“Wait.” Woody dashed after the others, but as an Omega, he wasn’t physically as strong as the other wolves. He could see them in a haze far in front of him, and he barely kept pace.
Nonetheless, he reached the edge of their territory where the freeway twisted and turned, arriving a mere heartbeat or two after the others. The wolves had formed a semicircle, an aggressive behavior every shifter identified with ease.
“You’re trespassing, gentlemen. Who are you?” Max asked, stepping out of the line to show his highest rank in the pack.
Woody sidestepped the others to see who their Alpha was addressing, staying out of the intruders’ field of vision, in the shadow of the pines and firs.
Two men stood by the side of the road, one scowling and menacing, the other trying to push to the front, but the first man prevented him by extending his arms to his sides.
Were they a couple? Woody frowned on instinct, though he couldn’t name said feeling if he had tried.
The man was big in every respect. Tall and imposing, brawny without being stocky, he had shoulder-length brown hair and a brown beard that were both awfully shaggy, deep brown eyes under bushy eyebrows, and thin lips twisted into a snarl. He wore dirty, faded, blue jeans, big boots, and a blue plaid shirt over a white T-shirt.
“None of your business, boy,” the man growled at Max, his voice low and rumbling in a way that vibrated in Woody’s gut. “We’re just passing through. This here is a freeway, ain’t it?”
Max nodded. “It is. That’s where the concrete is. But where you’re standing? That’s our land, friend.”
The man grunted. “Should I have guessed that from the dirt?”
“Plenty of scent markings around to warn errant shifters, friend.” Max took another step forward. “So I ask again, who are you and why are you here?”
“None of your fucking business, mutt,” the guy behind him shouted.
Woody sniffed the wind. The guy wasn’t a grown man, but actually a teenage boy, and Woody estimated his age to be in the late teens. He was also a coywolf. Half-wolf, half-coyote shifters of their kind were extremely rare. He had ruffled, blond hair, a week’s worth of stubble around full lips, dirty and ripped clothes, and bright blue eyes that kept flashing yellow. Clearly, he wasn’t good at controlling his shifting abilities yet.
Max smiled lopsidedly. “This one needs a muzzle.”
The boy tried to run at Max, but the bigger man stopped him with a simple grip around his arm. “Takes one to know one, it seems.”
Woody smiled. The guy had balls. Not many shifters of any species dared to challenge an Alpha, verbally or otherwise.
He also now had a strong clue as to where the amazing scent came from. It drifted to his nose straight from the big man, who was a bear shifter. Gruff and succinct, he oozed power that gave Woody an untimely hard-on.
But the men were too locked into battle mode to notice the odor of arousal.
“Take care, bear,” Max growled. “You’re on our land now. No sloths here to save you from an altercation.”
The big bear of a man bared his teeth as he came forward, his hands fisting at his sides. “I need no stinking sloths to rip your fangs out of your skull, doggy, and wear them around my neck as good luck charms.”
Tension mounted, and Woody knew a fight was imminent.
He rushed between the warring factions and raised his hands. “Wait. Stop.” In answer to Max’s half-bewildered, half-infuriated glare, Woody replied respectfully, “Please forgive me, my Alpha. But this man”—he gestured toward the big man—“is my mate. I can sense it.”
Max blinked, relaxed, and nodded. “I see. In that case…he is welcome on our land.”
Woody turned around to find the bear shifter staring at him, glowering. Definitely not a warm welcome then. Wasn’t the man overjoyed at being united with his mate?
“Hi.” Woody smiled enthusiastically and waved. “I’m Woody Fry, your mate.” He took a glimpse at the boy behind him and extended a hand. “And you two are…?”
Neither of the men moved an inch, just kept frowning and glaring at Woody, who started to feel quite nervous and unwanted.
“He’s not worth our time, Lyss,” the young man said with disdain, squeezing the big man’s shoulder. “They would have killed us if you weren’t that guy’s future sex slave. They’re bad, just like…” He didn’t finish his sentence but glanced at the big bear of a man with something like concern in his eyes.
“Lyss? Is that your name?” Woody moved closer, wanting to find out what the man’s big paws felt like against his own skin, undoubtedly rough and calloused. “Nice to meet you.”
“Buzz off, dickwad.” The young man shoved Woody hard on the chest, forcing him to stagger backward. “We don’t need you. Do we, Lyss?”
The pack members behind Woody came to his defense. “That was a mistake, buddy,” Silas growled out, making an attempt to grab the teen’s shirt to punch his lights out.
Woody halted him by pushing him back, his hands on Silas’s chest. “Please, no. I can settle this on my own. My Alpha, please give me a chance.”
Max narrowed his eyes with suspicion, seemingly unconvinced about Woody’s ability to handle the situation. But he finally nodded. “Fine.” Then he pointed a finger at the young man. “But you? Threaten any of my pack members again, and I’ll rip your throat out.”
The bear shifter stepped nose to nose with Max, snarling. “Try it, doggy, and it’ll be the last thing you ever do.”
Lyss was well aware he was losing not only the battle, but also the war. Woody was wearing him down. His constant upbeat attitude and sexy resilience made it hard for Lyss to find an even half-decent argument.
Hard being the operative word.
And goddammit, but Woody felt perfect in his arms—short, slender, and nubile, agile, limber, and…everything. Lyss’s self-control was fading fast. He rutted against Woody like an animal in heat, needing this connection more than anything in the world. The craving scared him because in his head, a flurry of counterarguments emerged from the logical part of his brain.
But those objections were mere whispers next to the roar of lust raging through Lyss’s veins, thundering in his chest, drumming in his ears, and throbbing in his crotch. His cock had never been this hard. Fuck, Lyss could have cut diamonds with his dick.
Woody giggled, as though it were all fun and games, and pulled Lyss back down for the sweetest damn kiss Lyss had ever had the pleasure of experiencing. No wonder the mating call was so hard to resist if this was the level of delight to be had. And they hadn’t even gone past first base, for fuck’s sake.
“Oh, Lyss, so good,” Woody murmured hotly, his breath fanning against Lyss’s face, the scent like an aerosol of ambrosia. Lyss couldn’t get enough, inhaling deeply. His lungs filled with a perfume unlike any he’d ever sensed, the most delicious odor in existence, driving him to insanity.
“Off.” His growl only made Woody laugh and squirm, as if Lyss were tickling him and his funny bone. Damn that delightful wolf of his.
Because that was what Woody was. The perfect match for Lyss. A good, kind, positive, little Omega who didn’t take any shit from his bigger, bitter, rude, and pessimistic bear. They really did belong together, like…peanut butter and jelly, peaches and cream, or milk and honey.
Lyss didn’t just admit defeat. He plunged straight into the burgeoning romance with his beautiful, exuberant mate.
With sound and fury, he tore off Woody’s T-shirt, yanked off his jeans, and ripped his underwear to shreds. All the while Woody was giggling like mad. Lyss snarled and bared his fangs, only to be greeted by Woody’s ludicrous kissy-face.
Lyss straightened to sit on his haunches, pulled off his flannel shirt, popped open the top buttons of his jeans fly, fished out his hot, hard cock, and then lifted Woody back into his lap. Their lips smashed together, the taste of blood there one minute, gone the next as their unique flavors took center stage. Woody’s muffled laughter quickly morphed into moans, and Lyss considered that a win and a big success.
“Do you have—” Lyss started to ask in between smooches.
“Uh-huh.” Woody refused to stop the kiss even for a second, his tongue seemingly all over the place at once. Instead, he waved indistinctly in the direction of the coffee table that Lyss had shoved aside to make room on the floor.
Blindly fumbling toward the offending piece of furniture, Lyss learned that the coffee table had thin drawers underneath. He yanked the closest open, a sharp creak echoing in the room, and groped the contents from an awkward angle. His nimble fingers came across a small box and a tube of something, so he pulled them out.
“Oh, thank God,” Lyss muttered after tearing his mouth away from Woody and finally being able to see that he’d actually found a tube of lube and a box of condoms. Wait, condoms? He looked down at Woody, who kept touching Lyss’s muscular, hairy chest like a cat with a scratching post. “Why do you have these?” He brandished the condom box between them.
Woody blinked, his mind clearly far away—or below the belt anyway. Then he snorted. “Why do you think? Duh. I’m not a virgin. I’ve had sex with loads of guys.”
Lyss’s cheeks heated at the thought of his mate getting it on with some other man. “You will never—”
“Why would I stray now that I have you?” Woody rolled his eyes, plucked the blue box out of Lyss’s hands, and tossed it haphazardly over his shoulder where it landed with a noisy thud. “So, you happy now?”
“Ecstatic,” Lyss growled in reply and crushed their mouths together, plastering his body over Woody’s smaller frame. Naked skin touched naked skin. Woody’s dick burned against Lyss’s cooler belly and smeared hot, sticky strands of pre-cum as their bodies writhed in unison.
Thrashing about, Woody was a ravenous wolf devouring its fresh meal. Lyss felt like he was being consumed. And holy fuck, he loved it. He ground himself against his mate, sparking an inferno within, a thirst only Woody’s juices could quench.
Unable to deny his need any longer, Lyss moved from Woody’s lips to suck up a mark on his neck, licking to soothe the sting. Woody whimpered. Lyss moved lower and captured one of Woody’s nipples into his mouth, the heated peak tender and silky. He licked around the nub, softly sucking on it, even scraping his teeth across its shape. Woody let out a guttural groan, and he arched his back, trying to get closer to Lyss’s mouth.
“Oh. Oh. Oh. Nothing’s ever…please, Lyss. Don’t stop.” Woody’s begging came with a shaky voice, almost a sob.
Lyss understood now why Randy had insisted Lyss not abandon his mate so quickly and without thinking twice. No coupling had ever felt so sublime, so heavenly and pure, so sensual and dirty. It was perfect. Their animal spirit guides, the powers that had granted a special few humans to be a bridge between two worlds, apparently had their magical knowledge down like a boss. Lyss really should stop being so surprised.
“Lyss, get in me, please. I can’t take much more.” Woody kept panting and squirming, his skin blazing hot, his cock leaking profusely, and his husky voice almost gone completely.