Home > The Werewolf Meets His Match (Nocturne Falls #2)(2)

The Werewolf Meets His Match (Nocturne Falls #2)(2)
Author: Kristen Painter

She left him with a scowl on his face and walked back to the pool room, the need to exert some energy rippling over her skin. She found a spot at the bar rail along the wall and settled in to eat her grilled cheese. It was good. Better than she’d expected for something so simple. She watched the tables. Playing a few rounds of pool might help shed some of her excess energy.

Taking to the woods for a run, her first choice, wasn’t an option. Going full wolf in unfamiliar woods wasn’t the most advisable decision, even if it was the one thing that would give her the most relief.

The full moon was four nights away. Close enough that the wildness inherent in her kind was already itching to be free, and if she was feeling it, so were the other shifters in the area. That meant there was too much of a chance she might cross into another shifter’s territory and maybe have to brawl her way out.

Wouldn’t do to meet her fiancé wearing the scrapes and bruises of a turf scuffle. Of course, she wouldn’t know him unless she texted her father and got the rest of her intended’s info. She prayed that he was kind and decent. Those things mattered far more than what he looked like, although it wouldn’t hurt if he was all right looking.

She glanced over her shoulder. Parrot Head had made a smart decision and hadn’t followed her into the game room.

From her spot near the back wall, she got the lay of the land while she ate. All three pool tables were in use and all had players waiting. She picked the shortest line and set a stack of quarters on the rail as a signal of her intention to play, then went back to eating and people watching. A few feet away, a couple stood face to face, the woman’s voice quiet but strained, the man’s louder. Possibly bolstered by alcohol.

Ivy watched them out of curiosity and a small sense of familiar dread. Her shifter hearing picked up their conversation easily.

He wore a sweat-stained Red Man chewing tobacco hat and a flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled up. He stared down at the woman, who cowered beside him like a whipped dog. “What did you say to that guy?”

The woman looked up, the corners of her mouth pulled taut. She shoved her hands into the pockets of her jean jacket and tugged it tight over her flowered sundress. “I didn’t say anything to him.”

“Well, he certainly thought he had a reason to talk to you. Did you smile at him? Make him think he had a chance?”

Ivy frowned, her dread realized. She knew guys like this. Controlling. Jealous. Always thinking the world was out to take away whatever crumbs they had. With a shake of her head, she went back to watching the tables and the players to see when her turn would come up.

But the woman’s soft cry of pain pulled Ivy’s attention back. The man had a hold of the woman’s wrist. She tugged but was unable to free herself. “Please, Jimmy. Let’s just go home and—”

“And let that idiot ruin my vacation?” Jimmy’s voice got louder, drawing a few stares, but he didn’t seem to notice. “I don’t think so. I’m going to stay here and have another beer, and you’re going to shut your mouth and stop flirting with other men, or I’m going to teach you a lesson, you understand me?”

Ivy’s hackles went up.

The woman nodded, her eyes filled with the kind of old fear that told Ivy this wasn’t new behavior on the man’s part.

She didn’t wonder why women stayed with men like this. She knew. Even smart women sometimes found themselves in bad situations they couldn’t see their way out of. And smart didn’t always equal brave. Her mother was still with Ivy’s father after nearly thirty years.

Patsy had stood up to Clemens once that Ivy could remember. Ivy had been eight or nine and she’d wanted a new bike of her own, not one of her brother’s hand me downs. She wanted a girl’s bike with pink streamers on the handles and a pink seat. Her mother had forced the issue with her father and ended up with a split lip and a loose front tooth. She’d never disagreed with Clemens again after that. Not for her own sake or her daughter’s. Didn’t help that Clemens Kincaid was an exceedingly powerful man. The alpha of the Tennessee pack.

This guy in the Red Man cap definitely wasn’t an alpha anything and he definitely didn’t look like a mover and a shaker, but then neither did Clemens. Her father’s typical uniform was a dirty t-shirt and trucker jeans. But this guy in front of her gave off a real wannabe vibe. He just seemed like a lowlife who made himself feel like a big man by shoving his girlfriend around.

The woman chewed her lip and looked around the room from under the fringe of her bangs, and for a split second, she made eye contact with Ivy.

Ivy held the woman’s gaze, but the woman bent her head and broke the contact after a long second.

Jimmy caught her movement and whipped around to see what she’d been looking at. He stared at Ivy. She stared back, unable to keep the challenge from her gaze. She wasn’t about to be intimidated by a human.

He grinned and winked.

Apparently, he’d mistaken her dead-eye stare for flirting. She rolled her eyes and washed her last bit of grilled cheese down with her beer. How typical. Another guy looked at his girlfriend and it was a criminal offense, but if a woman looked at him, it was open season to flirt right back.

A cheer went up at the pool table closest to her as the eight ball sank into a pocket, ending the game. She stepped forward to claim her spot, happy for the distraction.

Another beer and two wins later, she was ready to call it a night. Pool hadn’t taken the place of a good, hard run, but it had filed the edges off the need. She returned her stick to the rack and was about to head out when a commotion erupted behind her.

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