Kayden crouched down, reaching for the letter knife on the small coffee table and eyed the box in front of him, which was one of many crowding his living room floor. On one side was written “kitchen” in his own somewhat hurried handwriting. Kayden sighed and pushed it away. Sitting back on the floor, he leaned on the couch and surveyed his surroundings. The long window on the wall across from him let the sunlight stream into the room since the glass wasn’t yet covered with curtains. He was still only about halfway through unpacking since it had been only three weeks from the day he came back to his hometown. His time since then had been taken up with his job, learning about his colleagues, and reconnecting with his friends. It was true that Kayden had stayed in contact with them even while away, but it was different now when they could see each other every day instead of only on the rare weekends, keeping in touch via phone calls and e-mails.
If he was honest with himself, Kayden could admit he enjoyed being back, but hanging out with his friends and generally avoiding his apartment helped to keep it such a mess. He had dumped part of his stuff in the storage, choosing to bring only the minimum of what he needed in his new place, but even with what little he had, he hadn’t yet managed to unpack. Kayden snorted and rolled his eyes at the ceiling. If he had really wanted to, he could have finished unpacking in two days. But the job was unappealing, so it was constantly pushed back. Kayden mostly regretted it in circumstances like these, when he was faced with inevitable consequences of his behavior, like the boxes scattered all over his floor. His phone rang, interrupting his ruminations, and he picked it up automatically.
“Hi, Kayden,” Riley said brightly into the phone without waiting for him to answer. It was typical Riley attitude. “We are going to Alexandra’s to help with the house. Wanna come with?”
Kayden nudged the box he’d just opened with his foot and gave it a look of intense disfavor. It didn’t budge.
“Why not? When are we going?” he answered ruefully.
There was furious whispering on the other end of the line, which caused him to raise his eyebrows.
“Um, right now?” Riley said, sounding somewhat sheepish. “We can pick you up?” he added hopefully. Kayden almost laughed into the phone. He wondered whether they’d planned this outing or if it was a spur of the moment thing. It didn’t change his reaction, but it amused him. Riley could be so scatterbrained sometimes.
“All right, give me fifteen minutes, and I’ll be down,” he agreed and returned the phone back to its belt hook. Bracing himself with his free arm, he stood then dropped the knife back on the table. He hunted down his jacket and shoes, deeming the jeans and shirt he had on passable for what he had planned. He was outside in a matter of minutes and had to wait until the dark green truck belonging to his friend Noah, pack omega, paused in front of him. Noah was driving. The rest of them were jostling for space in the backseat, the passenger seat suspiciously free.
“Kayden,” Noah said in a cool voice, ignoring the ruckus behind him.
“Noah.” He transferred his gaze to the others. They froze, looking like kids caught in a forbidden activity.
“Hi,” they chorused together, their squabble momentarily forgotten. Noah, bending over the wheel, smothered a laugh.
“Get in,” he ordered and waited while Kayden seated himself. He closed the door, and Noah joined the traffic with a squeal of tires. The street was relatively empty. Kayden settled comfortably in his seat and craned his neck to look back.
“How come I rate shotgun?” he asked curiously. He’d assumed they were already together when they called him.
“Count your blessings,” Thomas muttered under his breath, his tone dark and his expression foreboding. There was a jostle, and then he yelped, shifting noisily in his seat.
“What was that supposed to mean?” Riley, who was sitting next to him, demanded.
“Both of you should shut up,” Mitchell chastised. “You’re such children.”
Both men were presumably insulted enough to quit complaining, lest they be called something worse. Mitchell shrugged and looked through the window. Kayden left them to it, settling back into his seat and tugging his jacket from where it bunched under the seatbelt.
“Does Alexandra know we are coming?”
Alexandra was a friend since they were children. She’d left the town at the same time as Kayden and, like him, returned recently, mated to a human. Kayden liked both Alexandra and David, though the man was still wary around werewolves, not that Kayden could blame him. He’d taken it rather well, all things considered. After all, it wasn’t every day one discovered that werewolves were real. The big draw of his hometown was that people here were, in most cases, connected to either theirs or one of neighboring packs and, because of that, knew what Kayden was. He didn’t have to hide constantly, which had proven to be a strain while he was living in the city.
He was too distracted to notice what Jared was doing, but it was blindingly obvious now. It had been obvious since the way Jared looked him over in front of the whole pack, a casual display of proprietary interest, moments after he’d forced Kayden’s wolf to submit.
“If you had any sense, you would have challenged him right away.”
“You knew I didn’t want to,” he said through gritted teeth. He hated being manipulated.
Jared made an impatient sound. “That is debatable.”
“I did not,” Kayden insisted. “What, would you have fucked me if I told you that was the only way?”
Jared growled, his pupils swallowing the iris. He pressed his fingers into Kayden’s wrist, up to a point Kayden felt his bones grinding, and then Jared just—relaxed.
“That was not a lie. I was using it to distract you, but I was not lying.”
He sounded pissy, and there was something really wrong with Kayden since he found it unbelievably hot.
“Which doesn’t explain why you didn’t make a move before. You certainly seem eager now.”
Jared tilted his head, enough for Kayden to see the mark on his skin, right above the collar of his shirt. Jared had let him do it.
“That,” Jared shifted, sliding even closer to Kayden if it was possible, “was never a problem. I’m your alpha, Kayden. I can’t be seen openly favoring either of you.”
Kayden hated that Jared’s reasoning was actually sound.
“Besides,” Jared added, his breath warm on Kayden’s lips, “you did this to yourself.” He licked a long stripe up Kayden’s neck. He groaned, eyes fluttering closed as he braced himself on one arm. He shivered as Jared released his arm only to tug on his belt to bring him closer, but Jared swallowed his whimper in a kiss.
“Nice,” Jared purred, licking his lips after the kiss. However, when Kayden leaned in for another, he turned his head away.
“Get on your knees.”
The order was sharp, flat, pure alpha. Suddenly there was an undercurrent of danger in the air between them.
“Why am I doing that?” he asked.
Jared’s eyes were hooded. He let his head rest against the wall.
“Because you called me a whore. I don’t need to sleep with you to keep the control of my pack.”
Kayden winced. Yes, he had done that.
“And you think this is going to help?”
“Look at it this way,” Jared said, “It’s liable to get me in the better mood.”
Point for Jared. Kayden bit into his lip, then looked around. They were tucked into the corner of the kitchen, away from the windows, and the door was closed.
But not locked, he reminded himself. His mouth went dry, but his arousal didn’t subside. He could still hear voices from inside.
“We are going to get caught.” His voice was rough.
Jared’s fingers danced over sensitive skin on the back of his wrist. “No one is stupid enough to come after us, Kayden. They saw us leave together.”
“You can’t know that.”
Jared’s laughed, low and teasing. “How about this. I’ll notice.”
“Trust me, I’m better than that,” Kayden replied.
“Then I guess you will have to prove it to me.” Jared’s look was predatory. “On your knees. Now.”
He felt a prickle of humiliation at Jared’s words. He flushed all over as he realized the sensation was only turning him on.
“I thought as much,” Jared murmured, gaze fixed on him. Kayden ignored him. He obediently sank to his knees, settling in front of Jared, close enough to smell his arousal. He heard a deep sigh as Jared put his palm on the back of his neck. He didn’t push, just waited. He tugged Jared’s jeans down, breath catching as he released Jared’s cock. His own jerked in reaction. He was getting off on this. Jared’s anger was real, but he was playing it out this way because he realized the assumption of authority was pushing Kayden’s buttons. Kayden had done this before but never had such an intense reaction. He supposed it was because Jared was clearly stronger than him and the illusion of power wasn’t false. If he wanted to, Jared could force him. He shivered, unable to contain his reaction. He ran his finger over the underside of Jared’s cock. It was flushed and leaking, tempting him to touch and taste.
Jared strengthened his grip. “Not that I disapprove, but I want your mouth this time.”
He let his fingers curl around Jared’s hip, waited a bit to test Jared’s patience. He opened his mouth and took him inside.
Jared’s breath exploded, and he swayed. Kayden continued to suck, lips stretched obscenely around the swollen shaft.
“Keep doing that,” Jared ordered. “That’s right, little harder.”
Twin balls of heat and shame formed in Kayden’s belly, tugging at him. He reached down to unbutton his own jeans and palm his dick, fighting with intense pleasure. It took forever to get his hand on the heated flesh.