Since he was seventeen, Morris has been working as an escort for Critters on Call. It was the best way for him to get away from his abusive father, but going all over the world for his clients has kept him away from his brother who hasn’t been the same since the last beating their father gave him. His brother, Jeremy, is in one of the best care centers in the world. But that level of care is expensive, and their uncle, who is in charge of paying for Jeremy’s bills, has come for Morris. For years he was allowed to live his life with the knowledge that Jeremy was being taken care of, but now unless Morris agrees to an arranged mating to an elk in Washington, and pretends to be a virgin on top of it all, their uncle is threatening to move Jeremy out of the care center and into somewhere horrible.

Harrison isn’t sure why the African shifters are seeking mates within the Washington elk herd, and he doesn’t much care, either. All he wants is to make his family happy, and that means being mated to an elephant he’s never met. Having his own modified version of virginity has always been fine with him, up until he realizes that being with Morris for the first time could have been great. But Morris is nothing like he expected either, and once they get the initial awkwardness out of the way, Harrison is excited to spend his life with his new mate.

But Morris has other plans. The deal he made with his uncle was to be mated for a month, and he’s counting down the days. Then control over Jeremy’s life will transfer to him and they can finally be free of their family’s abuse. It would have been a good plan, too, and one he could have lived with, if his past as an escort hadn’t come back at the worst possible time.

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Cover Art by Latrisha Waters

The hotel was one of the nicest in Paris, just down the street from the Eiffel tower. It was an easy walk to the iconic monument, and at nearly midnight the whole area glowed brilliantly. It definitely lightened Morris’s mood to see all the lovers walking around him, smiling and holding hands. He stepped out of the taxi and smoothed out his long black jacket. His curly hair was a mess from the winds earlier, but he’d done the best he could to calm the long strands down. It hadn’t helped much, but then again his hair had always been unruly. Thankfully, his client liked his hair. As far as Morris could tell, this particular gentleman liked everything about him. And he always chose the nicest hotels. That fact alone made Morris look forward to their encounters. He had always felt he was meant for the better things in life.

He walked into the grand entryway and smiled at one of the women behind the desk. He didn’t need to check in with her, since he’d been texted the man’s room number hours earlier when the appointment had been made. He knew exactly where he was going. He took the elevator up to the second floor and started shedding his clothes in the narrow box. There was a mirror along the back wall, and he adjusted his shirt as he unbuttoned the top two buttons once his jacket was off. He still looked respectable, but it was good to show a bit of skin. He’d be doing a lot more than being naked in a few minutes.

Once the elevator came to a quiet stop and the door opened without a sound, he strolled across the plush carpet a short distance to the second room on the right. He’d been in this hotel before, but not recently. Critters on Call flew him to different cities in Europe all the time, and hotels were his clients’ favorite places to enjoy him. He didn’t mind. Discretion was a big part of his job, and he did his best to be very good at his job.

He knocked on the door and smiled when a soft voice from within instructed him to enter. He knew what was expected, which was one of the best things about being an escort. And this client was one of his favorite regulars. He wasn’t supposed to speak to the man currently sprawled languidly across the loveseat. He was only to get undressed, fold his clothes up neatly by the door, walk over, and get on his knees.

It was simple, and he enjoyed every minute of it. The sex wasn’t exactly great, but it had been years since he’d had sex he wasn’t being paid for. He had enough variety in his job he hadn’t felt the need to go out and find a random hookup in a long time. And the guys he was with were generally good looking and nice to him. Sometimes he got a pig, both literally with a shifter, and figuratively. But they weren’t who he was usually with. Critters on Call charge a lot, he was paid very well, and they investigated their clients thoroughly. He wasn’t in any danger and he was never nervous when he met up with a client.

The man whispered quietly to him while Morris bobbed his mouth over the man’s small cock. He was always quiet, which made Morris think he was probably prey of some type. He wasn’t jumpy like a rabbit, or talkative like a songbird would have been. Morris had experienced one of those who talked dirty non-stop to him, as if he was incapable of closing his mouth for even a few minutes. Morris didn’t mind him, either. It was nice to fill in the silence with useless words sometimes.

But not with this client. With him, Morris knew anything he said would break whatever mood the man was in. He was gentle, and sweet, in his own way. But he wasn’t someone Morris would have chosen to have sex with outside of work. His standards were much higher now that he’d been with so many people.

When he’d joined Critters on Call and provided fake information to be able to work a year before he was legally able to, he’d been idealistic, naive, and just wanting a bit of money to get him to his next stage in life, somewhere with more stability and a decent safety net to get him through the hard times. But after a few years of traveling around the world, meeting some amazing people, and getting more money than he knew what to do with, his little choice for a stepping stone had turned into a full blown career. One he absolutely loved.

The client offered Morris his hand, then helped him to his feet. They always had sex in the bed, like they were actual lovers and not like Morris was being paid outrageous amounts of money for pretending to like having this client on top of him. He wasn’t pretending. Not with this man, at least. He didn’t know his name, he only went by A, and yet Morris never felt used or dirty after being with him. A’s quiet gentleness made things close to perfect.

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