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Pete took in the exasperated expression on Kelan's face and tried to hide his grin. "They're doing what?" he taunted.
He already knew the answer, but sometimes he loved to watch his alpha stew. Kelan seldom got angry and he rarely showed people when he was upset, but he looked close to exploding from pent-up rage over this particular situation. It was good to know he wasn't as unflappable as he sometimes appeared. From what Pete knew about the mating bond, Kelan's reaction seemed pretty much normal. It made him grateful he wasn't mated.
Kelan all but growled out his reply, "They're bowling!"
Pete had to turn his face away. Even though he'd managed to keep his mouth shut, the laughter in his eyes would have been more than evident. Kelan had said 'bowling' as though it were a euphemism for fucking. Maybe it was.
"And that's a bad thing?" he asked when he finally managed to get a lid on his mirth.
Kelan narrowed his eyes. "It is when I'm not around to keep an eye on them."
"I thought you trusted Jake."
"I do. It's Tony I'm wary of."
"If Tony can't be trusted, why did you invite him to stay in your home?"
Kelan took off his cowboy hat and wiped the sweat off his brow with the back of his hand. He let out a long sigh. "It's not that I distrust Tony, it's just that... Aww, hell. They used to be lovers, okay? And I think Tony still has feelings for Jake. But that's not to go any further, ya hear?"
Pete swallowed down his surprise. "Wow. I mean, of course I wouldn't say anything. But still-wow. You must have some control to allow your mate to hang around with his ex. I don't think I could do it. I'm pretty sure my wolf would want me to kick the shit out of him."
Pete knew Kelan's control was one of the things that made him such a good alpha-one of many traits, in fact. Kelan's father had been alpha before him and he'd run a tight ship, but Kelan was more personable than his old man had been. Pete had been one of Kelan's betas since Kelan took over the position when his father died. Pete's control was good, but damn...it wasn't that good. If Jake were his mate he knew without a shadow of a doubt he couldn't be as restrained and as reasonable as Kelan was being.
"It's not easy," Kelan allowed. "But Jake is human and sometimes he doesn't fully understand the wolf mentality. It doesn't matter how much I try to explain it to him. If you're not a wolf, I don't think you can ever really get it. Besides, I don't want to tell him what to do and I don't want to control him. Jake is his own man and he deserves better than that. He has his own mind and that's just the way I like it. And I do trust him, even though my wolf instincts are screaming to get him as far away from Tony as possible."
Pete had yet to meet Jake's best friend Tony. From what he understood of the situation, Tony had first come to stay in Wolf Creek for a week, but he'd enjoyed his visit so much he had come back a month later, taking another couple of weeks off from his job in New York. Pete had been busy running Jessie's Dancehall since Tony arrived in town, and, even though he'd been to the Crazy Horse a couple of times to see Kelan, he and Tony kept missing each other. He had to admit he was intrigued to meet the man that had managed to ruffle Kelan's feathers so much.
Kelan leant back against the wall of the ranch house and looked out over the corral. "Any news on the sale of Jessie's yet?"
Pete shook his head. "I spoke to Jessie earlier. I don't know what he wants to do anymore. I don't think he knows. Looks as though he might have changed his mind about selling."
"Can he do that?"
"It's his place," Pete replied. "He can do whatever the hell he likes."
"Sure, but I thought you'd come to an arrangement of sorts."
They had. Jessie Delaney, Pete's boss for the past year, had agreed to sell him the bar. There had been a lot of trouble in Wolf Creek over the past six months, a lot of it taking place in the dancehall, and Jessie had said he was too old to deal with the stress.
"Why would he change his mind?"
"I don't know-might be reconsidering his position because there hasn't been as much trouble in town over the last few weeks."
"Maybe, but Jessie wouldn't go back on his word, would he? I thought he'd retired?"
"He has, but I heard his son Brandon is back in town so he might want him to run the bar now."
Kelan pushed away from the wall, his face suddenly serious. "Brandon is home?"
Pete shrugged. "That's what I heard, although I haven't seen him yet. Why?"
"Damn." Kelan frowned. "Brandon and I don't exactly see eye to eye. He's a dominant wolf and we came to blows a couple of times when we were younger. The last time was right before my pop died. Last I heard Brandon had joined a pack out east in the city where he went to college.
"Maybe he's just back for a visit," Pete reasoned. "You know what rumours in this town are like when they start."
"Yeah, but I think I might pay Jessie a visit. Find out the truth from the horse's mouth."
Pete grinned. "Good luck with that. I haven't been able to get a straight answer out of Jessie for months now."
Kelan placed the Stetson back on his head and pulled the brim low over his eyes. "Then maybe you should come with me, get some answers for yourself."
"Yeah. I think I might do that."