Hearing the crunch of breaking bones, seeing the fear in Moon’s eyes, and knowing he could do nothing about it, Rion felt worse than worthless. “The sun will set soon. Everything is going to be okay.”
“No, it won’t.” Moon tried to push away, grunting when Rion held him tighter. “You have to go. It’s not safe for you.”
“I’m not going anywhere.” Everything was different now. From the moment he’d set eyes on Moon by the edge of the water, from the first inhalation of the man’s scent, he’d known things would never be the same. “You don’t have to be alone anymore.”
“It’s happening again?” Star asked as he and Midnight descended the stairs into the dark, dank room. “Why is this happening to him? Why can’t he shift?”
“It’s not even sunset yet,” Midnight added. “Why is this happening?” Both brothers knelt on either side of Rion and touched their brother, clearly trying to soothe some of his pain. “Can’t you help him?”
“Tell me how,” Rion snapped. “Tell me what you want me to do.” If someone would give him the answers, he’d do anything to take away Moon’s pain. “I don’t know what’s wrong, and I can’t fix it!”
“Don’t yell at them.” A thin layer of perspiration covered Moon’s forehead and dampened his sleek, raven hair, but at least he’d stopped screaming. “You really have to go, Rion.”
“I’m not leaving you, so just knock your shit off.”
A cocky half smile tilted one side of Star’s mouth, and he arched an eyebrow at Midnight. “Told you so.”
“What did you tell him?”
“That Moon is your mate,” Midnight answered quietly.
“That’s kind of the thing about us Residents.” A visible shudder rippled through Star as he placed his hand in a beam of moonlight, turning it one way and then the other. “We all have gifts.”
“Star can kind of read emotions or sense them or something like that.” Midnight’s breathing sped and turned shallow while he stared transfixed into the silvery rays of moonlight. “He doesn’t know, does he?”
Rion glanced down at Moon, wincing when violent tremors wracked the man’s small frame. “I don’t think so, but now’s not the time to tell him.”
His instincts rode him hard, demanding he claim what belonged to him, but he didn’t want to frighten the guy. He’d realized at once Moon didn’t recognize the connection between them, but Rion didn’t take it personally. Having lived concealed away from the rest of the world, it made sense that Moon would be a bit confused. As they’d walked along the path from the pond, however, Rion had gotten the distinct impression Moon knew something was different. He’d just been too distracted and confused to piece it all together.
“He’s right, though.” Midnight nodded toward Moon. “Mate or not, you have to go. We’ll take care of him.”
Rion didn’t doubt the men’s ability to care for their sibling, but he couldn’t leave. He’d never given much thought to having a mate, figured it would either happen one day or it wouldn’t. Now that he’d found Moon, however, he could think about little else. “I’ll stay.”
“I get it.” Star stopped and frowned. “Okay, I don’t really get it, but I understand the principle. You don’t want to leave him, and that’s great. The problem is—”
“He’ll recognize you,” Midnight interrupted with another jerk of his head toward Moon. “You’ll be safe with him, but once the sun sets—”
“You won’t be safe from us,” Star concluded.
The way they finished each other’s sentences would have been cute if not for the seriousness of the situation. Rion might not know a whole damn lot about werewolves in general, he did understand the risks. “I’m willing to take the chance.”
“Cruz!” someone called from the top of the stairs. “C’mon, man, we gotta go.”
Rion nodded in answer to Star’s question. “Rion Cruz, that’s me.” Tilting his head back on his shoulders, he called to the men outside. “You guys secure the doors and go on.”
Booted footsteps thudded against the stairs. Halfway down, Quaid stopped, crossed his arms over his chest, and glared. “Come again? Have you lost your fucking mind?”
“We tried to tell him.” Midnight paused in the act of unbuttoning his jeans when Rion snorted. “Well, we did.”
“Hey, pipsqueak,” Quaid greeted the werewolf with a grin. “You all set?”
“Other than being worried I might eat Rion?” After pausing to pull his shirt off over his head, Midnight tossed his clothes toward the corner and shrugged. “Yeah, I’m set.”
Annoyed at being talked about as though he didn’t exist, Rion tensed and bared his teeth, showing off his own set of canines. “I can take care of myself.”
“Please,” Moon whispered, turning just his head to look up at Quaid. “Please, Quaid, get him out of here.” Then he pressed his palm to the side of Rion’s face and sighed. “I’m really sorry about this.”
Leaning into the touch, Rion sighed and rubbed his cheek against his mate’s palm, letting the simple touch relieve some of his frustration. “What are you sorry about?” Pain still lingered in Moon’s expression, but mostly, he just looked sad now. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
“Look at me.”
“I am looking at you.” His gaze locked with Moon’s, and suddenly, he felt weightless, like falling, spiraling into a void. “What did…you…”
Their mouths came together in a hungry, desperate kiss, and their tongues twined, sliding together in an intimate dance. Bowing his back, Moon arched against his lover as he trailed his hands down Rion’s back, mapping the contours of his mate’s body with his fingertips. Reaching the waistband of Rion’s boxers, Moon slipped his hand inside the thin cotton to grip the shifter’s firm ass, squeezing the muscled globe as he growled.
Pushing the underwear over Rion’s hips, Moon showed off his flexibility, encircling the man’s waist with his legs and using his toes to pull the boxers down Rion’s thighs. “I feel overdressed for the occasion,” he panted, needing more skin, more of his lover’s warmth.
Without gentleness or finesse, Rion grabbed the collar of Moon’s T-shirt and ripped it down the middle, exposing his chest and abs. Moon’s sleep pants were the next to go, torn and shredded into unrecognizable scraps of cloth. The barbaric display of strength didn’t frighten Moon or turn him off, though. If anything, he felt more needy and desperate than ever.
Tangling his fingers in Moon’s hair, Rion growled as he rolled them across the mattress until Moon ended up straddling the shifter’s hips. Their mouths crashed together again, hard, searching, and feral, and Moon’s head began to swim from the lack of oxygen. Jerking his mouth away, he locked his knees against Rion’s hips and rolled again, pulling his mate on top of him.
“This is better,” he panted. He couldn’t explain it, but he liked the protectiveness of being surrounded by his mate, and he needed Rion’s dominance right then, at least until he could get his bearings.
“Don’t worry, baby. I got you.” Rion’s thick cock slid along Moon’s stomach, painting the skin with translucent drops of pre-cum as he rocked against him.
Moon’s dick throbbed, and his sac tightened, drawing his balls closer to his body. Imaginary butterflies fluttered madly in his stomach, and his skin tingled as electrical currents zapped through his body. Rion would want to make this first time special, and while Moon appreciated the thought, he didn’t want his mate’s tenderness. He wanted to be ravished, to wake up in the morning scandalized by the things he’d begged for in the night.
He couldn’t ask for those things, though. Even if he could draw enough air into his lungs to form complete sentences, he’d never be able to voice those kinds of desires. Instead, he wrapped his arms and legs around Rion’s torso, clinging to him tightly as he moaned and writhed atop the bed.
Whether clever or just observant, Rion seemed to get the message. Untangling himself from Moon’s embrace, he slid up his body until the crown of his swollen cock pressed against Moon’s lips. Holding the rigid shaft by the base, he tapped the head against Moon’s chin and smirked. “Open up, baby.”
Obediently, Moon parted his lips, groaning from deep in his chest as Rion fed the engorged length to him. Reaching between his splayed thighs, he fisted his own cock, stroking the aching flesh as his mate thrust into his mouth with increasing abandoned. Moaning and squirming, Moon slackened his jaw and opened his throat, encouraging Rion to take more, to push just a little deeper.
Vaguely, he registered the scrape of the nightstand drawer as it slid open, but his brain couldn’t process or make sense of the sound. He’d never been so consumed by lust before, like his entire body would explode when he finally reached completion. So when Rion pulled his wet cock free and rolled off the bed, Moon couldn’t hold back his whimper of need. His lover didn’t leave him waiting long, though. A heartbeat later, he crawled between Moon’s thighs and lifted one of his legs by the knee.
“Hold still,” he instructed as he coated his fingers with a liberal amount of clear lube. Furrowing his brow in concentration, Rion rubbed just his index finger of Moon’s entrance, coating the starburst with slippery gel. “Easy, baby.”
The burn radiated through his groin and traveled the length of his dick when Rion penetrated the tight ring of muscles, but it quickly faded, replaced by an intense pressure. “Oh, gods,” he groaned, whipping his head back and forth of the pillow as he rocked his hips, fucking himself on Rion’s digit. “More. Please, Rion.”
Clearly happy to cater to his wishes, Rion sawed his finger in and out of Moon’s channel, stretching him wide enough to insert a second finger. The burn intensified, as well as the pressure, but Moon reveled in every second of it. Pumping into him, Rion turned his wrist and spread his fingers, loosening the clenching muscles as untamed lust flashed in his dark brown eyes.
By the time his lover added a third finger, Moon couldn’t wait any longer. “Rion!” Jerking and bucking as he continued to stroke his throbbing cock, he bit down on his bottom lip and trembled, wanting relief in the worst way but unwilling to tumble over the edge without his mate. “I can’t wait. I need you. Now!”
“Not yet.” The harsh, gravelly quality of Rion’s voice didn’t match the trembling of his fingers as he used his unoccupied hand to caress Moon’s chest and pluck at his nipples. “Don’t hold back.”
“Not without you,” Moon argued through gritted teeth.
“Moon, come for me. Stop thinking and just do it.” Rion twisted his wrist sharply and plunged into Moon’s eager hole, rubbing relentlessly against his prostate. “Now.”