“Sam?” His voice came out ragged, hoarse.
As an officer of the law, Winter had seen his share of cases, comforted numerous abuse and traumatized victims, but this was different. This was Sam, the one man he’d been searching for his entire life. Hell, the reason for his very existence.
Sam pressed himself further against the wall, chain on his ankle making that same clinking noise, as if Sam wanted the wall to swallow him whole. Realizing he might look intimidating, he knelt in front of Sam.
Winter shoved his emotions away. One of Sam’s captors could come in anytime to check on Sam. He needed to be quick about his extraction, think about what he’d do to Drake Cervantes later on. Certainly, he didn’t plan on returning Sam to that fucker anytime soon. Over his dead body.
He took in Sam’s state. Pale, scrawny, and bruised up. Anger shimmered in him at the spreading bruise on the left side of Sam’s face, at the needle marks peeking underneath Sam’s tattered long-sleeve shirt. They drugged him. Was that how they made Sam cooperate? Sam was a rare, natural born healer, coveted because Sam could heal any injury on the planet, save his own.
Shit. Was his Sam still salvageable? Could he even begin to help Sam get back to his former self, or at the very least, help Sam heal? Trusting Sam to the care of others was not an option. Once, Winter thought he trusted the pack mates his father taught him to give his life for, but in the end, one of them betrayed Sam and his mother for profit.
“Sam, it’s me. It’s Winter.”
There was a flicker of recognition in those otherwise emotionless eyes. Sam parted his dry lips, but no sound came out.
“Do you remember me? You used to come up to me in the woods while I was on patrol. We shared our first kiss. Remember?”
All those memories came flooding back to Winter. He had put a lock on them for so long, because they only reminded him of his failure to protect his mate, the reason for his existence. Even Rita told him nothing could be done, that he’d been a kid himself when Sam had been taken, that he’d done for her son what others couldn’t, but Winter never found Sam, until now.
Winter took off his gloves—maybe tactile contact would help Sam remember.
Sam flinched when he gently cupped Sam’s jaw, thumbed the short stubble there. God. It felt like someone shoved a spear into his chest.
“What did they do to you?” he whispered, aware the empty doll in front of him might never be able to answer. “Don’t you worry anymore, Sam, because I’m here now. I’ve spent all these years searching for you, and I’m never letting you go. You’re safe with me now.”
His wolf warned him of footsteps outside. He tilted his head, listening. Two pairs of footsteps and male voices, making jokes.
“Are you sure it’s fine? I mean, won’t Cervantes get mad if he found out we’re fucking his property?”
A scoff. Rage boiled in him, threatened to push his murderous beast to the surface.
“Don’t worry. All Cervantes cares about is the bastard’s healing abilities. As long as you clean up after, it’s fine.”
The door began to rise. Sam reacted like a wild animal, surging at him, panic in his eyes, but he caught Sam’s skinny arms.
Sam attempted to bite him, but he gently squeezed Sam’s arms. Confusion flittered across Sam’s face.
“You’re mine to protect now.” He looked at the chain connected to Sam’s ankle. Partially shifting his claws made Sam widen his eyes, relaxing only a fraction when he cut the piece off. The door opened.
“What the—” The guy, dressed entirely in black, didn’t finish his sentence.
Winter moved, adrenaline surging through his veins, vision colored with rage. He ended both men. Both bastards hurt his Sam, took advantage of a prisoner who couldn’t fight back, and Winter believed in meting out justice for those who couldn’t be judged by the system. His ethics didn’t matter, though, not when it came to Sam.
He’d end anyone who hurt his mate. The second didn’t go down quickly. After seeing his companion’s throat slashed, the guy went for his gun. Winter shoved it aside. The other guard, a shifter, snarled, but Winter clamped his hand over his mouth, and ended him the same way he left the other—a quick swipe to the neck.
Sam stared at him with wide eyes. He turned his hand back to normal, grabbed Sam, and urged him toward the exit. The human stumbled for a couple of moments.
The word stunned him.
Sam seemed to have trouble forming the word again, but he repeated it.
“You don’t want to leave?” Winter still rode the waves of bloodlust. A growl slipped his lips making Sam winced. Shit. He needed to be careful with his mate.
“He’ll find me, he always does,” Sam whispered.
“Not this time. I’ll make that bastard suffer ten thousand times worse than what he did you. I’ll make him pay.” Those words were a promise. Cervantes owed him a huge debt, and he intended to extract payment in every painful way possible.
Winter crawled into bed, body over Sam’s, but his wolf made sure to keep his weight off Sam, as if Winter was scared to crush him.
“I’m not fragile. I’m not going to break under you,” he said. “Stop being so careful.”
Winter blinked and took his mouth again, all heat and spice. He liked the distinctive taste of his wolf, a mix of wolf musk, mint, and pine. Wolves liked to scent mark their mates, just like the feline shifters, he remembered that from somewhere and hoped when some shifter approached him, they’d smell Winter on him and back away, knowing he was claimed.
When Winter pulled away, he panted, wanting more. Winter grazed the side of his neck with his teeth, not hard enough to draw mark but enough to bruise. His pulse raced, recognizing the spot. That was a dominant shifter placed his mate on his mate. For Winter, for him, it was a shining promise of what was to come.
Sam couldn’t wait, wanted to tell Winter to claim him in the most intimate way shifters knew, but Winter wanted him to wait, heal a little more. He understood Winter’s reasoning, but his wolf ought to know he’d never been patient, even as a boy.
Winter left a trail of kisses down his throat, his collarbone, then took one nipple into his mouth, applying suction. Sam fisted the sheets, moaning when Winter bit him there. His dick thickened, turned on by the slight ache. Winter moved downward, stroking, caressing his skin at the same time, as if memorizing every inch of him.
“Missed you so fucking much,” Winter whispered against his skin, and Sam reached out tentatively to stroke the silk of Winter’s thick hair.
“Me, too. The thought that you were still out there kept me alive.”
Winter finally reached his dick, and he let out a breath as Winter tongued his cockhead, paid close attention to the sensitive spot underneath. His wolf didn’t miss a spot, tracing the veined length of him, every ridge and bump. Winter took his balls into his mouth, sucking hard. He cried out, the pressure in him continuing to build.
“At this rate,” he whispered, unable to continue as heat spiked through him.
God. When the guards sometimes paid him a late night visit, he always dreaded those occasions, came to hate sex, but not sex with Winter. Winter didn’t treat him like an object, but worshiped his body like he was a person still worthy of love.
Winter opened his mouth, and he lost his train of thought as Winter took his prick, inch by inch, until his tip hit the back of Winter’s throat. Never before did Sam feel so vulnerable, with his most intimate part being held captive by the only man who mattered most.
It was quite a sight, seeing his gorgeous mate bobbing his head up and down. He groaned, pinned by those astounding eyes that gained a shade of gold to them. His breaths came up short, knowing Winter’s wolf peeked out, looked at him as if Sam already belonged to them.
As if knowing he was close, Winter pulled away just at the peak of his climax. Sam let out a frustrated hiss, but Winter pushed himself up, sealing his lips over his. Sam loved the combined taste of them, moan muffled when Winter continued pumping his dick with his hand. Sam didn’t last long. He tore his mouth away, whimpering as he came, coating Winter’s waiting hand with jizz.
The shifter didn’t seem to mind the mess. He fluttered his eyelashes, still awash in a sea of haze.
“We’re not done yet,” Winter told him.
“Yes,” he said with a lazy smile, gaze sliding to the impressive steel-rock erection jutting between Winter’s muscled thighs. “You hadn’t ridden me yet.”
“Wait here a second.” Winter got out of bed, walked in the bathroom, and came back with lube.
Sam’s mind cleared a little. Of course, Winter had ex-lovers. Winter was a shifter male in his prime, and shifters were creatures who valued touch. Jealousy still rammed into him, although unwarranted.
“How many,” he hesitated, continued, “lovers did you have before me?”
Winter shook his head. “None of them mattered. They weren’t you.”
Pleased by those words, he nodded.
“Besides,” Winter continued, raking him with his hungry gaze, “I only see you.”
Winter patted the edge of the bed, and he scooted further down, squeaking when Winter took his legs and placed them over his broad shoulders. This position, he realized soon enough, was incredibly intimate, and Winter could see every expression that crossed his face.
His mate grabbed the lube next, applying some on his fingers, before working a generous amount into his puckered entrance. Sam moaned as Winter slid a finger in, added a second soon after, and began making twisting motions, widening him for access.
“Need you inside me,” Sam murmured.
“Soon, baby, but I need to prep you first.” Winter rubbed at his inner thigh in reassurance. Then, Winter’s fingers stroked a secret spot in him, making him gasp. Winter did it again, making him squirm on the sheets.
Winter pulled his fingers out. “Eyes on me the entire time,” his wolf ordered and he did, seeing nothing but affection and hunger in those eyes.
He nodded. “I’m ready.”