Wolf revolted. Link gripped his neck and slammed him against the side of a jacked-up pickup, rocking it up on two wheels with the impact. “You listen to me, you crazy fuck. Elyse thinned out a pack of deranged monsters in self-defense. Good on her. I’d help her again. I’m no McCall alpha. I’d rather bleed out than take that worthless title.”
Braydon made choking sounds and scrabbled at Link’s hands.
“Lincoln? Are you okay?” Nicole asked from the sidewalk near them. Her eyes were wide and her mouth slightly parted. Shit.
Link released Braydon and lurched backward.
“He came after me,” Braydon said in a deceptively submissive voice, holding his throat like a victim.
“Bullshit,” Nicole said, calling him out. “I saw you chasing after him. I saw you grab his jacket.”
Braydon’s naturally dark eyes narrowed to dangerous slits and lightened to green. “Is she yours?” he asked Link.
Link barked out, “No,” but Wolf disagreed. “Yes!” Link snarled unintentionally, then clutched his own throat to keep any more damning words locked down.
Braydon gave him the most satisfied predatory smile he’d ever seen, then backed slowly away. “Weak Link has a weak spot. This ain’t over, traitor.” He turned and strode for the bar across the street. “I’ll see you when I see you.”
“That sounds like a threat,” Nicole said softly from behind where Link was pacing in the dirty street snow, staring after Braydon. “Link? Was he threatening you?”
“Dammit, Nicole, I had it handled.” He turned on her. “You don’t know what you’ve done.”
“Done? I didn’t do anything. I just saw you and I—”
“You can’t talk to me anymore. You can’t talk to me, can’t be around me, can’t mention me, can’t even think about me.”
“Because I’m a fucking time-bomb!” The look on Nicole’s disappointed face had him scrubbing his hand down his two-day scruff. His mind raced. That dumbass, Braydon, would go tell the remaining McCalls about his whereabouts and about Nicole. Everyone in this town knew everyone. All Braydon had to do was ask one friggin’ townie who she was, and he could get her name, her dad’s name, the cabin she lived in, everything.
“I don’t understand,” Nicole whispered. She bit her bottom lip to stop the tremble he’d seen there. Wolf fell to pieces, practically scrabbling his way out of his skin to get to her. To touch her.
To avoid an unplanned Change, Link gave in, strode the three steps that separated them, and pulled her against his chest. He let off a long sigh of relief at holding her, which made no sense at all because she’d never been in more danger. His life was bathed in darkness, and now she was in the McCalls’ crosshairs, just for talking to him on the street.#p#分页标题#e#
“Why did you tell that man I was yours?” she asked softly, her hands still clutching her shopping bags at her sides.
“It was a mistake.”
Liar. You shouldn’t lie to her. She’s mine. Ours. Lie to anyone else, but not ours.
Link squeezed his eyes closed and did his best to resist the growl clawing its way up his throat.
“I’m bad,” he murmured against her hair. “You should stay away from me.”
The sound of the bags hitting the icy pavement was loud in the quiet moment, and slowly, she slid her hands around his waist. “You don’t feel bad to me.”
Link huffed a soft, humorless laugh. If only she knew how messed up his life was. How messed up he was. But then, he didn’t want her knowing about that. He wanted her to see him like she did right now. Like he was normal.
“I want to go out,” she said, clutching the back of his jacket with her gloved hands.
“With me?” This was a bad idea. Bad, just like him.
Her breath was shaky, and when he held her tighter, he noticed her body shaking as well. “Are you cold?”
“No. Scared. Happy. Nervous. I didn’t like the way that man grabbed you.”
“But you’re fine with me choking him?”
“In self-defense,” she argued.
Wolf was practically purring in his middle like a damned housecat. Good mate.
“Don’t call her that.”
“What?” Nicole asked in confusion. She eased back and searched his face. She wouldn’t see much, though. His sunglasses hid most of him.
“Coffee.” God, this was a horrible idea. Braydon would see them, but then again, Link had already told him she was his, so he might as well pile on another mistake. And now he was seriously justifying this decision? Pathetic. “There’s a coffee shop across the street. It’s not a date.”