The Beast in Him
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She walked away and he stared at the candy in his hand. After all these years she remembered his favorite chocolate? He glanced at the stack left. There were chocolates with caramel and nuts. Caramel, nougat, and nuts. White chocolate with caramel. On and on it went. But hed never liked any of that. Hed only liked chocolate-covered caramel.
Slowly, Smitty turned and looked at Jessie Ann. Really looked at her.
She was a bit taller now. Easily five-nine or so. Small for a wolf or most cats, tall for a full-human. Her jeans were everyday. No low riders with her underwear showing. She wore jeans to lounge in, not to entice. Her sneakers had seen better days, but she always liked to wear them until they literally fell off her feet. Her sweatshirt had COMIC-CON blazoned on both sides with a date nearly five years ago. And while standing in front of the elevator, she silently pretended her chocolate bars were Samurai swords. He knew this because she took up a stance youd see in any bad American remake of a great Japanese Samurai movie.
Unable to resist, he said softly, Jessie Ann Ward, what are you doing?
Startled, Jessie snapped to attention, lowering her arms and her chocolate swords, and answered back, Nothin.
Smitty grinned. Hed forgotten how much hed always enjoyed her. With her brains came her wackiness, and he enjoyed them both.
Sauntering over, Smitty said, Come over for dinner tonight. She opened her mouth and he quickly promised, Only me and you. No Sissy. No Ronnie Lee. No anybody.
Her adorable face scrunched up with indecision. Smitty, I dont know
Now walking around her, Ill make my mommas key lime pie... .
Nice try... but no.
Fried chicken. Yams.
I hate yams.
Come on, Jessie Ann. What do I need to do to convince you
Not be you.
An explosion of laughter behind them had the pair glaring at the two cats who quickly turned to examine the soda machine.
Jessie looked back at him. Look, I know youre used to getting your way, but Im not in the mood to play. I got a lot of Her phone rang, cutting her off. Damn. She looked at the caller ID. Ive gotta go.
She pressed the elevator button. It opened immediately and Jessie stepped inside. It was nice seeing you again, Smitty. Any more bills come up regarding Mace, just call our office. Youll be on the phone listonly.
Smitty watched the doors close. Did she really think it would be all that easy?
Dis-missed! Mitch said next to him.
Brutally ignored, Brendon added. That must have hurt. Deep inside.
Sure, he could agree, but that wouldnt work. And they were too big as human to take them on directly. But they forgot he had four older, much meaner brothers.
Smitty put his head down and let out a dramatic, shaky breath.
Oh, bruh, come on. Shes just a girl. Not even that cute.
Yeah, Brendon agreed with his sibling as the pair moved closer to see if Smitty was crying. You can do so much better.
Even as he grabbed the brothers by the backs of their necks and slammed their big lion heads together, he appreciated their sentiment.
Heading toward the stairs and Jessie, Smitty tossed over his shoulder at the felines lying on the floor, Thanks, yall. That was sweet.
Jess ended her call and raised her hand; a cab stopped right in front of her. Shed just pulled the door open when a strong hand clasped around her bicep. Without thinking about it, she snarled, Get your own damn cab, motherfuck
Startled, she looked up at a still smirking Smitty. Christ, she couldnt shake this wolf to save her life! What now? And get off me, she snapped, yanking her arm away.
Since you wont have dinner with me, I thought wed get some coffee.
And before she could tell him no, he had her by the scruff of her sweatshirt, dragging her to the Starbucks on the corner.
Although she welcomed the warmth once inside since shed left her coat at the office, she still couldnt believe the nerve of Bobby Ray Smith.
Two regular coffees, he said to the girl behind the counter.
No. If she was stuck here, she might as well get what she wanted. Grande latte with nonfat milk, extra hot.
Latte? What kind of wuss drink is that?
Besides annoying me, is there something you specifically want?
She waited for him to tell her what that was, but, as usual, he left the yup hanging there... all alone. Annoying her beyond all reason.
What, Smitty? What do you want?
Are you always in this much of a rush?
Yes, I have things to do.
Even the Lord takes a break.
Yeah, well, the Lord doesnt have my overhead.
Smitty grabbed the two drinks, and when he pulled her to a back table thats when Jess realized he still had a good grip on her sweatshirt.
You know, I can walk without your assistance.
Dont want you running out on me again. I know how fast you move.