“Troy, get your ass up. We are going out!” Peter threw him a pair of jeans and a shirt. Troy groaned and pulled the covers over his head. Earlier that day, he’d come home from his doctor’s appointment. The doc told him he was as healed as he’d ever be. The limp was practically gone unless he overdid it. Still, he felt defective. His wolf hated coming out. The animal didn’t run as well and hated people seeing its scars. They shifted only when Peter forced him out for a run at least once a week.
“No thanks. I’ll only be a downer.”
“Stop being a fucking asshole. You and I are going to a Mate Me event. Josie has been working hard on this one. It is Cinco De Mayo. You are going to get your depressed ass up and out the door. I’ll throw you in the shower myself.” Troy huffed. His brother wasn’t kidding. When he’d first heard that his leg would never fully heal, Troy began drinking in excess. Peter and Marcus stepped in and helped him recover. This month would be a year sober for him. “You’ve got ten seconds. One, two, three.” Fuck his brother.
“Fine! Give me fifteen minutes.” Troy threw off his blanket and got out of bed. He stomped into the bathroom and showered with his head against the wall. He didn’t know what he would do tonight at the event. This was the first event he’d be attending since the fight over two years ago. Troy washed and stepped out, wrapping a towel around his waist. Peter banged on the door.
“Yes. I’m drying off.” Troy did the bare minimum by brushing his hair and teeth. He walked into his room to see Peter sitting on the bed, texting away on his phone. “Tell Ellie I am going.” Peter looked up and laughed.
“How did you know?”
“Ellie has turned into a mother hen.”
“She worries about you.” Troy sighed. Ellie blamed herself for his injury. It happened on a rescue mission when she’d been kidnapped.
“I don’t blame her. It could have happened on any of my missions.” Troy hated that she felt responsible. After he recovered and escaped his mother, Troy didn’t spend time around others if he could help it.
“She knows that. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t worry. She has taken on the mother-hen role with all of us who work for Marcus. You should hear the crap she is giving Greyson.” Peter leaned back on the bed, waiting for Troy to get dressed. He picked up the clothes Peter threw at him and dressed.
“Good enough?” He held out his hands, awaiting Peter’s response. His brother took his time looking him up and down. They had the same blond hair and blue eyes. As kids, they were constantly confused with each other. Right now, they looked different enough with their facial hair.
“Fine. Let’s go.” With a sigh, Troy ran a hand through his hair and steeled himself for a barrage of heavily perfumed women. Troy climbed into Peter’s truck. He knew his brother wasn’t going to let him drive himself. If it were up to him, he would stay for fifteen minutes, say hello to Josie and go home. Peter drove them an hour south of his apartment, stopping at the brewery they liked to go to. Troy groaned. He didn’t drink anymore.
“Why are we here? I can’t drink.”
“There will be soda too. It is a relaxed party set up.” Peter parked, and immediately all sorts of food smells hit his nose. He sniffed and followed until he found ten food trucks parked behind the main building. Coolers were filled with ice, and drinks were set up at the back door of the brewery. Peter clapped him on the shoulder, picked up a beer bottle, and walked to a group of women. Troy found a Coke and settled at one of the picnic tables. He watched people walk around and chat. Peter made his way through the groups each time chatting up all the women. Troy was amazed at his brother. He had no problem with rejection and moved on to a new female. Troy didn’t want to be there anymore. Just as he was about to call an Uber, Josie plopped down on the other side of his table. She was pregnant again. He could smell it on her.
“Troy, you came!” She squeezed his hand and smiled at him. Today she wore a long dress of bright blue, standing out among the crowd.
“Peter dragged me out.”
“Good. You need to be around people. I am getting a corn hole tournament going. I’m partnering up with people for the activities. Anyone caught your eye?” Troy shook his head.
“No. I’m not looking for a mate. I don’t need someone to pity me.”
“That’s not what a mate does, and you know it. I’m going to pair you up. Go over to the corn hole, and I’ll send your partner to you.” Josie stood without giving him a chance to argue. Josie was a whirlwind, as usual.
“Are you playing too?” Peter asked, coming up to his left.
“Josie told me I didn’t have a choice.” Peter laughed, patting him on the shoulder.
“She clearly has a match for you.” Troy shook his head.
“I told her I didn’t want one.”
“So, being Josie she thinks you need one now.” Troy frowned, rubbing a hand down his face. Of course, Josie was trying to shove him into a relationship. Why couldn’t she go after Peter? He needed someone to end his whore days.
“Hi, I’m Alexis.” A brunette with hazel eyes held out a hand to Troy. “This is Annette.” He shook her hand but couldn’t stop staring at her friend. Annette had black hair with neon blue tips. She wore a diamond nose stud with three piercings on either ear. Troy saw a tattoo peeking out of the bottom of her dress. Taking a deep breath he scented she was an ocelot.