“Noah!” Oliver, his second in command, called. Noah looked up from the account books he’d been working on for his bar.
“Did you hear?” Oliver asked, dropping into the chair across from him.
“Hear what?” He sighed. He loved his best friend but with him around he got little work done. Noah took his job seriously. He owned the only bar in town and made sure any fights ended quickly. Snow Falls was a tiny town set deep in the woods of Washington state. Their town housed many shifter groups, Noah’s being the biggest.
“Clara West is coming back for her dad Bob’s funeral and plans to stay to help her mom,” Oliver announced. The news hit Noah hard. Clara broke his heart twelve years ago when she dumped him at graduation. She moved clear across the country and only came home on holidays.
“How do you know?” he demanded. His snow leopard awoke with a growl, hearing her name.
“Kevin.” Noah shook his head. Kevin was Clara’s older brother and the local lawyer.
“She won’t stay, trust me. We’ve heard him say that before and she hasn’t.” Noah couldn’t get his hopes up. Clara was his mate, he tried to tell her at her graduation party, but she broke his heart instead.
“This time it is. Milly told me she heard from Clara too. Clara is coming home to keep the bakery afloat. Milly also said they would add it to their menu. Clara is a trained French pastry chef,” Oliver pointed out.
“I’ll believe it when I see it with my own eyes,” he retorted, going back to the books. Something wasn’t adding up right, and he needed to figure it out now. Several bottles of top-end whiskey were missing from his numbers.
“Why do you look angry?” Oliver probed, propping his feet up on his desk.
“We are missing three bottles of McAlister whiskey,” he explained, shoving Oliver’s feet off his desk. Oliver sucked in his teeth.
“I know. I don’t want to think badly of our people, but someone is stealing from me.” Noah scrubbed his eyes, glaring at his reports.
“What about the cameras?” Noah nodded, pulling the security footage up on his laptop.
“When did you notice they were missing?”
“This morning, that is why I am going through my books. I wanted to make sure I hadn’t miscounted.”
“Then start with last night. We had a massive rager going on. The Gorilla Gang motorcycle club was here celebrating their leader Fang’s birthday.” Noah pulled up the footage from last night, and he and Oliver watched for fifteen minutes before catching a gorilla biker behind the bar. Their bartender Trish was arguing with him.
“Get Trish, I want to know what happened,” Noah ordered, continuing to watch. The biker picked her up and set her to the side. He pulled down a bottle of whiskey and walked away guzzling the bottle. That explained one missing bottle. Why hadn’t Trish charged them for it? The Gorilla Gang always paid their tab.
“You wanted me Alpha?” Trish asked, coming into the office.
“What happened between you and the gorilla biker?” he asked, pointing to the screen.
“I told him to get out from behind the bar. No one but the staff is allowed back there. He picked me up and put me to the side. Then told me if I didn’t give him the bottles he would bite me showing his fangs,” she explained, Noah saw the frightened look in her eyes. Trish was young, college-aged if he remembered.
“Why not charge him for it?”
“He didn’t have a tab open. None of them opened a tab. Usually, Fang does it with his credit card.” Noah thumped his fist on his desk.
“Did none of them pay for last night?”
“I don’t know. Amber worked with me last night. We rang everything through the cash register,” Trish simpered. Noah did his best not to roll his eyes at the girl.
“Bring me everything from last night,” he ordered, dismissing her. Trish raced out of his office. He frowned, now he had to call Fang and explain that none of his guys paid for their drinks.
“How are you going to talk to Fang?” Oliver asked, sitting up in his chair.
“I’ll tell him what happened,” he stated with a straight face. Trish returned with the stack of receipts from last night.
“Thanks.” Noah sifted through the receipts until he found all the unpaid ones. Piling them, he placed a call to Fang.
“Yo, Noah! What can I do for ya?” Fang answered the phone. Good, he was happy. This would be easier.
“Seems like there was a problem with your boys last night.”
“No one paid.” Noah let his statement hang in the air.
“Is that so?” Fang’s voice dropped low.
“I also have it on my security footage that one of your guys touched a bartender. He physically moved her when she told him to leave the space from behind the bar. He threatened to bite her, then took a very expensive bottle of whiskey from my shelves. He repeated his actions two more times.”
“I see. Do you know who?”
“His back is to the camera. I want to know who will pay for the three thousand dollars of booze you all drank last night?” The two had an understanding. Noah supplied the alcohol and Fang kept his men from destroying the town.
“I’ll send Gunner down to check it out. He’ll bring ya your money too.”
“Excellent, just a reminder if any of your men touch my girls again I’ll ban your entire gang from the bar,” Noah threatened, his voice conveying his alpha prowess.
“Understood. Gunner will be there in twenty.” Fang sounded angry on the other end, Noah didn’t care.
“Thank you.” Noah hung up and rubbed at the headache forming.
“I’ll wait for Gunner,” Oliver announced, excusing himself from the room.
Once Noah had the room to himself he groaned dropping his head to the desk. Clara’s return shocked and excited him. Her chestnut hair and sky-blue eyes drove him wild. Whenever she came home, she avoided him. Now she wouldn’t be able to avoid him. He’d make sure she gave him a reason for leaving. His mate couldn’t run away anymore.
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