"As a beginning to a new series, this book makes a great start. Yes, there are mates for the wolf shifters, but, different from many other shifter books, the way how they find out if a potential partner is actually a mate, is a simple kiss. That may sound very romantic, but the actual consequences for the non-shifter partner can be horrific. With this specific twist, and some very interesting characters in the private security firm run by Cooper Hull, I believe the next few books are going to be quite interesting. But first, to kick off the series, we have Cooper. As the leader of the SWAT, or tactical, team made up of wolf shifters, he bears a lot of responsibility. Which is fine by him, since he is not particularly interested in a social life or ever having a partner again. Throughout there are hints about his last attempt, twenty or so years ago, and when I found out what the issue was, I was horrified. It totally explains his reluctance. The problem is that Kyler is almost irresistible to Cooper from the moment he meets him and rescues him from the rug adduct who's taken Kyler hostage. Kyler is great. He is rich, determined to help people, and once he has a goal, he will not be deterred. He is immediately attracted to Cooper, but can't figure out if the man is gay, interested in him, or what is going on between them once Kyler goes to see him at his office. He couldn't care less if Cooper is trying to protect him, he can fight his own battles. I loved that he is the one to initiate the next step, and as much as he wants to submit in the bedroom, he is very much his own man outside of it. The passion between Kyler and Cooper is smoldering hot throughout the book. Because of the "kiss issue" that has potentially lethal consequences, they stay away from each other longer than normal in shifter books, and even the kiss-free encounters they have are scorching, never mind the one when they have finally resolved the whole situation. If you like shifter stories with a twist, if you enjoy strong men battling for the right to save and protect each other, and if you're looking for a hot read with passion practically dripping off the pages, then you will probably enjoy this novella." -- Serena Yates, Rainbow Book Reviews
As soon as Cooper Hull saw him, he knew they were both in trouble.
Kyler Pembelton’s eyes were enormous. His fear was palpable. The crazy asshole pressing the gun to his head was shaking, probably from a combination of adrenaline and withdrawal. One wrong move and the man with the gun was going to blow Kyler’s head clean off. Given that the gun was a forty-five, there wouldn’t be much of anything left if he actually fired the weapon that close to Kyler’s temple. But there was no way in hell Cooper was going to let that happen. Not on his watch. He was going to rescue Kyler because that was why he and his team had been called in. But that situation was only one part of the trouble Cooper was talking about. As soon as he looked into Kyler’s eyes, Cooper knew he had most certainly met his mate. And that meant if they both survived this, they were in for a lot more trouble.
“I’m not kidding,” the gunman said. “Back off or his head is hamburger.”
It was a disturbingly accurate image. Cooper had tried to get the gunman’s name, but he wasn’t falling for any of that “touch-feely shit” so Cooper was left calling him the gunman.
“No one is moving. We just want to talk.” Since his team had enough firepower pointed at the scumbag to kill him ten times over, Cooper felt comfortable lowering his weapon. “See? I just want to talk.”
“I ain’t got nothing to say.” He pressed the gun tighter to Kyler’s temple, making Cooper struggle to maintain his cool demeanor. “I want that helicopter. I want it now.”
“It’s coming,” Cooper soothed.
“It should be here by now!” His finger skittered against the trigger. Thankfully, it wasn’t a hair trigger. To Cooper’s discerning eye, he figured the weapon probably needed at least four pounds of pull to fire. That didn’t seem like a lot, but in this case, it could be the difference between life and death. “I’ve been waiting for that fucking thing for an hour!”
Actually, he’d only made the demand five minutes ago, but they were the longest five minutes in Cooper’s life. He was certain they were even longer for Kyler. Standing there, feeling impotent while a crazed gunman had a hold of a man like Kyler, a man who was so determined to help the city of Los Angeles his giving nature was what got him into this mess in the first place, was going to drive Cooper to drink. Not at this precise moment, but Cooper knew decompressing from this situation was going to be intense. There was a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label with his name on it somewhere. As soon as this was over, they were going to hook up and get very intimate.
“I understand it’s frustrating, but they are moving quickly to get you what you need.” Cooper thought what the guy really needed was a bullet between his eyes, but that wasn’t how this was going to play out. He tried to summon compassion, but he was having a very hard time doing that. The junky had no idea that the man he was holding had been touring the building to possibly convert it into a drug rehab facility. One that Kyler would fully fund. If this man killed him, it would be an ironic tragedy.
The gunman kept a firm hold on his hostage. “This corporate fuck is worth billions. I’m sure he’s got a fleet of helicopters in addition to his Learjet.”
Actually, Kyler did have helicopters in his fleet, and his office had released one to the LAPD, but that didn’t mean they could get the damn thing here instantaneously. However, Cooper knew pointing that out to this scumbag wasn’t going to do anything but agitate him, so he had to work on distracting him.
“You asked for cash, too. That’s going to be on the helicopter.”
It was the right thing to say because his eyes practically flashed dollar signs while he rhythmically licked his lips. He could posture all day about how this was about helping the little guy or equaling things between the haves and the have-nots, but the truth was this scumbag was just like any two-bit robber. He wanted something for nothing. Had he put all his time and effort into building a life and working toward his dreams, he wouldn’t need to be standing here, holding an innocent man hostage. If the criminal was a real man, he would have made his way in the world and not felt entitled. But Cooper didn’t mention that. Telling this dirtball the truth would only piss him off and get Kyler killed.
“And clearance to Cuba.”
“Right.” Cooper left off the fact he wouldn’t be able to fly a helicopter from LA to Cuba because if this guy didn’t know his geography, telling him now wasn’t going to help matters one damn bit. “You’ll have that along with the money.”
Repeatedly mentioning the money was the key to keeping the loser focused on the future. That seemed to work wonders. Money meant drugs. Sadly, if he actually had all the money he wanted, he’d end up killing himself. Unlimited drugs would cause him to overdose. And that was when Cooper’s compassion kicked in. This guy simply couldn’t help himself. Had he access to help, such as what Kyler was hoping to build, he may not have ever gotten this bad.
“Coop? Helicopter is on the roof.”
“And my money?” the gunman asked.
“With your money,” Aiden Stanly assured.
Kyler’s gaze was riveted to Cooper, making him keenly aware of his terror. His short blond hair seemed almost gleaming bright in the darkness of the abandoned building. In a way, Kyler looked almost angelic, especially with his pale skin and enormous blue eyes. He was going to need a lot of help to overcome the trauma of this situation. But the first thing Cooper had to do was get him out of it. No matter what it took, he vowed to do just that. If anyone deserved to live, Kyler was that man. He had done more good in the city of LA in a month than all the people Cooper had ever met combined.
“You aren’t going.” Cooper’s grip didn’t tighten on his face, but a man like him didn’t need to use brute force when he could simply use the power of his commanding gaze.
“I hate to pull a very childish tactic, but you aren’t the boss of me.”
“Oh, yes. I am.” Cooper smiled. “That’s exactly what you want, isn’t it?”
Kyler wanted to deny that truth, but he couldn’t. Somehow, Cooper was able to see right through his façade and into the very heart of him. “You don’t have the guts.”
Pushed to act by the taunt, Cooper pulled Kyler away from the chairs, spun him around, and forced him to face the wall. He barely had a chance to get his arms out to balance himself against the cool blue paint before Cooper was yanking his shirt from his trousers. Kyler found himself utterly aroused by Cooper’s aggression. He pulled at the hundred-dollar custom-tailored shirt as if it were nothing but a rag keeping him from his target.
“Unfasten your pants.”
Kyler did so without hesitation. While he quickly slid them down below the edge of his buttocks, he watched the shadow on the wall and realized Cooper was unfastening his jeans.
And then flesh met flesh. Cooper’s cock was so hard it was almost like living stone. The heat of his skin was making Kyler sweat. As Cooper rubbed his cock up and down the split of Kyler’s ass, he swore he felt each individual vein throbbing hungrily.
“Damn, but your skin is silky.”
Kyler clung to the wall, begging that Cooper wouldn’t stop. He was afraid if he said anything he might, so he held his tongue. But in his head, he was begging for Cooper to stop toying with him and fill his ass.
“I’m not going to fuck you, Mr. Pembelton.”
“No?” Kyler wondered why in the world he’d decided to switch to a less intimate term. Was that why Cooper wouldn’t kiss him? He didn’t want to get that deep into the moment? Maybe he never kissed any of his lovers as a way to keep himself distant. Was this nothing more than a fleeting assignation? A part of Kyler wanted to demand more, but again, he didn’t want Cooper to stop. If all he could have from this man was the fulfillment of a lifelong fantasy, he should take it and be happy with it.
“No. I’m not going to fuck you.” Cooper shoved Kyler’s expensive trousers down so they were now around his knees, making it virtually impossible for him to walk away. Not that he wanted to, but he enjoyed the added layer of semi-bondage. “I’m going to finish what you started.”
“What I—” Kyler swallowed hard, cutting himself off. He’d taken Cooper’s cock into his mouth, wanting to taste him, needing to taste him. Since he wouldn’t kiss Kyler, he’d done the next most intimate thing he could think of. “I’ve always wanted a man like you to take control of me.”
“Then that’s exactly what I’m going to do.” Cooper leisurely rubbed his cock in the split of Kyler’s ass. When the angle wasn’t quite good enough, he grasped Kyler’s hips, lifting him away from the wall so he had to lean forward to keep his hands placed there. Without those two anchoring points, Kyler knew he’d topple to his knees.
Time spun out and seemed to slow, allowing Kyler to experience everything in that moment. Cooper’s raw physical power excited him to the point his cock was throbbing. When he’d moved him with hardly any effort, the tip of Kyler’s prick was tangled in the edges of his shirt, stroking over him and bringing him so close to climax he struggled to resist. He didn’t want the moment to be over too fast.
“You’ve got an ass a man could write poetry to. Something obscure, perhaps something by Rainer Maria Rilke.”
The comment stunned Kyler. He thought Cooper would be gruff and—damn him for thinking in these terms—but rather blue-collar and base. But he wasn’t. Cooper was a compelling mixture of brawn and brains. He was extremely alpha, driven to be protective, but he was also a man who loved exquisite scotch and could appreciate the strength in another man without feeling threatened. When Cooper began to recite poetry in German, Kyler thought he was going to melt into a romantic puddle.
“What does that mean?”
“It means I’m not going to last very long.” Cooper’s grip on Kyler’s hips tightened. Rather than slide his cock in the split of his bottom, he now wedged it tightly into the crevice, pressing the hard length against Kyler’s hole.