Gracen Robicheaux felt his petition to fight for the beta position of the Stone Ridge, Colorado wolf shifter pack was a sign from the gods. After over two hundred years, he could finally openly express his desire for a male mate. When Gracen runs into the human Lance Coracans, he changes his opinion. The gods are laughing at him. His worst fear has come to pass—kids. Lance has a very young daughter for whom he’s fighting for custody. Still, Gracen reminds himself that Lance is his mate. Embracing change will be worth it. However, between an injured babysitter, a sick daughter, and pack challenges, their missed and rescheduled dates are piling up. Can Gracen convince Lance that he really is serious? Or will finding out he’s a wolf shifter be the straw that sends Lance running?
Placing the last five-gallon canister of paint into the back of his truck, Gracen listened to his stomach rumble. He hummed, agreeing with his body. It was time for a late lunch.
Gracen climbed behind his vehicle’s wheel, then did a search on his phone. Spotting a chain restaurant he enjoyed, he committed the directions to memory before firing up his truck. He drove for five minutes, then spotted the restaurant’s sign…and realized the lot closest to it was full.
Circling the block, Gracen finally found a spot not too far away—just two streets over. He carefully parallel parked his truck—thank the gods it’s a short bed—checked the traffic and exited it. Gracen closed the door and, pushing the button on his key fob, locked it.
Striding swiftly, Gracen headed down the sidewalk.
Gracen had crossed one street and could see the second in the distance. The scent of food from a local food vendor caused his mouth to water. He almost bagged the idea of sitting down to eat, but the menu he’d seen on his phone had his taste buds anticipating a ribeye with a loaded baked potato.
Maybe I’ll even get two.
Suddenly, Gracen’s senses caught another smell, something earthy and masculine, with hints of pine and…something softer…like powder. Weird. Still, it caused his blood to heat and his prick to twitch.
Inhaling deeply, Gracen quickly glanced around. He spotted the guy running the food vendor plus a man and woman buying food from him. There was another couple wearing nice threads that were headed down the stairs toward him. It seemed they’d just exited the building—some government courthouse.
The final man wore a suit, too, and was hustling toward the steps of the same place. He was also the man who’d just passed Gracen. As the guy put more space between them, the scent that Gracen found fascinating grew fainter.
Making a snap decision, Gracen turned and followed him. He jogged a couple of steps, closing the distance between them. The intoxicating, earthy pine aroma grew stronger.
Gracen felt his stomach tighten as his nipples beaded. His nostrils flared, and he felt a sudden urge to bury his nose in the man’s neck. He wanted to rub against the human and wallow in his scent.
Realization hit Gracen as he took in the dark-brown-haired male’s features.
This human is my mate!
For a few seconds, Gracen froze. When he saw the man start up the steps, he got himself moving. He jogged to catch up. While he had no clue what he’d say, he had to try something.
As Gracen closed the distance between them, he admired the human Fate had granted him. The man appeared lean under his suit, standing around six feet. Gracen thought he appeared perfect for tucking up against his own larger, taller frame.
The human’s dark hair was cut into a business-casual style, making Gracen’s hand twitch with his desire to scrape his fingertips up his nape so he could cradle his head.
“Excuse me!” Gracen called, touching the human’s suit-jacket-covered upper arm. “Please, a moment of your time?”
When the human turned to face him, Gracen felt his breath catch. He peered into the man’s deep brown eyes, seeing the pain hidden within their depths. His shifter instincts screamed at him to pull the man into his arms and fix whatever caused his unhappiness.
Gracen had enough presence of mind to know that hugging a stranger wouldn’t be taken well…no matter the situation.
Realizing he stared like a slack-jawed yokel, Gracen snapped his mouth shut and cleared his throat. He released the man’s arm and forced his lips to curve into a wry smile. He hadn’t even been aware he’d grabbed the human.
“Uh, sorry,” Gracen began, thinking quickly. Just what the hell was he supposed to say? Seeing the human’s dark brows lift, he knew he had to come up with something. Gracen cleared his throat before saying, “I know this is a little unorthodox, but you took my breath away when we passed on the street. Will you meet me later for a drink? I’d like the chance to explore our chemistry.”
Gracen watched as the human’s jaw sagged open and his brows shot up. Evidently processing Gracen’s words, the man blushed, his cheeks taking on a pinkish hue. His mouth closed, then opened again.
His mate was clearly at a loss for words.
Lifting his hands in placation, Gracen tried again. “Please? Just one drink?”