[Siren Publishing: The Lynn Hagen ManLove Collection: Erotic Romance, Contemporary, Alternative, Paranormal, Shape-shifters, Romantic Suspense, MM, HEA]
Sick and tired of his situation, Arlan decides to hit the road. He doesn’t need the grief from his sister-in-law, so leaving his brother’s house seems like the right thing to do. Little does Arlan know that trouble is following him. In the wee hours of the morning, he’s jolted awake by an argument in the room next to his at Maple Inn. Arlan runs to the rescue when he smells smoke. Only, he doesn’t find the motel owner in the office. Arlan finds a man who will change his life forever.
After a mission gone wrong, Lewis Callister is now being hunted. He goes to the motel to talk to Mike, but finds his mate, instead. Unfortunately, Arlan thinks that Lewis is the killer, and runs from him. Not only is someone murdered in the room next to Arlan’s, but vampires are out to kill Lewis, and they’ll take down anyone standing in their way.
Lynn Hagen is a Siren-exclusive author.
Arlan turned over and glared at the wall when he heard arguing coming from the next room. The blurry digital lights on the clock said it was after three in the morning.
Some people had no respect for others, and all Arlan wanted to do was go back to sleep. He’d already had a rough enough time falling asleep. Arlan never liked being in new places. Still, though, hadn’t he felt that way every morning he’d woken up at Charles’s house?
Chloe had never made his temporary living arrangements easy. She’d never made Arlan feel like part of the family. Now Arlan was on his own, his parents too far away to stay with them.
He needed to stop thinking that way. He needed to stand on his own two feet and stop relying on others.
He jerked upright when the yelling stopped and something slammed against the wall. Had that been a person? Unsure what was going on, Arlan tossed aside his covers, wishing he’d turned the heat on before he’d gone to bed.
There was a chill in the air as his feet touched the floor. Arlan shivered, rubbing his arms while pressing his ear against the wall.
“You should’ve minded your own damn business,” someone said. “You should have never taken that video.”
The voice was low and gruff, as though the person were gargling with a mouth full of rocks.
He heard things knocking over, curses, and then the door opened and closed. Arlan hurried to the window, but all he saw was an outline of a person. The security light was out, making it hard to see anything clearly.
Then Arlan smelled it.
He ran back to his bed and snatched his phone from the nightstand before rushing out of his room. Oh, fuck! It was freezing outside. Arlan did a strange dance, hopping from one foot to the other, trying his best not to let his feet touch the ground.
Which was impossible and made him wish he’d slid his shoes on. Fighting the urge to run back inside and bury himself under his covers, Arlan hurried to the room right next to his and banged on the door. Silence.
He peeked into the window before gasping. The room was a disaster, and he saw a red glow by the dresser. The fire! As he dialed his phone and reported the fire to the dispatcher, he noticed a guy lying on the carpet.
Was that blood? Was the stranger’s head covered in blood? Arlan shoved at the door, but it was locked. He banged and kicked at it, wishing he hadn’t. He was barefoot, and now everything below his knee stung and throbbed.
Since he couldn’t get into the room, Arlan ran to the front office, praying someone was still awake. “I need help!” he shouted as he rushed into the office.
Some guy Arlan didn’t recognize was seated in one of the chairs by the window. He looked up from a book he’d been reading when Arlan barged in.
“What’s wrong?” The guy set his book aside and stood.
Fuck, he was gorgeous. Arlan hesitated, his brain momentarily shutting down as he stared at the most handsome man he’d ever seen.
“Fire,” Arlan managed to say. His brain finally kicked back into gear. “The room next to mine, and I saw someone passed out on the floor.”
The stranger was out the door before Arlan could say anything else. He rushed out, too, following the guy and watched as Mr. Hottie kicked the door in.
Arlan cried out when flames shot out the door, the stranger bracing his arm in front of him as he rushed in.
The sound of the fire truck could be heard in the distance as Arlan banged on doors to alert the other guests.
Arlan wasn’t sure the fire truck would get there in time. The fire had spread pretty fast, and now he feared the stranger would die trying to rescue the unconscious man.
Relief flooded him when Mr. Hottie emerged, coughing, with the other stranger tossed over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. He moved far enough away and then lowered the unconscious guy to the ground.
Arlan didn’t like the grim lines around Mr. Hottie’s mouth and eyes.
“Is he going to be okay?” Arlan asked.
Mr. Hottie knelt next to the guy with blood in his hair and checked his pulse. “No, he’s not going to be okay,” the stranger said. “He’s dead.”
Arlan’s gaze lowered to one of the tiger’s paws. It was so large that he was convinced the paw would fit over most of his face.
“He’s nothing to be afraid of,” Mike said in a low tone, almost whispering the words to Arlan. “At least, not for you. He can understand what you say and reason things out. He won’t attack you, Arlan.”
That was easy for Mike to say. His boss was probably used to this sight. Arlan wasn’t, but something propelled him forward, though he kept his back close to the wall.
“When a nonhuman is injured, they have to shift in order to heal.”
That kind of made sense. Rest was always the best thing for recovery. Wait, what was he saying? This was more than just rest.
“I’ll be downstairs,” Mike said. “I just wanted to check and make sure Lewis was getting the rest he needed.”
“You’re leaving?” Arlan whipped his head around, staring wide-eyed at Mike. “But…but…”
“Just take deep breaths.” Mike backed into the hallway. “He needs you right now.”
Why in the hell would the tiger need him? Arlan swallowed a few times as he looked around, but his gaze kept going back to Lewis, stunned that the tiger was the same guy Arlan had spoken with, the same man who had saved Arlan’s life.
“Okay. You can do this.” Arlan exhaled and moved closer, praying Mike was right and the tiger wouldn’t suddenly wake and attack him.
Even with that thought in mind, Arlan lowered himself to his knees to get a closer look. It was still a lot to wrap his head around. Lewis had been attacked by vampires? Arlan had no idea they existed. Hell, he didn’t know shifters existed, either.
Yet there he was, reaching out to stroke the orange fur. The hairs were soft under his gliding fingers. When Arlan saw those big green eyes, he shrieked and scooted backward. He’d been so focused on petting the tiger that he hadn’t noticed the tiger watching him.
Oh hell no. He couldn’t do this. Arlan wasn’t brave enough. Before he could scramble to his feet, the tiger transformed into Lewis.
Lewis circled his hand around Arlan’s wrist, preventing him from escaping. “Don’t stop petting me.”
Had Lewis just…purred? Arlan must have lost his ever-loving mind, because the sound turned him on.
“I just…I came by to…” It was hard to think with all that naked skin exposed. Arlan’s gaze lowered to Lewis’s cock, and then he quickly looked away.
Lewis chuckled. “Go ahead and look if you want. I promise I won’t be offended.”
“I wasn’t looking,” Arlan said bullet-fast.
Lewis yanked him closer until their faces were nearly touching. “Yes, you were.”
There went that purr again.
Lewis slid a hand around Arlan’s nape and closed the distance, giving him a kiss that ignited something deep inside Arlan.
Clearly Arlan’s mind latched onto the act, shoving aside the rest of the insanity, and he wanted to drown in sex, to forget any of this insane shit was happening.
Arlan groaned into Lewis’s mouth, scooting closer, desperate to feel Lewis’s bare skin against him. God, all those muscles. How did Lewis expect him to think when all that golden flesh was begging to be touched?
As they kissed, Lewis, with his hand still around Arlan’s wrist, lowered Arlan’s hand to his hard jutting cock.
Closing his fingers over the thick erection, Arlan stroked in slow leisurely movements. Lewis arched his back and hissed, hitching his hips.
Arlan was fascinated to see the large man giving himself over like this. It was a powerful feeling and one he didn’t take lightly, though Arlan was afraid to do anything since Lewis had just been injured.
Even so, Arlan had an overwhelming urge to see Lewis come unglued. An urge to tame the wild beast. Lewis broke the kiss and groaned. “This is exactly what I need.”
Arlan’s heart was hammering as he slid down Lewis’s body and came face to face with his thick shaft. When was the last time Arlan had had sex? Way before he’d moved in with his brother. It had been months, and Arlan’s needs were overriding his common sense. The smell of musk invaded his lungs, made his mouth water, and his own cock was rock hard, pulsing in his jeans.
Arlan smiled up at Lewis, licking his lips. Lewis’s eyes hooded, his jaw tight as Arlan leaned forward and placed a kiss on the tip.
Lewis’s hands curled into fists as he watched. Arlan wasn’t about to give him a quick suck-off. That wasn’t what he wanted between them. As he played, his head started buzzing, fever rising in his blood. He licked a hot trail along the side of Lewis’s cock, and then Arlan took Lewis into his mouth, sucking vigorously.
Lewis punched his hips forward, fisting Arlan’s hair. Arlan wanted to bring Lewis off so badly he was practically shaking with the need. But Arlan held back, unsure if he was doing the right, sane thing.
“Don’t…don’t slow down,” Lewis said between gritted teeth. His hand smoothed over Arlan’s hair, his green eyes dark with desire and need.
“This is all moving so fast,” Arlan confessed. “We’re complete strangers, Lewis.”