When Jaegar stepped outside the hotel in the morning, he expected to see the black limo waiting for him. Instead, he saw Bram leaning against a red convertible.
Bram opened the passenger door and waved him in. “Your carriage awaits.”
Jaegar didn’t move. “What is this?”
“A Yaghwar. Isn’t it a beauty?”
“Very funny. Where are we going?”
“It’s a surprise.”
“Uh-uh. I’m not getting in until you tell me.”
Bram sighed. “Oh, all right. We’re going to our own private beach house in Malibu. I rented it for the day.”
“No one else will be there?”
Bram shook his head. “Just us.”
“I guess that will be okay then.” Jaegar slid inside and settled back against the soft leather.
Jaegar didn’t want to go, but he was enjoying his first ride in a convertible. The wind blowing in his hair and the sun warming his face gave him a feeling of freedom. For a man who’d spent his first twenty-five years in captivity, it was a drive he’d never forget.
An hour later, Bram pulled up to a white iron fence. “We’re here.”
“Already?” Jaegar would have been happy to drive around all day. He frowned as a man came out of a guardhouse to check Bram’s identification. The guard took a long look at Jaegar. Jaegar’s nostrils flared, and he turned his head. Finally, the man opened the gate and waved them through.
“I thought you said we’d be alone.”
“We are, except for him.”
“I don’t like the way he looked at me.”
“He probably recognized you and he’s thinking, ‘Oh shit, they’re going to throw a big rocker party and trash the place.’ This estate is worth millions, and the owner wants it protected.”
“Who is the owner?”
“Brian Abbot. He’s the owner and CEO of Abbot Industries, a big biotech company. He’s probably the richest man in the country, but he’s a great guy.”
Jaegar felt a twinge of resentment. Jealousy? No way. “What’s so great about him?”
“He gave me a big discount on the rental.”
“What else did he give you?”
“Hey. Lighten up. I used to work for the guy and we remained friends. That’s all.” Bram inhaled. “Wow, smell that salt air?”
Jaegar refused to worry about Bram’s past. After all, he had a past of his own, one he could never reveal. He took a deep breath. “Yes.” The smell of salt was strong in the air, and Jaegar could hear the waves hitting the shore.
The car rounded a bend in the road, and Jaegar got his first look at the house, a sprawling, modern oceanfront compound. Bram’s friend must be a very rich man.
Bram parked, hopped out, and opened the door for Jaegar.
Jaegar dismissed his nagging unease as a case of nerves. He spent all his time with the band or in a hotel room. Anything that varied from his normal routine made him wary. This little excursion was the most impulsive thing he’d done lately, but so far, Bram had been true to his word. Jaegar wasn’t ready to trust him completely, but he had to admit he’d never felt this comfortable with anyone else, so he got out of the car determined to enjoy the day.
A beautiful beach lay straight ahead, and the ocean beyond it seemed to stretch forever. The warm sun calmed Jaegar. It was a far cry from downtown LA and so far from the lab in New Mexico, he might as well be on the moon.
Bram interrupted his thoughts. “Beautiful, isn’t it? How about a swim before we check out the house?”
“I didn’t bring a swimsuit.”
“Good.” There was a moment’s silence. “You can swim, right?”
Jaegar had been given lessons in a lap pool as part of his training, but he never swam in the ocean. He never even swam outdoors. It made him sad because he and Bram were the same age, but Bram had experienced so much more. “Yes, in a pool.”
“This will be a first. Just stay close.”
They undressed, tossed their clothes in the car, and walked to the beach. Bram ran into the waves, but Jaegar stopped at the shoreline. He dipped his toes in the endless Pacific. His jaguar didn’t have an aversion to water like so many other cats, but the ocean was so fucking big, it was intimidating. Jaegar tried to work up the nerve to dive in, but he couldn’t do it.
Bram, already bobbing about, waved his arms and yelled, “The water’s great. Come on in.”
Don’t be a pussy. Jaegar refused to let Bram outdo him. He dove in and let the waves carry him forward. He put his swimming lessons to use, and before he knew it, he reached Bram. Bram embraced him and kissed him with salty lips. Jaegar suddenly felt playful. He wriggled free and swam off. “Catch me if you can.” Jaegar felt stronger and lighter, as if he were part of the ocean. His insecurities floated away.
Bram followed him. “Were you putting me on? You swim like an Olympic champion.”
Jaegar grinned like a kid.
“Are you having fun?”
“I am. I like this.”
“I like you.”
Jaegar chose to change the subject. “I’m getting hungry. Let’s go back to the beach and dry off.”
Jaegar knew he should throw Bram out of his room, the man could be a bounty hunter in disguise, but lust was the enemy of reason. He wanted Bram. Wanted him bad. And he could rationalize it easily. Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. It was crucial to find out exactly what Bram knew, and it might be even more important to learn his strengths and weaknesses. That knowledge could be critical to Jaegar’s survival. “Maybe you’re right, Bram.”
“I know I am. I love my job, but my life has been all work and no play. I always thought if I took a risk the sky would fall.
“And what if it does?”
“I think it might be worth it.” Bram leaned in as if he were about to—
Jaegar was totally shocked by the kiss. He’d fantasized about Bram for months, but in his dreams Bram’s lips were always on his cock. He never imagined how warm and soft Bram’s lips would feel against his. Seconds later, Bram took the heat level up a notch. His tongue pressed for entrance, and Jaegar opened his mouth with a low purr. Electricity sparked in the air. The world shifted. Everything changed. It was terrifying and beautiful at the same time. No other act had ever felt so intimate. Bram pulled him closer and deepened the kiss as if he wanted to swallow Jaegar whole. All rational thought disappeared. Only feelings and sensations remained. Jaegar needed to touch Bram. He slipped his hands under Bram’s shirt and gripped his strong back, moaning at the contact.
The kiss went on and on. Jaegar never wanted it to end, but finally they came apart. Bram rested his forehead against Jaegar’s and they both inhaled deeply.
Jaegar wasn’t prepared for these feelings. He had no idea a kiss could feel so sensuous and intimate. “Bram?”
“I know. I feel the same.” Bram sat back. “Can I stay?”
Way past the point of saying no, Jaegar nodded. Bram stood and started removing his clothes. Jaegar watched for a few seconds, and then got up to close the drapes. The room was dim, but not dim enough to hide the feral features that became more pronounced in the heat of passion. Jaegar’s eyes would intensify to a unique shade of amber and his pupils turned into slits. Few had ever noticed, but Jaegar had a ready excuse. He explained it away by saying he had coloboma, a congenital defect in humans. Trying to hide his subtle differences had become second nature. He climbed onto the bed and assumed the position.
Bram chuckled. “Does this mean you want me to top?”
“You said you wanted to fuck me.”
“Oh, yeah. I want to fuck you until you can’t stand, but what do you want?”
Jaegar inhaled slowly, impatient to feel the big man mount him. He was pleased that Bram gave him a choice, but his ass clenched with the desire to be filled. “Fuck me, Bram.”