Emma nodded toward a striking couple seated on her sofa. The man was dark-haired, with the same golden skintone Tabby had. The woman seated next to him was the palest woman Bunny had ever seen, with snow-white hair, pale blue eyes and pearly skin. Lying at their feet was a golden retriever in a guide dog harness.
“That’s our Marshall, Adrian Giordano, and his mate, Sheri.” The couple nodded at them, but quickly returned to their conversation. Bunny wasn’t fooled.
Something about Giordano’s body language told him that he and Tabby had the lion’s share of the Marshall’s attention. “Gabe and Sarah, our Omega, aren’t here yet, but they should be shortly. There were grumbles about coffee and doughnuts.”
Simon chuckled. “Bet I know something that tastes sweeter.”
“Oh, for the love of God, people.” Emma flopped down on the couch. “Get a room.”
“Works for me.” Simon grabbed a hold of Becky’s hand and began to drag her toward the stairs, ignoring her indignant squawking.
“Simon, knock it off. Emma, stop encouraging them.” Max stepped out of his kitchen and shook his head at his Pride leaders, ignoring Emma’s snickers and Becky’s slap to Simon’s arm. “You’re making us look like idiots.” He walked over to Bunny and Tabby and shook their hands. “Alex, Tabby, welcome to my home.
Please feel free to join the insanity.”
“Thanks, but everyone calls me Bunny.”
The room stopped dead. He’d never seen anything like it. It was like he’d picked up life’s remote and hit Pause.
“I’m sorry. Did you say people call you Bunny?” Simon, his dark eyes twinkling, leaned back against the fireplace mantel.
Bunny nodded. He loved some of the reactions he got when he told people his nickname, especially other shifters. They tended to range from horrified disbelief to unstoppable giggles.
“And you let them? Why not strap a cracker to your ass and call yourself lunch?
Ow! Damn it, Becky.” He rubbed the spot on his arm his curly-haired mate had just smacked.
“Ignore Garfield, he hasn’t had his Cat Chow yet.” Simon’s eyes flashed down at his mate, gold sparks dancing in the dark brown.
Bunny bit back his laugh. “And you’re making fun of my nickname?”
Max rubbed the side of his nose. “Why don’t you two have a seat while we wait for Gabe and Sarah.” He walked away, pointing languidly at Emma. “Not a word.”
“Damn. And I had so many of them, too.”
Max stopped and stared at Emma, one eyebrow rising.
Emma gave as good as she got, staring right back at her mate. From the way their mouths were curving, Bunny didn’t think there would be a fight, but the tension in the room seemed to ratchet up a notch. He wondered if the blond Alpha was about to drag his small mate up the stairs, Pride meeting be damned.
The doorbell rang, breaking the staring match between the two Alphas.
“I’ll get it.” The Marshall stood, moving with easy grace to the front door. “It’s Gabe and Sarah. One of you get a cold towel, she spilled some coffee on her hands again.”
Bunny frowned. “How did he know that?”
Emma waved Becky toward the kitchen and followed her through. “He’s the Marshall.”
Sheri, Adrian’s mate, must have seen his confusion. “The Marshall can sense the physical well-being of every member of the Pride.” She frowned. “Your scent. It’s so…wild. Not like the other Bear in town.” She stared up at him, her pale blue gaze unfocused. Suddenly her eyes widened. “You’re a—”
“Hey, Bunny.” Gabe slapped him on the back, interrupting whatever it was Sheri had been about to say.
Gabe shook his head. “I wish I had some news already, but there were no witnesses. Nobody on the street heard or saw a thing. The evidence we’ve collected is still at the labs in Pittsburgh, so we have to wait.” He shrugged. “I wish I had more, but that’s all I’ve got so far. How is Chloe, by the way?”
Bunny could see the way the small brunette watched Gabe. Her short hair was windblown, her hands reddened. His fingers twitched, the urge to heal the small hurt nearly derailing his train of thought. This must be Gabe’s mate, the one who’d given Gabe fits over Chloe. “Still unconscious. Any idea when her mate is supposed to arrive?”
“Jimmy’s coming back?” Emma swept back into the room, a wet towel in her hands. “Here, Sarah. Wrap this around that burn.” She clucked her tongue. “That looks nasty.”
“Let me.” He took hold of the poor burned hands and breathed deep, the relief at being able to heal the small hurt releasing some of his tension. He opened himself up to his Bear and the spiral of the healing path. He mended the burned flesh, encouraged the new growth of tissue and forced the skin to reabsorb the swelling.
When he was done, no trace of the burn could be seen, and his legs were trembling with fatigue.
“Holy shit.” Adrian stared down at the woman’s hands, his eyes wide. “I felt that.”
He lifted his face, his gaze narrowed on Bunny. “I’d forgotten Bears could do that.”
The woman smiled up at him sweetly. “Thank you.” She patted his arm. “That really stung.”
Gabe took one of her hands in his own, stroking the healed skin. “I owe you one, Bear.”
Bunny shrugged, feeling uncomfortable with the awed reactions of the Pumas.
This sort of healing was as commonplace as hello among Bears. “It was nothing.”
Gabe’s jaw clenched. “You healed my mate. That means I owe you one.” His jaw relaxed and his brows shot up. “Unless you’d rather not have the man investigating the attack against your mate owe you?”
“Attack?” Emma frowned, taking a seat on the huge leather couch. “All I heard at the restaurant was talk of harassment.”
“Tabby was attacked outside her place of business a couple of days ago. A stink bomb was thrown through the window, and when she and the other girls ran out, she was hit on the back of the head hard enough for her to black out.”