AVAILABLE: Monday, January 20th
[Siren Publishing: The Lynn Hagen ManLove Collection: Contemporary, ManLove, Alternative, Shape-shifters, Paranormal, Romantic Suspense, MM, HEA]
After his kidnapping two weeks ago, Baxter hasn’t been the same. He’s dodging his best friend’s phone calls, living in what feels like a nightmare. When he wakes up in a stranger’s bed and stumbles home, he runs into Mr. Nosy. A firefighter and a volunteer at the newly built rec center. Scott rescues Baxter in more than one way, setting him on a different path. Too bad someone is out to kill him.
Scott Mulligan is stunned to discover the addict he’s rescued is his mate. Baxter is a hot mess, moody, and doesn’t trust Scott’s intentions. He walks through hell with Baxter, trying to get him clean. But someone has their sights set on Baxter. They want the human dead, and Scott is just as determined to keep his mate alive. When a failed attempt at kidnapping, a Molotov cocktail thrown through the bedroom window, and an explosion at the local tavern occur, Scott is on the warpath.
Lynn Hagen is a Siren-exclusive author.
Scott Mulligan looked up when his chief walked into the clinic. His brows were drawn as he approached. God, Scott felt like a wreck. He couldn’t believe he’d just gone through that, but then again, he’d known something was wrong when he’d met Baxter earlier that morning.
“How is he?” Sal took a seat next to him in the empty waiting area. Even the receptionist had gone for a break, leaving Scott alone until Sal had arrived to keep him company.
“Resting.” Scott gripped the paper cup tighter. The coffee had long ago grown cold. He just needed something to do with his hands. They’d been shaking so badly for the past few hours that Scott wasn’t sure how to make them stop.
He’d found his mate, and Baxter was a mess. He also knew that Jayce hadn’t been his real name since Scott was good friends with Deon Wilkerson and Jayce was Deon’s mate.
It wasn’t until Scott had made a call to Deon that he learned Baxter was Jayce’s best friend. He’d also learned some horrible things that had happened to Baxter a few weeks ago.
“Anything you need from me?”
Besides turning back the clock so Scott could save Baxter from ever getting kidnapped in the first place? So he could stop his mate from getting hooked on drugs? “Just need the company.”
Dr. Bjord had already reassured him that Baxter would be okay, that he’d taken measures to clean the drugs out of Baxter’s system. But that hadn’t stopped Scott from feeling all-consuming panic when he’d walked into his mate’s apartment.
“Lucky you were there for him,” Sal said. “What did the doctor say?”
“Once he’s rested, I can take him home.” Scott looked toward the hallway that led to the rooms in the back. He should be in Baxter’s room, giving him comfort, but Scott had needed the air, the space.
Seeing Baxter in the state he’d been in had brought back too many memories. Scott squeezed his eyes shut, trying to clear his mind.
“If anyone knows how to get him through this, it’s you,” Sal said.
Scott opened his eyes. “Me? How’s that?”
Sal gave him a knowing look. Scott snorted and got up, stretching his legs after sitting in the chair for so long. “That some kind of joke? I couldn’t even save—” He couldn’t bring himself to say the rest.
“That’s because your dad didn’t want to be saved, Scott. Baxter isn’t him. Don’t punish your mate for something that happened so long ago. Be there for him.”
Scott spread his arms wide. “I am here for him. I’m not gonna abandon Baxter. I just needed—” Scott ran his hand through his hair and then set his mug on a small table by the plethora of plants. “I just needed some time to think.”
Gavril, Dr. Bjord’s assistant and mate, came into the waiting area. He looked Sal over before walking over to where Scott stood. “He’s awake.”
“You want me to wait out here for you?” Sal joined Scott at his side, placing a beefy hand on his shoulder.
“Nah, but thanks for showing up. I don’t know how long I’ll be here, and you know Renny gets antsy when you’re not home on time.”
When Sal spoke next, his voice was so low that Scott barely heard him. “I heard that some of the Black Python members are looking for revenge. I’m not sure how true it is, but I just wanted to let you know.” Sal squeezed his shoulder before he let it go. “Let me know if you need anything. Since you’re newly mated, take two weeks off.”
Deon and a few deputies, as well as some others, had gone to Falls Bend to get Jayce and Baxter back. In the process, one member of the Black Python had been killed and another taken to the underworld. That was what Deon had told him on the phone earlier.
“Thanks.” Scott walked away, following the assistant to Baxter’s room. Gavril didn’t go in, though. He went to the doctor’s private office, leaving Scott to stand outside the door.
Before Gavril disappeared, he turned and looked at Scott. “The drugs in his system are gone, but that doesn’t mean the craving isn’t still there. Wish I could interfere, but even I have rules I have to follow.”
Scott hadn’t the first clue what Gavril was talking about. What rules? He didn’t get a chance to ask. Gavril stepped into the doctor’s office and closed the door.
After a deep sigh, Scott walked into Baxter’s room. His mate was curled into a ball, a sheet covering him to his shoulders.
Scott grabbed a chair and moved it to the bed. “How’re you feeling?”
“Why do you care?” Baxter refused to look at him. “You got some kind of quota for saving people?”
“For every fifty people I save, I get a free toaster oven.” Scott got up and grabbed a plastic cup by the sink. He filled it with water and brought it back, trying to hand it to his mate, but Baxter refused to take it.
Scott set it on the stand next to Baxter’s bed.
“Well, I get the toaster oven. I’ve always wanted one.” Baxter sat up, winced, and rolled his shoulders. “But you don’t have to stick around. I’m all better now. You can go find your next victim to stalk.”
Baxter might’ve spoken in a surly manner, but there was a vulnerability to him that made Scott want to protect his mate. Even from his own self.
“Your prize is that you get to come stay with me.” He braced himself for the fallout, for Baxter to go apeshit about decisions being made without his consent.
Scott had talked with the doctor, had told Ari that Baxter was his mate. The doctor thought it best that Scott watch over Baxter, because the human would relapse. It wasn’t a matter of if but when.
Baxter gave a humorless laugh. “I get to go home with a complete stranger. Today must be my lucky day.”
It had been. Scott had a feeling that if he hadn’t shown up at Baxter’s apartment, his mate might’ve died. Scott had smelled the drugs in his system, the death, the noxiousness that poured off him. Baxter had no idea how close he’d come to dying.
Scott winked, trying to keep the moment light. They could get into heavy talk later. “I make a mean lasagna.”
Baxter eyed him then scooted back down to his fetal position, tucking the sheet around him. “How about you fuck off and leave me the hell alone? And you can keep the toaster oven. Happy baking.”
Baxter placed a hand on Scott’s arm. Damn, he really did have impressive biceps. “I want to be with you, Scott. Sexually. I’m not fragile. I’m not gonna break, and I’m not gonna relapse. I promise. If anything, I think getting closer to you will help me, make me even stronger.”
“Really?” Scott didn’t look convinced.
“There’s only one way to find out.” Baxter crawled onto his lap and straddled his waist. “I’ve been dying to kiss you.”
Scott grinned as his hands landed on Baxter’s hips. “I’ve had some pretty wicked thoughts about your lips.”
“About how wide I can open my mouth?” Baxter chuckled, and so did Scott.
“You were killing me with that marshmallow. Do you know how much I wanted to lick it from the side of your mouth?”
“Then lick it,” Baxter groaned. He slid his arms around Scott’s neck. Their faces were inches apart. Baxter could feel Scott’s breath on his lips, but they were too busy staring at each other.
“I just might,” Scott said in a deep, growly tone.
When their lips finally met, those sparks turned into fireworks. It was as if Baxter could actually hear the rockets firing off as their tongues dueled, entwined, and they tasted each other for the very first time.
Baxter wanted to give Scott everything, the trust and care Scott placed in Baxter when he’d brought him home. He wanted to give Scott his body but also his heart and soul. If Baxter left tomorrow, he would never find anyone like Scott. Ever. Baxter would never find someone who cared this much for him, and he wasn’t willing to walk away from it.
When their lips broke apart, Baxter asked, “What does being a mate mean?”
One of Scott’s hands had drifted to Baxter’s lower back, almost like he was keeping Baxter in place. The other carded through Baxter’s hair, which was in bad need of a cut. It had gotten too long, but Baxter liked the fact that Scott could grab a handful.
“You and me, that’s it. No one else, ever. Our souls bound together. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you, Bax. Your health and happiness mean everything to me.”
Baxter was blown away by the words Scott had spoken as if they were some kind of law.
“You’ll age as slowly as I do, and human ailments will no longer be an issue.”
Baxter liked the perks already. “Then make me yours.”
Their mouths collided again, Scott’s fingers strangling Baxter’s hair. Underneath his ass, Baxter felt Scott getting hard. He ground against the steel pipe, moaning into the kiss.
But he could tell Scott was holding back. Baxter couldn’t have that. He pushed against Scott’s chest and got up. When Scott started to stand, Baxter shook a finger. “Stay right there.”
With a curious look in his eyes, Scott did as Baxter demanded. Having sex with a new person was intimidating. Concerns filtered into Baxter’s mind. Would Scott appreciate his body or think him too thin? Would he like Baxter’s cock, or wouldn’t it compare to his mate’s?
The way Scott looked at him with hunger squelched Baxter’s worries. Scott didn’t seem the type to be hung up on appearances. Not the way his gaze scorched Baxter’s blood.
Baxter gasped when he dropped the last piece of clothing and Scott sat up, taking Baxter’s hips and then swallowing his cock.
“Oh shit!” Baxter tossed his head back, moaning as Scott worked his shaft down his throat. The darkness inside Baxter seemed to shatter with that single move. He bucked and wiggled, grabbing Scott’s shoulders as he fucked the man’s mouth.
His legs wobbled as Scott took him deeper, using his throat muscles to bring Baxter off. He was shocked at how quickly he’d come. No other man had given Baxter such a quick trigger, but Scott had, and Baxter was crying out as he came down Scott’s throat.
He curled his fingers into Scott’s shoulders and tried not to slump over. His knees had grown even weaker, and finally Baxter couldn’t hold out any longer.
Scott pulled him down and turned Baxter, laying him on the couch. “Fuck, that was beautiful.”
“And fast.” Baxter frowned. “Sorry about that.”
Scott’s breath mingled with his. “You tasted amazing.”
Baxter had just orgasmed, and yet, there was an unfathomable physical ache in his body to have more. It was an ache that went bone-deep, so deep that it was driving him crazy.
Desperate need rippled through him. He yanked at Scott’s shirt, his pants, frantic to get to Scott’s naked skin. Baxter wanted to touch every inch of his body.
Scott gripped his wrists. “Slow down, sunshine. There’s no rush.”
Baxter panted heavily, groaning and grinding his cock against Scott. Already he was hard again. He arched his back and spread his legs, offering himself to Scott.
His heart raced faster when Scott touched him everywhere, driving Baxter insane. His mate was drawing this out, arousal in his eyes as if he were enjoying torturing Baxter.
“I love you.” Baxter’s own voice was a fierce whisper as he touched Scott’s cheek, the strength of Scott’s jaw soaking into his fingertips. He wanted to say more, to explain the reasons why Scott had taken up residency in his heart, but Baxter refrained from getting too wordy.
Scott turned his face into Baxter’s palm and kissed it. “I love you, too, Bax.”
The sincerity in his words made Baxter’s breath stick in this throat. Tears stung his eyes. He finally had someone solid in his corner, someone to love him, and someone he could love just as fiercely. Baxter would never be alone again.
Scott got up and lifted Baxter from the couch, carrying him down the hallway. Baxter chuckled, circling his arms around Scott’s neck. He no longer felt silly being carried. Baxter never wanted to leave the protection of Scott’s arms again.
Scott placed Baxter on his bed and undressed before crawling in next to him. Scott grabbed the lube from his nightstand drawer and set it aside.