“Don’t you dare.” Tabby glared at him. She hated her brown hair, always had. “I’d rather be b—” she glanced at Alex “—blonde.”
“Nice save.” Alex winked at her and the others chuckled, easing the tension somewhat. “Julian, what do you need to wake Chloe up?”
“Privacy, and lots of it.” He headed for the door. “I’ll start tonight.”
“How will we know it worked?” Laura Williams stood, her gaze anxious as she watched Julian leave her daughter’s room.
“Trust me, you’ll know.” Julian left, leaving behind a group of very confused, very hopeful shifters.
“We need to get going too.” Alex hugged both his uncle and his aunt before taking hold of her arm. “We’ll stop by again tomorrow after we go house hunting. Let us know if you need anything.”
“Sure thing, Bunny.” His uncle pounded his back. “We’ll call you if anything changes before then.”
“With luck, her mate will be here when she wakes up.” His aunt gave him a peck on the cheek. Almost immediately, her eyes went back to her daughter. “Love you, Bunny.”
“Um. Bye.” She wasn’t used to this family stuff. She had no idea what had happened to her own family and, frankly, she really didn’t care. But watching Chloe’s parents watch over their child had her longing for something she’d never had. She wondered how she would she feel if it were her daughter lying on that bed?
Alex’s hand landed on her stomach, his fingers caressing her through her shirt. A sudden thought hit her.
Holy shit! They hadn’t used condoms at least once that she remembered. What if she was pregnant? She gulped, suddenly terrified. What the fuck had they been thinking? Her hand moved to rest over Alex’s. She looked up at him and saw the way he was watching her, his gaze full of affection. She knew how he’d react if they were pregnant.
She blinked. If they were pregnant. She had a sudden vision of Alex sitting in a chair, their child resting in his arms. And the vision didn’t scare her at all. He’d be an amazing father. Alex would never kick his child out of his home. He’d be more likely to kick the ass of anyone who tried to hurt his baby.
“Take care.” Laura offered her a hug as well. “Bunny, your parents said they’d sit with Chloe for a little while tonight while Steven and I get some rest, so if you need them, call here.”
“Will do. We’ll see you tomorrow.”
Alex took hold of her arm and led her out the door. “Ready to do my ink, baby?”
Tabby smiled. She might not know families, but she knew her art. “Sure thing.”
They headed for her Jeep. “Shop’s closed, but I’m pretty sure Cyn won’t mind me working on you after hours. Do you have any idea what Julian’s planning on doing?”
Alex shook his head and drove for the shop. “Not a clue. Think we should tell Cyn anyway?”
“And risk that sneaky bastard figuring out a way to dye my hair brown again? No way.”
They passed Frank’s diner, drove through the nicer shopping district that contained Emma’s shop, Wallflowers, and finally arrived at the little cluster of shops and convenience stores nearer the campus. Alex pulled around back and got out of the car. She settled back down when he waved to her, letting him check the area out with eyes and nose. He came around to the passenger side and helped her out, ignoring her grin. “You have someone watching the shop during the day, don’t you?”
He shrugged, not even bothering to deny it. She bet he’d had Gabe recruit some Pumas for the job. She hadn’t scented any Bears and the scent of Puma was much more common than any other shifter.
Tabby dug her keys out of her purse and led the way to the back door. “So, do you have an idea of what you want?” Tabby clicked on the lights only in the back of Living Art. No sense advertising that someone was here when they weren’t supposed to be.
“Other than the bear and wolf? No.”
She led him into her workspace. “So, I get creative license, huh?” He just grinned at her and settled into the chair. “Cool. What kind of bear?”
She plopped down on her stool, stunned. “Grizzly?”
“You’re a grizzly ?” Wow. That explains a lot. He said he had anger management issues? Talk about an understatement. Grizzlies were considered the most aggressive of all the Bears. Some would say they were the most aggressive of all the shifters. She whistled. “Okay. Feel free to protect me from, y’know, anything you feel I need protection from.” It wasn’t like she’d be able to stop him. Grizzlies could, and would, face down entire Packs. Those confrontations usually ended in the Bear’s favor, unless the Pack was particularly large or themselves extremely aggressive.
He chuckled. “Have any ideas what you’d like to do?”
She leaned back and studied him. “Where would you like the tattoo? And what size?” A glimmer of an idea was building inside her. Watching Alex with his family had made her long for things she’d thought she’d never have. She’d dreamed of a roof over her head, food on the table, cubs at her feet and a man by her side who’d love her forever when she ran as a Wolf. Now Alex was offering her everything she’d ever wanted on a silver platter.
Yeah. She had an idea of what she’d ink onto him. Their hopes and dreams, permanently on his flesh.
He sat up and pulled off his shirt. He pointed to his chest. “Here, and whatever size you’d like.”
She ran her hand over the smooth skin, felt his muscles ripple under her hand.
Oh, he’d look so good with her ink right there, her signature for anyone to see. “I know what I’m going to do.” She handed him a magazine. “Give me about twenty minutes, okay?”
He nodded. “Mind if I put on the radio?”
“Nah, go ahead. Just stay out of the front of the shop. We don’t want anyone thinking we’re open or wondering if we’re being robbed.” She grinned at him and headed back through the curtain. She smiled to herself. Cyn obviously hadn’t found the ladder yet; the sign she’d tacked up was still there. She sat down at the desk and began drawing.