“If you guys go out again with the hunters we won’t be here when you get back.”
This threat came from Marky. Lorenzo stared hard at the man for several seconds before his gaze shifted to the two men flanking him. Normally Lorenzo’s apparent displeasure and growing anger would intimidate the focus of it. But these three men were his and his brother Michael’s mates. They had no sense of fear because of that.
Lorenzo and Michael had known who their mates were for over a year now. The three red squirrel shifters had shown up one day on the farm. They had made a point of tormenting all six of the gargoyles, but Lorenzo, Michael, and Jean-Luc in particular. It had been several months before they discovered the squirrels were Michael’s and Lorenzo’s mates. With the exception of Jean-Luc, gargoyles did not feel the same connection toward their mates that the shifters did. Jean-Luc, however, had instantly known a human male was his mate when he had seen him. He had been living in pure torment ever since.
Lorenzo and his brothers had been human once. Over a thousand years had passed since then. They had been men of the time. They had become mercenaries, selling their skills to whoever was willing to pay. Their mated brothers, David, Francois, and Roan, had regained many of their memories after they returned to their human forms. Lorenzo, Michael, and Jean-Luc were not so fortunate. They did know, however, that it was a witch’s curse that had transformed them into gargoyles. They had spent centuries bound to a castle in England. It had been the caretaker, a descendant of the original lord of the castle, who had freed them. It had taken time, but together they had remembered a man they knew was a shifter. The caretaker had searched for months and finally located Ian in America. He had packed the gargoyles up in large crates and sent them off to the farm they now called home.
Ian was the leader of the White Horse clan. Lorenzo and his brothers had met Ian shortly after their arrival at the castle in England. The warhorse shifter had been part of the attacking army. As a protector of the castle, Lorenzo had been forced to fight against the shifter. His heart hadn’t been in the task, however, as he felt no malevolence toward Ian and felt none in return. If the gargoyles had been given a gift along with the curse, it was to be able to sense what was in someone’s heart.
So he had done the only thing he could do with a clear conscience. He had warned Ian. Locked in battle, Lorenzo had leaned close and shouted in the shifter’s ear. “Attack only after the sun’s rise above the horizon and before it sets.” Ian had stilled, an expression of disbelief on his face. He nodded to let Lorenzo know he had understood him over the din of the battle.
Of all the people they met during the centuries, Ian was one of the few they remembered. Knowing he was a shifter, they hoped he would still be alive when they learned the caretaker of the castle could free them.
They had a new beginning here. Because they knew they could return to their human form by bonding with their mates, it was pure torment to know their mates refused to do so. To be given an ultimatum that was so selfish, however, was unthinkable.
Lorenzo would rather remain a gargoyle and do what he could to help others than to give in. Michael felt the same. They would not succumb to threats or coercion by the men they loved. They were hunters now, searching for those kidnapped by groups of unscrupulous shifters to be hunted and tortured for sport and sadistic pleasure.
Michael growled at Lorenzo’s side. His brother was as furious as he was. “Go then. You do not need to wait to see if we are asked to assist again.” Turning away from their three mates, Michael put enough space between them so he would be able to spread his wings and push off from the ground.
Feeling the sneer twisting his face, Lorenzo nodded. “We have lived a long time without you. As gargoyles, we are immortal. Surely we will find other mates in the future. If you need funds to return home, I will provide you with them.” Because they worked on the farm at night, they earned a wage like everyone else.
Shock was on the three faces. Obviously they hadn’t expected their ultimatum to be rejected with such finality. Lorenzo was finished with games. He wanted to return to human once more, but what Michael and he were doing was so much more important than fulfilling their own desires. If refusing Marky’s, Sid’s, and Ronnie’s demand helped saved one life, it would be worth it.
“You are selfish little bastards,” Lorenzo told them in frigid tones, his heart heavy. “Have you ever once spoken with Max about what happened to him? If not, I suggest you do so before you leave.”
Lorenzo left the three men standing there. He walked toward the house Ian had built for the gargoyles and their mates, passing the large building where many people living on the farm gathered in the evening to share supper and take part in other activities. He could hear the laughter and the busy chatter, but was not in the mood to join the others.
Ronnie nodded but frowned. “We would need more than one truck. Even then, we would have to make three o four trips to get everything. We would like to do it this afternoon because we have to pick raspberries tomorrow.” The smile Ronnie gave Lorenzo made his heart jump. It also had a similar effect on his cock. The need to mate was growing stronger. Or, as the mates would say, he was hornier than hell. Crude, but it was an accurate description. The tip of a finger began to run up and down the center of Lorenzo’s chest. “I would be willing to skip berry picking to spend the day making love with my mates.” This suggestion was followed up by a wiggle of eyebrows.
It was difficult for Lorenzo to keep the grin from his face. He kept the serious expression. “How noble of you.”
Ronnie giggled. “I know, right?”
Lorenzo couldn’t help himself. He threw his head back and laughed, amusement filling his entire being. There was no memory of having felt it before, although he was certain that at some time before the curse and becoming a gargoyle, he had known many such moments. He did have a few wonderful memories of his parents. Surely there had been much love and laughter then, as a child and a young man growing into maturity. Of course there would have been sad times, too. There was always balance in life. But he wanted to concentrate on the happy memories of his earliest days.
“I love you,” Ronnie said, pressing his cheek against the center of Lorenzo’s chest. “Sometimes I wonder how I could love anyone as much as I love you and my mates, but I do.”
“I love you as well,” Lorenzo told him, feeling the rise of emotion increasing like a wave rolling across the ocean, gaining strength and washing over him as he compared what he had now to the bleakness of the past centuries.
The naughty imp then rubbed his stomach against the ridge of Lorenzo’s erect cock, giggling again as he did so. Without warning, Ronnie released his hold on Lorenzo’s waist to drop to his knees. Ronnie’s small fingers deftly unfastened Lorenzo’s belt and zipper. Lorenzo did nothing to stop the man from freeing his cock.
Lorenzo’s breath caught in his throat, and his heart began to pound as he waited for those slender fingers to wrap around his aching flesh. Gorgeous blue eyes looked up at Lorenzo as Ronnie tilted the head of Lorenzo’s cock in the direction of his mouth. Lorenzo could feel the warm, damp breaths caressing him, where the hood was sliding back to expose the wide, mushroom-shaped head. Droplets of pre-cum leaked from the slit. Lorenzo waited tensely as he watched as the tip of Ronnie’s pink tongue poked out from between his lips. There was mischief in the man’s gaze as his tongue made excruciatingly slow progress. Ronnie was definitely a tease.
When the hot tip touched his cock, it felt as if he had been struck by lightning. Lorenzo’s body jerked hard. He gasped and reached out to hold onto the counter, locking his knees as he did so. The flat of Ronnie’s tongue stroked over the slit, teasing it, poking at it before he began to trace the ridge around the head. He did that several times before licking the bundle of nerves beneath the head. Lorenzo groaned and tried to focus on not finding his release too soon. Although it would be a relief, he had waited so long for this moment that he was willing to live with the discomfort of aching balls for a while longer.
Sliding his fingers through Ronnie’s auburn curls, Lorenzo held the man’s head as Ronnie began to work his mouth along the length of Lorenzo’s cock. The wet heat of Ronnie’s mouth was nearly Lorenzo’s undoing. Inhaling deeply, he closed his eyes and tried to find a measure of calm. As he felt his body relax, and the impending orgasm ebb, Ronnie pushed a hand between Lorenzo’s thighs, first to stroke his balls, and then to tease the sensitive area behind.
Shuddering, Lorenzo recognized a lost cause when he saw one.
Ronnie withdrew and sucked only the head of Lorenzo’s cock. Lorenzo exploded, shouting his pleasure as his fingers tightened in Ronnie’s hair, holding him firmly in place as his hips bucked and his balls released his cum in powerful spurts. Ronnie sucked until there was nothing left. Lorenzo released the man’s hair and stepped back as his softening cock slipped from between Ronnie’s swollen lips with a wet slurp. Bright blue eyes sparkled in the flushed, happy face, highlighting the scattering of freckles on Ronnie’s small nose and cheekbones.
Lorenzo tucked his spent flesh back into his underwear and pulled his jeans into place, zipping them and buckling the belt. Ronnie’s lower lip popped out as he got to his feet. “I was hoping we could have a lot more fun.”
Lorenzo was aware of that without having to be told. He nodded. “I know. However, it is time for lunch. Want to help me prepare it?”
It was fortunate Lorenzo had not done more than open a container of chicken stock. With the distraction, they might have had to order pizza again. Ronnie gave in without argument, a smile curving his pink, swollen lips as he threw himself against Lorenzo once more.