[Siren Publishing: The Lynn Hagen ManLove Collection: Erotic Romance, Contemporary, Alternative, Paranormal, Shape-shifters, MM, HEA]
After nearly dying, Sherman flees Maple Grove to start a whole new life in Fever’s Edge. He wants to put his past behind him, and applies for a job at the local diner. Little does he know how drastically his life is about to change when he spots a table filled with sexy firemen. One in particular catches his eye. Fire Chief Dalton Knowles. The guy is right up Sherman’s alley—big, muscular, and built like a bear. He just doesn't know that Dalton has his own set of problems that will put Sherman in a life-threatening situation.
Years ago Dalton worked for the Ultionem, chasing down rogue nonhumans. Now he’s settled into a simple life. But he can’t escape his past, and when a vampire hell-bent on revenge comes after Dalton, the stakes grow higher. Dalton is infected with a slow-acting poison that is killing him, but he risks everything to save his mate from the deranged vampire.
Lynn Hagen is a Siren-exclusive author.
“I don’t know.” Sherman shrugged and looked away. “He’s really nice-looking and has a great job, Mom. What if he gets to know me and doesn’t like me?”
Although Sherman’s parents argued like crazy, he knew they loved him, and Sherman had always had a great relationship with his mom. She was more like his best friend in some ways, and he cherished her.
“Sherman Albert Gaines. You are a catch, and any man who can’t see that doesn’t deserve you.” She curled her thin arms around him and gave him a hug. “You’re the sweetest, kindest man I know.”
“And fat.” Sherman had never cared about the extra pounds before. George and Cornell hadn’t seemed to be bothered by it. But Dalton looked like a gym rat, and he could have any guy he wanted. What was so special about Sherman?
His mother released him and then smacked Sherman on the back of his head.
“I don’t ever want to hear you body shaming yourself. Not everyone is skinny, and there are plenty of men out there who like healthy young men.”
Healthy. Sherman inwardly rolled his eyes but knew better than to do it where his mother could see. He wasn’t big-boned. Sherman had the extra weight because he loved to eat. There was no psychological reason. He didn’t eat because he was depressed or had some core problem. He just loved food.
“Yes, ma’am.” He kissed her on the cheek. “I have to go, or I’ll be late.”
“I’ll wait up for the details.” She blushed.
They were close, but not that close. Sherman wasn’t giving his mother any intimate details, if anything intimate happened. He would call Payton for that.
Sherman headed out the door and stopped dead in his tracks. Where in the hell was his car? It wasn’t in the driveway or parked at the curb. It had vanished into thin air. Who on earth would steal such a piece of shit?
“Mom, did you let anyone borrow Betsy?” he asked when he walked back into the living room. “I parked in the driveway when I got back here, but my car is gone.”
His mother appeared as perplexed as Sherman felt. Her thin brows were knitted as she looked out the window. “Oh dear. I didn’t let anyone use it, Sherman. You need to call the police and report it stolen.”
Great. Just fucking great. Sherman finally had a date with a decent guy and someone had stolen his wheels. He should have known this was too good to be true.
He pulled out his phone, but instead of calling the sheriff’s department, he called Dalton. When the guy answered, Sherman said, “I’m going to have to cancel.”
“Is something wrong?”
God, the guy’s voice was sexy as sin. Sherman loved the deep timbre and could listen to it for hours on end. “Someone stole my car, so I have no way of getting to town without freezing to death.”
That might have happened anyway since Betsy’s heat was out.
“Give me your address and I’ll pick you up,” Dalton said. “Have you reported it stolen yet?”
“Not yet. I wanted to call you first so you didn’t think I was standing you up.” Sherman rattled off his address. “Sorry, I didn’t mean for our evening to go to shit.”
“We’ll stop at the station and file a report,” Dalton said. “I’m on my way. Our evening isn’t ruined, Sherman. It just has a few more turns in it.”
He loved hearing Dalton say his name. “You’re an optimist.”
“And you’re not?” Dalton chuckled. “We’ll talk when I see you.”
Sherman used to be an optimist until he’d nearly been blown up. “See you soon.”
When he hung up and turned, he saw his mother smiling at him. Her hazel eyes seemed to sparkle.
“I told you that you were a catch. A scoundrel wouldn’t go out of his way to keep a date. I think you might finally have found Mr. Right.”
Sherman wasn’t going to get his hopes up. He’d been burned too many times before to think he’d finally found the one. “Mom, we haven’t even had our first date yet.”
“Yes you have.” She patted his chest. “Lunch was a date.”
Not in Sherman’s mind. He’d eaten, filled out an application, and had gotten hired. That hadn’t been a date. “I still have to figure out what happened to Betsy.”
“Maybe she drove off to the big car lot in the sky,” his mom said. “Lord knew that car was dangerous to drive and an eyesore. If you ask me, someone did you a favor by stealing it.” She went to her purse that she kept by the door and extracted her keys. “I’m going to hang these up. If you ever need to use my car, go right ahead.”
Sherman’s heart fluttered when the doorbell rang. Was that Dalton? Why hadn’t he just honked from the driveway?
“Answer the door, dear.”
Taking in a deep breath, Sherman went to the door. He wiped his sweaty palms on his jeans before he swung the door open. God, Dalton was sexier the second time around.
“Are you ready?”
Sherman’s brows shot up. “Did you really bring me flowers?”
In Dalton’s hand was a bouquet of red, orange, yellow, and pink flowers. “What are these?”
They smelled wonderful.
“Transvaal daisies,” his mother said from behind him with a sigh. “They’re lovely and very appropriate for a first date.”
Sherman’s face heated. “Um, thanks.”
He’d never gotten flowers before or had a date pick him up at the door. Come to think of it, Sherman had never had anyone treat him like a date. George just told Sherman to come over and they played video games. Cornell always had Sherman meet him somewhere, and Sherman always picked up the tab.
“You fellas have fun,” his mother said and then whispered to Sherman, “Don’t forget to put a condom in your wallet.”
“Mom!” Sherman wished a hole would open up and swallow him. From the grin on Dalton’s face, the guy had heard her.
Dalton stuck out his hand after he entered. “I’m Fire Chief Dalton Knowles, ma’am.”
“I know who you are. I’m Gladys Gaines.” She held out her hand, and he kissed her knuckles. The guy was charming the pantyhose right off Sherman’s mom.
“Don’t worry, Mrs. Gaines. I’ll take good care of Sherman.”
“Ms. Gaines,” she said with a blush. Oh my god! Was his mom really flirting with his date? Sherman palmed his face and groaned as Dalton chuckled. “I kept the surname after my divorce.”
“You ready?” Dalton asked Sherman.
“God, yes.” Sherman shoved Dalton toward the door. He couldn’t get his date out of there fast enough. He feared his mother would say something else, like how Sherman had wet the bed until he was five or how he used to like to eat crayons when he was little. That hadn’t been his fault. The colors reminded him of candy, and he hadn’t known any better.
Dalton woke and saw that it was still dark out. Then he felt a furnace next to him, making him remember that his mate was there with him. Dalton loved how his mate felt buried next to him. The man fit perfectly into the groove of his body. He even loved how Sherman smelled like a roaring fire and apple cider. Dalton lay there inhaling his scent and, even though he felt like a pervert, watching Sherman sleep. It was probably that only time—until he and Sherman got to know each other a lot better—that he would be able to study the smooth skin on his mate’s face, the way he puckered his lips while he slept, and how he was a blanket hog.
The longer he lay there inhaling the scent, the harder his cock became until he was fully erect. Dalton’s canines were growing as his desire flared. He couldn’t help his body’s reaction. Sherman was his mate, and the guy turned him on, though Dalton wasn’t sleazy enough to touch his mate while the guy was unconscious.
“Dalton?” Sherman asked into the darkness of the room, his voice filled with sleep.
“You fell asleep, so I made you more comfortable. I hope you don’t mind.”
“No, I was just a little disoriented when I woke. I didn’t know where I was.”
Dalton saw perfectly in the dark and knew his mate was staring right at him. There wasn’t any fear in his eyes, just curiosity, and a little lust. His mate stretched, bringing their bodies closer together. It was as if Sherman was trying to rub up against him while pretending he wasn’t doing it.
Grinding his teeth to keep his control in check, Dalton simply lay there to see what else Sherman would do and how far he would go or if he would get up and demand Dalton take him home.
Dalton’s stomach flinched when Sherman glided his hand across it. The guy didn’t say a word, but he heard how shallow Sherman’s breathing had become. Dalton hadn’t undressed either of them, aside from removing Sherman’s shoes. He hated that they had barriers between them but hoped that soon changed.
Sherman grew bolder, his hand gliding downward toward Dalton’s raging hard-on. His mate scooted up, bringing their faces closer together.
Aw hell. Dalton wasn't a saint, for fuck’s sake. He could take only so much contact before he took action. Still, he waited, making sure this was what Sherman wanted.
His mate pressed a hand to Dalton’s face then leaned up and kissed him. It started out slow, hesitant, until Dalton curled his arms around Sherman and yanked his mate to his chest. They moaned into each other’s mouth, as Dalton kissed first his mate’s jaw then his lips.
His hands slowly massaged Sherman’s soft skin, trying to relax his mate as he worked the shirt up inch by unhurried inch with his hands and then pulled it over the small man’s head. Dalton groaned when he saw how flawless Sherman’s skin was against the moon’s glowing light.
Turning until he was on his hands and knees over his mate, Dalton dipped his head and sucked in a tan nipple between his lips, teasing the small bead with his teeth. He used his tongue as a weapon against Sherman’s senses, making his mate moan in pleasure as he sucked the satiny skin.
It was a powerful feeling to watch his little human’s body writhe beneath his touch, knowing that he was bringing his mate so much pleasure. Sherman wasn’t hiding anything from him. He let his moans be heard, along with his hisses and whimpers. Inside of him, Dalton’s bear was growling his approval at him taking his mate, claiming the small man.
Dalton released the moist nipple, using his tongue to trail across his mate’s chest until he could give the neglected nipple some undivided attention. Sherman’s hands carded through Dalton’s hair, tugging at the strands when Dalton’s lips touched him once again.
His body was flooding with a heat that was only growing hotter as Dalton watched his mate struggle to breathe. His lips were parted, and his hands were clenching and then unclenching. He felt a strong and overwhelming need to touch and explore.
Dalton had always been a generous lover, making sure his partner was pleased first. The sentiment hadn’t always been returned, teaching him that not all men were as passionate about lovemaking as he was.
In his opinion, that was a sad fact. Sure, Dalton liked fast and hard at times. Who didn’t? But lovemaking was an art, a sensual exploration, and not a happy squirt and a wet ass. He wanted Sherman to remember this night for years to come, to blush whenever he thought of what Dalton had done to him, and to crave more, to crave him.
Dalton wanted to peel away Sherman’s jeans and lick the man from asshole to cock. His breath escaped on a rough growl as he ghosted his hands along the creamy flesh of his mate’s body. Sherman moaned as Dalton caressed and kissed his way down the man’s slim chest, over his abdomen, stopping at his mate’s navel to give the silky flesh a small nibble.
Sherman’s hips were rocking forward, the man making it quite clear what he wanted and desired. Dalton pulled the flaps of Sherman’s jeans apart and then rid the man of the interfering fabric.
His mate brushed his hand over Dalton’s short strands of hair. He was already hard as granite, but Sherman’s touch sent Dalton’s blood surging southward, building toward an impossible ache.
Dalton began to toy with him, lightly stroking his mate’s shaft, teasing his mate’s balls with just the tips of his fingers, relishing the sounds and whimpers that his mate made. They were music to his ears. Sherman let go of a shuddering sigh as Dalton let his hands roam over the smooth, naked skin.
When he slipped his fingers in the crease of Sherman’s ass, he felt his mate’s moan vibrate deep inside his own body. His arousal throbbed with the need to bury his cock inside his mate.
“Feed me your cock, darling.” Dalton was fighting against his canines descending, against his bear that was close to the surface, struggling to take over. It had been a very long time since anyone had affected Dalton this way and made his blood turn molten, and he loved it.
Sherman’s hands were clumsy as he grabbed the base and held it firmly in his hand. He canted the flared head toward Dalton’s mouth, rubbing the pre-cum on his lips.