Lucius is finally feeling confident with his place in his pack. His new alpha and inner circle are fair and kind, and everything his abusive ex-leaders were not. Learning about the world beyond pack lands, Lucius takes online courses to earn his GED, planning to focus further studies in botany. Everything changes when his pack takes in a dozen Angus shifters rescued from a herd in Texas. One of the rescuers who accompanies the shifters is a vampire that makes Lucius's blood sing. Gypsum Vereen. While Lucius can't deny his attraction to the male, he'd given up sex when the new alpha took over. His old inner circle had made the act nothing but degrading and painful, and he never wants to experience that again. When Gypsum speaks of making love, can he dredge up enough faith to take a chance and learn the difference?
Reader Advisory: This novel contains references to past rape.
Once on the porch, Lucius shifted. It took a little time, but finally he rose from a crouch. He strode into the mud room, stopped at a cabinet, and pulled out a pair of sweats. After tugging them on, he headed out of the room and through the kitchen. Seeing several people seated around the dining room table, he froze.
While Lucius knew he had to walk through the dining room to get to the stairs—and subsequently his room—he couldn't seem to make himself move. Four strangers sat at the table. Brahms stood near them, shaking hands with one after another.
For some reason, Lucius found his gaze straying to the man sitting at the head of the table. The blond male wasn't just big, he was huge! His shoulders were broad, his legs long, and his muscles seemed to have muscles.
And his smell! Holy shit! I never imagined anyone could smell like he does.
Lucius felt his mouth water as the man's scent tickled his senses. How he knew the delicious, musky, earthy scent came from the huge behemoth of a man, he didn't know. Still, some instinct he didn't even know what to call told him that this guy was the source of it.
Feeling his blood drain to his prick, Lucius shivered. He couldn't remember a time when he'd been turned on by someone…male or female. Confusion flooded him, uncertainty and unease. He didn't understand what was going on with his body.
Suddenly, the big blond turned his head. He focused his blue eyes on Lucius, narrowing his gaze. Cocking his head, he licked his lips.
Lucius couldn't help but stare at the thick, pink appendage.
Feeling someone touch his shoulder, Lucius jerked his gaze away from the massive stranger. He turned his head and found Julian standing next to him. His brother was giving him a concerned look.
Before Lucius could say anything—hell if he knew what he'd even say—the scrape of a chair's legs across hardwood filled the area. He jerked his focus back to the dining room table. Seeing the big male rise from the table, he felt his own mouth gape.
The man truly was a giant. He had to stand at least six and a half feet tall and his thighs were bigger around than Lucius's own combined. Even the man's arms appeared to be thicker than Lucius's neck.
Lucius couldn't help the squeak in his voice. Hell, how could he when the man strode slowly toward him. His gait seemed almost predatory.
Retreating a few steps before he could stop himself, Lucius felt his back hit the trim of the doorway to the mud room. Still, the other man kept coming. Lucius stood only five-foot-eight, so he ended up having to crane his neck by the time the guy stopped less than a foot in front of him.
"Hello, pretty shifter," the man rumbled.
Yeah, the guy's voice seemed to actually vibrate from his chest.
"I am Gypsum Vereen, a vampire, and I would love to spend a little time getting to know you," the man stated. His vibrant blue eyes appeared to glow and his smile widened. "Will you grant me with your name and a few minutes of your time?"
Lucius shivered, sucking in a breath, after hearing the vampire speak. Even his dingo sat up in his mind and listened. In fact, his dingo did something it had never done before. His animal urged him to get closer to the stranger.
Fighting back his animal for the first time in his life, Lucius managed to get some moisture to his throat. "I-I-I'm Lucius," he whispered. "U-Um, why do you want to, uh, you know—" He paused and waved his hand. "Why spend time with me?"
Gypsum immediately cocked his head.
Lucius couldn't help but wait with bated breath. Why did he want so desperately to hear the man's answer? And why did he smell so good…even though he had a bit of an odd iron scent underlying his smell?
Letting out a slow breath of his own, Gypsum offered him a wry smile. "I am a vampire, Lucius," he stated bluntly. "We are attracted to others by the scent of their blood," he continued. "And by the way your blood calls to me, I think you may be my beloved. Uh, what you'd call a mate."
Gaping, Lucius would have backed up another step…if not from the intensity of Gypsum's gaze than from his words. Unfortunately, he was already pressed against the frame of the doorway.
"I-I-I don't, um—" Lucius cut off his own words. He had no clue what to say to that. Wait. "You're a vampire? H-How does that work?"
A slow, predatory grin spread across Gypsum's face. It was a look Lucius had seen from many men before. Gypsum wanted sex. Mates were supposed to have sex together. That's how the bond was formed.
"Oh, sweet critter," Gypsum crooned. "A bonding between a shifter and a vampire works just fine."
"No," Lucius snapped, shaking his head hard. "No. I don't…I don't want sex," he squeaked. "Sex is degrading. It hurts. I won't do it."
Even as Gypsum gaped at him—hell, Lucius even saw his fangs, confirming his claim to be a vampire—he turned and twisted away from the big man. "No sex!" he cried as he shoved down his sweats. In seconds he was back on the porch, naked, and shifting.
With his only thought getting away from the stranger and what he wanted, Lucius rant hell-bent for leather into the trees.