Dennis smelled beer on Ryker’s breath. Up close, the tiger’s eyes had changed from brown to a strange sort of bluish-brown. The burst of color was captivatingly beautiful.
When Ryker scratched at the light beard on his face, Dennis saw a beer bottle in the guy’s hand. Everything about the tiger screamed danger, yet Dennis felt himself drawn to the predator. Ryker seemed the type to take a mile when offered only an inch.
The guy exuded confidence, but he was an untrustworthy tiger, a dangerous combination if you asked Dennis.
“Didn’t think you’d show.” His voice made Dennis shiver with want. Instinct told him to run, but he remained still, afraid to breathe, let alone move. He felt engulfed by Ryker’s presence, swallowed whole. Dennis shook away his fear, silently scolding himself for allowing the shifter to get to him. Dennis was a huge flirt and loved to tease, but he had a feeling that teasing this tiger would be harmful to his health. Still, he forced himself to appear unaffected by the man’s presence.
“Didn’t know you were gonna be here.” Dennis smirked. “If I’d known, I would’ve stayed home.”
“Way to hurt a guy’s feelings.” Ryker took a swallow of beer, his eyes locked onto Dennis.
It didn’t matter to him that both of them had been invited to the same dinner. That didn't mean they had to deal with each other. There were plenty of people to mingle with. The tiger could go play with a ball of yarn in traffic for all he cared.
“A tough guy like you?” Dennis took a step toward the deck. “Tell me your feelings aren't hurt that easily.”
Ryker leaned an arm on the banister. The move made his leather jacket part, showing Dennis a powerful chest straining under a tight shirt.
Something had to be seriously wrong with Dennis. Even with the knowledge that Ryker had something to do with those strange memories, he wanted the guy, was attracted to him in the worst sort of way. Ryker was not only Dennis’s type but he also oozed sensuality, his piercing eyes promising sinful sex.
And Dennis was five seconds away from taking the man up on his silent offer. He needed to get away from the guy.
“Well, it was nice running into you. Tootles.” He spun and started up the stairs, but Ryker grabbed his upper arm, stopping him from fleeing.
“What's your hurry?”
Ryker’s hand on Dennis’s skin made goose bumps break out over his body. He bit his lower lip while telling himself that sex wasn't on the menu. He was in charge of his hormones, and a single touch from his mate wasn't enough to make him melt into a puddle of goo.
He told himself that, but his body wasn't listening. His cock became half hard while Ryker’s thumb slid back and forth over Dennis’s arm. Glancing toward the patio doors, Dennis saw Taylor and Sam in the kitchen, laughing and talking. Avery was there as well, holding one of his sons while Paden bounced the other child in his arms. The men sitting on the back deck seemed to be having a good time if their smiles were anything to go by. No one noticed the tension building between Ryker and Dennis.
“We could be a part of that.” Ryker’s deep voice brought Dennis back to his own reality. “If that's what you truly want.”
What kind of a question was that? Who didn't want family and friends surrounding them, enjoying each other’s company? Watching everyone interact made Dennis miss his own family even more. He hadn’t seen them in weeks, and he needed to rectify that.
But until then…
“Then tell me the truth.” He wasn't sure why he’d whispered, but it felt as though the world had shrunk to the two of them. He stood there holding his breath, waiting for Ryker to tell him what had happened that night.
Ryker released Dennis and took a step back. Dennis was starting to believe something horrible had happened. It had to have. If it was no big deal, then Ryker would have filled in the blanks.
“I thought mates weren’t supposed to keep secrets from each other.” Dennis gritted his teeth at the man’s obstinacy. He wasn’t about to beg Ryker to tell him. From the expression in Ryker’s brown eyes, he wouldn’t tell no matter how much Dennis begged and pleaded.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Seriously?” Dennis couldn’t believe the man’s gall. “I think you did something horrible to me. I have dreams that wake me, leaving me in a cold sweat. Fuzzy images in my mind that—” He clamped his lips and shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. You obviously don’t care that I feel like I’m going crazy.” There was an edge to Dennis’s short laugh. “Go screw yourself.”
“Done that more times than you know.”
Why was Ryker being so cryptic? That was the second time the guy had said something strange and confusing. Dennis had the beginning of a headache talking to Ryker. “If you don’t have a clue what happened to me, then we don’t need to bother one another ever again.”
His breath caught when Ryker leaned in, his lips inches from Dennis’s ear. “We can bother each other in more pleasurable ways.”
“You wish.” Dennis leaned back, away from the gorgeous temptation. He hated the fact that Ryker ruffled his feathers. “Use your own damn hand.”
The man was impossible. “Are you going to tell me?”
“Fine,” Dennis said with a huff. “Keep the secret. I hope you choke on it.”
Dennis stormed up the steps and into the house, slamming the patio door behind him.
“Ryker.” He was scared. This was going too fast, and Dennis needed to think. As badly as he wanted his cock in Ryker’s mouth, he needed room to breathe.
Ryker rocked back onto his feet, still squatting, gazing up at him. He had his head cocked to one side, studying Dennis.
Standing, Dennis moved to the other side of the outer room. He wrapped his arms around his stomach. Ryker stood and turned, watching him. Dennis had to make a decision. It was only fair. Let Ryker claim him or go into the bedroom and close the door. He couldn’t lead the man on. Dennis couldn’t give his mate mixed signals, though he felt as if his signals were malfunctioning.
He gazed at Ryker’s face, looking for any signs of deception, of an ulterior motive. He saw none. Ryker didn’t even look pissed that Dennis had stopped him. His expression was guarded but calm. Either Ryker was damn good at acting or he had no hidden agenda, no dark malice that he wanted to unleash on Dennis.
“You’re frightened.” It was a statement, spoken softly and with assurance.
Dennis nodded. There was no sense in denying the truth. It had to be written all over his face.
Ryker held out his hand. “There’s nothing to be frightened of, little swan. Come to me.”
Dennis’s heart beat hard against his ribs. His throat had gone bone-dry. His limbs shook as he took a step and then another. Ryker didn’t move, didn’t pressure him, yet Dennis felt pressured, as if he was walking into the unknown, a future he might regret.
He let out a long and deep breath and then took the steps that led him right into Ryker’s waiting arms. He folded them around Dennis and grazed a hand over Dennis’s hair. The touch was comforting.
When Ryker bent, Dennis had no idea what the man was doing. His mate scooped him into his arms and carried him to the couch. He sat, placing Dennis on his lap. Dennis had to straddle Ryker’s lap in order to sit. His knees were on either side of his mate’s hips, his cock jutting between them.
Ryker wrapped a hand around Dennis’s shaft. Dennis hissed and arched his back as Ryker began to stroke him. Ryker’s other hand snagged the nape of Dennis’s neck and brought him closer. His mate’s scent invaded Dennis senses as he pulled him down. Their lips touched, barely grazing, and then Ryker plunged his tongue deep.
Dennis felt as if he were on a seesaw. His emotions were going up and down, up and down. He wanted the tiger shifter. He wanted to back away. He craved his mate’s touches, kisses, and closeness. Dennis wanted to jump from the man’s lap and put distance between them. His body felt as if it were going up in flames while his mind felt as if it were going insane. He was getting a damn migraine.
So Dennis let go. He didn’t stop Ryker’s hands from exploring, his lips from eating Dennis alive, or try to block out the scent of arousal that hung thick on the air. He let all those senses consume him. He ground his ass against the erection beneath him. Ryker groaned into Dennis’s mouth, hitching his hips.
Pre-cum leaked from the head of Dennis’s cock smeared in Ryker’s palm, adding lube to the friction. He was going to give in. Dennis was going to allow Ryker to claim him. His swan begged for it, and even Dennis couldn’t deny that belonging to Ryker turned him on.
“Your skin is so soft,” Ryker murmured as he pressed his lips to Dennis’s, his fisted hand squeezing Dennis’s shaft a little harder. “Like silk.”
Normally, Dennis was all for dirty talk during foreplay and sex, but his mind was tumbling so fast that he couldn’t think of anything to say. His mind had gone blank. All he could do was feel and shiver under the electric touch.
Lifting his hips, Dennis worked at Ryker’s pants, desperate to feel his mate’s cock in his hand. Ryker leaned back, watching. His cock sprang free, and Dennis’s mouth watered for a taste.
He slid from Ryker’s lap, pressing his knees into the carpet as Ryker worked his pants down. Dennis pulled the man’s shoes off, tossed them over his shoulder, and then yanked the pants free.
God, Ryker was an impressive sight. He sat on the couch, all his sinewy muscles exposed, begging to be touched, to be kissed, to be worshipped.
Dennis already had a thing for muscular men. Every time he saw one, he wanted to jump their bones. Now he was about to be mated to one. Was he? He wasn’t sure yet, but there was nothing on earth that would pull him away from Ryker. Not now, not when he had this delicious body splayed out before him.
Rising on his knees, Dennis guided Ryker’s cock to his mouth. The tip of his tongue slid over the glistening head, eliciting a hiss from Ryker. The man’s hips jerked, but Dennis could tell the tiger was trying his best not to lose control.
He wanted his mate to lose control. He wanted Ryker to unleash himself on Dennis. He wasn’t going to let all those muscles go to waste. Ryker was going to work that body and bring Dennis so much pleasure that he would beg the man to fuck him.
He kept his eyes locked onto Ryker’s as he took the man into his mouth. Ryker’s eyes were hooded. The side of his mouth hitched into a wicked grin. Ryker palmed his cock at the base, as if feeding his shaft to Dennis.