Deep in the shadows of the forest, Tucker listened to his brother, Logan, laugh and knew just what he was going to say. His younger brother did not disappoint him.
“You’re man ran away like a girl.”
“That’s because you scared him,” Tucker shot back.
“I didn’t do anything,” Logan huffed, his smile still in place. “Neither did you, I can’t help but notice. Don’t tell me you’re getting cold feet.”
“No.” Tucker was most certainly not cold. Just the opposite.
The blood pounding through his veins left him feeling hot and restless. He hungered in a way that he never had before and it was taking all of his considerable self-control not to go chasing after Malcolm.
“You know the traditions,” Tucker repeated, reminding not only his brother but himself of the rules. “Malcolm has to make the decision.”
“Yeah, he does,” Logan agreed softly, his grin finally dipping as both brothers shared a look. “So, it begins tonight, are you ready?”
“I hope I am.”
Tucker honestly didn’t know. Tonight would be a real test. One he feared failing. One he should fear, after all, this was only a matter of the rest of his life. That weighed on him throughout the day as he tracked Malcolm all over the mountainside. His mate was curious and from all the people he went to interview, it was clear Malcolm had done his homework.
That was both good and bad, especially when it led Malcolm to Marry May Coulter’s old shack in the woods. The crazy witch was one of Timothy Coulter’s few surviving descendants. She was nuttier than a bag of granola, which was just why Tucker’s kind gave her a wide berth.
They understood each other that well.
Unfortunately Malcolm had to learn the truth the hard way. As Tucker watched from the shadows of the forest, he could hear clearly the conversation going between his mate and Mary May. She stood on her dilapidated porch, clinging to one rotted rail as she frowned down at Malcom.
“You want to know about Shelly Coulter? What makes you think I know any Shelly Coulter?”
“The birth records down at the county office.”
The sound of Malcom’s voice, strong and certain sent a warm thrill through Tucker, bringing a smile to his lips even as his mate’s tightened with annoyance.
“If I’m not mistaken you are a descendant of Shelly.”
“Nobody descended from Shelly,” Marry May corrected him instantly before qualifying her remark. “Nobody we know, but that still doesn’t explain why you’ve come asking questions about her. Shelly Coulter died…back before the country was even formed, so there shouldn’t be nobody around to ever even remember there had been a Shelly Coulter.”
“But you do,” Malcolm pointed out, dogged in his determination.
That was just another thing that made him sexy as hell. Mary May probably wouldn’t have agreed with Tucker on that opinion, but what did she know? Tucker was an expert. He’d been with enough men to know that it was the stubborn ones who made for the best lovers. They were also really good at pissing off cranky old women.
“Are you being smart with me?”
“No, ma’am,” Malcolm quickly assured her. “I’m just trying to solve the mystery of why Shelly’s grave was in the middle of nowhere. I’m actually researching my dissertation. It’s about—”
Mary May blinked that in looking more annoyed for being confused. Tucker could sense she was coming to the end of her patience with Malcolm. He was pretty sure he knew what would happen then.
“A paper for college,” Malcolm corrected himself quickly, earning a snort from the old lady.
“Well, why didn’t you say so?” She groused. “But I still don’t understand why you putting Shelly in your paper?”
“I’m writing about the universal messages in local folklore and mythical—”
“There ain’t nothing mythical about what happened to Shelly.” Mary May cut in. “Those idiots down there in Lake Lorne like to make up tales but the truth is that she was abducted, tortured, raped.”
Malcolm blinked that in, clearly shocked and left with only one question.
“By what,” Mary May shot back, her thin little lips tensing as her gaze darted over Malcolm’s shoulder.
Tucker knew just what she was looking at and knew just what her response would be. Malcolm didn’t have a clue and he was too busy with his own questions realize Mary May wasn’t listening to him anymore.
“What do you mean by what?”
“You,” Mary May snarled, her gaze cutting back to Malcolm as Tucker quickly began shedding his clothes. “You brought that thing here.”
* * * *
Malcolm’s question died on his lips as he turned to find the white owl had appeared to claim a branch in the large cherry tree that spread its limbs wide over Mary May’s tailored yard. Malcolm sighed. The damn thing was lingering around him all the more and he couldn’t help but escape the sense that he was being stalked by the bird. He knew how crazy that sounded and couldn’t help but wonder if the crazy in Lake Lorne was contagious.
Maybe it was something in the water.
He stumbled back, completely forgetting about the cold as the beast snarled and flashed its wickedly sharp teeth at him. In that moment, Malcolm knew this wasn’t the same wolf that had come out of the woods up at Mary May Coulter’s cabin. This one had a much bigger mouth and was eyeing him like its next meal.
That didn’t seem like an insane thought, especially when the big, scary looking beast snatched up Malcolm’s sweats and began to thrash them about in a motion that was clearly meant to kill, though the pants weren’t exactly alive. Wolf didn’t appear to understand that and took some kind of savage delight and stepping down on the cotton so that it rip it into shreds with his mighty fangs.
All the while Malcolm backed up. He was just about ready to dive beneath that water and swim for safety when his David appeared out of nowhere. He was still wearing his jeans but his shirt had gotten lost somewhere along the way and the man showed absolutely no fear as he rushed toward the wolf, hollering at it to get lost. It was insane thing to do. Even crazier the wolf obeyed.
Malcolm watched, not certain what was really going on here. Not that it mattered. He was paralyzed in that moment, torn between confusion and a lust so hot it wouldn’t have shocked him if the water around him started to steam. The confusion was understandable, the need boiling in his balls undeniable.
No. Malcolm certainly wasn’t, but he swallowed back that truth and tried to not sound either afraid or interested as he nod. “I’m fine…you chased the wolf off. Isn’t that a little insane?”
The other man snorted at that, his perfectly arched lips pulling into a smile that made it all that much harder to focus on his words. “Nah. You just need to know how to speak their language.”
Obviously he did speak it, but the other man didn’t look like any kind of researcher or biologist Malcolm knew. He had to be, though, otherwise his presence made little sense…unless, of course, he was stalking Malcolm. That thought probably should have put the fear of God into Malcolm but instead it sent a thrill racing through him.
“You sure you are okay?” The other man frowned. “Maybe you ought to come out of that cold water.”
Instinctively Malcolm moved to obey that suggestion, but not two steps forward and the other guy’s gaze was dropping down to the hard length of Malcolm’s erection, making him aware that his dick was not only saluting the other man. It was pointing right at him, and weeping. Almost immediately, Malcolm backed up, embarrassed by his body’s reaction, though the other man’s response confused him even more.
“Don’t,” the man whispered, his tone deepening with a rough huskiness that damn near mesmerized Malcolm. “Come. There is no need to be ashamed.”
He held a hand out to Malcolm, waiting for his decision. There was only one to make. As if mesmerized, his feet shuffled along the rocky bottom of the lake until he’d reached the edge. Only then did he hesitate and only to ask the question that pounded with every beat of his heart through his head.
“Who are you?”
“Yours,” the man answered simply, taking that last step for Malcolm so that they were almost nose to nose.
This close he could see the sun reflecting back from the guy’s eyes with feral intensity that held him spellbound as the other man leaned in to press his lips against Malcolm’s. They were soft but hard, forcing Malcolm’s mouth open for the invasion of his tongue. The first velvety stroke so shocked Malcolm that his hands instinctively lifted to land on the other man’s shoulders, but before he could push him away the very taste of the other man infused his blood, filling him with a wanton hunger that had him clinging to the other man instead.
Wild and undisciplined, the man’s kiss had Malcolm’s knees going weak as his own tongue rallied to the battle. Their tongues dueled in a carnal fight as old as time until Malcolm’s head was spinning and then he was pulling back to gasp and pant as rough, callused hand closed over his dick and began slow massage that had him whimpering beneath the delicious pressure making his cock swell within in the other man’s grip.
The other man’s thumb swept up and down the sensitive vein running the length of Malcolm’s dick until he reached the top. With a swipe he collected the pre-cum leaking out of Malcom’s blind cock-eye before pulling his skin taught as he spread that the warm proof of Malcolm’s arousal down the throbbing length of his dick.
Malcolm arched into the man’s touch, his eyes all but rolling back in his head as he begged for something, but what? He knew not. He didn’t need to explain, though. The other man seemed to understand just what Malcolm was aching for and before he moan with another pathetic cry of want and desire, his lover was sinking to his knees.
He caught the flared head of Malcolm’s dick in between those magical lips and sucked deep into his throat. Malcolm’s knees damn near buckled and he would have gone down if the other man hadn’t held him steady with a firm grip on his hips. There was no escaping, not for Malcolm, not that he wanted to, not that he had the ability.