When undercover game officer Byron Reese tracks down an illegal big cat importer, his investigation turns up way more than he bargained for. Lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, and a hot cat handler with secrets of his own ...
Kendall was silent. Around us, the rain pattered gently on the barn’s metal roof. A cat sighed. I heard the jaguar behind us licking itself clean; the rough rasp of its tongue bristling against its damp fur. The mud on my arms itched.
I pressed my upper arm against his solid bicep, almost a nudge.
He wiped his face with one hand, his voice tired. “I’m just as caged as these cats are.”
I held my breath. Let the silence make him want to talk.
I pressed his arm again. He didn’t lean away. Encouraging.
“Kendall?” I chanced it, put a hand on his dirty forearm and held his gaze. “Maybe I can help.”
“Maybe I can.”
“I don’t think so. But thanks, anyway. You’re a good kid.” He looked down at my hand then up. Our gazes locked and the moment caught fire.
“I’m not just a kid.”
He grinned and stepped away. “All you college kids say that. Come on. I need a shower, and a smoke, and I bet you do, too."
We showered at his house -- in separate bathrooms, to my disappointment. That vibe was between us, the near-certainty that we were going to hit the bed, but there was just enough ambiguity in the air to make me nervous. Maybe I’d misread him; maybe he was just one of those guys who made a lot of eye contact and was a toucher.
I slipped on the clean shorts Kendall had left for me in the bathroom. Music came from the living room, something with saxophones and quiet drums, a slinky sound. The smell of pot wafted through the house, strong stuff. When I came around the corner, Kendall was sprawled on the sofa, a towel wrapped around his waist.
Oh, this looks promising.
His skin had minor tan marks. His skin was dark already and there was just a hint of browner skin on his arms and lower legs. With his dark eyebrows and brown eyes, he sure wasn’t the All-American golden boy I saw every morning in the mirror. Italian, maybe? Hispanic? Either way, caramel-colored skin like his begged to be suckled, licked -- appreciated.
Get some intel. I heard Russo’s voice in my head, telling me to do my job, but my dick had other considerations. Get some ass was what it told me.
Kendall waved the joint at me, holding his breath.
“I probably shouldn’t. Grass just makes me horny,” I said.
“Then you should definitely have some.” His grin was wide. He lay back against the leather sofa and spread his legs apart, enough for the towel to reveal one meaty upper thigh.
I swallowed and stepped past the coffee table. The joint’s ember glowed in the dim room and it felt like Kendall’s eyes glowed the same way. What was he thinking?
I took a hit, coughed a little then held it down. The smoke filled my lungs, and in a few seconds a quiet buzz of ease moved through my skull. I closed my eyes and took another toke, letting its soft haze fill me. The sofa cushions squeaked and shifted down as Kendall moved closer. I felt him near me, felt the warmth of his skin. “Take another hit,” he said, his voice soft now.
I did. I held his gaze this time, while the smoke curled into me. Kendall eased closer. “Give me some,” and he opened his mouth, and I breathed some back into him. He took it in and stayed close, his lips against mine, just breathing each other for a few seconds.
I kissed him first, a real kiss, our lips brushing, then pressing against each other. His full lips were pillowy, softer than anyone I’d ever kissed.