And besides, as he’d found out the hard way, no sane woman would want anything to do with Tate Calloway once she realized that he came as a package deal. Him and six younger siblings. Loud, noisy, demanding, younger siblings. Also included in the package was his eighteen-year-old sister Megan, moody and riding a tsunami of hormones, flitting between their house and the local community college and driving all the local boys crazy with her newly blossomed figure.
“Hey, jerk,” Megan said, trotting after the swarm of siblings.
“Hey, nuisance.” Tate gave her the critical once-over. “That’s an awful lot of makeup you’re wearing, and isn’t that neckline a little low?”
“I refuse to be oppressed by the Man,” Megan said, hands on her hips. “Especially when that man is you.”
“What a pity that I’m also the man who pays the bills, who is the Alpha of your pack, and who has been smitten with the mighty curse of being responsible for your welfare. When we get to the job site, you will change your shirt.”
Megan’s voice rose several octaves. “Why? There’s nothing wrong with—”
A man strode by, looked her up and down, and let out an appreciative whistle. Tate swung around, and his face went hairy, fangs descending as he let out a snarl. His face extended fully, snout shooting out, ears pointy and tufted with bristling gray fur. The man went pale and scurried off into the crowd, hanging his head in submission. He was a coyote shifter, by the scent of him; he wouldn’t stand a chance against a wolf.
Tate turned back to Megan, who was rolling her eyes in disgust. “I am a wolf, Tate. I am fully capable of defending myself. By the way, can I borrow your Bible? The one that you had autographed by Moses?”
“Har har, I get it. I’m old. Hey! That’s my soda!” he yelled as his ten-year-old sister, Schuyler, grabbed his cola and ran off.
“Where’s my soda? I want a soda,” eight-year-old Ashley pouted.
“So-da! So-da!” the six-year-old twins, Robin and Richard, started chanting, joined in by four-year-old Felix.
Tate shot Kyle a glance that was both amused and resigned. “You were asking about a woman?” he said, and then glanced at the rowdy group of children jostling for his attention. “As if.”
He’d accepted long ago that caring for his family meant that he had no shot at romance—especially with a woman as lush, as ripe, as beautiful as the mysterious bobcat who didn’t want to tell him her real name.
He swept Felix and Robin up into his arms, and Richard somehow scrambled straight up his back and wrapped his arms around Tate’s neck. “That’s okay, I don’t need to breathe or anything,” Tate said. The child ignored him.
“Schuyler says she’s prettier than me. Who’s prettier?” nine-year-old Valerie demanded. “And don’t say we’re equally pretty. You have to pick.”
Right. Like that would happen. “Lying is a sin, so I can only tell the truth. You’re both equally pretty.” Neither Valerie nor Schuyler looked happy with that answer. Valerie stuck her tongue out at Schuyler.
Tate saw a man with an unsteady gait standing at the edge of the crowd, watching. Even from where Tate stood, he could smell the sour reek of alcohol and body odor, so potent that it singed his nostrils. Tate thought he recognized the man as Meyer Schofield, a human who spent a good portion of his time in the county jail’s drunk tank.
Well, he’d better get the kids out of here before Meyer barfed on the sidewalk or urinated on a tree, both of which he’d been known to do when he was sufficiently inebriated.