Kir is one of the exotic shifters rescued by Craig. He never went home, choosing to stay with the Gillham pack, but he never really integrated himself into the pack. He wanted to make sure the pack wouldn’t betray him like his skulk had. He took his time to observe, and he finally decided it was time to make friends.

Quinn knows he’s a prickly bastard. He’s had to hide behind that façade for most of his life, and now he can’t step out from behind it, not that he wants to. It feels safer to keep most people at arm’s length. He didn’t expect to find his mate when Kameron called him and Malik to help with the rival council, though, and he knows Kir is probably the only one who can wiggle his way into his heart if he lets his guard down.

Kir does his best to get under Quinn’s shell, but when the man punches him and tells him to stay away, he gets the message, even though he still hopes he’ll be able to change Quinn’s mind. He knows he has a great opportunity when Kameron assigns him as a bodyguard for Quinn, but will he be able to protect Quinn and make him fall in love with him? Will Quinn finally let someone in, or will he stay safely ensconced in his hard shell?

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Cover Art by Latrisha Waters

Kir watched Quinn and Simon walk down the stairs, and he couldn’t keep his eyes off Quinn. He hadn’t expected Quinn to let Simon dress him up, and especially to let Simon put make-up on him. Of course, the make-up was only eyeliner as far as Kir could see, but Simon had even glued a fake beard on Quinn’s chin. It would have been funny if Quinn hadn’t looked so uncomfortable.

Ever since Kir had found out Quinn was his mate, he’d started observing him. He was probably one of the few who could see how uncomfortable Quinn was. For everyone else, his flippant façade was perfect.

Simon stopped to talk to Mal briefly, then headed toward Malik and Kir. As soon as Simon got there, Malik wrapped an arm around his waist and pulled him close to his side. Kir ignored the pang of envy that tightened his chest. He smiled at Simon as Simon looked him up and down and asked, “And what are you dressed as?”

Kir crossed his arms on his chest to make his muscles bulge. “Harem master.”

It had been fun to decide what he’d dress as. He didn’t want the costume to be too common or too covering, and this one was perfect. The pants were comfortable and light, if a bit revealing, and the only thing he wore on the upper part of his body was a sleeveless vest that was the same ruby color as the pants. The vest didn’t even close, so Kir’s body was on display, especially with the golden bracelets he was wearing around the upper part of his arms. It wasn’t something he normally enjoyed, but he knew it would make Quinn look at him, and that was his goal. Quinn couldn’t ignore him forever, and Kir would take advantage of that.

“That’s... it’s only so you could have all that skin on display, huh?” Simon asked.

Kir smiled at him. “Yup. I need to woo Quincy in some way.”

Simon patted Kir’s arm and looked toward Quinn. He was glaring their way, but Kir wasn’t sure why. He couldn’t have heard Kir calling him Quincy from where he was, and Kir didn’t want to believe it was just because Simon was touching him. He probably hated Simon for putting him in a Jack Sparrow costume.

Kir beamed at him, just because he could and he knew it would annoy Quinn to no end, and Quinn’s scowl deepened.

“You’re going to get him sooner or later,” Simon said.

“Oh, I know. I’m going to make him cave, no matter how long it takes me.” It wasn’t like Kir had anything else to do anyway. He was a pack enforcer, but he wasn’t always working, and he didn’t have that many friends. It left him plenty of time to woo Quinn.

Simon smiled. “I know. I think you’ll be good for him.”

Kir shrugged. “Obviously. We’re mates.”

“You’re going to need a lot of perseverance,” Malik said, his gaze on Quinn, who was drinking from a red plastic cup. “He might be your mate, but he’s not an easy person. He’ll try to push you away as hard as he can.”

Kir nodded. “I know, and I’m ready for it. Don’t worry.”

Malik didn’t look convinced. “He can be hurtful when he wants to be. He’ll try to hurt you to see how much he can push before you react or leave.”

“I won’t leave. There’s nothing much he can say to hurt me.”

“What happened to you?”

Kir waved. “The usual. Sold by my skulk, spent some time in a lab before being freed by Craig and coming here.”

“You didn’t go home.”


Kir wasn’t about to explain why to Malik, even though he was pretty sure Simon had already told him about his skulk. Not that Simon knew much about what had happened. Kir had only told him he’d been betrayed, but that was all, and for now, it was enough. He wanted his mate to be the only person to know what had happened exactly, and he wasn’t sure Quinn would ever want to hear it.

Malik finally nodded. “Good. Don’t let him push you away. He needs you, even if he doesn’t know it.”

Simon rose on his tiptoes, grinned, and kissed Kir’s cheek. The kiss was a bit too close to Kir’s mouth for Kir to be comfortable with it, especially in front of Malik, but Malik just laughed. Simon took Malik’s hand and pulled him away to dance, leaving Kir alone.

Kir looked around. He’d come only because he’d known Quinn would be there, but now that the only two guests he considered friends were gone, he wasn’t sure what to do. He could talk to the other guests. Corbin wasn’t there, and Kir wasn’t sure he’d come. He couldn’t imagine Corbin being dressed up, but he knew Jago would try to make it happen.

Someone stopped in front of him and Kir looked down. Quinn was standing there, and Kir couldn’t stop the laughter from bubbling up. Quinn’s scowl deepened when Kir laughed, but Kir grabbed his wrist before he could stomp away. “Sorry. It’s just, the beard.”

The scowl diminished, and Quinn scratched at the tuft of hair stuck on his chin. “I hate it. It itches.”

“You look good, though.” Kir didn’t hide the fact that he was staring at Quinn. He let his gaze roam from Quinn’s feet to the top of his head. “Different.”

Quinn snorted. “Of course you’d like me looking different.”

“I like you looking like yourself, too. This is fun, though.”

“It’s not. It itches, and I look ridiculous.”

“You look sexy.”

Kir wasn’t sure Quinn believed him, and he wasn’t surprised when Quinn protested.

“I have make-up on.”


“That’s not sexy.”

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