2011 LRC's "Best Paranormal/Fantasy Book"
“Stellan, there’s a Mr. Granger on the phone for you,” Neumus said as he stuck his head into the doorway. “He says it’s important.”
Stellan Mihos nodded to Neumus, who was also his brother and second in command, and reached for the phone. “Hello, Mr. Granger, what can I do for you?”
“Yes,” Stellan replied. His eyebrows drew together in confusion. He didn’t think he knew Mr. Granger. Why would the man be calling him?
“Mr. Mihos, my name is Allan Granger. My wife and I live in a small town called Potter’s Creek. It’s about three hundred miles from you.”
“I know where Potter’s Creek is.” Stellan leaned forward in his chair and rested his elbows on the top of his desk. The conversation was just getting more confusing. “There’s a small pride there, right? Just about ten members?”
“Yes, yes, that’s the place. We’re a very small pride, Mr. Mihos, mostly women and children. My son and I are the only two males in our pride.”
“Are you having troubles of some sort, Mr. Granger?” It was the only reason Stellan could think of for another pride to call him. His was one of the strongest in the entire state. They often got calls when other prides needed help.
“It’s not my pride specifically, Mr. Mihos, but a lone shifter in the area.”
“Are there some sort of attacks going on?”
“Wha—oh, no, the shifter isn’t attacking anyone. He would never do that. He’s just not the type.”
“Is he encroaching on your territory?”
“No, he lives probably fifty miles outside of town. He’s never tried to take over our territory or even asked to join our pride.”
“I’m not sure how I can help you then, Mr. Granger. I have no jurisdiction over rogue shifters. You know that. As long as he’s not attacking anyone, there isn’t much I can do.”
“It’s not me that needs the help, Mr. Mihos, it’s Benji.”
“Benji?” Stellan’s heart gave an extra beat as he swallowed hard.
Stellan stiffened. His hand tightened around the phone. His heart thundered in his chest. He hadn’t heard that name in nearly three years. He hadn’t thought he’d ever hear it again and he certainly didn’t like the way it made his stomach clench.
“I’m afraid I have another phone call, Mr. Granger,” Stellan said through gritted teeth. “I’ll have to get back to you. Have a good day.”
Stellan sat there and stared at the phone after hanging it up. Hearing Benji’s name again after all of this time made the hairs on his arms stand on end. He felt a mixture of relief that he finally knew where Benji had run off to and anger that Benji had run at all.
Stellan knew it wasn’t possible for them to be mated but Benji was still a part of his pride. Stellan felt a responsibility toward the man for that simple fact. When one of his pride was in trouble, it was his duty as alpha to help them. And he would have in this situation if the man had been anyone but Benji.
“What did Mr. Granger want?” Neumus asked as he walked into the study and shut the door behind him.
Stellan pressed his hands together and rested his fingertips against his lips for a moment as he watched Neumus sit down in the chair across the desk from him. Once Neumus was settled, Stellan dropped his hands down to the desk and folded his fingers together.
“He called about Benji.”
Neumus’s eyebrows shot up as he sat forward. “Benji?”
Stellan nodded. “It seems that Benji is in Potter’s Creek.”
“He joined the Potter Creek Pride?” Neumus asked, frowning. “That’s a pretty small pride, isn’t it?”
“It is, but no, Benji is not part of the pride there. He’s a lone shifter right now.”
Stellan understood his brother’s alarm. Lone shifters caused problems, not only for humans but also for other prides. They had a reputation of attacking people indiscriminately. Many had to be hunted down and eliminated for the good of everyone.
“Mr. Granger says Benji is in trouble.”
“Oh?” One of Neumus’s eyebrows shot up. He settled back in his chair once again. “How so?”
“I didn’t ask.” Stellan felt his face flush when Neumus’s jaw dropped open.
“You didn’t ask?” Neumus snapped, anger darkening his features. “Why the hell not? The man is your mate. He’s been missing for almost three years. You suddenly get a phone call telling you he’s in trouble and you don’t ask what it is?”
“He is not my mate,” Stellan growled as his fist slammed down on the desk.
“The hell he’s not!” Neumus shouted right back. He suddenly jumped to his feet, pointing his finger at Stellan. “You might think you can bury your head in the sand and pretend like you’re oblivious but you know Benji is your mate. You’re just too stupid to claim him.”
Neumus stalked to the door, stopping to turn around and glare across the room. Stellan was stunned by the anger and pain in Neumus’s eyes. He knew his brother never agreed with his choice not to claim Benji. He just never thought his brother was this angry over the situation.
“You’ve found your mate, Stellan, and you threw him away like he didn’t matter. You discarded the gift that fate gave you like he was a piece of trash to be thrown out.” Stellan almost recoiled when his brother looked him up and down, his upper lip curling back as he sneered. “You don’t deserve him.”
“Oh, mate,” Kody said as he climbed onto the bed and began crawling up between Benji’s legs, “I’m going to take such good care of you.”
The lump building in Benji’s throat made it hard to talk. “Okay,” he whispered. Benji couldn’t tear his eyes away from what Kody was doing if it meant dying in the next ten minutes. The sight of the man’s mouth hovering over his hard cock was mesmerizing.
When Kody’s tongue came out and licked across the top of his cock, Benji cried out, his head dropping back against the pillows. The hard suction he felt a moment later made Benji’s head snap right back up. His jaw dropped open as he watched Kody swallow his cock down all of the way to the bottom.
“No one’s ever—I’ve never—you—” Benji gulped, unable to say more or make sense of anything except the feeling of Kody’s mouth moving up and down on his aching cock. Had he ever felt anything so good in his life?
Lost in sensation, Benji blinked rapidly when Kody moved up onto his knees and reached around behind him. Kody’s lips never left Benji’s cock. Benji frowned and tried to see what Kody was doing. He had an idea but—
“What are you doing?” Kody grinned around the erection in his mouth and wiggled his eyebrows. Benji’s eyes widened at the implication. “You’re—but I’ve never—” Benji groaned as more heat rushed through him, only this time, it didn’t hurt. In fact, it felt wonderful, warming Benji from the inside out.
“Kody,” he groaned. He’d never had someone love on him and he was afraid he’d disappoint Kody. He was also afraid that he would come in the next few moments. His cock felt like it was about to explode. “I can’t hold out.”
Benji groaned when Kody’s hand suddenly squeezed the base of his cock and the man’s lips slipped off of his engorged flesh. “Oh, you’re going to last, baby, at least long enough for me to feel this beauty in my ass.”
Benji blinked in surprise. “You don’t want to fuck me?”
“I very much want to make love to you but I also want to feel my mate’s cock in my ass.”
Benji’s eyebrows shot up. “You’d let me top you?”
Kody’s head snapped back. “Benji, we’re mates. There is no topping or bottoming between us. We do what feels good and right now, I’m seriously hoping that your cock feels good.”
“I’ve never—” Benji’s face heated.
Kody grinned. “That’s what makes it even better. I get to be your first.”
Benji was pretty sure that Kody was going to be his only but he wasn’t about to mention that right now. He wanted to feel the man way too much to bring that up. “What do I need to do?”
“Just lie there. I’ll do all the work.” Kody moved up until he straddled Benji’s hips. “If I get too heavy, let me know.”
Benji nodded quickly. His eyes widened as he watched Kody lift up then slowly lower himself down. A full body shudder ripped through Benji as his cock pushed into Kody’s warm heat. He clenched his hands in the sheets to keep from reaching for the man. He was just supposed to lie there and let Kody do the work but it was so hard not to move.
“Damn, I was right,” Kody groaned as his head fell back on his shoulders. “You feel fucking fantastic.”
Benji blinked in surprise when Kody suddenly leaned over him, resting his arms on either side of Benji’s head.
“Are you ready for this, baby?”
Benji nodded. He knew a moment later when Kody began to move that he wasn’t. He had no clue it would feel this good or that he would want this so much. When Kody’s mouth began to lick a path across his chest, Benji couldn’t prevent himself from reaching up and sinking his hands into the man’s thick dark brown hair.
“So full, baby,” Kody murmured against Benji’s skin. “Feels so good.”
Benji nodded, beyond speech. He felt like he was one big ball of sensation.
“Gonna love fucking you next time.”
Benji nodded again.
“Are you going to claim me, Benji?” Kody whispered as he tilted his head to one side.
Benji’s eyes landed on the rapid pulse beating in Kody’s throat. He licked his lips nervously. He knew what it meant if he bit Kody. They would be bound together forever, never to be apart. Their souls would merge, becoming one.
“Are you sure?” Benji asked as he found his voice. This was a huge step. He wouldn’t do it if Kody wasn’t sure, no matter how much he wanted it. Once he claimed Kody, the man couldn’t deny that they were mates. They would need each other to survive.
Kody was smiling as he turned his head to look down at him. “I’m sure, Benji.”
Benji prayed that Kody didn’t grow to hate him as he took the man at his words and struck, sinking his teeth into Kody’s throat. Sweet, hot blood spilled over into his mouth. Benji heard Kody cry out above him just as his release exploded inside of him.
Ecstasy unlike anything he had ever felt swept through Benji as he felt something inside of him snap into place. For the first time in his life, Benji felt accepted, needed. He felt wanted. A sudden warmth filled his entire body and then he could feel Kody, not only physically, but emotionally and mentally. He felt everything.
“Kody!” Benji cried out as he was thrown into another mind-blowing orgasm, this one even stronger than the first one. It started at his toes and rolled up his body to the top of his head, filling every cell in his body until he didn’t know where he ended and Kody began. It continued to grow and grow until Benji’s vision dimmed and then he felt nothing but bliss…then nothing at all.