When a Shifter Council hearing proves corruption in the council, Councilman Regales Colearian takes it as a personal affront. Deciding to take matters into his own hands, he handles all grievances himself. That includes going to Stone Ridge to meet the shifters impacted by the scientists the wolf pack has been fighting against. Once there, he runs across the last person he ever thought he’d meet—his mate, Armand Theodore Conway—who happens to be a human male. Regales learns that Theo knows about paranormals, but has no interest in bonding with one. Theo is a Navy Seal and has seen so much depravity he feels tainted by it. Plus, Theo isn’t gay. While Regales has never considered himself gay either, at over four hundred years old, he’s been alone a long, long time. He knows claiming Theo will turn his life upside down, but it’ll be worth it. Stepping out of his own comfort zone isn’t easy, so can Regales manage to convince Theo to give a stuck-in-his-ways bear shifter a chance?
Regales had met half a dozen people, but he found Detective Lyle Sullivan the most fascinating—a human who’d actually been turned into a shifter. Talk about freaky for the poor human. Somehow, Alpha Declan and his people had taught Lyle how to accept, interact, and even control a massive, aggressive monitor lizard inside him.
Opening his mouth to ask Lyle…something, Regales smelled a tantalizing aroma, and the thought went right out of his head. He snapped his mouth closed and glanced around. At first, he thought the food was done, and he was just hungry.
Except, the sudden arousal surging through his body told him otherwise.
“You okay?” Lyle asked in a surprisingly soft tone, with a hint of worry tossed in. “You too cold? Need something hot to drink?”
It was oddly touching to have some stranger concerned about his welfare. “No, but thank you,” Regales murmured as he swept his gaze over the crowd, trying to ascertain the source of the smell. It was a soft, slightly musky odor, and caused Regales’s mouth to water and his dick to swell. Understanding hit him suddenly. “Aww, shit.”
“What’s wrong?” Dakota instantly drew close, his expression guarded as he glanced from Regales to Lyle then around the area. “I don’t see any danger.”
“Not that kind of danger,” Regales responded. He growled softly as he glared at Dakota. “And I’m totally blaming this on you. You jinxed me with that comment.”
Dakota’s blond brows shot up, almost hidden by the knit cap he wore. “My comment? What?”
“I smell my damn mate, Dakota.” Regales grumbled the words, scowling at the man. “What the hell am I supposed to do with a mate? I’m bloody four hundred and twelve years old.”
Lyle actually barked a laugh, his brown eyes twinkling as he grinned at him. “Well if you need some pointers, I can put you in touch with Jared.” He chuckled. “He’s always happy to share—”
“Great gods, please don’t finish that sentence.” Regales couldn’t believe the altered human was laughing at him!
Patting him on the upper arm, Lyle asked, “Well? Who is it? May as well get introductions out of the way.” He winked as he continued to grin. “Fate’s a bitch if a shifter tries to thwart her…or even delay her. I oughta know. Better go meet him or her.” Then his smile finally faded. “Please just tell me that it’s not Sara. She just turned eighteen, and you’re, well—” He paused and actually shuddered.
Regales growled softly as he cast a glare Lyle’s way. “That is not funny.” He peered around the area again, but with so many people milling about, he wasn’t certain who gave off the scent. “And I’m not sure.”
“Well, come on. Let’s follow the air currents.” Lyle placed a hand on Regales’s shoulder and began guiding him. “With my nifty shifter nose, I’m damn good at tracking. We’ll walk, and when you figure it out, I’ll introduce you.”
“Is everyone in this pack so handsy?” Regales asked, just resisting the urge to shrug off Lyle’s hold.
Lyle laughed again. “Naw, but it ain’t so bad.” He knocked his shoulder into Regales’s in a boldly friendly move as he lowered his voice and told him, “Besides, you better learn to get touchy-feely damn fast, man. Your bear is gonna want it with your mate, regardless of who it turns out to be.”
Doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Regales kept the thought to himself as Lyle weaved them between folks, smiling and nodding at everyone. Dakota followed, and Regales could practically smell the man’s worry. He’d have to reassure the komodo shifter that he didn’t really blame him…eventually.
“Wait.” Regales stumbled to a halt as he focused on a group of men. “Who are those guys?”
“That’s Alpha Ashton and his group of fliers, plus their mates,” Lyle told him. He glanced between Regales and the group. “They were experimented on, too.” Harrumphing, Lyle added, “Although I don’t know the sandy-blond-haired dude standing next to Hess.”
Regales felt frozen as he swept his gaze over the group of men. Now that Lyle had said something, he recognized Ashton and his jackal mate, Ranger. He figured the huge goateed guy was Hess, since he had his arm around a slender, black-haired man. Another male was a big, black, bodybuilder type, and he carried a small African-looking babe in one brawny arm while he had his hand on the shoulder of a small pale man.
Four others were milling together, and the one closest to Hess was the sandy-blond that Lyle had pointed out.
“Oh, holy fuck,” Dakota mumbled.
Unable to do little more than nod, Regales realized his enforcer had finally put it together. Fate had decided to give him a male mate. While Regales had never had a problem with men who were gay, he’d never been with a man sexually himself. No man had ever aroused him. Not in all his four hundred plus years.
With the way his prick ached just from the earthy, musky smell of one of those men, however, he knew that had just changed. “I just might need those pointers after all,” he mumbled almost absently as he managed to get his feet moving again. “Never been with a guy.”