Home > The Werewolf Meets His Match (Nocturne Falls #2)(5)

The Werewolf Meets His Match (Nocturne Falls #2)(5)
Author: Kristen Painter

It hadn’t been that long since Kincaids and Merrows had been ripping each other’s throats out. Returning to that kind of bloodshed would destroy all of them. “It won’t come to that. I won’t let it.”

Griff took a breath, unhappiness adding lines to his aging face. “I wouldn’t wish this on you, son.”

Hank put his hands on the counter behind him and leaned back. “I’ve known all my life that an arranged marriage was a possibility.”

“Yes, but to a Kincaid?” His mother shuddered like the idea was about to give her the vapors.

“Granted, that wasn’t an alliance that ever crossed my mind.” Hank stared at the hardwood floor. If the Kincaid women were anything like the Kincaid men, marriage to one would be a hard, miserable road. Especially for an officer of the law.

“Hank, you’re a good son. You’ve gone above and beyond to turn yourself into the kind of man any pack would be proud to call alpha. If you want to refuse this, I will understand. And so will the pack. No one will hold it against you.”

Hank looked up. “And be the reason war comes to our pack? No. I’ve seen enough of that. I won’t be responsible for bringing that nightmare to the pack I love.”

Belinda blinked hard. “Are you saying you’ll marry her?”

“I’m saying I’ll meet her and make a decision.”

“You don’t have much time. As of tomorrow, we’re three days from the next full moon.”

Hank narrowed his eyes. “I know marriages usually take place on the day of the full moon, but why this coming one? Why not next month?”

“Another one of Clemens’ stipulations.”

“Something wrong with his daughter?”

Griff shook his head. “He says not. I think he’s afraid if you spend too much time with her, you’ll back out.”

Hank swore softly and stared out the kitchen window for a moment. Married. “Three days from tomorrow.”

“And if you do decide to back out…”

“I won’t.” He took another sip of his beer as memories filtered through his mind. “I’ve done a tour in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. Being married to a Kincaid can’t be that bad.”

“Don’t say that until you meet her,” Belinda said.

Griff got up, walked over to Belinda and put his arm around her. “You know your mother and I had an arranged marriage. Maybe this girl won’t be so bad. Maybe you’ll grow to like each other.”

Hank nodded. “Maybe. Maybe not. But if this Kincaid woman expects a love match, she’s going to be sorely disappointed.”

“I’m sure she knows the same as you do that it’s strictly to seal the treaty.”

“Good.” Hank finished his beer. “I’m going to turn in. Lot to think about and I have to be at work tomorrow.”

His father exhaled a long breath. Like he was relieved, but still unhappy. “I’ll call Clemens in the morning, give him the word. He said he’d send me some info on the daughter as soon as he knew you were in.”

“All right. You need anything before I head up?”

Griff hugged Belinda a little closer. “We’re good. We know where everything is.”

She smiled sadly. “Night, honey.”

“Night, Mom.” Hank stuck the empty bottle in the recycling and went upstairs. He stared at himself in the bathroom mirror, trying to see himself as a husband.

To a Kincaid.

It wasn’t an image he could reconcile. Soldier, yes. Sheriff, yes. Spouse, no.

That night he dreamed about being arrested and sent to prison as the judge announced that was what happened to men who married criminals.

After a night like that, he was ready to get up. He went for a run as dawn was breaking. The morning air usually helped clear his head. Not today. He turned back for home and a long hot shower, the unsettled feeling in his belly impossible to shake.

He saw his parents off before going into the station, but their visit made him late because his mother insisted on making him breakfast and then he had to stop by Howler’s to check in on his sister, Bridget, like he did every morning. Howler’s didn’t open until eleven for lunch, but Bridget was there early every morning, doing the paperwork and making sure things were exactly the way she wanted. He kept the visit quick and the news about the marriage to himself. She’d find out soon enough.

When he walked into the station, Birdie Caruthers, his aunt and, unfortunately, receptionist, was already there.

Her carefully drawn-on brows arched. “Look at you strolling in at noon.”

“It’s nine thirty.” He picked up his messages. “Anything happen yesterday?”

“Two in the holding cells. Reports are on your desk.” She got up to refill her coffee. As usual, she didn’t ask if he wanted any.

He went into his office and picked up the reports from his desk. One Jane Doe and one Jimmy Philips. Patted down, but not searched. Arrests pending. He looked around the door to see Birdie. “A Jane Doe? That’s odd.” Who didn’t have ID in this age? “They’re still in holding?”

She nodded. “I got them breakfast from Mummy’s.”

He went back to reading the reports. The two had been involved in a drunken brawl at Howler’s, of all places. Bridget, who was also the bar’s owner, hadn’t said a word about it when he’d seen her. Like her silence was going to make a difference. Did she think he wouldn’t find out? “This is exactly why I never take days off.”

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