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The Next Chapter

Free Shifters

eXtasy Books

Heat Rating: STEAMY
Word Count: 45,120
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ePub

Riley didn’t expect to be chased by hunters and saved by a gorgeous man when he went for a run, but both happened. Now Vaughn is staying with the pack for the week and wants them to be together, but Riley knows it can only end in the worst way for his heart since Vaughn is human and lives three hours away. That’s why he keeps his distance even though he wants Vaughn as much as Vaughn seems to want him.

Vaughn is fascinated by the shifters he met, but especially by Riley. He’s ready to do anything to have a relationship with him, including ignoring Riley’s sometimes-prickly personality and commute every weekend. He finally gets Riley to agree to give him a chance, but they both know it won’t be easy.

When Riley’s brother calls him and asks to be rescued from their old pack, it complicates things even further for Riley and Vaughn. Vaughn isn’t going to stop for anything—or anyone—to have his man and to keep him safe, though.
Can Riley let Vaughn into his heart? Will Vaughn be able to leave his human life behind?

This isn’t a standalone. Readers should read A New Chapter before The Next Chapter.

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Excerpt

Riley led Vaughn to his room, or rather, to the cave he used as a bedroom. It had been assigned to him when he’d arrived, but he hadn’t tried to personalize it, not yet. He’d wanted to be sure he wouldn’t get kicked out of this pack, too, before letting himself hope he’d finally found a home.

He closed the door when they entered. He wasn’t sure what to do or what to say to Vaughn—they barely knew each other, had met only the day before. He stayed where he was and watched Vaughn put his backpack down and look around. He expected Vaughn to say something about the cave, or maybe the pack, but instead, he came closer, taking Riley’s wrist and pulling him close. Riley went, even though he knew he shouldn’t, because it would complicate things.

He pressed a hand against Vaughn’s chest and bit his lower lip, wondering if he should say something. He didn’t have time to, though, because Vaughn kissed him.

Riley sighed into the kiss. He couldn’t say he was surprised. He’d seen the way Vaughn looked at him. He’d known this was going to happen sooner or later since he’d woken up in Vaughn’s arms that morning, and God, he wanted it. He didn’t think it was a good idea, but he wanted it.

The last thing he’d thought he’d find when he’d left the pack the morning before was a guy who wanted him. He’d needed to put some space between him and the stares, the people who thought he’d tried to seduce a married man. Not everyone in his new pack believed he’d done that, but while he was grateful for the support, it was so much. Too much.

He was so used to being on his own, to the space between him and other people, that Keating’s attention had been enough to freak him out.

He wasn’t sure leaving the mountain had been a good thing, not anymore. He’d met Vaughn, yes, and that was good, but for how long? Vaughn was human. He’d go back to his home, to his world, once his vacation was over. Where would that leave Riley?

Alone again. Always alone.

But he was used to it. He’d survive, just like he’d survived his old alpha threatening him and kicking him out, like he’d survived adapting to a new pack, a new place to live. He could savor being in Vaughn’s arms, though, at least once. It had been so long, and Vaughn kissed so well. Riley knew he’d regret it, but for a few moments, he let himself forget about why he shouldn’t and focused on why he should.

The kiss didn’t last long enough. Vaughn smiled against Riley’s lips and stepped away, one of his hands still cupping Riley’s cheek. He stroked Riley’s cheekbone, and Riley blinked at him as he tried to remind himself it was only a kiss and that it wouldn’t lead to more.

He couldn’t allow it to.

He cleared his throat and avoided looking at Vaughn. “So, what do you want to do? You can relax, or I can show you where the bath cave is or the kitchen. I’m sure I can find you something to eat.” He needed to fill the silence before Vaughn said something that would break him.

Vaughn’s smile grew even larger. “You’re cute when you’re flustered.”

He wasn’t making things easy. He probably didn’t realize how bleak Riley’s life usually was, how bleak it would be again once he went back home. “I’m not flustered. I’m hungry.”

Vaughn gestured toward the door. “Show me, then.”

“I thought you wanted to stay here for a while.”

“But you’re hungry.”

Why did Riley suddenly feel guilty? He wanted Vaughn to have time to get used to the pack, the mountain, but he wasn’t sure staying alone with him in proximity to a mattress was a good thing. “You need to wrap your mind around what happened.”

Vaughn was still smiling. “It’s overwhelming. I can’t deny that. And yes, I do want to spend time alone with you. I want to kiss you some more. I like you, Riley. But I can see you’re suddenly uncomfortable, and even though I don’t know why, I don’t want you to feel that way, not with me. So we can go. I can think about everything that happened today even if I’m not here in your room.”

“People are going to want to talk to you.” Some pack members would be afraid and would stay away, but more would be curious. Riley only had one week with Vaughn, and no matter how scared he was about what would happen when Vaughn went back, no matter how much he knew he’d hurt, he wanted to be with him.

He was a fucking contradiction, and he didn’t know what to do with himself. He needed some time on his own, to think, to make decisions.

Levin had put him in charge of Vaughn, though, so he couldn’t exactly leave him alone, especially with the attention he was going to get.

Shit.

“I could go get you some food. That way you can stay here and won’t have to answer questions, and I’ll be able to eat.”

Vaughn wrinkled his nose, and such a big guy shouldn’t have looked so utterly adorable. “I feel like I'm sending you to the wolves.”

Riley laughed. “Well, you are. I’m a wolf, though, so it’s not going to be a problem.” It wasn’t like anyone would try talking to him anyway, except maybe Keating, but Keating knew Riley needed rest. He probably wouldn’t push, and if he tried, Rodrick would stop him and reel him in.

Riley could do it. “I’ll be right back.”

“Or we could eat the food I have in my backpack. I mean, I did pack enough stuff for an entire week.”

“You should keep it for your return trip.”
Vaughn is fascinated by the shifters he met, but especially with Riley. He’s ready to do anything to have a relationship with him, including commuting every weekend and ignoring Riley’s sometimes-prickly personality. He finally gets Riley to agree to give him a chance, but they both know it won’t be easy.

When Riley’s brother calls him and asks to be rescued from their old pack, it complicates things even further for Riley and Vaughn. Vaughn isn’t going to stop for anything—or anyone—to have his man and to keep him safe.

Can Riley let Vaughn into his heart? Will Vaughn be able to leave his human life behind?

The Next Chapter isn’t a standalone. Readers should read A New Chapter before The Next Chapter.

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