Hello all! This week we have an excerpt from Chapter Two of Catch a Tiger by the Tail!
“I see you two are getting nowhere fast.”
Great. Just what Ethan didn’t need. He let out a grunt in response to Ash’s tease.
“Don’t get pissy with me. If you don’t make a move on your boy, someone else will. I got a feeling there’s a certain wolf Therian who wouldn’t think twice. Bautista’s already sampled the goods. Guess he liked it.”
Ethan hissed at him, and Ash chuckled. Asshole. Since when was Ash the expert on relationships anyway? Then again, he and Cael seemed to be settling into theirs. Ash was actually happy most days. It was weird. What did it say about him that Ash could get it right and he couldn’t? God, he needed a drink. He tapped the bar and held up two fingers to Bradley. With a wink, Bradley brought him a double shot of whiskey.
“Wow, on the hard stuff already?”
Ethan rolled his eyes and snatched up his whiskey glass, giving Bradley a nod in thanks. Everyone else was moving forward in their relationships except for him and Calvin. Although Ash wasn’t completely at ease with being open about him and Cael, he was doing his best and making the effort. The rumor of his relationship with a guy had spread through Unit Alpha, and instead of worrying about it, Ash went with it. He challenged anyone who tried to make something of his move from girls to guys, or rather one guy in particular. And of course he did so in typical charming Ash fashion—in other words putting the fear of God in anyone dumb enough to make a joke at his expense.
Dex and Sloane were sweet together, even when Dex was driving his boyfriend crazy, which was the majority of the time. The two were in synch, their bond bringing them closer together, giving them the ability to sense each other in a way they hadn’t before. Ethan still couldn’t believe they’d bonded. He didn’t know all that much about Therian bonds. It was one of those things not discussed out in the open, something that stemmed from deep within their feral side. Therians were always being accused of being animals. The last thing they needed was evidence suggesting there was some truth to the accusations. His dad had talked to him and his brothers about it when they’d been younger, stressing how serious it was, how dangerous for the parties involved. If there was ever a cautionary tale, it was Seb and Hudson. His big brother hadn’t been the same since he’d lost his mate. Like a part of him was missing. He suffered daily, and Ethan hated seeing Seb in pain like that, but there wasn’t anything he or Rafe could do about it. Not that Rafe gave a shit. When had his big brother become such a dick?
With a sigh, Ethan sat on the barstool Calvin had vacated and sipped his whiskey when Ash took a seat beside him. He ordered a beer and took a few swigs after it arrived, sitting silently. Ethan arched an eyebrow at him. Maybe Cael’s manners were rubbing off on him.
“You, me, Sloane, we’ve been through a lot of fucked up shit. The last year and a half alone has been insane. Yet for some inexplicable reason, these guys have stuck by our side. We’ve put them through hell. We’ve hurt them bad. And they keep coming back. Now that means they’re either fucked in the head, which in Daley’s case is most likely, or they see something in us we don’t. I know you got it rough, but you got a guy who’s been bleeding for you since the day you met. He’s had your back and taken on anyone stupid enough to cause you grief. I ain’t ever seen anything like it. For a Human his size, he’s one tough little son of a bitch.”
Ethan swallowed hard. He couldn’t deny Ash’s words. Calvin had been at his side from the beginning, their friendship tested time and time again, but it never faltered. Calvin never faltered. While growing up, he’d taken on Humans and Therians, anyone who messed with Ethan. Here he was this huge tiger Therian, and his Human best friend had fearlessly defended him against all odds. He still did.
Cael cheerfully bounded over, his pink cheeks giving away how tipsy he was. He threw his arms around Ash’s neck and planted a big kiss on his cheek, making Ash chuckle.
“Hey, Trouble.” Ash gave Cael a kiss on the lips.
Ethan’s brows shot up. He might never get used to seeing this side of Ash.
“Hi, Hobbs!” Cael gave Ethan a hug before pulling back and looking around. Ethan was used to it by now. Wherever he or Calvin went, everyone expected the other to be there at all times. It didn’t annoy him. He just found it strange that everyone thought they did every single little thing together. Okay, maybe they did most things together, but not everything. He pointed behind him to the door that led to the restrooms.
Cael turned back to Ash, and Ethan noted how at ease he was with Ash. He noticed the special way Cael smiled just for him, the sparkle in his bright gray eyes and the subtle gestures that always had him touching some part of Ash, his arm, his chest, his shoulder or leg.
“So…. Mr. Keeler….”
“Uh-oh.” Ash laughed and received a playful punch in the arm. He winked at Cael and nudged his cheek. “What can I do for you, sweetheart?”
“Dex says that Sloane can totally beat you at arm wrestling. I told him he’s been eating too many gummy bears and the sugar’s gone to his head, because you can totally beat Sloane.”
Ash eyed Cael. “You two made a bet, didn’t you?”
Cael nodded, a big sweet smile spread across his face. It was clear to Ethan then how easily Cael wrapped Ash around his little finger. It was also clear Ash was fully aware and went along with it anyway.
“What are the stakes?” Ash asked before taking a swig of his beer.
“If he wins, you have to wear the T-shirts of his choice for a week.”
Ash let out a low grunt. “And if you win?”
“Twenty-four hours of complete silence to distribute at the time of your choosing in whatever denomination you choose.”
Ash put a hand up. “Wait. You’re saying if I beat Sloane, I get twenty-four hours’ worth of silence to dish out on your brother whenever I want? So let’s say, if he’s annoying the fuck out of me during lunch, I can tell him to shut up for an hour?”
Cael nodded. “The only exception is if it’s an emergency.”
Ash jumped off his barstool. “Let’s do this.” Cael bounced off, and Ash leaned into Ethan, talking quietly. “Don’t worry so much about fucking it up that you end up doing just that.” Ash gave his back a hearty pat before strolling off, his arm around Cael, who’d stopped to wait for him.
Ethan finished off his drink, recalling the night in the surveillance van. Not their little show in front of Dex—he was still trying to forget Dex had been there—but what had come before that. He could still hear the soft gasps and moans in his ear as Calvin seduced Felipe. Ethan had watched Felipe kiss Calvin on the front steps of his house moments earlier. It had twisted Ethan up inside. Until then he’d been trying to figure things out, but when he saw Calvin being kissed and touched by another guy, when he heard Calvin’s hoarse whispers and moans, Ethan had been ready to go feral. His inner Felid had been furious. No one was supposed to lay a hand on Calvin in that way or make him sound like that.
Ash was right about Felipe. All Calvin had to do was say the word and the guy would make a move. Felipe might be a nice guy, but Ethan wasn’t about to give Calvin up. It was time for him to get his act together and do what he had to for the both of them.