The Mating Need (Werewolves of Montana #15) - Bonnie Vanak Page 0,1

gestured to the bartender, who refilled his drink. The bartender eyed Zoe, who shook her head.

“Did your alpha kick you out?” Troy had to ask. He knew how much that kind of rejection hurt.

Zoe sighed and patted her wig. “No. He is a good alpha. Kept emailing me, and I ignored the emails until last night. He said I could work in the kitchen, or help to build homes or any other kind of chores as long as I stayed away from the horses. The important thing was for me to return because I belonged there. I was more important than any horse.”

Troy liked the sound of this Aiden Mitchell. Different from other alphas he’d encountered in his travels over the past year. Far different from the alpha who’d kicked his ass out of his last pack.

“An alpha who values his people is a good leader. What’s the rest of them like?”

He wondered why he asked. Not just to keep her talking and walking off and making more mistakes with other males, but he wanted to know. Maybe because it had been too long since he’d heard of a good alpha leader who cared.

“We’re a big pack. Some cowboys, some not. Aiden says some of us are a ragtag bunch of misfits.” She gave her first real smile. “He says he’s the biggest one of all. The only perfect Lupine is his mate, Nia.”

She drummed her fingers on the bar. “My parents are great, too. I miss them, and my brothers and sisters.”

“What are you waiting for? Go.”

Still, she bit her lip and looked uncertain. He wondered what else held her back.

Finally she said in a soft voice, “Not everyone there is as nice as Aiden. There’s one guy there… I really screwed up with him. I didn’t want to tell anyone because I was ashamed.”

Zoe looked away.

That made sense. “The real reason you shifted into a wolf and spooked the horses.”

She blinked hard. “Stupid of me. I’m Lupine. I should be able to take care of myself.”

At that moment, he wanted to punch the male who had hurt her. All he could do was offer reassurance. “Don’t blame yourself. It wasn’t your fault. But running away will only give him more power to you, up here.” Troy tapped his temple. “Is there anyone there you do trust besides the alpha and your parents? Someone to watch your back?”

A small smile touched her mouth. “Yeah. If he knew what happened… you’re right. I do trust him. Do you really think I can go home again?”

“Yes. Go.”

Zoe nodded. “What’s your cell number?”

For a moment, his natural caution rose up. Never give out personal information. Yet he was the one who pushed her to returning home.

Troy looked at her again and told her. Zoe pulled her cell out of a tiny purse and called his phone.

“There. You have my number now. If you ever find yourself in Montana, look me up. Aiden is a good alpha if you need work. Or even a real pack to call your own. Thanks Troy.”

She dropped a kiss on his bristled cheek.

Troy pushed aside his whiskey, finding himself grinning a little. Maybe he still was a sorry soul, but hell, he’d managed to help someone in need. The glow of doing a good deed filled him, warmed him more than the cheap alcohol. Maybe he wasn’t such a screw-up.

Zoe started for the door. She almost reached it when a drunk Lupine shouted, “Whore!’ As Zoe turned, the drunk grabbed a half-filled bottle of whiskey and chucked it straight at her.

Troy sped off his stool, catching it in mid-air before it hit Zoe. She stood immobilized, fear etched on her face. Clutching the bottle, he opened the door.

“Go,” he ordered.

She fled as if being pursued. He shut the door behind her and then placed the bottle on the bar. Too late he became aware of the dead silence draping the bar. The stares and mutters.

So much for good deeds. Damn. He forgot how different he was, and how other Lupines hated different.

“What the hell?” screamed the drunk.

“You ain’t no damn wolf. Never seen a wolf move that fast, only Fae,” another Lupine yelled. “I should rip your throat out.”

Troy bristled. “I can show you how much wolf I am.”

“We don’t need your kind around here, freak,” the drunk told him.

Troy’s guts churned with a mixture of anger and grief. He struggled with his temper, the temper that always got him in trouble.

Did anyone need him around? What