Opening his eyes, Todd recognized the chipped powder-blue ceiling of his bedroom. Under his back he felt the soft, cool, Egyptian cotton sheet he had put on the bed yesterday. Beneath his head wasn’t the firm pillow he preferred, but a hard shoulder and arm, which extended around his own shoulders. A large hand was cupping his upper arm, rubbing it soothingly. Yep, that was working—not.
Todd could see his captor’s heavily muscled arm, with a black metal bracelet encircling its wrist, lying across his waist. A thick leg, lightly covered with a dusting of brown hairs, was bent at the knee, pinning both of Todd’s much smaller legs to the mattress. If preventing Todd from moving was the objective of whoever had him pinned down, the guy was totally successful.
“What are you doing?” he asked. Todd knew at this point he couldn’t get away. Trying to fight would only get him hurt and wear him out. Was he going to make a break for it when the opportunity presented itself? Of course he was. But for now he had to play it smart.
The man snorted. “You know damn well. I’m holding you.”
“Because if I didn’t, you might try to punch or kick me,” the gorgeous man explained. “Maybe even attempt some of those Middle Eastern moves that have become so popular. But I’m thinking a smart man like you would try something dirty, like poking my eyes out or something.”
Crap, he hadn’t thought of that. Angling his head he looked up, right into light brown eyes that had a gold hue all around the outside. They were unusual and beautiful, and they seemed to penetrate Todd’s soul. All thoughts of trying to hurt the man left his brain. Now his body was reacting to something that had his cock filling and his skin aching to be touched, stroked, and immersed in the other man’s essence.
“What the hell is that?” Todd asked.
“The mating bond,” the man answered.
“What the hell is that?” Todd was getting frustrated by the man’s answers, and his own body’s reactions were starting to scare him. It was all he could do not to start running his hands over the man’s body and explore all the secrets of those muscles covered with golden skin. Even more he felt like he was compelled to rub his naked body all over the man, enveloping himself in the stranger’s delicious smell.
“When a paranormal meets his or her mate, it’s the ties that will bind them together for eternity. It’s different for everybody. Shifters can tell a mate by their smell. Fairies have to touch skin to skin. I’m not sure about vampires. They’re a secretive bunch and not very friendly. I think witches just have to say some kind of incantation and their mate appears.”
Todd couldn’t believe how the man just described beings from fantasies like he was talking about the weather.
“You do realize that if I hadn’t just had a cougar lying half on top of me turn into a man I’d think you were delusional,” Todd continued. “Now that I think about it, this could all be a weird psychotic dream and I’m really lying on my front yard, unconscious from dehydration, or maybe I got hit on the head or something.”
Todd would have desperately felt around the top of his head for any sign of a bump, if his hands weren’t trapped under the gorgeous man’s arm and shoulder. “I know what it is,” he said. “I’ll bet an aneurism just blew up in my brain.”
The big man above him smiled, causing Todd’s heart to stutter. Maybe being brain dead wouldn’t be all that bad if it included the hot, muscled stud that was currently shifting around so he was now totally blanketing Todd’s body. As heavy as the guy was, Todd still enjoyed the feel of the substantial weight covering him.
“You’re not injured or delusional. You said so yourself. For some reason you were drawn back to this neighborhood. That was the bond between us, demanding that you come back here to me.”
“What do you mean I’ve come back to you? Have I met you before? How would I know you were here?” Todd asked. He was sure he would have remembered someone this hot if he had met him before.
“When you lived here as a child, I was your next-door neighbor,” the man answered.
“No way,” Todd exclaimed. “Old Lady Mildred lived on one side and the Crabby Bastard lived on the other,” Todd continued. “I would’ve remembered.”
“My name is Stephan Analdo,” Stephan stated.
Todd stared at Stephan Analdo. Mr. Analdo, aka. the Crabby Bastard. But the Mr. Analdo he remembered wore baggy clothes and had a long gray beard. He also had always worn a tan floppy hat and carried a dark wooden cane. The man currently making his heart race for many different reasons was in his midthirties, had thick, beautiful, shiny brown hair, and was so muscled that he looked like he could lift a truck with one hand.
“That doesn’t make sense. Mr. Analdo was an old man. You’re relatively young,” Todd said.
“Wearing different clothes and growing facial hair to keep up the illusion of getting older isn’t so hard. There’s also a witch two towns over that has some stuff that will make hair turn gray and give the illusion of being old, as long as you take it,” Stephan said. “Humans are so easy to fool.”
“Hey, I’m a human,” Todd objected.
“Now tell me what a lubirea mai is,” Todd demanded.
“Lubirea mai is a Romanian word that means beloved, and yet so much more,” Stephan tried to explain.
“I don’t know what you mean.” Todd was frowning.
“‘Mai’ means more. ‘Lubirea’ means beloved.” Stephan tried again, yet he knew he wasn’t explaining it right. “Okay, let’s see if this makes sense. When two humans say they are in love, body and soul, that’s big, right?”
“We call them soul mates,” Todd said.
“In the paranormal world, that’s what mates are. But when two mates are lubirea mai, they are more than soul mates. It’s bigger, wider, all encompassing. It’s everything.” Stephan was getting frustrated. He didn’t know how else to describe it. Todd squeezed his hand and he felt instantly calmer. “I’ve heard of mates not liking to be away from each other, especially when they first find each other. But the pain both of us felt surprised me, especially since we hadn’t totally bonded yet.”
“That was because we’re this lubirea mai, isn’t it?” Todd asked.
“I think so. In the paranormal world, it is the most wanted and dreamed about miracle of all.”
“Why?” Todd asked.
Now Stephan felt exposed and vulnerable sitting there naked. Standing up, he pulled Todd up with him and started toward the stairs. “We need to shower. Then maybe find something to eat.”
Todd tugged and pulled on his hand. “Stop. You can’t keep walking away when you don’t like something.”
Stephan stopped and faced Todd. “I’m a cat. When we don’t like something we leave.”
“Well, that’s too bad, pussy cat, because you aren’t walking away from me or my questions. Karma can be a bitch and she threw me into this mating thing. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to lie down and accept everything just because.” Todd stepped up into Stephan’s personal space and looked him right in the eye. “I refuse to live an unhappy life. So, you better start talking and explaining so we can figure out how we’re going to live together and make it work.”
The minute Todd stepped close, Stephan’s cock filled, lengthening and becoming thick, ready for his mate. All words disappeared, and only Todd’s sweet scent and delicious body remained in Stephan’s clouding brain.
Todd’s beautiful dark eyes were now smoldering with lust and thank goodness his mouth had stopped talking. Stephan lowered his head and kissed Todd. He loved the feel of his mate’s lips under his and took a few minutes to explore and enjoy. Reluctantly he pulled away. “Shower with me, kit?”
“Okay,” Todd answered. Dazed was a good expression on his mate.
* * * *
Hand in hand they went upstairs into the attached old-fashioned bathroom and soon Todd found himself under the warm spray of the shower. He didn’t know how Stephan always managed to get out of answering his questions, but right now he wanted other things besides answers.
Small kisses evolved, becoming deeper and wetter. Hands went from cleaning to stroking quivering flesh. Todd found himself with his back pressed against the wall of the shower and his legs wrapped around Stephan’s waist. Again Stephan slid inside of him easily, with no prep or lube.
“You’re going to have to tell me how you do that.” Todd’s breath was coming out in short bursts as Stephan kept a steady pace plunging into his body.
“Later,” Stephan said. “Now come, kit.”
Todd’s body immediately responded to Stephan’s order and his cum painted their chests in sticky white streaks. Stephan had stilled his movements and Todd could feel Stephan’s cock becoming even thicker inside him. Stephan still didn’t move and Todd couldn’t stop his hole from squeezing tight, wanting the dick inside it to move. Again and again he clamped down around the huge pole inside of him.
“Stephan,” he whined.
“Jack yourself off, my kit. When you come again, then I will join you.”
Todd didn’t have to be told twice and he happily wrapped his hand around the base of his cock. Stroking up to the tip and then giving the head a little twist had him clutching the thick prick in his ass even tighter.
“Faster, kit, I want you to feel it.”
Todd’s hand moved faster, making spine-tingling friction from his rough hand against the smooth skin of his cock. He couldn’t stop his hips from jerking and humping against Stephan, adding to his body’s rapid descent into overload.