Hessian Roshburg, Hess to the few he calls friends, loves beer, barroom brawls, and breaking into places he's not supposed to. He also enjoys strolling through the woods—in Kodiak bear form, of course—and scratching his back on trees. After dropping off a stolen file to his friend Dillan, he indulges in one of his favorite pastimes. He visits a gay bar for a few beers and a little dancing. He's shocked when he bumps into his mate, literally, and it's none other than a straight-laced, stick-up-his-ass raven shifter named Gilbert. Hess can't wait to ruffle the guy's feathers. In an effort to figure out what makes the other shifter tick, he digs a little too deep and uncovers a couple of secrets he shouldn't, putting not only his own life in jeopardy, but the lives of those in Gilbert's flock. Can Hess fix his mistake, prove his intentions, and keep his mate and friends safe…all at the same time?
"Let's get everyone a round of drinks," Gilbert called to the turkey shifter.
Thad gave him a thumbs up in lieu of answering. Jared patted Gilbert on the shoulder and beckoned. For some reason, people actually parted for the human. Gilbert and his flock-mate quickly followed.
In less than a minute, Gilbert was at the bar, trying to decide what to order for everyone. As he opened his mouth to ask for advice about fruity drinks with an umbrella—Gilbert knew both Hector and Cho would prefer that to beer—an earthy, musky scent tickled his senses. Turning his head, Gilbert inhaled deeply, trying to figure out the source. He couldn't imagine who would wear a cologne that smelled like dirt and pine, but he liked it.
In fact, to Gilbert's shock, his dick actually began to stiffen in his jeans.
"You okay, Gil?" Thad asked, tapping him on the shoulder. "Do you want me to order?"
"Yeah, I'm fine," Gilbert answered absently. "No, I'll—" His words died in his throat when someone shoved into his back. "Hey," he barked, spinning to face the clumsy male. "Watch—" he began to snarl, but snapped his jaw shut once more when he realized the big male was the source of the alluring scent.
Turning to face Gilbert and giving him a once, twice over, was a bear of a man. Where Rocky's muscles and body had obviously been developed by working out as a body-builder, this man was all-natural big. He wore a leather vest without a shirt, showing off a hairy, muscled chest and ink swirling up and down his arms. His thick thighs were encased in leather leggings, too, and biker boots adorned his huge feet.
"Well, well, well." The man's deep, rumbling voice yanked Gilbert's attention to the man's goateed face. His shaggy, dark hair bracketed his wide grin and sparkling dark eyes. The stranger stared down at him. "Hello, little pretty."
It hit Gilbert like a ton of bricks, causing his stomach to tighten uncomfortably, as well as his groin. This probably six-foot-eight-inch man, who was built like a brick shit house and was a shifter to boot, judging from his scent, was his mate!
Shaking his head in disbelief, Gilbert muttered, "Oh, fuck no."
* * * *
Hess grinned down at the little man. Even the much smaller shifter's words couldn't dim his pleasure. Walking into the bar to hang out with Dillan, Derek, and a few of the wolves, the idea of meeting his mate hadn't even crossed his mind.
Hell, this slender little male certainly wasn't what Hess usually went for in a guy. He liked a man with meat on his bones. One he wouldn't worry about breaking when he got a little rough in the sack.
I sure won't look a gift horse in the mouth, though.
Besides, there was something to be said for having your mate be a shifter, too. While Hess couldn't place the exact underlying smell of the male, he knew his mate was an avian of some kind. Taking into account the male's black hair and pale skin as well as his slightly toned arms and lean form, he didn't want to hazard a guess at what could have caused such a thing.
Having done his research on the shifter pack that ran the area, he didn't even need to. He knew a number of the wolves in this pack had just returned from Russia…with crates in tow. If shifters weren't used to being in human form, shipping them in crates wouldn't be much of a stretch.
Still, thinking of the slender, black-haired male in those terms caused bile to rise up in Hess's throat. Fighting it back, he forced a smile to his lips. He focused on the shifter he planned to soon make his lover.
"I'm not going to take offense at your words, slender pretty," Hess stated, winking. "Hell, this is hardly when I'd plan to meet my mate, too."
As Hess spoke, he closed the scant distance between them. He slotted his thick thigh between the sexy stranger's own and placed one hand on the avian shifter's slender waist. Slender, hell, try bony. The guy needed at least thirty pounds of muscle packed onto his lean frame. Hess figured his fingers would touch if he put his second hand on the man's other hip.
Hess didn't though. Instead, he placed his right hand on the skinny guy's shoulder. His fingers were long enough to massage not only the knobs of his neck, but his Adam's apple.
Yep, definitely too skinny. I wanna please him, feed him, even provide for him.
His bear's need to care for his mate hit him like a one, two punch to his gut. Unexpected, but he didn't mind. From what he felt under his hands, this shifter needed someone to care for him.
Bending his much taller frame so he could place his mouth near the shifter's ear, Hess stated, "Just try to relax, my sweet." He hadn't missed the way the other man had stiffened in his hold. "I may like to play hard, but I'm still a shifter, and you are my mate."
He knew plenty of shifters were in the club, but there were just as many humans, too. Not wanting to be overheard, he spoke just loud enough for his words to carry over the music.
"I am Hess," he told the man he held. "Tell me your name and join me at my table." He slid his thumb under the nice shirt the male wore, allowing him to scrap his nail over his prominent hipbone. "I want to hold you on my lap and touch you as we speak."
"I, uh, no."