“Get out of the way, Wolfman.”

Lyall looked up from the book he was reading at the mean, jeering tone of voice, frowning as he saw a handful of jocks shove an obvious non-jock out of the way. The poor guy tumbled hard into a bush, his papers and shit going everywhere.

Though he was tempted to get involved, Lyall remembered what it was like to be the victim, and everyone rush up to help him, instead of just leaving him be.

This was college, not high school, for fuck’s sake. Didn’t that stupid shit stop after high school? Apparently not.

He turned to his roommate, out sitting with him in the academic quad to study. Bobby was currently buried in headphones and books the size of Lyall’s head. Lyall started to speak—then sneezed hard, three times in a row, barely turned away in time to avoid sneezing on Bobby.

Yanking his headphones off, Bobby eyed him. “Dude, people with allergies don’t generally sit under the source of their misery.”

Lyall scowled up at the trees above them, muttering, “Stupid fucking trees.” Shaking his head, he nodded in the direction of the cute geek and asked, “Who is that?”

Bobby followed his gaze, confused—but then the confusion cleared. “Oh, that’s Wolfman. He’s a super geek from the Lit department. We’ve got a film studies class together. Cool guy, if a little jumpy.”

“The jocks were picking on him,” Lyall said, “like something out of a brainless high school flick.”

“Was one of them a blonde dude with a big nose?” Bobby asked, and when Lyall nodded continued, “Rumor has it big nose’s girlfriend kicked him to the curb after some advice she got from Wolfman. Nose has had it out for him ever since.”

“Bad high school flick,” Lyall repeated. “So I guess that means he’s straight.”

“If he were straight, he’d be dating the girlfriend he got to drop Nose,” Bobby said dryly. “I’ve seen no evidence one way or the other—but I’ve seen the girlfriend. If he got a girl to listen to what he said, got her to drop Nose, and didn’t hook up with her? Not straight, dude. Not even a little.”

Smirking, pleased, Lyall said, “Good.”

Bobby rolled his eyes. “You’re supposed to be studying.”

Lyall traced his eyes up and down the lines of Wolfman’s body, liking what he saw. Tall, slender but not scrawny, curly brown hair, and cute as fuck. “I’m studying.”

“You’re supposed to be studying history, not biology,” Bobby replied.

“Whatever,” Lyall said. Man, he couldn’t wait to be done with college. Screw that best years of our lives crap. He wanted to go back home, to his family and friends. Who gave a fuck about Opium Wars and shit, really? He wanted to be back in the mountains, with acres upon acres of land to wander. Not stuck here dying from allergies, stuffy classrooms, and matchbox dorm rooms.

After suffering another round of rib-cracking sneezes, he blew into a tissue and roughly asked, “Why do you call him Wolfman?”

Bobby laughed. “Cause he’s fucking obsessed, man. It’s all he talks about, when you can get him to talk at all—werewolves this, werewolves that. He knows, like, every myth, legend, folktale, novel, short story, poem, movie, TV series, and commercial, I swear, involving werewolves. I’d say it’s sad, but I’m the one who can quote ridiculous amounts of schmoopy poetry. At least with werewolves there’s some masculinity there, a bit of respect. Me? I should just slap on a skirt and spell my name with an ‘I’.”

Lyall laughed, and clapped Bobby on the shoulder. “Have fun with your poetry, milady. I’m going to get meet the Wolfman.”

“Don’t sneeze,” Bobby replied. “Even with you, it’s the exact opposite of cool and hot.”

Flipping him off, ruining it by sneezing again, Lyall sauntered off.

The Wolfman was still sitting on the brick wall slash bench thing that surrounded a garden thing near the cafeteria building. He had a frown on his face, as he sorted through his scattered papers.

Lyall really wished his allergies didn’t have him so fucked up. He scuffed his feet to draw the guy’s attention, not wanting to startle him. When Wolfman looked up, he smiled. “Hi. My name is Lyall. I’ve been trying to figure out your name, but no one seems to notice they only tell me your nickname.”

Wolfman’s eyes widened in surprise, but then slid away, a wary cynicism overtaking his face. Lyall wasn’t surprised—he was built like any jock, and outsized even Nose, so Wolfman probably expected him to act and think the same. But, he had enough charm to overcome that. “I don’t know that anyone has ever bothered to learn anything other than ‘Wolfman’.”

“Well, I’m asking,” Lyall replied, and extended a hand. “Please?”

Stilly eying him warily, Wolfman shook hands and said, “Andre Mathers.”

Nodding, Lyall repeated, “Andre. Nice to meet you. So I hear tell you’re an expert on all things werewolf. Do you happen to know the legends of Greenbeck?”

Surprise filled Andre’s face, pale blue-green eyes popping wide. The surprise turned to excitement, to a brightness that made Lyall pleased as fuck he’d put it there. “Yeah! I totally do! My dissertation—I’m hoping to actually go there and interview the locals, you know? It’s my favorite legend, just because it’s so remarkably detailed and the history surrounding it is so rich, and I totally do not hold with the argument that’s it’s primarily Native American in origin.”

“No, it’s totally an import legend nine tenths of the way,” Lyall agreed. “I get into that argument all the time, but the Indian theory contenders do not support their side well at all. Those bits were added later.”

“Yes!” Andre agreed eagerly. “That’s what I’m always saying, and I’m really hoping to prove it once and for all in my dissertation.”

Lyall beamed. “I bet you will; you really seem to know your stuff.”

The wariness returned abruptly. “Yeah, I do,” Andre said slowly. “But it’s rare anyone else knows a legend as obscure as Greenbeck. How do you know it?”

“Cause my full name is Lyall Greenbeck,” Lyall replied. “Local legend has it my family is really, truly werewolf. I know all the legends inside and out.”

“No way,” Andre said. “Are you serious? How did I miss a Greenbeck was studying here?” He flushed, and closed his mouth, eyes dropping to the ground. “Um—Sorry—I meant—”

Lyall fought a sudden impulse to lean in and kiss away the obvious discomfort, find out how that pretty mouth tasted, the birthmark on his left cheek, the freckles that were heavy high on his cheeks, made all the worse by the sun.

He really wished his stupid allergies would go way, so he could smell properly again and confirm his growing suspicions.

“Uh—I must seem like an idiot, fawning over your family and stuff,” Andre told the ground.

“Nah,” Lyall said. “Most people think it’s stupid, or just for making bad horror movie jokes, you know? You want to do a dissertation, that’s really cool. My mom will like, never let you leave our house. Besides, between my being a Greenbeck and my charming smiles, I feel I’ve got a solid advantage in asking you out to dinner.”

“What—” Andre jerked his head up, shock on his face, and started to say more—then snapped his mouth shut again.

Lyall continued, “Chinese? Pizza? Burgers? Italian? I’m a burger man, myself, but if you want a laugh, we can go Italian and you can watch me fail to eat spaghetti. My mom says she still needs to cut it into small pieces for me like when I was five.”

Andre laughed. “No—um—if you’re serious—”

“As a heart attack,” Lyall said. “Dinner, tonight, say eight?”

“Uh—okay,” Andre said the words in a rush, like he was afraid he’d change his mind or that Lyall would change his. “Burgers at eight.”

“Cool,” Lyall said, blood running hot with triumph and anticipation. He grinned. “Then I’ll meet you here, say?”

“Yeah,” Andre said, and offered a shy smile in return.

Lyall wanted to kiss him again, but only nodded and smile. “See you at eight then, Andre.” Waving, he left, giving the guy some breathing room.

He made a victory sign at Bobby as he returned to his abandoned books. Bobby rolled his eyes, and did not bother to remove his headphones, only went back to studying.

Opening his book, Lyall thought about what he needed to get done before eight. Laundry, cause he really needed cleaner clothes for a date. Homework. Then he’d call his mom, cause he promised he’d call her the day he found his mate.

And then he was gonna go goon hunting, cause no stupid jocks were allowed to pick on what belonged to him.

Whistling, he forced himself to care about the Opium Wars or whatever for another hour or so, before he went back to his room.