Oscar Travis didn’t consider himself a coward by any means, but it was sure hard not to tremble with fear when he found himself cornered by four huge men.
Not just men. Shifters.
Like him, except they weren’t snow leopards.
They weren’t cougar shifters either, like Oscar’s brother-in-law, Lyndon, and since Oscar had only ever been around his own kind until Lyndon had showed up, he didn’t recognize the tangy, bitter scent rolling off the four men. Huge. Shifters. So much more dangerous than mere men.
One of them—possibly the largest of the four, though it was hard for Oscar to tell—leaned in and sniffed. “Smells like pussy to me.”
How in the hell did he manage to get himself into such freakin’ messes? All he’d wanted to do was check out the club, and his little adventure had turned into a borderline disaster.
He’d lost the tips of a couple of fingers in a trap, had been pinned down in the bathroom at school more than once, and left butt-naked in the gym dressing room when some jerk had taken off with all his clothes while he’d showered. He’d been bullied and if he hadn’t been smart and quick, he’d probably have been seriously hurt instead of mostly just having his pride damaged.
But if I’d been really smart those times, I wouldn’t have been in any danger in the first place, wouldn’t have been hurt, right? Which was pretty much the case for the crap he’d got himself into tonight—he hadn’t been smart at all, he’d been horny and curious.
Dad is really gonna be pissed off.
This crowned all his prior close calls and messes, that was for sure.
Oscar’s top lip seemed determined to curl up in a snarl even though his brain told it not to. The four shifters chortled and slapped each other on the back. Yeah, they were brilliant, just like a heaping pile of shit was brilliant.
“I don’t think this little boy is amused,” another of the shifters said. This one had orange hair and freckles, and looked like he could snap Oscar in two in a heartbeat.
“Little pussy, ya mean,” rumbled the third one, who smelled particularly foul. “Bet his is nice and tight. You ever had a real man fuck your pussy?”
Oscar’s cheeks couldn’t possibly burn any hotter. He’d never heard the term pussy in reference to any of his own body parts before tonight, but he was quick enough to figure out what part of him was being talked about even if they’d had to say it twice before he caught on. And he’d be damned if he was going to be gang-raped by a bunch of stinky, stupid bastards. He hoped to God the bouncers here were paying attention.
Oscar cocked his head and raked the men with a scathing look. “I have, and I came here looking for a real man. If you assholes would move, maybe I could find one.” And with that, Oscar lashed out. He’d had enough time to start a concentrated shift, something he’d been working on—something he hadn’t known was possible until it had occurred to him to try a few weeks ago.
He was glad he’d given it a shot, because whipping his claw-tipped paws instead of fists from his pockets—well, that threw the idiots surrounding him for a loop and gave Oscar the advantage he desperately needed. He’d become pretty well-coordinated once he’d got through those god-awful teenage years.
Oscar slashed his right hand across the biggest man’s chest while catching the orange-haired one in the jaw. He tried to keep his claws out of that hit as much as he could. The same went for the punch to the chest. Oscar only wanted to scare the bullies off, not kill them.
The thought sent a cold shiver down his back. He was always afraid he’d want to kill again, even if he hadn’t wanted to do so the first time. Still, he was part beast, part wild thing, and it’d been the untamed part of him that had ripped out another shifter’s throat.
What if it happens again?
Oscar shoved the thought aside as he drew his fist back and prepared to strike. The two shifters he’d hit a minute ago were howling and grabbing at their wounds. He guessed he hadn’t pulled his punches as much as he’d meant to. Either that or the idiots had lunged when he’d swung at them. He didn’t know which since everything happened so fast.
Oscar danced back until he was against the wall and glared at the other two. He held up his paws and did his best movie hero imitation, waggling two of his fingers in a ‘come on’ gesture, which wasn’t easy considering his hands weren’t humanoid.
“Come on,” he snarled, just in case his intent wasn’t clear.
“Pussy,” the less muscular of the shifters spat. “You aren’t worth this much effort to fuck!”
“I wouldn’t let you fuck me with someone else’s dick,” Oscar sniped back. He was going to point out the vast difference between fucking and what they had intended to do to him, but a low rumbling growl that was felt more than heard had Oscar snapping his mouth shut and some of the other shifters whimpering.
“Is there a problem?”
Oscar went weak-kneed—with relief, he told himself—upon seeing a burly guy wearing a polo shirt stretched tight over his muscular chest. His brown hair was cut in a short military clip and he had one of those broad jaws that gave him a tough and stern appearance, or at least Oscar thought so. As far as bouncers went, this guy had to be the epitome of what one should look like. Add to his chiseled features a pair of pale icy-colored eyes and the fantasy man from Oscar’s wet-dreams had just become reality.
The orange-haired shifter pointed at Oscar. “He started it!”
Oscar’s mouth dropped open and he sputtered, “Did not! They did.” Oscar belatedly realized he wasn’t completely human in appearance when he’d pointed at his accuser. “Oh fuck.” He started shifting his paws back into hands. Maybe the bouncer would think he’d been wearing gloves or something?
Except he growled again, a really deep, animalistic growl, and Oscar felt the first true tendrils of fear. The sound wasn’t even remotely human. He forced looked at the bouncer, whose name was Josiah, according to the tag on the right side of his chest. Oscar thought he just might be in more trouble now than he’d been in a few minutes ago.
Oscar hoped Josiah meant him, too. The other shifters started to skitter off, muttering, and Oscar tried to scoot along the wall, but two things stopped him. The first was hearing the orange-haired shifter say “Yes sir,” and the second was Josiah’s hand on his chest, pinning him in place.
Then Oscar smelled it, the burned wood and grassy scent mixed with a musky odor he couldn’t place. It emanated from Josiah and coated Oscar like an invisible cloak. It also freaked him out like nothing had in ages.
“Let me go.” Oscar was close to losing his temper completely. He grabbed Josiah’s wrist with both hands.
His heart was slamming so hard in his chest, he was afraid it might shoot out if Josiah did let up on him. But Josiah didn’t, and Oscar’s temper boiled over, drowning his common sense.
“I have fucking had it with big, muscular, stupid assholes tonight!” He dug his nails into Josiah’s arm and kicked out with one foot, catching Josiah on the shin.
It had zero effect on Josiah and Oscar became almost frantic in his attempt to escape. No, he wasn’t being hurt, but Oscar had been bullied up until he’d graduated high school. Now, everything that’d happened since he’d walked into the gay bar had stirred up the memories of those hellish years.
Tonight was going to provide him with a whole new mess of issues. All he’d wanted to do was maybe dance with a guy, see what it felt like to have a man’s arms around him, feel another man’s cock rubbing against him while they moved to a slow song.
Maybe, if he’d been feeling exceptionally brave, there’d have been some kissing too. Oscar hadn’t done any of those things before, and doubted he’d have another chance at them for a while. It wasn’t like Holton, the town closest to where he lived, was a hotbed of gay delights.
Now all he was going to get out of tonight was to become even more fucked up. Oscar opened his mouth, ready to scream, because surely someone would then become aware of the fact that he was being mauled. It didn’t occur to him in his panic that he was the one doing the attacking, not until Josiah grunted and stumbled forward.
Oscar had hit him hard on the inside of his thigh, and now he figured he was going to die because of it. Josiah lurched unsteadily and Oscar, with his back already scraping the wall, tried to push Josiah away, but it was no use. Oscar’s breath gushed from his lungs as Josiah crashed into him.
“Fuuuuck,” Oscar croaked, afraid a couple of his ribs had cracked.
His arms were pinned to his sides. Josiah had to weigh at least two hundred pounds, and he was a good foot taller than Oscar. Oscar’d had enough sense to turn his head, but his face was still getting smashed between Josiah’s chest and the wall. As a matter of fact, all of Oscar was getting squished.
“Get off,” he whimpered, because he couldn’t quite manage not to.
Josiah rumbled and Oscar felt it clear to his toes. Oddly enough, it also seemed to flip a few erotic switches along the way, which unsettled Oscar almost as badly as being restrained had done moments before when he’d gone ape-shit on Josiah.
But really? Getting a semi-stiffy now, of all times?
What the hell was wrong with him?
Oscar hadn’t realized he’d started clawing at Josiah again until that sharply barked order had him turning stone-still. Oscar wriggled, though, because he really wanted to be able to freaking inhale sometime soon.
Josiah hissed and the next thing Oscar knew he was given a little room, very little, and was being lifted right off his feet as Josiah brought them eye to eye.
“This is what I get for rescuing you?”
“Rescuing me?” Oscar spluttered, thinking he should have tried harder to do some damage to Josiah, the arrogant prick! “I had it under control!”
Josiah’s expression didn’t change, yet he somehow managed to look even more intimidating. It was a good thing Oscar had been bully proofed.
Trial by fire and all that.
“Put me down you big—”
Oscar definitely wasn’t expecting what happened next. Josiah moved in closer, moved his face closer. Oscar winced, thinking he was about to get the head-butt from hell. He just knew his brains were going to be squashed right out of his ears. He closed his eyes, not wanting to see the oncoming collision—only to jerk them back open when a hot, wet mouth slanted over his.