on the shoulder. With a laugh, he added, “You always give that heavy bag a hell of a beating. Are you imagining someone you hate?”
Pierce chuckled as he shook his head. Peering down at the slightly shorter man—the gym’s owner, Anthony O’Dair—he admitted, “Pretty much my mind goes blank. All I think about is how I need to move my body.”
Anthony patted Pierce’s shoulder again, continuing to grin widely. “There’s an opening in the boxing tournament next Saturday.” Resting his hands on his hips, Anthony told him, “I know you’d originally declined, but I thought I’d check with you first to see if your schedule opened up.”
Placing his unwrapped boxing tape in the garbage, Pierce considered Anthony’s question. He’d competed in a number of competitions at the gym over the last couple of years, and he normally did pretty well, even managing to win a few. Unfortunately, over the last several months, some new gym members had become extremely competitive.
Pierce didn’t enjoy sparring with them because they were so aggressive. The trio boxed with each other and any guys bigger than themselves that they could talk into it. They seemed to want to make a point that they could take out all the boxers larger than themselves.
The jerks have a size inferiority complex.
Having made the mistake of accepting what Pierce had thought was a friendly sparring match, he’d learned his lesson first hand. At six-foot-four, he’d had a good height advantage on Kenny, who stood at six-foot-even. However, since Kenny and his friends focused on pumping up their arms, the other man was wider than Pierce. Uncertain what to expect, Pierce had started out keeping his punches light as he felt out his opponent.
Hearing Kenny’s buddies—Bill and Stan—shouts of encouragement to, “Take him down, lay him out, and put him down,” told Pierce it wasn’t going to be a friendly match. Kenny had tried to wale on Pierce, but Pierce had been boxing for years. He’d picked up his game and landed enough punches to send Kenny to his knees, getting himself out of the ring as swiftly as possible.
As it was, Pierce had been damn sore for days.
Kenny had asked for a rematch a week later, but so far, Pierce had been able to put him off. He didn’t accept fights from Bill or Stan, either. The trio razzed him often, asking him what he was afraid of and jeering him for being yella.
Whatever. I don’t need to prove myself to anyone.
Pierce boxed for fun.
“So what do you say?” Anthony asked, redrawing Pierce’s attention.
Do I want to possibly box one of the annoying trio?
Not really, but Pierce realized he couldn’t allow a few assholes to drive him away from one of his favorite pastimes. Besides, with the different weight divisions, Pierce hoped it wouldn’t happen. He knew there was a chance, however, since even though the trio were slightly shorter than him, they were heavy with muscle.
Dumb ‘roid heads.
“Yeah. I’ll fill the slot,” Pierce stated, meeting Anthony’s gaze. Curiosity getting the better of him, he asked, “Who dropped out?”
“Fantastic. I’ll go get the forms while you clean up and change.” Anthony grinned broadly as he began walking backward toward his office. “And Kenny had to withdraw after cracking a couple bones in his left hand.” Snorting, Anthony rolled his eyes. “I don’t know what he decided to punch, but he’s paying for it now.”
“Huh. Okay.” Pierce waved and started toward the locker room. At least one of the three wasn’t going to be competing.
While Pierce didn’t like wishing ill on anyone, he couldn’t say he was sorry about feeling a sense of relief.
Pierce opened his locker and pulled out a towel. After stripping down, he wrapped it around his waist before shoving the dirty clothes into his bag. He grabbed his shower kit and headed to the showers.
As Pierce reached into a stall and turned on the water, he felt a smack to his ass. He scowled as he peered over his shoulder. Seeing Bill standing there in his workout gear, an unfriendly gleam in his brown eyes, Pierce bit back a sneer and smoothed his face into a bland expression.
“Bill,” Pierce stated by way of greeting.
“Hey, cocksucker,” Bill responded glibly. “Overheard you’re takin’ Kenny’s place in the contest.”
Pierce dipped his chin in a slight nod. “Yep.” He didn’t know if Bill truly knew he was gay, but he wasn’t going to engage. That would just encourage the man. “See you there.”
Turning back toward his shower, Pierce stepped into the stall. As he pulled the curtain closed, he heard Bill call, “Glad ta hear it.” Then Bill’s voice lowered, turning mean. “Can’t wait to get a shot at knockin’ out a butt-muncher like you.”
Gritting his teeth, Pierce hung up his towel and pulled out his soap. As he washed, he thought about reporting Bill’s comment to Anthony. Pierce didn’t advertise the fact that he was gay, and neither did the gym owner.
Pierce knew Anthony swung his way because he’d noticed the way the guy had sprung a boner while watching him change in the locker room once. Thinking the gym owner pretty fine, he’d offered to share a little fun. That had been three years before, and every once in a while, they hooked up for some mutual satisfaction.