Aaric Tamang lost his chance at bonding with his mate almost seventy years ago. Because his family line had been under a curse, he’d walked away from the woman Fate chose for him rather than put her in danger. Now, decades later, the curse has been broken, but since his mate had been human, meeting up with her was impossible. Then why does the scent of a male wolf shifter catch his attention like no man ever has before? Crain Ponders claims they’re mates, but that can’t be right, can it?
“You not enjoying the party?”
Aaric’s question caught Crain off guard. He drew his brows together. “Why do you think that?”
Waving his hand at the otherwise empty porch, Aaric shrugged. “You’re out here instead of inside with everyone else.”
Leaning one hip against the railing and setting his hand on the banister, Crain tucked the thumb of his free hand under the edge of his chap to keep from reaching out and touching the handsome man. He eyed the older shifter from beneath his lashes. Crain noted the bead of sweat on Aaric’s lip, the slight dilation of his eyes, and the scent of lust rolling off the man. However, Aaric’s white knuckled grip on the top beam told him the man wasn’t likely to do anything about his desire.
Crain had never considered himself the forward type, but he refused to give up without some fight.
Giving the other man a coy smile, Crain murmured silkily, “You’re out here.”
“I’m not much on costume parties,” Aaric replied swiftly. His gaze flitted away from Crain, roving the dark forest line, then returned to him.
Taking a chance, Crain rested his hand on the leather and fur cuff wrapped around Aaric’s wrist and lower forearm. “That’s a pity,” he crooned, stroking the material. “You make this outfit look fantastic.”
“I, uh…thanks,” Aaric muttered thickly.
Crain slid his hand up Aaric’s arm and fabric gave way to lightly haired skin. He felt the muscle beneath tense.
“What are you doing?”
Smiling, meeting Aaric’s gaze fully, Crain stroked higher until he reached the other shifter’s shoulder, once again hitting fabric. “Just appreciating your costume,” he assured as he brought his other hand up. He stroked both hands down the man’s back, tracing the firm muscles under the tunic.
Aaric peered over his shoulder at him. “I don’t—” He paused and licked his lips. Goose bumps broke out over the man’s arms. “I’m not—”
Leaning forward, Crain found if he stood on tiptoe, he was almost as tall as the other man and could whisper into his ear. “You don’t what? Enjoy being appreciated? You’re not what? Into men?” He nipped Aaric’s ear, then licked the area, soothing away the sting. The man’s salty taste danced across his taste buds.
Gasping, Aaric shuddered underneath his touch.
Crain grinned. Heady excitement coursed through him as he realized that, at this second, he directed the next course of events. With that knowledge firmly in mind, Crain vowed to show Aaric how good they could be together. If what Draven had said was true, and the shifter had never been with a male, Crain knew he’d need all the leverage he could get.
“Just relax and feel,” Crain soothed.
He so wanted the opportunity to explore this big man, touch and taste everything, but he knew he couldn’t just dive in or he could very well freak him out. He’d do his best to keep Aaric relaxed while pleasing him.
Crain pulled Aaric’s lobe into his mouth and sucked lightly, pleased by the slight tremor that worked through the other shifter’s body. He dug his fingers into the tense muscle of Aaric’s shoulders, massaging the tight muscles. Crain could only imagine how much stress this guy carried to cause the massive amounts of tension he felt under his hands.
Releasing the ear he worked, Crain began nibbling his way down the man’s shoulder to the back of his neck. As soon as he reached Aaric’s nape, a low growl vibrated through the other shifter, erupting from him in a snarl as he wrenched away and turned.
Immediately, Crain realized his mistake—he’d touched the back of a more dominant shifter’s neck. He cringed and stepped away. Even though this was his mate, he didn’t really know him and hadn’t received express permission. Crain lifted his hands away from his body and bowed his neck, offering Aaric his submission.