He had to come up with something plausible. “Actually, I was thinking of getting a tattoo.” He had a few already, so another one would be no big deal. A lot of women seemed to enjoy tracing the spiral triskelion design on his left biceps, the dark angel on his right shoulder. He had a black-inked, woodcut-style tailed bear with colored stars for the constellation Ursa Major on his lower back.

A sudden image flashed before his eyes, so strong it startled him. “A bear and a wolf, I think.” Wolf? Is that what I’m smelling? He didn’t know there were any Wolves living in Halle. The only non-Puma he was aware of was his cousin Chloe, and she was Fox.

She blinked. “I think we can do that.”

“The bear will need to be pretty specific too.” He wasn’t about to go into details, not until after he’d met the owner of that scent. He was pretty sure that was his mate behind that curtain and he didn’t want to scare her off.

A Wolf? Really? He almost laughed. It seemed he was carrying on the family tradition of non-Bear mates. Ryan and Chloe’s mother was a Fox, and his Uncle Ray had also married a Fox. Bunny’s mother had been human, but despite that, his father had still caught flack in his mostly human community for marrying a black woman. His relatives had known better, and welcomed his mom with open arms. Fighting fate on your mate never worked out the way you expected it to, and you usually wound up in your mate’s arms at the end anyway, so why give yourself the grief?

“Oh.” She bit her lip. “Well, I do mostly piercings, but I could see if Cyn is available.”

She nodded and headed for the curtained-off area at the back. He could hear the murmur of voices, but neither one set off his senses.

“I wonder which one Cyn is,” he muttered. “Green or pink?”

“Pink.” He turned to find the woman with striking dark hair with broad pink streaks smirking at them. “I’m Cyn.” She held out her hand. “So, you want a tattoo, big guy?”

Bunny hid his grimace. Damn it, he wanted to see his mate, and pink Cyn wasn’t her. Cyn’s scent was sharper, harder. More lemony. “Yes, actually I do. The other young lady, what does she do?”

Cyn eyed him with suspicion. “Tabby is an apprentice tattoo artist.”

Bunny coughed. Nah. He could not have just heard that his Wolf mate was named after a kitty cat. No Wolf parent would be that cruel. Maybe it was Gabby or Darby or—

“Whose hair is about to fall out if you don’t get the bleach out now !”

Bunny shivered as that deep southern drawl prowled over his skin. His dick had gone from zero to hero in two seconds flat.

Oh yeah. He’d found his mate. Now he just had to claim her.

Oh shit. Oh, fucking shit. Tabby waited as Glory rinsed her hair out. My mate is out there. My mate . What’s even weirder? Bear. My mate is a Bear. And I have orange roots.

She was damn near hyperventilating. When she’d called dibs on the dude, little did she know she’d actually get him! And now she was going to wind up meeting him for the first time with orange roots . She was going to look like a half-melted Skittle. She grabbed Glory’s arm. “Y’all tell him I’m dead. Please?”

“Er, no. More like grrr-grrr.”

Tabby shook her head. “Never mind. That whole werewolf mate thing in romance novels?”

Glory’s mouth did that really wide “O” thing. “Really? He’s your mate?”

“Yes! And I am having serious hair issues.” She put on her best pleading look.

“So, tell him I’ve been killed in a horrible vegetable-dye accident.”

She held up her hands in mock-prayer. “Pleeeease?” She blinked, trying to look desperate. Hell, she probably did look desperate.

Tabby quivered. That deep, rich voice rolled over her, making her think of wicked things involving dark, melted chocolate and lit candles. “No customers allowed in the back room!”

Glory, bless her heart, threw a towel over her face, hiding her hair. “Sorry, you’ll have to wait out front.” Of course, now the towel was soaking up the still-running water. She was going to be drowned by a towel.

“Is everything all right in here?” The man’s voice was pure sin, deep and slightly gravelly. “Why is her head covered in a towel?”

“Please. Tabby will…be a while.” She could hear Glory clap her hands and tugged on her shirt, desperate to have the water turned off. She was spitting water back out onto the already-soaked towel. “Why don’t you hit one of the diners in the area for lunch? Maybe do a little shopping? Um, oh! Frank’s Diner has the best burgers in town!” Finally, someone turned the faucet off, saving her from a watery grave. She could just see the obituary. Woman Drowns In Towel With Horrible Hair. Film at Eleven.

There was a deep, happy sigh. “All right, if…Tabby, was it?…will be more comfortable.”

He sounded like he was choking back a laugh when he said her name. Tabby snarled, knowing he’d hear it even if he couldn’t see it.

“Uh…” Glory was obviously at a loss. Cyn was the one who usually took care of Tabby’s hair.

“Try around seven.” Cyn sounded amused, the bitch. “You can take her out to dinner. In fact, Tabby has the rest of the night off.”

“But she has to be back at work by two tomorrow afternoon. Oh, and the lady loves steak.” Tabby groaned behind her towel. That’s an understatement. “Glory, see to it he has our address, okay?”

“Trust me, just do it.”

“Okay, boss.” The curtain swished, but the scent of Bear remained. Glory must have stepped through the curtain.

“Ladies, it was a pleasure meeting you.” The curtain swished again. The Bear was gone.

“Oh, honey. You are so screwed. Literally.”

The towel was whisked off her head. Glory bunched it up, wringing the water out over Tabby’s face. “You always were a greedy bitch. I should get Cyn to leave you with orange roots.”