“Aw, come on, little human. I’ll show you a good time.”
“Bradley, he already said no,” added a new voice. Aden.
Bradley frowned, turned in his chair. Up close, Aden looked more impressive, like some kind of behemoth. An attractive behemoth, Corey corrected. Bradley rose to his feet, as if he wanted to prove some kind of point. Bradley’s eyes flashed amber, and he stilled, realizing a shifter had been hitting on him. It wasn’t just that, but Aden had the same eyes.
He knew that a shifter’s eyes changed eye color when they felt intense emotions like anger or jealousy, but Aden looked calm. Cassie had the same golden eyes, too. What did that mean?
“Aden, heard you were back in town. Prodigal prince comes home and all that, huh?” Bradley drawled. Aden didn’t say a word, and Corey wondered what Bradley meant by “prince.” Some kind of nickname?
Corey felt like he got in the middle of some strange dominant battle, because while Aden didn’t do or speak, merely stood there, not breaking eye contact with Bradley, Aden emanated power. He was human, wasn’t sure exactly what he was sensing, but it felt like the temperature in the air-conditioned café turned hot.
It was Bradley who dropped his gaze and mumbled, “I saw the tasty human first.”
“And he said he wasn’t interested,” Aden finished.
“Clearly not in me, but he seems to have the hots for you,” Bradley mumbled.
“How’s Terry doing, Brad?”
Brad straightened, then a guilty expression crossed his face. “We had a fight. You know how Terry is. One little fight and he doesn’t talk to me for a week.”
“Even now?” At Brad’s dejected look, the big guy suddenly looked less scary and simply embarrassed and sad. Aden clasped his shoulder. “Go make him something special tonight. Plan a romantic evening. Make him remember why he fell in love with you in the first place.”
“You think that would really work?” Brad asked.
“Won’t hurt to try.”
Brad nodded. “Good to have you back, Aden.”
As Brad walked away, Corey muttered under his breath, “Shifters.”
“You have something against us, little human?” Aden sounded amused as he took the seat Brad previously occupied.
He straightened. “Only shifters can look like they want to kill each other one moment and be good buddies the next.”
Aden shrugged those impressive shoulders. “I’ve known him since we were kids. Most shifters are like that. They wanna appear tough, but deep down? They can be fluffy marshmallows.”
Corey didn’t know if Aden was pulling his leg or being serious, because he doubted a man like Aden could be best described as fluffy. As gorgeous as Aden looked, there was no forgetting he was a lethal shifter dangerous enough to spook a big guy like Brad.
“Don’t believe me?” Aden nodded to his empty coffee mug. “Want another?”
Aden was flirting with him. Was that possible?
He stiffened, looked left and right, and wondered if this was some kind of practical joke. Guys like Aden, shifter or not, didn’t hit on the boring and mediocre Coreys of the world.
Huh. Either this was real, or Aden’s pals were good at hiding.
“Thank you for the offer, but like I told Brad, I’m busy.”
Aden’s golden eyebrows rose. “You going to brush me aside just like that, when I can smell your arousal?”
“W-what? Can shifters do that?”
“Of course. Don’t be scared, but I was lured by your enticing scent.”
“I don’t scare easily,” he lied. Corey’s heart hammered. He was frightened of his attraction to this big shifter male and of his desire to know Aden better.
“W-why are you hitting on me anyway, if you have a girlfriend?”
Aden crossed his arms, making his biceps and triceps bulge. Corey tried not to stare, he really did.
“Your coffee,” said Cassie, setting down a steaming mug in front of Aden.
“What are you talking about?” Aden asked.
“Dude, Cassie’s standing next to you,” he blurted.
Cassie and Aden blinked, then looked at each other. It was uncanny, and he realized he finally noticed the family resemblance.
“What’s he talking about?” Cassie asked Aden.
“The cute little human thinks you’re my girlfriend. We’d make an adorable pair, don’t you think, cousin?”
That made Cassie laugh and him blush so hard he was certain his face and cheeks were red.
“Don’t tease Corey, he’s a sweetheart,” Cassie reprimanded, giving Aden a nudge on the shoulder.
“One more of whatever he got,” Aden told her.
“Sure thing.” She winked at Corey, who still hadn’t quite recovered.
“You still owe me for lying your ass off to me,” Aden added, then returned his golden gaze to him. “Where were we?”
“Are your eyes naturally like that?”
Oh God. What was he doing? It looked like Corey was about to win the rudest human of the year award or something. Aden didn’t look offended, thank God.
“Yep, at least most of the family members in the Golden bloodline are.”
“Golden? As in the family who rules the resident lion pride?” Well, that explained why Brad called Aden prince.
“Yep, but I’m sort of the black sheep. Enough about me, I’m more interested in you, little human.” Aden meant those words, Corey realized, because Aden looked at him like he was good enough to eat.
Come get me, king of the jungle.
Oh, hell. Where did that train of thought come from? Good thing Corey kept that to himself. He simply chalked it off to not getting any for months. If he had to be honest, it had been close a year since he last dated any one, and Ben the accountant was like a one and Aden was ten, beyond his league.
Aden’s lips tugged into a smile, and he wondered if he did something funny. His mouth dropped, and if possible, he blushed even deeper.
“I just said those words out loud, didn’t I?”
Corey rubbed himself against Aden, unafraid of Aden’s growl. God. Simply touching like this and one kiss, and Corey’s control could easily unravel. He could have come at that moment, but held back, not wanting Aden to think he was a horny and eager teenager.
Aden pulled away, grabbed his shoulder, and spun him, bending him over the counter. He groaned, pressing his cheek against the cool counter.
“Tell me to stop and I will,” Aden said against his ear, breath warm, chest resting against the curve of Corey’s back.
“God don’t stop. Do you have any idea how frustrated you’ve made me? I was beginning to wonder if you might have lost interest in me, sexually anyway. If you wanted to be friends, that would have been fine—”
Aden shut him up with another kiss.
Well, Corey couldn’t quite call it that, because Aden took his mouth, all tongue and teeth. The dominant lion released him, then used a foot to nudge his legs open. Corey was glad Aden couldn’t see his blush, because at this angle, Aden could clearly see his tight balls and fully erect prick. He groaned when Aden gave his dick a few tugs.
“Tell me, little human. Do you want to come?”
Little human. Corey was seriously becoming fond of that nickname. It made him feel special, and no one had ever bothered giving him a term of endearment. Before the whole Basher thing, he did date, but his ex-boyfriends seemed to tire of him quickly, and he’d only had sex with one. None of them had made him feel the way Aden did, like his entire body was an instrument, and he was reduced to nothing but sensation and animal noises.
Recalling Aden asked him a question, he managed to answer, “Yes.”
“Not yet though. Can you hold on a little longer?” Aden gave his balls a pull, and he moaned.
“Wait a sec, I’m grabbing the condom and lube.”
He thought Aden would need to rush to the bathroom, but when he looked over his shoulder, Aden grabbed the items from the pocket of his jeans.
“Well prepared, huh?” he couldn’t help but ask.
Of course, it shouldn’t be a surprise. Aden was a gorgeous specimen. He didn’t know why he felt a tinge of jealousy either. It wasn’t like Aden belonged exclusively to him.
“Hey, what’s wrong?” Aden asked, running his hand down his spine and up again, the gesture strangely calming.
He bit his lip and told Aden the truth. Aden frowned and Corey finally said, “I’m petty.”
“Not at all. Corey, I didn’t want to scare you earlier, but you’re it for me.”
His heart thudded. Did he mishear those words? Better yet, had he been dreaming all this while?
“You’re the one man I’ve been searching for my entire life, my mate. I’ve known since I spotted you at the café.”
Corey was definitely dreaming, except Aden speared fingers through his hair and pressed hot and demanding lips against his. Could an ordinary human really be the mate of an extraordinary lion prince?
Just when Corey thought his life was getting nowhere, Aden appeared like a bright ball of sunshine. Now, he woke up each morning, excited at the prospect of seeing Aden. Aden, who made his heart race, made him laugh, who liked every inch of him without needing to change a thing.
“What does that mean?” he asked when Aden released his mouth.
Aden placed a kiss on the back of his neck. “That you’re mine, all of you, and I’m yours. I’ll cherish you for all my life, and I’ll protect you against any enemy.”
“Sounds like a marriage proposal.” Corey was a little shaken—what human wouldn’t be—and yet, some part of him knew what Aden said was true. Putting aside attraction, didn’t he feel an instant connection when he first met Aden?
“We shifters mate for life. I choose you, Corey. Will you chose me?”
* * * *
Aden knew he gave Corey plenty to think about, but he couldn’t stop now. He grabbed the lube, slathered some on his fingers and worked plenty into Corey’s asshole. Corey moaned as he pushed one finger in and added a second.
“Yes,” Corey murmured. “I want to be yours, too.”
His lion roared inside him in approval. Aden knew he picked the right man. He began making twisting motions, readying Corey for his access. Aden wasn’t exactly small, and hurting Corey was the last thing he wanted.
Corey made it hard though, damn it. The human kept thrusting his tight little ass at him.
“Aden, take me.”
Fuck, but hearing need in Corey’s voice made him want to sink his dick into Corey’s entrance right now. Instead, he gave Corey’s ass a swat, making the human jump.
“Why do I find that hot?”
Just for that comment, Aden smacked his ass cheeks again.
“Oh God, I’ll really come.”
“Not yet,” Aden chided. He wanted bite Corey while his mate came undone. Deciding Corey was ready, he grabbed the condom foil, broke it, but Corey interrupted him.
“I read shifters couldn’t catch anything, and I’m clean. No need for that.”
Aden tossed the rubber away, immensely pleased, because he didn’t want to have a thin piece of plastic preventing his naked dick meeting Corey’s ass. He gripped Corey’s hips and guided his dick into Corey’s hole. He pushed, slowly, steadily, gritting his teeth. Aden wanted to shove his prick all the way in, but controlled himself.
“So big,” Corey uttered.
“Breathe, little human. In and out. That’s good,” he said.
It seemed talking to Corey helped, because Corey’s inner muscles relaxed around his dick. Once Aden passed the thick ring of muscles though, it became easier. Aden sunk all the way home, until his balls brushed against Corey’s ass. Corey mewled, and he leaned forward and kissed his mate once more, slow and tender.
When he withdrew, he said, “Good job, baby. Now comes the best part.”