Clara sipped her beer. So what if she put the bottle down with a little more force than normal? It didn't mean she was angry. Why would she be angry? After all, it was her decision to end the relationship.
Just because less than forty-eight hours later, her ex was sitting on the other side of the bar with some of his boys and a tiny blonde--easy to kill if Clara thought about it--full human sitting on his lap, didn't mean she was angry or hurt. Oh no sir, she was happy he was moving on.
"So on a scale of one to ten--ten being uncontrollable pain, screaming, and asking for his mother--how much pain do you want to inflict on Wall right now?"
Clara turned to Laney Marsterson, Alpha female and Clara's sister-in-law.
"I am thinking eleven, maybe twelve," Clara told her honestly.
"Do you want me to let Heath off his leash? 'Cause you know he's wanted to get his hands on Wall since he walked in on you telling me what happened." Heath was Clara's Alpha, and more worryingly, her big brother.
"No, I shouldn't be angry. Logically, I know I broke up with him. He didn't do anything wrong. But there's a part of me that wants him crying into his pillow, not out on the town with some cheap, dime-store hooker!" Clara growled, causing Laney to look at her in surprise.
"You know, as alpha queen bitch, I can totally order him back to the pack house minus plastic fantastic if you want me to." Laney said it with such a straight face Clara couldn't help but laugh.
"Yeah, I can see him really loving that!" Clara said when she finally had control of herself.
"So you want me to pull rank?"
Clara thought about it, but as much as it hurt to see him with another woman, it was no more than she had expected. She was the one who'd broken up with him. Wall had every right to play wherever and with whomever he wanted.
"No, it's fine. I'm a big girl. I can handle it." Clara winked at her sister-in-law just as a shadow fell over her. Clara turned and looked up at her big brother.
"What can you handle? Is it Wall? I saw him with that blonde barfly. I warned him what would happen if he hurt you." Both Clara and Laney made a grab for Heath as he started toward the other side of the room.
"No!" Clara growled as she grabbed her big brother's arm.
Laney jumped in front of her husband and placed a hand on his chest.
"Whoa there wolf-boy, no one said you had to go all Neanderthal. Clara is a big girl. She can look after herself," Laney spoke calmly.
"She is my little sister." Heath growled.
"Yes, she is." Laney nodded.
Clara rolled her eyes. She loved her brother more than anything, but by God, he was a pain in the ass sometimes.
"Wall made her cry. That means I get to smash his face in." Heath smiled, showing his fangs.
"I don't need you fighting my battles," Clara insisted.
"I decide what this pack needs, and he needs his face rearranged," Heath commented matter-of-factly.
"Is that right? You decide what this pack needs?" Laney gave him a small smile.
Clara let go of her brother's arm when Laney gently tugged her hand away.
"Yep, that's right." Heath crossed his arms over his chest. Seriously, her brother, who had fought for the Alpha role, taken control of the pack, and fought to keep it safe, was such a big dork sometimes.
"Well can you tell what I need?" Laney winked at him as she stepped closer. "My Alpha." Clara barely heard the last word.
She clearly heard her brother's deep growl before he reached down, grabbed Laney around her waist, and threw her over his shoulder. Without a backward glance, he strode toward the exit.
Laney pushed herself up with a hand on Heath's butt and gave Clara a thumbs up. Clara laughed and waved as they left the building.
She may have a healthy fear of her sister-in-law. After all, the full-human woman had taken on and stood toe to toe with a very powerful, older wolf before helping Heath kill the psychotic man, but she loved her all the same.
Clara dropped back into her seat and picked up her beer bottle. As she took a sip, she glanced back over to Wall's table. The woman on his lap was giggling loudly at something he had said.
Maybe I should have let Heath give him a beating, if for no other reason than to get that plastic limpet off him.
She had just caught the eye of a waitress and waved the now-empty bottle at her when Duke, Laney's big brother, dropped into the vacant seat beside her.
"My sister texted me," he said by way of a greeting.
"And I am interested because?" Clara asked, unwilling to be polite when she was still far too sober and Wall was now stroking that dead-chick-walking's leg where her too short skirt did little to cover anything.
"She gave me instructions. Now I'm not one for doing anything the little brat says, but I heard from Heath about how Wall broke your heart, so I figure if this goes some way to help, I'm all in." Duke's explanation did nothing but confuse her more.
"What are you talking about?" she asked seconds before Duke caught hold of her. With a quick tug, he pulled her out of her chair and into his lap.
"What are you doing?" Clara squeaked.
"Testing Laney's theory."
Clara didn't get a chance to ask what he meant because Wall appeared beside them. He rested a hand on the table, leaning down into Duke's face.
"Dude, you got to have a serious death wish." Wall's voice held more of his wolf than Clara had ever heard before.
What the hell was going on? She looked between Duke and Wall, frowning as the men tried to stare each other down. Clara threw a glance over her shoulder and caught sight of the now unhappy bimbo glaring at her from Wall's empty seat. She shot the woman a smug smile before turning back to the two men.
"I don't see your name on her. Last I heard, Miss Clara here was free to do what she wants with whomever she wants. Am I wrong?" Duke asked with a shrug.
Wall growled, low and threatening. There was no way she was going to let the man do something stupid.
With a quick cough, she caught both men's attention. "Wall, I think your date is missing you." Wall looked at her with narrowed eyes.
With a slow nod, he backed away. "Yeah, I think you're right. Thank you for the reminder. Apologies for the interruption, Duke. You two have a good evening." Wall gave them a small penetrating smile as he backed away.
Duke waited until Wall was back in his chair and smiling at the other woman before he laughed softly in Clara's ear.
"Damn, if my sister wasn't right." He chuckled.
"Right?" Clara frowned down at him.
"She said to come and manhandle you some. She figured Wall was watching every move you made and that all he needed was a little nudge. I would have left you alone if you wanted me to," Duke assured her.
"Your sister is sly. You know that, right?" Clara asked as she brushed the hair off Duke's forehead.
"Know it? I have the scars to prove it!" Duke grinned. Clara ran her finger along his cheekbone and smiled.
"So what else did your sister say?" she asked curiously.
"That you were as sly as she was and not to turn my back on you." Duke winked, making Clara laugh.
"Clever lady, my brother's wife."
"You know he's pissed and still watching, right?" Duke asked as he pulled her higher on his lap. Clara gave him a half smile thinking if Wall could play, why shouldn't she?
"Yeah I know. So what do you want to do about it?"
"More to the point, what do you want to do about it, Miss Clara?" he asked
She'd seen him grin at many women like that over the last five years. He was just about as tall at Heath, around six feet five, the same brown hair as his sister, and stunning gray eyes. Many women's hearts had melted because of that smile, but she was unaffected. She liked Duke a lot. She just had no desire to see him naked.
Some of her thoughts must have shown on her face because he nodded and said, "But I am not the one you want, am I?"
She wanted to lie and say yes but couldn't. She just shook her head. No, he wasn't.
Her heart belonged to a six-foot-tall, six-foot-wide wolf shifter named after the side of a building.
"I'm sorry," Clara whispered through the sudden tears clogging her throat.
"Hey, don't worry about it. Trust me. I've had worse dents to my ego. Think of it this way: we know nothing is going to happen, but Wall doesn't. How about we head out? I can take you home, or we can catch a movie or something. It will drive him nuts thinking about what we could be doing." Duke winked at her, and Clara couldn't help but laugh.
"You know, you and your sister are more alike than you think," she told him.
"Now you are just trying to hurt me!" Duke stuck out his lower lip in an attempt to look all sorry for himself. Clara laughed aloud. She thought she heard Wall's low warning growl from the other side of the room but refused to look over at him.
"You know what? A movie sounds just perfect." She smiled as she scooted off his lap. Clara took his offered arm as he stood.
"It would be my honor to escort you to the cinema, Miss Clara." Duke grinned down at her.
Clara let him lead her out of the bar. She didn't turn to see Wall's reaction.
Wall watched the woman he loved leave on the arm of another man. All he wanted to do was rip that arm clean off Duke's body.
He didn't know what had happened. One minute they were so right for each other that he asked her to take his bite. He asked, for crying out loud. It was something shifter men rarely did. She'd then closed down and broken up with him. Two days later, she still refused to discuss it, and Wall'd had enough, which was why a woman, whose name he still didn't know, was sitting on his lap, and his woman was leaving with someone else.
"You know you can do better, right?" the woman asked with a snap of her chewing gum.
Wall looked at her. She was so different from his auburn-haired, five-foot-nine love of his life. Without a second thought, he picked the lady up and dumped her into another of the pack's laps and walked out.
He needed to let his wolf run free. The animal was baying for its mate, but it couldn't have her; neither of them could.
On autopilot, he removed his clothes and dropped them into his car before shifting and heading toward the forest. One of the pack members would make sure the car got back to the house.
He ran for what seemed like miles around the town. The night had passed swiftly when he finally trotted back to the pack house. He shifted back to human as he walked up the porch steps. His wolf was calmer now that he had run off his aggression, but he knew today he would get the answers he wanted, even if it killed him.
With his hand on the door handle, Wall waited. He had scented his Alpha as soon as he hit the porch. He knew the other man waited for him. He'd expected a confrontation for days, if he was honest.
"I love her, you know, dude." Wall spoke, breaking the silence of the early morning.
"Yet I found her sobbing in my mate's arms. You have a perfect way of showing it," Heath told him, flicking on the porch light.
"I didn't do anything wrong." Wall turned to face the man he both feared and respected.
"Explain to me how making my baby sister cry is you doing nothing wrong." The man sat on one of the wicker chairs, watching him.
Wall wanted to scream out his frustration at his Alpha, but he kept his cool. He'd been trained to do just that and refused to lose that control now.
"I asked her to mate with me." He looked Heath directly in the eye, watched the other man's eyes widen in surprise. "She didn't tell you?"
"No, I just found her crying, saying that it was over. She didn't give me details, and I didn't ask." Some of the anger diminished in the other man. "So why did you break up with her?"
"I didn't. I asked her, but she went all weird on me and dumped me. I still don't know why." Wall shrugged as he dropped into the chair next to his Alpha.
Heath was quiet. Wall could practically hear Heath's mind working.
"So," he finally spoke. "Does this mean I don't get to kick the crap out of you?"
Wall huffed a laugh. "Sorry, dude."
"Well that ruins my morning." Heath shook his head and sighed.
Wall smiled. At least he didn't have to worry his Alpha would hunt him down now.
"You know, most wolves wouldn't ask. They would just take what they wanted."
"Yeah, but I wanted to do it right. Now I kinda wish I had done that, taken away the choice." He wanted Clara so badly. Every second without her was killing him.
"You know she would have cut your throat at the first opportunity if you did do that, right?"
Wall smiled at him. Yep he knew his woman would have done exactly that. It was what made her his, even if she did hate his guts right now.
"I love my sister, but she can be stubborn sometimes. Do what I did with Laney; remind her of what she is missing."
That had Wall laughing hard. His Alpha had nearly thrown his own happiness away with his short sightedness. He hadn't shown his mate anything. The woman had finally gotten bored waiting for him to notice her and taken things into her own hands.
Perhaps, I shouldn't be surprised Clara is being difficult. She did come from the same gene pool as Heath, so maybe she was predestined to be that way when her mate showed up.
"Yeah, I will think about it," Wall said when he stopped laughing.
The door behind them opened, and Duke stepped out, Clara's scent all over him. Wall didn't realize he'd moved until he had the other man pinned up against the side doorframe.
"Dead man." Wall growled low.
"Morning, sunshine." Duke smiled down at him. Wall was a strong man, six feet tall. Duke was taller by inches, yet Wall still had him off his feet.
"Wall." Hearing his Alpha's voice was the only thing stopping Wall from ripping the other man's throat out.
"Where is she?" Wall asked through gritted teeth.
"I left her sleeping. She's real tired after last night." Duke grinned as Wall's eyes turned to that of his wolf. Wall was finding it harder and harder to hold on to his animal.
"Wall, do you want to face Laney if you kill her brother?" Heath asked as he came to stand next to the pair.
"Aww, is the little puppy scared of my baby sister?" Duke taunted. Wall pulled the other man forward before slamming him back into the building again. He got a small amount of satisfaction at the sound of the man's head hitting the solid brick.
"If I find out you've put your hands on her, I will hunt you down and won't care who your sister is or who she is married to. Do I make myself clear?" Wall spoke softly into Duke's ear.
"Trust me, puppy, I put more than just my hands on her." The reply was spoken just as softly, but both Wall and Heath heard.
Heath was barely able to pull Wall away. Wall didn't know if it was luck that Jones came out at that moment and helped put him down on the ground or not. Wall heard Heath order Duke off the property, but all he could think about was ripping the bastard apart.
"I can't let you go if you don't calm the hell down, man." Heath said as pack members sat on him.
Wall did nothing but growl low. No, he decided he didn't want to get to Duke. He had to get to Clara, needed to see her, know she was all right and that this prick was lying.
"Come on, man, seriously," Jones hissed as he fought to keep Wall on the ground.
The squeak of the porch door didn't even register with the men until Laney crouched down in front of them and asked casually, "Is there something I need to know?"
"I am going to kill your brother." Wall growled as he started to fight again.
"What did he do this time?" Laney asked with a bored tone.
"He fucked my woman." Wall practically howled.
"Err, no he didn't." The second voice came from just behind them. As one, the three men turned to see Clara standing there. "Well, assuming you meant me when you said my woman that is." She leaned against the doorframe, arms and legs crossed as she looked down at them.
Wall's wolf howled in triumph, but the men didn't let go so quickly. "He dies." He turned as much as he could with two large strong men sitting on him and looked Clara in the eye.
"Is he the reason you told me no?" he asked.
Clara stared back at him. He could see her wheels turning. "Maybe." She shrugged.
"Clara!" Heath snapped at his sister.
"What? He wants some answers. He thinks I would have been with him but at the time, I wanted another man? Fine I will give him the answers he wants." Clara snapped back.
With a feat of strength Wall didn't know he had, he threw off the two men and was on his feet in front of Clara before anyone could move. With deliberate slowness, he leaned in and sniffed her neck. Duke might have smelled of her, but Clara didn't hold Duke's scent. If they'd had sex, the other man's smell would have been all over her.
"What did I do that was so wrong?" He spoke directly into her ear, soft so the others wouldn't be able to hear.
"Please." She breathed the word softly.
Wall didn't know what she meant. When he leaned back, he could see the sorrow in her eyes. His mate was keeping something from him, and if it killed him, he would find it out.