"You know he's gay, right? He came out to the whole town years ago."
I was wiping the bar top on my third day of work. Riley was in his office and none of the servers were here, so I was stuck with Jessica.
She had been pointedly quiet for the first day and I could tell something was eating her up. Second day when I saw her staring at Riley, I sort of guessed.
"Jessie" had a thing for Riley.
"I am aware. Yes," I said, as nonchalantly as I could. What was he? Bisexual? Maybe. Was it my place to say or decide? No.
"I mean he's cute. When a guy like that tells you he likes you..." She shrugged. "Just make sure you don't get hurt, is all I'm saying."
Oh. "Thanks." And I meant it. Though it did make me wonder about my place.
We set up the place. Bringing down chairs and tables, and ended up opening early before even the servers arrived.
Once the servers arrived, it set off a chain reaction. Feral got really busy. Kind of like a beehive. Lots of dancing. If we lived in a pack, this would be the pack hangout. All our wolves would diverge here and party till dawn.
I had always dreamt of joining a kind of party pack. My biggest fear was being mated to an alpha of a stuffy work-oriented pack. Probably on a ranch, or a coalmine. I shivered. I would have been miserable.
But this? The club? This was fun.
I vehemently pushed all thoughts of Dustin's boring factory out of my mind. It too was a viable bonding ground for wolf shifters, and since Riley was not a wolf, well, Dustin's factory would win.
I stored those thoughts away for later and shifted my attention to something, or rather, someone more interesting.
"Hey. You have to teach me how to do that some time," I said.
Tristan just grinned at me and put his large headphones over my ears. I was treated to a quieter, clearer version of the music being played in the club.
Tristan was the DJ on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. And we had been friends since I had started. He was adorable with purple, green and blue highlights in his long black hair.
I took off the headphones and draped them around my neck so we could talk. "I think I need a music taste first before I try it." I was on break and the traffic had slowed down anyway; Jessica could definitely handle the bar.
"That would be best." He smiled and changed the song to a loud headbanger. The crowd on the dancefloor cheered. We were on a sort of raised platform, specially made for the DJ.
I liked him. Mostly because I made him nervous. I had never made anyone nervous before.
"Can I touch your hair? I asked, yelling over the loud music.
His eyes widened and he blushed. "Sure."
I reached out and stroked it, as he shakily changed the song.
It was soft and beautiful. I wanted mine to look exactly like his. But Riley liked my long hair, and I had not even asked Dustin about it. Not that we talked that often. Come to think for it, we spoke more than he did with Riley.
"I love it," I said. Many would say I purred it. Those would be baseless lies. Maybe.
He ducked his head and blushed even harder. I could not help smiling at him.
"You look predatory, Freya, and poor Tristan looks like the prey." Dustin grabbed my hand and pulled it away from Trustan's hair.
I blinked up at him. He was taller than me. Way taller, like 6'2, and all alpha wolf. He looked hard at me, until I looked away.
"Don't do that either," he snapped. “I don’t like it when you lower your eyes.”
Dustin and Riley both hated it. But it was part of my upbringing. It was hard to let go of.
I met his emerald eyes and forced eye contact, but every after a few seconds I would look away.
"Why are you up here and not working?" he asked.
"It’s my break."
He ran an assessing gaze over Tristan. Then back at me.
I saw his wolf fangs when he spoke. Angry? I bet his growling was being drowned out by the blasting music. Other than that, his entire body was relaxed.
"Next break you have, I would prefer it if you spent it in Riley's office, not up here."
"Okay," I said, slowly.
He looked at me strangely. "Okay? No argument? Nothing?"
He looked relieved. Maybe I was indeed bothering him, I thought with a sigh.
"That's what you call it," he mumbled, under his breath.
He was broader than Riley around the shoulders, and taller than him. Alpha male. Perfect specimen. He was young. Twenty-eight.
He interrupted my musings. "You do not need to apologize. It's only that I would be more comfortable if you were with Riley, not up there in the dark with Tristan."
"He wouldn't hurt me. He's a sweetheart. And even if he was not, he's human, and Siren wolves are stronger than we look."
Dustin looked at me wryly. "It's Tristan I'm trying to protect."
"Because I'm a wolf?" I asked. I would not hurt Tristan. He was my friend!
He put his arm across my shoulders and pulled me into his warmth. We had made to the dancefloor, the bar was right across from us.
This was the first time Dustin had held me since I met him. I instinctively sunk into him, as my heart beat faster, far-off in the distance.
He looked at me with a strange mixture of admiration and amusement. "No, my darling. Because you're a little minx." He kissed me on the forehead, and lingered until it turned intimate and fuzzy inside my skin.
He led me through the grinding bodies and shaking hips, and handed me over to a frowning Jessica. And then he left.