[Siren Publishing: The Lynn Hagen ManLove Collection: Erotic Romance, Contemporary, Alternative, Paranormal, Shape-shifters, Romantic Suspense, MM, HEA]
Payton loathed Christmas. He wasn’t a scrooge, but try growing up with his parents, who argued nonstop, and the holidays were torture. Add to the fact that he’d just been released from the hospital because he was shot twice in the back, and Christmas could kick dirt. When his cat gets trapped in a brick tomb, Payton is desperate to get him out. He just hadn’t expected Mr. Hottie to come to the rescue or for the hunk to save his Christmas spirit.
Miller had no idea he would find his mate when he went on a late-night emergency call. He just didn’t expect his mate to be so stubborn. Payton refused to get into the holiday cheer, and worse, he and his cousin witness a murder. Now Miller’s only priority is to keep Payton safe, while trying to convince him that Christmas can be a wondrous time of year.
Lynn Hagen is a Siren-exclusive author.
Never in Miller’s life had he gotten an emergency call to get an animal out of a brick porch. This was a first for him, and Miller was more than curious to know how it had happened in the first place.
He pulled his work truck into the driveway of a white house with dark green trim. The front lawn could barely be thought of as a yard considering how small it was, and there was a pine tree smack-dab in the middle of the grass, making the yard seem even smaller.
In the driveway, Miller parked behind a silver two-door sedan. He saw someone standing by the side door, rubbing his arms as he stared right at him.
“Okay, Loki, stay put while I help this poor guy out.” He patted his German shepherd on the head. “I shouldn’t be too long, and then I’ll take you for a run afterward.”
Loki wagged his tail, his tongue sticking out the side of his mouth.
Miller got out and walked toward the waiting man. Fuck, Russell hadn’t told him how gorgeous the guy was. “Hi, I’m Miller.”
He stuck his hand out, and the guy shook it. Even in the cold the stranger’s hand was silky soft. Miller didn’t want to let it go. The stranger had red hair, jade-green eyes, and was short and slim, simply perfect, but Miller had to remain professional. This was a service call, not a booty call.
“I’m Payton.” The sexy redhead pointed to his steps. “I just had these repaired, and Bilbo must have gotten inside before they were sealed. Can you hear him?”
Payton slapped his hand on the stone step, as if that was the cat’s cue to meow, which it did, and loudly.
“Holy shit.” Miller rubbed his jaw as he stared wide-eyed. “There really is a cat in there.”
“That’s what I tried to tell the 911 operator, but she thought I was on drugs.” He pointed to the top step. “You can probably pop that slab without causing too much damage. But if it comes down to saving the steps or saving my furball, then get a sledgehammer.”
“Why did the operator think you were on drugs?” Miller’s gaze kept bouncing from Payton to the steps where he heard the mournful cries.
“Because I kept calling my cat by his name, Bilbo Baggins, and I might have forgotten to mention that it was a cat instead of a character.”
Miller grinned. “Now I’m getting the bigger picture. Let me get a crowbar from my truck. I’ll try my best not to damage anything.”
The cold wind blew as Miller dug through his toolbox, coming away with what he’d been looking for. He also grabbed a mallet before returning. From the phone call he’d gotten from Russell, this was one of Russell’s projects, and he’d brought along his new hire. Miller wasn’t sure how long Hank would last considering the guy was slow, not that knowledgeable when it came to this kind of work, and seemed to have no desire to work.
Miller still wasn’t sure why Russell had hired the guy in the first place.
“You might want to step back, handsome. I don’t want you getting hurt.” Unable to help himself, Miller winked at him. “I’ll have Bilbo Baggins free in no time.”
“Really?” Payton had a small blanket in his hands, which he clutched to his chest. “Oh my god, you’re a lifesaver.”
Miller tucked the sharp, flat end of the crowbar right under the lip of the top step. If he could pop the concrete like a lid without damaging it, then he would be happy and could save Payton from having to pay to have the step replaced.
He’d lifted his arm that held the mallet, ready to swing, when the wind changed course, carrying Payton’s scent to him.
His jaguar went completely nuts, making him almost drop the mallet. Fresh-baked bread and peppermints filled his nostrils. He paused and took a hard look at the redhead with pretty green eyes.
His heart quickened, as his jaguar was still trying to get free to get to Payton. Fucking hell. Miller was staring right at his mate.
There was no other explanation for his cat going apeshit and the amazing scent that infiltrated his lungs. Who knew that he would find his mate on a late-night cat rescue call? He was surprised that he’d lived in Maple Grove for a year and the two had never run into each other before now. It wasn’t as if this town was that big.
“Is something wrong?” Payton frowned. “Do you need me to help?”
Miller cleared his throat. “No problem. Let’s get Bilbo out of there and back into your arms.”
Payton laid a hand on Miller’s arm, and it felt warm against him, even with barriers and the cold wind. His touch also sent Miller’s body into overdrive. “Thank you so much for doing this for me.”
With a nod, Miller waited until Payton backed up and then swung the mallet. On the first try the step “popped” like a lid on a Pringles can, allowing Miller to set his tools aside and remove the slab.
“Oh my.” Payton leaned in closer. “I had no idea it went so deep under there. Look, the space even goes around a corner.”
“See if your cat will come when you call it.” Because Miller’s cat sure as shit wanted to rub all over Payton. His skin felt tight, and he was determined not to let his canines descend. As hard as Miller fought not to think about it, images of Payton bent over a couch, his ass exposed, plagued Miller’s mind.
It was the pull, that million-year-old evolutionary drive that had Miller hard and needy. Thank fuck he had some self-control, or he would have been all over Payton by now.
“Bilbo,” Payton said in a gentle voice. He made a kissing sound that wasn’t helping Miller’s partial erection. “Come here, you bad boy. Come to daddy.”
Nothing. Not even a meow. At least not from Bilbo. Miller’s jaguar was ready to “come to daddy” and make Payton the one who purred as he… Shit, he needed to stop thinking about seducing the guy while Payton was trying to rescue his pet.
Miller pointed toward the ceiling when they walked through the kitchen archway. Payton stopped and looked upward before he felt his cheeks catch fire. He hadn’t even realized his mother had hung one of those.
“Mistletoe,” Miller said. “You know what that means.” He held his hands up, palms out. “Hey, I don’t make the rules, but we have to follow them.”
Payton saw right past his bullshit, but who was he to not honor the tradition? Besides, he was dying to kiss Miller again. The kiss they’d shared at his side door earlier hadn’t been long enough. But Miller had been right. He’d given something for Payton to think about all day, and now Payton was dying to pick up where they’d left off.
“Well, I mean, we can’t break the Christmas law.” Payton bit his lower lip. “I still can’t believe my mom did this.”
“No, I guess we can’t, or we’ll be hardened criminals, forever fated to be on Santa’s naughty list.”
“God forbid.” Payton liked the teasing, the hunger in Miller’s eyes, and the way he moved even closer, as if waiting for Payton’s permission. And Miller had it, in spades. “Kiss me.”
Miller glided his strong hands over Payton’s sides and moved them around until he cupped Payton’s ass. He pulled Payton close, and their cocks nearly aligned as Miller lowered his head and kissed along Payton’s jaw.
“What about my lips?” Payton pressed his hands against Miller’s chest but didn’t take the first step. In truth, this was what Payton craved. The closeness, the touching, kissing, and what was certain to come next. He needed to lose himself in something other than his thoughts, in something other than his screwed-up family and the holidays.
In something other than the thought that, if they had sex, Miller would see the scars left behind from those bullets that had torn through Payton’s body, leaving him bloody on Pyke’s floor, where Payton thought for sure he was dead.
He quickly pushed those thoughts away but wasn’t foolish enough to think that Miller would really stick around. No one in their right mind would. Payton’s dad had embarrassed them both, and Payton suspected the only reason Miller was still there was to get laid.
Payton should be offended, but he wasn’t. Why not enjoy the guy’s amazing body before Miller kicked him to the curb?
And why the fuck did that thought depress the hell out of him?
He moaned as he let his head fall to the side, Miller kissing and licking at his jaw. His lips glided along Payton’s neck as his hands kneaded Payton’s ass.
“I’m saving the best for last.”
Miller slid his hand down the front of Payton’s jeans. He curled it around Payton’s cock and ran it up and down Payton’s hard length, making Payton hiss as he punched his hips forward, fucking Miller’s hand while wishing they were both naked.
Miller took his lips in a kiss that made Payton’s toes curl. He moved until he had Payton against the wall, their tongues tangling, Miller’s hand working magic on Payton’s dick, his other hand slowly sliding toward Payton’s aching hole.
“Never wanted someone so badly in my life,” Miller confessed against Payton’s lips.
“Bet you say that to all the guys you’ve seduced.”
Miller pulled back and stared deep into Payton’s eyes. “I’m not playing any games, Apple Pie.”
Miller sounded so damn serious that, for a moment, Payton actually believed him. But guys said whatever they had to in order to get laid, and Miller was no exception. Payton would play along, only because he wanted this as badly as Miller did.
“Then take me to bed, handsome. Your apple pie is hungry for you.”
Miller’s nostrils flared as he picked Payton up and carried him down the hall, Payton throwing his head back and laughing.
“Shit, which room is your bedroom?” Miller looked around then headed for the bathroom.
Payton shook his head. “Last door on the right.”
Miller walked through the door and dropped Payton onto the bed, crawling in next to him and kissing along Payton’s jaw. The guy said something about them needing to talk first, but Payton was so damn horny that all he heard was, “Yada, yada, yada.”
Payton flipped to his hands and knees and crawled toward Miller. “Fuck me.”
When Miller scooted back, Payton feared the guy had changed his mind.
He carded his hand through his short dark hair and said, “We really do need to talk.”
Fuck talking. The only noises Payton wanted to hear were deep moans and skin slapping. He couldn’t get his brain to concentrate on anything else.
Payton dipped his head into Miller’s lap and mouthed the outline of the man’s rigid cock. “Let me suck you.”
Miller was off the bed, practically ripping his clothes off. Payton followed suit, forgetting what Miller had said seconds before. He stroked himself as he watched his soon-to-be lover remove his final piece of clothing, and damn if every inch Miller revealed wasn’t magnificent.
Ripped muscles flexed with every move. His biceps were the size of grapefruits, and his tanned skin made Payton’s body pulse harder with need.
“Now what was that you wanted to do to me?”
Miller dipped his head and ran his tongue under Payton’s ear, making Payton shiver where he stood. The musky and masculine scent of Miller filled Payton’s lungs and left him panting for more.
“I want to suck you off.”