The Reindeer's St. Patrick's Surprise (Reindeer Holidays Book 2)

By: E A Price

One

Harlan slammed his glass on the bar.

“Hit me,” he slurred.

The bartender gave him a pained, sympathetic look. “Sir, don’t you think…”

“No. Leave the bottle.”

Harlan sloshed some of the amber liquid into his glass. Shifters didn’t get drunk particularly easily, but he was doing his darnedest to try. This was not a day he wanted to remember clearly. His inner reindeer concurred.

Harlan was a reindeer shifter and youngest son of the alpha of the largest herd in Chicago. Today was also supposed to be his wedding day. He was supposed to be getting married to the niece of the alpha of a rival herd. There was some whole big mating agreement, but Harlan didn’t care about any of the politics. He just wanted Corinne.

He had been kind of a wild bull at college, or at least before he was kicked out of a couple of colleges for his wild partying – he was a St. Patrick’s Day legend – but that changed when he met Corinne. Slowly and surely he fell head over heels for her and was certain he wanted to marry her, to make her his mate. His ex-girlfriends were probably gobsmacked – they probably felt like they’d been smacked in the gob – to learn he was ready to settle down, but Corinne, his sweet, charming reindeer, had him bewitched. He even put up with the irritating and lengthy negotiations between their two herds to come to a mating agreement. He wanted nothing more than to be with Corinne. Or at least, he had wanted nothing more than to be with Corinne, until the truth was revealed two hours ago.

Harlan blew out a long breath as his older brother Branch lowered himself into the seat next to him. He placed a hand on Harlan’s shoulder and let out a soft grunt.

“All of her herd are gone,” rumbled Branch.

Harlan let out a non-committal sound and poured another drink. “You want one?” he offered.

“No.”

“Is mom pissed?”

He winced as he thought of his poor mother. His usually sweet mother hadn’t been very enamored by Corinne but had put aside personal feelings because she was nothing but supportive of her children. She had even taken it upon herself to arrange their exceedingly lavish wedding, kowtowing to Corinne’s extravagant wishes. Like life-sized ice sculptures in the shape of reindeer. He couldn’t imagine his mother would be thrilled. Though it was probably nothing compared to the rage his father, and alpha, felt at that moment.

“More worried about you.”

“Dad?”

“Same. He’s currently considering challenging Corinne’s alpha to a death match. Mom and Uncle Clay are trying to calm him down. They don’t blame you.”

“They should,” he groaned dropping his head onto the bar.

Freaking hell – he blamed himself! Who else could he blame? He fell hook, line, and sinker for Corinne and now his herd would pay for it. She used him to get close to him, to find out what his more prosperous herd was doing, and then at the last moment, her herd sniped them and landed a huge deal his father had been putting together for over a year. It was a deal to buy a large number of resorts. His father had been pulling together capital and securing loans to get the deal off the ground. So many herd mates had been working hard on it, and now, it was kaput.

“None of us were careful about what we said around her. We were all fooled.”

“Dushnt mek mu fill burr.”

“What?”

Harlan lifted his head off the bar. “Doesn’t make me feel better. I was a complete and utter sap.”

The deal was supposed to have gone through yesterday. They only really found out what happened early that morning, and when they realized, Harlan quickly called the wedding off. Corinne had skipped out on him before he could confront her, though her alpha had happily gloated on her behalf.

He rubbed his forehead. Why Corinne had let it get so far, he had no idea. Surely she was never planning on marrying him before he called it off – made him wonder why she bothered to fork out for such an expensive gown. It was expensive too – and she made her own alpha pay for it. Though it was small fry in comparison to how much they would make from the deal they managed to land.

“It’s going to be okay,” murmured Branch in a surprisingly tender way. “You will get past this.”

His brother was a decent reindeer through and through, but not known for being sensitive or keen to talk about delicate matters. Showed how worried he was about Harlan.

“I’m never getting married,” grumbled Harlan.

“You don’t…”

“No!” he growled. “I mean it.” Harlan rose to his feet, only weaving slightly, and he slammed his fist onto the bar, leaving a fist-shaped dent. “I. Am. Never. Getting. Married!”