Catnip and Hockey Sticks
The most painful thing of all is to have what you want the most to be within you grasp, yet you are forbidden to touch it.
When the council names Hansen the Alpha of his Stray pack of Cat shifters, at first he is reluctant. His father, the former Alpha, hadn’t exactly been a good example, so Hansen feels as if he doesn’t have a clue. But to his surprise, he finds that he is actually good at the job, and he soon has a thriving pack. One of Hansen’s steadfast rules is that he never favors one member of the pack over the other. They are all treated as equals, and that plan works out perfectly, until Hansen finds a homeless runt who needs a home. One who is sexy, alluring and draws Hansen in—Nevel.
Nevel didn’t even know he was a Cat shifter until he first transformed into his animal form. Kicked out of his home, he drifts around until Hansen takes him home and gives him sanctuary. Before long, Nevel finds himself in love with the Alpha, but no matter how hard Nevel, tries Hansen won’t give Nevel the time of day.
Will Hansen ever take Nevel as his mate? Or will Nevel be destined to live the rest of his days with a broken heart?
Damn it! The runt was missing yet again.
Hansen let out an aggravated sigh as he looked down at Nevel’s bed. While the same old zombie-themed bedding was there, there was no sign of the smartass, hotter than hell House Cat shifter. All that remained was a small dent in the pillow, messed up blankets, and the scent that Hansen had come to savor, the one that only Nevel carried. It was a sweet smell with just a small twist of muskiness, and every time Hansen inhaled it, he was filled with lust. Damned if it wasn’t going to be the death of Hansen, too. Because, the last thing he needed was to fall for a brat who had the penchant for not following rules and acting as if life was one big game and he was the starring player.
Not that Hansen could let anybody aware of his secret desire for Nevel. As leader of their small pack of Strays, Hansen always made a point of never showing favoritism. Call him crazy, but Hansen felt pretty sure that pinning down the smaller man, fucking him for hours, then claiming Nevel as his mate would be a very clear violation of that practice. Okay, maybe he wouldn’t go that far…yet. But, if he allowed the others to see all the sideways glances, the desire that lingered in his eyes, the way he was always overprotective of Nevel, Hansen knew that the cat would be out of the bag. So instead, Hansen did his best to hide his feelings…by avoiding them. If Nevel entered a room, Hansen would leave. Hansen took all his meals in his office. Whenever they all went out, Hansen made sure he was never in the same car as Nevel. Hansen did just about anything so he didn’t have to spend any time around the runt. It was just too risky.
That still didn’t mean Hansen wasn’t going to leave ASAP to search for the runt. Hansen would do the same for any of his Strays—only he wouldn’t be full of terror that his heart pounded so hard it was a wonder the organ didn’t burst through his chest. Any more than he would be sweating so hard that he didn’t even have to worry about putting on his heavy down jacket to protect him against the cold Michigan weather.
Hansen tried to fool himself into thinking that his reaction was only due to the fact that Nevel was so much smaller than the rest of them. That it had nothing to do with his emotions, though. After all, if he ran into another Stray pack, Nevel wouldn’t stand a chance of getting away unscathed. In the end, Hansen came to the stark realization he was afraid because it was Nevel. Runt or not, Hansen cared deeply for the other man, and as such he couldn’t deny the strong urge to protect Nevel, to the point thatHansen would sacrifice himself if necessary in order to protect Nevel.
Spinning on his heels, Hansen rushed toward the front door. Unfortunately, he had to pass through the kitchen to get there. That would mean he would run into at least one of the others. They were going to grill him like hell, too. After all, the phrase curiosity killed the cat didn’t come from nowhere. House Cats, shifter or not, could never keep their noses out of others’ business. Sometimes, Hansen felt like he was living with a house full of old ladies, instead of twenty-year olds.
Sure enough, Vince was at the stove. That wasn’t a big surprise. Even though the twenty-five year old shifter was as thin as a rail, he ate more than all of them combined. Vince turned around, his dark green eyes filled with confusion.
“Where are you going? Your shift at the bar doesn’t start for hours,” Vince asked, predictably.
“Since when has that been your business?” Hansen snapped harshly. He swore that he couldn’t even use the bathroom without the seven other members of his Stray pack knowing about it. Hell, they all probably gathered around the door and waited for him to get out. Hansen couldn’t be for certain, but he could have sworn that the Stray medic, Tyson, kept a record of Hansen’s bathroom habits. Tyson probably thought it was his duty as Hansen’s caregiver to do so. Hansen, on the other hand, found it annoying as hell.
Even so, as soon as the harsh words passed his lips, Hansen wanted to take them back. While Vince was as withdrawn as he used to be, he still was wary of others. Vince seemed to shrink back, his pale face stark against his dark hair.