Mathe Winters knew his coven’s vampire second was bringing several dingo shifters home to their ranch. He didn’t expect one to be his beloved. Still, there’s something about the way Julian looks at him, with a gaze so full of fear and hope. He finds himself instantly smitten. Wanting to show the dingo shifter the wonders of his cattle ranch home, Mathe runs into a snag. While Julian had met Angus shifters, it doesn’t prepare him for the reality of dealing with the non-shifter variety. He gets too close to the wrong animal and ends up injured. Can Mathe earn Julian’s forgiveness—and win his trust—so he can show his dingo how to play safely in his new home?
The big farmhouse style building had a large, covered wooden porch with a number of rocking chairs—some even large enough to seat two people. There was even a couple of small tables. On one rested a set of checkers.
Julian climbed up the couple of stairs and headed toward it. He rubbed the tips of his forefingers over a dark wooden piece. It was smooth.
“Do you like playing checkers?”
Yanking his hand away from the disk-like piece, Julian spun. He took a step back as he gaped up at the tall muscular male before him. Twisting his fingers together, he couldn’t help but stare.
The man was so very handsome.
He stood around six feet and had a tall, strong build. His muscles appeared lean and tone, filling out his jeans in the best possible way. His short-sleeved, flannel shirt stretched across his shoulders and showed off lightly-haired, bronzed arms. A smile curved his thin lips and a black cowboy hat shaded his eyes, making discerning whether they were black or brown difficult.
And he smells so very good!
Julian had never scented anything like the aroma emanating from the stranger. He was a vampire... he could tell from the male’s slightly metallic tang. It was more than that, though, because he also smelled something earthy and... almost musky. The scent caused his blood to flow south to his dick.
He’d never reacted like that to anyone.
“Checkers?” the man pressed. “Do you know how to play?”
“Uh, yeah,” Julian replied softly, nodding. “A little, anyway.” He felt his face heat as he admitted, “I’m not really very good though.”
“I could give you a few pointers if you want to play sometime,” the man offered, then held out his hand. “I’m Mathe Winters, foreman here at the ranch.”
Reaching out slowly, Julian hesitated in taking the man’s hand. With his smell so delicious, what would touching him be like? Still, it’d be rude to just leave the guy hanging.
Julian slid his hand into Mathe’s, gripping lightly. A tingle traveled up his arm, causing the hairs on his arm to goose bump. His heart sped up.
“I’m Julian,” he all but whispered. His blood heated and his half-hard dick thickened even more. He’d never heard his voice come out so breathy.
“Ah, so you do feel it,” Mathe rumbled.
As Mathe spoke, he rubbed his thumb over the sensitive skin on the back of Julian’s hand. It sent even more tingles up his arm. Thinking became difficult, let alone speaking.
Knowing he had to find his tongue, Julian swallowed hard, getting a little moisture to his suddenly dry throat. “Feel what?”
“The pull,” Mathe immediately responded as he eased a step closer. “You are a shifter,” he murmured, holding Julian’s gaze, his expression intense. “Shifters recognize a mate by scent.” He lifted his free hand and touched his forefingers to Julian’s jaw ever-so-lightly. “I am a vampire,” he continued as he traced his fingers along Julian’s jaw, then down his neck. “Vampires recognize their beloved by the scent and taste of their blood.” His eyes took on a red hue as the heady, musky aroma of arousal rolled off of him. “I want to taste your blood, pretty shifter. I want to know if you are my one and only.”
“Vampire bites are pleasurable,” Julian whispered, struggling to concentrate with his body flooding with more arousal than he’d ever felt before. “Gypsum says so. Lucius lets him bite him.”
“Yes,” Mathe confirmed. “Vampires can give great pleasure with their bite.” His smile turned feral as he swept his gaze over Julian’s body. “Would you allow me to taste your blood?”