Flagstone Creek 2: Battle Scars (Preternatural)
“You do realise you’re going to have to talk to him eventually?”
Willow Janovic reluctantly tore his gaze from the person he’d been watching across the club and winced at his brother, Tannith’s words. For months now Willow had been chatting with Bodhi Steele on line. The problem was Bodhi had absolutely no clue Willow was a man. Willow had never set out to deceive Bodhi, it was more he never corrected the man’s wrong assumption. Everyone told him it was going to backfire and bite him on the arse. Now he’d wished he’d listened to them.
Tonight he and Bodhi were meant to be meeting for the very first time in person. It was supposed to be a bit of fun. Nothing more than a night of no strings attached. Willow sighed as he got to his feet. “Okay, I’ll go talk to him, but make sure you have your keys handy in case he gets pissed off and decks me. I might need you to take me to the hospital.”
“No way Bodhi Steele would hit you in public. He wouldn’t want to tarnish his reputation.” Tannith snorted derisively. “I just don’t know why it had to be him. Why couldn’t you have picked someone who’s normal? I mean, someone who’s more like us.”
Willow shrugged, not knowing how to explain it. “He’s always so nice on line. Nothing like the guy who picked on me way back when.”
“He’s only nice because he’s trying to get into your panties.” Tannith said mockingly. “He’s sure as shit going to be shocked you’re not what he’s expecting.”
A touch of fear rolled through Willow. Tonight was a bad idea. He realised as he sat there and watched Bodhi walk in he was making a huge mistake, but a large part of him hoped Bodhi wouldn’t care and they could at least still be friends. There was only one way to find out. Over the past couple of months he and Bodhi had shared many things. Some of them Willow hoped were true. The closer he got to where Bodhi was sitting. The more he wanted to turn around and run. His brother was right. He shouldn’t have done this. By the time he reached the table his whole body trembled.
“Can I help you?” Bodhi asked as he eyed Willow from head to toe.
Willow could almost hear the cogs in Bodhi’s mind turning as he tried to figure out where he’d seen Willow before. The way he tilted his head to the side and inhaled deeply was odd, but Willow stood and waited.
“Don’t tell me,” Bodhi all but snarled, “You’re Willow?” Before Willow even had a chance to answer Bodhi stood up and walked away.
Hurt flowed through Willow. He couldn’t blame Bodhi for his reaction. Hell, he probably would have done the same thing if the tables were turned.
“Well, at least he didn’t punch you in the face. So no hospital trip required.” Tannith said as he stopped beside Willow. “Are you ready to get out of here?”
“Yeah.” Willow’s voice was thick with tears and he hoped his brother wouldn’t hear them.
He smiled as the weight of Tannith’s arm settled around his shoulders. “Just because I love you so much. I’ll even take you out for coffee and cake before we go home. What do you say, little brother?”
“I say yes.” Willow smiled as he let his brother lead him from the club and out to their car.
They mightn’t have the newest car in the lot, but they sure had the prettiest. The Holden FB Special Wagon, might have been first made in 1960, but they, along with their father, had lovingly restored it before the man passed away from cancer. It was almost in mint condition. Painted a soft Satellite yellow with white panels. Since the brothers lived together they shared the car as needed.
“You know it’s probably for the best. I mean even if by the grace of the almighty Bodhi was gay. Would we really want him and his friends in our lives? Ten years might be a long time, but they say a leopard never changes its spots. He’s probably still as overbearing as he was back in high school.”
“He’s changed. I know he has. We’ve talked a lot.” Willow defended Bodhi even though he had walked out. He knew it was his own stupid fault for not telling Bodhi the truth. All Willow could do was live with his mistakes. Tannith was probably right. Willow was starting to think he’d never end up with someone willing to love him as he was. Some things in life were just not mean to be.
As Tannith started the car and pulled out of the lot. Something out of the corner of his eye caught Willow’s attention. He could have sworn he saw a pissed off looking Bodhi in the front seat of a Ute arguing with another person. He was possibly angry at having being tricked and was even now thinking up ways to exact his revenge. Willow hoped like hell when the time come it wasn’t going to hurt too much.
Sitting in his car Bodhi felt like an idiot. He’d let himself get his hopes up only to have everything thrown back in his face. For so long he’d been searching out his mate. Most of the pride no longer believed in true mates and instead they married for friendship and children. From the time he was a cub Bodhi had sworn he’d marry no one except his true mate. Everything in him was starting to believe Willow was the one. She was everything he’d hoped for. She was smart, funny, and the way she talked turned him on faster than he could blink. Then tonight the truth bitch slapped him as it tore his heart from his chest. He’d been had. Tonight was someone’s idea of a joke and Bodhi wasn’t happy.
The guy pretending to be his female Willow seemed familiar. So someone he knew was yanking his chain, and having a good old chuckle at his expense. Actually this was exactly something his cousin Liam would think up. Bodhi growled as he turned and glared at his cousin who was currently sitting in the passengers eat beside him. “Was this your idea of a joke?”
“Hey, I had nothing to do with this. I told you not to meet in person until photos had been exchanged and we could do some research. You’re the one who was all gung-ho on meeting the girl of your dreams. The one destined to be your true mate. Maybe next time you’ll bloody listen to me when I tell you to slow down.”
Bodhi let out another growl as he scrubbed his hands across his face. When he opened his eyes again the door of the club opened and the guy who wasn’t his Willow walked out. He saw red as he detected Willow/not Willow wasn’t alone. A guy of similar height and build was walking beside him with his arm wrapped around Willow’s shoulders. Anger had Bodhi moving. His hand was on the door handle when Liam grabbed him.
“Wait! Is that Willow?”
Bodhi nodded. “Yes, but that is not the Willow I’ve been talking to for the last couple of months. It can’t be. I would have known if I was talking to a guy.”
Liam started laughing and Bodhi wanted to reach out and punch him. What the hell is so funny?
“Oh my God. You are such a tool.” Liam got out between chuckles. “You don’t know who that is do you? Or should I say you don’t remember who he is?”
Bodhi glared at his cousin. “Well, why don’t you enlighten me, oh, wise one.”
“His name really is Willow… Willow Janovic, and if that doesn’t jog your memory, in high school your favourite game was to beat him up until he cried. All because your father saw him and called him a sissy. The only thing stopping you from killing Willow back then because Alpha Walsh forbid it.”
Confusion brought Bodhi to a total standstill as he thought back. “Ten years is a long time to hold a grudge over something I did to him as a kid. Is this his way of finally getting even with me?”