[The Lynn Hagen ManLove Collection: Contemporary, Alternative, Fantasy, Paranormal, MM, HEA]
Dr. Ari Bjord uprooted his life, leaving behind a broken heart as he moved to Maple Grove to become the new town doctor. His work was fulfilling, but he missed having someone special in his life. Ari just never expected that special someone to be an actual angel with a chip on his shoulder and perpetual whiskey bottle in his hand. Ari definitely had his work cut out for him.
Tortured and punished for thousands of years, Gavril was nothing short of bitter and broken. He wouldn’t know love if it walked up and slugged him on the jaw. That was until a sweet little doctor risked his life to help Gavril. Now Ari was all Gavril thought about, all he craved. With overzealous angels out to kill him, Gavril knew it was time to stop running and fight. But his biggest fight of all was learning how to love the most important person in the world to him. His mate.
Lynn Hagen is a Siren-exclusive author.
In his travels, Ari had met a lot of preternatural beings. Most were nice, but some wouldn’t think twice about killing him, especially if they were in pain. Every fiber of his being told him to turn around and haul butt back to his Jeep, but the doctor in him, the guy who had sworn to help others, couldn’t leave someone who was injured just because their house needed to be bulldozed.
Blowing out a breath for bravery, Ari stepped inside and was instantly smacked with the smell of mildew. There was standing water somewhere in the house, and a lot of it.
He looked around at the ancient furniture that had seen better days. The sofa had a few holes, and the stuffing was hemorrhaging. There was a large clock on the wall, and the pendulum swung, creating the only noise besides the slight gusts of wind outside.
“Mr. Crouch?” Ari called out. “Are you here?”
Goose bumps broke out all over Ari’s body. He wasn’t afraid to admit to himself that he was scared. Ari wasn’t a fighter by any stretch of the imagination. He healed with his hands. He didn’t use them to strike someone.
He sure hoped no one jumped out and attacked him.
A noise from what looked like the kitchen made Ari jump. Don’t go in there. Turn around and run. Sometimes Ari was too stubborn for his own good. His need to treat a patient overrode his common sense.
And apparently his safety.
“Mr. Crouch?” Ari shivered slightly, not only from the freezing cold but because of his nerves, too. He stepped into an L-shaped kitchen and grimaced at the sad state of the room. He couldn’t even see the floor beyond the grime and trash.
And was that fresh cigarette smoke he smelled? Mr. Crouch had to be a heavy smoker because the smell was everywhere. If the guy had been human, Ari would’ve had a long talk with him about the health risks.
It was still a nasty habit, though.
He stopped when he spotted a pair of bare feet. Ari clutched his bag to his chest as he stepped around empty boxes of food and broken dishes.
“Mr. Crouch?” Ari was stunned when he saw a very naked man passed out on the floor. He was used to the male body, but for some reason, he felt himself blushing and chastised himself for such a thing. This immensely attractive man clearly needed his help, not his drool.
Ari hurried over and knelt at Mr. Crouch’s side. “Can you hear me, Harry? I need to know what you are and what’s wrong with you.”
The guy groaned and twitched. Just seconds before his body had been flawless. Now scars slowly appeared everywhere. Ari inhaled sharply at the horrendous sight and how they simply appeared. Two of them seemed fresh while the others looked old. Ari’s heart ached at just how many littered this man’s body. From his ankles to his collarbone, he was covered with them. Most were old, already healed, but there were fresh wounds on his chest and they were bleeding.
Ari opened his bag, put on some latex gloves, and pulled out some gauze. He needed to wipe away the blood so he could see what he was dealing with. “I’m sorry if this causes you further pain.”
Ari’s wrist was suddenly gripped in a tight hold, making him drop the bloody gauze. The stranger’s eyes flashed open, and Ari gasped. His irises. They swirled and…and…were those shooting stars he saw?
“What do you think you’re doing?” the guy snarled, though he didn’t seem very focused. His eyelids kept drooping down then shooting upward. He was clearly trying not to pass out again.
Even so, the hold became tighter, almost to the point of pain. Ari tried to rip his arm free, but the grip was too strong, like trying to separate flesh from steel. “You called m-me here. I’m only trying to help you, Mr. Crouch.”
Harry laughed then coughed. “Name’s Gavril.”
“Well, whoever you are, I need to take a look at your wounds.”
Gavril turned his head slowly, his upper lip curling as he released his hold on Ari’s wrist. “The wounds I carry can’t be tended to. They’re buried too deep.”
Those haunting words saddened Ari.
“Be that as it may, I’m going to take care of the ones I can see.” Ari pushed his glasses up his nose before reaching into his bag. He pulled out some ointment, and as carefully as he could, he smeared the white paste over the lacerations.
He forced himself to focus on the task at hand rather than how simply gorgeous Gavril was. His looks had no bearing on his treatment.
“How did this happen?” Ari replaced the lid on the paste given to him by a winged beast. Its plant healing properties were downright incredible, and as Ari looked at the open gashes, they began to slowly mend.
“Does it matter?” Gavril sneered. “You did your job. Now get the fuck out of here.”
“Too bad I don’t have ointment to help heal your nasty attitude and ungratefulness.” Ari normally wasn’t so curt, but he’d risked his life coming to this god-awful place, and for what? To be treated like the trash all around him?
It’s not your place to judge, just heal. Ari closed his bag and stood. “You would do well to find a cleaner place to live unless you want to risk an infection.”
That wasn’t true. Not for nonhumans. Gavril wouldn’t get an infection from the filth he lived in, but dang it, Ari was letting the guy get to him, and he didn’t understand why.
Gavril staggered to his feet. Holy crud, the guy was tall. Ari took a few steps back. Was Gavril about to deck him for his harsh words? “Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be so short with you. That was very unprofessional of me.”
He turned to leave, but Gavril grabbed him around the waist and spun Ari around. He crushed Ari to his naked and sculpted chest. “You’re beautiful for a human.”
Ari woke with a start, opening his eyes and expecting Gavril to be gone. But the pressure at his back and the heat surrounding him told him the angel was still there.
“How did you sleep?” Gavril’s warm breath tickled the shell of Ari’s ear. “By the way, you snore.”
With a smile, Ari elbowed him. “It’s not polite to point that out.”
Gavril’s chest was still pressed against Ari’s back, so he couldn’t see the man’s face.
Ari suddenly remembered Rocky and struggled to get up, but Gavril’s strong arm kept him pinned down. “I have to take the puppy out.”
He stopped squirming when Gavril planted a soft kiss against his neck. “Already taken care of. I also filled his food and water bowl and exhausted him with play. He’s sleeping on his small pallet in the living room.”
Ari hadn’t made Rocky a pallet in the living room. And Rocky usually yapped and followed Ari around in the mornings, sometimes making it hard to get ready for work.
“You’re amazing with animals.” Ari stretched and grabbed his glasses off the nightstand, putting them on so he saw more clearly. He also hadn’t parted the curtains. Gavril must’ve done that. The snow no longer fell, and as he’d guessed it would be, the morning was overcast. He saw thick gray clouds above the house that sat across the street.
Too bad he had to work today. This was perfect weather to stay at home and watch movies on TV while sipping hot chocolate and snuggling on the couch.
If Nurse Betty hadn’t come down with a cold, Ari just might have taken the day off.
“Animals have very basic needs that are easy to fulfill.” Gavril kissed him again. The press of his lips made Ari shiver and moan. “What kind of needs do you need taken care of?”
Ari grabbed the arm that was curled around him and lowered it until Gavril’s hand was resting on his hard cock. “The most basic need of man,” he murmured.
“And here I thought you were going to ask for something complicated.” In a flash, their clothes were gone.
He felt Gavril’s hard cock pressed into his lower back. When Ari looked over his shoulder, he blushed at the hot, heavy stare Gavril was giving him. Ari wiggled as he turned over to face the guy. Gavril looked as though he had no idea what to do next. Not that Ari thought the man a virgin. Gavril had already admitted to breaking that rule, and Ari was certain this gorgeous stud had broken it many times.
No, that bewildered expression was because Gavril wasn’t used to tenderness, so Ari would show him.
He slid his hand across Gavril’s strong jaw, smiling at the way the man’s soft facial hair felt under his palm. “Kiss me,” Ari whispered.
Ari hooked a leg over Gavril’s hip as Gavril’s head slowly descended toward him. The angel’s lips were warm, gentle, and set Ari’s heart to racing. He swiped his tongue over Ari’s mouth, and Ari opened to let him in, sucking on Gavril’s tongue as he moaned.
He felt Gavril’s body tighten. He brushed his hand through Ari’s hair, curling his fingers around the wayward strands. Gavril gave a small tug, and Ari gasped in pleasure. His lover smirked and did it again.
While groaning, Ari glided his palms up Gavril’s hard chest, tweaked his nipples, and gave his own smile when the man hissed. Ari wanted to touch and kiss every inch of Gavril’s body.
Gavril’s guard must have lowered because his scars appeared. Ari wasn’t put off by them. They were a part of who Gavril was, a map of the horror he’d survived, a testimony of his inner strength.
Ari pressed his lips against a particularly nasty-looking one, his heart aching for what Gavril had endured.
When he looked up, Gavril was watching him, the nebula swirling in his eyes growing darker, like storm clouds gathering, ready to strike. Ari worked his way up to Gavril’s throat and kissed along his jaw.
He didn’t tell Gavril that his scars weren’t off-putting. The angel wouldn’t believe him. That had been apparent by the storm in his eyes. Ari would just have to show him.
With his palms still against Gavril’s chest, Ari shoved until his lover was on his back. One of Gavril’s brows arched, but he didn’t say a word. Ari straddled Gavril and bent, kissing his way down the man’s neck, slowly sliding down Gavril’s body.
As he worked his way down, Ari kissed and licked at the crisscrossed roadmap, teasing the skin with his teeth. Gavril hissed and bucked, massaging Ari’s scalp with his fingernails, making goose bumps and pulses of pleasure break out over Ari’s body.
Ari stopped his downward travel when he reached Gavril’s navel. He laved the area with his tongue, Gavril’s hard cock squeezed against Ari’s chest.
Gavril grabbed at Ari’s head, but Ari curled his fingers around the angel’s wrists and locked Gavril’s hands at his sides. Ari looked up and gave him a look that said not to move. He could tell Gavril was fighting a smile, but the guy nodded.
Satisfied, Ari continued downward, getting to his prize. Gavril’s cock was thick, long, and bobbing slightly with the man’s pulse. He already smelled the pre-cum beaded at the slit and Gavril’s musky scent.
Ari lapped at the clear liquid, grinning when he heard the man groaning. Gavril’s legs jerked restlessly as Ari opened his mouth and sucked Gavril’s cock in.