Declan closed his eyes and took a deep breath while he fought to ignore the chaos around him. He pretended his living room wasn’t crowded with Shifter Operations Command team watching the Sunday football game and that his kitchen wasn’t overrun by a hungry werewolf—their tech agent, Grant—with a bottomless pit for a stomach, either.
Of course, the assholes were hard to ignore when the home team made a touchdown and they roared to celebrate the score. Their bellows—a lion’s roar, bear’s snarl, tiger’s hiss, and wolf’s howl—shook the walls, making the newly hung pictures tremble on their nails.
If one of those assholes knocked a frame from the wall… Declan’s inner wolf growled and curled its lip in a threatening snarl. He’d spent too many damn hours with Abby—his mate—hanging them only to have his SHOC team ruin their hard work. Really, he didn’t give two fucks about the pictures themselves. He did give a million fucks about listening to his mate directing him ‘a little to the left, no the right, your other left, a little more…’ for hours to get the positioning just right.
While most of the group quieted, Cole changed his tiger’s hiss to a feline roar, which made the frames shake once again. Hell, the man even pumped his fist in the air and gestured at the screen with his other hand. The hand that happened to clutch an opened can of beer. A can that lost some of its contents and sloshed onto Declan’s new coffee table.
Declan glanced at his own unopened beer on the nearby end table, condensation clinging to the aluminum can. For shifters, drinking alcohol was a pointless exercise—a bottle of vodka might give him a buzz—but beer and pizza were part of Sunday football. He wasn’t a big fan of beer. Hence the unopened can.
He was a fan of assholes not spilling their shit on his new furnishings. Everything in the house was brand new—even the house was new. One of the six homes built for their team at SHOC’s North Carolina base.
Yeah, they each had their own houses now, but somehow every-damn-one of the guys always ended up at his and Abby’s place.
He reached over and wrapped his fingers around the cool beer can, eyes on the game while he tracked Cole in his peripheral vision. If that dick spilled one more drop…
The football team got the field goal, sending the guys into another round of roars, and it was all the distraction Declan needed. He snatched the can, twisted in his seat, and flung the beer across the living room. Sprinklings of condensation rained down from the container while it flew. It passed right by Ethan, Birch, and Declan’s brother Pike before it slammed into the side of Cole’s head.
“Motherfucker!” Cole’s skin rippled, orange and black stripes flowing over his tanned flesh before disappearing. He grabbed the side of his head and spun toward Declan, fierce glare in place. “What the hell?”
“Good throw, man.” Pike didn’t pull his attention from the TV as he lifted his hand, and Declan gave his brother a high-five.
“Seriously?” Cole snarled.
Ethan—the lone lion shifter on their SHOC team—snorted and shook his head. “You got beer on the coffee table. You know how Abby is ever since, you know what. She is not a pretty crier.”
You know what. Declan mentally groaned at Ethan’s words.
Pro: Ethan’s mention of you know what would redirect the conversation from Declan’s assault on Cole.
Con: the mention of you know what would turn their conversation to you know what.
And by you know what, they weren’t talking about their SHOC mission when Declan and Abby met. If only…
Declan would gladly talk about Abby throwing a five-pound desk calculator at an attacker. Or the way she leapt off an ocean pier to escape him. He wouldn’t mind discussing her piss poor aim with a handgun when her only job had been to cover Declan’s ass. He hadn’t been a fan of her getting shot, but she was cute when she had babbled in shock. In all honesty, he’d rather talk about her being kidnapped from right underneath his nose than diving into you know what.
“Has Abby told you yet?” Grant tromped into the living room, one hand clutching a thick sandwich while he held a plate with chips and potato salad in the other.
Declan opened his mouth to say… something, but Birch interrupted him.
“That better not be the last of Abby’s potato salad.” Birch—bear shifter and their team alpha—growled.
“Of course not,” Grant snorted. “I told you I’d save you some.”
Birch narrowed his eyes. “Define ‘some.’”
“Uh…” Grant shoved his sandwich in his mouth.
“She hasn’t told him yet.” Pike—his traitorous asshole brother—drawled.
“Doesn’t she realize we can all smell…?” Ethan tapped the side of his nose, the lion’s eyes on Declan.
Declan just shook his head and sighed. “Cougars are solitary. She probably hasn’t been around other felines when they’re— “
“Up the duff.” Ethan interrupted.
“Harboring a fugitive.” That came from Pike.
“You’d know about being a fugitive, asshole.” Declan snarled at his brother and wished he had something to throw at the other werewolf.
“Eating for two.” Grant mumbled around his food.
“Knocked up.” Birch took a sip of his beer.
“Enceinte.” That came from Cole and silenced everyone’s jokes. They all focused on the tiger.
“What the fuck was that? Enceinte?” Grant said what they were all thinking.
“Shut the fuck up.” Cole grumbled.
“He’s been reading those romance novels again.” Birch chuckled.
“How the hell do you know?” Cole curled his lip, exposing a single fang.
“I’m the team alpha.” Birch shrugged. “I know everything.”
Hard core truth. The grizzly bear knew everything there was to know about all of them. Sometimes it was creepy as fuck, but they were all members of SHOC. Privacy wasn’t big in the agency.
Which was why the assholes thought it was just fine to use Declan and Abby’s house as if it was their own. Fuckers.
“Back to you know what.” Ethan wouldn’t leave it alone.
Declan sighed. He did a hell of a lot of sighing. “I don’t think she knows she’s pregnant yet.”
“Why don’t you just tell her?” Pike asked the obvious question.
Declan gave his brother the obvious answer. “Fuck off.”
If only they’d all listen, fuck off, and leave him alone. He hadn’t had a moment alone to figure out how to talk to Abby about the situation. They’d been mated for five months, but between missions and sharing living space with the team while their house was being built, they hadn’t had much time to really talk.
Fuck? Yes. It was how she ended up pregnant, of course. But the talking part… that was a little more difficult. Mainly because all they wanted to do when they had a moment alone was fuck.
Declan blamed it on being newly mated. Plus, his mate was hot as hell. Golden hair, sparkling eyes and those curves… His wolf nudged him, urging him to hunt down Abby so they could get reacquainted with those curves. If he ran now, he might be able to catch Abby before she got home. With luck, he could haul her off and hide them both while he forced her to acknowledge the truth.
Abby was pregnant with his pup. Or cub. It was hard to tell since he was a wolf and his mate was a cougar. It didn’t matter though. If his kid was healthy, he didn’t give a damn if he hissed or howled.
But it would have to be a he. Declan didn’t know what he’d do with a girl. Other than the obvious: kill every boy who ever looked at her.
That could be fun.
All right, maybe a daughter would be okay.
“You’re being a pussy.” Pike shook his head. “Just tell her so we can celebrate already.”
Declan opened his mouth to snarl at his brother, but a delicate, feminine voice had him snapping his teeth together.
“Tell who, what?” Abby called out from near the front door. “Do I need to make something for a party? What are we celebrating?”
His mate still hadn’t made it into the living room so she didn’t see him glare at the guys, his stare promising a whole lot of pain if they said a single word to her. Each man jerked their head in a quick nod and then they spoke as one.