Ovram loves his job as the tech guy for World of Aquatica…usually. The only problem is that hiding behind a computer monitor doesn’t give him much of a chance to meet new people. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself drooling over a human even through his screen. Walking into the room the man had occupied reveals why—Sergeant Louis Ferrara is his mate. Too bad the soldier was at their marine park as part of an investigation into a vampire that their shifter pod was hiding—not that Louis knows Price is a vampire.
That means Ovram has to be patient, waiting until after the case is closed to approach Louis. It gives him time to research his human, discreetly delving into his history and military service. What Ovram finds leaves him confused about Fate’s thinking. They don’t have anything in common.
Can Ovram step out of his comfort zone enough to make a connection with his mate? Or will when Louis learns the truth of what had actually happened to Price drive too great a wedge between them?
He’s early. This is the day. Sit back and relax. Push your hair behind your right ear. You’ll do fine.
Reading the text from Graham, Ovram Slingman took a deep breath. His nerves screamed within him even as his animal rumbled with excitement. Ovram wished he could feel as eager as the Steller’s sea lion he shared his psyche with.
Except, Ovram didn’t. As a technology expert and hacker, he’d learned far more about the man Fate had deemed his mate than he probably should have without actually truly meeting him—Sergeant Louis Ferrara. The gorgeous golden-brown-skinned man stood six-foot-two, worked in the military police, and had no family. Ovram longed to tease his palms over his smooth, muscular flesh as well as his shortly buzzed scalp. Thinking of peeling back the man’s uniform—Ovram had yet to see him not in it—he felt a rush of arousal surge through him.
Doing as Graham had urged, Ovram tucked his hair behind his right ear and pushed away from the table. He sat up and straightened his shoulders, reminding himself not to slouch—a bad habit he’d picked up due to all the time he spent in front of a computer. As Ovram tapped his forefinger against his paper coffee cup restlessly, he reminded himself of what made him so nervous.
Louis was an adrenaline junkie.
Ovram had found receipts where he paid for skydiving, hang gliding, bungee jumping, and even the purchase of a wingsuit.
A shifter’s natural instinct was to keep their mate safe. Ovram had no idea how he could do that if his human was constantly putting himself into dangerous situations. On top of that, Ovram hated heights. As a Steller’s sea lion shifter, he much preferred the safety of the water.
Nothing I found online shows that we have anything in common.
After all, Ovram loved sitting at home with a glass of wine in front of his computers. He was a homebody. Part of that stemmed from being a shifter. Ovram had to be careful of who he trusted outside of his pod-mates.
Ovram hardly even bothered heading out for sex. He could people watch via World of Aquatica’s security monitors—the shifter-run marine park where he worked—and find a good candidate to pick up for a quick romp. His success rate at spotting the right person was at eighty-seven percent and getting better.
Well, it was until I realized Louis Ferrara is my mate.
Louis had arrived at World of Aquatica with another member of the military police—Richard—to question Graham about his ex-team-member, Price. The male in question was actually a vampire, but they hadn’t known that. Instead, they’d wanted to bring Price in for questioning about dubious bloodwork.
When Ovram had spotted Louis through his computer screen, he’d just about swallowed his tongue. He hadn’t been certain he was his fated mate until a week later when he’d actually been able to scent him. Ovram had needed to wait even longer to meet the human, since they’d needed to create the ruse of Price’s death to get the military police to stop hunting him.
The jingle of the coffee shop’s door wasn’t what drew Ovram’s attention. Instead, it was the way Louis’s unique, masculine scent almost immediately overpowered the smell of coffee. Ovram’s mouth began to water, and he couldn’t help but eye Louis as he strode past his table toward the counter.
When Louis’s dark-eyed gaze cut Ovram’s way, he felt as if his heart skipped a beat. The dark-featured human kept walking, but his head turned to continue to look at him. Finally, Louis passed him, giving him a small smile before focusing on the barista.
Ovram tried to get his breathing steady even as his blood heated in his veins. Swallowing quickly, he managed to keep from drooling. Only his phone chiming reminded Ovram that he was staring.
Focusing on his phone, Ovram saw a text from Pisces.
Keep breathing, Ov. Just relax.
The man was a bottle-nosed dolphin and a tracker for the pod. Pisces was also taking a break from his normal duties at World of Aquatica—putting on a dolphin show at the marine park—and he was sitting a few tables away in the coffee shop, keeping an eye on Ovram.
Due to having known about his mate for weeks, Ovram’s animal had become increasingly volatile, and Pisces was there to keep him calm should anything upsetting happen.
“Hi, there. Mind if I join you?”
Ovram snapped his gaze upward and spotted Louis standing beside his table. His lips parted in surprise.
It finally happened. My mate stopped at my table.
Seeing Louis shift his weight as his brows began to furrow a little—along with the slight scent of disappointment teasing at Ovram’s nostrils—yanked Ovram out of his shock.
“Y-Yeah.” Ovram’s voice squeaked a little, and he fought against the heat threatening to rise into his cheeks. After clearing his throat, Ovram indicated the chair across from him. “Please. Help yourself.”
The tension eased from Louis’s scent as well as his features. His lips curved into a small smile, and he pulled out the chair to Ovram’s right instead of across from him. Louis even placed his forearms on the table, leaning closer.
“I hope you don’t think I’m being too forward, but I noticed you here the last few mornings,” Louis stated, blatantly sweeping his gaze over Ovram. He met his gaze and told him, “I came a little early today to see if I could catch you and say hi.” Then Louis held out his hand. “I’m Louis Ferrara.”
Ovram swallowed hard, excitement and uncertainty flooding him in equal measure. After a couple of seconds, he managed to unpeel his fingers from his coffee cup and place it in Louis’s. Tingles worked up his arm, causing the hairs there to stand on end.
“Hi,” Ovram murmured, forcing his voice to come out steady. “I’m Ovram Slingman.”