For single dad Steven the choice was simple – find the boy’s family and hope they had the answers.
As the alpha of Lone Wolves Ranch, Mack trusted in humans as much as he trusted in love. Not at all. But he has a soft spot for the brave man searching for his son’s relatives. When he discovers Steven is his fated mate, he’s stuck between a soft spot and a hard place.
The Cub Club is a gay wolf shifter romance containing mPreg and knotting. A complete 65,000-word novel – no cliffhanger!
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“We got company. There’s a biker at the gate.”
Mack looked up from the paperwork, staring at the walkie-talkie. It was unusual to have visitors. It was even more unusual for Sarge not to handle it on his own. The man was an excellent head of security, but he favored shifting and playing a rabid dog every time someone approached the ranch. It was effective. There wasn’t a repairman within fifty miles who would take their calls.
Mack picked up the radio. “I didn’t hear a motorcycle.”
“He’s on a friggin’ bicycle. Dressed in khakis and a button-down shirt. Who the hell dresses business casual in the Sierra backwoods?”
“Real estate agent?” Mack switched to the security camera feed on his computer. The mystery man stood outside the gate, holding a bicycle. “What’s he want?”
“Won’t say. Says he needs to talk to whoever runs the school here. Says it’s personal.”
Mack took another long look at the screen. If someone wanted to appear non-threatening, this man had it down pat.
“But here’s the weird thing,” Sarge continued. “I can’t smell him. I mean, he had to bicycle three miles down that dirt road, and in this heat I should be able to smell something.”
Sarge was of the old guard. Paranoid about discovery. Distrusting of humans. There was always a perfectly reasonable explanation for any visit, rare as they were. “I’m coming.”
Mack walked out of his office, into the hot afternoon sun. Everybody has a scent, he reasoned. Is Sarge getting a head cold? The gate was less than fifty feet away, and he saw the man waiting patiently.
He locked eyes with the stranger. The gaze he received in return wasn’t threatening or defiant. It held an intense curiosity. Too curious. This wasn’t ranch business.
Mack didn’t need to be any closer to take in the details. His suspicion heightened his senses, and he was on the alert for any potential danger. The man was attractive. Maybe in his mid-thirties, though prematurely gray. He was dressed exactly as Sarge had described, holding a mountain bike.
The only thing odd was what Sarge had already noticed: the man didn’t have a scent. There was something, but no stronger than salty sea air. Considering there wasn’t an ocean for more than a hundred miles, it was the only unique thing about him. Maybe he’s a merman.
Mack amped up his alpha attitude, swaggering the last few steps to the gate, before slapping his hand on the metal bars. “Can I help you?”
The stranger looked exhausted and tense. There were dark circles under his eyes, and his knuckles were white where he gripped the bike. He was covered in dust, much more than was usual. By late summer, the dirt road kicked up thick clouds of the stuff, but this was still June. Where had he bicycled from?
“I need to speak to whoever is in charge,” he said. The voice attempted to sound authoritative but cracked in the middle of the sentence, displaying an undercurrent of fear. Mack thought it strange he couldn’t smell it on him. “It’s about one of your students,” the stranger said.
Great. The man was a local, dressed in his Sunday best. The policy of the ranch was to be respectful but distant from their neighbors. Sometimes it was hard to accomplish that when you had teenagers. “Have they been causing trouble?”
The man shook his head. “No. An old student. Carol Rydell.”
Carol? Mack hadn’t thought of his cousin in years. She had been a rebellious teenager, with an overbearing alpha father. Uncle Jon was the alpha, and the old man didn’t like to be questioned. Carol had been too much like her father and didn’t like to be ordered around. She ran away at sixteen, and no one spoke of her since.
As much as Mack wanted to lie and say, “Never heard of her,” he found himself asking, “What do you want to know?”
The man’s poker face slipped, and worry was written all over it. “Did she have any family?”
He took a breath, and then blurted out, “Because she died thirteen years ago. In childbirth. And I adopted her son.”
If this was a ploy to get Mack to admit the ranch catered to the supernatural, it was a good one. Carol’s son could have come into puberty just in time for the full moon three days ago. And Mack recognized the look in the man’s eyes. Shift-faced. The human had seen the boy change. Or had he? He looked tense. But why can’t I smell his anxiety?
Mack realized he needed to be noncommittal. Get the man to tell him everything, while revealing nothing to him. “What’s your name?”
Mack didn’t bother introducing himself. He was going to give the stranger the absolute minimum until he knew who he was talking to. “So, you’re raising Carol’s thirteen-year-old boy.” He opened the gate. “I bet you have questions.”
“You have no idea. I mean, I’m hoping you do.”
He wheeled the bike inside, while Sarge closed the gate behind them.
“You can leave that here,” Mack instructed, pointing at the bike.
Sarge stood beside him but Steven hesitated, as if this were his last chance to escape. No one said a word while Mack held his gaze, signaling my turf, my rules. Steven relinquished the handlebars, and Mack’s wolf purred. It’s fun bossing around humans.
The two walked the short distance to Sarge’s shack. It was half-jokingly called the guard house because all business with outsiders was handled here. No strangers got farther than this point without Mack’s approval, and few even made it that far. However, this conversation needed four walls around it.
Once inside, Mack sat behind the desk. He needed to be intimidating and distant. “So, Carol’s son…” Mack waited to see whether Steven would supply the name of the boy. The long pause let him know he wouldn’t. “Has he recently come into puberty?”
When Steven nodded, Mack gave him a guarded smile. “I assume you’re not here because you caught him masturbating during the full moon.”