Beauty in the Beast

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Chapter 7

It had been a full week since my date with Emmett. I got back to my business as usual at the bar but I avoided the training center like the plague. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk to Emmett, it was just that I didn’t want to see Emmett. We exchanged texts every few days and I didn’t keep Natalie out of the loop. I let her know the details of the first date and I tried my best to avoid her as well. Which wasn’t hard, she had better things to do. Mostly flirt with the males, especially since the mating ritual was just two more weeks away. I wasn’t sure if she was really looking for a mate or if she just wanted the most wolves fighting over her. As for Derek; he heard about the date just like every other wolf in the pack and surprisingly he wasn’t upset. Hell, he even said he was happy for me.

The bar was starting to look like my home: dull and empty. It wasn’t like Tuesday nights were anything to celebrate. A few regulars sat at the counter all within a few stools of each other like it was a rule to distance themselves. I heard the door open before the slight breeze blew a familiar scent into my nostrils. I instantly perked and turned to the newcomer. He slid into a stool at the bar, directly across from me with a smile on his face.

“Good evening, stranger.”

“Emmett, what can I get you?” I remained professional.

“Coors Lite, bottle.”

“You got it.” I turned around and fiddled in my cooler. My hands were already becoming shaky, my heart racing. I popped the cap and set it on the counter in front of him.

“You know,” he took a sip. “If I didn’t know any better I’d say you were avoiding me at the training center.” I smiled at him, knowing I’d been caught.

“Actually, I sprained my knee running.” I lied. “I’ve been resting it.”

“Oh yeah?” He chuckled. “Well I guess it’s lucky for you that I’m a physical therapist.”

“Are you serious?” I asked.

“You would know that if you asked me on a second date instead of avoiding me.” I blushed, pushing a strand of hair behind my ear.

“I’m not avoiding you. We text.” I composed myself and turned away from him, grabbing a Miller Lite and walking it own to the wolf at the end of the bar before making my way back to Emmett.

“I text you, on occasion you respond. I don’t know if that really qualifies.”

“We had one date, Emmett, what did you expect?”

“Harsh.” Yet he smiled.

“I’m not the type of girl who thrives for attention. I’m not the type of girl who needs a male.”

“Wants and needs are different.” He leaned against the bar. “You can’t tell me you didn’t want me just as much as I wanted you. I could smell it.” He almost growled those last words.

“Am I interrupting?” Derek’s words brought us both back to reality as he sat in the stool directly beside Emmett.

“Not at all.” I breathed, trying to relax myself. “The usual?” I asked.

“You know me so well.” Derek smiled at Emmett, almost like he was teasing him. I set his drink in front of him and turned to the clock. It wasn’t even close to being last call like I wished it was.

“I don’t think we’ve met.” Emmett reached his hand out to Derek, trying to be polite. “Emmett.” He had the confidence of a true Omega.

“No, we haven’t.” Derek ignored his hand and took a drink, not breaking their stare. I rolled my eyes at the two and went back to the end of the bar to my other customers. Two paid their tabs and left, only one older wolf stayed, watching the television above the liquor shelf. I made my way back to Derek and Emmett who were staring at each other like they were ready to shift and throw fur.

“Derek.” I growled. Reluctantly, he turned his head until his eyes met mine.

“Emma.” His eyes softened.

“I met Emmett at the training center.” I gave him a fake smile before turning to Emmett. “Emmett, I met Derek here at the bar probably...” I thought about how long ago it had been now.

“Four years ago.” Derek answered for me.

“And you’ve been friends ever since.” Emmett grinned as Derek growled. The male at the end of the bar must have sensed where this was going and put money on the counter to paid his tab so he could leave the three of us in the bar.

“Guys,” I tried to be the voice of reason. “You can whip them out in the parking lot if it’ll make you feel better but I’m not letting you two piss all over my bar.” The two looked at me for a second before Derek started to laugh.

“Relax, Em, it’s all in good fun.” He smacked Emmett on the shoulder harder than he needed to. Emmett winced and grabbed his drink.

“Yeah.” He agreed. “All in good fun.” I could tell the two of them were not getting along. But I thought Derek wasn’t upset? Yet he was acting as if he needed to show his dominance in this situation.

“Don’t you start early at work tomorrow, Derek?” I asked him. His construction job usually started around five in the morning, but that wasn’t what I was concerned with, I wanted him to leave. And he definitely took the hint. The hurt in his eyes showed as he stared at me.

“Yeah, I do.” He stood up and reached into his back pocket for his wallet.

“I got it covered, Derek, don’t worry about it.” I waved him away. He pulled out a few dollars and threw them on the bar. Without a single goodbye he walked out. Dammit.

“Listen, if I started something here I apologize.”

“No, Emmett, it’s nothing you did.”

“If there’s something between you two that I overstepped—“

“No, we’re friends. Just friends. I mean—we— this one time—no— we’re just friends.”

“That wasn’t very convincing.”

“I’m sorry.” I chuckled. “I just didn’t think we’d be talking about exes so soon.”

“So he’s an ex?” I laughed again.

“No.” I left it at that. We weren’t nearly close enough for that conversation.

We talked as I shut the bar down. I forgot how easy it was with him. Like the conversation just flowed so seamlessly. “So, if I try not to kiss you tonight will you promise to stop by the training center?” I laughed at him.

“Yeah, I think we can make a deal on that one.”

“Good.” He squeezed my arm and we exchanged goodbyes. I started walking to my house, the night air left a calm feeling in my bones. I made it to the porch before something in the woods caught my eye. I was being watched. I turned my head and faced my stalker, but as if they were never there, the woods were clear. Trees and brushes scattered across the scene. Perhaps I was in my own head, or maybe whoever was watching me was faster just than I was.

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