Alpha Province: Puppet Strings(3)

By: Becca Van

Bladen mentally snorted. He was already going out of his mind because his tiger was having intermittent conniptions. He had no idea what was up with his inner beast, and though he wasn’t sure he wanted to know what the problem was, if he didn’t find out soon, he might just out the shifter community. If he lost all semblance of control and shifted to his animal form in front of a human, the shit would hit the fan.

“What time were Beckett, Crispin, and Daire getting there?” Cason asked.

Bladen shrugged, glancing at his brother. He rolled his eyes when he saw Cason was stroking his beard. He had no idea how his younger brother could stand having all that hair on his face. Bladen liked to be clean-shaven. He hated getting itchy and irritated from regrowth so he shaved every day. He even shaved the sides of his head so his hair didn’t get a chance to get into his eyes. Daxon, his youngest brother, was like him with short sandy-colored hair, although it wasn’t as short as his was. His brother was into ink, and while Bladen understood it, he wasn’t the type of guy who could sit still for hours on end while some human colored in his skin. He had no idea how much money Dax had spent on his body artwork but guessed it had been a lot. Yet that didn’t bother Bladen at all. They had more than enough money to retire on and live a very comfortable life as they so chose, but again, none of them could stand being idle.

Pushing his thoughts aside, Bladen gazed toward the bed-and-breakfast, stopping in his tracks. There were vehicles everywhere. He almost turned around to walk back toward their own home. There was still so much to do to finish renovating their own house, and he really didn’t want to be wasting time by chatting.

“Come on, Bladen.” Cason slapped him on the shoulder. “The sooner we get there, the sooner we can leave.”

He nodded in agreement but didn’t think they’d be leaving anytime soon. Nevertheless, he and his brothers could disappear so they didn’t have to stand around talking. They could finish what they needed to do so they didn’t have to ever step foot in the building again. It wasn’t that he didn’t like the other shifters and their mates. The opposite was, in fact, true. He couldn’t believe how happy the other men were with their women, and while he’d always been skeptical of the stories of mates being real, there was no way he could deny those legends now. Though he was happy for the other men, he didn’t want anything to do with women. Well, that wasn’t quite true. He had needs just like any other male. He had no qualms about slaking his lust with a member of the opposite sex as long as she knew the score upfront and agreed to be with him. He and his brothers had shared a few women over the years, and while the experience had been exciting and orgasmic all around, it was getting old.

Neither he nor his brothers had been with a woman for almost two years now, and he couldn’t see that changing anytime soon. The last thing he wanted or needed was a woman trying to tell him what to do, or god forbid, talk about his feelings. He wasn’t talkative in any way, shape, or form, and yet he’d found himself talking to the other women regularly of late. There was no way he wanted to upset those women by being his usual gruff, silent self, nor piss any of the other shifters off. He didn’t want to shed any blood in front of the females. They were all so sweet and delicate.

“Bladen, snap the fuck out of it.” Daxon punched him in the arm.

He hissed and scowled at his brother before blinking. “Fuck off,” he growled, shoving Daxon as he started walking again. He stopped a few steps later, inhaling deeply as the scent of food and something mysterious wafted to his nose on the breeze. He closed his eyes, sniffing again and again as he tried to work out what he was smelling.

His inner tiger stopped pacing and started purring before trying to get him to hurry forward. Bladen frowned over his feline’s reaction. His animal was excited and eager. He hadn’t felt that sort of emotion from his cat since before they’d retired from the Marines. When he heard first Cason and then Daxon groan, he opened his eyes and glanced at them. They were both sniffing and frowning, too. Bladen figured they were trying to work out what the tantalizing aroma was, as well.