When Eli escorts an injured shifter to Stone Ridge territory for medical treatment, he arrives in town suffering from motion sickness. The last thing he wants is to meet his mate while praying to the porcelain god, but that’s exactly what happens. To make matters worse, being ill messes up Eli’s senses and he doesn’t immediately recognize the cute sub as his mate, sending the other man running. When Eli catches up with Sam, it doesn’t take him long to realize the wolf shifter has been burned badly in a past relationship. Can he figure out a way to earn Sam’s trust? Or will his mate run a second time?
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To his relief, the captain ordered everyone back to their seats fifteen minutes later.
When the plane landed and bounced its way down the runway, his stomach lurched. Eli closed his eyes and concentrated on breathing slowly, just managing to swallow back the bile when his stomach threatened to expel his dinner. He couldn’t describe the relief he felt when the plane pulled into a private hangar and came to a stop.
His relief was short-lived though, because fifteen minutes later, Eli found himself and his patient loaded into a Life Flight helicopter. Eli looked longingly at the rental car provided for Yuma, allowing him to drive the patient’s family to Colin City. The helicopter pilot, Manon Lemelle, who from his scent was a wolf shifter, grinned at Eli. “Have no fear, mon ami. Doctor Carmichael has cleared a room for you and Doctor Trystan to work on your friend. We’ll have you there in good time.”
The ride wasn’t long, but it was enough to finish the job the plane ride had begun. Eli sure hoped Doctor Trystan could care for Darrell on his own for a few minutes, because by the time he arrived at the hospital, all he managed to do was stumble out of the helicopter and lose his stomach contents on the landing pad.
An arm slipped around his waist, a firm body pressed against his side and someone led him away from the helicopter. His senses reeled. The smell of bile and stomach acid clung to his tongue and the insides of his mouth.
Whoever held him—a male nurse from the feel of the sturdy arm around him and the firm body pressed against him—took him into a small bathroom. Eli went straight to the toilet and emptied his stomach again. Hanging his head, he closed his eyes. Internally, he was cursing a blue streak. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt this bad.
A cool, wet cloth on the back of his neck drew him out of his misery. He grunted his thanks. To his surprise, the man didn’t just leave. The man placed a hand on his back and rubbed gently between his shoulder blades. It was soothing and nice, and pissed him the hell off.
“Don’t you have something else you should be doing?” he asked, the rawness of his throat and thickness of his tongue making the words come out gruffer than he intended.
The hand disappeared, but still he wasn’t left alone. The stranger murmured, “I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”
The soft tenor tones were like a caress to his dick, bringing him to half-mast with just those few words. Shit! Now is certainly not the time for this! He pried his eyes open and flushed the toilet. “It’s just motion sickness,” he snapped. “It’ll pass.”
Moving to the sink, he turned on the water and rinsed out his mouth. He heard the man take several steps toward the door, but he didn’t leave completely. Instead, he commented, “I’ve never heard of a shifter getting motion sickness.”
“Fuck off,” he snarled, finally turning his head and glaring at the man. His face still dripping with water, he took his first look at the guy, and mentally sighed. He was definitely cute, a slender, African American with a toned, twink-like build and an unmistakable air of submission. The way the guy looked at Eli with his dark eyes under dark lashes had his cock hardening further. If they’d met under any other circumstances, he would have found a way to get the guy’s number.
A look of confusion crossed the man’s face. “But I-we—”
“We, what?” Eli snapped, interrupting him. Frustration at his inability to control his body’s reaction to air travel had him straightening and leaning toward the other man. With only a few inches between them, and the taste of his own internal juices mostly cleared from his tongue, the other man’s scent finally hit him. A wolf shifter, to be sure, but the smell called to Eli on a visceral level. It was sweet, tangy, and in his mind Eli’s snake hissed with pleasure, wanting to coil around the man—not to hurt him, but to hold him. Realization hit Eli like a slap in the face. This man was his mate.
He gasped and jerked back. “No, shit, no,” he whispered, unable to accept not only how he’d spoken to the man, but how their first meeting had taken place. His sub should never see him as anything but strong, confident, and able to care for him. “Ah, fucking hell.” Turning away, Eli ran a hand through his hair, trying to get hold of not only the roiling still going on in his stomach, but his desire to pull the smaller shifter close and taste him. He would definitely need a toothbrush before doing that.
“Look,” he started, spinning back around. Eli froze. The door stood open. Save for himself, the washroom was empty. Frowning, he stepped into the hall, but didn’t see the man amidst the others hurrying up and down the halls. Eli tried to figure out where the wolf would go, then he thought back to his words and realized how his behavior probably looked. Groaning in frustration, Eli leaned against the doorframe for support. The man must have thought Eli didn’t want him. His mate was gone.