Human Ronnie Lantess is no one’s hero. He isn’t even moderately courageous. He delivers mail during the day and at night watches television or hangs out with his biker friends.
Life takes a dangerous turn when shifter tiger agent Maksim Andrichuk throws him over his shoulder and announces they are mates. How is a terrified Ronnie going to cope?
Shifter Maksim Andrichuk is the law, judge, and jury for the big cats. He executes his decisions with cool, calculated power. Meeting his mate was a dream come true. Finding out that Ronnie turns into a shaking mass of fear during violent situations is a nightmare for a man whose duties include claws, blood, and death. For the first time in four hundred years, Maksim is at a loss for what to do. Someone or something has to change—but who or what?
The truck seat slid back, releasing the digging pressure from the steering wheel. Ronnie took a deep breath, happy to be able to breathe freely again.
Clean, fresh, and male registered in Ronnie's muddled mind. An image and scent of a big, muscular, tanned dude glistening from the sun and sand on a beach combined with the scent of walking down the cleaning products aisle of the grocery store flashed through his mind. His wayward dick jerked, letting him know it was ready to get up close and personal with the owner of that press-your-body-close-and-slide-around-on-it scent.
“Is that better, little one?”
Ronnie blinked. Too much had happened, and the sudden security of the strong arms holding him had him fighting a thick cloak of shock threatening to numb his brain into a mass of mush.
Ronnie was a simple man who lived a simple life. He delivered mail during the day and at night watched television or hung out with his biker friends. Did he own a motorcycle? Hell no. The first and only time he tried to drive one of those things he, had mucked up the whole side of the machine and broken his leg in two places. Old Cletus still hadn’t forgiven him for denting up and scratching his baby.
Ronnie's head snapped back, and he grabbed onto Maksim's arms when the big man gave him a shake. One more jerk like that and his brains were going to start leaking out his ears. Man, that guy was strong.
“I have always found it immensely rude when someone doesn’t answer a question,” Maksim stated.
Ronnie’s hackles rose at the man’s holier than thou attitude. He might be a coward during violence, but his mouth could hold its own when someone pissed him off.
“Well, excuse me. It isn’t every day I see people turn into animals. I thought I was going to party and get nailed by a few DILF. You know what I mean? But, the next thing I know, claws and teeth are flashing, and guns are going off.” Ronnie’s whole body shuddered. “Dude, that lion guy died. The cops are going to be asking questions.”
A big hand clamped around the back of Ronnie's neck, forcing him to look at Maksim. On any other night, he would be all over the big guy. Tall, muscles, and a dangerous edge did it for Ronnie. Think moth to a flame. After all, there was a reason he hung out with bikers.
Maksim’s short black hair and strongly shadowed jaw tempted Ronnie to touch and trace. Intense light blue eyes mesmerized him. The dude had to be at least a foot over Ronnie’s own five-three. Add in the muscles on top of muscles and this undeniable need to curl up against the guy, and the game was pretty much over. There was no doubt that when Maksim decided to throw Ronnie away—and he would, they always did--- pulp would be a good way to describe what his heart would resemble.
“Listen to me,” Maksim demanded. “First of all, think of me as the police, judge, and jury for shifters. I make the decisions when there’s trouble.” Maksim leaned down and rubbed their cheeks together before studying Ronnie. “Now, tell me what DILF means.”
Ronnie racked his brain to come up with an answer. Something inside screamed to keep the truth to himself. Locked in a truck with an angry Maksim didn’t equal Ronnie getting out of this situation in one piece.
"Um…Let's see." Think, think, think. Oh, Shit. "Down in life friends?"
One of Maksim’s slashing eyebrows rose. “Are you telling me or asking if I will accept that answer, little one.”
Ronnie licked his lips, wishing for a beer. After a beer or two, that nervous, jittery place inside of him would calm. Maksim's eyes widened and Ronnie's tongue froze, stuck at the corner of his lips. Quick as a wink his tongue disappeared into his mouth.
Embarrassment heated his cheeks. Everything about this situation seemed so wrong, and yet, more right than anything had in his whole life.
“What’s going on?” He needed to know. He needed his world to get back to normal. “Maybe you could drop me off back at the bar, or I could walk from here.”
“I am finding that you don’t answer questions very well.” Maksim turned and laid Ronnie across the seat. “This time, before you tell me what DILF means, remember lies smell the same as rotting algae to a shifter.”
Ronnie’s mind screeched to a halt the second his back hit the truck’s seat and his legs were spread wide. His brain almost disintegrated when Maksim’s hard body pressed against his cock and balls. If the man leaned down just a little more, his world would burst into frolicking pink tutu wearing hippos as the cum building in his balls exploded up through his dick.
“Dudes I’d love to fuck.” Oh shit, did he just say that out loud? That was one question he was sure he shouldn’t have answered.
The air in the truck cab turned cold. Shivering, Ronnie did the only thing he could think of and closed his eyes, tight. Yes, he was a weirdo. He tended to dance to a different drummer than most people.
What would other people do when a huge dude picked them up and put them in their truck? Not piss the guy off seemed to be the right answer. Ronnie didn’t always get the answers in life right.
Soft lips brushed over Ronnie’s eyes, surprising him so much he opened them. Maksim’s gentle smile and face blurred when the man leaned closer and kissed the side of Ronnie’s nose.
“It is time to calm your fears and settle your confusion, little one.” Maksim rubbed their cheeks together again. “Tonight you discovered shifters. You didn’t know it at the time, but you also discovered your mate.”
Maksim’s masculine energy changed. The dominating animal hunger radiating off the big man raised goosebumps across Ronnie’s skin. The oncoming ride just got wild.
Ronnie wet his dry lips bringing Maksim’s attention to them. The desire glittering in Maksim’s eyes had Ronnie’s sphincter tightening with want before relaxing in wait.
“Take my shirt off.” Maksim’s growl sent Ronnie’s pulse racing.
Surprisingly steady fingers maneuvered the small buttons and pushed away the soft material of Maksim’s shirt revealing the hard muscled body of a warrior. Here and there, scars of battle marked the gleaming tanned skin. Unable to take his gaze off the magnificent body inches away, Ronnie haphazardly threw the shirt.
“Open my pants. I have a need to feel your caress.”
Ronnie grew clumsy and began to struggle with opening the man’s jeans. Maksim’s language had turned old worldly, and something about it sent heat straight to Ronnie’s cock. It took a maximum of effort but finally Ronnie shoved the black denim down to Maksim’s knees. There, Ronnie got stuck, unable to tear his gaze away from Maksim’s keenly muscled thighs. Muscled thighs were his thing.
Maksim’s shaft jerked, catching his attention. Unable to resist, Ronnie’s fingers closed around the swelling flesh. The monster had to be at least nine inches in length and wide enough to fill every one of Ronnie’s dreams. Yum. Ronnie explored, loving how hard Maksim’s erection was, yet soft to touch, not anything like the man who was an unyielding, powerful beast of total domination.
“We need to get your clothes off, little one.”
Maksim’s hand gripped the back of Ronnie’s jeans and pulled down. It took some fast maneuverings of buttons and zippers, but Ronnie managed to open his pants before he lost something important. Seconds later he was bare from the waist down.
Warm hands palmed Ronnie’s ass. He spread his legs and a finger brushed the side of his ball sack.
“Your ass is perfect.” Maksim’s lips brushed the side of Ronnie’s neck. “I can’t wait to sink my cock within its walls and make it mine.”
Fingers grasped the bottom of Ronnie’s shirt.
“Don’t.” He grabbed Maksim’s hands. “I like to keep my shirt on.”
The big man’s probing gaze studied him. “With me you will be bare.”
Ronnie tightened his hold on Maksim’s fingers. “You can’t always get your way.”
“I will see all your secrets.” The words were set in stone.
Ronnie shut his eyes, turned his head away, and he let go of those determined fingers. The shirt went up and over Ronnie’s head. The air in the room turned frosty with tension. Ronnie’s exposed skin chilled.
“Who did this?” Maksim’s quiet demand was scarier than if the big man had shouted.
Ronnie’s eyes opened when a fingertip traced the edge of one thick ropy scar.
“When I was a kid, a couple of guys broke into my house.” Ronnie sucked in his breath as another scar was explored. “They didn’t appreciate my efforts to defend my parents. It didn’t help that the guy’s knife was dirty. For months, the infection tried to eat me alive.”
“Tell me that your authorities caught and condemned them.” Maksim cupped Ronnie’s cheek and placed a kiss on his mouth.
It was so easy to become lost in the big man’s light blue eyes. “I wish.”
“What year did this happen, little one?”
Confused by the question, Ronnie frowned. “Why.”
“Tell me the year and city this happened in,” Maksim insisted.
Ronnie answered the pushy man’s question, but had to add, “You aren’t going to find them. My gram hired a private detective and he didn’t come up with anything.”
“I have better contacts than any human detective,” Maksim stated, emphasizing the word human.
“You know, your attitude kind of sucks. A lot.” Ronnie turned over, sat up, and faced away from the arrogant man. Maksim letting him move away surprised him a little.
The bed shifted and Ronnie was pulled back into the hot, hard cradle of the big man’s body. With a sigh, he let his head relax against the crook of Maksim’s shoulder. In the end, the draw between them overrode any irritation or hurt feelings.
“You are my gift, little one,” Maksim whispered against Ronnie’s ear. “I will love, honor, cherish, and protect you until the end of time.”
“You know I don’t understand any of this.” Ronnie didn’t know if he was talking about the tiger shifter who in a few short hours had changed his world, or the universe beyond that had always confused the hell out of him. Just when he thought he had things figured out, life threw him a left curve. “Why is this happening?”
“We are taught as children that a shifter’s life is all about balance.” Maksim’s deep voice had a smooth dreamlike quality and Ronnie became entranced. “Because we are given long lives where we are stronger, faster and our sight and hearing are superior, we also have a more difficult time producing children. Long lives also become lonely lives. If we are lucky, somewhere throughout those many years, in a world full of millions upon millions of people, we find our mate, the other half of our soul.”
“So that’s me?” Wonder filled Ronnie at what Maksim was telling him. Since meeting the shifter, Ronnie had thought he sort of understood what the man was telling him, but maybe he hadn’t. Ronnie wasn’t stupid, but from the moment of his parent’s death, he had never been important to anyone, other than his grandma. “I’m the other half of your soul?”
“Yes.” Lips skimmed Ronnie’s cheek.