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Snake Snack

Arrowtown Book 2

By Lisa Oliver







Copyright 2017 by Lisa Oliver

All Rights Reserved

Smashwords Edition

Snake Snack: Arrowtown Book 2
Copyright 2017 Lisa Oliver
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Cover Design by Lisa Oliver

Cover Model –courtesy of Paul Henry Serres Photography. License SC_103

Background and Snake image – Dreamstime.com

First Edition August 2017

All rights reserved under the International and Pan-American Conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording or by any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author, Lisa Oliver. Yoursintuitively@gmail.com

No part of this book may be scanned, uploaded or distributed via the internet or any other means, electronic or print, without permission from Lisa Oliver. Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. Please purchase only authorized electronic or print editions and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted material. Your support of the author’s rights and livelihood is appreciated.

Snake Snack is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.



Tradenames and song titles used in this story:

Hit Me baby…One More Time Brittany Spears, 1998

Jabbawockeez – See their official YouTube site here - https://www.youtube.com/user/thewockeez

My Girl The Temptations, 1965

YouTube http://www.youtube.com

Dedication

This has been a really hard couple of months for me from a real-world perspective and I couldn’t have got through it, or given Simon and Darwin their well-needed HEA if it wasn’t for my wonderful friends and readers and their unfailing support.

To Phil – because when I get fluffy he makes me cut it out.

To Judy – who shines my prose.

To Leah – for her countless sources of inspiration and her ability to make me laugh.

To Torhild – who keeps my group running and never fails to be supportive.

To Avril – who lets you all know when my books are released and threatens me with a whip when my word count is down.

And most of all, to my lovely readers on social media who send me messages, post things on my timeline and most of all remind me they haven’t forgotten me.

My life would be bleak without you – thank you all.

Table of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Epilogue

Other Books By Lisa Oliver

About the Author

Chapter One

Simon slapped the hand currently groping his ass, a hiss threatening to break through. The absolute last place he wanted to be was a gay strip club in Jackson, but…looking over at Seth grinning adoringly at Ra, he needed to be here. He had a soft spot for the little bunny and when Liam and Lucien offered to babysit, so Ra and Seth could have an adult night out, he tagged along. Rocky and Mal disappeared into the crowd; Brutus elected to stay home to supervise the lions with their babysitting activities.

“Hey,” the groper didn’t look as pretty with the glare on his face. “I was only trying to be friendly. There’s no need to get physical.”

“What do you call groping my ass?”

“Foreplay.” The man winked at him. “Want to head out back so I can see if that snake in your pants is as lethal as it looks?”

Simon froze at the word snake. There was no way the human could know for sure but he had too much to lose. Shifters were known to humans, but he’d had several hookups go wrong when his eyes changed. He shook his head. “Not looking for company. Just here to have a few drinks with friends.”

“Are you sure I can’t change your mind? I can be very persuasive.”

A man yelling for everyone’s attention strode out onto the stage, cutting off Simon’s retort. Seth stood; of course, he and Ra would have a table right at the front, waving for Simon to join them. Ignoring the would-be fuck, Simon shoved his way through the crowds as the MC introduced the next act. He snagged the chair Seth held for him and folded into it.

“Isn’t this exciting?” A flushed Seth could hardly sit still. His pale blue eyes sparkled.

“Watching men take their clothes off?” Simon grinned. Seth had that effect on him. “How does Ra feel about your strong desire to ogle naked men?”

“He said I could look, but not touch.” Seth shivered as he looked around. “I’ve never been in a place like this before.”

Unfortunately, Simon had, which is why he’d volunteered to go with the pair on their night out. Rocky and Mal were good, loyal friends. But wolf shifters tended to act without thinking and were easily distracted. Seth was a bottom boy magnet for any human top. Simon didn’t want to see him get hurt. Ra was protective, as he should be, but tended to punch first and apologize later. Simon knew, from experience, apologizing from jail wasn’t easy.

“The show’s about to start,” he whispered, nudging Seth with his shoulder, almost knocking the smaller man from his chair. Leaning back, Simon crossed his arms, stretched his legs and prepared to be bored. He’d seen it all before.

/~/~/~/~/

There are some funny ones in the crowd tonight,” Gus warned as Darwin prepared to go on stage. “Manuel and Fred will be watching to make sure there’s no trouble.”

Damn, Gus is ruining my Zen. Darwin knew only too well what “funny ones” meant. The man was phobic about shifters. What Gus didn’t know and never would if Darwin had anything to do with it, was Darwin was a shifter; a small one, making it easy to pass as human. Clearly, some in the audience weren’t so discreet. Predators probably; they were always big.

Their money’s as good as the next man's,” Darwin said firmly pulling on the calm he’d spent half an hour preparing. “My only worry is if the crowd doesn’t respond. That means I’m not doing my job right.” He smoothed the flak jacket he wore; the word police emblazoned in white across one of its many pockets and checked the shield on his belt was securely fastened. Pulling on fingerless gloves, he flipped his dark shades over his eyes. He preferred to dance with them on; sometimes the scent of pheromones in the air could cause his animal to want to break free. Thank goodness, the costume called for them. “Cue the music.”

Catching Jude’s eyes across the stage, his counterpart dressed exactly as he was, he nodded once as the beat of the drums filled his ears. The two men ran onto the stage and Darwin let the music fill his soul. His body moved automatically, hours of practice making concentration unnecessary. His eyes, hidden by his shades scanned the crowd for the “funny ones” and he didn’t have to look far.

Right there in front of him, looking for all the world like he’d rather be anywhere else but watching them was the most stunning biker he’d ever seen. He had friends; a big guy with a mane of multi-colored hair and a cute little blond who didn’t look old enough to be in the joint. But his eyes flicked back to the mountain man. Dark hair kissing his shoulders, slicked back from his face. A long straight nose and full lips closely guarded by a well-trimmed mustache and goatee. Sharp jawline, thick neck, and his eyes. Darwin’s dance faltered. Dark eyes, almost black were focused on… the ceiling?

“Pay attention,” Jude hissed as he sailed past, his limbs contorting as he went down into the splits. Darwin’s legs split on cue, and as he sank to the floor and started humping the wooden boards in time to the beat, he wished with everything he was the mountain man was underneath him.

/~/~/~/~/

“He’s watching you,” Seth nudged Simon out of his stupor. Already bored with the flesh on display, he was doing his best to tune out the noise and the smell of lust emanating from the audience who were catcalling and waving money in the air as the dancers performed.

Which one? They all look the same to me,” but in spite of himself, Simon looked and then cursed under his breath. Not four feet in front of him was a truly delicious morsel of a man. Broad shoulders leading to a slender waist highlighting the bubble butt currently waving in Simon’s direction as the man humped the floor. Short blond hair slicked down with products, a whisper of stubble outlining a sharp chin and full lips. The only things Simon couldn’t see were the man’s eyes, but by the Fates, he wanted to. As the man tore off his shirt Simon caught a smattering of tattoos on the man’s forearm.

His mouth dry, his snake was awake and unthinkingly his tongue pushed past his lips as he scented the air. Smoke, booze, lust and dried spunk. But there was a hint of something; something sweet and erotic at the same time. “Papaya,” Simon whispered, aware Seth and Ra giving him funny looks.

But Simon couldn’t look away from the stage. Every movement was fluid yet a challenge. The dancer’s body language yelled, “you can look but you can’t touch.” And boy, Simon wanted to touch. His snake wanted out; wanted to wrap the smaller man up in his coils so no one could ever gaze upon that perfect flesh but him. There was nothing weak about the man as he contorted in positions designed to tempt Simon’s lust; skin being revealed inch by calculating inch. He shivered as his scales erupted along his arms.

I can’t watch this.” He groaned as the sound of ripping Velcro signaled the loss of the stripper’s pants. The crowd roared their approval but all Simon could feel was his scales morphing along his spine. “I’ve got to get out,” he muttered to a stunned Seth. “Find out who he is. He’s mine.” Evading Seth’s comforting hand and ignoring his startled “eep”, Simon leaped from his seat, powering through the surge of the crowd as they all vied for the right to touch, to stuff dollar bills in the G-string of the man destined to be his. He wanted to kill them all; grab his mate from the stage and run off with him, but he couldn’t. He wouldn’t. Not in a human town.

Mustn’t shift. Mustn’t shift. Must. Not. Shift. His teeth dug a hole in his gums. Outside, Simon looked around wildly. The SUV; that would have to do. Thanking the Fates he was the designated driver, Simon ran, pressing the buttons on his remote. A beep and he was inside, slamming the door shut and locking it; his clothes falling in a heap on the floor well as he lost control of his snake.

Just as well I haven’t got thumbs in this form, he thought, eyeing the door lock. His snake was angry at having to hide; having to run away from his mate. But Simon knew he couldn’t risk showing his true form. The predominantly human town would have problems with it and Simon had no wish to be detained. He coiled up on the floor well, the space barely big enough to hold his bulk and seethed; snake and man having a running battle. Simon didn’t want to spend the night in jail; his snake wanted that little man in their clutches. Given how stroppy his snake could be, Simon wasn’t sure how long he could control him.

Chapter Two

His metaphorical whiskers twitching, Darwin cautiously opened the dressing room door. “What do you want?” He asked the cute blond with a curly mop of white blond hair. “You’re with them, aren’t you?” His eyes widened as he caught the scent of predators. “Have you come to drag me off so your friends can eat me, because I’m telling you now, I’ve got a fucking big bat and I know how to use it.”

“See, I told Ra it was better to let me come and talk to you. He didn’t want me talking to you alone, but honestly,” the blond laughed. “Those big guys think with their dick most of the time and you can’t get a word of sense out of them at others. I promise I’m not a threat.”

“There’s more than just you three?” Darwin looked out the door, but the dim hallway was clear. For now. He looked back at the blond. “What do you want? I’m not hurting anyone.”

Suspicious, aren’t you.” Shaking his head, the blond pushed past him and Darwin closed the door. “Nice digs. I’m Seth, by the way. Lop-eared rabbit mated to the big gallute you might have seen besides me when you were dancing.” Seth held out his hand, and feeling as though he’d fallen down a rabbit hole, Darwin took it and then dropped it quickly.

“You’re mated to….” Damn, the rabbit was obviously sent to warn him off from the mountain man. Did they know what he was? Is that why they sent a rabbit? Because they thought that’s all it would take to scare him off? He was tougher than that; he had to be. But Seth laughed, perching himself on his dressing table.

“I’m mated to a tiger, Ra,” Seth said. “But I doubt you even noticed him. The man who caught your eye and held it for most of your wonderful performance was Simon. He’s a snake.”

Darwin preened at the praise and then froze. “That hunk’s a snake?” He gulped, the lump in his throat refusing to move. His heart raced as he looked wildly for escape. His dressing room was tiny; he’d been offered his private space because he had seniority among the dancers but it wasn’t much. The room only had one door, no windows and there wasn’t even a hole in the baseboard he could disappear through.

“Don’t panic,” Seth said, his arm warm on Darwin’s bare shoulder. “Honestly, they’re all good guys. They might look rough, but Ra has a heart of gold and Simon would lay down his life for you.”

Why?” Darwin managed to get his voice above a squeak. “I don’t know him; I’ve never seen him before. I haven’t seen any of you before.” And I’d have remembered, he thought glumly. At least he had a name to call out when he was pleasuring himself at night. Simon. Simon the snake shifter.

“Simon’s your mate; isn’t it exciting?” Seth actually squealed, making Darwin jump. “He, well, I guess Simon wasn’t keen on all those men seeing you take your clothes off and stuffing money in your G-string so he had to leave. Mates are funny like that.”

Darwin looked down at his lack of clothing. He’d done well; tens, twenties and even a fifty still poking from his remaining tiny piece of clothing. He hastily pulled the bills out, putting them on his dresser while looking for his pants.

Anyhow,” Seth continued as if they were the best of friends. Darwin longed for friends, but… “I could feel Simon’s scales forming and his fangs were starting to drop. I’m guessing he ran back to the wagon so he wouldn’t embarrass you. This is a very conservative place from a shifter perspective.”

“It works if you can pass,” Darwin snapped, zipping up his pants and fumbling for his shirt. “I suppose you live in one of those shifter towns? Where everyone just merrily shifts in the street and no one bats an eyelid.”

“Yes.” The smile on Seth’s face was so innocent. “Arrowtown. Have you heard of it?”

Darwin shook his head as he shrugged his shirt on. “I don’t have anything to do with shifter towns,” he said abruptly. “Predators run those places and make life hell for…for…for smaller animals.”

“Oh no. I’m so sorry you feel that way. Arrowtown’s not like that, I promise you.”

See, this is why I don’t talk to people. I only upset them and it was clear Seth was upset for him, which was something Darwin didn’t understand. “It’s fine, we don’t all have rainbows and fairy dust upbringings. I’m from New York. You learn to grow up tough there. I tried living in a few shifter towns…” Darwin snapped his mouth shut. He wasn’t going to go there. “I hope you and your friends have a safe trip home.”

“You aren’t coming to meet Simon?” Seth’s eyes filled with tears and Darwin felt like shit. “He would have introduced himself, but he was really struggling with his snake. I know you’d rather talk to him….”

I’ve not had good experiences with predators of any kind,” and a snake is one of the worst. “I’m sure this Simon is a wonderful man, but you see what I do. I have bills to pay and I’ve never been to school. This is the best I can be and he wouldn’t like it.” The last came out mumbled, but he knew Seth heard him.

“But you’re mates. That has to mean something.” Seth tried one last time, but Darwin was beyond listening. Blood pounding in his ears had a way of doing that. He pulled on his boots and grabbed his backpack, stuffing his tips from the night into a side pocket.

I don’t even know what being a mate means,” he lied as he stormed out the door. And if his heart was breaking over his lost opportunity as he ran down the hallway and escaped out the fire exit door, then no one would ever know about it but him. That’s the way it’d always been and that’s the way it would stay.

/~/~/~/~/

“Thank fuck I’ve got a spare set of keys,” Ra grumbled as he opened the SUV. “Oh, there you are. I sent Seth to talk to your mate, but…here he comes now and he’s on his own. I think you should…Simon, no. Get back here.”

Simon’s snake was in full control and all he’d been waiting for was an opportunity. Was he grateful his friends had tried to intervene with his mate for him? Yes. But this was a situation he needed to handle for himself and the more he’d thought about it, the more Simon knew his snake was right. They couldn’t and wouldn’t walk away from the chance of a mate. He slid out of the door before Ra could stop him, disappearing under parked cars as he scented the air. In his snake form it was easy; his long, forked tongue picking up the scents of dirt, exhaust, and pollution. As he got closer to the club, the smell of papaya hung in the air and he quickly changed direction.

His mate was fast on two feet, but Simon was faster and quickly caught up; his rippling dark scales blending with the shadows. He spied the delicious dancer heading into a building just two blocks down from the club. Slipping into an unlit alley, his long neck arched as he watched and waited for a light to go on. There. Three floors up. A piece of cake. At least in this form.

Open a window, honey, I’m heading in.

Chapter Three

I won’t cry, I won’t cry. I will not cry. Darwin angrily wiped away the wet streaks on his face as he slung his bag on the couch and slumped beside it. I’ve got to eat. I need a shower. I should…. He had a routine and his sanity insisted that he stick to it. But somehow, one huge predator and a tiny rabbit had thrown his equilibrium out of the window.

Window. It was hot and Darwin begrudged the money for air conditioning. His mind still in a daze, he opened a couple of windows and took his bag over to the bed. His studio apartment was cheap as far as apartments went, but he’d made a couple of adjustments the landlord didn’t know about. His floor safe was one of them.

Calling on his claws, he carefully edged up the board under his bed. Not even the sight of his safe could make him smile. It was a gun safe; long and thin, perfectly designed to hide under the floor. Part of Darwin’s nightly ritual was to put away his money, carefully sorting it so that all the bills were facing the same way, the denominations separated by dividers. But tonight, he just threw the money in, slamming the lid closed. His nest egg, the one thing that gave him any sense of security couldn’t compete with his shattered dreams of a mate.

A snake? Is this some kind of cosmic joke? Darwin rubbed his hands over his face, ignoring the hardwood under his knees. He’d met a snake shifter before. A tall, slender, greasy-haired man with a grip like a vise who’d bought him a drink, fucked him and then threatened to force his shift so he could eat him. It was about that time Darwin decided being around any kind of shifter was bad for his health. His animal wasn’t aggressive; he was average height in human form and no one currently in his life knew he was a shifter.

Except for that rabbit and his toothy friends. Darwin slapped himself. He’d been around humans too long. He’d got complacent; judging himself safe by hiding from others. Although…Darwin froze as the hairs on the back of his neck rose. He had that eerie sense he wasn’t alone and being on his knees beside a bed wasn’t a position of strength. A quiet hiss had him rolling under the bed, grabbing his baseball bat as he came out the other side.

What the hell are you doing in here?” He yelled, raising his bat, ready to swing. The snake had to be fifteen feet long, its black body thicker than his bat. A narrow diamond-shaped head looked as though dusted with glitter, the only color on the monochrome body. The front half of the snake rose at Darwin’s threat; his head slightly tilted as though confused by his actions.

This is my house and you’ve got no right sliding in here as though you own the place,” Darwin raged. He didn’t need this. The scent filling the room told him everything he needed to know and even if it didn’t, what were the odds he’d come across two different snakes in the same night? “I told your friend I don’t do shifter towns. I’m not a fit mate and I wished you a safe trip home. Why aren’t you on your way home?” Why did you come after me? Can’t you see I’m not worth it?

Lack of food and a long day had Darwin’s arms trembling with the effort of holding the bat above his head and Darwin dropped it in defeat. He couldn’t hit his mate. And Simon was his mate. The pressure in his pants let him know that. “Shift and say what you’ve got to say. I need my sleep. I’ve got to get up for my other job in four hours.”

Ignoring the snake’s curious eyes, refusing to marvel at how the snake’s body curled around itself, following his every move, Darwin edged over to the couch and flopped down. He couldn’t do anything about his racing heart, or the way his animal couldn’t decide if he wanted to run and hide or snuggle up to a pile of scales. He nudged his cock into a more comfortable position, jumping slightly as Simon hissed and stuck out his tongue. Crossing his arms, he stared at the snake and waited.

/~/~/~/~/

Lunch. Mate. Snack. Not snack. Mate. Okay, Simon was getting a bit befuddled. His snake recognized the sexy stripper as a food group first; he wasn’t interested in sex, although he recognized his mate. Simon himself wasn’t strictly interested in the sex side of things just yet either…oh, who the hell am I kidding…but the young man’s attitude didn’t make sense. Pushing aside his hurt and his snake, Simon shifted and wished he’d bought clothes with him.

Cover yourself.” Simon reached up and grabbed the throw tossed at him. “I’m not interested in seeing your dangly bits.”

There’s nothing dangling here. Simon draped the throw over his lap, planting his butt on the floor. He’d far rather sit on something else, but the couch, bed and a couple of bar stools at the kitchen counter were the only options in the tiny apartment and he didn’t think his bare ass would be welcome on any of them.

“Well, aren’t you going to say something? You followed me from the club; broke into my apartment, you must’ve….”

“The window was open.” Simon didn’t want his mate to think he was a criminal.

“And I’m three floors up. I don’t expect anyone to come bounding into my window anytime they feel like it.”

“Do you have a name? I wasn’t paying attention when your segment was introduced.” Simon decided the bounding comment wasn’t worth defending. His snake never bounded in his life.

You weren’t paying attention?” Darwin’s voice rose in a screech. “Me and my friends perform every night so guys like you have something to dream about when you're playing with yourself in that lonely bed of yours and you can’t be bothered to pay attention to our names?”

“I’m not interested in your stage name. It’d be nice to know who you really are.” Now his mate was home, the dark glasses were gone and Simon could see a ton of conflict in his deep brown eyes. “I’d like to get to know you.”

Didn’t you listen to your little rabbit friend either? I told him I don’t do shifter towns. I’m not educated. I don’t have a trade or profession. I won’t just pull up stakes and move to a town run by predators that see me as their next meal especially when I have to be dependent on someone else for my next meal.”

Simon frowned. “Who hurt you?” He’d get them; if there was one thing his snake could be counted on, it was tracking down the bad guys. He’d find whoever hurt his mate and see they met an ugly end.

What? You’re going to run rampant through every shifter town between New York and Jackson? Very commendable, but that’s just my point. You’re a predator. Those places are run by predators. I won’t live in a shifter town again.”

“And now, I’ve scented you, I can’t live without you. How long do you think I’ll last, living in Jackson before someone runs me out of town or puts me in jail?” Simon felt truth was his best option. His seduction techniques sucked.

Darwin’s mouth opened, snapped shut. Opened again and then settled into a frown. Simon tucked the throw a little more under his butt cheeks. The air was warm, the floor wasn’t. But it was nice to see his mate could take the time to think about things if he needed to; although given that they were mates, what the hell did he have to think about?

Chapter Four

If I don’t get some sleep soon, I’m going to get shit at work. Maybe I can get Simon to reschedule this discussion when I’m free…. That would be a problem though. Darwin never had free time. He’d run so far for so long, working three jobs at a time was second nature to him. He’d depended on people once and when that crashed around his ass, he vowed never to do it again. That meant relying on himself and working his ass off.

I can’t live without you. Not…we’re mates and I’m bigger than you, you have to do what I say. Just, I can’t live without you and that means…. From the sounds of things Simon wasn’t going anywhere without him and looking at the pile of musculature Simon was sporting, it wasn’t as though he could move him. On the plus side, Simon wasn’t pushing him either. He just stated a fact leaving Darwin to deal with it whichever way he wanted.

Darwin opened his mouth and then closed it again. What could he say? He’d been looking after himself for more years than he could count. Yeah, he still got carded in a bar, but he was a lot older than he appeared. And now, for some reason, Fate dropped someone for him to care for in the middle of his living room. Him. It was all very confusing.

“I need to sleep,” he said finally as his brain gave up. “I’ve had a really long day. I need to shower, eat, then sleep and when I wake, I’ll call in sick at my other job so we can take the time to talk. But right now….”

“What do you eat?” Simon rose in a fluid motion any stripper would be proud of; the throw rug doing nothing to hide the evidence of his arousal. “I can cook the basics. You get in the shower. I’ll find something in the kitchen.”

Darwin bit his lip and fisted his hands as Simon strolled by. He was a back man; he loved nothing more than to spend hours licking and kissing over a broad back and Simon’s was droolworthy. Not an ounce of fat, shaped in that delicious V that always got Darwin’s motor running and an ass that would stop traffic. Darwin’s fingers twitched and he licked his lips. As soon as Simon was safely in the kitchen, he hurried through to his compact bathroom.

“My cock is going to fucking fall off,” he muttered as he wrenched off his clothes, sighing with relief as his strangled length fell free. “My balls will explode into tiny pieces and there’ll be nothing left of me but spunk. God damn it. Heat up.” He heard the clatter of a pan on the counter, the closing of the fridge door. “Hope he finds the eggs.” Darwin dived into the shower, soaping his hands before grabbing his dick. “Oh fuck.”

It wasn’t enough; his hands were a poor substitute for the mountain of flesh currently working in his kitchen but Darwin had a vivid imagination. His head back, he imagined himself climbing Simon’s body, his mouth latching on one of those flat brown nipples; teasing it and sucking it until it turned bright red. He could see Simon watching him as he licked his way across every neatly defined ab muscle. Simon’s cock would leave smears on his chin as he got lower. Darwin inhaled, the faint traces of Simon’s scent in the steam enough to fuel his fantasy. “In my mouth…argh.”

Darwin slapped his hand over his mouth then spat as the remnants of soap on his palm hit his tongue. Scrunching his nose, he watched as his spunk disappeared down the drain. I’ve got to clean up. The smell of freshly cooked bacon and grilled cheese made his stomach rumble and he hurriedly washed his hair free of the gunk he used at the club.

Stepping out, he grabbed his towel and wrinkled his nose at his clothes on the floor. They were grubby and he hated the thought of putting them on again. Time to test this snake’s control, he thought, wrapping a towel around his slender waist. He’d better not put a hand on me until I say so, or his head will meet my bat. Not sure who he was trying to convince, he sauntered back out to the kitchen.

/~/~/~/~/

Playing with fire already, boy? Simon refused to let thoughts of taking the man on the kitchen floor show on his face as he plated up the food he’d thrown together. Grilled bacon and fried eggs. He wasn’t sure if his mate preferred them over easy or sunny side up and he was hardly going to interrupt his mate’s frantic wank session in the shower to ask. The surprising amount of cheese in the fridge made him smile and he’d grated enough over the plate that the state of the eggs wouldn’t matter.

“This is good. Thank you. By the way, the name’s Darwin.” Darwin attacked his plate as though it was the only food he’d seen all day.

“Thank you. You only had instant coffee,” Simon resisted a shudder. “Did you want some or…?”

“Hot chocolate, please. Coffee will keep me awake.” Darwin beamed around a mouthful of eggs. “Cupboard above the fridge. Made with milk. The pan is under the kitchen sink.”

As if there’s any other way of doing it.” Simon found the chocolate and a bag of mini marshmallows. There were some things his mate didn’t stint himself on at least. Setting the milk to heat on low, he watched Darwin clear his plate, a warm glow of satisfaction blossoming through his body. He cared for the men he called his family but providing for a mate was different.

Making two mugs of chocolate, Simon set them on the counter and slowly sat down. He was still naked and as he’d been cooking, he’d cursed the fact he hadn’t thought to bring a phone. Ra and the others would be worried about him. There was a sharp knock at the door. Or not. Shit, I forgot Rocky and Mal came with us.

“I’ll get it,” he said, grabbing the throw again. “It’ll be for me unless you were expecting someone?”

“At two o’clock in the morning? And how does anyone know you’re…?” Darwin broke off as Simon opened the door to Ra standing with a bag in his hand and a smirk on his silly face.

“Rocky found you. Not here to interrupt. Rocky and Mal will bring your bike over in the morning. Gonna get some sleep first. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

As if I would. Simon returned the grin and winked before closing the door in Ra’s face, dropping his bag on the floor by the door. He still wasn’t sure if his skittish mate would let him stay and while he could dress now, he didn’t see the point.

“That was Ra,” he said as he sat down at the counter again. “He’s a tiger. Rocky and Mal are two wolves we share a house with. Nothing can beat Rocky’s nose when he’s tracking someone.”

“Must be nice to have friends,” Darwin said, his voice tight. Simon cursed his friend’s untimely arrival. For a brief moment, it seemed like Darwin was opening up.

They’d be your friends too if you let them get to know you. There are six of us in our group; well, seven now Ra is mated or ten if you count the kids. Aside from Rocky and Mal, there’s Brutus, he’s a bear and Liam and Lucien who are brothers. They’re lions. Seth, you’ve already met. He and Ra have three children. They haven’t had their first birthday yet.”

“Adopted?” Darwin seemed to perk up at the mention of children.

No. Seth’s not a pure rabbit. He’s half-fae.” Simon waited for the penny to drop. Darwin didn’t disappoint; his eyebrows almost disappeared.

Wow, that is just…wow.” Darwin slurped his chocolate, clearly thinking things over. Simon was happy to just be sitting in the same room as his mate, although he’d rather be fucking his mate over the counter. Darwin glared as the scent of arousal in the room thickened.

Simon shrugged. “Can’t fight the Fates,” he said as he moved his cock so it wasn’t hitting the underside of the counter.

“Not fighting it, just not going to jump into anything either.” Darwin got up and put his cup in the sink. He turned and crossed his arms. “You can take the bed, you’d never fit on the couch. I’ll sleep there and I’m taking my bat with me. We’ll talk in the morning.”

Knowing this wasn’t a battle he would win, Darwin’s lack of trust hurting him to the core, Simon simply nodded and grabbed his bag before going through to the bathroom. He was sorely tempted to rub one out himself; it wouldn’t take long, but he refrained. When he did claim the delicious little mouse, and it was when not if, he wanted him so saturated with spunk no one would have any doubts who he belonged to. Oh, gods, that visual didn’t help. His cock jerked in response and Simon turned on the cold tap full blast. It was going to be a long night…what was left of it.

Chapter Five

“Fuck, I’m late.” Darwin gasped, his eyes opening to sunlight streaming into his apartment. “What the…?” He was on the couch, his bat clattering to the floor as it fell out of his arms. As his memories flooded back, he peered over to the bed. It was empty.

“I thought you were calling in sick today. I got you coffee.” His favorite mug appeared in his peripheral vision; Darwin took it and sipped gratefully.

“This isn’t my brand.” Darwin inhaled deeply, soaking up the rich scents of finely roasted coffee beans, before taking another mouthful. “This is expensive. Did you go out?”

“My treat,” Simon said from the kitchen. “You don’t seem to have much in the fridge for breakfast. Can I take you out for a meal?”

“I’ll call work.” Darwin put down his cup reluctantly. He did miss fine coffee but it was an expense he didn’t need. Pulling out his phone, he had a short, terse conversation with the manager of the Quickie Mart, throwing his phone on the table when he was done.

Not a pleasant man, your boss,” Simon observed and Darwin looked up to see him perched on the edge of the couch. If he thought Simon was imposing the night before, today the impression was reinforced. Dressed in tight black jeans with a matching t-shirt that strained across his biceps, Simon was every bad-boy-biker fantasy come to life.

I…er…” Darwin shook his head, trying to clear decidedly lecherous thoughts. What did he say? Oh yeah…. “Stock boys don’t have lives of their own apparently, nor do they get sick. He’s going to dock my pay for this, you know.”

That’s one more reason for me to take you out for breakfast. The food in the diner where I got the coffee from smelled nice.”

Let me get dressed.” Darwin was acutely aware his cock was fighting to get free of his blanket. I need clothes. I need clothes now. Otherwise, the only thing Simon will get to nibble on is me after I plaster myself over his body and start taking chunks out of him.

Positive his cheeks were flaming red, Darwin grabbed the first clothes that came to hand before escaping to the bathroom; the only place in his studio apartment where he could get some privacy. How can my damn mate seem so…so…stoic? If it wasn’t for Simon’s evident bulge, Darwin would swear his presence had no effect on his mate whatsoever.

Splashing his face with cold water was enough of a shock to get his cock to go down long enough to pee. Darwin grimaced at the t-shirt he’d grabbed. It was one he wore when he went clubbing and barely covered his midriff, but he wasn’t about to go out looking for another one. His jeans were no better; Darwin grunted as he tugged them on and fastened them. He felt fluttery…yeah, that was the word; like his insides were going to take flight right out of his throat. And it wasn’t just because he was taking an unscheduled day off. He wanted…he needed…he…. “I need food,” he told his reflection sternly. And a makeover, his critical brain added. You look like shit.

Flicking the finger at his reflection, Darwin sauntered out of the bathroom well aware he looked like a rent-boy. Well, if anyone can carry off that look, it’s me, he thought. Some of his fluttering settled as Simon’s mouth dropped open. “I’ll just get my jacket,” he smiled.

/~/~/~/~/

Many considered Simon cold and he didn’t deny it. But his blood was positively boiling as he led his sexy mate down the street. He wanted to walk behind and protect that ass highlighted so perfectly in denim. But if he did that then everyone got a solid look at his mate’s front, which didn’t make him happy either. He settled for staying by his mate’s side, glowering at anyone showing a speck of interest.

“Your shifter is showing,” Darwin said quietly as Simon led him into the diner.

“I don’t know what you mean.” Simon moved Darwin to the back of the place and made sure he was sitting to block his mate from public view.

Darwin sniggered as he sat down. “That, right there. You don’t want anyone looking at me. People don’t act like that here.”

“I want you to feel comfortable while you’re eating.” If his mate insisted on going out showing his assets, it was only right he respect his mate’s decision and protect him from unwanted advances.

Which was proving harder than anticipated. “You’re that dancer at the boy’s club,” their server, name tag Anne, gushed as she brought over menus. “You look even sexier close up.”

“Thank you kindly.” Darwin’s smile should be illegal; never to be used in public. Anne was clearly smitten as she babbled on about a night out she’d had the week before.

“The specials of the day?” Simon didn’t feel a shred of guilt at interrupting the love fest going on. Although hiding his wince as a boot hit his calf wasn’t easy.

“You were very rude,” Darwin whispered when Anne finally left. “I don’t get much recognition in this town and it’s nice when someone appreciates what I do.”

“Getting recognized for parading around naked and flaunting your bits for money is hardly an achievement,” Simon snapped back, then wished he’d kept his mouth closed. Darwin’s face shut down and his scent was tinged with anger and hurt.

“I suppose being a store clerk, or cleaning offices is probably beneath you too.”

“I’m sorry. It’s just you come out dressed as though you’ve got a huge ‘fuck me’ sign over your head….”

“Oh great, now you don’t like the way I’m dressed.” Darwin stood, his eyes flashing. “You know what. You can stick your breakfast and anything else you had to say to me. I’d rather stock shelves than spend another second in your company.”

Sit down.” Simon’s hiss elongated the S and seeing fear cross his mate’s lovely face didn’t help his mood. He took a deep breath. “Please. This is difficult for me. You look like sex on a stick. You won’t let me touch. People are lusting after you. Please, just sit down and let me feed you at least.”

Darwin stood for a long minute, his lips pressed into a sharp line. Anne came over two steaming plates of food in her hands. “Everything all right boys?” She put the plates on the table.

“Yeah,” Darwin smiled at her as he sat down again, but Simon noted it didn’t meet his eyes. “Everything’s fine. Boyfriend’s being a dick, you know?”

“Straight or gay, we all have those, right?” Anne laughed. “Make sure he buys you something nicer than this meal.” She was still laughing as she walked away.

“Thank you.” Relief swamped Simon’s body when Darwin picked up his knife and fork.

“I’m hungry.” Darwin started eating and Simon forced his focus onto his own plate. His tongue hadn’t let him down. The food was delicious, but apart from asking him to pass the salt, Darwin didn’t say another word.

Chapter Six

This constant freaking arousal is a bitch. The meal over, Simon suggested they go for a walk and Darwin was seriously wishing he’d taken the time to change his wretched clothes before he’d gone out. His cock was caught in a vise and he was sure he’d have zipper marks along his length before the day was done. Simon was still acting like a bodyguard or a nanny; even holding his hand as they crossed the road. But his hulking demeanor and the sour look on his mate’s face was making it hard for Darwin to think, let alone say anything. He knew he’d overreacted in the diner but saying sorry wasn’t in his repertoire.


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