A Mate's Wish (Ouachita Mountain Shifters 0.5)
That tone.
    “Ditto,” Layna said, flipping through the room assignment book. “But I only have you down for one room, is that right?”
    “No, actually they need two. I didn’t realize Josie was coming.”
    “Okay. Yeah, great.” Layna’s voice was an octave too high, and pinched. “We can do separate rooms. No problem.”
    “Right, well… Layna will get you your rooms and in the morning you can meet with Renner to find out what needs to be done. Sound good?”
    “Sounds great,” Ryan said. He watched Layna scribble something out of the book.
    “Tomorrow then.”
    Beth waved her goodbyes and went to check on Renner.

Chapter Ten
    Day three of Project Christmas Deco was in full swing, and with Ryan and Josie’s help, things were going right according to schedule. Renner was nearly fully recuperated but Doc Davis wouldn’t give him the all-clear. She wanted him to take advantage of having extra hands around.
    A giant hand clapped Renner on the back and he held in a wince. Okay, so maybe his cat needed a couple extra days.
    “Hey, brother,” Ryan boomed. “It sure has been good seeing you around again.”
    Renner nodded.
    Ryan had grown into his lanky pre-teen body, and now he was one huge-ass dude.
    “Yeah. I’m glad Bethy called you, Ry.”
    He frowned. “Bethy? She let you call her that?”
    Renner nodded. “Why?”
    “She threatened to cut my nuts off one time for calling her Bethy.” He shrugged. “Thought she’d grown out of it.”
    Renner’s lips curled into a grin. “Pretty sure I’m the only one allowed to. I get special privileges.”
    Ryan stiffened. “You and my sister?”
    “Yeah.” His answer came out breathy, and he cleared his throat. “You know I always had a thing for her.”
    Ryan sighed. “I guessed as much. But damn, you know I’m supposed to clock you now, right?”
    Renner’s eyes were drawn to his friend’s ripped bicep. “We could always skip that part.”
    Ryan was quiet, staring out at the sun setting over the mountain. “This thing with Beth, is it casual for you?”
    “One hundred percent not casual for me.” Renner took a deep breath. “I love her, Ryan.”
    “You’ve only known her a few weeks.”
    “I’ve known her my whole life. We just got separated for a while.”
    Ryan rubbed his gloved hands together. “Does… she love you?”
    “I don’t know, but I’m going to find out.”
    “And if she doesn’t.”
    Renner shrugged. “It changes nothing.”
    “And if she does?”
    “If she does…” His stomach turned somersaults at the thought. “It changes everything.”
    Ryan nodded, staring at Renner past one arched eyebrow. “We can skip the clocking. For now.”
    Renner watched until Ryan disappeared behind the nativity stable. He’d need to talk to Magic soon, explain the situation.
    Inside, he stopped at the restaurant to look for Bethany. She sat at a table across from Eagan. They were deep in conversation, and she was using her half eaten breadstick to gesture as she spoke. Renner came up behind her, slipping his hands around her shoulders.
    “Oh, hey.” She smiled up at him, and he never knew a simple expression could feel like the sunshine on his skin in the spring. Her magic was never ending.
    “Hey, babe.”
    He sank into the chair next to her, and she dropped her breadstick onto the plate.
    “How’s the decorating? Everything working out with Ry?”
    “Yeah. Perfectly. We’re right on schedule.”
    “I saw the lights go up last night,” Eagan said. “Everything looks great.”
    Renner picked up Bethany’s fork and twirled some spaghetti onto it. “Open.” He brought it to her mouth, but she looked uncomfortable. “You weren’t done, right? You didn’t eat much.”
    One corner of her mouth turned up. “I’ll eat later.”
    Renner frowned. She’d turned down every invitation to have dinner, yet she ate with Eagan. He pushed away the kernel of jealousy forming in his gut.
    Beth took the fork from his hand and shoved

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