Yuma Batacan didn’t mean to reveal that he was a penguin shifter to the human, Hunter Driscoll. But between the pain caused by a gunshot wound, the disorientation of waking in a strange place, and the thrilling scent that told him the human was his mate, Yuma couldn’t find it in him to stop the change. Now he has to convince the abused and injured human that he isn’t some kind of monster. And Yuma has to do it quick, before Hunter’s attackers come back to finish him off.
“Get some rest.”
Hunter nodded. He wheeled toward the hall and his waiting bed. His father’s voice made him pause. “Will you ever tell me how he got the better of you?”
Pausing in the hallway, he turned his wheelchair around and met his father’s questioning look. He understood Walter’s confusion. Hunter stood six feet tall and had quite a bit of lean muscle from working with horses and cows every day. Viktor was a five foot nine twink.
“It’s an embarrassing story.” And one he sure didn’t want to tell his father. It was just a shame Hunter hadn’t known the names or faces of the two men with Viktor. The police knew his ex had accomplices, just not who they were. Hunter had no way of knowing if they were friends of the man’s or just hired muscle. He hoped the police would be able to convince Viktor to tell them.
After holding his gaze for several seconds, Hunter’s father looked down at the plate he held. “Okay. When you’re ready, son.”
That would be a cold day in hell, but Hunter didn’t want to tell his dad that. Instead, he nodded. “Thanks, Dad.” He paused, then added, “For everything.”
Walter looked back at him and smiled. “You’re my son, Hunter. I love you. Nothing you do will change that.” He grinned, the move lighting his faded hazel eyes. “That don’t mean I wouldn’t call the cops myself if I thought you were messin’ in something you shouldn’t,” he added.
Hunter smirked. “I know. No drugs, hookers, or murder. I promise.”
When he got the desired response, his dad’s chuckle, Hunter turned back around and headed toward his bedroom. He could feel his body fading fast, and really wanted to lie down for a couple hours. He’d learned quickly it was far better to rest for a few hours than to push it and end up incapacitated.
He paused when he went by the laundry room. Hunter couldn’t resist checking on his patient, so he wheeled into the spacious room and peeked into the sink. The little bird trembled in its sleep. From his research, Hunter knew penguins took short naps several times a day, often bunched up with other members of their rookery for added warmth. Concerned, he reached down and brushed a palm over the animal’s smooth skin. It was warm and clammy to the touch.
Nibbling on his lip for a moment, Hunter came to a decision. As carefully as possible, Hunter lifted the large bundle and pulled it to his chest. He bit back a curse as pain blossomed through his middle. Once he was sure the bird was cradled on his lap, Hunter sighed and closed his eyes to regain his breathing.
Hunter wheeled to his bedroom with no more stops. First, he laid the penguin on the bed, arranging it in what appeared to be a comfortable position. Hunter then levered himself up next to it. He’d cuddled sick dogs in his bed plenty of times, and hoped and prayed this wouldn’t be too much different. He’d always had an affinity for animals, and somehow ended up unscathed during sticky situations when others ended up bit. He hoped that held true for him now. He didn’t need to wake up to an angry, injured penguin.
Manually maneuvering his legs onto the bed, Hunter covered himself with a throw blanket and eased back onto his pillows. He groaned softly and rested his hand on the penguin’s side. He stroked its body gently, crooning nonsense until he fell asleep.
Movement on the bed next to him pulled Hunter from the comfortable doze he’d dropped into. He frowned. His hand was on what felt like flesh, firm, hard and muscular flesh. Then he remembered he’d taken the penguin to bed with him, wanting to use his body heat to warm the creature. But this didn’t feel like the penguin’s hide.
Cracking an eyelid, he peered next to him and just about fell off the bed in shock. Staring back at him with wide, terrified brown eyes was a man. And not just any man. This guy had to be the most beautiful creature Hunter had ever seen.
He had a lean, androgynous face topped with a mop of black hair, the tips frosted blond. His eyes were soulful, beautiful, and Hunter thought maybe he could drown in their depths. His short, pert nose led to pouty lips, the bottom one just a bit plumper than the top, and the image of how those lips would look wrapped around his dick immediately invaded his mind, making said cock firm in his flannels.
Trying to control his body’s reaction, he let his gaze wander lower, but that didn’t help his arousal. A naked, pale chest greeted his view, complete with two peaked, dusky brown nipples, already firm and ready to be sucked. That was as far as he got before his unexpected bed companion spoke.
“Please don’t hurt me,” the stranger squeaked, trying to inch away from him.
Hunter instinctively tightened his grip, not letting this alluring creature away from him. Hurt you? I want to love you! Whoever in their right mind could want to hurt you? Wait, where the hell did you come from?
Frowning, Hunter glanced around the room. “What happened to the penguin?”