[Siren Publishing: The Lynn Hagen ManLove Collection: Alternative Contemporary Paranormal Romantic Suspense Romance, MM, shape-shifter, werewolves, HEA]
When Jericho hears whispered voices behind the garage, he investigates, only to find out his uncle and Ivan plan on burying a body back there. But Ivan knows that Jericho heard their conversation, and is determined to bury Jericho’s body, too. His uncle is bad enough with his abuse, but having a polar bear shifter after him has Jericho on edge. Until Ben walks into the diner where Jericho is having breakfast and he discovers that the wolf shifter is his mate.
On his way back from Florida, Ben stops in a small town for gas and some food. When he walks into The Diner Train, he knows something is off. His wolf leads him to a bunny shifter sitting all alone, and the guy is his mate. He is also sporting a black eye. Ben wants to get to the bottom of things, but Jericho isn’t being cooperative. He has to convince Jericho that he isn’t leaving town, that he is serious about their mating, and keep Jericho safe from two shifters out to end him.
Lynn Hagen is a Siren-exclusive author.
Ben slid into the other side of the booth and set his leather aside. His eyes widened when a big motherfucker walked their way. The guy was fucking huge.
They overturned their mugs that were already on the table and the waiter poured them some coffee. This guy did not fit the image of someone who would be working in a diner. He looked more like he should be on a football team or out chopping down trees.
Covertly, Ben inhaled and realized the guy was a bear shifter. The giant was just as wide as he was big, with muscles on top of muscles. Ben never wanted to meet this guy in a dark alley.
“I’m Moose, and I’ll be helping you out this morning. You guys ready to order, or do you need more time?”
Moose. How befitting. “We need a few more minutes,” Milo said.
Ben was still staring at the guy, amazed at his sheer size.
“Could you gape any wider?” Milo asked when Moose walked away.
“Did you see the size of that fucker?” Ben asked.
“Considering he was just standing next to me, yeah, I saw him.” Milo shrugged. “No big deal. Grab your menu or I’m gonna order without you.”
Ben looked around. He liked to stay aware of his environment. This might be a small town, and it was probably boring as hell, but one never knew when trouble would strike, especially knowing shifters lived here.
Behind the counter was an order window, and to the right was a menu board. To the left were signs displaying regular food they served with big colorful pictures.
“I think I’m gonna get some blueberry waffles.” Milo flipped the plastic menu from front to back. “They smell fantastic.”
Ben pulled his attention back to his best friend and grabbed the menu from where it was sitting. He looked it over, but Ben wasn’t sure why he had a weird feeling in his gut. The diner seemed normal enough. It was packed, and it surprised him that they’d found an empty booth.
People at the other tables were talking or reading the paper, the smells from the kitchen permeated the air, and Ben watched as the waiter behind the counter moved up and down it to pour coffee and tend to the people sitting on stools.
Some dark-haired man who wore a smile came out of the kitchen with a tub tucked under one arm. He was eating a candy bar as he cleared a table. It was a bit early for treats, but that was just Ben’s opinion.
He looked at the last booth and saw a cop sitting there, reading the morning paper as he sipped from his mug. Now that he was paying better attention, he noticed a few more smells.
A black panther and a cheetah.
“What’s wrong?” Milo asked as he took a drink of his coffee.
Ben slowly shook his head. “I’m not sure, but I got this weird feeling.”
His statement made Milo glance around.
Ben looked over his shoulder to the booths behind him and spotted a slim man sitting by himself. Moose refilled the guy’s cup, and the small stranger smiled at the giant.
Why the hell was the stranger wearing sunglasses inside? The sun had barely risen.
“Is it something we need to worry about?” Milo asked.
Ben wasn’t sure what was going on, but his instincts said his weird feeling had something to do with Shorty.
“Order me whatever you’re having,” Ben said as he got up and walked toward the stranger’s table. The closer he got, the more he realized just how short the shit really was.
The smell of honeysuckle filled Ben’s lungs as he stopped at the table. He slid in the opposite side without being asked and cocked his head to the side.
Shorty pursed his lips. “Sure, help yourself to a seat. It wasn’t as though I was using it.”
The guy was a bunny shifter. Fuck. Ben wanted to laugh at the realization. He’d met only one bunny before, but that had been eons ago. “I’m Benjamin Calloway. And you are?”
His wolf howled and rammed at Ben’s ribs, growling to get free. Ben wasn’t sure what to make of his dumb beast until he felt the powerful pull aching in his chest.
“I’m Jericho James,” the guy said. He wiggled his nose seconds before his brows shot up past the rim of his dark sunglasses.
Ben was looking at his mate.
He wanted to pull those damn glasses off to get a better look at the guy, but since they’d just met, he kept his hands to himself. “Why are you wearing those inside?”
“Bright lights hurt my eyes,” Jericho said. “I’m really not a morning person.”
Ben propped his feet on either side of the bunny shifter, grinning as he folded his arms. “You do realize we’re mates?”
Jericho seemed timid as he chewed on his bottom lip. Then he opened his mouth, and all the soft and fuzzy feelings Ben had felt toward Shorty flew out the window.
“I’m sorry, but I have no idea what you’re talking about. I didn’t invite you to sit down at my table, so get lost.”
Sitting forward and bracing his arms on the table, Ben scowled. “You’re full of shit, Jericho. You know damn well you feel the pull.”
“What I feel is hungry,” the guy said. “Do I have to get Moose to remove you from my table?”
“I’d like to see him try,” Ben snarled.
What was with this bunny? Weren’t they supposed to be all cute and submissive? Jericho was a fluffy little creature, and Ben had claws and teeth. He wanted to dominate the short shit, but Jericho had a chip on his shoulder for some reason.
Ben slouched back and smirked. “Take me back to your place and I’ll prove we’re mates.”
Because Ben’s cock was hard as fuck and he wanted a piece of his little bunny.
“I thought you were brave.” Ben tucked his arm around Jericho as he moved farther into the shed.
“I never claimed to be brave.” If he were, he would’ve stood up to his uncle a long time ago. Jericho would have knocked Landon on his ass and beat the crap out of him, but it was always the other way around.
“You really are scared,” Ben said. “I can feel you shaking.”
Jericho hadn’t noticed he’d been doing that and knew it was from thoughts of Landon, not the vermin in the shed. He blew out a few short breaths and tried to get a grip on his emotions. He refused to let thoughts of Landon ruin his day.
“Are we done in here?”
Ben sighed. “I’ll have mercy on you, but I give you props for coming inside in the first place.”
He was relieved when Ben walked outside. As soon as they were out of there, Jericho hopped down from Ben’s back.
“Do you do a lot of adventurous things?”
“Gotta keep the blood pumping.” Ben closed the shed door. “How’s life worth living if you don’t take risks?”
Jericho wasn’t a risk-taker. The most daring he’d been was selling Red Spanking to the customers at Tilted. But since Moose had warned him not to, Jericho had lied to the customers and said they were out of the nonhuman booze.
Although Armand had no problem selling it. But there had been nothing Jericho could do about that. He wasn’t the owner, and telling Armand they were warned would’ve made the human roll his eyes.
It wasn’t as though Armand even knew what Red Spanking did, anyway. But if Moose wanted the stuff truly gone, he’d have to take that up with Mike.
Ben snapped his fingers in Jericho’s face. “You zoned out, kit.”
Jericho smiled. It seemed Ben wasn’t averse to compromise. That was a brownie point for him.
“It’s pretty secluded back here.” Ben removed his leather jacket and tossed it onto the seat of his bike. “Did you have anything in mind when you tricked me into coming here?”
“Tricked you?” Jericho’s brows shot up. “I didn’t trick you. I just wanted you to see the shed.”
“Mmm-hmm.” Ben moved closer. “You wanted to seduce me, didn’t you? You want to steal my innocence from me.”
Jericho opened his mouth to give Ben a piece of his mind when he realized the guy was teasing him. “You found me out. I guess the jig is up and you’ll have to take me back to the diner.”
“It doesn’t work that way.” Ben pulled his T-shirt over his head and tossed it aside. “You got me out here, now have your wicked way with me.” Ben’s gray eyes were glassy with desire, and all Jericho’s dumb ass could do was stand there and ogle the man’s chest like an idiot as his cock stirred in his jeans.
He was so engrossed with Ben’s body that he hadn’t noticed Ben reaching for his sunglasses. He pulled them off and gave a low, deep growl. “Who the fuck blacked your eye?”
It took a moment for Jericho to realize what Ben was talking about. He lifted a hand to his eye but let it fell before he touched it. “It was an accident.”
Jericho would’ve shifted and healed himself, but his uncle had threatened to beat his ass if he did. Landon had shouted that Jericho deserved to wear his shame, and Jericho had been too terrified to argue.
Ben glared at him as though he didn’t believe Jericho, but thankfully he dropped the subject. That fast he was back in his playful mood, and Jericho breathed a sigh of relief.
“Are you shy, Jericho?”
Jericho wanted to smack the smug smile from Ben’s face, but in truth, he was shy. He acted outgoing and flirted at work, but that was just to get bigger tips. He never took things too far.
“No,” Jericho objected as his face caught fire.
“Are you sure about that?” Ben pulled Jericho into his arms, and their lips twisted together in a hungry kiss.
Jericho clung to Ben, grabbing at him and trying to crawl up the man as Ben took the kiss even deeper.
They ended up out of breath when they pulled apart. Jericho licked his lips, hungry for more. A low growl rumbled in Ben’s chest as he snatched Jericho’s shirt up and off.
The raw need in Ben’s eyes caught Jericho’s breath, making him feel exposed in ways that had nothing to do with his shirt being gone. Jericho had been alone and adrift in life, always dodging relationships because of his uncle. That craving to belong to someone, to be the center of someone’s world, came crashing into him, and Jericho had never wanted something more desperately than he wanted Ben.
But instead of saying that to his mate, Jericho used his body. He moved into Ben’s space and attached his lips to one of the guy’s nipples.
“Fuck, Jericho,” Ben moaned. His hands clamped the back of Jericho’s head, holding him in place as his fingers massaged Jericho’s scalp. “Feels good.”
His shyness melted as he explored Ben’s chest with his hands, ghosting them down his mate’s body and bringing them up Ben’s back. The guy was taller, and the top of Jericho’s head reached Ben’s shoulders, which put his lips right at Ben’s nipples.
Getting lost in Ben’s body was his goal. Jericho didn’t want to think about the ramifications of mating the wolf shifter, didn’t want to think what his uncle would do once he found out Jericho was gay. All he wanted at the moment was to feel strong hands on him, a hard dick in his ass, and after that, Jericho would burn that bridge when he came to it.
He detached his lips and dropped to his knees, unfastening Ben’s fly. He pulled the zipper down and fished out his hard cock, sucking the erection between his lips.