After hanging up with his friend Tommy, Richard grinned and gave a happy sigh. He hadn't seen Tommy since he'd returned from Europe and he'd missed his friend who looked better as a woman that he ever would as a man. He was perfect for the large wolf shifter, Anton. Shoving his cell phone into the back pocket of his jeans he grabbed the handles on the stroller holding the triplets and made his way towards the back door. He wanted to check out the greenhouse and the vegetable garden. He was even thinking about making dinner for his mate and his mate's friends. His mate. The words were still strange to say. He hadn't held out much hope that he would ever have anyone to call his own or that he would ever belong to anyone himself. It wasn't because he was gay, he knew a lot of gay couples that were happy. No, his disbelief in a "happily ever after" for himself had more to do with the damage inside than any sort of outside influences.
Opening the sliding door to the backyard, he pulled on his sunglasses, the wide straw hat that Vet had given to him, along with the garden gloves that he pulled on and looked down at himself. He snorted. What a picture he made, with his designer boots, designer jeans, soft cotton T-shirt that clung to his lean frame and cost him $200 and his Gucci shades whose cost he shuddered to think about. Then there was the straw hat and the gloves, both of which had maybe cost Vet $10...from Walmart. Richard cringed when he realized that he sounded a bit like a New York snob, then he shrugged, he was a New York snob...sort of. Hearing the chattering of the triplets, he remembered what he was supposed to be doing and stepped out onto the back pork backwards, pulling the stroller with him gently. When he turned he was happy to see that there was a ramp down one side of the porch and turning the stroller in that direction he headed that way. He looked around the land that he now lived on and felt his heart pounding in his chest.
He had grown up in the Bronx with his mother and "aunt," some woman that his mother had sex with whenever she wasn't having sex with this John or that John. He'd grown up knowing that his mother was a drug-addicted, prostituting lesbian. He hadn't cared...or atleast that's what he'd told the kids at his school when they'd teased him about it. When he'd gotten older, he'd cared even less when the guys in the class started being the ones who were paying to sleep with his mother. When she overdosed he'd been a little relieved and a lot alone. With only one year left until graduation, he'd lied and told his school that his father had returned and was taking care of him. That was the year he'd started dancing in strip clubs for money. He'd kept stripping and dancing for money all through college, but he'd gotten a full-ride scholarship so the money he made in the clubs he'd used for nice clothes, dildos, shoes, dildos, mani/pedis, dildos, hair styles, dildos, and more sex toys than any one gay man really ever needed. He'd met Amanda Lynn and she'd seen right through his wall of bullshit. The two of them had been inseparable and she'd been the only person that had ever truly loved him. Then she'd died also.
He looked up from where he crouched next to a tomato plant and found his eyes connecting with Vet's where the other man stood watching him from beside the barn. Now he had Vet and AL's triplets. Maybe he would finally get to have a happy ending, people that would love him forever and wouldn't die any time soon.
His thoughts were cut off abruptly when a pair of boots came into his line of vision. He looked up a pair of muscled legs encased in a pair of form-fitting Wranglers and up a wide barrel chest, square jaw, thin lips, a nose with a bump in the middle, showing that it had been broken at least once before, to a pair of grey eyes, wide forehead and wavy blonde hair that brushed the gorgeous man's collar of his checkered shirt.
"So I hear your name's Richard and you're the alpha's new mate and the guardian of Mandy's babies," the stranger stated, his voice deceptively nice, but Richard could hear the disgust underlying the pleasant words. He just wasn't sure if the disgust was aimed at him or Vet. He stood up and pulled off the gloves, his basket full of carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, peas, green beans, lettuce, and amazingly beets all but forgotten. Brushing off his hands on his pants, cringing at the sight of the dirt that had still managed to get underneath his manicure, he held out his hand to the unknown man.
"That's right and you are?" he asked pleasantly, aware of the sounds of whining coming from the triplets as if they were upset by the stranger's presence.
"Name's Bobby Ray. I'm one of the farmhands here and I'm the alpha's right hand man," Bobby Ray said, puffing his chest out in pride.
"I thought Vet's right hand man was Anton?" Richard asked in confusion, shocked when Bobby Ray's voice turned almost purple in rage.
"That big, dumb moose? He's a fairy just like you," Bobby Ray stated and Richard realized then that that show of earlier disgust had most definitely been aimed at him.
"Well, your alpha's gay, so does that make him a fairy as well?" Richard asked with an exaggerated lilt to his voice, just to piss off the homophobic asshole. He stood his ground when the larger man stepped dangerously close to him, a growl emanating from his chest.
"Now you listen up you butt monkey. My alpha ain't no fucking fairy like you. I don't rightly know what you did when he went up to find you up there in New-Fucking- York-Queer City, but I'm gonna do all I can to change him back and either get you booted off this land along with that shit-packer Anton or I'm going to see you both dead. We hang guys like you here in Texas," Bobby Ray threatened and Richard felt his face flush with anger and dread. Before he could open his mouth he heard a low, menacing growl coming from behind Bobby Ray and saw the biggest, black wolf he'd ever seen standing feet away from the both of them.
I want you to get your basket and the triplets and go in the house, don't come out until I tell you it's okay, he heard Vet's voice in his head. Was that big, black wolf Vet?
Vet? he questioned.
Don't ask questions, baby, just do what I said. No one threatens my mate and gets away with it. I'm going to take care of this little asshole.
"A-Alpha Tate. I was just introducing m-myself to y-your mate-" Richard heard Bobby Ray stammering and as he picked up his basket of vegetables and pushed the triplets back towards the house, he almost felt sorry for the man. Almost. He heard Vet's growl grow louder and sped up, almost running as he pushed the triplets towards the safety of the house. He wanted Bobby Ray scared, yes, because he'd practically scared the piss out of him with all of his "we hang guys like you" talk, but he didn't want Vet to kill him. Then he'd be no better than the homophobe. Everyone was entitled to their opinions, their beliefs and their right to live. As he shut the sliding door he heard the sound of a second wolf and wondered what was happening, but not enough to turn around and look. He pushed the triplets into the kitchen and after placing the basket on the counter he placed each baby in their high chair, gave them each a handful of the small chunks of peaches he'd cut up earlier and began to wash the vegetables, getting them ready for the stew he planned on making. He would put what was happening outside out of his mind. He had to.
Vet couldn't remember ever being as mad as he was at that moment. He circled around the blonde wolf. Bobby Ray had shifted when his attention had been strayed a bit to make sure that Richard and the triplets had gotten inside okay, but that was fine. Vet was easily twice as big as him, the smaller wolf was no match for him, besides he had a huge motive to stay unharmed and to win...his mate. His heart had nearly stopped when Richard's fear had reached him through their mental link. He'd only seen Richard talking with Bobby Ray but he knew that whatever the other man was saying, it was causing his mate undue stress. Without a thought he'd stripped and shifted, making his way up behind Bobby Ray quickly and quietly. He'd gotten there just in time to hear Bobby Ray tell Richard that they "hung" guys "like him" and all he'd known was rage. He'd wanted to tear the little bigot limb from limb, but he didn't want Richard or the babies to see. But now they were in the house and he could take care of the little shit alone.
He growled low in his throat taking a menacing step towards the other wolf, giving him plenty of time to back down and show submission. When the other wolf did no such thing, he gave up being cordial and pounced. The two wolves growled, baring teeth, grappling, trying to find a point of weakness on the other. He howled when he felt the other wolf's teeth bite his shoulder and no longer trying to merely maim his opponent, he was now going for the kill. He turned and latched onto a paw with his massive teeth, biting down hard until he heard the bone snap, the other wolf howling in pain. Before he could go for the throat however, the sound of pounding footsteps reached his ears, he turned his head for a moment and when he swung his head back the other wolf had already taken off for the edge of the property. He shifted back, not as quickly as before, his injury slowing him down but once he was human again he placed his clenching fists on his naked hips and yelled towards Bobby Ray as loud as possible, "You threatened the mate of the alpha and you ran during a challenge like the coward you are. I want you off my land and out of my pack you asshole!!!"
He scowled when he heard the sound of squealing tires and knew that they belonged to Bobby Ray. The little shit didn't even have the balls to respond. Turning back to the men who stood there, all of them tense with the urge to protect their alpha and the alpha's mate and children, he grinned.
"Don't worry boys, I took care of him. But, Bobby Ray's been banished. He's not to step foot back on this property ya' hear? I mean it. If you see him, let me know. I'm not done with that asshole yet," he admonished all of them, before turning to walk slowly towards the house, uncaring about his nudity. He was going in the house to check on his mate and their babies, shower, and then have his still slightly damaged shoulder bandaged and cared for. He rolled his shoulders and hissed at the pain. It would probably take him a few more shifts before he was better, while in his human form almost any injury that he sustained could be healed with just one shift, if he was in his wolf form, it took two or three shifts to heal any injury.
He opened the sliding door and stepped inside. He heard the clatter of silverware and the sound of Richard's running feet. He braced his feet and opened his arms for the smaller man who launched himself into his arms.
"What happened? Are you okay? Did you kill him? I hope you didn't kill him. Was that him I heard driving away all fast? Are you bleeding? Oh my gosh, you're bleeding! Can't shifters heal from that? Go take a shower and clean that thing and come back and I'll put a bandage on it and wrap it for you. I'm so glad you're okay! I was so worried about you," Richard spoke rapidly and Vet blinked his eyes at the verbal assault. He merely smiled in the face of his mate's concern and with a deep kiss on his lips, turned to walk upstairs to shower and change so he could come back and be taken cared of.
Oh yeah, this being mated thing was turning out rather well.