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Bear Meets Girl (Pride #7)(7)

By:Shelly Laurenston

The feline wrapped her arms around his chest and snuggled close, making him want to toss her off and pull her closer. Should he be having two emotions at once? That didn’t seem normal or a good idea. At all.“Can’t introduce ya,” the feline admitted.
“Why not?”
“Don’t know his name.”
“Snuggling up to a man y’all don’t know. My momma was right. Yankees are whores.”
“Well, I know him,” MacDermot volunteered.
The She-wolf stared at her. “So?”
“You said y’all.”
“I didn’t say ‘all y’all.’ So I wasn’t talking to you.”
“I don’t understand your country-speak,” MacDermot complained, dropping into the desk chair across from Crush.
“Can you get off me now?” Crush asked the feline, trying not to flip out completely. Not easy with his cock beginning to twitch. How dare it twitch! He controlled every organ on his body, but especially that one!
“But I’m comfortable.” The feline stuck her nose against his neck and he felt that touch all the way to his toes. “You smell nice,” she murmured.
The She-wolf snorted and MacDermot cringed.
“So”—the feline leaned back and gazed up into his face—“when are we going out?”
Now? “Never. Never’s a good time to go out.”
She rolled her eyes, annoyed. “Well, I can’t marry you until we go out. Duh.”
Duh? Did she just say “duh” during the course of an adult conversation?
“We are not going—”
“Because we both know you adore me.”
“I don’t adore anyone. And I blame you for this, MacDermot.”
“Me? What did I do?”
“You married that goddamn cat who gave me those goddamn Jello-O shots.”
“You didn’t have to take them.”
“But they were tasty,” the feline confirmed. “Especially the black cherry one.”
“Well, well,” the She-wolf said. “I can’t believe me and Ric missed those fancy Jell-O shots.”
“You don’t come to my party,” MacDermot snapped, “and then you make fun of it?”
“Would someone,” Crush barked, when the feline began to rub her nose against his neck, “remove this feline?”
“Just toss her off,” MacDermot suggested.
Appalled, he said, “I can’t just throw off a woman.”
“Awww,” all three females sighed, which made Crush snarl.
“Isn’t he cute when he snarls and scowls like that?” the She-tiger asked the others. “I think he is just so adorable!”
“Not really,” the She-wolf answered. “Looks kinda mean . . . and angry.” 
“No,” the feline argued. “That’s grizzlies. Grizzlies are mean and angry. He’s a polar. They mostly look placid ... and adorable!” She nodded. “We’re dating!”
“We are not dating.”
“He’s just shy.”
“I am not shy.”
MacDermot shook her head. “He ain’t shy.”
“You three get back in here!” Gentry yelled from her office. “And leave the new polar alone!”
“But I’m comfortable,” the feline whined.
Thankfully the She-wolf took pity on him and grabbed the feline by the hair, yanking her off Crush’s lap. The feline roared and swung her fist, hitting the She-wolf in the chest. The She-wolf hit her back and Crush could tell by the sounds of contact that these two females were not, in any way, holding back with each other. And something about the mini-brawl looked familiar to him, but he didn’t know why and was too annoyed to even bother thinking about it.
The pair fought their way back to Gentry’s office and MacDermot stopped by his side. “Don’t mind Cella. That was the one on your lap. Dee-Ann was the one with the accent.”
“MacDermot, I don’t care.”
“Whatever. I’m out tomorrow, so we’ll start working together on Monday.” She started to walk off but stopped. “And are you really going to keep going with that biker look?”
“Excuse me?”
“You’re not working vice anymore, Crushek. You have to look a little less ... terrifying. You don’t have to wear a suit or anything but ...” She picked up a handful of his hair, running it through her fingers. “At least get this mess cut.”
When Crush growled, she held her hands up, palms out. “Not a buzz cut or anything. Just look a little less threatening.”
“I don’t want to cut my hair.”
“We’re not in a rock band, chico,” she snapped. “Cut your hair.”
Yeah, he’d completely forgotten what a ball-busting female MacDermot could be when you had to work with her.
She walked off and Crush stared at his desk. He was so miserable at the moment, his cock easily settled back down. “A haircut,” he muttered, making the detective sitting at the desk near him chuckle.
Crush locked his eyes on the leopard. “What’s so fucking funny?” he demanded.
The leopard pointed behind him. “That.”
Looking over his shoulder at Gentry’s office, he saw the feline standing by the big glass window—staring at him. She breathed on the glass and drew a heart in the condensation, then placed a kiss inside the heart. She winked at him, scrunched up her nose, and mouthed “later” before turning away.
Gritting his teeth, Crush faced forward again.
“Dude—” the leopard began.
“I won’t discuss it!”
Cella sat down on the other side of Gentry’s desk and laughed so hard she had to rest her head against it.
“Don’t pick on Crushek,” Gentry told her.
Lifting her head and wiping the tears, Cella explained, “I’m not picking on him. I’m trying to get him to loosen up. He’s so damn uptight.”
“He’s also—should it work out—MacDermot’s new partner, so give him respect.”
“Yet another partner, eh, MacDermot?” Cella teased.
“Don’t blame me. It’s you two. You guys get involved and my partners can’t run from me fast enough.” MacDermot pointed at Cella. “And you’re doing it again!”
“It was your Jell-O shots, lady!”
“No one told you or Crushek to suck down a vat of them! And who gets naked and crawls into bed with some guy she doesn’t even know?”Smith raised her hand, only lowering it when they all gawked at her. “Well, I don’t do it anymore.”
“Wow, talk about a coyote ugly morning for some poor guy,” Cella laughed, but no one else joined in, so she stopped.
“Mighta been funny,” Smith muttered, “if I’d been an actual coyote.”
“Like there’s a difference.”
“Can we discuss why you’re all here?” Gentry snapped.
“Why are we all here?” Cella asked, pulling out a pack of gum from her sweatshirt pocket.
Smith took a piece of paper from her back pocket, unfolded it, and handed it to Cella.
Cella looked at the one-page ad, MacDermot leaning over to see as well.
Finally, Cella had to know, “Wouldn’t cremation be a better idea? I mean would your mate want you stuffed and just standing around his house when you die?”
“It’s not for me,” the She-wolf snarled.
“The Group thinks,” Gentry cut in, “and I think I agree, that this taxidermist is stuffing our kind and turning us into trophies after we’ve been hunted down. Although the real problem is, of course, that he’s completely aware that he’s stuffing shifters.”
“Oh. Okay.” Cella took hold of MacDermot’s arm and turned it so she could see the giant Breitling man’s wristwatch the woman always wore. It was a real one, too. She could tell, because as a great-aunt once told Cella, “Gotta know the real ones if you’re going to sell the fake.”
She checked the hour and said, “I’ve got time tonight. I can take him out.”
“Or,” Gentry suggested, “rather than you killing anyone you just don’t like, you could let me finish.”
“See,” Cella shot back, “that’s a ridiculous thing to say because I don’t even know this guy or whether I like him or not. I was just going to kill him.”
When the women all stared at her, Cella pointed an accusing finger at Smith. “I was just going to kill him because of her. It’s the dog’s fault!”
Gentry leaned back in her chair, fingers to her temples.
“Am I causing one of your headaches again?” Cella asked.
“Why are we having this meeting?” MacDermot asked. “As much as I love to see you guys, I have to kind of agree with Cella here. Other than just taking this guy out, I don’t know what we need to discuss. And I’m off tomorrow, so that better not be changing,” she also felt the need to add.
“When I found out about this place,” Smith said, “I was just going to go on in there, cut the guy’s throat, and leave—” 
“What is wrong with you three?” Gentry sighed.
“—but I noticed something when I was hanging around in the woods across the street. There was already a team watching the place.”
“What team?”
The She-wolf smirked. “BPC.”
BPC, or the Bear Preservation Council, was a Brooklyn-based organization that raised money for the care, research, and protection of full-blood bears worldwide. They were also the cover for the agency that protected shifter bears in the tri-state area. And unlike KZS, the Group, and the NYPD’s shifter division, BPC refused to work with the rest of them on anything. They made it very clear that what happened to other species was not their problem and the bears that had jobs with NYPD and the Group were simply foolish.