“I’m telling you, it’s made me a braver man,” Avery Collins said as he wiped the tables down at The Running Bunny. He waved the rag at Taylor as he spoke. “I feel as if I can take on any bad guy now.”
Taylor shook his head as he grinned at Avery. “All right. I believe you.”
Avery knew Taylor didn’t believe him. No one did. But then again, what did he expect? He’d been afraid of everything his entire life. Was everyone supposed to believe he’d changed overnight?
Taylor loaded the dishes into the sink as Avery grabbed the broom from the utility closet. He was tired and ready to go home. The sun had already set, and the last of the customers had trickled out. Not that Avery’s mind had been on working. For the past few hours, his thoughts had been on what kind of adventure he could get into.
Before he’d been kidnapped and dangled by a rope with a bomb attached to him, Avery had been fearful of the world, not to mention the dark. Now? He was still afraid of the dark. Nearly being killed hadn’t changed that.
“So, I was thinking that maybe we could go rock climbing or wrestle a bear this weekend,” Avery said while placing the chairs on the tables so he could sweep.
Taylor finished the last of the dishes and wiped his hands on a towel as he turned to face Avery. “Nevada would ring my neck if I went looking for a bear to fight. After the fiasco with the Feds, boring and quiet are the only things either of us are willing to get into.”
“If I ever find my mate, I’m not going to let him boss me around,” Avery said with certainty as he began to sweep. “He’s going to respect whatever I want to do, however I want to do it. If I want to wrestle a bear, he’s going to go get me that bear.”
Taylor laughed, and Avery found the noise annoying. He was being serious, and his friend thought he was kidding around. Everyone who knew him thought Avery’s newfound backbone amusing.
“Have you ever considered who Fate has paired you with?” Taylor asked.
Avery paused and pursed his lips, giving Taylor’s question serious consideration. “Maybe someone a little braver than me, sweet, smiles a lot, and opens doors for me. I want a chivalric man who treats his mama with respect and likes to hold hands.”
“That’s quite a list.”
It was, but Avery also knew the kind of man he didn’t want. Dominant, bossy, arrogant, any kind of predatory shifter. He wasn’t brave enough to be mated to someone who scared him—newfound backbone or not.
“Maybe I’ll look online and see if they have one for sale on Amazon. Lord knows that website has everything.”
Taylor’s grin grew wider. “Or Wal-Mart.”
Avery gaped at Taylor. “Oh, heck no. Have you seen some of the people who shop there?” He shook his head. “I’d rather ask the next stranger I meet to go out on a date than pick anyone up from that place. Discount isn’t always a good thing.”
When the bell over the door jingled—a shopkeeper’s bell their boss had installed two months prior—Avery glanced up and nearly dropped the handle of his broom.
“Sorry, we’re closed,” Taylor said as he came to stand beside Avery.
“I just needed directions,” the stranger said, and Avery felt as if the air had been sucked right out of his lungs.
The guy didn’t smell like shifter or a human. He had no clue what the stranger was, but devastatingly handsome definitely fit. He had eyes the color of coal, hair as black as raven wings, facial hair that begged to be nibbled on, and a body that shouldn’t be covered with clothes. The stranger was all dark looks and sensual features. The black suit he wore made everything only come together in one delicious package.
The man seemed made for wicked pleasure.
Before his encounter with a rope and a bomb, Avery would’ve fainted when faced with such an imposing figure. He felt a little lightheaded but managed to remain upright.
“Do you know of the Miller place?” Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome asked.
Taylor took a few steps back, pulled his phone out and began to dial as Avery nodded. “I know the place.”
The stranger moved closer until he stood directly in front of Avery. Lifting his hand, the stranger brushed the back of his knuckles over Avery’s cheek, making him inhale sharply. The man’s gaze flickered over his face as the corner of the guy’s mouth lifted in a slight smile.
“Avery?” Taylor said, but Avery barely heard his friend. He shook his head slightly, unable to look away from the eyes he was falling into.
“Who are you?” Avery whispered.
The side of the man’s mouth lifted slightly higher as Avery wrapped his arms around his stomach, fighting against the urge to slide them around the stranger’s neck and pull him in. He’d never had that kind of reaction to anyone before. It was as if the stranger had caressed him from the inside. He yelped when the man hooked his hand around Avery’s neck and pulled him closer.
Their lips almost touched.
“Who am I?” the man asked, and then his lips skimmed over Avery’s, not a kiss, more like soft wings ghosting over his skin.
Avery arched slightly, his eyelids fluttering closed as the man’s lips stroked across his jaw, the tip of his tongue flicking out to moisten the lobe of Avery’s ear. The scrape of the man’s light beard felt erotic against his skin.
Avery’s knees grew weak. The base of his cock was exposed, but the length was still tucked inside his jeans. One lone fang trailed over the base, and Avery sucked in a breath as his cock started to thicken. His arms lay lifeless at his sides. He wasn’t sure what to do with his hands. The moment had his head spinning, and he couldn’t think past what he wanted Rez to do with his mouth.
Inch by excruciatingly slow inch, his mate began to lower the waistband of Avery’s jeans. His fingers brushed over Avery’s hips. Avery moaned. If torturing him was Rez’s idea of a game, he had no problem playing along.
Rez buried his face inside Avery’s pants, and he bit gently into his cock. Avery stiffened, arms rigid. His breathing grew suddenly ragged. Did the vampire intend to bite into him? The thought scared him. No man wanted any harm to come to his family jewels. They were sacred.
Avery had never topped. His cock had never entered anyone’s body—except for oral sex—but just the same, that part of his anatomy was still a vital part of him that he didn’t want damaged. “Rez?”
A harsh tug of his jeans allowed Avery’s cock to spring free. He was about to tell the man to stop when Rez took Avery into his mouth. His back hit the wall, and he slumped slightly as his hands balled into fists and his lips parted.
Oh. My. God. Rez’s tongue lashed over his erection, sucking it in deeper, stroking the skin with his lips and tongue. Avery’s knees shook. He’d died and entered the pearly gates of heaven. His heart thumped hard against his ribs, his breathing ragged.
At that moment, the man could do what he wanted with those fangs just as long as Avery got off. His body vibrated like a struck tuning fork. His cock throbbed in Rez’s mouth as Avery slammed his hands over the man’s head, but Rez reached up and removed them. He gripped Avery’s wrists and locked them firmly at his sides before he swallowed Avery whole.
He buckled and would have fallen had Rez not kept him pinned to the wall, keeping him upright and dying with pleasure. His orgasm was close. He felt it work up his spine. Just as the edges began to prickle, Rez moved away.
It took a moment for Avery to understand what’d happened. His body was still expecting to shatter. He dropped his gaze to Rez, who pushed to his feet. Avery was five seconds away from smacking the man.
“Why’d you stop?” His breathing was shallow, and sweat covered his body. Avery blinked a few times to try and clear his mind.
“If I gave you what you wanted, it would be over.” Rez grabbed Avery around his waist, spun around, and then dropped him onto the mattress. There were blankets and a few fluffy pillows that cushioned him. Before he could ask what the hell Rez was doing, the man was at his feet, yanking Avery’s shoes and socks off before his pants were pulled free.
Avery felt stupid lying there with nothing but a shirt on. Was this still part of the game? He was seven kinds of confused and not in a good way. Being confused only frustrated Avery. “Are we about to have sex?”
When in doubt, be direct.
Rez didn’t answer him. His eyes were full of a great hunger, a need. He bent as if to kiss Avery, but a shudder ran through him. He buried his face in Avery’s neck, lips touching skin. When Rez’s shoulder moved, Avery turned his head and watched as the vampire pulled a bottle of lube from under the thick mattress.
Avery licked his lips as his head spun. He was being seduced by a vampire, and he didn’t want it to stop. As badly as the man frightened him, Avery was also fascinated with him. There was a deep compulsion inside of him to let Rez do whatever he wanted, to hand over the reins.
“I can feel it.” Rez lifted his head, and Avery gasped. The man’s eyes almost glowed with the faint redness that wanted to swallow his irises. The red nearly ate the black.
The top to the lube snicked open, but Avery barely heard it. He was trapped in those beautiful eyes.
“Your resistance is fading.” Rez reached under Avery, his wet fingers probing.
“Did you bespell me?”
“I can’t,” Rez said. “A vampire cannot bespell his mate.”
Then what he felt was all him. The drowning. The free-falling. The feeling of being branded by this man. Those emotions were real, not glamoured into him. Avery wanted this dark and deadly man to take him, to own him.
He wanted it so much that he spread his legs, inviting Rez to spear his fingers inside his body. Rez gave an approving smile. “You just might get that belt yet.”
“Not in this lifetime,” Avery said and then felt the heat creep across his cheeks. “No belts.”
“We’ll discuss that option later.” Rez seemed confident that Avery would agree, that he’d relent. He wouldn’t. He—
“Oh god,” he cried out when Rez’s fingers drove into him, his thoughts melting away like butter in the sun. Belt? What belt?
“Purr for me, kitty.” Rez scissored his fingers while placing his free hand at the side of Avery’s head, holding himself up as he gazed down into Avery’s eyes.