As the son of the bear clan leader, Zeke's purpose is to take the mate his father has decided for him and bring the Washington clans together. He has a better idea though, one that involves seducing a sexy otter and running away with him instead of doing what his family expects of him.
But things aren't easy between Phillip and Zeke and with the bears hunting them, and Aedan and Brody, it seems all they ever do is argue. When Zeke finally has enough of it and decides to go back home, secrets that he's been keeping from Phillip spill out and Phillip turns his back on him. Zeke understands and knows it's what he deserves.
Phillip is glad to be rid of the lying bear, however when he sees Zeke alone and miserable at the same bar where they met, and he finds out what has become of Zeke since he went back to his family, Phillip can't just step aside. They may not always get along, but Phillip can't watch Zeke suffer either.
He'll need a miracle to fix the mess they're in, but if he can convince Zeke to try then maybe love won't be so impossible after all.
Two Months Ago
Phillip came into the crowded shifter club, Wild, and sat down at the bar. He was barely old enough to be there and the thickly muscled bartender behind the bar was clearly not impressed with him as he gave him a onceover.
“What are you drinking?”
“Uhhh...” He hadn’t really had a plan after coming into the bar. His big brother, Aedan, had been on his ass about not having sex with humans and not showing off how fast he could swim at the human beaches and he’d just needed a damn break from it all. “A beer? Anything beer related?”
The bartender snorted, shook his head, then walked away from him. He returned a minute later with a glass of frothy beer that tasted awful but helped him blend in with the others at the club as he slowly sipped it.
Wild was neutral territory where shifters could mingle and get their freak on. He’d only been there once before with a couple of friends. This was his first time flying solo. Or, since he was an otter shifter, it was probably more like he was swimming solo. The thought made him smile.
It wasn’t long before people started noticing him. A few women smiled, but he ignored them. He wasn’t into women, no matter what their shifter species. The men though, those he did pay attention to. Especially a cute guy with short, curly blond hair and a muscular build. He was the same height as Phillip, but at least eight inches wider than him.
“Hello, bear,” Phillip said as the guy came close enough to talk to him without having to yell. It was a guess, and by the guy’s quick smile, he knew he was right.
“Zeke,” the bear introduced himself.
Zeke looked like he couldn’t have been even a year older than Phillip, especially when he smiled. They shook hands, which Phillip thought was all very formal, considering where they were, and the fact that neither of them had shirts on. Zeke was even wearing a bit of gold glitter over his muscular chest.
He was cute, in a way Phillip liked. Tonight was supposed to be an easy, simple bit of relaxation and a break from his brother. Zeke seemed to be just the kind of guy to fill that requirement for him.
“How’s your beer?” Zeke asked him, his voice quiet and soft despite the noise of the music bouncing wildly around them.
Phillip shrugged. “It’s a beer. Aren’t they all the same?”
Zeke laughed and leaned in closer to him. He put his hand on Phillip’s thigh and Phillip opened his legs a little more, giving Zeke a clear invitation. “Would you be open to trying something a little harder?”
Phillip felt his cock stiffen at Zeke’s teasing voice and his implications. He grinned and gave Zeke a nod. “Whatever you’re into, I can handle it.”
Zeke laughed and motioned the bartender over. “Whiskey and honey over ice, for both of us. Please.”
The bartender nodded, then silently walked away. Phillip hadn’t known many bears and it made him laugh to hear one ordering something with honey in it. “So the old stereotype of bears and honey is true then?”
Zeke had a flash of a blush come over him before he was back to normal again and grinning at Phillip. “Most of what you’ve heard about bears probably is. We like honey, salmon, long naps in the winter, and swimming. And—”
“And you like to fuck rough?” Phillip guessed, taking a chance with another rumor he’d heard.
Zeke’s tempting smile turned into a full on grin before he licked his lips. “Maybe. Depends on the bear I guess. Why? Are you something that wants to pretend to be delicate?”
Their drinks came and Phillip took a big gulp of it. The honey took away some of the bite of the whiskey and allowed him to have a lot more of it than he normally would have without needing to cough on the harshness of it. Having the whiskey in him though immediately worked against him, making his mind go soft even as his body thrummed with energy. “I’m an otter. We like it however we can get it.”
Zeke moved his hand farther up Phillip’s thigh until his thumb brushed against the thick bulge in his jeans. “And I bet you like it in the water, too.”
Phillip wasn’t about to deny that at all. “Finish your drink and come dance with me.” He didn’t mind taking orders from a bossy bear shifter either. Especially not one as hot, and yet deceptively innocent looking, as Zeke.
Phillip’s drink was gone in two gulps and, as the whiskey burned through him, he followed Zeke out onto the dance floor. The music around them was some mix of rock and techno, something he wasn’t used to. It was a far cry from the classic rock his older brother listened to, and even more so from the pop Phillip liked. He took his favorites from the top forty each week. Whoever the DJ was that night had probably never even heard of Beyoncé.
Still, with Zeke pressed up against him and the whiskey taking away any inhibitions he might have still been able to cling to, he found the music stopped mattering. There was only Zeke with one hand on Phillip’s hip to control his movements and the other on his ass to pull him close. He could feel how hard Zeke was through his jeans and when Zeke kissed him it was all Phillip could do not to fall face first into him. He was barely able to stand up straight when Zeke led him back to the bar.
“Get my friend here another!” he told the bartender.
“I shouldn’t. I rarely drink,” Phillip protested. But then Zeke kissed him and none of his protests really seemed to matter after that. When Zeke brought the new glass to his lips, Phillip drank eagerly, especially as Zeke moved his kisses to the side of Phillip’s neck and began sucking on his ear. He even made low moaning sounds that shot straight down Phillip’s spine and ended up in his cock.
As he took the last sip of the drink, Zeke took it away from him. Phillip gave him a smile that he hoped was seductive, but in his state of mind maybe it was only a hair shy of goofy.
Either way, Zeke smiled back at him and took his hand. “You’re coming home with me tonight.”
“Yeah. With you,” Phillip slurred. Then he was back on his feet as Zeke led him out of the club.
Around four the next morning Phillip awoke to the sounds of people yelling and someone banging on a door. He groggily opened his eyes and groaned around the massive hangover that greeted him. “Fuck...” he gasped.
“You need to go.”
Phillip forced himself to open his eyes fully as he turned to see Zeke sitting up in bed next to him. He had on his pants, and so did Phillip, but he didn’t remember anything beyond the bar the night before. “Did we have sex?”
Zeke rolled his eyes. “The window behind you? Go through that. We’re on the first floor. It’s barely a two-foot drop. Just hurry up before my cousin comes through the door.”
Before Phillip could say anything more Zeke had his arm in his hand and was dragging him with surprising force toward the open window. “Thanks for last night and all. You were fun. But I need you to go now. Bye!”
He was unceremoniously pushed out the window and landed in the high grass on the other side of what must have been Zeke’s bedroom. “What the hell?” he grumbled. But he knew when to run when the voices got louder. He may have been barefoot and without a shirt, but that only helped him shift.
As an otter he wasn’t exactly fast, but he was small and good at hiding. Not that any of that really helped when he darted out in front of a car.