Read Sorry, Charlie (Poconos Pack) Online

Authors: Dana Marie Bell

Tags: #shapeshifters, #Poconos Pack, #lions, #werewolves, #wolves

Sorry, Charlie (Poconos Pack) (7 page)

BOOK: Sorry, Charlie (Poconos Pack)
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“That was in front of Pack, under Protocol. Now we’ll be sitting with them having a meal, just the ten of us, where he’ll grill me like a bratwurst.” And that was where Ted knew he’d fail. He was comfortable speaking with people he knew, but people he didn’t know well tended to make him act and sound like an idiot. It’s why he didn’t work with people like Charlie and Dave did. Ted dealt with the tech end of things, keeping the servers going and managing the Lodge’s software and hardware needs. He was happiest sitting in a room with nothing but computers surrounding him, tracing problems and fixing them. He loved his job, but it bored most people spitless when he tried to describe his days.

Maybe that was what he could do. He could bore the Leo to tears.

“Oh, look! Nate finally made it.” Charlie waved to someone off to their right. “Yoo-hoo! Nate! Over here!”

Ted wiggled his finger in his ear. “You didn’t have to roar that out.”

“I wasn’t sure he’d hear me.” Charlie smiled wide. “Hey, Nate.”

“Charlie.” Nate Consiglione leaned forward and placed a quick kiss on Charlie’s cheek. “Ted. Congratulations, man.” Nate held out his hand, and Ted took it. Nate wasn’t one to test someone through a handshake, so their grips both remained normal. “You’re lucky. Charlie’s a hell of a catch.”

“I know.” Ted glanced down at his mate. His pride in her was fierce. “She’s not some princess who sits around and eats bon bons all day. She works her ass off, and it shows. Lowell’s has improved a lot since she joined Belle in running it.”

Charlie’s smile slid away as her expression filled with wonder. “You really believe that?”

“Of course.” And he had the numbers to prove it if she was curious enough to ask. His people always took the satisfaction surveys out of the restaurant and entered the numbers into a database for Belle and Chela to look at. Surely Charlie had seen them as well. “I noticed an improvement in customer satisfaction almost as soon as you were hired. The proof is there.”

Her blush was instantaneous. “Thank you.”

He kissed the top of her head. Damn. How many people had underestimated her or held her back? “You’re welcome.”

Charlie cleared her throat and turned once more to Nate. “Have you met my brother yet?”

“Nope.” Nate held out his arm. “Why don’t we go meet him now?”

Charlie took hold of his arm and began dragging both men behind her. “Sounds good to me.”

Ah, there was the powerful, self-assured mate he knew and loved. Of course she was tugging an Alpha in her wake. Of course she thought nothing of it. He’d offered his arm, and she took that and ran a mile with it, blissfully unaware of the shocked looks on the faces of Nate’s Coyotes.

“Seb, I’ve got someone for you to meet.” Charlie pulled Nate to a stop right in front of Sebastian. Ted stood just behind her, trying to hide his smile. “This is Nathan Consiglione, Alpha of the New York Coyote pack.”

“Pleasure to meet you.” Nate held out his hand, his expression still cheerful. There didn’t seem to be any tension in him at meeting the Leo. Of course, with the Coyote’s ability to sense lies they tended to be pretty relaxed, open-minded people.

“Same to you.” Sebastian shook Nate’s offered hand. “So. Do you have a mate?”

Nate shook his head. “Not for lack of trying.” He sighed and put his hand to his chest. “But alas, none of the lovely ladies I’ve dated have been the one.”

“I know how you feel.” Sebastian turned to Ted. “I envy those who’ve found their mates.”

Ted gulped. He heard the faint warning, the hint of power that flowed through the Leo’s voice. “I promise I’ll take good care of her.”

The DJ, a member of the Pack, announced that dinner was about to be served. Ted led Charlie to her seat, bidding the Coyote Alpha a quick farewell. Nate was seated at the table to the right of the Leo’s, with his Beta and the rest of his men. On the left was the Leo’s entourage, including Kincade. He noticed Kincade sat with his back toward Sebastian, leaving him able to see most of the exits.

“Hey, Teodoro. Come sit by me.” Sebastian patted the back of the chair next to his own. It put Ted on Charlie’s right and the Leo’s left, a position that broke Protocol.

“That’s the Beta’s seat, sire.” And wasn’t Ted glad about that.

“I’m pulling rank. Besides, it’s been a while since I got to eat with my baby sister.” Sebastian turned to Dave. “You don’t mind, do you?”

Ted could already see the apology in Dave’s gaze. “Not at all.” He and Ben bypassed their assigned seats to sit on Ted and Charlie’s other side.

Ted tried to get Charlie next to Sebastian, but with a deft bit of maneuvering he didn’t quite see he somehow wound up sitting next to the Leo. He cleared his throat. “So. How’s the Leo business treating you?”

This. This was why Ted didn’t socialize.

Sebastian’s brows rose. “It has its ups and downs.”

“Good.” Ted patted his thighs. “Good talk. I’m going to go drown myself in the toilet now.” He went to stand up but found a pair of kitty claws very close to his reason for living. He sat back down again lest his favorite kitty wind up with a pair of balls to play with before dinner. “Or not.”

“Tell me about yourself, Ted.” Sebastian leaned toward him so he could be heard better over the crowd. Either that or he wanted Ted to know how easy it would be to snap him like a twig. “What do you do here?”

“I make it go.” Ted expected the blank look on the Leo’s face, but he hadn’t been able to resist the Geordi La Forge quote. “Have you ever seen
Star Trek: Next Generation
?”

The Leo shook his head, his expression turning fascinated. “Nope.”

“Oh. Never mind then.” Ted shrugged and began the boring spiel he told everyone who asked him what he did. “I’m the IT manager for the Red Wolf Lodge and Spa. I keep the networks up and running, keep the servers secure and up to date and make sure that everything runs smoothly.” Someone else took care of the website and the advertising of the Lodge.

“In other words,” Charlie broke in, “he’s the chief engineer.” She bit her lip, her expression turning confused. “Or would you be Spock?”

“Nah. Science was never my thing.”

“Oh. Sounds fascinating.” Sebastian’s gaze darted around the table before settling once more on Ted.

“It can be.” And Ted began to talk about his work, ignoring the way Charlie’s claws dug into his thigh or the way Sebastian’s eyes began to glaze over. It took over half the meal to get Sebastian bored to the point of tears. “And that’s what I do.”

Sebastian nodded. “Okay.” He didn’t even seem to notice that Ted had stopped talking. It might have had something to do with the three glasses of wine he’d downed in rapid succession.

Ted could make his job sound
very
boring when he wanted to.

Ted smiled and turned to Charlie. “I—”

Sebastian, whom he’d thought half-asleep, interrupted before Ted could finish his thought, let alone his sentence. “And your family? What about them? Any brothers or sisters?”

Ted took a deep breath and turned back to Sebastian. “My parents are in Florida with the old Alpha, enjoying their retirement.”

Ben piped up at that point. He knew how much Ted hated to socialize. “His father was the old Marshal.”

“Yeah, dear old Daddy was upset that I’m merely the Second.”

“Ouch.” Sebastian grimaced in sympathy. “I know what it’s like to disappoint family.”

“Oh?” Maybe they had something to bond over other than Charlie.

“My father was the Lion Senator before I became the Leo.”

“He was a supersized Mcdouchebag,” Charlie muttered.

Sebastian laughed. “He wasn’t that bad.”

Charlie just shrugged. “Not to you, maybe.”

“He wanted me to study every aspect of shifter history and politics, the differences between the species, the types of extinct species, and most of all how to contain my power. He could be harsh, but he meant well.”

“You don’t sound like you believe that.” Ted had, as Second, questioned people before, and something about the Leo’s tone set his senses on alert.

Sebastian shot him a look that quieted him immediately. “It’s no longer an issue.”

The order was loud and clear.
Drop it
. “Yes, sire.”

The Leo grunted. “Please don’t call me that.” The pained expression on his face was almost comical. “I get enough of that at home.”

Ted was careful to keep his expression blank. “Yes, sire.”

“You and my sister are going to get along just fine. You’re both annoying pieces of crap.”

Ted didn’t take offense, mostly because Charlie did it for him. “What do you mean by that, Sebby?”

“Damn, girl.” Sebastian waved his hand in front of his face. “Did you eat tuna and onions for lunch today? Because that’s what Tic Tacs are for.”

“Aw, sorry, Sebby. That must be the scent of your last girlfriend. What was her name again? Tuna-crotch Tina?”

“I thought that was your last boyfriend. Who knew you swing both ways? Do Mom and Dad know?”

“That you’re a yellow-bellied chicken cat?” Charlie nudged Ted in the side. “Did you know that when Sebby was twelve he got treed by a squirrel?”

“Ixnay on the erl-squay,” Sebastian growled.

“He was afraid it would steal his nuts.”

Sebastian now elbowed Ted in the side. “Did you know that when Charlie was fifteen she almost joined a cult?”

“They were going to make me a goddess,” Charlie snarled.

“By sacrificing you to Bast.” Sebastian shook his head. “Damn shame that didn’t work out for you.”

“Did you know that when Sebastian was twenty he ran away from home?”

Sebastian rolled his eyes. “I went to college, beyotch.”

“Dad had to send the guards to fetch him back home.”

“He sent Kincade.” Sebastian nudged Ted in the ribs. Ribs that were rapidly becoming sore from taking one too many elbows. “When Charlie was five she declared that she didn’t want to be a shifter, she wanted to be a superhero. Then she ran round the house in her panties calling herself Flower Girl. She’d yell ‘By the power of pollen!’ and everything.”

“Really?” Ted turned to Charlie. “Do your parents have pictures?”

“Yes,” Charlie grumbled. “Not that you’ll ever see them.”

Sebastian leaned toward Ted, but thankfully left his ribs alone. “The code to the safe is six one five seven.”

Charlie glared at Sebastian. “I hate you so much.”

Ted picked up his fork and poked at his food. “At least the chicken was nice.”

Chapter Eight

“A-hunting we will go, a-hunting we will go, high-ho the Derry-o a-hunting we will go,” Charlie sang. She swung her arms, happy as a clam to be getting out into nature. Hell, she was salivating at the thought of catching a nice, juicy rabbit or two. The men were thinking bigger, like a white tailed buck, but she just wanted to hunt with her mate and cuddle under a tree afterward in the cool evening air. Was that too much to ask?

“When we get to the hunting area stay close to me,” Ted muttered. “Sebastian has enough protection that I doubt I’ll be needed, but Ben’s requested that he and I join Sebastian’s entourage to show that we’re also protecting the Leo.”

“Damn it.” There went her cuddle time. Sebastian hunted, ate, and then wanted to swim of all things. What cat in their right mind wanted to go swimming? He wasn’t a Tiger, for fuck’s sake. “I hate swimming after a hunt.”

“Swimming?” Ted glanced at her, but then turned his attention once more to Sebastian. “Who likes to swim after a hunt?”

“Sebby. He thinks it gets him clean afterward. The weirdo.” Charlie shivered. It might be spring, but it was still cold up here in the mountains.

“Be careful out here. There’s some black bears around here. If we get too close to a den, the female might attack to protect her cubs.”

She kissed his cheek. “I’ll keep my eyes and my nose peeled.”

“Good.” His hand tightened on hers. “I don’t want anything to happen to you.”

“Aw, you do care.” Charlie put her head on his shoulder, almost tumbling over a bit of rotten log. “I say we sneak off and make out while the rest of them hunt. Fuck the bunnies.” She raised her head. “Nope. Make that fuck
like
bunnies.”

Ted choked as Kincade’s gaze landed on them. The man was scowling at them. Charlie had an idea why. “I’m mated now, Kin. I’m allowed to boink my mate.”

Kincade turned away, shaking his head and muttering, “Boink?”

“Yes. Boink, maul, boink some more. You know, act like mates.”

Ted gulped. “Maul?”

“Yes, dear.” Charlie struggled not to laugh. The man looked horrified, but before she could reassure him that she was just teasing, Rick raised his hand and silenced her.

Rick turned to face them, Belle close by his side. Already the Luna’s eyes were the gold of her cat. “We’re here.”

With those two words everyone began to strip. Most of the Pack was still at the Lodge, keeping things running. Rick’s freaky mind-meld with the members of the Pack would alert them to any trouble, so no one had to rig a way to carry a cell phone with them.

BOOK: Sorry, Charlie (Poconos Pack)
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