“So far, the only thing that’s happened is you asked me to dinner, and you sent me a bunch of sexy little notes,” Braden replied with an air of nonchalance.
Taylor studied him, not sure what to make of Braden. “I’m interested in more than dinner,” he said quietly.
“I kind of figured that out,” Braden said. “So, do you start all dates like this? Keeping a guy waiting on a drink?”
Taylor frowned at him. “No, but I usually know I’m not going to get my ass kicked.”
“If you were that afraid, why did you start this? Hell, I thought this whole secret admirer thing you had going was cute, and your notes made my day.”
Taylor smiled now, something fluttering in his stomach. “I opened a bottle of wine. I have beer if you prefer it.”
“Half a glass of wine is fine,” he said. “I’m not on duty, but I’m always on call, not that anything ever happens. I just might have to take someone’s shift if they call in.”
“Okay,” he said. “I heard you got reamed for letting Hunter out last week.” Hunter had been exiled from the community along with his younger sister. The elders had intended to retain custody of the minor after exiling him, but the Round Table, the enforcement arm of The Order, the shifter governing body, had intervened. Hunter had been allowed to take custody of his sister.
“It’s no big deal,” Braden said from behind Taylor. “I did my job. I wasn’t supposed to let him leave with his sister, and I didn’t.”
“Things are getting nutty around here.” He poured Braden half a glass of wine. “Dinner is ready if you are.” Taylor met Braden’s gaze, and his stomach tightened as the wildcat inside regarded the other man as if he were prey. A delicious meal that belonged only to him.
“I’m starving. I’ve been on the go all day.”
“Yeah? I heard you had to give a statement to the Round Table.” He took the box Braden held out to him.
“Why’d you leave the FBI?” Braden asked, changing the subject. He accepted the glass of wine, and their fingers brushed, sending jagged tendrils of electricity through Taylor just like the first time they’d touched.
He scrambled for words in the wake of the sensory shock. “I—uh, I got hurt. I was taken during an investigation. The guy got the drop on me, and he tortured me pretty bad.”
“Are you seeing someone? A shrink, I mean.”
“No. It was the physical damage that made me quit. I was going to be paralyzed and badly burned for the rest of my life. A healer I knew came to see me in the hospital. The guy was a lynx from a pride like ours. He worked on me for a few days and healed my spinal injuries and the burns. It took days, so he healed me just enough to move me first. I still have scars on my back from the burns and one on my chest.”
“You’re stable emotionally?”
“I can do this job, Braden,” he said coldly.
Braden took a sip of his wine, giving Taylor a thoughtful look. “You came home to finish healing emotionally.”
He shrugged. “In a way, I suppose I did,” he murmured. “I mean, I didn’t doubt my ability to protect myself, but I doubted my ability to control my cat. The trauma forced me to let the cat take over, and I needed time to come down from that. The cat was constantly on edge. He wanted to kill everyone that came near me. Being home has gotten me back to me.”
“Are you afraid to leave?”
“No.” He shook his head. “That’s what I saw the shrink for. She helped me work past those issues.”
“Good,” Braden said and set his glass down. “I don’t want to be used, Taylor. I know what’s it’s like after being on the outside. It’s hard to come back here and be almost celibate after being able to take a man home.”
Taylor took a step toward him, putting his hand on the counter next to Braden’s. “I went into the city last week and I rented an apartment in Gay Town. The drive’s not bad. We can get back here in fifteen minutes. Morgan can handle things until you arrive.” Morgan Clawfoot was Braden’s second in command.
Braden nodded slowly and cupped Taylor’s face. Taylor’s skin heated and he saw something flicker in Braden’s gaze. Braden’s nostrils flared, and he tipped his head back slightly.
“I’m interested in you too,” he said softly.
Taylor gave him a shy smile. “I know we can be shunned and exiled, but I think the risk is worth taking.”
Braden nodded. “Me too.” He lowered his head, blocking out the light from the fixture, and brushed his lips against Taylor’s lightly.
Taylor closed his eyes and savored the feel of Braden’s warm lips pressed firmly against his in a soft kiss, but he didn’t part his lips despite moving a little closer.
The cat sighed inside of him, welcoming the first intimate contact.
He stepped into the bedroom in time to see his mate jerking on his boxer briefs. He watched him smooth the silky things as he undid the braid his hair had been held back in all day. Braden did have a nice ass. He let out a whistle and Braden faced him.
“Aren’t you the hot one?” Taylor said. “Maybe you should be wearing those teeny-weeny briefs.” He sauntered into the room. “You’d have my blood running hot as a nuclear bomb.”
Braden’s lips pulled back in a slow grin. “Maybe I’ll test that supposition sometime soon.”
“It’s no supposition, and I’m looking forward to it.” He stopped in front of Braden and stroked a hand down his chest. His skin was warm and bare beneath Taylor’s hand. Taylor pinched one of Braden’s nipples and then the other before lowering his head to lave his tongue over one and then the other. “You are so beautiful, Braden,” he whispered and reached down to cup Braden’s fast-growing erection.
“Are you going to do something about that or just hold it?” Braden teased.
“We’ll see if I can make it go away,” Taylor murmured and went on tiptoe to kiss Braden as he stroked Braden’s cock. Taylor broke the kiss, trailing kisses to Braden’s shoulder. He brushed wet kisses over Braden’s chest and sank to his knees to lick at the hard muscle of Braden’s stomach. He rolled the boxer briefs down, and Braden’s cock sprang free, hard and at attention. “That’s a pretty dick.” Taylor smiled slowly up at his mate. “I like the flush of it and the big head, but it looks a little unruly to me to be getting hard without permission.”
“Suck it into submission,” Braden commanded with a growl in his voice.
Taylor pushed Braden’s underwear all the way down before gripping Braden’s firm cock and running his tongue around the head. He blew over it and Braden shivered.
“Fuck.” Braden hissed. “Suck my fucking dick, Taylor.” He pushed his fingers into Taylor’s hair and urged Taylor’s head closer.
Taylor licked the shaft, and Braden growled at him. “Pretty eager to get my mouth on you, aren’t you, baby?” Taylor teased, and Braden tightened his grip on Taylor’s hair. He winced from the bite of pain, but it excited him rather than deterred him. He pumped Braden’s cock lightly and endured another tug of his hair before giving in and closing his lips over the head of Braden’s dick.
Taylor sucked it easily at first, but the taste of his mate’s flesh, the hot look in his eyes, and the animal desire rumbling inside Taylor had him sucking harder. He took Braden deeper as he stroked his balls with one hand.
“Yeah,” Braden groaned as he threw his head back. “Suck it harder, Tay,” he ordered.
Taylor tightened his mouth on the needy flesh and sucked Braden’s dick harder as he pumped it. He hummed, and the vibration drew a purr from Braden.
“Ah fuck.” Braden fucked Taylor’s mouth with shallow strokes. “Damn, I love your mouth. You’ve got me burning up here, baby.”
Taylor drew his tongue down the shaft of Braden’s cock and licked one orb. He sucked it before turning his attention on the other. He sucked the ball before flicking his tongue over it. Braden purred his approval above him, and Taylor licked back up the shaft. His lips sank over Braden’s cock and he sucked.
“Mmm,” Braden said roughly. “Tay. Fuck!”
Taylor scraped his teeth against Braden’s cock, and Braden growled softly in pleasure. Taylor hadn’t expected him to like it, and he did it again. Braden growled harder. Taylor took Braden’s dick to the back of his throat, relaxed his gag reflex, and swallowed.
Braden made a strangled sound as his fingers tightened in Taylor’s hair. “Damn, that feels so good.” His breath came in ragged pants.
Taylor lifted his head and began sucking again, letting the earthy taste of his mate fuel him.
“That’s enough.” Braden tugged Taylor to his feet, and Taylor licked his lips. “Undress. I need you now.”
Taylor stepped back, kicking off his shoes. Then, he unbuttoned his khakis and dragged the zipper down before getting rid of the pants and white briefs. He took his time releasing the buttons of his shirt and grinned at the hunger in Braden’s eyes.
“Am I taking too long for you, lynx?” Taylor teased as Braden stroked lube onto his thickly jutting cock. “You boys aren’t known as the most patient predators.”
Braden reached for Taylor and threw him face down on the mattress. Taylor chuckled, but the laughter died as his feet came into contact with the floor and a hard hand landed on his bare ass.
“Does that answer your question?” Braden demanded roughly and struck Taylor’s ass again.
Taylor groaned. The pain licking the muscle of his ass was a sensual kiss. “I’m still a little confused,” he teased in a husky tone and growled when Braden hit him harder.
“Does this clear it up a little?” Braden dropped his hand on one cheek and then the other in a rough melody that drew purrs and growls from Taylor.