Authors: T. A. Chase
Tags: #Gay & Lesbian
Bandit grinned as he set the bowl of popcorn on his coffee table and went back to grab his beer from the refrigerator. He removed the cap and took a swig. Nothing like crisp, cold beer at the end of the day. Of course, it would be better if he had a date, but nothing to do about it.
He flopped onto the couch and picked up the remote control. The entire weekend off and he didn't have anything planned except watching movies. He growled as his phone rang.
Snatching up the phone, he answered, "Yeah?"
"I need you over at the Wolf Pack," Savannah, his mother and pack alpha, ordered.
He glanced at the popcorn and beer, along with the stack of movies sitting out. It really sucked having a marathon planned to beat his insomnia and having his mother order him away from it.
"Why? Can't you tell me whatever you want over the phone, Mom?" He cringed at the whine in his voice.
He sounded like a puppy.
"No, Bandit. I need you to come here."
He hated when she treated him like a real dog. He rolled his eyes.
"Don't roll your eyes at me, young man. I'm your mother and alpha. I'm commanding your presence at the bar."
"Yes, ma'am. I'll be there as soon as I can."
Bandit hung up with a sigh. There were times when he hated being a part of a pack. He had to do as his alpha ordered, even if he didn't want to go.
After changing back into regular clothes, Bandit grabbed his keys and headed out. He didn't live far from the bar, so it was only a matter of a few minutes to arrive. As he pulled into the parking lot, he saw all of his families' vehicles, plus Nick's car as well. Why the hell were they all there? Had news come about Pavel and Jess? Or maybe the book had been found.
He pushed open the door and stepped inside. His family sat at several tables, chatting amongst themselves. He spotted Nick, Gryphon, and Marvus sitting by themselves in a corner. Rover gestured to the table where Savannah held court.
Roman and Allen sat at the table with her. Max had disappeared at some point during the drama of finding the book. The brothers stuck around, unsure and reclusive. Bandit had been right to think Max wasn't the twins' father, but at least the man got them to a safe place before he left. Allen and Roman had come from a bad place, caught and used by non-preters. They stayed away from the pack for the most part, and Bandit couldn't blame them. It would take more than a couple of months to learn to trust people, even other wolves.
Bandit sniffed and his cock stiffened at the scent he detected under cigarette smoke and the musk of the other lycans around him. God, he loved how Allen smelled, but he stayed away from the slender wolf. Allen wasn't ready for anything, and Bandit was pretty sure he wasn't the right man for Allen. Bandit had seen things while he wandered the human world, things that sullied his memories. As horrible as Allen's life had been, the other lycan gave off an air of innocence, and Bandit didn't want to ruin that.
He dropped into the chair next to his mom. "All right, I'm here. What was so important you had to drag my ass out tonight?"
Rover brought a beer over for him. He nodded his thanks before taking a sip. Savannah leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
"I'm sorry to interrupt your movie marathon, honey, but this is important for all of us." Her gaze skipped to Allen before coming back to him.
"All right." Bandit glanced over at Nick and Gryphon. "Has there been any news about your friends?"
Spike, Bandit's oldest sister, joined them and shook her head. "No, and I'm beginning to worry. There haven't been any new encounters with Grime and his group either. Whoever took the book must not have given it to him yet."
"Or Grime hasn't figured out how to use the spells. Either one is good for us. It gives us time to plan," Nick spoke from where he sat.
Everyone nodded. Bandit took another sip and looked at his mother. Something in her expression warned him he probably wasn't gong to like what she had to say.
"Treat it like a Band-aid, Mom. It'll hurt less if you come right out and say whatever it is you want to tell me."
Her eyes narrowed at his tone, but she let it slide. Spike growled softly, and Bandit dipped his head in apology.
"I need you to escort Allen and Roman back to their home territory."
Bandit bit back his instinctive refusal. "Why me?"
Okay, it wasn't as self-assured as he wished it to be. Yet it was a legitimate question. "Rover would be a better choice," he pointed out.
Savannah shook her head. "Rover needs to stay here. Spike and I are going to the conclave to talk to the other preters. They have to know what's going on. Marvus is settling in with Jess's pack. He said he'd let us know when he finds anything. Nick and Gryphon are leaving to go to the High Council. Maybe they can talk some sense in the old bastards. Rover's needed to run the pack while we're gone."
He leaned closer. "I'm not sure if you noticed, but our pack isn't that big. The others can run things without supervision for a while. Maybe Spot and Lassie could go. I'd suggest Patches, but she actually has a job outside the bar, so that wouldn't work out."
He wanted to suggest anyone else to get the attention off himself. Bandit knew he was a good Beta, but he'd never be a leader. Savannah held up her hand to keep him from suggesting someone else.
"Don't waste your breath, Bandit. I'm not going to change my mind. You, Roman, and Allen leave tomorrow morning."
"Why is it important for them to go home now? We're in the middle of a crisis, and you want them to play old home week." Bandit shook his head. "Seems to me it'd be safer if we stuck around here until this trouble with Grime is taken care of."
Roman shoved away from the table and stood. He glared at Bandit. "We don't need an escort. My brother and I are capable of getting home without help."
Bandit grinned. "Don't get your panties in a twist, man. I don't have a problem going."
Well, that was a lie. He did have a big problem being sent off on a silly trip while things were bad around home, but it appeared he didn't really have any choice in the matter. He would do as his alpha told him.
"It's not like I'm doing a lot of stuff around here. I just don't understand why it's necessary for us to go right now."
"Because I think we can learn more about Grime's plans if you visit Allen's home," Savannah said. "Their pack was the first to encounter Grime and his wretched humans."
"And we might not be greeted with open arms by our pack," Allen interjected, his blue eyes dulled with sad memories.
"Did they kick you out?" Lassie sat next to Allen, resting her hand on his arm.
Bandit fought the need to drag Allen away from her. Allen was his and no one got to touch him except for Bandit. He looked away, catching the amused wink Lou shot Rover. Damn, he didn't need his brothers teasing him about Allen. Paybacks were hell and, after the hard time he gave Lou, he was sure his youngest brother was waiting to get him back.
"I was banished. Roman chose to leave the pack to be with me."
Roman snorted. "I wasn't going to abandon my brother. We're twins and it would be like living without my other half."
Bandit understood how Roman felt. If something happened to Patches, Bandit's twin, he wouldn't be the same.
"Why'd they kick you out, Allen? It doesn't make sense." Spike looked as puzzled as Bandit felt.
Allen swallowed and looked at Roman, who shrugged. Without considering his actions, Bandit reached over and took Allen's hands in his. When the smaller man met his gaze, Bandit smiled.
"You're a member of our pack now, and no matter what you did, you aren't getting kicked out."
He didn't have to look at his mom to know she agreed with him. Allen squeezed his hands, and Bandit wanted to grin with pride.
"I was banished for being gay, and since I wouldn't challenge my father or the alpha, I didn't have a choice."
Silence swept through the room, building layer upon layer, until Bandit could almost feel the weight of it bearing down on his shoulders. He didn't let go of Allen's hands, not even when Allen tugged, trying to get free.
"It was an excuse," Roman commented.
"Why?" Spike asked.
"He abused my mother and Roman constantly. He never touched me because he knew I could defeat him in a fight. Yet he never understood I didn't want his position or even to be alpha." Allen looked down at the table.
"He feared Allen, and the fear led him to convince the alpha to get rid of Allen. The alpha used the excuse of Allen being gay to do it." Roman snarled.
Bandit studied Allen and, finally, for the first time, he actually saw Allen as a lycan in his own right, not just as the man Bandit wanted to fuck. The indefinable aura Bandit noticed around his mother and older siblings hung over Allen, bright enough to make Bandit want to bare his throat and submit to the slender man. No big deal, since Bandit didn't have an alpha bone in his body.
"You don't want to be pack leader?" Spike shot the question at Allen.
Bandit caught the incredulous expressions on his mom and Spike's faces. He laughed, drawing surprised glances from everyone.
"Not everyone wants to be in charge, even if they have the power to be," he commented. "Don't look at Allen like he's crazy."
Allen shot him a grateful look. Roman still didn't look like he appreciated Bandit's support of his brother. Bandit grinned at him, unconcerned about Roman's disapproval.
"How were you captured by the non-preters for their circus?" Rover asked.
"Oh, we weren't captured. Our father actually convinced our alpha to sell us to the freak show." Roman sounded so matter-of-fact about the betrayal.
"You're fucking kidding me, right? The fuckers sold you, and you want to go back?" Bandit shot to his feet, hands clenched.
"We need to go back." Roman faced off against Bandit. "We have to check on our mother and siblings."
"Fucking call them. Why risk getting the shit kicked out of you again? Or, hell, maybe the bastards will sell you again? Only this time it won't be to a circus. It'll be to Grime and his bunch of psychotic maniacs, who'll torture you and shit before slitting your throats and leaving you to bleed to death."
Bandit had never felt such fear and anger. Who knew Allen had gotten under his skin so quickly? Because it was Allen he was worried about, not Roman. He didn't want Roman to be hurt either. He wasn't that big of an asshole, but something whispered he'd lose his shit if Allen ended up injured or captured.
"Bandit, sit down," Savannah ordered. "You have no say in this. Roman and Allen already decided to go. Plans have been made."
"Then why the hell did you have me come here? If my opinion wasn't going to be considered, what did it matter if you told me or not?" Bandit gestured to Lou. "Hell, Lou could've packed my bags for me and you could've told me a minute before we left."
"Bandit." Spike's tone held a warning.
"You have nothing to add to the discussion," Savannah added, ignoring Bandit's shocked growl. "Rover over-ruled me when I said we'd tell you tomorrow before you left."
Bandit glanced around the bar. The members of his family wouldn't meet his gaze. Those who weren't part of his pack watched the drama with sympathy.
"That's right. I've always been the screw-up. The one who never takes anything seriously. Seems to me I'm the only one who spent time in the human world without support from my pack." He turned and head toward the door. "Sorry. I thought you might have a little more respect for me by now. Guess I was wrong."