“You can’t . You’re not a Wolf. You don’t have the right to take her in.”

Max grinned. His fangs were showing. “You’ve already pointed out she’s Outcast.

That means she’d have to prove herself in order to join a Pack. In case you missed it, I just happen to be an Alpha. She’s proven herself to me, and now I’ve chosen to take her in. That makes her mine.” In the blink of an eye, Max moved, wrapping his hand around Gary’s throat. Tabby could see the little dents in Gary’s skin where Max’s claws pressed hard enough to leave a mark, but not hard enough to draw blood. “Are we clear?”

“Good. Now. If I find out you’re harassing my Pridemate again, I will kick your ass so hard you’ll be eating through your sphincter. Do you understand me?” Max shook him lightly.

“Yes, Alpha Cannon,” Gary gritted out through clenched teeth. He’d just acknowledged Max’s right to protect Tabby and he didn’t look very happy about it.

“And you’re paying for the damages to this shop and Cyn’s face. Understand, pup?” Mist swirled around Max’s feet, almost invisible, but incredibly powerful.

Tabby trembled. Her shoulders bowed and her head dropped, Max’s power pulling her to her knees. Behind her, Glory and Cyn both groaned, obviously feeling the same effects.

Gary’s eyes changed, turning deep brown. Wolf’s eyes. He stayed on his feet; he had no choice. Max’s claws were still digging into his neck. “Yes, Alpha Cannon.”

Max let go slowly, drawing his claws across the outside of Gary’s neck. “Now, get out of here before I have Gabe arrest you. Or worse.” He tilted his head, his gaze never leaving Gary’s face. “What happens to Hunted shifters, Gabe?”

“No, but you’re bordering on rogue, boy.” Gabe took a stance to Max’s left, placing himself between the girls and the Wolves. “And rogues are my specialty.”

“Go back to school, little boy. If you grow up to be a real Alpha, you’ll understand what I’m doing here. Until then? Stay out of town. You’re not welcome here anymore.”

“You might want to consider going to another school. Maybe one closer to home?”

Gary gulped. “We’re leaving.” He scrambled out the door, dragging his friends with him.

Gabe shook his head, glaring at the trio rushing down the street. “What the hell is going on?”

“I have no idea, but I plan on finding out.” They exchanged a look before Max turned to the girls. “You three okay?”

“One of them hit Cyn.” Tabby lifted her head and took her first real breath since Gary had entered Living Art. Max had reined in his power. She could stand again.

She rose, grimacing at the sounds of broken glass underfoot.

Glory groaned, staring at the shattered glass counter. “Hell. We can’t open for business like this. Somebody will get hurt.”

“How did you know that you could make me Pride?” Tabby was still stunned. She was part of something again. She hadn’t even realized how tense she’d been until Max accepted her into his Pride. She felt so loose, so relieved, she was dizzy with it.

Max shrugged. “I didn’t. I just know Rick’s Luna is a Puma, and she’s now part of his Pack. I was hoping you wouldn’t need a Puma mate for it to work.”

Tabby paled. “What would have happened if it hadn’t worked?”

Max grinned. “You’d still be under my protection until Rick arrives.”

Arrives? “Um. The Poconos Alpha is coming?” Tabby backed away, bumping into Cyn and Glory.

Tabby turned, thoughts of the scary Wolf Alpha driven from her mind. “Oh crap.

“Let me see.” Max walked around her to help Cyn and Glory to their feet. His fingers lightly stroked the red, swollen flesh. “You’ve got one hell of a bruise.”

“Ow.” Cyn winced, pulling away from Max’s fingers. “That mutt is going to pay for this.”

“Let us deal with it.” Gabe picked up a piece of art, placing it on a stool near the shattered counter.

“Change me so I can deal with it myself! I’m sick and tired of the Fuzzy Club traipsing in and out of my place and wrecking my life!”

Max chuckled. “I heard that a certain Bear had it in mind to take care of that himself.”

Cyn screamed. Everyone stared at her, shocked. “Does everyone know about this but me?”

Max backed up, his eyes wide. “Maybe we should just go now.”

Gabe backed up right along with his Alpha. “Good idea.” The two men fled, heading in the opposite direction from Gary.

Glory giggled. “You just scared off one of the most powerful men in town.”

Cyn wrinkled her nose. “He may be an Alpha, and he may be powerful, but deep down inside? He’s still a man .” She kicked a piece of glass across the floor. “Put a pissed-off woman in front of him and he runs like the yellow-bellied coward he is.”

Glory was laughing so hard Tabby wasn’t certain she was breathing.

Cyn rolled her eyes. “C’mon, let’s get this cleaned up before The Three Bears show up. God knows which of us will have to play Goldilocks if they do.”

“Want me to have Julian look at that bruise?”

The glare Cyn shot at her should have turned her into a pile of ash.

Watching her two friends get mated was going to be so much fun!

She took the broom Cyn handed her and sighed.

Bunny sighed. Ryan was even more frustrated than he was. He’d dragged his cousin out of the hospital for lunch, hoping to get the man to relax. Hell, he’d even let Ryan have all the cantaloupe this time.

If Ryan clenched that fork any tighter, he’d bend it right in half.