“Come on, Troy, don’t lag behind!” Kevin shouted.
Troy waved at him but didn’t pick up his pace. This forest was creepy, and he didn’t want to go any deeper. Worse, they’d planned to hike several miles into the forest. They had an emergency satellite phone and GPS units just in case something happened, but the freshmen pledgers didn’t know that. The plan was to go deep into the woods and pretend to get lost. Those who got scared or quit would be denied entry into the brotherhood.
It would all be meaningless if one of the testers chickened out, and Troy was jumping at every little sound. Sure, the breaking of a twig could be something entirely normal and mundane, like a deer, but it could also be something supernatural.
Glancing to his friends and the new recruits, Troy once again felt the burden of his family’s secret weigh on him. If only he could tell these guys that the forest they were hiking through was rumored to be home to a group of supernatural monsters, then maybe they could leave. Then again, it could just entice Kevin—Troy’s best friend and the organizer of this test—to go deeper into the forest.
Kevin was odd, both in personality and in appearance. The guy had carrot-red hair, pale blue eyes, and was so pale his skin was nearly translucent. Troy couldn’t remember ever seeing him with a tan, even during the summer when he ran around shirtless.
But hey, an odd appearance was better than Troy’s plain one. He had regular brown hair and hazel eyes. He wasn’t exactly tall, standing about average height at five-ten. He was fit—thanks to his years of training he had compact muscles—but people didn’t exactly see him as a powerhouse. Most were actually really surprised when he took his shirt off.
Another snapping branch had Troy stopping, his thoughts turning from his meager looks to where he was. How could he let himself get distracted like that? His father was always lecturing him about his wandering mind. He needed to pull it together. If the information about these woods was correct, then Troy was the only one standing between his friends and a gruesome death.
“There’s a stream up ahead,” Kevin announced. They’d been walking for a little over an hour now, and most of the group was getting tired. “We’ll take a rest.”
Troy had the urge to tell his friend not to stop, to just keep going until they reached their destination, but he reminded himself that not everyone here was used to this type of workout. Unlike Troy, who’d been dragged into the woods for survival training more times than he cared to remember.
“Oh thank God!” one freshman panted. Troy could already see this one wasn’t going to make it. He’d screamed at the sight of a squirrel earlier. Who did that? “I’m going to die.” Yeah, Troy doubted the guy would die from a brief jaunt in the woods.
As they approached the stream, the hairs on the back of Troy’s neck stood up. An uneasy feeling sank into the pit of his stomach, making him look around. Something was watching them. The closer to the stream they got, the more the feeling increased, and it wasn’t just Troy feeling it now. The others in the group were looking around as if something might jump out at them.
“Perhaps some backwoods cannibal lives out here,” Kevin said offhandedly. He was no doubt using the sudden dread filling the air to enrich the experience. “Who knows, maybe the ghosts of his victims haunt these woods.”
“Dude, really?” the same freshman from earlier asked, stumbling backward and landing on his ass.
Kevin smiled. “We might even find one of their corpses.”
The guy screamed, turned, and ran. Troy sighed. Glaring at Kevin, he couldn’t stop himself from snapping, “Really? It’s already tense.”
Kevin stared wide-eyed after the fleeing freshman. “I didn’t think he’d take off like that. Will you chase after him for me?”
Troy rolled his eyes. “Here.” He handed someone his bag before he started running after the idiot freshman. “Hey,” he shouted. “Hold up. You can’t just go running through the woods.”
“I don’t want to be eaten!”
Yeah, this guy was a nut. Still, Troy had a feeling it wasn’t just Kevin’s words that were driving this freshman crazy. He seemed to be running toward the feeling of dread encroaching on these woods. It was even starting to affect Troy.
“Come on, let’s go back,” Troy demanded, finally catching the guy. He didn’t know why, but he couldn’t stop looking around. This place just didn’t feel right.
“Where are we? What’s going on?” the freshman was rambling and looking around like a frightened rabbit. Was that what Troy looked like, too? God, he hoped not.
“We’re going back,” Troy said, grabbing the freshman’s arm and turning only to stop dead in his tracks. “Nice wolf.”
The black wolf snarled low, circling around Troy and the idiot he’d been chasing after, its head down and teeth bared. Troy reached for the knife at his waist on instinct. There was an intelligence in this animal’s eyes—a human intelligence. Still, as Troy looked at the beast he knew to be a monster he was sworn to kill, he felt an entirely new and horrifying feeling well up inside him.
Troy felt desire toward the wolf. He felt a need to approach the beast and run his fingers through the thick pelt. This was ridiculous!
“So, where do you want me?” Troy suddenly asked, pulling away and dropping his towel to the wood floor.
Galvin had to concentrate not to swallow his tongue. He definitely couldn’t throw Troy over his shoulder and haul him into the bedroom. Troy was a work of art. The compact, smooth muscles beneath near-flawless skin were a feast for the eyes. The few freckles dotting Troy’s right shoulder were the only true breaks in all that suntanned flesh. His brown hair, even darker with the water from the shower, clung to his face, framing the handsome features.
“Bedroom,” Galvin managed to answer, drool creeping down his chin.
Troy laughed before racing for the bedroom. Galvin followed right on his heels, his cock pulsing in his jeans and begging to be let out. His eyes tracked Troy’s ass as it bounced just the tinniest bit as he ran. It was a tempting sight beyond reason.
His mate crawled onto his bed, throwing Galvin a mischievous grin over his shoulder before shaking his ass. Galvin couldn’t contain the growl that slipped out. For a moment he feared he might have frightened Troy, but his mate’s hazel eyes darkened with desire.
Galvin pulled his shirt up and off, and made quick work of removing the rest of his clothes. He had to kick his shoes off before he could pull his off his pants. Troy stared over his shoulder at Galvin the entire time, his eyes smoldering more with each inch of skin Galvin revealed.
“Like what you see?” Galvin asked, flexing a bit to show off.
Troy nodded, his tongue sneaking out and licking his lips. “Definitely.”
Ego plenty stroked by the approving look in Troy’s eyes, Galvin climbed onto the bed behind him. Blanketing Troy’s smaller body with his large one, Galvin ground his rock-hard cock against the soft mounds of his mate’s perky ass.
“Oh God,” Troy moaned, thrusting back against Galvin. “I’m going to guess you like what you see, too.”
“Most definitely,” Galvin growled. Starting at Troy’s shoulder, he kissed his way up his neck and chin and finally captured his lips. Troy whimpered into the kiss, his head turning so Galvin could take it further, deeper.
One of Galvin’s hands spanned Troy’s chest and supported him as Galvin pulled him up onto his knees. His other hand went straight for his mate’s weeping cock. Stroking the hard length, he encouraged Troy’s pleasure.
“Galvin,” Troy whimpered into the small space between their mouths. “Want you.”
“I know,” Galvin moaned, thrusting his own exceedingly hard cock between those perfect cheeks.
“No foreplay,” Troy begged. “Just claim me.”
Galvin shook his head. “I won’t hurt you.” Troy whined when Galvin pulled his hand away from his chest. He reached under his pillow and pulled out a bottle of lube he’d stashed there earlier. “But I can’t wait either.”
After an entire week of just being able to touch and not go all the way, Galvin’s patience was at its limit. All he wanted to do was dive deep into Troy and claim him. Galvin snapped the cap and poured more than enough lube onto his hand. He moved away from Troy just enough before slipping one finger between Troy’s cheeks and pressing it against his twitching entrance.
“Yes, please yes,” Troy begged, his hips pushing down on the finger, forcing it past the first ring of muscles.
Galvin took a deep breath to calm himself. Troy was impossibly warm around his finger, and tight. Just the thought of what he’d feel like wrapped around his dick nearly had him coming. Galvin kissed down Troy’s neck, stopping to suck on the place he would leave his mark as he began to stretch his mate.
* * * *
Troy’s head felt like it was going to explode. His body was humming with a need he’d never imagined was possible. As Galvin prepped him, Troy felt like his knees were going to give out. He wanted to bend back over and put some of the weight on his arms, but Galvin continued to hold him up.
What was really driving Troy crazy though was Galvin’s mouth on his neck. The delicate nips and licks had him almost ready to beg his wolf to bite him. He knew that’s what Galvin wanted to do, and Troy couldn’t wait for it to happen. The bite would seal them together for the rest of their lives. The reality of that was overwhelming, yes, but it’s what Troy wanted. He wanted someone who was his and his alone. He’d always found the idea of mates romantic and amazing, and now he had one.
“Galvin, please.” Troy decided to beg. He couldn’t wait any longer. “Claim me.”
Galvin growled against his throat, the surreal and sexy sound traveling through his entire body. A third finger entered him, stretching him further. Troy didn’t care about the preparations, but he was glad that despite Galvin’s obvious desire he didn’t want to hurt him. It was sweet and melted Troy’s heart.