Ivan of McDarmund joins the Cuchulian tribe for one reason, to find his mate. He scented him at a Cuchulian wedding ceremony, but now that he’s within the halls of Rostrorod, he only ever catches traces of his mate’s tantalizing scent again. Until he’s served lunch by the very source of the mysterious scent, Lebanon of Cuchulian. But before he can introduce himself and claim the young gargoyle, Lebanon is accosted in the gymnasium locker room. Ivan saves him, but when their Huzza comes to investigate, Ivan learns that someone else has laid a mate-claim on Lebanon. The only way to have a chance at claiming his mate now is by challenging the other gargoyle to a fight to the death. Will he succeed? And if he does, after what happened in the locker room, will Lebanon even want to give Ivan a chance to win his affection?
Ivan cupped Lebanon’s jaw, rubbing his thumb over the pale green hide. He smoothed the pad over his mate’s dark, plump lips. Lebanon shifted, his mouth opening as a soft snuffling noise escaped him. Unable to resist, Ivan leaned down, intending to replace his thumb with his lips. Just before he reached his goal, Lebanon’s grey eyes snapped open.
Smiling slightly, Ivan eased away a bit. “Easy, Lebanon. You’re safe. You’re home. No one else will harm you.”
“You,” Lebanon whispered, his brows crinkling in confusion. “Were you in the locker room?”
“Yes,” Ivan confirmed. “That was me. You didn’t…” He paused and swallowed, praying he hadn’t actually read that situation wrong. “You didn’t look like you were into it, and I couldn’t just…”
Lebanon reached up and touched his cheek, and Ivan instinctively leaned into the touch. “You were right. I didn’t want them touching me, but they didn’t listen. Thank you for stopping them.”
“You’re welcome,” he rumbled. “I’ll always help in any way I can.”
Ivan could see the question in Lebanon’s eyes, and he waited patiently for his mate to gather his courage to ask.
Finally, Lebanon whispered shyly, “Will you help me replace those memories?”
The question surprised him, but he recovered nearly instantly and grinned. “Oh, yes.”
Lowering his head, he brushed his lips over Lebanon’s mouth, reveling in the feel of the plump flesh below his own. His mate whimpered so sweetly at the contact, and Lebanon growled. He pressed harder, slipping his tongue out and teasing the full lower lip.
Lebanon’s tentative response thrilled Ivan as his mate opened to him and brushed his tongue with his own. Dipping deeper, Ivan tilted his head, fitting their mouths together more fully. He gently thrust his tongue into Lebanon’s mouth, finally tasting him fully. He struggled to keep the kiss gentle, wanting nothing more than to ravage his mate’s mouth while not wanting to scare his obviously untried mate.
He settled his free hand on Lebanon’s shoulder and slowly worked his way down, massaging the taught, lean muscles under the thin shirt. Scraping a thumbnail over Lebanon’s pert nipple, he felt the man tremble beneath him. He thrilled at his mate’s response, loving how his body arched into his touch and how Lebanon’s hands clutched at Ivan’s shoulders.
Drifting his hand lower, he reached the bottom of Lebanon’s shirt and gently caressed the thin trail of exposed flesh between the bottom of the garment and Lebanon’s pants. The side of his wrist brushed against Lebanon’s hard shaft. He rocked his hand into the throbbing flesh right before gripping his mate’s dick through his pants.
Lebanon gasped. His hips jerked. When he snapped his head back into the pillow, breaking the kiss, Ivan froze, thinking he’d gone too far. Then he took in Lebanon’s pleasure glazed expression and grinned. He slowly gave his mate’s cock a slow, hard stroke.
“More,” Lebanon whimpered. “Please more.”