“What is this Shifter business?” she asked.
Spike’s brows drew down. “You’re nosy.”
“Jordan’s the son of my best friend, and she died last night. So, yeah, I’m all kinds of nosy. I used to ride horses tougher than you, so don’t think I’m afraid of you.”
He just stared at her, like a lion might stare at a roach who’d made the same declaration. “Does that mean you’ll stay?”
“You didn’t answer my question about what kind of work you do.”
“Errands. I’m an errand boy.”
“Yeah?” Myka looked him up and down, from all those bulging muscles to his buzzed hair and his wicked-dark eyes. “What kind of errands?”
“Anything I’m told to do. And that’s all you get. Stay?”
Myka had planned to already, but she made a show of conceding. “Yes.”
“Yay!” Jordan yelled from the porch. “My new great-grandma made me pancakes. Want some pancakes, Aunt Myka?”
“Pancakes? Give him a sugar high, why don’t you?”
Spike looked at her as though she’d lost her mind. “Pancakes are good for him. He needs energy. He’s a Shifter.”
Myka raised her hands. Now was not the time to debate. “Just go do your thing. I’ll watch him.”
Spike gave her a nod, half of thanks, half of exasperation. He turned around without another word and loped back up to the porch. Gracefully. He moved with amazing precision.
He opened the screen door. Jordan hopped down from the swing and dashed inside before Spike could grab him, the kid shouting for Spike’s grandmother.
Spike glanced back at Myka, still holding open the door. “Well? Aren’t you coming in?”
Myka hurried up to the porch. Just before she reached the door, Spike moved ahead of her and walked into the house, the screen gently swinging shut in Myka’s face. What the hell?
Spike turned around impatiently and yanked the screen door open again. “I said, aren’t you coming in?”
“I was, but you cut me off.”
Spike scowled down at her. He was close enough that she could smell the warmth of him, the male musk, the faint sweet of syrup from his pancakes.
“You think I’m stupid enough to let a female enter someplace ahead of me? Without me checking it out first?”
“It’s your own house.”
Spike kept staring at her, then he shook his head. “Goddess, I’m going to have to help Jordan unlearn all kinds of stupid shit.”
Spike rode down to San Antonio with Ellison, a wolf Shifter who’d decided to embrace Texas all the way, though he’d been transplanted here from Colorado twenty or so years ago. Ellison wore jeans, a big belt buckle, roach-killer cowboy boots, and a big cowboy hat. He wasn’t born with his Texas drawl, but he’d sure adopted it.
Ellison drove, fast and furious as usual in his old black truck, and pried the story of Jordan out of Spike. Shifters could never mind their own damn business.
Spike had mixed feelings about leaving Jordan back there alone with Myka. Good idea? Bad? She’d seemed happy to stay, had started helping his grandmother with the breakfast dishes, and Jordan had been excited to have Myka there.
That little tank top had been sexy as hell on her. Had a little bow right at her cle**age. Perfect for Spike to tug with his teeth.
He bet she’d smell good right there too. Her scent was like warm roses, spicy and strong but not overpowering. Dipping his tongue behind the bow to taste her skin—there was a good idea. His zipper started to stretch.
“I said, that little cub’s a wild one,” Ellison’s voice cut through the fantasy. He chuckled. “Fun to watch you running after him.”
Fun. Sure. Someone without cubs couldn’t understand.
Or, at least, Spike didn’t think Ellison had ever had cubs. The man never talked about his life before this Shiftertown. But Spike had to worry about all kinds of shit now, from what to feed the kid to the fact that he’d have to put a Collar on him sooner or later.
Spike barely controlled his growls. The Collars were painful going on, and to subject his son to that . . . Damn it, he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t let Liam do it.
Ellison drove to a bar in the north part of San Antonio, near the National Cemetery, where Gavan, Nate, and Spike had hung out on their rare off hours back when they’d been Fergus’s thugs.
It was a Shifter bar—that is, a bar that allowed Shifters to drink there. This wasn’t the friendly corner bar near the Austin Shiftertown where Liam worked as a manager and Shifters came to take a load off. This was a rougher place where the human bikers eyed Shifters and were always spoiling for a fight. An uneasy truce existed, each side knowing the other could start one hell of a brawl.
Everyone in the place turned around and stared at Ellison and Spike when they walked in. They recognized Spike, but he’d ceased to become a regular, and Ellison was clearly out of place.
Spike sensed their assessments, and he assessed back. He noted the exits, how many males were between him and each door out, how many of those males were Shifters, how many human. He noted who sat where, where in the bar humans and Shifters mixed, where humans and Shifters preferred to keep to their own.
Balls clacked on a pool table in the back room. Spike and Ellison ordered beers at the long bar and drifted toward the sounds of the pool game.
Gavan, a big Feline with sand-colored hair pulled into a ponytail, stood at the head of one table, watching two other Shifters play. Spike got that the other Shifters were Lupine right away from their stink. Felines were more fastidious. Spike put up with Ellison’s Lupine smell only because he was used to him, and Ellison often offered to pay for beer.