Callum came back from his lunch break and groaned when he saw who was sitting in his section yet again. It hadn’t even been a day!
He put on his apron and went to the window that looked into the kitchen, spotting Tracy.
“Tracy, please tell me someone else is handling table twelve,” he pleaded.
Tracy chuckled, “No such luck, buttercup. Is it really so bad to be waiting your boyfriend?”
“He’s not my boyfriend!” Callum exclaimed. It was a bit too loud and he flushed when the diner’s patrons stared at him. Including Mason and the people he was sitting with. It didn’t seem to be a casual lunch as all three men were dressed in suits. And of course, Mason was mouthwateringly handsome. The jerk.
Tracy laughed and put up three plates, “I think you know where these are to go.”
Callum grumbled under his breath thinking it was just his luck that he arrived just in time for Mason’s table to be served their meals. At least there was a chance he could maintain a distance, although that chance was more of a vain wish as there was no doubt Mason would strike up conversation.
Grabbing the plates, he reluctantly walked over to table twelve and gave each man their meal.
“Hey, Callum, how’ve you been?” Mason asked, smiling at him.
“We saw each other yesterday,” Callum replied shortly. He faced one of the other men and gestured to his empty glass, “Would you like a refill, sir?”
The man nodded and winked, “Thanks, babe.”
Callum’s eye twitched but he ignored the obvious advance and grabbed the glass. As he was leaving the table, he heard Mason growl, “He’s off limits, Jameson. Get your head back on task.”
Callum returned shortly with a filled glass and set it in front of Jameson. He tried not to pay attention to what the men were talking about but managed to pick up that it was related to Mason’s club.
“Anything else I can do for you guys?” Callum asked, really hoping that they would answer in the negative.
The man who Callum didn’t have a name for shook his head but Jameson opened his mouth to speak. Callum knew he would not like whatever it was Jameson wanted to say if the leering glint in the other man’s eyes was of any indication. Thankfully, Mason growled low in his throat and Jameson snapped his mouth shut, shaking his head.
“Mason?” Callum asked when Mason didn’t respond to him, still scowling at Jameson.
Mason’s murderous expression immediately morphed into an adoring smile as he shook his head, “Not right now, Callum, thanks. But when does your shift end?”
“Not for a couple hours,” Callum replied vaguely and then quickly walked away before Mason could get a much more specific and helpful answer out of him.
Callum managed to continue his shift without any problems since he didn’t have to go back to Mason’s table. Eventually, it appeared that the three men finished their business and Mason flagged Callum over for the bill. Mason paid and then his two business associates left. They had been there for quite a while, Callum’s shift was almost over.
Callum was wiping down another table when he sensed someone stand behind him. He decided to ignore the person unless they directly asked for his attention.
“You have no idea how arousing this view is.”
Callum shot straight up and spun around, face red with embarrassment as he faced Mason who was only just letting his eyes drift up from their previously lowered position to meet Callum’s startled eyes.
“What the fuck, Mason?” Callum demanded when he got his mortification under some semblance of control.
Mason shrugged one shoulder, grinning, “Not my fault you were bent over like that.”
“Was there something you wanted?” Callum said through gritted teeth.
“You,” Mason replied with ease and a wicked smirk.
Callum closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose with the hand that wasn’t holding the damp rag he had been cleaning with.
“Wasn’t last night enough? Or for a matter of fact, most of yesterday?”
“Well,” Mason made a pondering face with pursed lips, moving forward until Callum found himself trapped between the table he had been in the middle of cleaning and Mason’s unfairly attractive body with the other man’s hands planted on either side of him on the table, forming a cage. “If you multiply all of that by infinity and square it to the power of infinity, then no.”
Callum closed his eyes and groaned. Just as he was about to open them and tell Mason off for being an idiot, warm lips were pressed onto his.
“Mason!” Callum exclaimed, pushing at the shifter’s chest. His face returned to a shade of a ripe red strawberry.
“Well, don’t you move fast.”
Callum looked over Mason’s shoulder and sighed in relief when he saw his best friend standing there with her hands on her hips. Even though she always wore skintight dresses, sometimes in obscene colors that hurt Callum’s eyes, she still exuded this menacing aura that dared people to mess with her. It might be due to the fact that her heels were studded or spiked enough to take out a couple eyes, her trademark studded leather jacket, or that she was a very open vampire.
“Georgia!” Callum exclaimed, quickly slipping out of Mason’s hold and going over to the much safer person. “What’re you doing here?”
“Remember that party I’ve got to go to?”
Georgia sighed and whacked the back of Callum’s head.
“Ow! What was that for?” Callum whined. Georgia hadn’t held back. Well, she never did but it hurt all the same.
“Remus is holding a stupid party at his place and all the vamps in the state were invited. I have to go and you’re coming with me.”
“No way,” Callum said. “Remus hates me. He tried to decapitate me the last time you dragged me to one of his shindigs!”
Callum turned around to face Mason who had a murderous expression on his face to accompany the chilling tone he used to utter that one word. He had forgotten he was there.
“You’re exaggerating, Callum,” Georgia said sounding unaffected. In truth Callum could tell she was just trying to indirectly placate Mason who looked like he was about to shift and tear through the city to find Remus and rip his balls off then let him bleed out till he died for a second and final time. He didn’t think vampires could survive getting their balls torn off by jagged wolf teeth. At the very least it’d hurt so much he’d wish he were dead, again.
“I still don’t like him and he certainly does not like me,” Callum said, keeping a wary eye on Mason. He wasn’t too worried about him going on a rampage to find Remus because he highly doubted Mason even knew who Remus was, much less where the racist eight hundred and something year old lived, but it was better to be safe than sorry. Remus was quite influential and the last thing Callum needed was a war between shifters and vampires because Mason was needlessly overprotective.
“Well that’s too bad. It’s not like you’ve got any plans for tonight so you will be my date. I can’t take Evelyn for obvious reasons.”
“I do too have plans!” Callum protested, his mind racing to think of something believable because unfortunately, his only plan for after his shift ended was to sit on his bed in his underwear and draw or catch up on the comics he was following. That wouldn’t really fly with Georgia.
Georgia cocked her hip and raised a perfectly plucked brow, “Oh really? And what pray tell would those be?”
“I, uh, I’m…”
An arm wrapped around Callum’s waist, hand curling around his hip possessively, and he was pulled into the side of a muscular body.
“He’s going drinking with me,” Mason replied.
Georgia blinked, “Again, damn do you move fast. I told you he worked here what? Three days ago?”
Callum gaped, “You’re the reason he stalked me all of yesterday?”
Georgia shrugged, “He was really interested and besides, Cal, you need more relationships and a boyfriend will do you some good.”
“But I don’t need or want a boyfriend,” Callum argued. “I’m perfectly happy being single and you can’t tell me I need to get laid because I do on occasion.”
“One night stands are fine and all but you use them to feed, a chore rather than actual interest, nor have you gotten into a relationship or even a measly date in the past two years that I’ve known you, and it’s not for the lack of offers. Just because Ju—”
“It’s not just because of that!” Callum cut her off. “Look, G, I’m just not interested in having a relationship. Now, excuse me, I still have forty minutes left of my shift.”
Slipping out of Mason’s hold, Callum walked past Georgia and went to seat a group of women.
Callum ignored Mason and Georgia as he made himself busy. He really did not want to talk about Justin, especially in front of Mason and where he worked. Justin was his business and his business alone.
When it was time for him to clock out, he said goodbye to Tracy and his other coworkers and quickly left the diner after grabbing his bag from his locker, heading straight for his apartment.
“The hell do you think you’re going?”
The strap of his bag that was not over his shoulder was grabbed and pulled hard enough for him to lose his footing and go crashing to the floor on his butt.
“Oww, Georgia, why?” Callum groaned.
Georgia stood in front of Callum, arms crossed over her chest with Callum’s bag in hand as it had slipped off his shoulder when she pulled it, expression dead and far from amused. “I thought you were ‘going drinking’,” she said, temporarily uncrossing her arms to create mocking air quotes.
“I am,” Callum said as he got to his feet, rubbing his aching backside as he tried to think on his feet and took his bag back. “I was just going to grab my jacket from home first and drop my bag off. Besides, it’s too early to go get shitfaced.”
“Uh-huh…” Georgia was not convinced.
Callum sighed, “I’ll send you a picture of me and Mason drinking while you’re at Remus’ and if I don’t then I’ll go to any and every party you go to for the rest of the year. That good enough for you?”
Georgia grinned, “Fantastic. Have fun on your date then.”
“It’s not a date!” Callum protested but Georgia was long gone before he could get all the words out.
“Two dates in a row, must be my lucky week,” Mason said, startling Callum into dropping his bag. Though Callum was probably more startled by the fact that Mason wrapped his arms around the halfie from behind, nestling his face in the crook of Callum’s neck and inhaling deeply. “You smell really good.” He licked a stripe up Callum’s neck and added, “Taste good too.”
Callum’s face was going thermonuclear. He turned around in Mason’s hold and pressed his hands against the shifter’s chest, trying to get away. Mason only tightened his hold and pulled Callum closer to his chest, not allowing the halfie any room to push away. Mason’s hands slid down dangerously low, just barely brushing the curve of Callum’s ass.
“Mason, let go of me!” Callum hissed. He was beyond mortified, especially since his coworkers and Tracy could see him through the windows of the diner.
“Hmm,” Mason hummed, pretending to think about it. “I dunno, I kind of like having my hands on you.” A hand slid down and patted Callum’s ass. “Especially right here.”
“Mason!” Callum scowled. His face couldn’t get any redder. “Let. Go. Of. Me.”
Mason pouted then smirked, “I will if you kiss me.”
“No,” Callum immediately responded.
Mason shrugged, still smirking, “Then I guess we’ll just be standing here like this. Or maybe like this.” He moved both his hands down into Callum’s back pockets and started massaging Callum’s ass through the fabric.
Callum squeaked and tried to push away from Mason again but it was no use. The shifter was levels stronger than him and the grip on his ass was firm and unrelenting.
Callum looked around and saw people staring, including Tracy and his coworkers who were grinning smugly at him. They were never going to let him live this down.
“I fucking hate you,” Callum grumbled. “Were you being serious? About the kissing thing and you’ll let me go?”
Mason cocked a shoulder, “Wanna test it out?”
“Really fucking hate you,” Callum groaned but what more did he have to lose? Quickly, he stood on his tiptoes – Mason was that much taller than him – and pressed his lips to Mason’s cheek.
“I know I didn’t specify but I think it was obvious that I wanted you to kiss my lips, love,” Mason said, clearly amused.
Callum looked to the side and muttered, “I gave you your stupid kiss now let me go.”
Mason chuckled but kept his word and released Callum, who instantly created a distance of three feet between them, watching the shifter warily.
“So do you have a bar in mind for tonight?” Mason asked as if he hadn’t just completely humiliated Callum in public.
No matter how bad Callum wanted to run away and not go drinking with Mason, Callum knew he had to take the stupid picture or the rest of this year would be hell on earth. He sighed, “Yeah, there’s a place near—” He cut himself off before he could say “my house” because he really didn’t want to be giving Mason any clues as to the location of his dingy apartment. “Nearby,” Callum amended. “It’s called Nyte. N-Y-T-E. It’s on 49th.”
Mason nodded, “So can I pick you up then?” He was hopeful.
Callum shook his head, “I’ll meet you inside at the bar at around eight.”
Mason sulked, “Alright. Are you busy right now?”
“Yes. Bye, Mason. I’ll see you later.”
Before Mason could do anything, Callum picked his bag up off the floor and broke off into a sprint to get away.
When Callum reached his apartment, he breathed out a weary sigh and leaned against the door after throwing his bag onto his bed. After the previous night, he’d thought he’d get some kind of buffer. He wasn’t naïve enough to think that one dinner date would get Mason off his back but two nights in a row was too much.
“Just how long do I have to deal with him?” Callum asked aloud, staring up at his peeling ceiling.
With another sigh, Callum trudged to his kitchenette and threw open the fridge and then the cupboards, taking stock of what he was running out of as it had been quite some time since he made a grocery run. Making a mental list, he locked up and headed back out, walking to the nearest grocery store.
Callum grabbed a basket and methodically went through the store, picking up what he needed.
“Sugar, sugar, sugar, sugar,” Callum muttered under his breath as he looked down an aisle. The store had changed things around since he had come by two or so weeks ago and the sugar was not where it usually was.
Callum was so focused on locating the elusive sugar that he didn’t notice someone walking down the aisle until they crashed into him from the side.
“Watch where you’re going!” the person yelled.
Callum turned to scowl at the stranger and snapped, “I was standing still, dumbfuck. If anyone should watch where they’re going, it’s you.”
The man was bent down, picking up his phone that he had no doubt been focusing on when he crashed into Callum, and when he stood back up, recognition flashed across his face.
“It’s you!” the man exclaimed.
Callum frowned. He had no idea who the guy was. He was moderately attractive, sure, with his shining black hair, caramel skin, and dark eyes. But Callum couldn’t remember ever meeting him.
“I think you’ve got the wrong person,” Callum brushed him off and made to walk down the aisle, away from the man. He’d come back for his sugar later.
The man grabbed Callum’s wrist, saying, “No, you’re the vampire. We met at Nyte a month ago.”
Callum grimaced. It was a clingy one night stand. He still couldn’t remember the guy, although that wasn’t too surprising considering he was never honestly interested in the people he slept with as he only slept with them to feed. It was a common vampire practice as feeding during sex could be pleasurable and Callum was just too awkward to get fresh blood in any other way. The incident with the hooky playing teenager being one of many examples. However, feeding during sex, if done properly and the vampire cared enough, could be extremely pleasurable and a lot of humans wanted more than one night even if the vampire wasn’t particularly attractive or their type, or even the preferred gender. Which is why Callum hated meeting tricks again and never did the same person twice. He felt guilty if he didn’t try and make the experience as good as possible for his trick. Something Georgia told him he shouldn’t bother with but Callum couldn’t help it.
“Sorry, dude, I don’t remember you. Now please let go of me, I’ve got things to do.”
“I haven’t seen you at the bar,” the man continued, unfazed.
Callum’s eye twitched in annoyance, “I’ve been busy. Now, seriously, let go of me before I break your wrist.”
The man let go of Callum in a flash but he still seemed determined. “Why don’t we go drinking sometime? Have a repeat of when we met.”
“Look,” Callum said. “I only slept with you so I could get some fresh blood. You’re not the first and you’re not the last. I don’t sleep with the same person twice and that’s common knowledge at Nyte. I’m not interested so fuck off and let me do my grocery shopping in peace.”
Callum turned on his heel and stormed away, ignoring the spectators who couldn’t seem to mind their own business. One lady gave him a particularly nasty look and he couldn’t tell if it was because he slept with men or that he may have just sounded like a whore or if it was both. Either way, he simply ignored her.
Callum quickly checked off his mental list until he just had one more thing to collect. He walked to the back of the store where a very bored vampire was watching the tiny TV set up on the counter.
Without looking up, the girl asked, “Human, animal, paranormal?”
“Animal, cans, two twelve packs, please,” Callum said. Animal blood was at least half the amount of human and paranormal was completely out of his price range.
The girl nodded and turned in her chair, getting up to go behind a door. She returned holding the two cases stacked on top of each other and placed them on the counter.
“Thanks,” Callum said as he grabbed them. They weren’t too heavy despite their looks. He wasn’t too fond of packaged blood, much less packaged animal blood (and he’d rather not know what kind of animal it came from) but at least it kept him sustained for a couple weeks or so before he required fresh blood and had to hook up with some random.
Finally done, Callum went to the register and groaned internally when he saw that the man from before was waiting outside.
Callum paid and grabbed his bags, hoping that he could slip past his stalker without being noticed. No such luck.
Callum kept walking. He couldn’t sprint holding onto his groceries or he would lose something along the way.
Callum grit his teeth and turned around. “What part of ‘fuck off’ do you not understand?” he growled.
“I just want to know your name at least. Give me a chance.”
“Dude, I didn’t tell you my name for a reason. Go find someone else, I’m. Not. Interested. And I never will be. If you come after me, I will not hesitate to rip your throat out and make you bathe in your own blood.” For effect, Callum snarled and showed off his fangs.
The man’s eyes widened and he shrunk back in fear. Satisfied but still irritated, Callum turned and headed home.
After putting away his groceries, Callum flopped onto bed. He had a good four-ish hours until he had to meet up with Mason and the mere thought damped his mood further.
Callum sighed heavily and grabbed his computer. To combat his mood, a couple webcomics with a can of cooled blood sounded like a fantastic idea.
Callum had never felt so much dread when he walked up to Nyte. He immensely regretted suggesting the place even though he knew he’d get cheap drinks, especially after the run in with an ex-stand.
Still, Mason was inside – the shifter had texted him when he had arrived five minutes ago – and Callum had to take the stupid picture.
Shaking his head and cursing his luck, Callum pushed open the glass door and entered the pub. Classic rock music played at an acceptable volume overhead and there was a moderate number of people of different species. Nyte was a paranormal friendly pub and served drinks that were unique to particular species, though Callum wasn’t very discriminative. And beer was much cheaper anyway.
Callum nodded to those who recognized him and made his way to the bar where he saw Mason nursing a drink and being chatted up by a pair of fraternal twins. The boy was shorter than his sister but they had an eerily similar smile.
Mason was laughing at something they were saying before he noticed Callum walking up to them.
“Hey!” Mason grinned. He was so obvious and open it made Callum wince although he was glad Mason remembered to not call him by his name as Callum had directed in a text before arriving.
Callum raised his hand in a slight wave as he took the seat next to Mason, ignoring the death stares the twins were giving him as they had been dismissed. When Mason didn’t spare them a second glance they stormed off to find new prey.
“Baby, I haven’t seen you in ages!” Dean exclaimed. Dean was a burly man but Callum learned quickly that the bear shifter was more of a teddy bear than a vicious grizzly.
“Been busy,” Callum shrugged with an apologetic smile. “And I can’t afford to come drinking too often, anyway.”
Dean grabbed a bottle of beer and slid it to Callum. “Well, you’ve definitely been missed. You’ve no idea how many guys have been asking around for you, you little whore.”
Dean’s laughter was cut short when Mason let out a threatening growl and got to his feet, claws and fangs extending menacingly.
“Mason!” Callum scolded. “Sit your ass back down right now or I’m leaving and you’ll never see me again.”
Mason turned his head to Callum and he looked to have been trying to rein back his wolf.
Callum raised a brow and Mason grumbled but did as told.
Dean looked between them with raised brows but shrugged and went to serve some other customers who had been calling him over.
Callum sighed and downed his drink, gulping down half of it before setting it back on the counter before saying, “You know, I thought you had better control of your wolf. You’re twenty-four, not four.”
“It’s only around you. When people insult or harass you, I can’t control myself. And I know it’s hypocritical since I bullied you in high school, but even then, seeing other people mess with you made me feel like exploding.”
Callum sighed, “Well you better start learning. I come here whenever I need to feed so get your caveman jealousy act under control. And Dean wasn’t insulting or harassing me. He’s the nicest guy here and he’s my friend so if you do anything to him I will hurt you.”
Mason frowned in confusion. “But he called you a whore.”
Callum shrugged and finished off his beer. It had been a while since he got shitfaced and he was exhausted. It’d be great to pass out for a couple hours longer than usual and he wouldn’t have to deal with too much of a hangover what with his half vampire healing abilities. Not as great as a full vamps’ but good enough.
“It’s kind of true. Prostitute would be more appropriate though,” Callum mused. He ordered a couple shots of vodka and one of Dean’s employees served them up.
Before Mason could question Callum further, three shouts came from behind them, followed by arguing.
“I saw him first!”
“Yeah, well I fucked him first!”
“No you didn’t! I did!”
Callum briefly glanced back to see who was causing the commotion before finishing off the first two shots of five.
They were three men, two blonds and one redhead. They were standing together a couple feet from the bar, yelling at each other while pointing towards Callum. It didn’t take a genius to know that they were arguing about him.
Callum groaned, “Just my fucking day.”
Dean had returned and gave Callum a sympathetic pat on the shoulder, “What happened, baby?”
“A trick recognized me at the grocery store and I only managed to shake him off after threatening to rip his throat out. Even had to bust out the fangs. And now there’s three idiots arguing behind us and it’s only a matter of time before they barge up and argue over who gets to fuck me. And, I’m only here because this stalking dick cornered me into it and Georgia is a blackmailing bitch.”
“Hey, I helped you out!” Mason argued. “You really didn’t want to go to that party.”
“Didn’t mean I wanted to hang out with you again,” Callum retorted.
Mason smirked and slung an arm around Callum, gently biting his cheek. “I’m not going to be leaving you alone ever again, Callum. You are stuck with me for life.”
“Clingy, aren’t you?” Dean commented, but he was smiling and Callum bet it had to do with the fact that his face was beet red and he couldn’t get out of Mason’s hold.
Mason cocked a shoulder but didn’t stop cuddling Callum, “I’ve loved him for nine years and the feeling hasn’t ebbed even once. I’d stay it’s only gotten stronger.”
Dean grinned, “I like you and I’m supporting you one hundred percent.”
“Please don’t,” Callum groaned but was ignored.
“Thanks. I’m Mason.”
“Dean, welcome to my pub.”
Callum downed another shot. The burn had become familiar already and he could feel a buzz coming on. He’d need it.
“Before I get too drunk to remember, we need to take the stupid picture and send it to Georgia,” Callum said, reaching into his back pocket for his phone. Since Mason was already glued to his side, Callum opened up the camera application and held his arm out in front of them to take the picture. Before he could tap the screen, Mason grabbed the phone from his hold.
“I’ve got longer arms,” was all he said.
“Just take the damn picture,” Callum grumbled.
Callum didn’t even bother trying to smile. He just stared up blankly at the screen showing the two of them. Mason was grinning like the fool he was.
“Baby, smile,” Dean encourage.
“Fuck off,” Callum replied making Dean pout and roll his eyes.
Callum bore a hole into the screen of his phone, waiting for Mason to take the picture.
“Hey, Callum,” Mason said.
Callum turned his head with an impatient scowl, “Wha—”
Mason cut him off by capturing his lips and Callum could feel the other man’s smile. And then there was a flash.
Mason pulled back and looked at the picture while Dean laughed and Callum grumbled under his breath, finishing off his shots then demanding some more.
“I’ve found my new background image,” Mason grinned. He tapped on the screen a few times then informed Callum that he had sent the picture to both Georgia and himself.
Callum took his phone back just as it beeped, signaling the arrival of a new text message.
Georgia: Nd u sed u wernt intrstd. Whrs ur jkt?
Callum didn’t bother replying to the monstrosity that was Georgia’s text talk and tucked his phone away.
Dean served up more shots for Callum, who downed two of them immediately.
“So… who’s Remus?”
Callum snorted, “Only the most racist vampire I have ever had the displeasure to meet.”
Mason raised a brow in inquiry, silently asking Callum to continue.
“He’s super old, turned in the early 1200s I think, but he tends to forget that he was once a ‘lowly human’,” Callum explained with air quotes. “Basically, he’s prejudiced against all beings that are not full blooded vampires. He’s intolerant as hell but he’s a high standing vampire because he’s so old and pretty wealthy. He throws these gala things every once in a while and all the vampires in the city have to attend or suffer his wrath. Shifters, humans, fae, basically everything that is not a vampire are forbidden unless they’ve got a death wish and halfies like me depend on immense amounts of luck to survive.”
“How’d you two meet then?”
Callum sighed, grimacing at the memory, “It was soon after I was half turned. I had to get myself registered as a halfie vampire and Remus just so happened to be at the Paranormal Court House. Georgia had to greet him and I was with her and well… I learned just how much of a bastard he is first hand.”
“Sounds fun,” Mason commented wryly.
“You’ve no idea.”
They lapsed into silence until Mason eventually asked, “Can I ask why you call yourself a prostitute?” He was fingering the rim of his glass that had barely touched his lips. The drink wasn’t even at the halfway mark yet.
“I use sex to feed. It’s just more convenient and easier than going up to some random and asking if I can drink their blood for a bit. So yeah, I’m a prostitute in a way. I give people my body in exchange for their blood.”
“Has that all it’s been to you?” Mason asked. He was frowning thoughtfully.
A face came unbidden to Callum’s mind, so suddenly and vividly it took him by surprise but he managed to keep his face stoic at that last second.
Callum stayed silent and shrugged.
Even though Callum stopped speaking after that, Mason seemed to understand that he was entering dangerous territory and kept his conversation attempts away from Callum’s views on sex. He maintained a one-man conversation with Callum about his club and some events he was thinking of. Callum found himself feeling grateful to Mason for doing so as he tried to keep his mind off the past by drowning himself with shot after shot until Dean cut him off knowing that Callum was completely wasted.
Callum was not an obvious drunk. He didn’t slur his words, he was still in control or aware of his actions for the most part, and his motor skills were not noticeably lacking. You had to really know how Callum behaved in order to pick out the subtle hints of his inebriation.
Callum dropped his head onto the bar counter, his cheek pressing into the cool wood as he faced Mason.
“Hey, Mase,” Callum called.
Mason’s mouth dropped, “Did you just…?”
Callum frowned, “What?”
“You called me ‘Mase’.”
Mason shook his head, grinning, “Never mind. What did you want to say?”
“Wanna get out of here? It’s gettin’ too crowded for my likin’.”
Just as Callum finished talking, three men came up to them.
“Can we help you?” Mason asked coldly. Callum twisted his head, not wanting to sit up properly even though the new position was rather odd and uncomfortable, and saw that it was the three men who were arguing over him a while back. They had finally decided to come over.
The men ignored Mason completely and grinned down at Callum who was staring at them blankly.
“Hey, remember me?” the redhead asked.
The taller blond scoffed, “Of course he doesn’t. But I bet you remember me, right?”
The shorter blond rolled his eyes, “Both of you losers can leave already. He’s coming home with me.”
Callum sighed, “Do any of ya three even know my name?”
The trio opened their mouths to reply but immediately halted.
Callum sat up and spun in the bar stool so he could lean back on his elbows against the bar counter. “Look. I’m guessin’ ya don’t know but I’ve got a reputation here. The only one who knows my name is Dean and I like to keep it that way. I only sleep with a person once, that’s it. No exceptions. I give my body to a stranger for a night and in return I take their blood to feed, as I’ve most likely done with the three of ya as you claim to have fucked me. And by the way, I don’t recognize any of ya and I would appreciate it if ya’d leave me alone.” Callum got to his feet, swaying only slightly. It wasn’t noticeable if you weren’t paying attention and didn’t know him all that well. He nodded to Mason, “You comin’?”
Mason nodded and as he was pulling out his wallet to pay for the both of them, Callum stopped him and placed a couple bills onto the counter.
“You paid last night,” was all Callum said. He then called out to the bear shifter, “Dean, we’re gonna go. I’ll see ya in a week or so, yeah?”
“See you, baby. Though really, drop by more often, I miss seeing your face. You too, Mason. And you better tell me all about your progress with this little fool.”
“Nice meeting you, Dean, and I’ll be sure to be mated to him when we come by again,” Mason replied, grinning cheekily.
Callum scoffed though he felt his cheek light up, darkening his alcohol induced flush, and walked out of the pub without another word with Mason following close behind him.
“Hey, where’re you going?” the shifter called out, catching up to him quickly.
Callum shrugged, “There’s a park nearby.”
And so the two found themselves walking through a grassy area of a small park, ignoring the Do not step on the grass sign.
Mason sat down against a tree and yelped when Callum lay down and planted his head on the shifter’s lap.
“You really are drunk, aren’t you?” Mason chuckled. “You’d never do this sober.”
“I’m just tired,” Callum said. “Don’t think this means anythin’.”
“Of course not. But, doesn’t mean I can’t be happy. By the way, why does Dean call you ‘baby’?”
“I don’t want people there knowin’ my name and Dean’s been callin’ me baby since we met and despite my annoyance the name just stuck. He’s the only one who gets to call me that.”
“Have you two ever…?”
Callum looked up at Mason and saw the shifter trying to keep a nonchalant expression. He was failing miserably.
Callum shook his head, “No. Dean’s a friend, almost as close to me as Georgia. Besides, if I tried anythin’ with him, his master/boyfriend would mess me up in ways I’d rather not imagine.”
“Master?” Mason frowned.
“Dean’s a submissive.”
“Like…BDSM? But he’s huge! What the hell does his boyfriend look like?”
Callum laughed, “Yeah, I was surprised too. ‘Specially when I saw Martin. The guy’s lithe, he’s a tiger shifter, and a bit shorter than ya but taller than me. He’s super assertive and dominant, though. They’ve been together for years, mated for one.”
“Then I guess I don’t need to worry about competition,” Mason said.
Callum rolled his eyes in response. “How’d ya know I’m not pinin’ after someone?”
“You seemed really against a relationship when you argued with Georgia at the diner. But I’ll get you to warm up to me even when you’re completely sober.” Mason smiled, leaning down to place a quick peck on Callum’s lips before sitting back up.
“Ya know…” Callum trailed, staring up at the sky. He couldn’t see any stars due to the light pollution of the city but the sky still looked nice enough with the moon shining through some dark clouds and filtering through the tree’s leaves. Or it could have just been the alcohol.
“What?” Mason asked, combing his hands through Callum’s hair.
“I had a huge crush on ya in high school for a while.”
“What? Really?” Mason’s hand halted, shocked.
Callum hummed the affirmative, “Yup. It was durin’ freshman year, at the beginnin’ of the year before ya became my own personal devil. Though even then I still felt my heart race durin’ those rare instances you weren’t being mean or when you defended me against other bullies. But then I finally realized you were just a jerk and moved on by the middle of sophomore year.”
Mason groaned, “Are you kidding me? You liked me back and I screwed it up. Fucking hell.”
“Mmhm, you done goofed big time, Mase.”
“Well I just have to make you like me again, and I will. For sure. If you liked me once, you can like me again and then it’ll lead to love and we’ll mate.”
Callum chuckled, “Quite the optimist, aren’t ya?”
“It’s not optimism, it’s confidence and determination. I’m not going to lose you a second time.”
“Ya never had me a first, Mase.”
Mason rolled his eyes, “Details, details. Point is, I’m not going to give up.”
Callum reached up and cradled the side of Mason’s face with his hand, thumb gently rubbing the corner of Mason’s mouth. He vaguely registered the slight stubble that grew over the day, faintly recalling that some wolf shifters grew hair more quickly than most people.
Callum shook his head, “Stupid, stubborn wolf.”
His hand dropped onto his stomach and he closed his eyes with a sigh, exhaustion taking over his drunkenness.
“Hey, don’t go to sleep here,” Mason chuckled though he made no move to make Callum open his eyes.
“I don’t know where you live, love.”
“I’m going to have to take you back to mine.”
“Don’t hurt me when you wake up.”
Mason sighed and stroked Callum’s hair as Callum slowly drifted off.