Unacceptable Risk 1.1 – Interlude
I’ve been doing edits on the next Hidden Wolves book, Unexpected Demands. And although the time frame between the two books is very short, I still thought there was a little window in there for another look at Simon and Paul. So here’s a snippet of the two guys, in the breathing space between the end of Risk and the beginning of Demands. I hope you enjoy it.
Unacceptable Risk 1.1 – Interlude
Copyright Kaje Harper 2012
Simon’s breath caught and he closed his eyes. Bright lights seemed to be going off in his head. The disorientation wasn’t helped by a rap of hard knuckles on his temple.
His eyes popped open and he stared down at the man under him. “What the hell was that for?’ He tried to sound upset, working to hide the deep delight humming through him.
Clearly he didn’t manage, because Paul glared up at him. “You were looking smug.”
Simon couldn’t stop the grin that spread across his face. “I made you scream. In a good way.”
“Yeah.” Paul’s beautiful mouth curved in an answering smile, until he rubbed the grin away with the tips of his fingers. Simon noted with satisfaction that his lover’s hand was shaking slightly. And he didn’t have to wonder about why. The warm intimacy of their mate bond made it obvious that the tremors were from sensory overload of the best kind. Paul reached up to pull Simon down for a kiss and then shoved him back. “Now get off me; you weigh a ton.”
Obediently, Simon braced himself on his arms and moved sideways. Paul gave a tiny moan as they separated. His eyelashes fluttered half closed over his gorgeous eyes. Simon thought that was about the sexiest sight he had ever seen. He kissed Paul’s throat before reaching for tissues and attending to the less romantic parts of cleaning up.
By the time they were wiped and clean, and wrapped up together under the blankets, Paul seemed a little restless. Simon sighed internally. The day had felt long, and coaxing Paul to bed before dinner had been as far as his evening planning had gone. He would have loved just a few minutes of blissed-out sleep, before the next thing that would come along and jolt him back to alertness. But he didn’t say so. Anyway, staying awake for Paul wasn’t really a hardship. “What’s bugging you?”
“Not bugging.” Paul rolled on his side to look at Simon. “I was just wondering, what would you say to a pair of kittens?”
“‘Hi, snack food?’ Ouch!” He made the effort to sound injured by the kick to his shin.
“Maybe that was serious. Okay, not really. Although if it was bunnies…” Maybe better not to go there. “You mean like pets? For us?”
“I’d say it was a bad idea. Remember how the clinic cats felt about me?”
“But you were wolfed up then. It makes sense that they would be nervous.”
“Paul, animals in general don’t like us. Even in human form we sometimes make them nervous. Maybe something about our scent. I heard that the way wolf packs managed to have horses to ride in the past was by taking the foals away from their dams at birth and hand-raising them. Then they would accept the wolves as normal, and so would their foals later on. Same thing for farm dogs and cows; we had to breed lines that were used to wolves. We never kept cats much. It used to be a problem actually; some wolves really provoked a reaction from other animals, especially if they got angry in human form. I heard there were a few accusations of witchcraft back when. It looks odd if you get mad at a guy while talking to him and his horse immediately freaks out and throws the guy on his head.”
Paul was listening closely, with that air of rapt attention he often got when Simon explained wolf life. Simon couldn’t help leaning in to kiss the little crease between Paul’s tawny eyebrows. Paul laughed, but pulled back slightly. “So if we got the kittens at birth it might be okay?”
“Wouldn’t that be cruel, taking them away from their mother?”
“Not in this case.” Paul cuddled in a little, with an unselfconscious motion that Simon treasured. Who would have thought Paul would be this at ease in his bed so fast? He figured the mate bond must be helping things, his own joy at Paul’s touch relaxing Paul in turn.
“At the clinic yesterday,” Paul said, “A girl brought in her cat. She was worried it had a tumor or something, because its belly had become big really fast. But it was just pregnant. One night’s adventure when it snuck outside was clearly enough. Anyway, I took an x-ray, just to show her because she was still worried, and there were eleven kittens in there. I’ve never seen a litter that big and I doubt the mom can nurse eleven. So some will have to be fostered anyway. And I was thinking we might take a couple. I could keep them at the clinic in the daytime. The staff would love to bottle-feed babies. And with you having this house and both of us around more we would have time for pets. We are both going to be around here together from now on, right?”
Simon wasn’t sure if that was a real question or a distraction from the kitten thing. But he always took Paul seriously on this topic. “Absolutely. Now and forever. Cross my heart.” He swept his finger over his chest dramatically. Okay, he took it as seriously as he was able to.
Paul snorted. “So. Kittens, yes?”
Simon sighed. “Sugar, I want you to have whatever makes you happy but…” How to say that there was still likely to be trouble coming? That he didn’t want to hand any more hostages to fortune, small creatures that Paul might love. If they owned kittens, what were the odds that at some point a hostile wolf might not grab one and use it to lure Paul into danger? Although… Simon sighed again. You could lure Paul into danger by threatening to harm a stray alley cat. It was probably a moot point. “When do we have to decide?”
“They’re not due for about three weeks yet. Barely visible on the x-ray. The mom is going to look like a basketball before they’re born.”
“Give me a little time. Let me think about it.” Simon tried to lighten things up. “After all, litter boxes in the bathroom, cat hair on my pillow… I don’t know.”
“It’s okay. I’ll clean the litter boxes, Mom. I swear.”
“Damned straight you will.” Shit. That sounded like giving in and he was still convinced this was a bad idea. He needed to practice saying no to Paul. He needed to try even once saying no to Paul.
Although kissing Paul was a hell of a lot easier. He decided to practice that for a while. Paul slid a hand into Simon’s hair and kissed back enthusiastically. When they broke for breath, they stayed face to face, looking at each other. Slowly, Simon watched the light in Paul’s golden eyes fade and darken.
Paul ran a finger over Simon’s temple into his hair, over new unblemished skin. The graze from Cory’s bullet had healed and even the scar had faded in Simon’s last shift. “I love the way you heal. I love knowing you’ll be okay if you get hurt.” His hand continued to stroke slowly over Simon’s face.
Simon sighed, kissed the wandering fingers, and pulled his human mate in tightly against him. If only Paul could heal like that. Simon would worry a hell of a lot less. But it was Paul whose thoughts were trailing down into darkness now, in a way that Simon had felt before. “What, babe?”
“You’re thinking too much again, and it’s making you sad. Want to share?”
“Nothing new. And I’m still trying to decide if it’s nice or creepy that you can tell what I’m thinking.”
“Feeling, not thinking.” Simon brushed his lips over Paul’s soft hair. A few stray blond strands tickled his cheek. “And I’d prefer that you decide it’s nice. We’ll both be happier.”
“Mm.” Under Simon’s encircling arms, Paul’s muscles slowly moved from post-sex laxness to stiff and tense.
“So what are you thinking about that makes you feel bad?”
Simon didn’t need the extra two. In the days since the werewolves’ disastrous meeting and the splitting of the packs, they had talked a lot. He knew Paul’s hot buttons, and the flavors of his emotions. This much sadness was easy to figure out. “Cory.”
“Yeah. I still struggle with that. Maybe he could have healed too, gotten well again mentally, if he’d had the time. But the pack didn’t give him that time. If you could just tell me that was all Karl’s fault, I’d be okay. But you won’t.”
“If that’s pack policy, then I really want out. Not away from you but out of the pack.”
Simon took a careful breath. Paul had hinted at this before but not come out and said it. “Are you asking me to choose between you and the pack?”
“No!” Then Paul hesitated. “Maybe. I hadn’t thought about it like that. I guess I figured if it was safe to leave, you would. If you didn’t have to worry about Karl coming after you, then why would you want to stay? They rejected you first. It’s not like you had even one friend good enough to take your side when you needed it.”
Simon winced, but said, “Aaron took my side.”
“Aaron. I guess so, but he had kind of ulterior motives. He wanted to be Alpha, and now he is. Would he make you stay in the pack if you wanted to go?”
“Maybe not. But I don’t want to leave.” How to say this so a human could understand it? “It’s more than just the pack being family. You’re my family. But the pack is my people. They’re the only ones who really know what I am from the inside out. They’re blood. And it would be hard for me to be alone. It would be hard for any werewolf.”
“I thought Aaron said he’s done it, wandered alone for years without a pack.”
Aaron had been incredibly busy in the last three days, but he had spared some time to spend with Paul. And shared more of his past than Simon would have expected. “Yeah, he did. But Aaron’s unusual. Don’t judge the rest of us by Aaron. Going lone wolf… It’s not natural. If we decide to travel, or work abroad, or join the military – well that’s not an option any more with DNA sampling. But if wolves move away from our pack for any reason, we do it in groups, or at least a pair. One of your own to watch your back and remind you of home. Right now there’s this place in my head where the pack exists. I can feel them, especially my Alpha. It would be lonely and empty in my head without them.”
“So if it came down to it, you would choose the pack?”
“God, no.” Simon tightened his arms around his mate, and wrapped one leg up over Paul’s hip. “I choose you, first and forever. But I’d prefer not to have to choose.”
“They kill kids.” Paul’s whisper was hoarse. “If we stay with the pack, I’m part of that. How can I be part of that? How can human mates ever accept the rules of the pack?”
“Because all of the choices are shitty. Because we’re not yet safe, and safety trumps everything else.”
“It shouldn’t. What was that quote? ‘Those who give up liberty for security will eventually find they have neither.’”
Simon gritted his teeth and searched for an explanation that would make sense to Paul. He’d thought that bonding his mate, linking him to the pack, would be the hard part. It was turning out to be the least of his challenges.
“A hundred years ago we wouldn’t have had this problem. Well, a hundred and fifty anyway. Back then, if you were crazy and human, you were locked away somewhere for life. And if you were really lucky, you could hope to not be abused and treated like an animal. We wolves could consider our ways merciful by comparison. And back then sodomy was still punishable by death, even in places as civilized as England.”
“So a hundred years ago, we humans were just as brutal as you wolves. But we’ve made progress and you haven’t?”
Simon really, really hated the “you” and “we” parts of this conversation. “It’s not that exactly. Well, sort of. Humans still manage some pretty stunning brutality. But I guess when we wolves start justifying ourselves by mentioning Nazis, then we are saying we’re not the norm any more. The packs are now out there on the fringe with the worst humans. But the thing that puts us out there isn’t that we’re more bloodthirsty than humans. It’s the threat of discovery.”
“You justify everything that way.”
“Not justify. Explain.”
“Would it be so bad, to be outed to the human world?”
“Maybe not. I hope not, because like Aaron says, it’s probably going to happen. But humans don’t have a reputation for treating outsiders well. Especially if we have something humans want. We all have nightmares of our whole species disappearing into some government black box, never to be seen again. To be dissected for our differences, or brainwashed and blackmailed into spying for them. Or bred forcibly to make an army of wolves they would control.”
“Hate to say it, Simon, but in the modern warfare era, you guys are probably not that big of an asset.”
“Maybe not.” Simon sighed. “But I’m sure the military would find a use for us. In the mountains of Afghanistan or acting like feral dogs spying around the cities of China. Something. And they sure as hell would be interested in the healing and some of the communications.”
“So maybe you all need to come out at once. More people than they could ever hide or suppress. On TV maybe.” Paul’s eyes lit with amusement. “Imagine on all the talk shows, a bunch of wolves shifting in front of the viewers’ eyes. Or on the news networks. Something that could never be taken back.”
Simon shook his head. “Then two days later you can imagine the radio talk-shows ranting about the threat of werewolves as God-knows what. Disease carriers, because everyone knows it’s contagious by a bite. Saboteurs, terrorists, aliens, a threat to Mom, apple pie and the American way. And crying for quarantines and visible ID tags and who knows, maybe concentration camps, muzzles. It would be a circus.”
“Worth getting through it, surely, to join the human race in the open.”
“Maybe. Depending on how much support we get, and whether we could be made to look like a handy excuse for the national debt.” Simon turned a little so he could see Paul’s face better in the dim of the room. “It’s not my call anyway and thank God for that. It depends on the Alphas. If Aaron forbade it, not one of the pack would back me up if I tried. If Aaron commanded it, every man would be on camera stripping naked.”
Simon felt Paul’s distaste. “That’s wrong too, for one man to have that kind of power.”
“You humans give the President of the United States a nuclear holocaust button, and no oversight if he decides to push it. No society is perfect or safe from abuse. We’ve survived this long by being rigid and ruthless in our obedience and concealment. It’s hard to break free from that.”
Paul’s hand moved on Simon’s thigh, almost unconsciously tracing the site of other now-healed scars. The gesture was absently fond, but Simon felt a tingling warmth build in its wake. Simon pressed in closer. Maybe Paul could be distracted. But his serious lover’s mind was locked in problem-solving mode.
“Still, that doesn’t make the violence right. We can’t just do nothing. I can’t do nothing. I’m part of this now, and it has to change.” His rubbing fingers tightened into a fist. “I wish… Damn, I wish I had the guts to stand up in front of the pack and say so. If you won’t leave the pack then… Humans got better because people within the society protested and agitated and fought to make it better. Maybe eventually, when I get up the fucking nerve, that’s going to be my role.”
Simon winced and closed his eyes, imagining his Paul standing up at a pack meeting and speaking out for civil rights for the mentally impaired. At least Aaron would do him the courtesy of listening but the odds were it would not go well.
He was distracted by the ping of a text message on his phone. If he’d been alone he would have checked it, but this was one more thing he hadn’t properly shared yet.
“Don’t you need to get that?” Paul asked.
Simon was about to brush it off, and then hesitated. Because there was just the slight flavor of exclusion behind Paul’s words, and maybe it was time to stop dodging this topic too.
“Shift change,” he said.
Paul’s eyes narrowed. “Shifts of what?”
“Aaron has someone out there watching for us at night. He lets me know who.”
“Every night? And you didn’t tell me? Are they, like, watching us, right now?”
“No, sugar, no. They’re watching out for us. Looking for strangers, guys from the other packs, threats. They can’t see or feel anything that happens in here. Pack sense isn’t that clear between random members.” And thank God for that, because even though every member of Aaron’s pack had knowingly chosen Paul in choosing Aaron, Simon bet none of them wanted to know the details. He tried a small smile. “I can’t even tell who’s out there watching for trouble right now, unless they get hurt enough for me to notice. Aaron messages me the shifts. Or you could run out and whack them with a frying pan and then I’d know.”
The humor was an epic fail. Paul said, “Was this your idea?”
“So it’s not over. He thinks you’re still in danger.”
“Maybe. He’s being careful. It’s early days yet, and even some of Joshua’s pack really don’t like us.”
Paul sighed tiredly. “And that’s why you haven’t been sleeping. Because you think trouble is still coming.”
“I think it might. But I trust Aaron to keep us safe.” Mostly. If it could be done. The not-sleeping thing wasn’t lack of confidence, exactly.
“I wish I did. I like Aaron but I don’t really know him well enough to trust him with your life.”
“You will.” Simon mentally touched the solid presence that was Aaron. “We’re his now, his pack. He’ll defend you against the world if need be, I can feel it.” And if Simon knew there was a chance everything Aaron could do wouldn’t be enough, they would deal with the crisis when it came. No need for both of them to be constantly wound up. He took a deep breath and tried to project calm and faith through the mate bond.
Paul nodded, but his eyes were still shadowed. “What do you think is coming? Or who?”
Enough serious stuff. Simon grinned and slid a little down Paul’s body. “Oh, babe,” he breathed, “Right now I know exactly who’s coming.” And he let Paul feel the heat rising in him as he bent his head to prove his point.
Paul’s hand fisted in his hair. Simon arched his neck at the pull and looked reluctantly away from the delectable sight in front of him to meet Paul’s irritated gaze. He wanted to get Paul all hot and bothered and then suck him into unconsciousness, not debate this further. He grabbed for a topic to distract Paul from pack politics and to his horror heard himself say, “Given any more thought to calling your mother?”
“Shit.” Paul shoved him back roughly and slid over in the bed.
Simon pounded his forehead silently on the mattress. Dumb, dumb, dumb! With a capital D. Like thinking about his mother would put the man in the mood for sex.
Simon rolled on his back and watched as Paul stood up and began hunting around for his clothes. “I’m sorry.”
Paul just gave him a glare and yanked on a pair of boxers.
Simon sighed internally and then got out of bed and moved close to his irritated mate. The waves of annoyance coming from Paul made touching him seem like a bad idea. “I’m an idiot.” One thing pack politics taught you was that there was a time to roll over, bare your throat, and get the beating over with. “A moron. Totally without sense or consideration. I was trying to change the subject. I shouldn’t have brought it up. It’s totally none of my business.”
Paul glanced at him. “That’s the only thing you’ve said that I disagree with. If I get the pack, then you get a share of my mother.”
Except you won’t share. Simon still knew little more than Paul had told him on their mating night. “It was still a dumb move. Like distracting someone from a bad tooth by hitting their broken toe with a hammer.”
Paul snorted, and the look he gave Simon was closer to exasperated humor. “Nice analogy. My mother is not a broken toe.”
“Something painful anyway.” Tentatively Simon reached a hand to Paul’s arm. The mate bond gave that little surge that they got from touching. And yeah, under the annoyance was the flavor of old pain. Simon moved slowly closer. “We should do something fun right now. Go out to eat maybe. That’s Damian out there. I have no problem with running him around a bit.”
Paul’s fingers paused on his shirt buttons, and then resumed their task. “I think you owe it to me to cook.”
“How do you figure? I just did all the work.”
“Foot in mouth penalty.”
“Okay. You really don’t want to go out?”
“I really don’t. I want to eat here and not have to worry. I can just listen to you gripe about how much weight I need to put on. It’s irritating in a completely different way.”
“I can do that.” Simon thought Paul really was still too thin. Between work and worry and refusing to slow down, those ten pounds Simon had vowed to put on the man were slow in coming.
They finished dressing and made their way down to the kitchen. Simon pulled open the refrigerator door and inspected the contents. He needed to shop. Aaron had decided Simon was better off not going to his job at the workshop until Joshua’s wolves calmed down a bit. Simon figured that meant he’d be back at work around 2015. But he hadn’t told Paul that he spent most of his unemployed hours hanging around outside the clinic, keeping watch. Okay, all of them. Really, he should relax enough to go buy a few groceries. Maybe he could find a pack brother who would take an hour to watch Paul.
“We need to shop,” Paul said over his shoulder.
“True. We should do it together.” Great idea, that would be safer. “We can hold up cucumbers in the produce section and make suggestive gestures at each other with them.”
“Oh, right. I knew there was a reason I didn’t want to shop together.”
Before Simon had a chance to extract his other foot from his mouth, there was a knock on the kitchen door. His response was pure reflex. Shove Paul into a safe corner away from the door. Put your bulk in front of him. Probe toward the door with every sense to decide if this was a strange werewolf on the step. And then stand down sheepishly when you realize it’s just Andy. Because an out-pack assassin would be so likely to knock first.
Simon pictured himself pounding his paranoid head on something harder than a mattress. It took a minute to realize that Paul was staring at him with fear in his eyes.
“No, it’s okay. False alarm. It’s Andy.”
“Your friend Andy?”
“Yes, of course.” Except there was no “of course” for Paul. Because a human couldn’t hear Andy’s breathing, recognize his scent, know by pack sense that the man outside was a friend.
Paul’s stance eased. “Jesus, you are jumpy. And it’s getting worse. Are you going to let the man in?”
Simon took two long strides and pulled open the door. “Damn it, Andy, is there something wrong with ringing the front doorbell like a normal person?”
“I could hear you two back here. Anyway, Damian’s out front.”
“If coming around back means he didn’t notice you, he is so damned fired.”
“Nah, of course he noticed. But this way he didn’t get in my face. The guy is letting this promotion from Pack Seventeenth to Sixth go to his head.”
“He’s not a bigger fish, it’s a smaller pond.”
“You rank him. You can tell him that.” Andy tilted his head quizzically. “You gonna let me in?”
“Sure.” Simon realized he had his body wedged into the opening of the door. It took a surprising effort to step back and pull the door wide for Andy to enter. This was Andy, dammit. Anyone less like a threat was hard to picture.
Andy stepped past him, pulling off his gloves. He gave Paul a lopsided smile. “Hi. We’ve met formally at that pack thing, but I figured it was time to get to know the guy who is going to have to put up with this lunatic for a lifetime.”
“Oh, that’s nice,” Simon growled, only half joking. “Trying to put my mate off me.”
“That’s the point of bondmates, isn’t it? That it can’t be done?” Then Andy apparently saw a hint of truth behind Simon’s mock anger and sobered. “You guys are really bonded, aren’t you?”
Simon rubbed his forehead tiredly. Even Andy was doubting the wrong part of this. “Yes, Andy, we are, and just like getting married, the wedding isn’t the end of the process. We don’t need you questioning our bond.”
“Should I go?”
“No,” Paul said clearly. “Just because Simon is a dick and jumping at shadows, doesn’t mean you should put up with that. I for one would like to meet someone from the pack who doesn’t have the urge to make me disappear and get their old lives back.”
To his credit, Andy looked appalled. “Someone said that?”
“Not exactly. But it stands to reason. The pack has no incentive to like me and you would all breathe easier with me gone.”
Simon reached out a hand toward him. “Paul…”
Andy shook his head firmly. “Aaron would smack down anyone who said that. Maybe even anyone who thought it too loud; the guy is scary good.” He unzipped his parka and pulled it off. “Paul, you’re pack. Unless you break a law beyond repair, you’re ours now. Just like Megan. Well, she’s a lot cuter.”
Simon could feel Paul relax a bit and he silently blessed Andy. “Sorry, Andy. I’m touchy these days. You want a coffee?”
“I wouldn’t say no.”
Making coffee was good. Measuring grounds with the intense aroma filling his nose, the sound of water coming to a boil, the sweetness of the cocoa powder in his own mug, and behind it the murmur of voices as Andy and Paul made tentative small talk. It was all basic stuff – where did you grow up and do you have any brothers and do you like hockey? How about those Gophers? Simon heard Paul chuckle, and reached for his homemade cookies. If Andy was entertaining Paul, he could bribe the man to stay longer. It was never hard to convince Andy to eat. And then Paul might eat some too. To hell with no sweets before dinner. Any calories were good calories.
By the time the coffee was gone, Paul was acting almost normal and he’d eaten two cookies. Andy had six, but Simon didn’t begrudge them. Andy reached for a seventh and then pulled his hand back.
“Go for it,” Simon said. “I can bake more.”
“Is that what you’re doing these days? Being the happy househusband?”
“No,” Paul said. “He’s hanging around me, patrolling the clinic, being all intense and broody.”
Simon stared at him. “You knew that?”
“Simon, I can tell where you are if I pay attention.” Paul sighed. “In an odd way, I’m glad you have a reason for staying so close. I was beginning to wonder if being bonded was another word for being joined at the hip.”
“You could have asked me, babe.”
“Would you have told me?”
Andy looked back and forth between them. “What am I not getting?”
“Simon thinks we are still going to have trouble. Like real teeth-in-your-throat kind of trouble.”
“What does Aaron say?” Andy asked immediately.
Paul smiled slightly. “He really is your Alpha, isn’t he. I don’t know. He hasn’t mentioned it to me, beyond vague suggestions to be careful for a while. But he apparently set up this patrol thing Damian is doing. For damned sure I’m going to ask him next time I see him. Insist that he levels with me.”
“You’re just going to insist. To the Alpha. Our Alpha.”
“Maybe not,” Paul admitted. “When he’s not here I think about the conversations we’ve had and he seems like just another calm, smart, decisive kind of guy. But when he’s sitting there across from me somehow it’s different.”
“Oh, yeah.” Andy stood and reached for his jacket. “Well, I’ll let Aaron worry about it, and you two can get back to… what you were doing.” He grinned at them. “’Night Simon, Paul. You know where to find me.”
When Simon turned back to Paul after closing and locking the door, his mate’s face was flushed.
“He knew what we were doing? Or was that just a guess, because we’re, like, newly bonded.”
“Um. He could probably smell it.” Truth. He was aiming to be truthful with Paul, always. Annoying how often he was tempted to shade things a bit to downplay the weirdness of being Pack. But it wouldn’t be a service to Paul in the end. “You remember how careful I was about clean-up, before. It’s hard not to notice that scent.”
“Does it bother you, that he can tell? I mean, even a human could have guessed, like you said. Because this is like being newly-wed.”
Paul’s face was still pink, but the shine in his eyes changed slightly. “Is it?”
“Oh yes.” Simon moved closer. “The beginning of everything. When you can’t get enough of your husband’s smell and his taste and the touch of his hands.”
Paul didn’t take a step forward, but he did hold still as Simon slid his arms around Paul’s waist.
“Husband. We’re not married.”
“We can be.” Simon kissed his neck, where the muscles were still a little tight. “As soon or as late as you like. Tell me what you want.” He kissed the sharp angle of Paul’s jaw, the bridge of his straight nose, the smooth skin of his temple. Paul’s eyes burned gold, darkening as his breath sped up. “Tell me what you’d like. Shall I call you mate? Lover? What would please you?”
Paul put a hand on Simon’s cheek and turned him in for a real kiss. Simon dropped his mate bond open as wide as it would go, feeling the brush of lips on lips, the smooth slide of tongues, doubled and redoubled. Paul pulled back a little and looked at him. “Call me Paul. And you know damned well what I like.”
Yeah. Simon tightened his arms, pulling them together. He figured he was becoming pretty expert at figuring that out. And way more than willing to give it further study. Tomorrow was another day. Carpe noctem. Seize the night.