Baron and his friend plan a coup, staged in hopes of a better future, but it all goes horribly wrong. He is caught, and his friend is killed. When Baron refuses to rat out his buddy’s wife and daughter’s location, he’s tortured for his silence. Left hanging in his chains for several days, Baron expects death. Instead, he’s rescued by a stranger who assures him that his friend’s loved ones are well. Baron asks to be taken to them and ends up at the estate of a gargoyle clutch. Baron’s surprise is compounded when Conchlin walks in with his evening meal…and Baron recognizes the small, bright-orange gargoyle as his mate. While Baron wants the man, he doesn’t think he can give Conchlin everything he needs to complete their bond. Before Baron has even had a chance to heal and find out, Conchlin’s past comes back to haunt him, putting their mating in jeopardy. Baron realizes it’s not all about him. Will standing beside Conchlin and supporting him through adversity be enough for them to find their future together?
Conchlin reached the door to Baron’s room and set the tray on the table nearby. He knocked gently, then gripped the knob. After a few seconds, he turned it and pushed the door open.
Sticking his head through the crack, Cochlin peered around. He spotted the man sprawled on the bed, the dark chocolate skin of his backside on clear display, and sucked in an appreciative breath. Even marred by dozens upon dozens of stitches, Baron’s backside was a thing of beauty—broad and muscled with smooth, dark skin.
“Is there a reason you all knock, but don’t wait for an answer?”
Hearing the grumpy, growly voice, Conchlin snapped his gaze to Baron’s face. He felt his cheeks heat…and that wasn’t the only thing. His body was responding to the musky fragrance filling the room.
“Oh!” Conchlin’s heart rate spiked in his chest. He knew his eyes were wide, and his voice came out breathy, but he couldn’t help it. “It’s you!”
This was the most monumental day of his life!
“Me?” Baron scowled at him. “Of course it’s me. Who else would be laid up in this goddamned room?” Narrowing his deep brown eyes, he stated, “You’re Conchlin, right? Doctor Perseus said the orange one is Conchlin, his trainee, so am I to be a guinea pig, then?”
For just an instant, hurt flashed through him. Then Conchlin remembered that Perseus had said Baron had alpha tendencies and sucked as a patient. His man just needed a little care, that was all…and that was something Conchlin could totally do.
Grinning, Conchlin nodded. “Yep. I’m Conchlin the trainee,” he responded glibly. That reminded him of what he was supposed to be doing, and he took a couple steps backward so he could grab the platter. Holding it up, he entered the room. “But don’t worry. I’m going to feed you before I use you as a guinea pig.” Setting the tray on the sideboard, he crossed to the bed and rested his clawed hands on the edge so he could lean toward his clearly grumpy mate. “And you’re going to lie back and take it like a man. Ya know why?”
Baron’s scowl morphed into a glare…for all of two seconds. Then his eyes widened and shock. “You’re my mate!”
Conchlin grinned broadly. “Got it in one.” Leaning down, he pressed his nose against Baron’s temple and inhaled deeply. “You smell really good,” he whispered huskily. Feeling his plumping prick swiftly extending behind the fly of his loincloth, he got himself together and straightened. “Sorry.” He felt his face heat. “Um, right, I’m your mate.”
Taking in the shocked expression on the big male’s face, coupled with his lack of response, unease slithered through Conchlin. “A-Are you not gay or something?”
That seemed to yank Baron out of…whatever his thoughts were. “I-I’m gay. I just, wow!” His brows furrowed as he swept his gaze over Conchlin’s form, or probably what he could see of it. “I’d never even met a gargoyle before coming here. I—” Baron sucked in a harsh breath, which caused his nostrils to flair and his eyes to dilate. “Do, uh, do you guys bond the same way? Why do you look different than the doctors? When will I even be cleared for sex?”
Conchlin mentally sorted through Baron’s questions, trying to decide what to answer first. The sound of his shifter’s stomach growling gave him a chance to put it off. He turned back to the sideboard and picked up the wrapped straw and opened it.
After sticking one end of the straw into the broth, Conchlin returned to the bedside. “This is chicken broth.” He settled in the chair and held the straw close to Baron’s mouth. “After you drink it all, I have a couple options for you to drink to wash it down.”
“Chicken broth.” Baron growled the words, then winced. “Sorry,” he muttered, then wrapped his lips around the straw and sucked on it.
Conchlin smiled. “Perseus said you were a shit patient.”