“Yeah, well, he’s been less than nice to me.” She fingered the picture again, wondering how to get through to this poor guy. “Gary’s threatened me more than once. He’s egged the shop. We’ve had to call the cops on him a few times.” She frowned. “Did Gary tell you to come here for the tattoo?”

Tim shook his head. “No, he told me to go to the place on Fifth.” Tabby exchanged a glance with Cyn. That place was a dive. “But I asked around. A lot of people told me you guys were the best, and that your prices were fair.”

That explained a lot. No way was she letting this kid out of here with Gary’s mug a permanent fixture on his body. “If I pick up that phone there and call Sheriff Anderson, will you listen to him about Gary?”

He gulped nervously. “The cops? Why would you call the cops?”

“We’ve had to call them out because Gary won’t leave us alone.”

He bit his lip and frowned, obviously thinking.

She picked up the phone and handed it to him, rattling off the number for the police station. C’mon, Tim, make the right decision.

His expression cleared. He was familiar with the phone number, which raised a whole host of other questions she didn’t have the right to ask. “Can I take another look around the shop, please?”

She smiled and nodded, getting up off the swivel stool she sat on when she worked. “Sure thing, Tim.”

She watched him walk with a bit more confidence into the front of the shop.

She picked up the picture of the wolf and showed it to Cyn. She could hear the murmur of voices and knew that Glory was talking to Tim. She would ease his fears better than anyone else. “That’s Gary as a wolf.”

Cyn whistled. “Damn. Is the little bastard building a club or something?”

Tabby jerked. Could he be trying to build a Pack? She took another look at Tim.

Damn if the boy didn’t have Omega written all over him, and not in a good way.

“Fuck.” There was no law against changing a human against their will. If there was, more than one mate would be in big trouble, including the current Halle Pride Alpha. But a prick like Gary with a Pack of handpicked assholes? “That would be bad.”

“I’ve decided.” They turned to find Tim standing there, a smile on his face. Glory stood next to him. She winked at Tabby. “I want this one.” He held up a piece of flash.

Tabby looked down at the stylized dragon and grinned. “Good choice.”

She set up the inks, pleased that Tim had relaxed. She began the tattoo and did her best to hold back the smirk.

Gary was going to shit a brick when he saw it. She just hoped Tim would be protected. She made a mental note to let Gabe know all about Tim. If anyone could protect the boy, it would be a Hunter like Gabe. Gary didn’t know what train was about to hit his pompous ass, but he was definitely pissing on the tracks.

Bunny stood as the sheriff entered Chloe’s room. The man’s eyes went immediately to Chloe. He didn’t even try to hide his wince. “Still no change?”

Bunny shook his head, watching closely. The sheriff approached Chloe’s bed. He took one of her pale hands into his and bent down, his hat nearly falling off. He grabbed it before it could land on Chloe’s face. “Hey, little vixen. You need to wake up now. Sarah’s threatening to bake cookies, and you know how she is in the kitchen.”

There was no response, not that Bunny had expected to see one.

“Do you know who my daughter’s mate is?”

Anderson lifted his head and stared at Aunt Laura. He nodded. “Yeah. I know who he is.”

He straightened up and let go of Chloe’s hand. “He’s not in town right now. Sarah called him and let him know what’s going on. He told her he’d be back as soon as he could.” Anderson shifted, looking uncomfortable. “There are a few things you should know. First, he doesn’t know about us. He’s human.”

They all nodded. Bunny’s mother had been human, and the stories about how his father had cornered and claimed his mate still had the power to reduce grown men to giggles. The fact that Barbra Bunsun had every intention of being caught only added to the joy of the story.

Still, everyone knew you had to be careful when claiming a human mate. Not everyone would respond well to finding themselves furry. In the past, there had been those who had attacked their shifter mates, thinking them possessed by the devil.

“Second, he had the mistaken impression that Chloe and I were dating.”

Bunny folded his arms across his chest and snarled. Next to him, Ryan growled.

They, too, had thought the sheriff and Chloe were dating. The way Chloe spoken about him, the bracelet he’d given her for Christmas with the little cats and foxes on it, had all said girlfriend as far as the Bunsun-Williamses were concerned.

Hell, as far as he knew Ryan still thought it, despite being told Chloe had a mate somewhere out there.

Anderson’s hands went up. “We weren’t . Damn it. My mate still gives me fits about that.” He rolled his eyes. “But Jim blames both of us. The third problem is he thinks Chloe’s too young for him. He even told her as much.”

“Will he come for her?”

Aunt Laura was still staring at Anderson, her gaze boring into him.

Anderson nodded. “I think he will. Sarah says he loves Chloe, he just needs to deal with his issues. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s here before morning.”

Anderson’s whole face softened. “My mate is the Omega of the Halle Pride.”

Bunny was confused. As the Omega, Anderson’s mate should have known exactly how the man felt, both about her and about Chloe. The way he understood it, Omegas were the emotional lynchpin of whatever Pride or Pack they belonged to.

How could there have been any confusion over which one he wanted? There was no way, once he met his mate, that he could confuse it for anything but the mate bond. Had he met his Sarah after he’d begun dating Chloe, or had it been some sort of cosmic misunderstanding? Unfortunately Bunny didn’t feel he had the right to ask the sheriff that question. He barely knew the man, after all, and only trusted him because he’d helped Tabby.