Home > Lure of Oblivion (The Mercury Pack #3)(9)

Lure of Oblivion (The Mercury Pack #3)(9)
Author: Suzanne Wright


Rows of pool tables lined the left side of the wide space, where there were also plenty of stools and small round tables. On the right side was a long bar, a wall-mounted TV, cushioned booths, and wooden tables. Sports paraphernalia and framed photos lined the wood-paneled walls of the entire space.

The place was fairly crowded, but not enough for Zander to feel smothered. Most patrons were either sitting at tables watching the game airing on the TV or gathered around the pool tables.

There was a lot of cursing and trash talk, but it was all banter. Among the sounds of balls colliding and tumbling into pockets were the bleeping of the gaming machines, the sizzling of cooked food, and the music coming from the jukebox.

“Damn, I’m starving.” Bracken patted Zander’s arm with the back of his hand. “Hey, look, there’s Gwen.”

Zander tracked his gaze, not sure why a weird sort of anticipation began to slowly spread through him like warm syrup. His vision was blocked by a group of guys, but he could see her head, see her smiling that distant but courteous smile as she carefully took plates from the tray she was holding. Well, it would seem she worked for her brother-in-law as well as her mother. Or adopted mother. He knew from the females’ scents that they weren’t biologically related.

Spotting an empty booth nearby, Zander headed straight for it and slid onto the cushioned bench.

Bracken sat opposite him. “I can’t help but notice that you found us a table in the area Gwen seems to be working.”

Well, it would give Zander the opportunity to watch her, to see how she interacted with people, to work out what the hell was unsettling his wolf. The run hadn’t helped ease the beast’s tension at all.

Dressed in a lemon T-shirt and cutoff shorts, she weaved her way through the group, heading toward the door that he suspected led to the kitchen. Jesus, she had shapely, tanned legs that looked as smooth as butter. His cock twitched. He’d always been a sucker for legs. He could see himself hooking Gwen’s over his shoulders as he—

Spotting him and Bracken, she blinked and then held up one finger. She went into the kitchen only to reappear moments later. “Hey,” she greeted them with a smile, stopping at their table.

His wolf immediately withdrew. There was no submission or fear in the act, just a sort of primal wariness.

“Hey,” said Bracken. “You do manly foods, right?”

Her mouth quirked. “Manly foods?”

“Red meat. Chili. Chicken wings. Stuff like that.”

“Ah, yes, we do manly foods.” She pulled a pen and pad out of her pocket. “Most go for the steak, fries, onion rings, and beer combo.”

Bracken’s smile widened. “That should hit the spot.”

She raised a brow at Zander. “What about you?”

“The same,” he said.

“And bring some nachos too,” Bracken added.

“You got it.” She scribbled down their order on a notepad.

“Yvonne said this place belongs to your sister’s fiancé,” Zander told her.

“That’s right.” Gwen turned to gesture at Chase . . . and saw that he was waving her over. She turned back to the wolves. “I’ll send over another waitress with your beers and have her place your order so you’re not waiting long.”

As she walked away, Zander couldn’t help but take another long look at those legs. Eyes seemed to follow them wherever she went, and he didn’t think she even noticed.

He watched as she handed their order to another waitress and then crossed to a tall, well-built male in the corner. They stood close, not hesitating to enter each other’s personal space. There was nothing sexual about it, but he found that he didn’t like it.

Shamelessly, Zander used his shifter-enhanced hearing to listen to their conversation. It was pretty much impossible to catch more than a few words here and there, but what he did hear sure did send his curiosity spiking.

 

Gwen sighed at Chase. He stood there, a Marlboro cigarette balanced in his mouth, giving her his trademark glare that made most people—male and female—avert their eyes and back down. Given that Julie was nervous around guys, Gwen still had to marvel that the burly, tattooed male had somehow managed to earn her trust, let alone get her to accept his proposal.

Gwen liked that Julie had someone so tough. Her sister, delicate in many ways, needed that buffer from life. But Gwen didn’t, and Chase saw no need to acknowledge that. He shoved his nose into her business far too often and expected her to effectively report to him. As such, he was pissed that she hadn’t immediately called him when Brandt paid her a visit.

“I should have heard it from you, Gwen, not through the fucking rumor mill.”

“Give me a break, Chase. It only happened last night. I haven’t even told Yvonne about it yet.” A fan of sleeping pills, Yvonne had slept right through it. “Besides, I just gave you the full story—you can stop whining.”

He took a pull of his cigarette and then tilted his head slightly when he exhaled so that the smoke didn’t blow in her face. “Donnie should have shot the little bastard in the fucking head.”

“He’s not worth the jail time.”

“No, he’s not.” Leaning back, he tapped his cigarette, sending fine gray ashes tumbling to the glass ashtray resting on the high-top table. “Maybe I should pay the Moores a visit.”

“Don’t. You’d be wasting your time. Right now, I’m the only thing that Brandt’s concerned about. If you went there, he’d only twist the whole thing, and then Colt would arrest you—and he’d do it gladly, considering how much he seems to hate you.” But then, Colt hated most people.

“I don’t give a fuck about Colt,” said Chase, his tone dismissive.

“Well, I give a fuck that he might arrest you, so please—for Julie—stay out of it.”

He sighed. “Did you call Julie?”

She narrowed her eyes at how evasively he dodged her request. “Yes. I told her that I was fine, and I was being careful.”

“So, basically, you lied. She’s worried sick about you. She wants to see you, but I told her not to go to the B&B. If she was there when Brandt came, she’d have been terrified.”

Yes, she would have been. Julie got thrown back to her childhood every time she heard a guy raise his voice. But . . . “She’s stronger than you think, Chase. Still, I don’t want her there either. Look, I know this situation is fucked up, but let it play out. Let Brandt dig his own grave; he’s doing me a favor.”

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