Devin has already survived hell but must survive it again. Nearly two years ago, Devin's life turned to hell. His mother's boyfriend had Devin's son taken from him, and since then, Devin has been fighting to get Jordan back.
Devin's kidnapping has made matters worse. That is, until Houston steps up to the plate and bends over backward to help Devin out. He isn’t sure he can trust the man but finds Houston isn’t an easy man to push away.
When Houston goes with his brothers to kill Bowman—a hyena who drugged Cross's mate—he finds Devin. He's at his wit's end with his mate. Devin is secretive and hell-bent on keeping Houston shut out of the man's life. But when his mate finally tells Houston what's going on, their problems only grow. The man who had Jordan taken away has escaped from prison, and Cyrus has one goal in mind. Make Devin pay.
“Don’t touch me.” Devin snatched his arm away and headed out the back door. Houston started to go after him.
His father stopped him. Anthony Remus was an opposing man, and when he stepped in your way, you stopped. “Let him cool off.”
“I won’t have him thinking that he can talk to anybody that way,” Houston ground out.
“And he has a boatload of problems riding his shoulders, son. I can see it in his eyes. Kid’s been through more in his short life than most humans go through their entire lives.”
Houston had seen that as well. Devin’s blue eyes seemed haunted. “So what am I supposed to do?” he asked. “I understand he has issues, but that doesn’t excuse him from behaving that way toward everyone else.”
“Try talking to him, not at him.”
Houston’s eldest brother sat at the kitchen table, his chair leaned back as he peeled an orange. “Don’t let him push you away,” Jax said as he looked at Houston. “He’s definitely got issues, but don’t we all?”
Not really. The only issue Houston was currently dealing with was finding a suitable location for his restaurant. He had the down payment saved, and the bank had approved the line of credit he would need for equipment and other stuff. Now all he had to decide was location.
That and deal with a mate who was hell-bent on alienating everyone in the house—including Houston.
“I’m going outside to make sure he didn’t take off.” Houston left his dad and Jax in the kitchen and went outside. The day was overcast, thick clouds in the sky. The hot days were coming to an end, and the leaves had started to turn. Barely so far, but Houston saw the changes.
Devin was sitting on one of the chairs that were situated around the grill. The guy looked so damn lost that Houston’s anger vanished like thin traces of smoke. He didn’t know the life Devin had led before Bowman had taken him, and Houston admitted that this entire situation kind of scared him. It wasn’t as if he’d met his mate while out at a restaurant or even shopping. He’d rescued the man from a vile and ruthless hyena shifter.
Bowman had kidnapped six men, seven if Brandon was included. Brandon had been rescued, and it turned out that he’d been Cross’s mate. Houston had no idea when they went to Bowman’s to kill the man that his mate would be among the men who had been sold and were waiting pickup.
His gut still churned when he thought about what would have happened had he and his brothers not decided to go to Bowman’s. Devin would be in the hands of some pervert, and Houston could only imagine the horrific things his mate would have endured.
“Why do you keep following me around?”
Houston didn’t like that Devin sounded irritated with his presence. Devin got up and moved toward the grill, shifting his feet nervously. Houston stopped moving, giving Devin the space he obviously wanted.
“I’m not your enemy, Devin.” Things might’ve gone a little more smoothly if Devin hadn’t been human. Not too many humans knew about the paranormal world. Devin was already skittish. Houston didn’t need his mate to bolt if he mentioned shape shifters and other preternatural beings.
One hurdle at a time.
“I never said you were,” Devin said defensively. “I just…I need…” Devin shook his head and took a seat on the chair he’d been sitting in before. He ran his hands over his thick auburn hair. “I don’t know you, Houston. How can I trust you after what I’ve just been through?”
Easing into the chair next to Devin, Houston entwined his fingers, resting his arms on his thighs. “I feel you, Devin. You have a right to keep your guard up. I would if the shoe were reversed. All I’m asking is that you stop talking trash to my family and treating them like dirt.”
“I’m sorry.” Devin glanced away. “That isn’t how I normally act. I swear. It’s just that—” Devin looked at Houston with slightly lifted brows.
“You can talk to me,” Houston encouraged. He slouched back in his chair, folding his hands over his rigid stomach. Devin’s gazed dipped to Houston’s hands before he quickly turned his head.
It took great effort for Houston not to pull the man into his arms and see if those bitable lips felt as soft as they looked. There was no denying that Devin was interested. It just wasn’t the right time for Houston to make any moves. He had to gain Devin’s trust first, and he didn’t think that would happen anytime soon.
Devin’s features darkened, though he kept his tone even. “You’re just another guy in a long line of men who swear they want to help me but, in the end, always use me.”
Houston felt territorial over Devin, and images of men using the smaller man brought out a need in Houston to protect him at all costs. That would never happen again. Houston would make damn sure of it. He had no clue the life Devin had lived before, but the guy would get nothing but respect and kindness from the Remus family. Maybe that was it. Maybe Devin wasn’t used to kindness. Houston couldn’t fathom living without it, and that made him only more determined to protect his mate.
“You think I broke into Bowman’s, knowing he had a house filled with guards, and then my family and their crowd of friends show up to help, only to use you and toss you aside?”
“You didn’t go there to rescue me,” Devin argued. “You didn’t even know I was there. You went there to kill Bowman. I was just a discovery that your brother felt sorry for.”
Again with the chewing lip. Devin sat there, his hand still on Houston’s knee. The touch was like a scorching hand, and Houston thought of a more intimate spot on his body he’d rather be touched.
“Are you talking about a soul mate?”
Houston shrugged. “Kinda. But for my kind, it runs a lot deeper than that.”
“Okay.” Devin patted Houston’s thigh. “I think I’ve splashed enough crazy on me for one night. Thanks for being honest with me.”
“Hold up.” Houston pulled his mate back down when Devin got up and started to walk away. “I don’t want you going to bed thinking you’re nuts. You’re not.”
“I’m tryin’,” Devin said. “Trust me. I am. I need for everything to be kosher for Jordan to come here, but you telling me what I saw at Bowman’s was real, and that you’re a bear? Buddy, that’s a really big pill to swallow.”
“You want to see my bear?” Houston wasn’t sure if Devin was ready for that, but he had to convince the man that he wasn’t losing his mind.
The skin under Devin’s eye twitched. “Uh, no.”
Unable to stand it any longer, Houston pulled Devin onto his lap. The feel of his mate in his arms had him growing hard, and there was no doubt that Devin felt his flourishing erection.
“Keeping my hands to myself is very hard,” Houston said. “The connection between us makes me want to do very naughty things to you, Devin.”
Devin’s chest rose and fell in quick pants as his lips parted. He stared up at Houston with those gorgeous baby blues, which were filled with heat and want. “L-like what kind of things?”
Houston slid his hand under the waistband of Devin’s boxers and gripped the man’s semi-hard cock. He leaned forward until he had Devin on his back. Houston held the back of the couch with one hand as he stroked his mate with the other. “Very naughty and wicked things.”
Devin arched his back and moaned, spreading his legs as he licked his lips. His hands trembled as he curled his fingers over Houston’s biceps.
“And no, this wasn’t my intention when I helped you,” Houston said, needing to clear the air. “You’re my mate. There’s a difference. If you hadn’t been, I would’ve still helped you, but I would’ve never made a move on you.”
“Wow,” Devin said before he groaned. “You talk way too much.”
Houston gave a wicked grin. “Want to see what else I can do with my mouth?”
Scooting down the couch, Houston took Devin’s boxers with him. He tossed them aside and then licked across the head of his mate’s cock. Devin groaned and hissed as he bucked his hips. Houston devoured the small man. He sucked Devin’s cock down his throat and used his throat muscles to bring the man pleasure.
Devin started babbling incoherent words as he thrashed on the couch. Houston had to hold his mate’s hips to stop him from bucking so hard. He pulled back from Devin’s cock, tossed the man’s legs up, and bathed his puckered hole with his tongue.
“Ah!” Devin squirmed, moving his backside up and down, as if trying to impale himself on Houston’s tongue.
Wetting his finger, Houston drove it deep into Devin’s ass as he continued to lick and suck around the hole and the skin just behind Devin’s balls. His mate writhed, crying out his pleasure, and Houston didn’t let up. He added another finger next to the first, splaying them inside Devin’s ass.
The furnace kicked on as Houston added a third finger and then took Devin’s dick into his mouth. His mate tasted like a dream. His precum trickled down Houston’s throat as his fucked Devin with his fingers, stretching his mate, getting Devin ready for the claiming.
But he needed lube. Houston wasn’t a small man, and he didn’t want to hurt his mate when he entered him. Grabbing Devin around the waist, Houston sprinted down the basement steps. He dropped Devin onto the sectional and then hurried to the bathroom where there was a bottle of lube in the cabinet.
When he came out of the bathroom, he saw Devin yanking his shirt over his head. Houston slid out of his boxer briefs and joined Devin on the couch. He kissed his mate for the very first time. Their tongues tangled as Houston lubed his fingers. He gently lowered Devin onto his back and then reinserted his fingers.
Every fiber of his being wanted to take Devin, forgoing the prep work. His bear growled for Houston to stop wasting time, but Houston muzzled the dumb beast. Claiming a mate was the most important thing to a preternatural being, and Houston wasn’t going to muck it up by moving too fast.
He pulled back and sucked in a deep breath as he watched Devin writhe on the couch. His eyes were closed, but his hips swiveled, his fingers curling into the cushions beneath him.
Houston’s canines elongated as he pulled his fingers free and lubed his cock. Devin seemed out of it, lost in what Houston was doing to him. And that was exactly how Houston wanted his mate. It stroked his ego big-time to see the effect he had on the human.
Tossing Devin’s legs back, Houston lined up the head of his cock to Devin’s lubed, puckered hole and then drove deep.
“Houston!” Devin’s eyes flew open as his breathing became ragged. “Ow!”
“Sorry.” Houston leaned down, nearly folding Devin in half as he pressed a kiss to the man’s lips. “A little excited.”
“A lot of excited.” Devin panted heavily as his knuckles turned white. They strangled the couch as he took in deep breaths. “Don’t hold still. Rip the bandage off.”