There was no question whether he’d agree to it. He would. It was his duty as the firstborn of the alpha, and he wouldn’t have a pack war on his hands.
He’d seen enough bloodshed in his days. No way was he going to be responsible for bringing even a piece of that to his family, his pack or the town that had become a sanctuary for him, his brother, and his sister.
Enough thinking. He’d made his decision. He’d do his duty. Ivy wasn’t the worst the Kincaids could have offered him, that was for sure.
He went to the fridge. Bare. Unless ketchup, a jar of olives, or two-day-old pizza qualified as lunch. Or beer. He never drank when he was on duty. Never. And rarely before five, but today…today might be an exception.
No. There were no exceptions to hard and fast rules. That’s how things went south.
He grabbed a bottle of Coke, twisted the top off and drank it while he checked the freezer. Bridget had stocked it with a few things—a lasagna and two tubs of chili, but both of those would take some defrosting.
That gave him only a few options. Run to the store for food, which meant leaving Ivy alone in his house. He wasn’t comfortable with that. Not yet. That left him with calling in an order to Howler’s. Technically, they didn’t deliver, but Bridget would send one of the bus boys for him.
He picked up the phone and dialed.
“Howler’s. Bridget speaking.”
“Hey, Bridge. What’s the special today?”
“Hey, bro! Bacon cheeseburgers with Cajun fries. You coming in for lunch?”
“Not today. Can you send two with the works to my house?”
“Working on a case from home?”
“Something like that.” He’d break the news about Ivy to her and Titus later.
“You got it, brosef.”
“Thanks.” He hung up.
Footsteps padded down the steps. “I take it the fridge was bare?”
“Yes, I…” He turned around and immediately understood why Ivy’s clothes had fit in her saddlebags. There wasn’t much to them. The denim cutoffs and purple tank top she wore would have fit in the glove box of his duty car. Or maybe his back pocket.
She was fresh from the shower, and her hair hung in long, damp strands around her face. She’d washed her makeup off and now wore none. Or very little. Hank didn’t know enough about it to tell which. Either way, she was still gorgeous. Maybe a little less intimidating fresh-faced.
Lacy black bra straps peeked from under the skinny tank top, making him wonder what the rest of her underthings looked like. A delicate vine tattoo trailed from her shoulder to her elbow on her right arm.
And her legs…her legs were endless and tan and endless. Her toes were painted bright, glittery blue.
In need of a diversion, he straightened the towel hanging over the sink cabinet door. “No, nothing in the fridge. I ordered bacon burgers and fries.”
“Sounds good to me. Can I get one of those?”
He looked up. “What?”
She pointed to the Coke in his hand. “A soda.”
“Sure. You can have anything. Help yourself to whatever you want.”
She opened the fridge and laughed. “I see why you ordered out.”
“I need to get to the grocery store.”
She grabbed a Coke, twisted off the top and leaned against the counter. She held the bottle out to him. “Cheers. Here’s to…getting to know each other.”
He could drink to that. Especially if it meant finding out the truth behind her reason for being here and not running. Intuition told him it was more than just obligation but he wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of her motivation was fear of her father. He tapped his bottle against hers and they both drank.
She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand when she was done. “I could do that for you, you know.”
“Do what?” Damn, she was distracting with that much skin showing.
“Groceries.” She shrugged. “It’s not a big deal. Just like washing the sheets. I’d like to be useful while I’m here.”
While she was here. Made it sound temporary. Maybe his theory about them being married in name only was on target. “You don’t mind?”
“Not at all.”
“That would be good. You’ve got to eat.”
“And you don’t?”
“I don’t eat at home much.”
She nodded like she was processing what that meant. “I won’t see much of you, is that what you’re saying?”
“I…” He didn’t want to leave her alone in the house but now that he thought about it, what choice did he have? He had to go back to work and he couldn’t exactly have her hang out at the station all day. “I eat at Howler’s most of the time.”
“I think I’ll avoid that place if it’s all right with you.”
“My sister owns it.”
She set her soda on the counter. “Awesome.”
He frowned. “What’s wrong with that?”
“Nothing, I just didn’t realize how many bad first impressions I’d made already.”
“Bridget didn’t say anything to me about what happened.”
“Bridget? As in the woman behind the bar?”
“I was right about her being a shifter.” Ivy sighed. “Any other Merrows in town I should know about?”
“My brother, Titus. He’s the fire chief.”