It had been a most amusing day.
At some point around lunch Kyra pulled him aside. “Do we need to worry about her mental health?” She’d hissed and Hunter only managed to not laugh by shear force of will.
He could understand Kyra’s point. Sally had been walking around in a daze for most of the morning, yesterday she had been competent and fun till Hunter had asked her out, and then she had been short and cool with everyone. Without any context, Kyra must have been getting whiplash from the changes.
“I’m sure it’s just new job jitters, the retail position she was in did not let her reach her full potential.” That had been painfully obvious when Hunter had contacted them Monday after the interview. While they were quick to be angry about him poaching their worker, they were quicker to accept compensation. If nothing else came of a relationship between the two of them, he was happy to get her out of there.
It was also amusing to him that whenever he came close to Sally, even for perfectly ligament reasons, she would go beetroot red. Sometimes he could even see it on her wrists where they peaked out of her long sleeves. Hunter had a lot of coffee during the course of the day, just to watch her blush.
He stopped at the doorway to the kitchenette, deciding it might be time for tea instead, but paused when noticing Sally was in there alone.
“Get it together, Smith,” she murmured to herself while stirring the water in her mug violently. “So they’re hot, and sexy, you can still do this bloody arse job without being a bumbling mess whenever they go past.”
For a moment he was going to go in there. Maybe he’d slide a hand up her arm just to watch that blush. Maybe she’d even shriek and jump. Whilst it would be hilarious, he slipped out without her noticing. He might feel comfortable teasing Celeste in such a way, but Sally was so new to him, and he was sure he’d already teased her enough today.
:Have you visited Sally anymore today?:
:I may have walked passed her a few times,: Celeste answered almost defensively.
:I think we are breaking your little mate, even Kyra has noticed. Perhaps we should stay away for now:
Celeste reluctantly agreed. Even if she didn’t want to, causing her mate distress was not her way. They both stayed away for the rest of the afternoon.
As the day drew to an end Hunter perched himself on Sally’s desk. Much of the floor had left with only a few stray clan members about, and sitting on Kyra’s desk was not unusual for him. Sally was studiously not looking at him, which made him grin all the more.
She hummed her response, focused on the screen in front of her. The tips of her ears blushed.
“Don’t you want to know about our date?”
That drew her attention causing her to stare up at him. She took a short, shuddering breath and nodded. Hunter wanted to sooth her nerves, but didn’t know how yet.
“Yes please,” she fiddled with a piece of paper, carefully shredding it. “Celeste said we’d go out tonight.”
He placed a hand on top of hers, marvelling how tiny they were compared to his own. Her movement stilled and she looked at their joined hands. Slowly they turned and she held his hand tentatively. He smiled gently down at her, delighted how well she seemed to be taking this. Hunter wondered just how deep their bond would form.
“I will come get you at seven,” he told her softly, not wanting to break the spell she was weaving. “I would like to take you out for dinner.”
A small smirk tugged at her lips. “No where too fancy I hope. I don’t have any ball gowns lying around.”
Hunter chuckled, enjoying her spunk, “not too fancy. Jeans and a nice shirt would be fine.”
Sally looked skeptical. “I can tell you’re not lying, but it feels like you’d tease me if you could.”
“It’s true,” he said, leaning a little closer to her, watching the blush resurface on her cheeks. “But I promise I will behave for our first date.”
There was a pregnant pause while she searched his face. She nodded slowly again, finding whatever she needed to in his gaze. “Ok, I’ll trust you.”
“Excellent choice,” reluctantly he released her hands as he stood, heading back toward his office. “Now, as you have applied yourself so diligently,” he could practically feel her rolling her eyes at his back, “and it is after 4, you must go home and get ready for our date.”
Her sweet laughter followed him, “you’re the boss, Boss.”
At the door to her apartment Hunter’s hands sweated a little and he rubbed his palms against his jeans. He felt ridiculous being nervous, but he also reasoned that there was a lot riding on this date.
Before Celeste even tried to stake a claim, as it were, Hunter needed to have at least an idea where he and Sally stood. Did she want a friend? Perhaps a ‘brother in arms’, a comrade to support her through Celeste’s hurricane?
Or could she be intrigued with him as he was with her?
With a crick of his neck, he knocked firmly on her door. The small duplex apartment had a small garden at the front and they had teased ivy into growing up the stone railings of the stairs. She had some pots by the door where she had, somehow, managed to coax a bottlebrush to bloom in inner Sydney. It was lovely and suited Sally well.
The door opened and he couldn’t help the smile that spread across his face. She had taken him at his word, dark blue jeans that fit her slim lines like a glove. A white billowy shirt that laced with criss crossed heavy thread from her collar bone to her tummy. She held her curls from her face with a dark green bandana she’d folded into a thick headband and knotted just under her right ear.
She managed a low whistle as she took in his own blue jeans and black shirt. He’d be damned if her eyes didn’t make him hard as stone.
“Don’t you dress down nice,” she smirked, fishing her small black bag from somewhere beyond the door and pulling it closed.
“Why thank you,” he held his arm out for her to take, guiding her to his car. “Shall we start our evening.”
When they stopped at his plain grey and nondescript car she appeared a little taken back. Hunter didn’t know quite what to make of the pause but opened the door anyway. Once settled he slipped into the driver’s seat, enjoying the way her smell filled the space.
“It’s a car,” she said suddenly as he pulled away.
“Yes, it has wheels.” He answered, enjoying her short sharp laugh.
“I mean, I kind of expected a sports car, or a limo or something. Isn’t that what all you rich CEOs drive?”
Hunter relaxed, understanding her earlier surprise. “My dear Ms Smith,” he teased, “did you just stereotype me? I’m not like all those other CEOs, you know!”
She gave him a playful glare and he shrugged.
“Celeste has more interest in cars then I. Though she’s more into something she can take out bush. This,” he waved his hand at the car, “is a company car that I drive because I need to. We have a small collection of them for staff use as needed and they are the most environmentally friendly machines finance could find.”
Sally smiled, nodding. “If you could walk everywhere you would.”
“Probably not,” she looked out the window, a light tint of pink appearing on her cheeks, “but I think I’d walk anywhere you asked me to.”
Hunter purred because there was simply nothing else he could do.
Dinner was at a nice pub that Hunter and Celeste used to frequent a lot when they first got together. Hunter had even been able to point out the first apartment they had lived in together before the company had grown. It had good comfort food and the building was cozy. He loved the brick work and found himself explaining how the acoustics worked, making the busy seating area have quiet, intimate booths like theirs.
The long bench curved around the circular table, meaning it did not appear strange for Hunter to sit so close to her that legs brushed. She didn’t appear to mind, sometimes her small hand would stray to his thigh, touching gently as they talked. He was pleasantly delighted that though it could have been erotic, she appeared to do so unconsciously, her way of letting him know she was engaged in his conversation.
She shared a little of her lasagna with him, but turned her nose up at his fish. When they were sharing a brownie with ice cream she finally asked the question she’d obviously been dying to for a while.
“Is this something you two do?”
Hunter let his head tip to the side. “Romance a beautiful young woman?” He loved when the tips of her ears reddened. “No, it’s something we’ve never done. You are very unique Sally Smith.”
She hesitated before forging bravely forward. “Why me? I’m no one special.”
At this Hunter chuckled slightly, watching her as she took the last spoon of their dessert. Arousal thumped through him as she unconsciously licked her full lips. She was trying to kill him.
“No my dear,” he used his thumb to catch a little chocolate sauce at the corner of her lip, bringing it back to his own mouth. Her eyes widened delightfully as he licked the sweetness off. “You are very special.”
For a moment her breathing appeared to stop, eyes dilating at the site of his tongue. She squirmed a little, her leg brushing against his and the pure smell of her arousal filling him. Not only friends then.
“Come now, sweetheart, let me return you home before things happen that Celeste would not be pleased at missing out.” Again was that little frozen noise she made when she realised just how deep she was getting involved. Hunter smirked, she had no idea how deep this rabbit hole went, and signalled for the bill.
“I had a lovely night,” Sally smiled up at him as they stood beside the car. They weren’t as close to her home as he’d like, but he could easily see her door from here. “I would invite you in, but I want Celeste to be here too.”
He understood. Hunter wanted that to. She stood on the sidewalk while he was on the road, brining their heights closer together. He watched the wind ruffle her curls for a moment before dipping his head forward slightly.
“Would it be too early to ask for one kiss?”
Those beautiful eye appeared to flash with emerald fire before she closed them, breathing deep. “Yes please,” she whispered.
He gently pushed a wayward curl out off her cheek, using his fingers to gently pull her forward and to his lips.
He sighed against them as they pressed together. She was so very soft and they parted beneath him on a sweet moan. He fought, hard, to not deepen the kiss, keeping it sweet as she wrapped her arms around his waist. Hunter would wait for Celeste to be here.
Sally seemed to feel it and pulled back reluctantly. “Will this happen again?”
“Oh yes,” he whispered, also reluctant to break the spell.
“Next time it will be all of us,” it wasn’t a question. It almost sounded like a prayer.
Quickly she kissed him again, smoke and cinders pressed against him, then she was gone, moving towards her door. He watched her, intending to wait till she went inside before heading to Celeste. He would pick her up from the office as it was so close to Sally’s home she had decided to stay late. Maybe while her scent was still lingering in the car he’d have his wife in the front seat and he’d tell her of how nice Sally had tasted.
At her front door, shifting through her bag for the keys, the wind shifted, bringing her beautiful scent to him.
And revealing theirs.
As soon as he smelt them he could hear their crackling growls sing eerily through the night. Then he saw them through the dark, loping down the road with their strong bodies.
Two large spotted hyenas emerged from beneath the street light, stalking towards Sally.
Sally certainly hadn’t expected their night to be as fun as it was. Hunter was attentive and interesting. She could hear his passion for environmental architecture and understood instantly why north industries had flourished so.The pub was cozy even if Hunter was a dirty fish eater she hadn’t had a date like this in a while.The underlining current of what was to come couldn’t be denied and Sally realised she wanted to be with both of them. It felt surreal to her. Maybe in her wildest dreams had she thought of having two lovers at once. But here she was, actually contemplating a relationship with a married couple.It was something so far out of her comfort zone that she probably should be worried. Instead she was excited.“Would it be too early to ask for one kiss?”Fucken Hell, the man was sin on legs. Her knees practically went to jelly and she had to close her eyes to get some form of cohere
As Sally lived close to the office, Celeste decided she would catch up on some work while Hunter had his date.After the day they’d all had, Celeste had no doubt that they would hit it off. Sally had even appeared excited at the prospect of a date with Hunter this afternoon and she knew the fucker could be charming.“Will you mind if I kiss her?” He’d asked before he left.She’d given him an eye roll, bumping his shoulder with her own. “If you don’t I might divorce you.”His smile was delightful and she could feel his love pulse through their bond. He’d slung an arm around her shoulder in half a hug. “Promises, promises,” he’d teased.Celeste smiles and hoped they’d had a good night. She wanted to take Sally to the Clan’s house this weekend. Maybe have a picnic near the bush land and show her their powers. Celeste wanted to take things slow,
This was not supposed to happen.Hunter was still furious with members of the Clan interfering with this. And he knew Celeste’s Nona would not have stood for it. He couldn’t hold her leaving against her though. The Clan would never have accepted them if she hadn’t left; he just wished she was here to give Celeste a chance to be with her mate.As it was, they sat in the small living room, in nervous silence while Hunter made them a hot chocolate. He didn’t feel like there was much else he could do, but he needed to do something.Giving Celeste hers she offered him a pained smile that tugged at his heart. He tried to hand Sally hers but she wouldn’t unwrap her arms from around her body. He sighed, placing it on the coffee table in front of her and sitting on the arm of the chair Celeste had sunk into.“What’s going on?” Sally whispered. She wouldn’t even look at Celeste and his ma
“Oi, sweet cheeks!” Yuki called through Sally’s closed door, “you’re gonna be late to work, move your butt.”Sally buried herself further under her blankets.“I’m sick,” she managed loud enough for Yuki too hear. “I’m not going in today.”The lack of sleep and constant tears lent realism to her fib. Sally’s voice was croaky and dry, and her exhaustion filled each word. She felt bad lying to her best friend, but not bad enough to tell the truth and have to talk about it. At least she’d had the forethought to send a text to Kyra. It wouldn’t look good, it being her first week, but there wasn’t much else she could do.“Do you need anything, hun?” Yuki’s voice was instantly softer, worried. Sally wallowed in her guilt.“Just gonna sleep,” she managed, grateful for the soft ‘kay’ as her friend left her to it.&nb
After a night of tears and numbness, Celeste was ready to kick some arse.She’d showered, dressed in comfortable sweats and hoodie and stood waiting for Hunter at the door. After slipping into pants he’d chuckled, kissed her lightly on the nose and ushered her out the door.“I have a few loose ends to tie up here,” he’d murmured against her lips, “I’ll meet you at the Clan house just before lunch.”Hunter rarely got involved in Clan workings. It was something they had worked out many years ago. Hyena’s were a proud and stubborn lot, and a male Lion trying to lead had rubbed most of the Clan the wrong way at the start. After the first few bouts of in-fighting they had decided together it was best if Hunter ran the company and Celeste settle Clan business.They still came together when needed, but things always appeared to run smoothest this way. She still wished beyond all else that Hunter was with her
Hunter knew he’d made the right choice when Sally had opened the door. Their poor little human was a mess. She still wore her outfit from the night before, her eyes were red, puffy and drooping with fatigue. Her hair was mostly out and fell about her in a messy tangle.He hated the look plastered on her face, that vapid, hollow smile. Like she felt she couldn’t be sad in front of someone, that she had to protect their feelings over her own. As soon as she realised it was him, the fake smile dissolved, leaving her sadness in it’s wake. Hunter didn’t want to admit how happy he was that she felt safe enough with him to be true to herself.“Well, don’t you look fetching all bed rumpled, my love?” Her eyes widened and he could almost feel her happiness that he was here. “Would you invite me in? There are things we need to discuss before we go.”“Go?” She asked, even as she moved back to let him in. Aga
At heart, Sally Smith knew she was a city girl. She’d grown up in suburbs and cities her whole life. Camping was something she’d done in high school, when forced by teachers. Even then she kept it as ‘city’ as she could, bringing along as many home comforts as she could get away with and complaining bitterly at the idea of mud.She was under no delusions that when she eventually fell in love, she’d be a high maintenance girlfriend. She was going to loath family get togethers that would take place outside. Her favourite pet growing up had been an oddly shaped rock that she’d covered in glitter.To be walking through a tightly packed oval with larger then human wild beasts was so far out of her comfort zone she had no idea what to do. This was some high level David Attenborough shit and she could only cling to Hunter’s side as he walked easily amongst them. The fucker even nodded to some of the Hyena’s and she almost expect
Celeste had felt Sally step into the clearing. Actually she had known the moment her mates had stepped onto Clan land. She knew she shouldn’t be, but even after all these years Hunter continued to surprise her. He hadn’t mentioned at any point that he was going to get Sally and bring her here.But she’d had to take a deep breath and let it go. The Clan needed her right now, and whilst this happened to directly involve her mate, she had to focus here first.Celeste didn’t need another reason to cause unrest and have the Elders fight her again.Isabella and Conner were upset, realising belatedly the stupidity they’d been talked into. They needed to know not to be stupid again and if hyenas did anything well, it was to settle things with a fight.Shifting in front of Sally was something else. She could feel the thrum of Hunter’s approval through their mate bond, it settled warmly in her stomach. He had always been pr