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Blurb: Matthew Warner's been a Chicago Bears fan as far back as he can remember. What other team was a young bear shifter from the Smokey Mountains supposed to root for? When his college friend gets tickets to the next home game, Matthew jumps at the chance for a holiday. It's his favorite time of year and Nic promises him pumpkin carving and a visit to the world's largest corn maze, what more could he want?
What Matthew doesn’t expect is finding out the defensive tackle for the Bears is his mate. Between fainting at the realization, meeting family, and dealing with the media fallout of his mate's coming out Matthew is in for a hell of a rocky Halloween.
"Matthew," Christian said, his voice low and deep. The power in it sent shivers down Matthew's spine.
"Yes?" he squeaked. Matthew cleared his throat before trying again. "Yes?" This time his voice only shook a little.
Christian smiled knowingly at him. "I was wondering if you and I could have a word in private?"
Private? What the hell had he done? Matthew racked his brain, trying to think of anything he might have forgotten recently that might have angered or annoyed his Alpha. He couldn't come up with anything.
"Sure." Matthew stood and closed the lid to the ice chest. Christian placed his hand on Matthew's shoulder, leading him inside. Matthew looked around fanatically for someone to stop them, but no one seemed to be paying them the slightest bit of attention. He swallowed the lump in his throat and resigned himself to his fate, whatever it might be.
Christian led Matthew to his office. Matthew had never had cause to be in this room before. The mahogany desk with matching wood and leather chairs sat pride of place in the center of the room, and off to one side was a bookcase filled with books. Matthew could see several of them had Christian's mate's name on them—Vincent Marsden.
"Take a seat," Christian said as he closed the door behind them. The Alpha was acting strangely, especially when he checked the hall just before the door closed. Christian walked over to where Matthew was sitting. Instead of taking a seat behind the desk as Matthew would have expected, Christian hiked a leg and leaned against the edge of the desk just to the side of him.
"Thank you for taking a minute to speak with me."
"Anything you need, Alpha." Matthew nodded. His hands were already sweating. Matthew rubbed them back and forth on his pants, hoping to dry them.
"There's no reason to be nervous," Christian assured him, chuckling lightly. "You've done nothing wrong."
Matthew nodded as he sighed in relief.
"I know we don't know each other very well," Christian started and Matthew nodded again. "However, you've known my younger brother for years."
"I have. He's a good guy."
"He is. Can be a pain in the ass sometimes, but I love him nonetheless." Christian chuckled.
Matthew was too nervous to do anything more than smile.
"Anyway, I happened to overhear a conversation you had earlier on the phone."
Matthew swallowed and fisted the denim of his jeans in his hands. Would Christian stop him from going on vacation? Was there a sleuth in Chicago? Did he need to notify them of his travel plans?
"Yes?" he asked quietly.
"You're planning to travel to Chicago, is that correct?"
Matthew nodded slowly.
Matthew furrowed his brows. Why on earth would Christian think his travel plans were excellent? "I don't understand."
"I was wondering if you wouldn't mind doing me a favor."
"A favor? Me?"
Christian nodded. "I'm trying to go through the sleuth, one by one, and get to know everyone as the Alpha. But Bobby trusts you. And I was hoping I could too."
Trust me? To do what? Matthew went back to rubbing his hands on his pants. If he could comfortably put them in his pockets sitting down, he would have, but he couldn't.
When Matthew didn't say anything, Christian smiled kindly at him and continued. "I have an item that I plan on purchasing that I don't feel comfortable with the postal system handling. I was wondering if you wouldn't mind picking it up while you're in Chicago and bringing it back for me."
Matthew's mind raced. What exactly was his new Alpha into? Surely it wouldn't be anything illegal; drugs and guns were just a couple of the things that popped into his mind. Matthew shook his head. There was no way Christian would put a member of his sleuth in danger like that, but he couldn't help but ask.
"I won't get into trouble for doing this, will I?"
"No." Christian laughed. "Although if Vinnie finds out, he might have a few words to say to you.
"Vincent?" Why would Christian's mate want to talk to him if he did this?
"The item in question is from Tiffany's," Christian said, raising his brow.
Matthew's eyes widened as everything suddenly made sense. Oh wow! "Yes," he blurted. "Yes, sure, okay, I would be honored. Anything you need."
Christian chuckled, placed a hand on his shoulder, and squeezed. "Thank you. You can understand why I don't want an item such as this being posted or even couriered to me."
"I can. I'm touched that you trust me to collect it and deliver it into your hands."
"You're of my sleuth. I would trust you with my life."
Matthew's eyes teared up at the absolute sincerity he felt from his Alpha. No one before had ever had so much faith in him.
"Thank you. I won't let you down."
"I didn't think you would. When do you travel?"
Matthew informed Christian of his plans so far and told him that he'd let him know as soon as things were more concrete.
"Great. I'll organize everything from my end and send the details you'll need to collect the item on my behalf. You'll require some form of identification I'm sure."
"Yeah, won't be a problem."
"I heard you're planning on going to the Bears game while you're there."
Had Christian overheard his entire conversation? "Yeah, my friend got us a couple of tickets."
"That's great. I have a friend from college, Hudson Rose. I'll give him a call and see if he can meet you and your friend after the game. Show you around a little."
Matthew's heart skipped a beat, and his mouth hung open in astonishment. "Hud-Hudson Rose?" Matthew spluttered. Surely Christian couldn't be talking about whom Matthew thought. "The Hudson Rose? Defensive tackle for the Chicago Bears Hudson Rose?"
Christian's smile was indulgent. "One and the same."
Matthew thought he might faint. Hudson Rose was one of the best defensive tackles in the league. The Bears had managed to hold on to him for the last three years, and Matthew had heard Hudson had just signed another three-year deal with the club worth more money than Matthew could contemplate spending in several lifetimes. The fact that the man was also hot as fuck and regularly graced the pages of the top eligible bachelors in the country had his mouth going dry at the mere prospect of meeting Hudson.
"Really?" His voice squeaked. Matthew needed to see someone about that.
"Yes, I'll give him a call tomorrow, see if he can spare an hour or two after the game."
Matthew nodded, not sure what else to do. His brain had just about shut down. How was he supposed to concentrate with Hudson Rose hanging over his head?
They chatted for another couple of minutes, ironing out a few details, and then Christian stood. "I don't have to tell you this is to be kept on the DL?"
"Not at all, he won't hear about it from me."
"Great, now I think it's time we rejoin the party. Grab another beer and get something to eat before there's nothing left." Christian walked to the door, Matthew following along behind him.
They managed to slip back outside without drawing attention to themselves. Matthew headed back to the ice chest and pulled out the beers he needed. He found his group still standing on the lawn, all four of them laughing uproariously.
Bobby looked at him and grabbed a beer. "What took you so long, man? A person could die of thirst waiting for you."
"Yeah, sorry." Matthew handed out the other beers, then opened his own and took a long swig. His afternoon certainly hadn't gone as he'd expected.
He looked forward to the announcement between his Alpha and his mate. Matthew was happy with the small part that he was able to play in making Christian's wishes come true.
Now if only he could find someone of his own to spend the rest of his life with. Matthew sighed and turned his attention back to the group, smiling at the story Clayton was retelling. For now, he was happy right where he was.
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