Brown Bears, on the other hand, were a lot more aggressive. They’d stand until they dropped dead. And Bunny was still considered more aggressive than most.

“She’s used to Julian, but she’ll learn.” The men in front of him twitched. Bunny looked around, noting the curiosity of the rest of the diners. He smiled, hoping to reassure them. These people were all potential clients, after all. “So. It was nice seeing all of you again.”

Food was plunked down in front of Harry, six large boxes and six smaller ones.

The waitress pulled two bags out from under the counter. The relief in Harry’s expression would have been amusing if it hadn’t reminded Bunny of just how aggressive he could be. That look right there was one of the many reasons Bunny had learned how not to fight.

He didn’t like it when people were afraid of him. Of all the people in this room, only Harry and his friends were truly aware of what Bunny was capable of, and they were terrified . He sighed. He rammed into this every time he saw someone who knew him from his wild teen years. He decided to try one last time. Maybe he could still show them he wasn’t the same person he’d been when they knew him.

“Where are you all headed?”

“Um. West.” Harry picked up the bags and held out a credit card. “We’re going west. Possibly California.” The five other men nodded their agreement. “Maybe even Washington.”

Bunny nodded. There’d be no convincing them he was a changed Bear. “I see. I wish you well on your journey.”

Harry signed his receipt and stood. His fellow Bears fell in behind him. “We need to get going. Losing daylight and all that. Nice running into you, Bunsun.”

“You too, Harry.” He stepped aside, giving the men plenty of room to get out the door. “Have a good ride.” He waved, not surprised when none of them waved back.

“What the hell, Bunny. What was that all about?”

He turned back to the sheriff. “Long story. I’ll tell you on the way back.” He knew his cheerful expression wasn’t fooling the other man, but right now he couldn’t be bothered to put much effort into it. “Let’s get our order and get out of here.”

“Yeah. Let’s do that.” Gabe went to the counter and asked for their food. Bunny stayed by the door and listened to the sound of motorcycles riding off into the distance.

Ryan arrived shortly before Alex and Gabe got back and introduced himself to the Pride leaders. He was just settling in near Simon when Gabe and Alex walked in the front door carrying their burgers. Gabe had the strangest look on his face, and Alex looked like someone had run over his dog. Tabby, concerned, sat forward. “Alex? Gabe? What’s wrong?”

Gabe shot Tabby a wild look before handing the food over to Emma and Becky.

Alex shared a long look with Ryan. “Ran into Harry and his buddies over at Frank’s Diner.”

Ryan groaned. “Shit. What were they doing here?”

“You think…?” Ryan let the rest of the sentence trail off.

Tabby looked back and forth between them. There was something there that she didn’t understand. “What are you two talking about?”

Alex had the weirdest look on his face. He looked almost apologetic. But why?

“Harry and his friends harassed one of our cousins years ago. Bunny taught them not to do that anymore.”

Tabby blinked. He did not just say what I thought he said. “He what?”

Alex turned on his heel and walked right back out the door.

“Alex?” She got up and ran after him, ignoring Ryan’s voice calling after her.

He stopped. “I know you think you understand what’s going on.”

He turned. He looked harsh, drawn. “Fine. What do you think you know?”

“Other than the fact that you seem to be turning into an idiot? Not much.”

He took a deep breath, rotating his neck. “A long time ago, I had anger management issues.”

She waved her hand for him to keep going. The fact her mate seemed to have a temper hadn’t been lost on her.

“Some Bears went after my cousin, Heather, who’s a Fox like Chloe. She was only ten years old. They thought it would be fun to see if they could force her to shift.”

Tabby winced. That was bad, very bad. Most shifters couldn’t make the change until puberty started. “Why would they do that?”

“They were drunk, and…stupid.” He raised an eyebrow at her, his expression turning even harsher.

“They tried to force her into puberty. They thought it was a fucking joke. Of course the idiots didn’t realize that puberty isn’t something you can force.

“I found them.” He sat on the front step and leaned against the porch rail. He looked lost. “I almost killed them. All seven of them.”

He nodded. “Seven.” He patted the step and she sat next to him. “I maimed one of them.”

He stared at her, stunned. “Good?”

“They traumatized a child . I’d have maimed them too. Did you go for the balls?

Please tell me they aren’t going to procreate.”

His eyebrows shot up. “Um. No. I tried to rip the leader’s arms off. Then I forced all of them to their knees and made them beg for forgiveness. When the first one said no, I snapped his arm like a twig. The rest fell into line after that.”

“I bet.” She grinned savagely and wriggled with excitement. “Did they whimper like little babies?”

She cuddled up against him. “You protected your family, your Pack. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’d have done exactly that if given the chance.”

“Then you understand why I need to protect you.”

She froze. Damn it, he would turn this around on her. “Pain in my ass.”