“Please. Like Chloe wouldn’t willingly kick my ass up and down the block if she thought I deserved it.” Gabe shook his head. “It’s hard to see her in that hospital bed.”

“Tell me about it.” He studied Gabe’s face for a moment. “Are you going to fill me in on what my mate’s hiding from me?”

Gabe shook his head. “Wish I could, but she has to be the one to tell you.”

“Thanks a lot. Traitor.” Tabby glared up at Gabe, ignoring the way Alex was watching her. All of his attention was suddenly focused on her, and not in a good way.

Gabe hesitated only for a moment, then shrugged and headed back inside. “Do me a favor, Tabby. Tell him. Trust him. He’s your mate.”

She nodded. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust Alex. She just didn’t want Gary to get his hands on him. Gary would fuck him up without thinking twice about it.

Alex stepped out. Gabe shut the door behind him, giving the two of them their privacy. “Tabby?”

Better rip the Band-Aid off. “Gary attacked me one morning after a run. He and his goons cornered me out in the woods, up against my car. I’m pretty sure they were going to rape me.”

Alex’s whole body rippled. His fangs descended. His nails blackened, lengthening two inches. He freaking grew about six inches, the seams of his shirt popping, his jeans creaking against the strain. Considering he was pretty massive to begin with, it was impressive. “Where does Gary live?”

Tabby gulped. This was an Alex she didn’t know. His voice had turned gravelly, deepened until he sounded like something out of a horror film. “I don’t know.”

“I don’t know!” She did her best to stare him down, but her heart was racing a mile a minute. “And if I did, I wouldn’t tell you.”

“Tabby.” His fingers twitched. She wondered if he was picturing Gary’s neck between them.

“No.” She tried to soothe him, resting one hand against his arm. “One Bear against a Wolf wins. One Bear against a Pack loses. I’m not worth your life, Alex.”

He blinked, his hazel eyes turning dark brown. “ What? ” He roared, startling the birds from the trees. Tabby clapped her hands over her ears and wondered if they would start bleeding. “Would you care to repeat that?”

“I’m not worth dying over?” She gulped again, watching fury etch itself into Alex’s features.

The door slammed open. “Okay, break it up.” Sarah, the Pride Omega, stepped onto the deck. “Whatever’s causing Mt. Vesuvius here to erupt has to stop now.

You’re going to scare the straights.” Alex growled down at her. Sarah growled back. “Calm down, big guy. No one’s going to touch your mate, okay? She’s safe here.” She patted Alex’s arm. “Why don’t you both go back inside? We have a few more things to discuss, and Max was thinking we might have you and Gabe run out to Frank’s for some burgers. Doesn’t that sound good? We could order some fruit for you, maybe a salad.” Sarah tugged on Alex’s arm, dragging him inside the house. The chatter continued all the way back into the great room. “We could get some pie. How about blueberry? Frank’s pies are some of the best in town.”

Alex’s body began to retract, shrinking back down to his normal size. His muscles relaxed, his fangs receding. Whatever mojo the Puma Omega wielded was working, calming her big Bear down. She decided to help, adding her own hands to Alex’s back, stroking him through his T-shirt. “Pie’s good. Maybe we should get Ryan and Julian here too. Their mates are being harassed by Gary too.” The grumbling under her palm was more irritated than pissed now, thank God.

“Good idea. Tabby, why don’t you call them, get them over here? Ryan can let his family know that we plan on helping guard his sister while we’re at it.” Sarah’s gaze never left Alex. Her hand continued to pet him until he’d completely calmed down. A fine sheen of sweat was covering the Omega by the time she had Alex down on the sofa, a confused look on his face. “Gabe? Could you get everyone’s orders please?”

Tabby looked at Gabe. His jaw was clenched as he watched his mate tame another shifter into the palm of her hand. Tabby didn’t know if he was jealous or concerned for her safety. “Sure. I can do that.”

Sarah smiled at her mate. “Everything’s fine, Gabe. Just take the orders and call it in. Bunny would never hurt me.”

Alex shook his head. He looked like he was waking up from a trance. “No, of course I wouldn’t.” He looked over at Tabby. “Baby?”

Tabby rushed forward and threw herself onto Alex’s lap. She curled into him, burying her face against his neck. His scent wrapped around her, warming her, comforting her as nothing else could. “It’s okay, sugar. Everything will be okay.”

He buried his face in her hair and breathed deep. “If he lays a hand on you, I will kill him. You need to understand that.” He tipped her chin up. “You may not think you’re worth dying over, but I know you’re worth killing over.”

Crap. His eyes hadn’t returned to normal. They were full of savage anger, the eyes of a predator. That scary fury she’d seen on the deck was still there under the surface, barely contained by his force of will. “Alex, let it go. For me. Please?”

He took a deep breath. He closed his eyes and rotated his head. When he opened his eyes again, they were back to warm hazel. “For you.”

She nodded. It wasn’t over yet. Not by a long shot. She cuddled up against him and let him press his face to her neck. She knew what he was doing. He was breathing her in, filling his senses with her. If that was what it took to calm him down, she’d stay in his lap for the rest of his life.

“I need to know if you’re a danger to my Pumas.”

Bunny settled into Anderson’s car with a wince. He’d really lost it out there on Max’s deck. Just the thought of someone trying to rape his mate was enough to send him right back to that blistering rage. “Are any of them planning on assaulting Tabby?”

“Then no.” He smiled sweetly, knowing that Tabby’s chosen lifestyle was in jeopardy and he was the cause. If the Hunter believed he was a danger to his Pride, the two of them would be run out of town that same night.