“Hey. Conner, hey, wake up.”
Conner opened his eyes, and then wished he hadn’t as the light assaulted his eyeballs and made him think they were on fire or something.
“Oh God, What the hell happened?” Conner asked, but he remembered immediately when he realized his throat was sore.
Ailiwen. He’d actually come back for Kendrick. He’d attacked the both of them in Conner’s room.
He’d thought he was a dead man, but he was clearly alive.
Conner opened his eyes, slower this time, and he’d been hoping that he was still inside of his bedroom, still on bed rest which he’d hated so damned much but would have loved to be on right about now.
Nope. This was definitely not his bedroom, but it was a square room carved into the rock of Gray mountain.
There were holes for windows, but no actual glass, and the door looked brand-new, but not reinforced steel like some of the doors inside of Aris’s castle.
He was lying on a cot, and there were some boxes and a few bits of furniture scattered around.
Conner looked at Kendrick, and without even saying anything, Kendrick nodded.
“This is where Roman and I are building our house. Ailiwen is around somewhere, but he's been leaving us alone for a few hours at a time.”
Though that had been what Conner had been thinking of at first, when he caught his first glimpse of Kendrick’s face, he was too damned shocked to say anything.
Kind of like when an earthquake happened out of the blue and took down your house. What were you supposed to say to that?
Kendrick’s blond braid had been cut off, and his hair looked as if it had been messily cut with scissors.
Some spots over the top of one of his ears, or even along the side of his neck, looked as if Ailiwen had been sloppy with the scissors, because there were a few tiny cuts and nicks.
Kendrick ducked his head and touched his much shorter hair. “He wanted the braid. I guess as a sort of keepsake. Insisted on cutting it off.”
Kendrick’s chin trembled a bit as he said that, but otherwise he kept a strong face.
Conner looked down at his stomach and felt the swell that was there, searching for a sign that his hatchling was all right.
“He didn’t hurt your stomach,” Kendrick said. “I made sure of that.”
Conner looked back up at the other man, and realized that maybe that was the cause for getting his hair cut off. Had Kendrick had traded his braid for Conner’s baby?
“Thank you,” Conner said.
Kendrick waved him off. “Don’t worry about it. I’m sad that the braid is gone, but not that sad, and I wouldn’t have let him hurt your hatchling if I could help it.
Conner’s disbelief must have shown on his face, after all, he had seen the way Kendrick’s chin had trembled. Not every dragon had long hair, but the one's that did practically treasured it. Conner had learned that after being mated to a red haired man who cringed at the thought of getting a haircut.
“I mean it,” Kendrick said. “I hate that he did it, and I hate that he’s carrying it around like I presented him with a lock of hair, but I’d sit still and let him cut my hair any day of the week to keep you safe.”
Conner believed him. He felt so damned happy to have Kendrick for his friend right at that moment.
“I’m sorry I got you into this,” Kendrick said, looking so damned torn up again that Conner had to reach forward and hug him. He was wearing something tough and thick beneath his T-shirt.
“Hey, don’t worry about it. I wasn’t blaming you. Not even for a second. That didn’t even cross my mind.”
“But he took you because of me,” Kendrick said, squeezing Conner tight.
Conner already knew where this part was going.
“My baby and I are alive because of you. He had his hands around my neck and I’m still alive because of you. Don’t even think the things you’re thinking.”
Kendrick took in a shaking breath, and then he nodded. “I can’t get us out of here. I’m sorry.”
“What do you mean?” Conner asked, pulling away from the hug. He'd said that Ailiwen was leaving them alone for hours at a time. “Is the door locked?”
Even as he asked the question, Conner was looking at the wide open window where they could easily fit through if they wanted to.
Kendrick shook his head. “I can’t fly us down. I already had trouble flying before. I know I was no good at it, but Ailiwen didn’t want to risk that I’d try and fly away with you, or even by myself.”
Conner’s blood chilled more and more with every word spoken. It occurred to him that he didn’t even know how long he’d been unconscious, and any number of things could have happened. He'd woken up and saw his friend mostly okay, and assumed everything would be all right after.
Clearly that wasn't the case. They were still very much in trouble. “Kendrick, what did he do to you?”
Kendrick bit his lips together, and then he turned around and lifted the back of his shirt.
Sick horror filled Conner’s chest and rose up his throat like coming vomit. He held himself back, though. Barely.
Kendrick wasn’t wearing another layer of clothes beneath his T-shirt at all. It was one giant, tough scab. All of Kendrick’s back. It had been a miracle that the man hadn’t winced as Conner held him, but it looked like the top layer of skin had been taken off and then some.
“He took my wings,” Kendrick said, and the sadness in his voice was absolute.
“A–Aris,” Conner moaned, and the sound of that voice, moaning his name, was like a caress over Aris’s most sensitive areas.
Conner might as well have reached down and fisted Conner’s cock himself.
Aris had to kiss him. He pressed his mouth down onto Conner’s, and the smaller man not only opened his mouth for Aris, but he pushed his tongue back against his in a rare show of dominance.
Aris liked this sort of play from time to time, and now, while their tongues glided against each other, with Conner’s hands in his hair, gripping tight and yanking on his scalp.
Aris so didn’t give a shit. Conner could do with him as he pleased.
The interesting thing was how his cock didn’t wilt. Even after an orgasm like that, the smaller man’s dick remained hard and ready for him. Aris could feel it against his thigh, hard and pulsing as if nothing had happened at all.
Aris had to look down to see it for himself. He puffed out a short laugh. “Damn. Did I really make you wait that long?”
“Yes,” Conner said, his eyes flashing as his wolf tried to come out.
Aris ran his fingers along his mate’s swollen belly, where his hatchling was sleeping. “It’s thick. You haven’t been touching yourself either, have you?”
“Not the same without you.”
Aris stopped smiling. He stared at his mate, hardly able to believe the gut-wrenching thing that had just come out of his mouth.
The worst part about it was that Conner didn’t look like he’d said it to try and punish Aris. He was just stating a fact.
Aris had never been more sorry for his own stupidity in all his life.
He leaned down and kissed his lover on the mouth. Gently this time. Their tongues barely touched, but somehow the kiss was sweeter for it.
Aris vowed he was never going to be that stupid again.
“Are you ready?” Conner asked when they finished with their make-out session, as if it was Aris who had something to get ready for.
Maybe he did. When he did this, it was going to be the sign he needed that Conner really was all right, and that Aris had no reason to be avoiding him.
“Yeah,” Aris said, nodding his head.
They kissed some more. There was always something calming about a nice, satisfying necking. Aris especially needed it, needed to feel the softness of those lips against his, before he reached over to grab for where they kept their lube.
Conner was still stretched from their last time together, but very likely wasn’t still lubricated after he’d cleaned up. Aris still wanted to make sure that everything would be just right anyway as he squirted some more lube onto his hand, coated his fingers, and then used his fingertips to circle and tease around Conner’s pucker.
He pushed inside. Conner inhaled a deep breath that had Aris panicking like the mob running away in every single Godzilla movie, but then that deep breath turned into a sigh, and Aris knew he had nothing to worry about.
He pushed in deeper, watching as his fingers vanished inside of Conner’s body. Aris hooked his fingers and found that sweet spot he’d memorized a long time ago.
Conner gasped, and his dick jumped. “Fuck, right there.”
“That’s exactly where I’m gonna be, baby,” Aris said, his confidence in what he was doing, and how much his mate could take, growing with every passing second. “I’ve been thinking about nothing but your sweet ass for hours. I’ve hated holding back, believe me, I did. Now you’re mine for the taking.”
Conner panted some more, and those bright blue eyes on Aris were wide, his mouth in the shape of an O.
Aris was pretty sure there was a romantic song somewhere that would describe what he was seeing perfectly. It was that intense.
Aris removed his fingers and grabbed onto Conner’s hands as he held them out, their fingers laced together. Aris lifted them above his mate’s head as their mouths came back together. The kissing was worthy of a love song, a romance novel, everything. All that and so much more, and it was even better when he lined up the head of his cock and thrust it forward, letting Conner’s body swallow him up into that tight, warm space.
The sigh Conner let out solidified it. This had been long overdue.
Conner’s eyes were wide open, and he watched the ceiling until Aris was balls deep inside of that space before he looked up at him.
“Don’t go away this time,” he said.
Aris shook his head. “I won’t,” he said, and then he thrust his hips forward.
Conner bit his lips together and moaned. “You promise?” he asked.
“I promise,” Aris said. And then he really started to move.