Wyatt was so busy trying to home in on the damn bird that at first the splash didn’t register with him, because he was focused on a different sound entirely.
That’s when something went streaking past him in the water. Something way too big to be a fish.
Startled, he wheeled around the same time it did.
The dolphin swam up to him and started thinking to him.
He was so shocked he almost shifted back right there.
Because not only was she trying to beg him for help, but it was like she was also trying to show him, mentally, what was happening.
Even more, a feeling washed over him, something deep and fierce coursing through his veins.
* * * *
Marisela Esparza couldn’t believe her luck that her crazy, evil brother, Hector, had sent her out to get groceries to cook dinner for them.
And he’d sent her out alone.
As she was walking down to the corner store, she passed a shallow inlet. Her hearing picked up the sound of a nearby boat and…she sensed a shifter nearby. Maybe even more than one.
Before she’d even made the conscious decision, she was already jumping into the water, clothes and all. She quickly stripped, wadded her clothes up under a dock, and shifted for the first time in years.
Then she swam for her life.
She knew if she didn’t escape now, while she had the chance, Hector would end up killing both those men.
Escaping was a risk she had to take for all of their sakes.
She didn’t want the blood of two innocent men on her conscience. If she didn’t at least try to escape and get help, there was absolutely no doubt in her mind they would both be killed.
She streaked past the beast first and then pulled up short, realizing he was a shifter. Turning, she found herself beak to snout with an alligator. As she realized she could also read his thoughts, she started thinking to him, shoving aside the hope that not only was this shifter able to give her help, but he might also be her mate.
Chalking that up more to desperation than anything, she poured it all out to him, the house, the hostages, her crazy brother and his even crazier dolphin shifter accomplice, Erik Chait.
After a moment of her frantic, panicked thoughts, one calming, comforting thought broke through her mind, obviously from him.
The image of a boat waiting nearby, just outside the canal, a human on board but who was with them, and the man nearby in the kayak also with them, and this shifter’s brother.
Then the next thought.
She didn’t hesitate, swimming as fast as she could in the direction the alligator shifter ordered her to go. She’d caught glimpses in his mind of the two men they were looking for, the same two men her brother and his henchmen were holding hostage.
Not only had the Goddess blessed her with rescue, she’d engineered possibly the luckiest moment of Marisela Esparza’s entire miserable life.
Once Marisela reached end of the canal, she risked a look at the boat before circling around. She wasn’t sure at first if it was the right one, the human on board trustworthy or not, and started to swim back down the canal again when the kayaker emerged, going faster than the gator could swim, paddling straight for the boat.
She followed him, watching as he pulled up against the side of the boat. Only then did she dive under and reluctantly shift back into human form again. She pulled herself out of the water, using the swim platform to climb, and ducked down, cowering next to the console.
“Who the fuck is she?” the human yelled at the guy.
“Well, hand her a damn towel, at least. Where your manners, you?”
The human tossed her a towel, which she grabbed and pulled over her to cover herself. Modesty was, honestly, the last thing on her mind. She was more interested in concealment.
She wanted to be safe and remain unseen by any of her brother’s men.
While the human was helping the other shifter, whom she assumed was also a gator shifter, load the kayak into the boat, the other shifter finally appeared.
She felt him even before he emerged from the water, his dark brown skin covered in droplets of water, his amber eyes boring into her very soul as his gaze met hers.
He was gorgeous. Not that his human appearance would have mattered to her because she felt it, the mate bond, drawing them together.
He grabbed a pair of shorts and pulled them on, then tossed her a T-shirt to put on.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
It was huge on her, falling almost to her knees and making her heart flutter to think that this man could probably pound her brother into the sand with one hand tied behind his back.
“Okay.” The human’s voice sounded shrill and full of stress. She realized he strongly resembled one of the men being held hostage and it suddenly clicked. This was the human man’s son. “Who the hell is she?”
He knelt stepped closer and knelt, extending a hand to her. Wide-eyed, she stared up at him, her heart pounding, nearly every other thought driven out of her brain except the fact that she wanted to be with this man for the rest of her life. She finally took his hand, hers engulfed by his.
He let out a sigh. “We ain’t quite got past the particulars yet, like names, but I do believe you boys have just met my mate. And, coincidentally, she’s the sister of the fucker behind abducting Joseph and Sam. And she’s pointed us right to where they are. She said they still alive as of a few minutes ago.”
He pulled her into his lap and as her arms automatically encircled his neck, she stared up into his gorgeous amber eyes. Relief filled her that at least this part of her nightmare was over.
She burst into tears
In his chest, his voice rumbled, deep and comforting to the very depths of her soul. “Get us the fuck outta here, Sean,” he quietly said. “They’ll be after her here shortly and we need to get movin’ fast to get back to Emery.”
The human she assumed was named Sean got the boat’s engine started. In a few minutes, they were idling into a marina. When they arrived, he scooped her up in his arms as if she weighed nothing and carried her to a pickup truck. Once the human helped the other shifter, whose name was Gus, load the kayak into his vehicle, they got into the truck with her in the middle of the seat.
She clung to him, sensing Sean was no threat to her, and in fact a friend, but not wanting to let go of him.
Eventually, she’d need to find out his name.
Wyatt wanted to ravish Marisela, from her head to her toes and back again, and leave her wrecked in the good way. Show her there was nothing but happiness ahead of her in her life, make her forget anything bad that had ever happened to her in the past, and listen to her scream his name as he made her come over and over again with his cock deep inside her.
Unfortunately, time was of the essence.
“I gotta have you now, sugar,” he said, stroking her cheek with the backs of his fingers. “But I ain’t no rapist. If you want me, you say so, and you get me for life. You tell me no, and it’ll break my heart, but I’ll leave you be and we’ll still make sure you’re safe from your brother. Your choice.”
He wanted to fall into her green eyes, swim in them, lose his soul in hers.
If this was what a mate bond felt like, then yeah, he got it. He understood why people acted like damned stupid, crazy motherfuckers and like their brains had fallen clean out of their heads.
He got it.
As hard and throbbing as his cock was, he still wouldn’t take her unless she wanted him, and said it.
Maybe other gators might have done that, especially in the past. Maybe other shifters did that, he didn’t know.
Not Wyatt. He currently had a clean conscience and wanted to keep it that way.
She reached up and grabbed his head, pulling him down for a deep, frantic kiss that had his pulse racing in a way it never had before.
“You.” She thought it to him, hard, fiercely, not breaking their kiss.
He lifted his lips from his and stared down into her green eyes. “Gonna warn you now, sugar. This gonna be hard, fast, fierce, and a little…bitey. We’ll do slow and tender later, when Papa Flipper and Sean’s dad are safe.”
He reached over and got the water running. Then he reached down and grabbed the hem of the T-shirt and lifted it. She raised her arms, staring into his eyes as he pulled the shirt free and dropped it to the floor. He shoved his shorts down, stepping out of them. Then he barely took a moment to stroke his hands down her arms, finally lacing fingers with her.
He led her into the shower with him, pulling the curtain shut and wrapping his arms around her. She bore some scars he couldn’t think about right now, ones that would likely make him want to kill her brother even more than he already did just from glimpses of things he saw in her mind that he’d done or allowed to be done to her.
He kissed her, then kissed a trail down her neck to her shoulder, pulling her arms around his neck as he bit down, fighting the urge to let him get in a full-on mating heat with her.
Otherwise, they’d be there for hours and probably destroy the bathroom in the process.
She whimpered, but hooked one leg around his, her lips nuzzling against his flesh.
“S’okay, sugar. You can get bitey, too, if you wanna.”
He thought that to her as he worked his way up and then down her other arm, nipping, marking, his cock throbbing and ready to claim her right there.
Tentatively at first, he felt her nibbling at him with her lips, then nipping. When he bit down hard on the side of her neck, she moaned and also bit down hard.
He chuffed, nearly ready to explode. “Das it, mate.”
Still biting, nipping, her moaning and him trying to control his bellow, he lifted her and quickly impaled her pussy with his cock, wrapping her legs around him and holding her.
Wyatt heard the bathroom door open.
Sean. “Towels and something for her to wear.”
Wyatt let out a chuffing, threatening growl, still straining to hold back his bellow.
He heard the door close. “You’ve got ten minutes, Wyatt! We need to move fast.”
Yes, time was of the essence. With one hand under her ass, and the other around her and cupping the back of her neck, he bit down on her upper left arm and held on tight as he started fucking her hard.
* * * *
Marisela felt explosions go off behind her eyelids, an orgasm taking her totally by surprise as she moaned around the mouthful of Wyatt’s flesh she had her teeth clamped down on. It felt like his cock was gliding along her clit with every stroke, and he filled her perfectly, like their bodies were meant to be together.
This was nothing like she’d ever experienced before. This was sheer pleasure, and the feel of the heat pulsing off Wyatt’s body as he took possession of her washed through her, melting her.
There was nothing for her to do but hang on and enjoy this and wish it could last longer, but the two men being held hostage weighed heavily on Wyatt’s mind, even through this.
They weighed on hers, too.
They’d have forever together after this was handled, but for now she would accept this slice of heaven, a preview of what was to come, knowing the rest of her life was going to be safely spent in this man’s arms.