Rance Diallo, alpha of the Catskill Mountain cougar pride, knew the moment he heard Terence and Samson speak telepathically that he needed them for his betas. So sticking his neck out for them and asking charges of kidnapping against them be dropped by Ben Maxwell, the alpha of the nearby wolf pack, didn’t seem like too big of a risk. It took Rance a while to realize the two men were also his mates and manage to convince Terence and Samson of that fact.
Rance successfully bonds with his new betas not a moment too soon, because the visions of his alpha-mate come fast and furious. But Paul is a human, and not just any human, he’s the brother of the woman that Terence and Samson inadvertently helped kidnap a couple months ago. Convincing his newly bonded betas that the man who makes up the fourth to their pride’s inner circle is so close may be the easy part, because they’ll also need to persuade Ben to let the three cougars onto the wolf’s territory to meet and court the human. And if they somehow manage that, they’ll need to convince Paul, a widower with a three-year-old son, that there really are paranormal creatures in the world and that he’s the mate of three male cougar shifters. But even if the human accepts them, will Rance’s cougar pride?
Terence looked up from his plate, smiling when he spotted the man dropping onto the bench across from them. “Hi, Kade,” he greeted. “What brings you out so early this morning?” He knew the man would sleep until noon every day if he didn’t have to work. Kade was the quintessential night owl.
“I wanted to be the first to congratulate you guys.” He pointed his spoon at them and grinned. “The pride’s been wondering when Alpha would find the right betas. It’s so cool that it turned out to be you two, a mated gay pair!”
Samson’s brows drew into a frown. Terence couldn’t keep his mouth from dropping open. What the hell?
Oblivious to their shock, Kade continued. “I mean, you guys know I’m gay, and there’s a couple others of us that Rance has welcomed into the pride over the years, tossed out from their own, but we’ve still been looked down on, and even persecuted if we have to run errands that take us to other prides.” He shrugged, shoveling in another bite of oatmeal and swallowing before saying, “But with you guys as our betas, that should all but stop. It’ll be really nice.”
Kade finally took a breath and looked up. “What?”
“What the hell are you talking about, Kade?” Samson growled.
The smaller man glanced between them, the blood slowly leeching from his face. “Oh, shit.”
Before Terence could question him further, a low growl interrupted them. He snapped his head up and watched Brody cross the room, heading straight toward them.
Oh, shit, is right. This can’t be good.
Brody reached their table and rested his fisted hands on the heavily scarred wood. “Think you could take my place as beta without a fight?” he sneered. “Think again. I challenge you both for Right for Position.”
Oh, fuck! This won’t end well.
To Terence’s surprise, Samson rose slowly. A cold smile played across his mate’s lips. “Of course. Name the time.”
“Now,” Brody replied smugly.
Terence frowned. They’d never even discussed wanting to become the pack betas. What is Samson up to? From the corner of his eye, he spotted Rance making his way between tables toward them. This just kept getting better and better. He didn’t know where these rumors about them wanting to be his betas had come from, but surely Rance would lay them to rest, right?
When the alpha stopped next to the group, his scent curled around him. Terence managed to suppress the shiver of desire, but could do nothing about the blood that automatically surged southward. He’d never felt a pull like this to anyone except Samson, and it confused the hell out of Terence.
“I heard you accepted the challenge, Samson,” Rance stated, crossing his arms over his chest, drawing attention to the bulging muscles.
I bet those would feel fucking fantastic around my body. He noticed a gleam in Samson’s eyes as his mate held Rance’s gaze before dropping it in submission. Terence forced his attention away from his seriously messed up libido and focused on his mate’s response.
“Yes, Alpha,” Samson replied. “Brody challenged me. I accepted.”
At that, Rance lifted a brow. “Actually, he challenged you both,” he pointed out. “What about you, Terence? Do you accept as well?”
What the hell? Why was he asking this and not just putting a stop to it? When Rance’s other brow lifted, joining the first in silent question, Terence realized the man did not intend to stop it. Did that mean he’d heard the rumors that they were interested in the beta positions, too, and thought it a good idea?
The hell with it. There was no way he’d leave his mate hanging. “Yes, Alpha,” he replied, instilling his voice with far more confidence in the idea than he actually felt.