Ronald Oleander, Ronnie to his friends, has been looking forward to this road trip for months, ever since he’d aced the test for his motorcycle license. With the wind on his face, he follows Noah and Adam—his older brother and his brother’s mate—through winding back roads. Their destination is a small town in Wisconsin where they’re meeting up with Adam’s old biker gang. Ronnie has been warned the place is homophobic and never to go anywhere alone. Except, when he arrives, the first thing he notices is an enticing smell. Ronnie wanders around the back of the diner to investigate and finds a pair of humans pounding on a smaller guy. Breaking up the fight, he sends the jerks packing. When he focuses on the beaten man, he discovers he’s the source of the smell—and is also not only a shifter, but his mate—Hector Ramirez, an armadillo shifter. At barely twenty-one, Ronnie didn’t expect to find the other half of his soul so soon, and he doesn’t feel ready. Still, he can’t deny his instincts. For better or worse, can Ronnie accept not only a mate but figure out a way to stop the people after him?
“How’s she handlin’?”
Ronald Oleander—Ronnie to his friends—smirked as he flicked his gaze to Adam Kingston’s broad back where he drove his Harley a few feet in front of him. The white tiger shifter had asked that very question three times so far—twice the previous day and now just then. He knew the man was worried about him, as this was Ronnie’s first road trip with him, but come on!
“Just like I told you yesterday,” Ronnie replied, doing his best to keep his exasperation out of his voice. “She’s handlin’ like a dream. After all, you fitted her to my body type.”
It was true, too.
Ronnie had met Adam almost eight years before when he’d been thirteen years old. He’d been a scrawny, gangly teen, who’d only learned how to shift into his moose form the prior year. His sister, Heather, had been seventeen. They’d been on the run, and Adam had saved them from wolf shifters.
When his older brother, Noah, had caught up with them, they’d discovered Adam was his brother’s mate. At the time, Adam had been part of a shifter biker gang. The group had taken them in, cared for them, and fixed the mess that had been caused by the son of their herd’s alpha.
Of course, there was more to it than that, but the gist was that Adam and his people had saved them.
“Just makin’ sure nothin’ has changed since then,” Adam replied through the speaker in Ronnie’s helmet, reminding him to focus on the road.
A drifting mind of a motorcycle rider could be a dangerous thing.
“I know,” Ronnie confirmed, smiling as he enjoyed the wind on his face. “If anything feels even slightly off, you know I’ll say something.”
“Good.” Adam turned his head and peered at Noah, who was driving an equally lovely Kingpin next to him. “What about yours, babe?”
Noah looked Adam’s way, allowing Ronnie to see his grin. “Perfect as always.”
Adam’s grunt came through the speaker.
Ronnie sighed happily, relishing the rumble of the Harley Electra Glide Ultra between his thighs. The bike had been bigger than what his brother had expected him to pick for his first motorcycle, but over the last few years, he’d grown like a weed and bulked up. He knew it had everything to do with his moose shifter genetics. At twenty-one years old, Ronnie found himself standing at six-foot-three, and neither Noah nor Adam could say if he had stopped growing, yet.
He’d needed something he could keep even if he added another couple of inches.
“Are you comfortable on these windy roads, Ronnie?” Noah asked, glancing over his shoulder at him. “We’re not going too fast, are we?”
Ronnie rolled his eyes even as he grinned. “I’m good, bro. Don’t worry. I got this.”
“It’s just, it’s your first time out on a road trip with us,” Noah continued, expressing his concern. “So if you need to stop and rest, let us know.”
“Relax, babe,” Adam rumbled, glancing his mate’s way. “He’s fine. He can handle her.”
Ronnie warmed at the praise. “Thanks, Adam.”
Noah chuckled. “Naw, babe. Ronnie wouldn’t ever be able to handle a her.”
Adam’s deep laughter sounded even over the roar of the engines. “True dat.”
Shaking his head, Ronnie joined in the laughter. They were right, after all. When he’d only been thirteen, he’d been confused about his feelings. While the other boys in their herd had been beginning to notice girls, Ronnie hadn’t been.
It all became crystal clear when Adam had introduced him to his alpha—Kontra Belikov. The grizzly shifter had been huge with silver-flecked hair and an imposing bearing. Instead of being afraid of the man, he’d found himself enamored with him. While the gang had been in town, Ronnie had followed Kontra around like a puppy dog.
Looking back on that, Ronnie felt a bit of embarrassment. The bear shifter hadn’t minded, even though he’d probably scented his arousal a time or two. Of course, the man wasn’t interested in him as more than a mentor. Plus, well, Ronnie had been only thirteen at the time, so even if he hadn’t had a mate, no way would Kontra have touched him.
“Oh, hey,” Adam exclaimed, glancing over his shoulder at him. “Did you tell that human guy you were hookin’ up with that you were goin’ out of town?”
Ronnie felt his cheeks heat as Noah barked, “What? What human guy?”
“Uh—” Ronnie could see Adam’s back muscles tighten, even under his leather jacket.
“It was nothin’,” Ronnie quickly stated, doing his best to smooth it over. “Just a human guy I was studying the motorcycle test with. And, yeah. I told him I was headed out with you all.”
With the way they were roaring down the road on motorcycles, Ronnie mentally crossed his fingers that his brother wouldn’t be able to scent the little fib.
“Good,” Noah grumbled. “The thought of you doing anything with anyone is—” He stopped and shook his head.
Ronnie spotted Adam eyeballing him in his side mirror, so he shrugged.
Adam refocused on the road.
As a young horny shifter, Ronnie wanted to get his rocks off as much as the next man. Unfortunately, after his sister, Heather, had bonded with the alpha of their herd, no one would touch the alpha-mate’s younger brother. He’d turned his attention to humans.
Ronnie had always been discreet with his hook-ups. He would find a like-minded guy in the next town over, and they would have a little fun. He made certain he never saw a guy more than a couple of times, since he didn’t want to lead anyone on.
Being a shifter, Ronnie knew he had a fated mate out there somewhere. Plus, he was young. No way was he ready to settle down.