[Siren Allure ManLove: Alternative Contemporary Paranormal Romantic Adventure Romance, M/M, shape-shifter, HEA]
Rankin is smitten with Bryce, the sexy barista at Café Anglais. He goes all out to woo the cougar shifter, showering his beau with chocolates, flowers, and a romantic meal for two. What could possibly go wrong? Except this is Sage, and Flashpoint are getting bolder and more ruthless by the day. Bryce is contacted by an old friend Mags, a drag queen at Club Antoine. Mags is in grave danger, has witnessed a murder, and is now being hunted by Antoine, a gangster and ally to Flashpoint. Bryce is determined to rescue his friend. Bryce and Rankin’s courtship is further hampered by the efforts of an ambitious reporter, Reuben, who has a nasty knack of writing articles that put innocents in danger, and he's not pleased when the residents of Sage don't cooperate with his attempts at getting a scoop on all things shifter. Will Bryce and Rankin ever hook up? Or is the Seduction of Bryce never going to happen?
“Hey, sweetness,” Rankin said softly, stroking a strand of hair from Bryce’s damp forehead. The man looked as though he’d just run a marathon or something. He handed over the bunch of flowers, watching Bryce’s expression soften measurably.
“Thanks,” Bryce replied, smiling as he touched the daisies. “I should put these inside.” He darted back inside, and was back again in minutes. Rankin liked his ruffled look, and said as much.
Bryce swallowed, his blue eyes showing his nerves. “I hope I’m dressed okay,” he blurted, moving restlessly from one foot to the other. “I didn’t know what to wear.”
Rankin considered Bryce, smiling gently. Bryce was clad in smart black jeans, black high tops, a blue T-shirt that matched his stunning eyes, and had topped it off with a tan jacket that looked brand-new.
“You’re gorgeous, as always,” Rankin informed him, brushing his fingers along the faded scars on Bryce’s neck. He felt his mate tense, but didn’t acknowledge it, keeping his touch light and soothing before lifting Bryce’s hand and kissing the palm. “So, how was your day?” he asked teasingly, lightening the mood and linking arms as he set off along the sidewalk to the restaurant.
Bryce seemed to relax slightly, huffing out a relieved sigh at the innocuous subject. He even smiled, showing a slightly crooked front tooth, his grin lighting up his face.
“John was on a whole new level today,” Bryce admitted, then chuckled heartily. “That man is a handful and a half. I’m so glad I finished at two. I’d have shoved him in the fryer if I’d had to work with him any longer.
Rankin grinned back. “Yeah, he has that effect on a lot of people,” he chuckled. “The guy excels at many things, but his sense of humor is an acquired taste.”
They strolled through town, arriving at MJ’s in good time, and sat in a booth, a little distant from the bar area. It felt intimate and gave an illusion of privacy. Rankin wondered how long that would last. He had the feeling his romantic evening would turn into a roast. John Hastings was never one to let an opportunity go by, not when it came to taunting Rankin, and he’d heard them arranging the date tonight. He shook his head. Yeah. And he couldn’t say he blamed his friend. During their time as serving soldiers, Rankin had been as big a wind-up merchant.
He glanced up, and groaned loudly, scowling across at the bar.
“What’s up?” Bryce asked brightly, glancing to the door. He bellowed out a laugh. “You’re going to get hell, you know that, don’t you?” he called out to the newcomers piling into the restaurant.
Rankin smiled ruefully. “John’s been talking again,” he said, then laughed, as well. Standing at the bar were Rankin’s friends, all former SF soldiers, including John, of course. Callahan, Cullen, and Vince were there, as well, along with the original Two Spirit crew, Zack, Murphy, Rafe, Joe, Cody, and their mates.
“Fuckers night out,” Bryce murmured, sharing an amused look with Rankin.
“You’re not wrong,” he replied, grinning back.
“We could always get our dinner to go,” Bryce said, his beautiful eyes brimming with mischief. “I might know somewhere we could go.”
Rankin eyed his friends, who looked primed and ready for baiting him all evening, then shook his head. “Darlin’, I’ve never run from a battle in my life,” he said, taking Bryce’s hand and kissing the knuckles softly. “We’re here to enjoy a nice meal, get to know each other, and ignore the riffraff,” he continued, leaning in closer. “If they get too rowdy, I’ll throw peas at ’em.”
Bryce burbled out a chuckle and shook his head. “We’ll get thrown out,” he whispered. “Mick doesn’t like food fights in his place.”
Rankin shot him a droll look. “Mick will probably lead the rowdiness,” he drawled, smirking. “Although, I could always get Jack to help out. He’s good at quelling the kiddies.” He sent a hopeful look to where Jack sat, not far away, grinning widely.
“Don’t count on it,” Jamie, Jack’s son, drawled right back, bringing a menu over for them to study. He poured water, waggling his brows at Bryce teasingly. “Jack’s been waiting ages for you to find your mate, Bryce. He won’t be much help.”
Bryce frowned. “What does that mean?”
Jamie patted his shoulder sympathetically. “He loves a good romance,” he said, wiping away an imaginary tear, grinning the whole time. “Do you want some breadsticks to munch on? I’ll come and take your order in a bit.” Then he nodded to his servers. “Trash, Boomer, and Brodie are training,” he said, a mischievous glint in his eye. “They’re doing a hospitality and catering course at the college, and we’re part of their work experience program. So if you need anything, and I’m not here, just ask either of them.”
“Thanks,” Rankin said, eyeing the nervous trio curiously. “I won’t bite,” he reassured the young men, who looked terrified for some reason.
“Yeah, that’s what John said,” one of the guys said, swallowing hard. “But we all know what he’s like. He likes to tease.” He glanced nervously over his shoulder. “I just hope he’s patient with us. We only started the other day. This is our third shift.”
Bryce smiled at the man. “Brodie, honey. If John or anyone else gives you grief tonight, let me know,” he said, eyes narrowing on his boss. “I’ll be happy to sort them out for you.”
Brodie looked alarmed. “Oh, no. That’s okay. We don’t want any trouble. Or to get fired.”
“No trouble at all,” Bryce replied, cracking his knuckles as he sent John a warning look.
“Oh god,” Trash said, groaning comically. “We’re doomed, aren’t we?”
“Not doomed,” Rankin cut in, smiling. “But I promise not to bite, if that makes you any happier.”
Bryce shot him a dry look. “I’m sure that’ll help their nerves,” he retorted.
Rankin locked the door behind them, stalking through to the bathroom where he flipped on the shower and stripped them both down to the skin.
“Tell me now if I’m going too fast,” Rankin said huskily, holding back.
Bryce began to laugh helplessly and tugged his mate into the stall, grabbing the shower gel. “Rankin, honey, if you went any slower, I’d think you were part sloth,” he giggled, and proceeded to lather up, then massaged his gorgeous stud’s taut abs, loving the feel of all that hard muscle under his fingertips.
Rankin grinned sheepishly, mimicking Bryce, his touch rasping over Bryce’s limbs seductively, exploring every crevice, every ridge, until Bryce was groaning blissfully. Damn, but the man was good with his hands.
“I’ve been dreaming of doing this for months,” Rankin murmured, falling to his knees in front of Bryce. His tongue darted out, licking at the thick, spongy head of Bryce’s rigid cock and slurping around the crown avidly. Bryce’s next breath lodged in his throat, and his head fell back at the first swipe. Fuuuck.
“Hmmm, delicious,” Rankin approved, winking, then deep-throated Bryce, who yelped, jerking involuntarily, nearly choking his lover. “Easy, tiger,” Rankin muttered, gagging a little, before sucking Bryce off with a finesse that had Bryce writhing helplessly, his hips moving restlessly, short, shallow thrusts as he took his pleasure, fucking Rankin’s mouth, lost in the moment.
“Oh, good god,” Bryce snarled, bucking as he felt his balls drawing up, ready for the impending explosion, before emptying his load down Rankin’s throat.
Rankin gripped Bryce’s ass, his fingers separating Bryce’s clenching cheeks, and probed delicately at his lover’s rosebud. Bryce widened his stance, moaning softly as he was turned to face the wall. He released a harsh gasp, startled when Rankin buried his face between his spread butt cheeks, his tongue lashing at Bryce’s chute, pushing past the tight ring of muscles. Bryce was light-headed, his nails scratching at the damp wall, trying to find purchase. Oh god. Rankin was driving him insane. That tongue should carry a warning. Fuck, but it felt good. It had been a long time since Bryce had been pleasured like this. In his former line of work, nobody had cared about his satisfaction.
Rankin was panting hard as he eased back, his face flushed with desire, his black eyes glinting with barely controlled passion. Bryce thought he’d never looked sexier. But despite his obvious need, Rankin finished off cleansing Bryce, his touch gentling, back to seduction again. Bryce nearly cried, feeling those huge hands touching his scars, something his lover had never once asked about. He would have to tell Rankin at some point. He knew he would. But not now.
Finished with the shower, Rankin hauled Bryce over his shoulder, laughing when Bryce giggled at the gentle butt slap he received. They went through to the bedroom, falling to the bed in a tangle of wet limbs and searching kisses, caressing with hands and mouths, mindless with desire.
Rankin returned to torment Bryce’s crease, lifting Bryce’s legs over his shoulders and lifting his butt slightly. “Lube?” Rankin growled.
Bryce could barely remember that he had lube, but regained his senses enough to dive under the pillows. Rankin was paying special attention to Bryce’s wounds, which Bryce had completely forgotten about.
“I didn’t like seeing you hurt,” Rankin murmured, meeting Bryce’s gaze soulfully. “It brought back too many memories of my own family.”
“John said you’d lost your family when you were younger,” Bryce said, stroking Rankin’s hair gently.
“Dimitri destroyed them, all of them,” Rankin admitted. “I’m the last of my kind.” He closed his eyes briefly. “They murdered my wife and son, who carried the last of our genes.”
Bryce’s heart stopped beating for a second, as he processed Rankin’s words. His ass was tingling from the man’s stunningly erotic attentions, and it was probably the most inappropriate time for him to mention being bisexual—and having been married and a father. But it was also the perfect time, really. In this intimate setting, there should be no secrets between them. And Rankin clearly trusted Bryce with this painful memory.
Bryce felt his heart restart, absorbing every bit of anguish in Rankin’s expression, and melted as he witnessed Rankin’s grief.
He sat up, unhooking his legs from his lover’s shoulders, and wrapped himself around Rankin like a limpet, clinging to him, comforting him the only way he knew how. He skewered himself on Rankin’s cock, rocking gently, loving his mate in a dance that was sultry, seductive, and designed to show Rankin there was still something to live for.
“Baby, I’m so sorry that happened,” he whispered. “None of this is right, is it? We’re at the mercy of people who should never be allowed freedom, but they seem to thrive by hurting us in the worst kind of way. Dimitri sounds like a monster. Bitter and twisted, his soul shriveled and devoid of love.” He kissed Rankin. “No wonder you were scared for me.”