“Tabby? Seriously?” Bunny shook his head and helped her off his bike. “And you’re making fun of my name?”

 

“At least I can blame my seriously screwed up parents. What’s your excuse?” Tabby nodded at Bunny regally as he held open the door to Noah’s. He’d asked Anderson to recommend a restaurant in the area and from his enthusiastic endorsement he had decided to give Noah’s a try. He’d made the reservations and requested a nice, private table.

 

“It’s taken from my last name. It’s a nickname.”

 

“It’s a sucky nickname for a shifter to have,” she muttered softly. “Bunny. Geez. Might as well call you Food.” She shuddered delicately as they waited for the hostess to seat them. “Who came up with that anyway? And why didn’t you tell me to wear pants?”

 

Bunny grinned, knowing it looked predatory. “I enjoyed it.” She’d ridden on the back of his bike, those long sleek legs of hers bared almost to the point of indecency. The heat of her had been intoxicating.

 

Tabby rolled her eyes and followed behind the hostess. “Are you sure you aren’t a Wolf?”

 

Bunny began singing “Little Red Riding Hood” under his breath, that deep, gravelly voice sending shivers down her spine. But when he reached the point about being everything a big, bad wolf could want, Tabby had to stop for a moment. She shook her head at him, amusement lighting her face. “Don’t you mean big, bad Bear?”

 

Bunny held out her chair, a wolfish grin on his face. She allowed him to seat her, shaking her head. Lime green strands drifted across her face. And damn, what a face. She had the exotic good looks of a woman who had some Mediterranean blood somewhere in her gene pool. She was golden-skinned and full-lipped, with big brown eyes and lashes a mile long that perfectly framed a strong nose and determined chin. She wasn’t classically beautiful, especially with her hair the way it was, but Bunny was already hooked. He could almost taste her. Like a ripe golden apple, she’d be tart and sweet on his tongue, a craving that would never go away.

 

This was going to be fun.

 

“Well? Out with it, Bunny. Who, what, where, why and how badly did you mangle them afterwards?”

 

He chuckled, trying to hide how uneasy the word mangled made him. She had no idea. “My cousins. I have five of the little shits. Ryan, Chloe, Keith, Heather and Tiffany are all my first cousins. They’re the ones who gave me my nickname.”

 

“Wow. Your aunt must have been churning them out.”

 

“Don’t make me order you a bowl of milk.” Bunny didn’t even flinch when Tabby punched him in the arm. She, however, got a very pained look on her face and surreptitiously tried to shake out her hand. “Ryan and Chloe are brother and sister and the children of my dad’s first cousin, Uncle Steven. Keith, Heather, and Tiffany are my Aunt Stacey’s kids. Aunt Stacey happens to be Uncle Steven’s twin sister.”

 

“Big family. Must be nice.” She looked sad for a moment then shook her head. He wondered what that was all about. “You have any brothers or sisters?”

 

“Eric. He’s my younger brother. He thinks, like you do, that Bunny is a stupid-ass nickname. He refuses to call me that. He mostly calls me Alex.” And that meant something to him, that only those closest to him called him Alex. He’d never tell the cousins that, though. They loved the nickname they’d given him and, frankly, he was amused by it.

 

“Good for him.”

 

“He also calls me SFB.”

 

“SFB?”

 

“Shit For Brains.”

 

She choked on her water. “Seriously?”

 

He nodded, and waited for her to stop laughing. It took longer than he’d thought it would.

 

“So? Why Bunny?”

 

He shrugged. “I hate fighting. They’d try to get me to fight and I’d do my best not to. After a while, they started calling me Bunny because, and I quote, I’m ‘soft, fuzzy and completely harmless’.”

 

It had taken him years to shrug off the fury that sometimes rode him with vicious spurs. Meditation, yoga, even avoiding certain foods helped him keep control of the anger that had been his bane as a teenager. Now he wore the nickname Bunny as a badge of honor, a way to remind himself of where he’d been and was now headed.

 

That direction now included the woman toying with her water glass across from him. He couldn’t wait to get started.

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Dana Marie Bell.

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