Tabby blinked. That hadn’t been a request. “Okay,” she drawled. She’d heard about the Little General who ran the Halle Pride alongside her mate. You did not want to be on her bad side.

Emma nodded. “Good. We’ll see you there in half an hour.” She pulled out her cell phone and began to dial. “Sarah? Listen, I need you and Gabe at our place in half an hour.” She frowned. “Sleeping in? There’s no time to sleep in.” She began to march out of the restaurant with an absent wave at the stunned couple at the table. “We have an issue ! Oh, and I need to grab a hold of Becks and Simon. You can call Adrian and Sheri. Yes, I know what time it is, Sarah. Why do you think I’m giving you half an hour?” Emma pulled the phone away from her ear and frowned down at it. “Do you kiss your husband with that mouth?”

Tabby bit back a giggle. She now understood the other nickname she’d heard in conjunction with the Halle Curana. Hurricane Emma.

Max shook his head, his lips twitching as he watched his mate walk away, still chattering on the phone. “I don’t know where the hell she thinks she’s going. I’ve got the car keys.” He turned back to Tabby, a small swirl of power surrounding him briefly, sending a shiver down her spine. She had the oddest urge to bow down to the Puma, his Alpha powers caressing her with a different flavor than that of the Wolf Alpha she’d once served. “I’ll see you both in half an hour.

Whatever the problem is we can fix it. One way or another.” He nodded goodbye to Alex and followed his mate out the door.

Alex frowned. “What? I’d think this would be a good thing. You have the local guys on your side, right?”

She bit her lip. “I don’t know if Gabe ever told them I…was fired, and what for.

And they have strong ties to the Poconos boss.”

Alex shrugged, his eyes glued to the man leaving the restaurant. “It’s a moot point now. We’ve been summoned, not much we can do about it.” He cut into his strawberry-coated pancakes. “Eat your bacon. Something tells me we’re going to need our strength.”

Bunny pulled the Jeep to a stop outside the two-story Craftsman style home. A dark gray gable roof was set off by rich mahogany brown shingles and bright white trim work, with rich red fieldstone set around the base of the house. The front had that beautiful pillar and post design, with a covered porch that wrapped around to the left side of the house. An attached garage had been seamlessly integrated into the right side of the house. Huge glass double doors with an art deco design waited to greet visitors to the home. The house was warm, inviting and beautifully maintained. In the driveway sat a red Dodge Ram and a black Mustang. “Wow. Nice place.”

He studied her face. She was pale and shaking. “It’s okay, baby.”

She took a deep breath and huffed it out. “The last time I got summoned by an Alpha, I was Outcast.”

“Max has no cause to ask you to leave Halle. Besides, he’s not your Alpha.

She shook her head. “Bears don’t have Outcasting, do they?”

“Not really, no. We don’t have the same kind of Pack or Pride structure.” Not all shifters had traditional Alphas and Omegas and all that political crap. Most were simple family groups, like the Bears, Foxes and even the otherwise solitary Tigers.

The loose-knit family groups would keep in touch via couriers in the old days and, in modern times, snail mail and e-mail. They held the vote for their proxies on the Senate that way, never having to meet unless they wanted to. Outcasting was something reserved for those who abided by the more stringent rules of the Packs and Prides, like the Wolves, Coyotes, Pumas and Lions, where one shifter’s actions could endanger the lives of all.

“Then trust me, it’s a really big deal.” She shrugged her shoulders like she was shifting a heavy weight. “Let’s go, I guess.”

Bunny held out his hand, offering his mate his full support. No matter what happened in that house, Tabby was his mate. That meant she could fall under either Pack law or Bear law. And since Bears had no Outcasting system, as far as he was concerned his mate had no problem.

One of the front doors opened. Emma Cannon stood there, a grin on her face and her hand on her hip. “I was wondering how long you two would stand out there.

Bunny moved forward, enjoying the warmth of Emma’s greeting. He could already tell there would be few problems on that front. Emma was greeting them like old friends. “Thank you, Mrs. Cannon. I’m Alexander Bunsun.”

Emma’s lips curved up in a wicked smile. “I know who you are. You’re the wereBunny who rode into town on a hog.”

Bunny didn’t know whether to laugh or not. “Um… Yeah. Maybe?”

A woman with wild curly hair down to her waist pulled Emma out of the doorway.

“Don’t worry, she has that effect on a lot of people.” She ignored Emma’s rolled eyes and pulled Bunny inside.

Bunny took a second to look around the great room of the Halle Alpha’s house.

The sage green walls, cherry floors and white trim created a warm feeling of comfort and home. The skylights in the vaulted ceiling let in a great deal of natural light. A large, reddish-brown leather sofa dominated the room. It rested on a bold area rug done in a geometric pattern of reds, blacks and greens. It faced a set of built-in cherry cabinets along one wall that doubled as the entertainment center with bookshelves on either side. The fireplace, on the opposite wall, matched the fieldstone on the outside of the home. He really liked the feel of the place. He’d have to see if he could find something similar in the area. From the way Tabby was staring, wide-eyed, he had the feeling she liked it too.

The curly haired woman held out her hand. “I’m Becky Holt.”

Bunny returned her greeting. “Alexander Bunsun. Nice to meet you. This is my mate, Tabitha Garwood.”

Tabby smiled weakly and clung to his hand with a grip he just knew was leaving bruises.

Becky Holt pointed to a tall, dark-haired man with muscular arms and an easy grin. “That’s Simon, my mate. He’s the Beta of our Pride.”

“Pleased to meet you.” He exchanged nods with the Beta, keeping hold of Tabby’s hand. He could feel his mate trembling next to him.