Rob grinned when he heard his best friend’s unique ringtone blare on his phone. He tapped his Bluetooth earpiece, connecting him to the call. “Yo, dude, we did it.”
“Right?” Billy Ray Jenson replied.
“I can’t believe it’s finally over.”
“Yeah, man, school sucked.”
Rob couldn’t agree more.
“We still meeting out by the river tonight?” He couldn’t wait to celebrate.
He had wanted to drop out of school when he turned eighteen and go to work full-time in his father’s construction company. His parents made him stay in school, and now he was glad they did, but the last few months had been the hardest.
Unlike the rest of the known universe, shifters had to attend an additional year of school. Most humans assumed it was some sort of advanced high school courses offered by invitation only, and maybe that was true to some extent. The courses they took taught them about their bear history. It taught them how to control their beasts when they were faced with violence or situations that forced their bear to the surface.
It taught them how to be better bears.
“You know it.”
“You and Jed grab the beer,” Rob said. “I’ll bring some steaks.”
Billy Ray was a man of few words, at least few comprehensible words.
“I need to swing by the house and grab a few things. Then I’ll head out to the river.” And he wanted to talk to his parents now that he had finished school. He wanted to go to work for his father full-time. He had been dreaming of working side by side with his dad since he was seven years old and picked up his first hammer.
“See you out there.” Rob chuckled as he disconnected the call. He was still reeling from the fact that he had finally graduated. It felt like he had been attending school forever and he had finally been set free. His bear wanted to roar.
“Holy fucking shit!” Rob slammed on the brakes, his eyes rounding as his truck slid to a stop mere inches from the small figure racing across the road in front of him.
Wide eyes the color of the warm caramel and edged with kohl peered up at him over the hood of the truck, big fat tears dripping from them down pale white cheeks. Time seemed to stand still as Rob sank into those big liquid eyes, drowning in them.
Then the man blinked, his dark thick eyelashes sweeping over his tearstained cheeks as he huddled further into his dark-gray hoodie. He turned and started across the road again, the moment broken.
Rob stared after the lone figure, stunned by the overpowering emotions suddenly running rampant through him. He didn’t understand why his stomach clenched at the sight of those tears or why his dick became so hard he could have punched a hole through a steel plate at those big caramel eyes.
But he was going to find out.
Rob growled as he drove his truck to the side of the road and turned the engine off. He jumped out of the truck and raced after the little man, catching sight of him hurrying down a dirt path on the side of the road that led into the woods.
He quickly caught up with his prey, barely panting from exertion. He grabbed the guy’s arm, his eyebrows shooting up when the he instantly dropped to the ground and curled into himself.
“Please, don’t hurt me,” the man whimpered as he covered his head with his arms.
Rob growled, his gaze snapping back and forth as he scanned his immediate surroundings for signs of danger. Spotting nothing out of place, Rob lifted his nose and drew in a lungful of air. He smelled the forest—trees and dirt and the slightly musty smell of dead leaves.
And apples…cinnamon and apples.
Rob frowned in confusion. If he didn’t know better, he’d think someone was out in the middle of the woods baking an apple pie. God, he loved apple pie. It was without a doubt his favorite desert next to honey.
Nothing tasted better than honey.
Dismissing his wild thoughts, Rob turned his attention back to the man cowering on the ground at his feet. A deep mind-numbing rage began to take hold of him when he noticed the bruises showing up through the rips in the man’s hoodie. There was even a trickle of blood at the corner of the man’s mouth, no doubt due from the cut on his fat lip.
Someone had worked this poor guy over, and hard.
Rob squatted down next to the smaller man. Jeez, he had to outweigh him by at least a hundred pounds, if not more. The little thing was all skin and bones.
And bruises, there were a shitload of bruises.
“What happened, cub?” Rob spoke in his gentlest voice, which wasn’t easy when his usual tone was deep and rough. It matched his looks. He was big and fierce and made like a brick shit house. And for once in his life, he wished he wasn’t so intimidating.
The poor thing was going to shake apart.
“Sshhh, it’s okay.” Rob tried to sooth the man by rubbing his back. “You’re safe now. No one is going to hurt you.”
When a little of the tension eased in the man’s body, Rob lifted him up into a sitting position, surprised by how easily he could move the guy. He had lifted heavier bags of cement.
Big light brown eyes peeked up at Rob through a fall of honey-blond hair. Rob reached down and gingerly touched the man’s swollen bottom lip, grimacing at the wince of pain that crossed the guy’s face.
“What happened to you, cub?”
“They took my bike.” The words were whispered in the sweetest voice Rob had ever heard. It wrapped around him like a blanket of tranquility he hadn't felt in all his years. If he had been a cat, he would have purred.
He wasn’t a cat.
“Who took your bike, cub?”
“Casey,” the man said as his eyes flickered up for a moment before darting away. “My name is Casey Newton, not cub.”
Rob chuckled at the small flicker of defiance he could see in those warm caramel-brown eyes. He knew who Casey was. While they didn’t run in the same circles, Rob had seen the man around town. He might not have known his name until now, but he knew who Casey was.
“I like cub.”
And he liked this particular cub. The draw to cradle Casey in his arms and hold him close, protecting him from all the evils in the world, was riding him hard. Rob had felt the same way each time one of his siblings came into the world, just never to this magnitude.
He’d kill a rock for his mate…
Rob fisted a handful of Casey’s hair and pulled gently until the man’s head was tilted back and then he lowered his head, pressing their mouths together in a gentle kiss.
There was a quality to kissing Casey that was unparalleled to anyone Rob had kissed in the past. Casey didn’t just press his lips to someone’s and move them around a little bit. He leaned into the kiss and put his entire body into it.
As his tongue explored at its leisure, Rob gently stroked the lissome body pressed against him. Needing just a little bit more, Rob slid his tongue inside the warm heat of Casey’s mouth, tasting him, devouring what the man had to offer.
As he pulled back, he nipped Casey’s bottom lip with his teeth.
“I ache, Rob.” As if to emphasize his words, Casey rocked back and forth and rubbed himself against Rob, leaving no doubt as to what he meant. Casey’s cock was like a steel rod in his pants.
Rob swallowed hard as the lust igniting in his gut burned away his ability to breathe. He glanced toward the kitchen where he could hear his parents talking in low voices. He knew he would get his head handed to him if he took Casey upstairs and claimed him as he really wanted to do. But that didn’t mean he couldn’t take the edge off until he could find a more suitable place.
He lifted Casey up in his arms and carried him out of the living room and down the hallway to the guest bathroom. He stepped inside and set Casey down on the bathroom counter before turning back and locking the door.
Once he turned back to Casey, he leaned in for another kiss. Their lips met again, but this time it wasn’t the slow tender and gentle thing it had been before. This time it was out of control, maddeningly frantic, needy. Blood pounded in his brain, leapt from his heart, and made his knees tremble.
Casey’s skin was flushed, his beautiful face transformed by the heat of the desire burning between them. Rob hadn’t thought Casey could get any better-looking, but staring down at the man, he knew he had been wrong. His mate was breathtaking.
He was one lucky bear.
Rob leaned forward, inhaling Casey’s scent from collarbone to ear, taking in the scent of cinnamon and apples. The sweet fragrance rushed back into Rob in a wave of intoxication. Smelling Casey was hardening his cock. Rob loved the smell of the man, was addicted to his delicious flavor.
There was a pull that was almost maddening in his mind. Rob wanted to sink deep into the man’s soul and never come out. It was a need so strong that Rob let it wash over him and carry him under.
He glanced down at his mate, staring as he snaked his hand into Casey’s jeans and massaged the heated flesh tenting up his pants. It was hard, but felt like liquid silk under his fingers with the pre-cum leaking over Rob’s fingers.
Lifting his hand to his mouth, Rob sucked his fingers in, the tangy flavor rolling over his taste buds like nectar to a bee. He groaned, licking each finger clean before he pulled at the waistband of Casey’s pants, chasing the material down Casey’s body until he could toss the fabric aside.
Casey lay there on the counter, stunningly naked, exposed to Rob’s appreciative eyes. He drank the man in as he pushed Casey’s thighs apart.
He found himself wanting to rub his scent all over Casey again. The urge was strong, compelling him to lean forward until his stomach was touching Casey’s erection. He rubbed his body over Casey’s length, feeling the pre-cum trailing over his skin.
“Rob?” Casey asked.
Rob grinned as he dropped down until his head was even with Casey’s weeping cock. He licked a path down Casey’s abdomen to his cock. He nuzzled in the wiry curls before licking his way up the fully hard shaft and sucking at the engorged head to savor Casey’s pre-cum.
Casey groaned out his pleasure as Rob swallowed the erection to the root. Using his tongue, Rob laved the tender depression beneath the swollen crown and then tongue-fucked the tiny slit, licking away the salty taste of Casey’s desires.
“Please,” Casey hissed as he gripped the edge of the countertop until his knuckles turned white.
Rob placed Casey’s feet on his shoulders and then pushed his knees apart. He wished he had a camera to take a picture of what was most definitely the most erotic sight he had ever seen. His jeans became tight, quickly growing uncomfortable.
Rob splayed his fingers over Casey’s nicely rounded ass cheeks and pulled them apart before abandoning the man’s cock and lowering his head to lick at his tight puckered hole. The high keening cry that came from his mate made Rob’s bear rumble. The desire to take Casey and claim him was riding him hard and it was all Rob could do to keep his bear at bay.
He concentrated on pleasing his mate, which seemed to satisfy his bear. Making sure he left plenty of spittle behind, Rob swallowed the man’s cock again. At the same time, he pushed his finger into Casey’s ass, curving his finger up to reach that special spot.
Casey bucked, driving his cock deep. Rob sucked harder. He wanted, needed, his lover’s seed in his mouth. When Casey cried out and filled Rob’s mouth with his release, Rob swallowed greedily, savoring the salty taste of his lover’s cream.
Rob fumbled with the buttons on his jeans, frantic. His balls burned, and at this intensity, Rob knew he wasn’t going to last long. He jumped to his feet and shoved his jeans down his thighs. Grabbing his aching shaft, Rob began pumping his hand at a frantic rate.
Rob’s eyes snapped up to Casey. He felt his balls draw up tight to his body when the man ran his hands up his stomach and chest as if to bring Rob’s attention to his beautiful skin. “Come on me. I want to smell like you.”
His mate’s simple request was all it took for Rob to find his release. Rob came with an incoherent, hoarse shout. He spurted hot jets of cum all over Casey’s naked skin, marking him in a way that every bear would understand.