Jackson Dark hunkered under the covered table, wounded and winded. The bullet wedged between his two lower side ribs made breathing a tortured labor. But that was the least of his problems.
Waiting outside, ready to finish what he’d started, was none other than his pack’s most dangerous foe, Joel Hart, the hit man working for the Assassins, a criminal underground organization who hunted, tortured, and killed shifters for their own sick entertainment.
Joel had picked up Jackson’s trail about an hour ago and had been stalking him ever since. Tired and hungry, Jackson had stopped to find food and shelter nearby, thinking he could rest ten minutes to refuel. But to his surprise, he didn’t have ten minutes to spare. Joel had found him and fired several shots.
Three of those shots had missed their target, one of which shattered the glass of a nearby café. But the fourth shot had hit Jackson in his side. Rushing to find cover before Joel turned the corner to see where his prey had run off to, Jackson had ducked into the café whose front window had been smashed.
He’d stepped on broken glass, cutting the soles of his feet. He had discarded his squeaky shoes several blocks away hoping to facilitate his escape.
Searing pain had traveled through his lower limbs as the glass sunk deeper into his skin, but he couldn’t stop until he had found a safe place to hide before Joel caught him.
A fluffy-haired cat had screeched as soon as he entered the premises. But when Jackson growled, exhibiting his sharp and deadly wolf canines, the cat had yelped and scampered out through the shattered window onto the barren street in apparent fear. It had quickly disappeared from sight. Jackson guessed it had made its way around the building, trying to get as far away from him as possible.
He’d crawled under a table covered with a checkered vinyl tablecloth, which obscured him from his predator’s sight, and tried to catch his breath.
A few minutes after that he’d heard a squeaking sound and felt the tiles underneath him tremble as someone made their way down a flight of stairs close by. When the lights in the café had come on, he’d cursed under his breath.
He’d prayed he could be safe in here. But now that this annoying human had turned on the lights, Joel would certainly make his way in here.
He peeked from under the hanging vinyl material, and what he witnessed took his breath away. He had expected a stout, balding, and angry man to enter the premises, but instead a frightened, gorgeous man with medium-length curly, shiny, black hair who had the most enchanting big violet eyes he’d ever seen, clumsily came in. He wore the flimsiest black satin shorts, which highlighted his toned, muscular, long legs and six-pack abs.
If Jackson weren’t stressed out and weak from the loss of blood, he wouldn’t mind kneeling under this table to observe the hunk in obscurity while the man stood there in shock.
God, his delectable scent is intoxicating.
But as he admired the scenery, a horrifying thought washed over him. Joel was in close proximity searching for him. With the lights on in the café, he would be drawn to this place like a moth to a fire. This man would be in serious danger if the hit man saw him.
Jackson had to do something quick to save him from imminent peril. He searched for anything nearby he could fling to distract the stranger, in order that he wouldn’t witness Jackson’s exit. Luckily, a long, heavy shard of glass rested nearby. He was about to fling it toward the other room when the sound of urgent sirens wafted into the café through the broken window.
The police were on their way, probably from a silent alarm triggered by the bullet shattering the front glass window of the café.
Good. At least he knew this man would be safe from Joel’s grasp soon. But that also meant Jackson had to skedaddle lightning fast. He took a deep breath, feeling the warm blood ooze out of the wound in his side.
He couldn’t risk being identified in his human form, so there was only one option available to him. He hoped he had the strength to transform in time. Undressing as fast as his tired, feeble fingers allowed, he then focused all his attention and energy on the shift as he began to change into his wolf form.
It took a lot of effort, which was quickly draining the scarce reserve of energy he had left after the substantial blood loss. Once finally completely transformed, he locked his jaw around his clothes he’d rolled into a bundle and hurriedly made his way out from under the table.
A short, loud gasp had him turning to find the gorgeous stranger gawking at him. He had fixed his wide, shocked eyes on Jackson. Jackson stood there on his four paws looking back. It felt like time stood still in that moment. Nothing existed in this harsh, cold world except for Jackson and this beautiful human. He couldn’t draw away. Instead, he wanted to get closer.
He took one step forward toward him before the sound of the blaring sirens suddenly rose to an all-time high pitch. The police were practically there. Shaking his head to break away from his spell, Jackson darted out the broken window and continued to run, never looking back.
They had shared an enticing kiss during dinner, but for Jackson it wasn’t enough. He needed more. He wanted to hold Dane in his arms and make sweet and passionate love to him.
He’d never been in a serious relationship before. He’d dated plenty of male shifters in a casual manner, but none of them captivated him like Dane did. From the moment he’d seen Dane enter the café looking vulnerable and sexy as hell in those black, clingy shorts, Jackson couldn’t get him out of his thoughts. Dane was slowly becoming his addiction.
When Jackson walked him to the door, Dane leaned his back against it and peered up at him. The artificial overhead lighting made his violet eyes look silver, bewitching.
As he spoke, Dane’s sultry voice only cemented Jackson’s intoxication. “Thank you for the lovely evening. I had a wonderful time.”
“You’re welcome. So did I,” Jackson whispered while staring at his full, supple lips. He wrapped his right arm around the small of Dane’s back, tugging him closer. When Dane’s chest was against his, Jackson used his left hand to push Dane’s curly black hair away from his cheek. He dipped in to kiss him.
He could feel Dane’s heart beating fast against his body. He parted his lips and wrapped his hands around the back of Dane’s neck.
His yearn to explore more had Jackson slipping his tongue into Dane’s salacious mouth to caress and taste him. Jackson could smell the hint of musky cologne on Dane’s skin and his excitement. Jackson flared his nostrils taking in Dane’s savory, sexually stimulated scent.
Mmm, Dane wanted him as much as Jackson wanted Dane.
Jackson wondered if he should ask to come in. As much as he desired it, he knew it was late. Dane had told him he usually got up at four thirty in the morning to start baking. He needed his rest. But the way he was kissing Jackson back and how he allowed his hands to roam over Jackson’s back and arms, exploring every muscle, told Jackson Dane would be too excited to sleep. At least until his stimulated body calmed down, which would take time. Unless Jackson helped him out.
He’d like nothing better than to make glorious love to Dane, to feel his taut, hot muscles on his chest and abdomen, which were now crushed against Jackson’s body, to caress Dane and titillate him right before they consummated their sexual desires. Jackson’s needy body ached while he imagined it.
But as much as Jackson thirsted for it, he didn’t want to push Dane. Yes, Dane’s body was screaming for it. It was ready and waiting, as was Jackson’s. But was Dane emotionally ready for it? Because once they made passionate love, there would be no turning back. At least not for Jackson. Dane would be his forever.
Fearing it was too much too soon, Jackson fought his mind, body, and heart to pull away from their intense kiss. Jackson licked his lips while he caressed Dane’s warm, soft cheek, and he stared into his enchanting gaze. “I guess I’d better go. You have a busy day tomorrow.”
Dane’s eyes saddened when he said, “No, don’t go. Come in for coffee.”
Jackson knew a smug smile was spreading over his own lips that he couldn’t contain. The invitation probably meant more than coffee, but he needed Dane’s verbal admittance before he accepted.
“I’m not in the mood for coffee,” Jackson said in a husky, luring voice.
Jackson stared at Dane’s swollen lips, purposely showing Dane exactly what he was in the mood for.
“Neither am I,” Dane admitted, his voice barely louder than a whisper, right before Dane seductively bit his lower lip.
That’s all the acknowledgment Jackson had been waiting for. Dane was ready for this. Jackson kissed him once again, pressing his wanton lips on Dane’s. Dane pushed the door open while they walked backward into the apartment.
Once Dane clumsily shut the door, Jackson gently pushed him up against the wall. Dane slipped his hands into Jackson’s shirt, then rubbed and caressed his abdomen and chest. Goose flesh formed with his ministrations. Dane’s touch was hot and urgent, and his moans were a mix of wanton pleasure and demand.
Jackson moved his fingers down the side of Dane’s body. He could feel the curve of Dane’s wide shoulders and narrow hips. Then he brought his attention to Dane’s taut ass. Jackson pressed against him, Jackson’s hard-on making him want to explore more.
Dane parted his lips, and in-between pants, he whispered, “My bedroom is the last door to the right.”
Without a word, Jackson gently picked him up in his arms and carried him to his room. They stared at one another.
Jackson focused on Dane’s handsome face and not on the décor in his bedroom. His furniture could have been made of gold. Jackson wouldn’t have noticed or cared. All he saw, all he thought about, all he desired and hungered for was Dane.
He set Dane gently on his feet and began to unzip his suit pants while Dane helped him unbutton his shirt.
Dane pushed Jackson’s shirt downward, exposing his muscular shoulders and glorious chest.
Jackson laid him on the bed and pushed him flat on his back, so he could lick and taste Dane’s tanned, toned, and glistening pecs and ripped abs. Dane moaned in pleasure and arched his back. And when Jackson sucked and bit his right nipple, Dane’s cock twitched in his black cotton briefs. Jackson could feel its movement rubbing against him.
Jackson slipped his finger inside Dane’s briefs, tracing the tip of his cock. Mmm, like he suspected. Dane was wet and super hard and excited.
Jackson looked into his eyes and said, “I want to fuck you now. I can’t wait any longer.”
Dane didn’t respond with words, only with a nod and his hot, demanding lips on Jackson’s.