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Shades of Steele (MM)

Mercury Rising 2

Siren-BookStrand, Inc.

Heat Rating: SEXTREME
Word Count: 34,191
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[Siren Publishing: The Lynn Hagen ManLove Collection: Alternative Paranormal Romance, M/M, shape-shifter, werewolves, HEA]

All Stuart wants is Nick, the brooding bounty hunter at the agency Stuart works at. Unfortunately, any time Stuart is around Nick, he becomes sarcastic and sticks his foot in his mouth. He also knows Nick is the last person he needs. Stuart's life is already complicated enough. He was attacked two years ago, leaving his body riddled with scars. He's ashamed of the way he looks, and Stuart refuses to allow anyone to see them.

Nick is a jacked-in-the-head monster. A kill warrant waiting to happen. For the past two years he's had his sights set on the little receptionist, but he's always held back. He doesn't want to ruin Stuart's innocence with his jaded past. After all, who could love someone as broken as Nick?

When a savage leopard goes after Stuart, hell-bent on killing the male, Nick's dark side comes out, especially when he discovers Stuart is his mate.

 

Lynn Hagen is a Siren-exclusive author.

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Excerpt

 

STORY EXCERPT

 

As soon as Nick’s gaze landed on the slim human, his cock perked right the fuck up. He stood there for a moment, drinking in Stuart and swallowing him down. Stuart wasn’t what one would call handsome. He was…pretty. Blond hair, blue eyes, and a steal-your-heart smile.

He forgot about Tap as he walked to the bar. Stuart hadn’t noticed him yet. He was too busy talking with Rio. Nick bit back a snarl of jealousy when Stuart smiled. It was a genuine smile, not strained like it was when he smiled at Nick.

Nick dropped down onto a stool next to Rio. "You change careers?"

Stuart jerked as though startled. His pretty blue eyes snapped to Nick and the smile turned into a smirk. "Yep, I’m brushing up on my skills as a slutty bartender, but Rio refuses to be my guinea pig."

Nick’s anger hit the roof, but he kept it from leaking out as Rio spit the swallow of booze across the bar and then gaped at Stuart. The beta looked stunned. "Fuck if I turned you down. You never asked."

It was in Stuart’s best interest to stop joking with these clowns. If the human was serious, Nick would lose it. Stuart was innocent in Nick’s eyes and he wanted to keep it that way. The male wasn't a slut. He was a good guy. A nice guy—when he wasn’t spouting off at the mouth to Nick.

"I’ll volunteer," Landon said as a shit-eating grin surfaced. "We can practice right here or grab a room down the hall."

"He named me, fucker," Rio argued as he shoved his shoulder into his brother’s. "Go find your own slutty bartender."

Stuart’s eyes bugged. "Jeez, I was only kidding around."

It was the right answer.

"I wasn’t." Landon winked.

Nick curled his fingers into fists. He ground his teeth and breathed deeply. "Don’t you two have something better to do?"

"Nope," Rio said. "No warrants. Got all the time in the world to woo Stuart."

These two had no clue how close Nick was to pulling his piece out and shooting them. Stuart’s gaze flashed to him before darting away. "If you want me to keep serving drinks, tone it down."

"You started it," Landon groused. "Can’t joke with a guy about being a slut and not mean it. Ain’t had sex in a week. I’m ready to throw Tap over that chair and fuck his hairy ass."

Tap raised an arm and flipped up his middle finger before going back to channel surfing.

Rio grinned. "I think Tap would slice your throat before you got anywhere near him."

Nick listened to the men, but his attention was fully focused on Stuart. If the human had been serious, Nick would have killed Rio and Landon. He rolled his shoulders, trying to calm down.

"What, nothing from the peanut gallery?" Stuart moved a step closer to Nick, but not close enough. It would never be close enough until Nick had the male squirming beneath him, crying out in pleasure.

The image made him pull his smokes out and light one. "Got nothing for you."

Was that disappointment in Stuart’s eyes? The human always had something smart to say, but Nick never thought Stuart actually enjoyed having tongue battles. The image of Stuart’s tongue battling made Nick even harder. His lips were plump, soft-looking, and damn if Nick didn’t want to feel them wrapped around his dick as he face-fucked Stuart.

"Those things will kill you." Stuart glared at the cigarette in Nick’s hand.

The side of Nick’s mouth curved into a smile. Was that concern in Stuart’s eyes? "Naw, they won’t. I’m a shape shifter. My lungs heal every time I abuse them."

Stuart crinkled his nose. "Well, they stink. You smell like an ashtray."

"Nick, Rio. My office. Now."

Nick turned to see Matt standing in the doorway, wearing a deep scowl. His alpha walked away just as Rio stood, then followed. Nick wasn’t finished talking with Stuart. In all honesty, he didn’t want to leave Landon alone with the human. The brother’s eyes hadn’t left the male since Stuart made that dumbass comment.

Something coiled inside Nick. If Landon tried anything, he’d beat him to a bloody pulp.

"Gotta hearing problem?" Matt barked.

"Better go," Stuart whispered, his eyes wide.

Stubbing out his cigarette, Nick slid from his stool. He glared at Landon, who only smiled before Nick stalked to Matt’s office.

"Close the door." Matt took a seat behind his desk. He looked even more tired than when they’d left the meeting with the leaders and there were worry lines around his eyes. Things were getting to his alpha. After closing the door, Nick sat.

"We can’t wait for the Consiglio or the next meeting with Alistair and the others. Just gotta a phone call about a dead body found down by the Lion’s Den. I need you two to get down there and find out what the cops know. If this was preternatural, we need to get that body back from the coroners and find out who did it."

"What about the other thing you needed me to do?" Nick asked.

"I’ll talk to Tap," he said. "This takes a front seat."

Nick was thankful that he finally had something to do, not the spy work, either. Something that put him on his bike and kept him busy on the streets. He hated sitting on his ass, feeling like a complete waste.

After leaving the office, he considered heading to the backroom to see what Stuart was doing and if Landon was still trying to talk him into one of the bedrooms, but Nick kept his feet pointing toward the exit.

Stuart wasn’t his.

Stuart didn’t want to be his.

Nick wasn't going to screw up the man’s life by trying to get with him. It was what it was and Nick would do well to forget the craziness he felt inside for the human.

 

ADULT EXCERPT

 

Stuart needed to end this before Nick got the wrong impression. Or was that the right impression since Stuart had wanted Nick since first laying eyes on him two years ago? No, he needed to stop this. He didn’t want to be another notch on Nick’s bedpost. He didn’t want this to go too far, for Nick to see his chewed-up body. Stuart wouldn’t be able to handle the rejection that would follow shortly afterward.

Unfortunately, all logic and reasoning fled when Nick ground Stuart’s hands into his erection. Nick was a slut. It was obvious what the man wanted from him. Stuart just couldn’t understand why he didn’t fight harder to pull his hand away, or put some space between their bodies.

Because despite all your protests, all your arguments of why the two of you shouldn’t be together, you want this more than your next breath.

Damn it. Sometimes Stuart truly hated that little voice inside his head. He hated it because he should listen, but he knew he would give in to it if given the chance with Nick. Not the flirty Nick, but the serious I-want-to-fuck-you-into-next-week Nick.

Stuart was also tired of being a virgin. He was twenty-two and still hadn’t had his world rocked. Truly pathetic. But did he really want Nick to be his first? Did he truly want Nick in the equation, period?

You know you do, so quit lying to yourself.

Oh, shut up!

God, now he was starting to argue with that little voice.

Knowing he was making a huge mistake and not caring, Stuart grabbed the outline and gave it a light squeeze. He swore he heard Nick growl and swore his own cock nearly burst with years of pent-up semen. He wrinkled his nose at his thoughts, but that didn’t stop him from squeezing Nick’s erection again.

The bike sped up even faster and then slowed, the uneven, vibrating rhythm rumbling underneath him. Stuart wasn’t sure what Nick was doing, but he knew exactly what he wanted the man to do…to him…right now. Nick hooked a right and drove down an access road through the woods. He pulled off into a cut and then stopped, planting his booted feet on the ground as he gripped the handles.

"Get off."

Stuart froze. Nick’s erection had told him the man enjoyed what Stuart had been doing. Was he pissed? Why would he tell Stuart to get off the bike? "You’re not leaving me out here in the middle of nowhere."

"Get. Off."

The tight growl in Nick’s tone made Stuart pushed up and off the seat. He nearly fell on his ass when his leg became caught on Nick’s hip, but Nick’s arm shot out and caught him.

"Get on."

Stuart was thoroughly confused. "But you just told me—"

"On the front." Nick yanked him closer with the hand still gripping Stuart’s arm. He almost tripped into Nick, but caught his footing. He didn’t understand what Nick wanted until the man scooted back, giving Stuart room to sit in front of him. With his heart hammering behind his ribs, Stuart climbed onto the seat, facing the man he’d lusted after for far too long.

Nick framed Stuart’s face with his hand and stared at him with those eerie dark eyes. The guy didn’t move and Stuart forgot how to breathe.

Nick’s eyelids had lowered until his eyes were mere slits. "You know we shouldn’t be doing this."

Stuart’s throat had gone bone-dry. He couldn’t manage to speak, so he nodded instead. His body was tight with need, his cock still hard, his heart still thumping so fast that Stuart thought it would thump right out of his chest. He curled his fingers into Nick’s leather jacket, pulling, wanting to close the gap between them.

Don’t do this. You’ll regret it later. Nick is no good for you and you won’t be able to deal with the rejection.

Stuart loosened his fingers. That voice was right. No matter how badly he wanted Nick, he would regret it later. The banter between them would no longer be innocent.

Like it was ever innocent to begin with.

Pulling back, Stuart started to dismount. He was stopped by a strong arm that wrapped around his waist, keeping him from moving away.

"I said we shouldn’t do this, not that we wouldn’t."

 Stuart had half a second to inhale before Nick’s lips descended on his. It wasn’t a soft kiss, slow, or gentle. It was fast, demanding, dominating. Nick cupped the back of Stuart’s head, slid his fingers through the strands, and then pulled. Stuart gasped at the sensation, the tingling, the pleasure it caused as he dropped his head backward. Nick sucked at his neck as he unfastened Stuart’s jeans with his other hand.

This was happening way too fast. Stuart wanted to tell Nick to slow down, but when his cock was freed and Nick had his fingers wrapped around his shaft, Stuart lost the ability to think. He lost the ability to do anything except lose himself in the fiery sensations racing through him.

Leaning his back into the handlebars, Stuart just felt, just let himself go.

Nick pulled him downward, closer, until he had no choice but to put his legs over Nick’s muscled thighs. Stuart’s hips rocked upward as Nick jerked him off.

"This is mine," Nick snarled. "I don’t care who you’ve been having sex with. That stops now."

The dangerous promise in Nick’s tone not only stunned Stuart, it honestly scared him. The man’s eyes seem to glow, which was crazy and more than likely an illusion Stuart’s lust-filled brain had created, but that was what it looked like in the deep woods with only shards of light cutting through the trees.

"You can’t own what isn’t yours," Stuart argued. His voice was shaky, strained, but he’d managed to push the words out.

Nick’s hand tightened on Stuart’s cock. "Keep telling yourself that."

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