The round of predatorial growls set his instinct to run. The last thing he wanted to be doing was face off against another were. He didn’t want to fight but he had a feeling that he was going to have to if he wanted to get Charlie out of this unharmed. Did he really think that Nick and his moron friends would hurt Charlie? Yeah, he did think that. Maybe they wouldn’t kill her. That would be stupid and warrant unwanted attention. A nip here and a few teasing snaps there wouldn’t cause much trouble. Stray wolves weren’t uncommon and a few were known for approaching humans but never this close. Those three knew the rules and even though they were outside New Hope, they had to know that those same rules still applied, that if they attacked a human, they could still be punished. Right? The only reason they had to be coming after Charlie now in broad daylight-
His nose curled at the smell of alcohol. Cheap booze and in large amounts. “You idiots,” Royce hissed at the three over Charlie’s shoulder as she pushed him to go. The human pushing her only chance of survival away and for what? To protect him? Even if he had been all human, he still would have stood a much higher chance of fighting the wolves. Much more than her. The fact that she was urging him leave would have been comical was it not for the very uncomical situation she was in. Even with all her strength, she couldn’t move him and he made damned sure that she knew that he wasn’t leaving by not moving at all. He was a statue as far as she was concerned. What kind of guy would leave a girl to fend for herself anyway? Did she really think he would leave, just because she told him to? Hell no. Not when these boneheads were getting all territorial and shit.
Royce didn’t know their names but he recognized the scent of the three. He’d seen them around town enough times to know that they weren’t the kind of guys to hang around with. Not unless stupidity was ever his thing. And this was pretty stupid. On both their parts. Theirs for going after a human and his for getting in the middle of it.
“Look, we don’t have to fight,” he said slowly, his eyes locked on the biggest one of the three. The ringleader of stupid. In response, the other were gave him a challenging roar and the other echoed their leader’s sentiments. They wanted a fight. That was clear. With shame, Royce did feel fear. There were three of them and only one of him. How the hell was he going to get out of this without getting his ass beat?
But it wasn’t him he ought to be worrying about. He could hold his own against them but Charlie? Even if they weren’t intent on killing her, they were obviously drunk enough to think chasing her through the woods would be a good idea. They were literally salivating at the thought. He could see them drooling.
“Charlie, I want you to get in the truck.” He finally started to move, backwards and he made sure to do it slowly. If Charlie could get in the truck, all she had to do was turn the thing on and speed the hell out of here. He could take care of these boneheads, be enough of a distraction to keep them from following her. They were looking for a fight and as long as it meant keeping her safe, he was willing to give it to them.