[Siren Publishing: The Lynn Hagen ManLove Collection: Contemporary, Alternative, Paranormal, Shape-shifters, Romantic Suspense, MM, HEA]
Stanton grew up with cold and aloof parents. That’s why he loves hanging around his three best friends. But when they move out, leaving Stanton in the big house by himself, he’s completely miserable. Until one of the O’Brien men starts coming around. Stanton doesn’t know why Nomad is there, and the guy isn’t telling him, either. Desperate to make ends meet, Nomad offers a solution Stanton can’t resist. If only he knew what troubles the guy brought with him.
Six years ago Nomad was kidnapped and brutalized by some covert company who had found out that panther shifters existed. He only knew them as The Company. When he flees California after teaching his brother’s stalker a lesson, Nomad knows eyes were on him. He needs a place to lie low, so he starts hanging around Stanton’s home. Little did he know that Stanton is his mate, and that trouble is right on their heels.
Lynn Hagen is a Siren-exclusive author.
“Come on, Buttercup.” Stanton stood in the backyard and waited for the dog to do his business. He wished he had the magic touch like Nomad had. He’d be inside already.
He didn’t like living alone. That was one reason he’d started hanging out with his friends. His parents’ house had felt cold and lonely whenever they went on one of their many trips. And Stanton was back to living by himself because his friends now lived with their mates.
“Life truly sucks,” Stanton said to Buttercup, who kept walking around the backyard to sniff out a place to piddle. “If I wanted to live by myself, I would’ve never moved out of my mom and dad’s house.”
That was another reason why he’d agreed to keep Buttercup. The dog was a total terror, but at least he was company.
Stanton took a seat on one of the plastic lawn chairs with a slight crack in one leg and pulled out his phone. He texted Stevie to see what his friend was doing. When Stevie didn’t text him back, he tried Horace and then Layne.
Not a single reply.
Stanton considered calling his mom. He couldn’t afford the two-thousand-square-foot house by himself. The rent and utilities were killing him.
He’d told his parents that he hadn’t wanted their handouts, that he could stand on his own two feet. But that was before his roommates had ditched him.
His electric bill was overdue, and the water company was threatening to cut off his service. Stanton could’ve asked his friends for some bill money, but his pride wouldn’t let him. Besides, they didn’t owe him a thing. He hadn’t thrown a fit when they’d moved out one by one, hadn’t protested that living here on his own was too much of a burden.
He’d just wished them luck and kept his worries to himself. Stanton needed to learn how to speak up for himself more often. The one and only time he’d done it was when he’d told his parents that he didn’t need their handouts anymore. And now he was regretting it since he was so far behind with his bills.
Sometimes being a grownup and having responsibility truly sucked.
Buttercup started barking at a tree. He did that from time to time when he spotted a squirrel. But it was late at night, and it could’ve been a raccoon, too. Those were nasty little buggers that Stanton was afraid of.
“Leave the critters alone,” he hollered. “Are you done taking care of your business yet?”
He got up and crossed the lawn, looking up at the tree branches to see what the dog was going crazy over. Stanton’s heart stuttered when he spotted two glowing eyes, like when a cat looked your way in the dark.
But those eyes didn’t belong to a raccoon. They were too bright, too yellow, and Stanton saw an outline of something big perched on the branch. He reached down to grab Buttercup so he could run into the house, but the dog dodged him and raced around the tree, still barking his idiot head off.
“Buttercup, if you don’t come here, I’m leaving you to whatever that is.” He wanted to run, wanted to race away, but he couldn’t leave a defenseless dog to be eaten.
Stanton backed away when he heard a rumbling purr. The backyard was bathed in darkness, and the only thing helping him see was the glow of the moonlight.
“Buttercup!” He stomped his foot. “Come here, now!”
Stanton slid his hands up and down his arms. It was early November, and the nights were chilly. He should’ve worn a sweater, but his chills weren’t just from the nip in the air. He was terrified those eyes belonged to something dangerous.
The branch tilted downward with the weight of the animal. Stanton gasped when a black panther landed a few feet from him, sitting on its haunches. Buttercup ran over and yapped, circling the cat. There was only one person who made the dog this excited.
“What’re you doing here?”
Nomad intimidated Stanton, just like he intimidated everyone else. The guy was reserved, always watching intently, never saying too much. He looked like he breathed pain, and Stanton didn’t want to find out if that was true.
The panther gave a low yowl, and Buttercup quieted, taking a seat right next to the deadly feline like they were best buddies. That was something Stanton didn’t understand. The dog growled at Nomad’s brothers, and they were panthers, too.
But with Nomad, it was as if Buttercup wanted to be his best friend.
“Is there a reason you’re here?” Stanton eyed the back door, ready to haul ass if he had to. “Is something wrong with one of my friends?”
Horace and Stevie were close to their delivery dates. Stanton worried for them. He had no clue how a guy delivered a baby, and honestly, he didn’t want to know. But what if something had gone wrong? Was that why no one had texted him back? Had one of the O’Brien men sent Nomad to fetch him?
“Let me grab my keys and we can go.” Stanton turned and started toward the house but stopped when a deep, sultry voice spoke from behind him.
“Everyone is fine.”
Stanton spun back around and nearly fell on his ass. Lord have mercy! Nomad was completely naked, and so damn gorgeous that Stanton drank in every last inch of him, unashamed that he was outright gawking.
“Then why are you here?” Stanton would be able to focus better if he could stop staring at Nomad’s junk for five seconds. All he could imagine was walking over, dropping to his knees, and wrapping his lips around that fat cock. The thought made him shiver and suck in a short, shallow breath.
He just bet that Nomad’s cock tasted like heaven, and Stanton was dying to find out.
Nomad jerked his head to the left, narrowed his eyes, and shifted back into his cat before taking off.
“Wait!” Stanton took a step forward, but the guy was already gone. He had no idea why Nomad had been there in the first place, but now he wouldn’t get any answers.
Stanton had to know the risk he was taking by coming out here. Nomad stayed in a crouch, ready to run if he had to. But he was so damn tired from his earlier run, from fighting against his mate’s scent, from staying one step ahead of The Company.
All Nomad wanted to do was rest, to slow down long enough so he didn’t have to look over his shoulder or keep his guard up. For once all he wanted to do was relax. Really relax without any kind of worry.
“You need to get away from me,” he warned. “I won’t be able to hold back much longer if you stay near me.”
“I don’t want to leave you alone,” Stanton argued.
Nomad grabbed Stanton so fast that he even surprised himself. “I’ll bite you. Do you understand what that means, the ramifications of what my bite will do to you?”
“Are you hurt?” Stanton reached up and pulled a few small twigs from Nomad’s hair.
Why wasn’t the human heeding Nomad’s warning? Why wasn’t he running back to the bedroom and slamming the door? Nomad swallowed, staring at his mate’s shoulder where he wanted to sink his canines. His dick hardened, and since he was still naked, there was no hiding his arousal.
“Go,” Nomad said, his voice breaking on that one word. His resolve was cracking, and soon he wouldn’t be able to stop himself.
“Will it hurt?”
Nomad shook his head, trying to understand the question as his mind slowly sank into a fog. “What?”
“The bite. Will it hurt?”
Nomad barely held on to his senses. He shook his head, trying to clear the fog, but it just kept getting thicker. “You’ll get pregnant. You already said you didn’t want that.”
“I can’t escape this, can I? And it’s obvious you’re in pain. I won’t stop emitting these weird pheromones, and you won’t stop wanting to bite me,” Stanton said. “I figure we can keep fighting against this, or make our lives easier and do this.”
As unfocused as Nomad was, as badly as he was fighting against his natural instincts, he snorted. “Easier? This will complicate the hell out of things.”
Stanton pulled out of Nomad’s grip and yanked his T-shirt over his head. “I’ve pretty much been alone all my life. You’re alone, too, so you know how I feel. If this is gonna happen, I’d rather it be with you.” Stanton braced himself, peeking out of one eye while closing the other. “Do it before I chicken out.”
The fog won, and Nomad struck. He sank his canines deep into Stanton’s shoulder as he took his mate down to the floor. As the haze cleared, Nomad realized Stanton was squirming beneath him, gasping as he worked his boxers down his leg.
“Oh god. Fuck me, please.”
Nomad pulled his canines free and nuzzled Stanton’s neck, inhaling his sweet scent as he grabbed Stanton’s thighs, wrapping his mate’s legs around his waist. He lined his cock up and let his natural lube do its work.
Stanton writhed beneath him, hardening Nomad’s cock further. He pressed a hand next to Stanton’s head, looking down into his eyes. “Why?” he asked as he pressed the head of his shaft into his mate’s tight, hot body.
Nomad clenched his jaw, forcing himself to take this slow. He couldn’t understand why Stanton had given in but was so damn thankful he had.
“I already told you.” Stanton grabbed at him, his nails scraping along Nomad’s back. “I want it to be you.”
“You may come to regret that decision.” Nomad hoped not. His life had already been hell, and he just wanted a small slice of happiness. He breathed in and out slowly, calming his racing heart. Stanton looked up at him with so much trust in his eyes that Nomad had to do this right, to give his mate what he deserved and not rush through this.
“Don’t stop.” Stanton gasped as he wiggled under Nomad. “Keep moving.”
“Anything you want, my love.” Nomad slid his arms under Stanton and pulled him closer as he thrust his cock until he was buried in his mate’s body.
Stanton whimpered as he clung to Nomad. He tossed his head and arched his back, his nails still sliding down Nomad’s back. Nomad had been with his fair share of men, but none had enthralled him the way Stanton did.
The way his eyes rolled. The way tiny breaths escaped his lips. The way he held on to Nomad. He saw himself falling for this small slip of a human.
Nomad bent and probed Stanton’s mouth with his tongue. His mate’s lips parted, and their kiss deepened as Nomad thrust his hips back and forth, groaning at the hot pleasure wrapped around his cock.
This was the last thing he needed to be doing. Nomad knew the risks, knew Stanton could get pregnant, and that truly would complicate things, but there wasn’t a force on earth that could’ve stopped him from taking what his mate had so freely offered.
Nomad was just a man, and the temptation had been too great. A purr rumbled through him, vibrating in his chest as he sank his cock into Stanton’s tight ass.
He could no more deny his mate when Stanton had begged so prettily than he could’ve denied his lungs the oxygen they desperately needed.
“More.” Stanton shoved at Nomad’s chest until Nomad pulled all the way out. He leaned back as he watched his mate flip to his hands and knees and present his ass.
Nomad drove back in, gripping Stanton’s hips as he pounded into the soft and yielding flesh. His canines were still elongated, but Nomad wanted to draw this out for as long as he could before he struck again.
He kissed Stanton’s spine, tracing his tongue along his mate’s bare shoulder. Nomad laid his hands over Stanton’s then entwined their fingers together. He kicked his mate’s legs farther apart and set up a punishing pace.
“Fuck yes!” Stanton lowered his shoulders, which jutted his ass farther into the air. He wailed his pleasure as the sound of skin connecting echoed in the room.
Sweat beaded on Nomad’s forehead. He wiped it away with his shoulder.
“Oh my god,” Stanton panted. “I haven’t had sex in ages, and you’re blowing my mind.”
Nomad didn’t want to hear about his mate’s past lovers. He snarled and nipped Stanton on his shoulder.
Stanton laughed. “Sorry. I’m sure you didn’t want to know that.”
“Mine,” Nomad snarled. “My mate.”
He wasn’t sure if Stanton knew what that meant, but he didn’t ask as he pistoned into his body. He pulled one hand from his mate’s and reached around, grabbing Stanton’s bobbing cock.