After sinking the eight ball into the corner pocket, I replaced my stick in the holder and walked over to him and held out my hand. I hadn’t gotten his name and hadn’t cared to. He was either new to town or just passing through, not that either mattered to me. He’d taken in my womanly shape and let his ego—and maybe the booze-- get to him. After insulting me, I’d accepted his challenge as some of the regulars looked on, giggling.
Some may have classified me as a ‘shark’ but that wasn’t really my problem. He’d seen me as an easy win, and I proved him wrong. I could smell the stink that lingered on him. Permeating the air around me, even the aroma of peanuts and alcohol couldn’t hide his stench. Of course my senses were keen and came in handy now and then. He was a shifter and I guessed a canine of some kind.
Tired of waiting, I demanded my money. “Deal’s a deal. Hand it over.”
He scoffed and swaggered in drunkenness as he leaned in closer. “You’s a snake.”
Leaning back, trying to avoid his nasty breath fanning my face, I spit out. “No, not a snake.” I heard some snickers from the bar, but ignored them. “But I may go rabid on your ass if you don’t hand over my money.”
That seemed to get his attention. But just as quick he turned from me and stumbled toward a corner table. I stayed several steps behind as I observed those sitting there. They too were new to town or passing through. I didn’t recognize any of them and I knew everyone in Woodland Creek—at least everyone who mattered.
As he took his seat, completely ignoring my presence, my eyes immediately found a pair of green-blue eyes sitting on the other side of the table. I was momentarily drawn into them and blinked, breaking the spell. There was something about him, besides the fact that he was rugged and big. I wondered how tall he was, knowing his height had to be significant. My senses had been off lately so I couldn’t get the read on him that I wanted to. His hair was long and dark and he had it pulled back loosely. His face was covered in a beard that was in desperate need of a trim. A leather coat covered his shoulders as I took in their width.
His mouth curled into a smile before he turned back to the woman hanging on his side. Rolling my eyes I turned back to my competitor. Placing my hands on the table, I leaned in and demanded my money once again.
“This is the last time I’m going to say it. You lost fair and square.”
He snarled at me and the rest of the table grew silent. The ambiance changed and I stood up fully, taking a step back. My eyes met the green-blue ones once again as they shifted to gold. He was a shifter, too. Hell, probably they all were and I knew in that moment that most likely they weren’t just passing through.
“Zeke, what d’ya owe the lady?”
“She hustled me, I don’t owe her anything.”
The same girl from before turned her attention to Zeke as she mumbled, “She ain’t no lady!” She watched me, waiting for a reaction. Scouring my body, she taunted me. “In fact, I bet she works for an hourly wage on the corner.”
I had a temper and before I knew it, I was nose to nose with her, leaning across the table spitting out, “You can find out how much of a lady I’m not. Just say one more word.”
Green-blue eyes—my name for him—stood and everyone paid attention. He was taller than I imagined and his hair was longer, too. He walked around the table and stood in front of me. Leering down at me, his eyes flashed gold again. When I didn’t flinch, his expression became curious, examining me closely. If he didn’t know what I was, he was a good actor.
I was growing uncomfortable, when he suggested, “If I were you, I’d let it go. Zeke here has a bad temper and I’d hate to see him lose that temper on a sweet thing like you.”
Ugh. I was utterly disgusted. “I’m no sweet thing. Maybe you should warn Zeke about my temper.”
“What’s your name?” He took another step closer as I tilted my neck up to see him. If he thought he could intimidate me, he was wrong… Maybe. “Mine’s Rollo.” He stuck his hand between us and smiled.
Groaning, I leaned around him so my eyes could meet Zeke’s. “Keep the money. Maybe use it to get groomed and bathed.” Zeke lurched up, but Rollo, with a smile on his face, put his hand up and Zeke sat right back down, making it evident that Rollo was their leader.
Grinning at me he said, “You’ve got balls.”
“If you mean bigger than his,” nodding toward Zeke, I confirmed, “Bet your ass I do.” It was a lost cause. Zeke could keep his forty bucks and get bent. I had more important things to deal with.
That got Rollo to smile. A chill ran up my spine and I knew I had to go. Turning, I stalked toward the door, grabbing my own leather jacket off my stool at the bar as I walked by.
I walked out of Vider’s into the cold night and inhaled deeply, but another scent caught my attention. Turning, Rollo was walking out the door and headed right for me. Marching toward my store, the next one down, I picked up my pace. I didn’t have time for a random hookup, not tonight.
“Hey, you didn’t tell me your name.”
Shouting over my shoulder, I replied, “I know I didn’t.”