Enjoying a last hoo-rah before another tough year of college begins, Kai Sudderson and his friends vacation in Kansas. He takes advantage of the secluded pond system behind his rented cabin to go swimming…in his platypus form. Living with his aunt and uncle, Kai had never met anyone else with the ability to turn into an animal. That is, until he gets himself snared in a beaver trap and a penguin shifter rescues him. Unable to pass up the opportunity for not only knowledge but medical treatment, Kai accompanies his new friend home. There, he meets Dorian Yaris, who—despite being so much older and having such a serious disposition—calls to Kai like no other. When Dorian explains about mates, will Kai consider the bonding thing with someone so obviously different or will he deny everything and return to his former life?
Dorian watched Brock—a broad-shouldered, barrel-chested human—help Kai walk slowly across the dirt-packed parking area to a car. At the last second, Kai paused before entering the vehicle to stare at Dorian across the fifty feet of sparse grass and hard-packed dirt. A look of indecision crossed Kai’s features, then Brock urged the shifter into the car.
Gritting his teeth, Dorian fought his instinct to sprint off the deck and yank his mate out of the car. He gripped the railing tightly and watched Brock glare in his direction one more time, then climb in behind the wheel of the vehicle. Moments later, the sedan roared to life and crept slowly down the driveway.
At least, that imbecile is not jostling my injured mate.
Thank Fate for small favors.
“Are you okay?”
Dorian turned to see Yuma standing at his elbow. “Of course. Why wouldn’t I be?”
The penguin shifter snorted. He waved his hand at the retreating vehicle. “Because your mate, who might I add told us he is twenty-two, hardly more than a cub, just rode away with another man after finding out what mates are and that you’re his.”
Chuckling low in his throat, Dorian focused on the much shorter shifter. “Yuma, I am almost two and a half centuries old. Do you think I don’t know when to back off and use patience?” He smirked and shook his head, taking in Yuma’s surprised look. “Young men are impetuous, easily excitable, and horny.” He returned his focus to the car as he absently added, “With how strongly I feel the mate-pull, I know it will affect Kai just as strongly, if not more.”
“Well, okay,” Yuma sounded confused. “What are you going to do?”
The car disappeared from sight.
Dorian gripped the waist-band of his sweats and shoved them down and off. Once nude, he grinned at Yuma and told him, “Like you said, Kai is twenty-two. His friends are probably about the same age. I’m going to follow my mate and find out where he is staying. He has my number, and if he doesn’t call, I’m going to crash their kegger parties.” Smirking at Yuma, he rumbled, “I plan to seduce him.”
Yuma gaped at him. “Really?” he squeaked.
“Oh, yes. I’ll see you shortly,” Dorian replied.
Even as he leaped up and onto the railing, Dorian called to his California condor. Within seconds, his body had shrunk, feathers sprouted, his neck extended, and his face contorted to form his beak. Dorian turned his head this way and that, then spread his wings and launched off of the railing. He ignored Yuma’s hissed comment of, damn, he shifts fast, in favor of flapping his wings and gaining altitude.
Dorian tilted his wings and zipped around treetops. Winging this way and that, he used the swirling wind current to skim his way between the trees. Before long, he spotted the vehicle he pursued. Slowing the flapping of his wings, Dorian eased his pace. He followed the car, ducking and dodging between trees to shield himself from view.
Thirty minutes later, Dorian watched the car turn down a driveway. He caught a perch on a tree and peered down, watching the sedan wind through the trees and stop before a rather large lodge.