It was after midnight by the time Manny made it home. He had expected his twenty-four-hour shift to be relaxing, but the fire department had been called to a car crash, put out a kitchen fire, helped a guy who was having a heart attack, and Manny had been sent to get a freaking cat out of a tree.
At first he’d thought the last one was a prank, but when he showed up at an elderly woman’s home, she’d guided him to the backyard to get her black-and-white cat down.
He was off for the next three days, and he planned on enjoying it by curling up on the couch and not moving.
Manny let himself into the house and tossed his keys into the bowl by the door, then kicked off his shoes. He’d started to remove his coat when he smelled something burning.
Panicked, he rushed into the kitchen to find a pan on the stove with what looked like burned chicken in it. The burner was off, but the strong odor still lingered. What the hell? His kitchen was trashed. Dirty dishes lay on the table and counter, broken eggs littered the floor, and the bag of flour was open and sitting in the sink. The skin under Manny’s eyes twitched as he glanced around at the wreckage.
Then he remembered his new roommate. Manny growled as he tossed his coat onto the back of a chair and tackled the mess. It was well after one in the morning by the time he tossed the dish towel over the handle on the stove.
“You must be Manny.”
Angry at the mess he'd had to clean up, Manny turned to face his new roommate.
He was not what Manny had pictured when Mordechai had talked about David’s brother. Nick had thick, long auburn hair that flopped in his face, piercing hazel eyes, and…Manny sniffed the air. The guy smelled like wildflowers. Something in his chest unfurled as his panther went nuts, yowling like crazy as he simply stared at Nick.
Manny rubbed a hand over his jaw, shocked as fuck that Nick was his mate. “And you must be the inconsiderate roommate who left my kitchen a disaster.”
Nick looked thoughtful for a moment, then his brows dipped as a deep scowl spread over his face. “I was trying to cook some dinner for you. I can’t help it the fire was too high on the stove and I fell asleep.”
“You fell asleep?” Was he for real? As a firefighter, Manny thought of how horribly wrong things could have gone. Thank fuck his house hadn’t burned to the ground.
And why did this punk have an attitude with him? Nick was the one who burned the chicken and messed up the kitchen, yet he looked as if Manny was the one who violated the kitchen.
“Hey, at least I woke up in time to turn the burner off.” Nick walked out of the kitchen. He didn’t even thank Manny for cleaning up his mess.
Woke up in time? He…that little…Manny ground his molars as he followed Nick. “Do me a favor.”
Nick glanced over his shoulder as he headed toward the guest bedroom. “And what’s that?”
“Don’t do me any more favors.” Manny stopped walking when Nick slammed the bedroom door closed. Did he just slam a door in Manny's house? He was tempted as fuck to take the door off its hinges. Then Nick could slam air.
He pressed the heel of his hand against his forehead, closing his eyes as he counted to ten. If Nick hadn’t turned out to be his mate, Manny would’ve called Mordechai and demanded he come get Nick. Or he might’ve strangled the ungrateful prick.
Manny went to the living room and poured himself a drink, then dropped onto the couch. He tilted his head back, looking at the ceiling as he let out a deep breath. Maybe, just maybe the mess in the kitchen wasn’t something Nick did often. If it was, Manny wasn’t sure what he would do. He looked around and cringed, imagining his clean and tidy house turned into a pigsty.
When he heard Nick come down the hall, Manny forced himself not to look over his shoulder. It was late, he was dead tired, and he didn’t have the energy to argue with his mate.
Manny gave in and looked behind him when the room remained quiet. Nick was leaning against the wall, his arms folded over his chest. His panther yowled at just how gorgeous Nick was. But he saw the tension in Nick’s hazel eyes, the mistrust, and pain. Manny had no clue what could’ve put that look in them, and he wanted to find out. But Nick didn’t appear receptive to a get-to-know-you conversation.
Too bad. Manny wouldn’t have minded getting to know his mate on a deeper, more personal level. Even after working his long shift, Manny would've found the energy, but Nick looked as if he'd rather argue than fuck.
“I’m sorry,” Nick grumbled.
The apology threw Manny. Mordechai had said Nick was filled with angst, and Manny had a feeling Nick didn’t apologize too often.
He held up his tumbler of bourbon. “Want a drink?”
Nick nibbled on his lower lip, gazed intently at the glass in Manny's hand, then shook his head. “I’m not twenty-one, and even if I was, I don’t drink. I had enough of that shit at my uncle’s.”
From the way Nick chomped on the last word, Manny knew the subject of his uncle was off the table. “How old are you?”
“Twenty.” Nick pushed away from the wall and took a seat in the recliner across from Manny. He curled onto the cushion and tucked his legs under him. Manny forced himself not to get off the couch, not to crawl across the floor and pull his mate down, not to lick every inch of Nick until he had the guy crying out in pleasure.
To his surprise, Manny placed a soft kiss on both his inner thighs. Nick shivered as his fingers curled into the bedding. The anticipation was killing him.
“Spread your legs farther apart, sweetheart.”
Nick planted his feet and bent his knees, letting them fall to the side. A hiss escaped when Manny lubed his hole, teasing the band of muscles with his fingers, letting the tip of one enter Nick's ass.
He gave a small cry as Manny slipped his finger farther in.
“Slow and steady is your punishment, Nick.”
“You bastard,” Nick snarled. He tried to sit up, but a pinch of pain in his shoulder stopped him.
“Get out of this bed and everything stops. I promise you that.” Manny twisted his finger, grazing it over Nick’s prostate. Nick writhed, pushing his ass down, trying to get that finger to go deeper.
“Lie still.” Manny pulled it free, then shoved two fingers into Nick. How the hell was Nick supposed to lie still when Manny was making him lose his damn mind?
“You’ll learn to listen to me.” Manny turned his wrist, scissored his fingers, and grazed over Nick’s prostate again.
“P-please.” Aw fuck. He'd been reduced to begging. “Please do something before I go insane.”
Manny curled his fingers around the base of Nick’s cock, squeezing tightly. “You’re not gonna come. You’re mine to do with as I please, and it pleases me to see you so unwound, to see that wall of yours crumbling.”
Nick slammed his eyes closed, blowing out a few breaths as he tried desperately to calm his raging body. “Why are you doing this to me?”
“Because”—Manny moved up the bed, his fingers still embedded in Nick’s ass—“you went to another man for pleasure.” He sounded downright pissed. “And because, as much as you want to deny it, you’re enjoying this, Nick.”
He hated that Manny was right. “I-I won’t do it again,” Nick promised. “I swear. Now please, fuck me.”
Never in Nick’s life had he been this desperate for cock. He felt unhinged, ready to give Manny whatever he wanted just as long as Manny gave Nick’s ass an amazing pounding.
But Manny knew Nick too well, and that disturbed him. The slow and seductive torture was killing Nick, but he also didn’t want it to stop.
“I’ll rail your ass when I’m ready, and not before.” Manny slid another finger inside Nick. “You’ve fooled yourself into thinking you have any say in this, that you run shit around here. I’m about to prove how powerless you really are, and that listening to me has its rewards.”
Little did Manny know—or did he—that he was hitting kinky triggers Nick didn't even know he had. If this was his punishment for being a brat, then a brat Nick would be.
Nick whimpered as Manny eased his hand away. His hole felt empty, but he now knew begging wouldn’t get him anywhere. “Fuck you.”
Manny gave a low and seductive chuckle. The sexy sound slid through Nick and went straight to his cock. Sweat gathered on his body, his limbs shook, and his ass clenched as Manny lubed the vibrator before turning it on.
It buzzed as Manny teased Nick’s aching hole with the tip.
Nick bit his lower lip so hard he drew blood. He kept his injured arm at his side, digging his fingernails into the cover as the head of the vibrator breached him.
Nick hadn’t realized how tense he was until Manny had said something. “I-I can’t.”
And here Nick had thought he was an experienced lover. Compared to what Manny was doing to him, Nick didn’t know shit. His sexual encounters had always been quick and messy. Nick hadn’t cuddled. He hadn’t given flowery words, or any sort of promises.
And toys? Nick had never thought of using them in the bedroom before, never thought of having a vibrator shoved up his ass. Now that he'd experienced it, there was no going back to vanilla sex. He was being turned inside out by Manny, the walls Nick had built to keep everyone out crumbling brick by brick. Being vulnerable was frightening, and Nick hated being at the mercy of someone else, yet, at the same time, he didn't have the fight in him to make Manny stop.
And he didn’t want Manny to stop.
Nick had always felt so alone, even before his parents’ death. He had a single friend, but the killing part was, he wasn’t even that close to Stan. Nick never let anyone in, never allowed himself to open up to a single person. Not even David. He was close with his brother, but Nick had never let him see the pain Nick lived with.
Yet Manny was changing all of that.
He pushed the vibrator all the way in, making Nick cry out. Manny crushed his lips over Nick’s, devouring him as a deep purr rumbled in his chest.
But the bastard still held the base of Nick’s cock, preventing him from coming.
“You’re fucking evil,” Nick snarled against Manny’s lips.
“I’m teaching you a lesson, kitten.” Manny nipped Nick’s lower lip. “You ever think about seducing another man and I’ll torture you for days before I give you a release.”
Manny uncurled his fingers. Nick’s back bowed as he shouted, his cum spurting in heavy ribbons. He collapsed against the bed, so drained that not even the pain in his shoulder registered.
“I’m far from done with you.” Manny removed the vibrator, turned it off, then tossed it aside. He slid down the bed until he was settled between Nick’s legs.