"The second book in this very kiss-focused series deepened my understanding of this world, added another mated couple with their very specific issues to the team, and opened up a story line that has the potential to continue into the next book. This story is about Erick, who briefly appeared in book one, and his newly found mate, Sax. Like Cooper and Kyler, they have to face the reality of being mates with potentially deadly consequences for Sax, but theirs is a much less premeditated mating. Erick has seen Cooper find his mate, and he wants one as well. He may not admit it (nor do most of the other alphas), but the longing is there, deep inside. But when he runs into the man who is his "potential" forever, Erik isn't sure they can ever be a couple. Not because he doesn’t want to, but because he believes Sax is not ready to be "forced" into a relationship after everything he's been through. He has a lot to learn! Mainly about the fact that Sax is very much his own man and will not stand for Erick making decisions for him. And as good as Erick is at communicating with other members of his pack, he has a lot to learn about communication in a relationship. Sax has been abused by his father for many years, and thinks he is stupid and not worth anything. When he is suddenly free of that joke, saved from a robber's threats by a man who can change into a wolf, which only he has seen, Sax is enthralled. He loves to believe in magic, and will do anything to keep Erick's attention and possibly gain his love and respect. He is an amazing man to have survived all that emotional and physical abuse, and to have educated himself against the odds. He will not accept Erick trying to b "nice" and kisses him at the first opportunity. Of course, that sets into motion the transformation, and Sax needs to fight for his life. The passion between Sax and Erick is strong from the beginning, and only grows as they get to know each other. The "kiss issue" doesn't stand in their way for long, but they have a few other things to deal with as well – like Sax's entire future now that he is free. If you like shifter stories with a twist, if you enjoy a strong man learning how to hold back so the one with issues can catch u and become independent, and if you're looking for a hot read with passionate partners, then you will probably enjoy this novella." -- Serena Yates, Rainbow Book Reviews
Had he not known the kid in black leather, chrome chains, and a dog collar was an innocent bystander, Erick Bliss would have pegged him for one of the bank robbers. The kid certainly had the bad-boy appearance down. His shaggy black hair obscured half his face and his “I hate everything including life itself” attitude gleamed from his practiced slouch. However, since he was on the other side of the dipstick with the gun, Erick reassessed and realized he was only a Goth kid caught up in a robbery gone bad.
One of the hostages was facedown in a pool of blood. He’d been shot because of some LAPD commander who didn’t bother to wait for a full incident assessment. In the mother of all ironies, the bank patron was wearing an outfit eerily similar to the bank robber’s. What enraged Erick almost as much as the loss of life was that the jerk who’d demanded the sharpshooter take the shot wouldn’t have to suffer the crushing guilt of killing a totally innocent man. The sharpshooter, yet unnamed, would probably have nightmares, and he would carry the fallout of that shot forever.
As angry as Erick was with the fuckup, he was here to make sure another person didn’t go down. No one below knew he had an eagle-eyed view of the situation. Well, no one but Xenos. He was their liaison at the LAPD. When the shit hit the fan, and they couldn’t use regular officers to assess a situation, Xenos called Hull Protection Services. Xenos used them judiciously, mainly because he had to find a way to pay them out of his skimpy budget, but also, Xenos didn’t want anyone else finding out why the men of Hull Protection Services were so damn good at their jobs.
Using his canine senses, Erick evaluated the situation. The bank foyer was just like any other. The floors were highly polished brown marble with thick, black runners to prevent slip-and-fall accidents. There were velvet ropes attached to golden poles, but they were tucked to the side. Obviously, they hadn’t been used in a long time. A lone gunman stood across from a lone teller. While she stuffed money into a backpack, he jabbed his gun at her. The poor woman was beyond distraught and the criminal knew it. That was why he was sticking the gun in her face.
“You better hurry up, or you’ll end up just like that smartass over there.” He waved his gun toward the downed man. Erick found it odd that he was taking the credit for the man’s demise when a sharpshooter’s bullet had caused the damage. When the woman darted her terrified gaze around at the windows, Erick got it. The robber had convinced everyone he’d told his partner to kill someone. With a terror level already screamingly high, it became more so when the people thought there was a long-distance robber targeting them all.
Erick continued to evaluate the situation. Most of the bank’s patrons were lying facedown on the floor with their hands up and out, palms flat. Perhaps that was what caused the first commanding officer to order a shot without having a full assessment. From the way they were lying so perfectly still, they did appear dead. But there wasn’t any blood and there wasn’t any carnage. Shooting people wasn’t a clean business. It left marks, especially since the gunman had an AK47. If he had opened up on the crowd, there would be plenty of evidence.
Something strange struck Erick then. Why was the Goth kid the only one standing? Was he involved somehow? When he flicked his hair out of his face, Erick realized he was scared witless. Tears had smeared his heavy black eyeliner across his cheeks, and the tip of his nose was red. His lips—oh, God, his full and sweetly pouting lips—were as pink as a fragile bloom. He couldn’t have been much older than twenty.
“You got eyes or not, Bliss?”
“I got eyes, Coop. Give me a second to assess.” Snapped out of his fascination for a boy who was just that—a boy—Erick turned his attention to the rest of the scene. He was able to assess the situation without anyone being the wiser because he was in his wolf form. Sneaking onto the roof, and then using the ventilation system, gave Erick the lowdown on the robbery. “It looks to me like it’s just one guy.”
“Why the hell did he order the shot?”
Erick offered up his theory about how the downed hostage was dressed just like the robber. “That’s the only thing I can figure. But there’s still something real strange.” Using his mental link to his pack’s top alpha, he flashed him the Goth kid.
“He’s just standing there?”
“Yep. And he’s the only one who’s vertical besides the teller.”
“Is he in on it?”
“My gut says no, but why else would he be up while all the other hostages are down?”
When the gunman left off tormenting the teller, he turned his bloodshot gaze onto the kid. “He still dead?”
The kid nodded.
“What?” the gunman bellowed. “I didn’t hear you. Speak the fuck up!”
In a clear, halting voice the kid said, “He’s still dead.”
“Sir,” the kid repeated.
“Put it altogether now, you waste of fucking space.”
“He’s still dead, sir.”
“Oh, fuck.” Erick and Cooper’s mental voices overlapped. They both got the deal in a sickening rush. The only thing the kid had to do with the situation was providing some kind of gruesome entertainment for the criminal. Apparently, the gunman ordered him to stand watch over the man who was clearly dead. Worse, from the stunned look Erick managed to catch before his hair flopped back down, the kid knew the dead man. In all his life, Erick had never encountered anything so sickly twisted.
“If I do nothing else in this world, I’m going to make that POS regret tormenting that kid for no reason.”
“I promised to rock your world.” Erick kissed him, pleased to discover that Sax had slipped one of the mints into his mouth. “Mmm. Minty.”
“I didn’t want to have morning breath.”
“But what will I do?”
“Share with me.” Sax leaned up, and while kissing Erick, he slipped him the mint.
As they passed it back and forth, deepening their kisses as they did so, he never would have imagined something so simple could be so body-shakingly sexy. As the last sliver faded away, he was so hard he almost hurt. The need to be inside Sax made him almost crazy, but his need to take tender care of him tempered his lust. Erick didn’t want to fuck Sax. He wanted to make slow, sweet love to him. In his opinion, Sax had seen far too much of the world’s brutality. Erick wanted to show him that though the world could be cruel, there were also amazing and wonderful things the world had to give. Having a strong mate at one’s side was just one.
Kissing his way down Sax’s body, he teased his tongue around the very edges of his nipples, reveling in the way Sax responded. Sax cupped Erick’s head, slipping his fingers through his hair as he arched upward. Sliding his big hands down, Erick cupped Sax’s cock, using Sax’s pre-cum to slick up the pad of his thumb. Once he was good and slippery, he rubbed deliberately at the most sensitive spot between the shaft and head.
Sax uttered a cry of surrender as his hips flicked. He was seeking relief, but Erick wasn’t even close to giving him that. “Rocking your world includes a heavy dose of denial.”
“I won’t last.”
“You will.” Erick kept right on going with his focused teasing. “You lasted an insane amount the other night.”
Sax leaned up and looked down.
“The vent,” Erick said, nodding toward the vent at the top part of the wall. “I didn’t know this, but it’s right above the couch in the living room.”
“The one you were sleeping on?”
“You heard everything?”
“I did.” Erick licked Sax’s nipple while he continued to tease his cock.
Sax covered his face.
“Don’t you dare be embarrassed. It was hot.”
“I was out there masturbating right along with you.” Erick changed up the rhythm, which made Sax utter new and blazingly sexy sounds. “You can last a long time.”
“I never had a chance to do that without a time crunch.” Sax explained that he never had much privacy at home.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have—”
“Please don’t be sorry. I’m glad I got to share that with you. Maybe that’s what compelled me to go out there and kiss you.” Sax drew him close. “And I don’t want to talk about that when I have you right where I want you.”
“For a virgin, you’re pretty slick.”
“I might be a virgin, but I can certainly read.”
“Ah. So that’s where you learned all your sexy moves.”
“Sexy moves? So far all I’ve done is turn to putty in your hands.”
“Trust me. Everything you do is turning me on.” Grinning, Erick grabbed the bottle of lube from his bedside table and worked his way under the covers. Erick eased Sax’s legs apart, slicked up his fingers, and proceeded to tease his cock and tight little hole at the same time.
Within sixty seconds, Sax was bouncing in ecstasy. After three minutes of Erick’s erotic torture, he flung the covers off so he could watch. It was around the ten-minute mark that Erick’s patience fizzled. He was so hard he was practically in pain. As much as he wanted to fill Sax and bind them even tighter together, he couldn’t stand the idea of hurting him.
“I’m ready. Jesus, Bliss, I’m really ready. I’ll never be more ready than I am right now.”
“Jesus Bliss? Is that my new nickname? Kind of sacrilegious, don’t you think?”
Clearly, Sax had had enough. He slipped out of Erick’s grasp, pushed Erick onto his back, and then straddled his hips.
“Wow. You move fast.”
“Lust is a powerful motivator.”
“Only lust?” Erick handed him the bottle of lube and struggled to control himself as his mate slicked up his cock. His fingers were long, and though his hands appeared somewhat delicate, they were actually quite strong.
“More than lust.” Sax met his gaze as he rose up. Carefully, he centered Erick’s cock to his hole and slid down. When he closed his eyes, Erick thought he was in pain, but Sax’s head went back and he uttered a cry of bliss that probably echoed around the house. Erick didn’t care. He was consumed with the feeling of penetrating his mate. He’d had sex before, but nothing like this. He’d always used condoms for one, but with his mate he no longer had to, which gave him so much sensation he damn near climaxed when Sax was only halfway down. But when Sax opened his eyes, locking their gazes, Erick realized that this was the first time he had a full connection to another.
Emotionally, he felt exposed. Not that it was a painful feeling, not at all. It was just that it was new and totally unfamiliar. He felt everything in much more profound ways. What they were sharing was more than just sex, more than mating. It was almost love.
Sax was beautiful in his ecstasy. His gray eyes seemed smoky, almost hypnotic as he continued his descent. When he hit the bottom, having taken all of Erick’s cock into him, Sax closed his eyes and opened his mouth. No sound came out, but he clenched up around Erick’s prick, making him growl.