Monday, August 29, 2011
Fangbanger II: Love's a Bitch
Gina raked her predatory gaze over both the customers and the staff of the coffee shop. As she’d feared, pickings were slim. Her first choice of hunting ground, Dante’s Pleasure Club, had ended up on the fiasco list. Her efforts to boost her age through make-up hadn’t fooled the bouncer at the door. The son of a mutt had carded her, noted her birth date, and turned her away with a condescending grin and a snide, “See you in two years, honey.”
Hump him. Hump him and Dante and the legal drinking age and Dane, her pack’s alpha, and especially the Stone Age law that said only alphas could mate. She wasn’t a puppy any more. She was a full-grown beta bitch and she wanted a date, dog damn it!
With the Pleasure Club out of bounds, she moved on to Rattigan’s, only to find they wouldn’t let her in either without a legal-age escort. But that’s the point, she’d wailed at the obstinate squirrel. I'm trying to find one. I’m not even going to drink. The squirrel remained adamant. He threatened to fetch Louie, the owner. Since the rat outweighed her by at least a hundred pounds, Gina was forced to once again take her hunt elsewhere.
So here she sat, looking for action among the dorky and over-caffeinated. Gina growled into her mint-chocolate latte. How was a bitch supposed to get laid in an omega crowd like this?
Two tables over a pair of human shes sipped twin espressos and giggled. “I could go for some fang,” the blonde loudly announced.
“You bet,” the even blonder one chimed in. “A nice big wolf. Or a really hot vampire. Where are you, sweetie? We’re here and we’re ready to rock.”
Just great. Competition from monkeys. Why couldn’t they just stay in the trees and eat fruit like they were supposed to?
Nobody took them up on their offer, which spoke volumes for the taste level of the males in attendance. All the better for Gina. She was trying to decide whether to approach the jackrabbit in the biker jacket – normally she didn’t go for herbies, but the rumors she’d heard about rabbits intrigued her – and the trim young cougar in the athletic shoes when the door swung open. She caught his scent before she saw him.
All six lickable feet of black-haired, golden-eyed Brody Lawrence stood beside the door with fists clenched and nose working. Gina had known Dane wouldn’t personally trouble himself over some runaway pup. However, she’d hoped for a different dogcatcher than Brody. Dane’s beta couldn’t be swayed by whined entreaties, pouty lips or licks to his dimpled chin. He was devoted to his alpha. She wondered if even the scent of a bitch in heat could entice him away from his duty.
She wasn’t the only female in the room to take notice. The monkey girls practically wet themselves. “Vampire,” Blonde proclaimed. “Werewolf,” Even Blonder insisted.
Gina bared her teeth. Of course he was wolf. How could even a simian mistake a wolf for some corpse-reeky bloodsucker? One only had to watch him move, with that confident, determined stride, to know the difference.
That confident, determined stride had brought him to her table. He took her by the wrist. “You set quite a twisted trail, puppy,” he said in his low, musical voice. He had the most melodious howl in the pack, always right on key. “I applaud your evasive skills. However, that’s over. Time to come home.”
“I’m not a puppy.” Gina lifted her latte cup. “And I’m not done yet.”
“Yes, you are.” His tone crushed both her statements. He tugged on her wrist. “Let’s go.”
Gina hung onto the table and stayed put. Stubbornness wasn’t solely an alpha trait. Inspiration hit her, and her snarl reversed itself. She’d been on the hunt for a handsome male and one had just fallen into her lap. Literally, if she could manage it. She simpered up at him and batted her lashes, as she’d seen the shes do around Dane. “Why not join me? It’s only a cup of coffee for a couple of minutes.” She broadened her smile, her meaning unmistakable. “My treat.”
“Nice try, but no. Dane wants you home, where it’s safe.” He leaned down and murmured in her ear, “Don’t make me get out the leash.”
Gina blanched. He’d do it. He’d haul her out of here in a collar like a recalcitrant puppy. Brody was a stickler for rules. Her face flashed from white to red. Hump that. “I’m not going anywhere with you until I’ve finished my coffee. You can like it or lump it.” She raised her voice for the benefit of the shop’s other customers. “Do you even like girls?”
Ah, now that expression was worth any punishment he or Dane could dish out. As intended, Brody now became the center of everyone’s attention. Gina grinned. See how he liked a dose of public humiliation. The blonde monkey girls, halfway to their feet, exchanged stricken looks and slumped back onto their chairs.
Uh-oh. His eyes had gone hard as topaz. Maybe she shouldn’t have pushed that particular button. His lips skinned back, revealing the heavier-than-human canines that marked a were. One of the blondes squealed, and not in a c’mere-and-bite-me-big-boy kind of way. “We’re leaving. Now.”
Meekly Gina rose. The coffee shop’s blue-haired barista planted herself in their path. “Any trouble here?” she said. She spoke to Gina, but watched Brody. The ape slid her hand into her apron pocket. Anything could be in there, from mace to a gun. Nothing in there would mean anything good.
Brody put on the knee-weakening smile he could turn on and off at will. “My sister. She’s out past her curfew.”
“What he said,” Gina agreed. She knew her own golden eyes would support the sibling story. She added a petulant, teen-agey pout for good measure. Brody’s eyebrows climbed. So did the barista’s, but she let it, and them, go.
Gina’s compliance lasted only until they hit the sidewalk. Then she yanked her arm from Brody’s grip. “I’m not a puppy, you know,” she snapped. “I’m over eighteen. I’ve had my first heat. I may not be old enough to drink, but I’m legal for everything else.”
“I know,” Brody said, with a growl in his voice that pricked up her ears. He tried to mask it by adding, “You should also be old enough to understand why Dane has such restrictive rules. It’s for the safety of the pack.”
“They’re stupid rules,” Gina complained. “It’s why half the pack’s swishtail.” Especially Dane, she suspected. He always picked young, good-looking males as his betas. Brody certainly fit all Dane’s requirements. Including the most important one? Her mouth curved partway upward. “You never said which half you howl with.”
“That’s not your concern. Only the alpha gets to mate. That’s how it is in a wolf pack, and that’s how Dane wants to keep it. We don’t want to clutter up the woods by whelping litters right and left. We’ve got enough problems keeping our kind secret from the monkeys as it is.”
No chance of chance litters, Gina thought sourly. Not with Dane in command. But not everyone in their pack followed his orders to the letter. She didn’t, for one. And, she figured, neither did by-the-book Brody. His flushed cheeks, his sultry growl, that shine of sweat on his upper lip, and the way his scent had just hiked told her he was no leg-humper. Hadn’t the whole point of her one-night rebellion been to find a suitable male?
She didn’t resist when he herded her up the street. She even took his arm, and was pleased to note his scent hiked again. Only alphas mate, huh? Well, beta rank was just a step away from alpha. They were practically the same thing. She deliberately brushed against him, and caught a whisper of that ragged, randy growl before he swallowed it.
Gina grinned to herself. Game on.