The Vampire and the Bear

The-Vampire-and-the-BearChapter One

“Hey, you two! Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?”

“Dammit,” Charlie cursed when he saw the burly, bear-of-a-bouncer coming to his ‘rescue.’

This was the last thing he needed with the Feds hot on his ass. After almost being caught in New York, he’d figured if he jumped the pond and spent some time in England he could shake their tail. But the weird premonition he’d been experiencing since his arrival might mean they were closing in again.

Yet the sensation prickling his skin didn’t feel like a warning of danger. Or maybe it did. How the hell should Charlie know? He’d never had premonitions before.

“Get a load of this dude,” Scott sneered. He and his fuck-buddy grinned at each other as the big guy with a cricket bat closed in.

“What’s he gonna do?” Allen asked, wiping blood from his nose.

Charlie winced, more out of regret than sympathy. Maybe he shouldn’t have slammed the guy’s face into the telephone pole.

Definitely not one of his better moments.

When he’d passed the dark alley and saw the two morons lip locked with their hands down each other’s pants, they went from shocked, embarrassed, and straight to pissed faster than you could shake a stick. Idiots must’ve thought they were safe to fuck in a London back alley because what were the chances someone they knew from the States would walk by?

Charlie never could abide with men taking out their closeted issues on him. He had no problem if a guy wanted to suck cock. It was one of his personal faves. But hiding and living on the run after his last colony gave him the boot had worn Charlie’s patience down more than usual. And with that mysterious premonition tormenting him, he had one last nerve.

A nerve these two morons had promptly raised their legs and pissed on.

Hence the introduction of a telephone pole to poor Allen’s face.

Even with the shadows of the streets on his side, the humans outside the bar had seen their altercation, drawing the attention of the nosey twats inside the bar, too. The street was packed with witnesses.

Now what the hell was he going to do?

In all his ninety-seven years, Charlie rarely exposed his race, the nightwalkers. Hopefully, Karma wouldn’t take it out too bad on him. Holding doors for old ladies, paying it forward and all that crap had to count for something, right?

“Maybe he wants to be a chew toy,” Scott suggested and Allen cackled.

Charlie rolled his eyes. They were such idiots—even for werewolves.

Pain in my ass…

He’d only wanted to find a cute guy, have some fun and maybe a little snack. Lonely and homesick for the States, Charlie had first been drawn to the gay bar Luke’s Saloon because of its American West décor even though it resided in a pretty seedy part of town. However, that warning sensation had gotten much stronger inside the bar. Curiosity had him lingering though the place had piss warm beer and slim pickings in the man department. But after a while, he’d grown uncomfortable with the unknown pull the place had on him and he decided to motor.

If he were having a real premonition, he’d be better off not finding out what it meant.

He’d leave such hoodoo voodoo to witches.

However, Charlie couldn’t bail now and leave Red-Rocket and his pal Leg-Humper behind when they were itching for a fight. Though the moon had waned four nights ago, the magnetic effects of its pull still messed with their already deficient minds. They wouldn’t shift in public but they could beat the shit out of the unsuspecting human.

“Don’t do anything stupid,” Charlie warned the wolves as he adjusted his hoodie and retracted his fangs. If anyone had seen the teeth, maybe they’d assume he was a Twilight groupie who took his love of Edward-the-glittering-freak a little too seriously.

“Who you calling stupid?” Allen demanded.

Charlie rolled his eyes and tried to assess how much damage control would be needed. With nothing much happening on a Tuesday night, a crowd of people had already followed the big human from the bar. The rubberneckers were the usual well-dressed guys one found in a gay bar, a six-foot tall drag queen, some chicks who looked like Justin Beiber and the cliché fat, fag hags hanging on their gay BFFs.

Gag! What had Charlie been thinking?

He hated gay bars. He hated any kind of bar. It disgusted him watching all the people having fun with their friends when he had no one, unless he wanted to use a little nightwalker mind-control to fake a friend for the evening.

“You two need to bugger off,” the blond Brit told the wolves before facing Charlie. “You all right, mate?”

“I’m fine. This was just a misunderstanding—” His voice caught when the street light illuminated his would-be rescuer.

Every nerve inside Charlie stood up on high alert. He hadn’t seen the brawny man when he’d trolled the bar. If he had, he would’ve tucked him away in a dark corner to lick the sweat from the corded muscle of his neck, feel his blood pound under his tongue, run his hands through those messy blonde curls then down over the thick hairs on his arms.

Holy shit, the guy was hawt!

His cock swelled, and his fangs dropped on pure instinct.

The powerful attraction, the sudden lust and hunger, hit Charlie hard, stealing his breath. And the scariest part was that sense of warning he’d been experiencing spiked, almost as if it recognized the guy.

Oh fuck!

This dude was connected to Charlie’s premonition.

The man’s green eyes sparked menace and he gave Charlie a once over, his strong masculine voice interrupting his thoughts. “Yeah, mate, don’t think so. This here’s my bar and I don’t take to fighting and I sure as bloody hell don’t stand by and let a couple of blokes fuck with someone half their size.”

Charlie ordinarily would’ve been annoyed the giant human had to point out his five-foot-five stature—yeah, so fucking sue him. Charlie knew he had a Napoleon complex. In a world of all powerful creatures, size really did matter. He’d been fighting and scrapping to prove his strength for almost a century. Hence his being kicked out of yet another colony and landing himself in his current predicament. He never had learned to control his temper.

Instead of his usual pissed off reaction, however, this man’s protectiveness made his belly flutter.

Of course that did irritate him. What was he, some kinda girl?

Charlie did not get butterflies.

The irritation allowed him to get his hormones in check. He forced his fangs back and turned to face the human—no doubt the Luke of Luke’s Saloon—while keeping the wolves in his line of sight. They were just stupid enough to make the situation worse.

“Seriously, pal,” Charlie began, noting Luke stood a good foot taller than him and carried about twice his width. Shit. He swallowed back drool and forced his fangs to stay put. He’d always loved to fuck big, furry guys, feel all that hair tickling his body, licking swirls into it. Nightwalkers were slight and smooth. But human men, with all their hair, and pheromones, and….

Focus!

“You gotta get a human to protect you now, shorty?” Scott taunted.

Charlie rolled his eyes and gaped at him. “Really?” His voice dripped with sarcasm. “Really? That’s what you’re gonna lead with?”

The blood had crusted on his broken nose, making Allen look even more stupid as he tipped his head in confusion. “It’s what he is, ain’t he? A human?”

Despite the seriousness of the situation, Charlie couldn’t hide his disbelief the two wolves would be so blatant with their mouths.

Another human joined the sexy bouncer, the saloon bartender. Charlie almost groaned out loud. Not another one

“I got your back, Luke,” the bartender said.

Before Charlie could diffuse the already out of control situation, a solid wall of human flanked his sides.

“Thanks, Tim.” Eyes never leaving the wolves, Luke hefted the cricket bat, slapping it in his palm. “You two gonna leave or am I gonna have to make ya?”

Scott grinned. “Bring it.”

“Wait!” Charlie reached out to stop the two humans.

Luke shoved him back.

Landing flat on his ass, he saw cell phones go up. He winced as the flash of their cameras hurt his light sensitive eyes.

Aww, fuck!

Contrary to popular belief, nightwalkers did not turn into bats, garlic just made their breath stink, crosses did nothing, and they didn’t have to be ‘invited’ in to a house. Too much sun exposure would make them sick and burn their fair skin, but they sure as fuck didn’t sparkle. The blood drinking? Well, nightwalkers did do that. They would die if they didn’t. But as far as cameras and mirrors went….

Yeah, they worked on nightwalkers just like everybody else.

Which meant if Charlie had to step in and do anything supernatural to save these well-meaning, but foolish humans, the shit will be on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, or whatever other site these folks had in their social-media repertoire.

Damn, he hated the internet.

“Now I said to bugger off,” Luke warned again. “I don’t wanna hurt you, but I will.”

“Gladly,” Tim added.

Scott bared his teeth and snarled. It sounded animalistic and more cameras flashed.

Double fuck….

As if an unheard bell rang to signal the start of a fight, the humans lunged at the same time the wolves leapt forward.

Charlie scrambled to his feet. The loud thwack of a cricket bat connected with wolf. Shouts, more flashes and excited cries rose around them. He should’ve taken his chance and slipped through the crowd, but Charlie had run into Scott and Allen before. They were as mean as they were dumb. He couldn’t leave the humans to get torn to shreds.

The crowd pushed in, loving the thrill of a fight. He used the distraction to whiz around Luke and Tim. He moved so fast, it would be nothing but a blur on the cell phones—Lord help his kind if 6G phones were ever invented.

Snaking out a foot, Charlie tripped Allen just as he charged the sexy blond human. It gave Luke the advantage. His bat landed along the wolf’s side. Allen fell hard to the ground. Charlie hadn’t been able to help Tim with Scott in time. The werewolf had already pinned him to the ground.

Charlie made to run, maybe kick or throw Scott off the human, but a sharp female voice cut through the chaos of the scuffle.

“Heel!”

Both wolves froze.

Everyone’s attention shifted to a tall, beautiful woman with long blonde hair. She shoved her way through the onlookers and into the open space in the alley. One of the gawkers snapped her picture with his phone but a single look from the woman had the guy stuffing the device in his pocket sheepishly.

Charlie recognized her at once.

Margo Blackfoot, an Alpha female from the American Royal lineage of werewolves. Not as big of a deal in the royal family as she probably imagined herself, she still had some serious credentials. He’d run into the bitch before, and though he could no doubt take her, he didn’t relish putting it to the test.

Taking advantage of Scott’s distraction, Tim punched the wolf in the jaw. Scott fell back on his ass. The bartender jumped to his feet and joined Luke.

Breathing heavy, bat still in hand, Luke faced the newcomer. “Hey, lady….”

Not acknowledging Luke, Margo gave a disapproving gaze on her betas. They cowered under her fierce, gold-eyed stare.

“Mistress…” Allen muttered.

“Get over here, now!” she barked.

Scrambling to their feet, the two wolves hastened to obey.

“You two make me sick,” she muttered as they cowered at her side, proverbial tails tucked between their legs. “What the fuck were you doing here, anyway?”

Fuck. Yup, that had definitely been what they were trying to do.

Before Charlie could stop himself, he sniffed a laugh.

Margo’s eyes shot to him and he instantly regretted being spied. This she-wolf was nothing but trouble. Everyone knew she and her twin brother were part of the Cause, a fanatical group looking for some prophesied child who would either bring about peace between the four races—nightwalkers, shifters, witches, and humans—or kill them all. Charlie suspected most of them wanted to use this imagined kid to exterminate the other supernaturals so their race could be the most powerful. Which was why he always stayed as far away from the Cause as he could. Nothing but drama with that group. And supernatural drama often meant dead drama.

Charlie liked not being dead.

Margo scanned Charlie head to toe as she spoke to Luke, “Did my boys cause any damage I need to pay for?”

Charlie wouldn’t cower under her gaze. More than three times her age, he did not fear her. He just didn’t relish the notion she might run her trap about his location. A nightwalker without a colony was an easy target. He wouldn’t put it passed her to turn him into the Feds if she thought it would get her something she wanted for the Cause.

The burly bar owner replied, “No, but they’re trouble and I don’t want them around here, understand?”

“Excuse me?” Her gold eyes flashed and the tall man flinched.

Luke’s next words were lost in the howl of police sirens as two patrol cars rounded the corner. Red and blue lights flashed a kaleidoscope across the old brick buildings.

Figures, somebody always has to call the cops, don’t they?

A handful of people scattered, bolting to their cars, the natural fear of the authorities or guilt fueling them on. Most though, hung around, not wanting to miss any of the excitement.

When it came to the human authorities, it was every supernatural for themselves so Margo and her pets hurried away. But before she got lost in the crowd, she cast one last glance at Charlie. He knew then she recognized him.

Shit.

Hopefully, she would be too pissed at her idiot cronies to worry about a lone nightwalker outside a gay bar in London.

Charlie should have hailed a cab and gotten the hell out of this borough, too. But he couldn’t. Despite the risk Margo posed and the potential videos being shared online where his face could be pinged by facial recognition software the damn Feds no doubt had on him, Charlie needed to talk with Luke. Deep in his bones he knew the sensation plaguing him these last few days had been somehow alerting him—warning him maybe?—about Luke.

And he needed to know why.

 

Chapter Two

 

The delicious scent of adrenaline on Luke’s skin fogged up Charlie’s head as he stepped forward. With a hand pressed to his side, the bar owner panted to catch his breath while he came down from the rush of the fight. Charlie’s body heated at their closeness and he didn’t know how he curbed the overwhelming desire to grab Luke, pull him into a passionate kiss then sink his fangs into his neck.

The sharp scent of blood hit Charlie, making the temptation even stronger. He looked Luke over and saw red on his side. “You’re bleeding,” he told him, voice hoarse with longing.

The guy looked at his hand, his expression surprised by the red stuff staining his shirt and fingers. “Bloody hell, the fucker must’ve had a knife.”

Damn wolves and their claws.

Pissed off Luke had been hurt, Charlie moved forward to see how badly he’d been scratched. The man’s musk and the ripe scent of his blood made his mouth water but he tamped it down. He’d fed yesterday, so he could go another week. Yet something about this burly bear made him hungry for more than just his essence. He wanted his dick, his body, his cum. Hell, he wanted the guy’s undivided attention….

His incisors grew, and he had to clench his teeth together to stop them. Never before had he felt such an instant, overwhelming desire for a human. Luke was huge, six-five at least, and muscly, hairy and blond—totally Charlie’s type—but the fact his weird premonition seemed to have found its origin gave him pause.

“Lemme see your side,” Tim said, coming up to them.

Instant jealousy flared within Charlie when the other human reached out to examine Luke. His fangs elongated and his vision went grey. “Don’t touch him!”

Tim froze, raising his hands in surrender. “Relax, mate.”

When Luke quirked his brow, Charlie forcibly retracted his fangs. He blinked, getting his vision under control.

Flashing your eyes at them? Idiot!

Once visually human again, but unable to stop the pounding in his veins, he tried to sound nonchalant. “Um, you don’t wanna get blood on yourself. We gotta take precautions, ya know?”

Both men nodded. With AIDS prevention so respected within the gay community, these two accepted the lame excuse for his overreaction. The reality was, he didn’t want Tim to touch Luke. Never having been a jealous type, his reaction confused him. How had Luke managed to ignite such a possessive streak? He didn’t even know the guy.

The officers had gotten out of their cars and Charlie didn’t relish getting stuck talking to them. “Let’s get you inside and cleaned up.”

“Okay,” Luke said.

Charlie gestured toward the door, his hand resting on Luke’s hairy forearm. His hand looked small, pale against the man’s beefy flesh. The warmth of his skin burned into him, electric and wild. Powerless to stop his body from reacting, Charlie knew he was in over his head with that one touch. Nothing short of the Feds could make him abandon Luke now. And maybe not even that would do the trick.

What the hell is the matter with me?

“We’ll have to talk to the police,” Luke said once they were inside. The bar patrons stared, all whispering excitedly about the events. Tonight would no doubt entertain them for weeks to come. “I don’t want any trouble with them.”

“Yeah, we’ll need your statement, too,” Tim told Charlie.

He pushed his overwhelming attraction to Luke aside for a moment. Charlie needed the authorities in his life even less than he needed territorial, flea-infested werewolves harassing him on the streets. No way in hell was he talking to the cops. For all he knew, the Feds had sent his pic to Interpol.

Capturing Tim’s gaze, he looked deep, allowing the power of his kind to shine from his eyes. He used his mind to push into his thoughts. It didn’t take much to breech Tim’s barriers.

Instantly, an intoxicating power—one Charlie could so easily become addicted to—filled his senses. He fought the urge to seize full control of the weaker human. Such lust for power could be the first step into going vampire. Once a nightwalker became addicted to compelling humans, an uncontrollable need for all of their essence could consume them. Then before one knew what happened, they couldn’t live without the killing. Charlie may have been kicked out of some decent colonies, but he would be dammed if he joined one of the killing ones. Those people were freaks.

Pushing his influence into Tim as he spoke, Charlie said, “You will talk to the police. Let them know there was a scuffle but you don’t know where the victim went. It was not me. The guy you helped took off and you never got his name. No one was hurt.”

Tim hesitated for a moment then clarity returned to his face. He let out a weary sigh. “Too bad the kid took off and we never got his name. Now we can only claim a disturbance not a hate crime. Sure won’t help stop the bashings from going on in this neighborhood. That was the second one this month. At least no one got hurt this time.”

Luke gaped at him like he’d lost his mind. “What rubbish are you goin’ on about, mate? He’s right here and I got a bloody stab wound!”

High on the mind-control influence, Charlie looked up into Luke’s pretty green eyes, though his nightwalker vision made everything grey, and pushed on him, too. “No, that wasn’t me. That was someone else.”

Luke stared back, his expression cloudy. Then, as if shaking cobwebs from his mind, he nodded once. “Alright, mate.”

Charlie smiled. “Now where can I take you to clean up, big guy?”

“I have a flat upstairs. You all right to talk to the coppers, Tim?” he called out to the bartender.

“Aye, I got it.”

“Lemme know if they need me to give a statement, eh?” Luke gestured between Charlie and his bleeding side. “I need to get this sorted.”

Luke led the way down a dark hall and up a narrow flight of stairs. Not being the best neighborhood, the building had seen its better days but the loft apartment looked clean and tidy with an open design. A comfy couch and a rumpled bed faced an entertainment center housing a modest TV. Bookshelves covered one entire wall and Luke had hooked a tall ladder to a ceiling track for reaching the volumes on the higher shelves. The place felt warm and welcoming, the scent of Luke permeating the air adding to its charm.

In the kitchen, the blue glow of a fish tank illuminated the room enough for Charlie to maneuver Luke into one of the chairs around the Formica table. He had gone pale, and Charlie worried he had already lost too much blood.

Luke allowed him to take charge but the clarity in his green eyes made Charlie wonder if his influence had worn off already. He didn’t relish the idea of pushing on Luke’s thoughts again. His desire and attraction were already off the charts. He didn’t need to crave ultimate control, too.

Was this the kind of hunger which drove his kind into vampirism?

Charlie shuddered at the thought.

“You got a first aid kit?” he managed.

Luke gestured to the cupboards. “Under the sink.”

Retrieving the tin box with the universal red cross on top, he turned his attention back to Luke. But when he turned around his breath caught in his chest.

Luke had removed his shirt.

Never before had Charlie seen anything sexier.

Concentrating on using the garment to apply pressure to his wound, Luke didn’t notice Charlie’s fangs or the glow of his eyes at the sight of his broad chest covered in golden hair, the muscles every bit as sculpted as he’d imagined them to be. And oh, yeah, he had imagined. With no work-out equipment in the apartment, Luke either went to the gym a lot or had a body carved by hard work and sports. Seeing blood trickle from beneath the shirt made Charlie’s mouth water for a taste.

Fuck, you’re a goner….

“Now let me take a look at that cut,” Charlie said once he got his appearance under control though his voice did tremble.

He approached, clenching his jaw to prevent his fangs from showing. They cut ever so slightly into his lip, the tang of blood filling his mouth and making his dick hard. Breathing through his nose made the craving worse, because all he could smell was Luke.

Get it together, pal!

Luke pulled the shirt back and Charlie tsked. “Looks like he got you deep.”

The center of the cut delved into the muscle and no doubt hurt like a mother fucker. It bled pretty steady, too, saturating the shirt. “That’s about useless. You got a clean towel?”

“Top drawer, left of the sink,” Luke told him.

Grabbing one, Charlie handed it over. When Luke’s attention fixed on swapping the ruined garment for the towel, Charlie shifted his stiff cock in his jeans. Either too proud to show pain or still in shock, Luke winced very little. Charlie had to smile at the guy’s pain threshold. The big, beautiful man was strong. Strong enough to become a willing donor…..

No!

Charlie couldn’t allow that train of thought to go anywhere.

“Think I need stiches?” Luke asked, examining the wound.

With a sigh, Charlie shook his head. “No, can’t do that.”

If it had been a knife wound, then yes, he would need stitches. Sometimes humans had an adverse reaction to the bacteria in a werewolf’s claw. It wouldn’t turn them, but it could affect their mind, make them crazy—hence the stories of being turned. But there was more than just a risk of bleeding out. The bacteria could actually kill him. So Charlie had only one option.

He had to heal Luke himself.

Which meant he had to give him his blood.

Fuck.

“Why can’t I get stiches?” Luke wanted to know.

Charlie hesitated. “Well, we just can’t.”

Those green eyes were wide, trusting, sucking Charlie in and making his heart swell.

Kneeling before him, Charlie offered a smile. Luke towered over him, so huge and warm. His pulse quickened and his dick ached, knowing how fucking awesome it would be to have Luke drink from him. The one thing the stories got right was the sexual arousal and intimacy feeding caused both partners.

Charlie’s voice lowered, thickened by lust. “We have to try something else.”

“Like what?” The man’s bare chest flushed before his eyes—the color of desire. Charlie could smell the testosterone in his pheromones spike. Luke was getting excited, too. That would make everything so much easier.

And so much hotter.

Dragging his gaze down Luke’s thick, hair-dusted body, Charlie allowed himself a wicked little chuckle. Gods, the man was sexy! That barrel-like chest heaved with deep slow breaths of anticipation. Heart pounding, he placed both trembling hands on Luke’s thighs. His vision altered as the blood lust consumed him. When he met Luke’s gaze, Charlie knew his eyes were glowing.

Luke took in a sharp breath when he saw the glow and Charlie seized the moment. He pushed into his mind again. His resistance collapsed at once, as if Luke did not resist, rather granted Charlie full access.

“Trust me. I want to help you,” he whispered, aware of the witching influence of his voice. “If we don’t do this you could die.”

Luke cocked his head to the side, studying him. For a moment, Charlie feared he would have to push on him again.

Then he gave the barest of nods. “I trust you.”

Raising a wrist to his mouth, Charlie let his fangs drop. Luke’s eyes widened curiously but he did not shy away. The sharp pierce of his incisors into the flesh strung. When the blood began to flow, bright red while everything else went grey, he held his wrist to Luke’s mouth. “Drink.”

Expression hazy with lust and confusion, Luke stared at the redness dripping down Charlie’s forearm.

“Go on,” Charlie encouraged, anticipation for what was to come making him impatient, though he didn’t want to rush the guy. He wanted Luke to enjoy this as much as he would.

Their eyes met again, and something silent passed between them. In that moment Charlie knew, as those beautiful green orbs held him captive, neither of them would ever be the same. With this one act, Charlie would become a total prisoner to a being of the weaker race. He should stop before things got out of hand, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave Luke injured. Even though a blood exchange would bond them for a while, he had to save the man’s life. He had no choice.

His very soul cried out to protect this human.

Slowly and never looking away, Luke lowered his head. Tentative at first, he slid his tongue through the wet. When those manly lips touched his skin, Charlie let out a moan. He shifted between his thighs and pressed his arm deeper into Luke’s mouth. “Go on, drink. It will heal you.”

Giving in, Luke clamped his lips over the two fang marks, and closed his eyes. Hands shaking, he held Charlie’s arm in place and began to suck.

The sensation that followed drew another hearty moan from Charlie’s lips. As if the suction somehow were connected to his groin, his cock grew to full hardness. Luke whimpered, sucking harder. Charlie’s entire body shuddered. Arching his back, his mouth fell open in longing while Luke drank. Every nerve ignited with feeling and the blood flowed fast through his limbs, making his dick throb as the blood journeyed to Luke’s mouth. He trembled from the intensity of it all and his balls tightened up, like Luke was somehow drawing them up through his suction.

Wanting more connection, Charlie’s hand sought Luke’s cock, the long solid heat of his erection causing him to breathe heavier. He stroked him through his jeans, a yearning to get naked, bite him and join their bodies with skin and teeth, consuming him. Gurgling greedily around Charlie’s arm, Luke thrust against his touch.

Blinking through the shadowed vision of hunger, he watched the ecstasy on Luke’s face. Then he lowered his gaze to Luke’s bleeding side, aware the werewolf bacteria still posed a risk.

Without hesitation, he dipped his head and licked the wound. Luke drew back with a hiss of pain.

“Keep drinking,” Charlie told him, his voice so deep and throaty it did not sound like his own.

Luke returned to feeding and Charlie licked the length of his wound. It tasted tangy and metallic. A hint of beer lingered in his essence, with a faint taste of whiskey, and the poison of the werewolf scratch. Careful to keep his fangs away, he licked him again and again, until nothing remained but the sweet taste of Luke.

Charlie wanted to feed from him, not just heal him, and only knowledge of what that might do held him in check. A nightwalker could sire a human by bonding their spirits with a mutual blood exchange. The nightwalker would receive the vital nutrients to survive and the human would live as long as the nightwalker continued to feed him. But the symbiotic love affair of a sire bond posed its own problems. Having Luke bonded to him would put the man in danger because Charlie had no colony to protect him and the Feds were after him.

Pulling back before he gave in, Charlie watched as the wound began to heal once the poison had been removed. Slowly, it knitted itself back together. Charlie felt himself growing weaker as Luke drank, similar to the light headed feeling after coming but without the joy of sex. When the wound became soft and pink, but closed, Charlie knew he’d given enough.

“That’s good…,” he breathed, trying to break free.

Luke groaned and clung to him, sucking harder.

Shuddering, Charlie gasped, his cock hardening more as Luke continued to feed. “No, you have to let go….”

Moaning, Luke released him, crimson fluid dribbling down his chin. His eyes were drunk with the lust of feeding and his color had returned, his skin ruddy with health and arousal.

Joints like jelly, Charlie knew Luke had taken too much. He would have to rest before he could venture out into the night again. He glanced up, ready to push on his thoughts, make him forget what Charlie had done. Humans finding out about the healing powers of nightwalker blood was what had made the Feds so damn interested in his species in the first place.

A feral look crossed Luke’s face, startling Charlie and making him hesitate. Then he seized Charlie by the shoulders and pulled him into his lap.

What…?” His words were cut off as Luke crushed their lips together in a wet, messy kiss.

Logic evaporated and Charlie groaned at the warm blood coating Luke’s tongue, sucking some of it back into his body. A man possessed with lust, Luke slammed him down, their groins connecting. He began to rock Charlie’s hips, the hardness of their dicks rubbing him to a place of delirious ecstasy. A wildness consumed Charlie then, too, and he devoured Luke’s mouth, wanting his blood and relishing the way his huge body dwarfed him, surrounded him.

Even though he had been weakened from the feeding, Charlie was still much stronger than a human. But Luke was sturdy enough to handle it. Clutching the back of his head, Charlie kissed him hard, grinding their erections together.

Frantic, his hands roamed all over Luke’s naked chest, savoring the prickle of hair, the wetness of the blood on his side as they kissed and dry humped against one another. Desire consumed him, removing all thoughts except coming. He wanted to get naked, fuck the big guy, but his passion had reached the point of no return. So close to release, nothing could stop him now. Arching against him, Charlie rubbed his nipples back and forth on Luke, never slowing the undulation of his hips.

When the moment came, Charlie cried out in shock and elation. Hot, wet fluid filled his underwear, his orgasm driving him into frantic thrusting against Luke. Grunting, Luke seized his thrashing hips, holding him still and canting up once, twice. Then his entire body convulsed as he came, too.

Mind spinning out of control, body weak with sated desire, Charlie clung to the big human male. Never before had healing a wound been so electric. So all consuming. He trembled from the intensity of it.

Cautiously, his hand went to Luke’s side, fearing all the jarring might have caused his wound to reopen. He sighed in relief when he found it still sealed.

Luke placed a large hand over his, pressing it close. “Thank-you.”

Charlie nodded. “You’re welcome.”

Their breaths were heavy, damp with spit and blood. Luke kissed him and Charlie flicked his tongue out, cleaning the meaty fluid from Luke’s chin.

“That was…,” Luke began.

“Amazing,” he finished. With a sad smile, Charlie pulled back and looked deep into those green eyes. He could see their true color now that his vision had returned to normal. “Too bad you won’t remember it.”

Luke looked confused for a moment then said, “I have to go downstairs and talk to the police and check on the bar. Will you be here when I get back?”

Every ounce of wisdom in Charlie’s orgasm-numb mind told him he needed to hit the road. His presence here would only put Luke in danger. Wiping his mind and leaving would be the only way to keep him safe. But over the big guy’s shoulder he spied the rumpled bed. Exhausted, he needed sleep and the notion of all that warm, Luke-scented cotton embracing his spent body squashed any further debate.

To hell with the risks. He wasn’t going anywhere.

“Yeah, I’ll be here.”

 

Chapter Three

 

The damn coppers had a lot of questions. Probably a slow night on the streets. Luke swore he and Tim talked to the indifferent pricks forever, though usually they had very little interest in the crimes in their neighborhood. Rough, poor, and their particular city block as bent as they came, he was surprised they had even answered the emergency call.

No doubt wanting to get the dirt, the bar regulars had all stuck around. They must’ve texted and called more friends because suddenly, for a Tuesday night, the bar was packed. Times were tight so the money would be a blessing. But at three AM, after he sent the last of the drinkers home and hailed a few cabs, Luke decided to call it a night.

“Can you close up?” he asked Tim and Stephen.

His oldest friend smiled at him from behind the bar. “Aye.”

Sighing, Luke ran fingers through his shaggy blond hair. “Thanks.”

Tim eyed him funny. “You sure you’re all right, mate?”

“I’m fine,” he insisted. Turning to Stephen, the sixteen year old bus-boy, he added, “Now where did your pals run off to?”

The kid gave him a shrug of boney shoulders. “Mitch already crashed upstairs and George took off an hour ago. Dunno where he went.”

Luke sighed. “Dammit, that kid is gonna get himself in trouble. He ain’t down at the docks again giving blowies, is he?”

Stephen hefted a tub of dirty glasses and wouldn’t meet Luke’s eye. “Already said I dunno.”

“Can’t save ‘em all, mate,” Tim told him when Stephen stepped out of earshot.

He sniffed in agreement. “I can try, though, can’t I?”

Luke had a penchant for taking in strays—kids whose parents didn’t want them because they were abominations for how they were born. Ignorant fools didn’t know what good kids they were missing out on. Sometimes he felt his life had become a Charles Dickens novel, taking care of a bunch of London street urchins, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. Just the thought of all those confused gay kids abandoned to the street broke his heart. He couldn’t sit by and do nothing. His dream had always been to open a youth crisis center but he never had the funds. For now, he’d feed the few he could, give them honest work and a place to sleep. He had a spare flat upstairs. Some he managed to get back in school, others he lost along the way. George didn’t want to be helped, however, so all Luke could do was preach about wrapping his pecker. He wished he could get through to the kid, though.

Feeling surprisingly well after the tussle in the alley, Luke climbed the stairs to his home, heart racing with anticipation. His hand went to his side and a flush of arousal went through him.

What happened tonight?

Snippets of things he should remember whispered on the edge of his thoughts, like dreams. Barely there, yet not. Shaking his head, he opened his door.

A sexy stranger stood in the middle of the room.

Rather than be shocked, Luke smiled, pleased the guy had remained. The bold fellow had helped himself to a shower, it seemed. Shirtless and hair still wet, he examined Luke’s bookshelves and did not turn around to greet him. He sensed, however, the man knew he had entered.

Sudden images of their intimate moment assaulted Luke, becoming clear and crisp the longer he stayed in his presence.

Christ, did I…?

He blushed recalling his own wanton behavior with a total stranger. Everything had happened so fast with the blood drinking and…shite! Had he really blew a load in his britches? Memories of Charlie washing him up then trying to wipe his mind afterward returned to Luke. He smiled, arousal growing in his middle.

No, he did not regret anything. In fact, he wanted to reach out and touch him, reassure himself the guy he’d experienced those erotic moments with had not been a figment of his imagination.

“Where did you get all these books?” his guest demanded.

Luke sniffed. Typical American manners.

“The old lady who lived next door when I was a lad left them to me,” Luke answered, resting his things on the table.

It made sense he would fixate on the book collection. A repository of legend and lore, wisdom an old friend had gleaned over the years. Works he had studied, though still it seemed he would always have more to learn.

Luke approached him. His lean, hairless body was taunt like a bow, pulled back and ready to let loose a deadly arrow. He might be small but he was dangerous…Luke couldn’t forget that.

He chose his next statement carefully. “She was a witch.”

That pretty face finally turned toward him. “Excuse me?”

Enjoying the fact he could look at the lean lines of his features, the sharp grey of his eyes, Luke nodded. “Not a very powerful one, mind you. But her granny on her Jameson side was quite strong and she taught old Betty the witching herbs and all the lore. Quite a wealth of information, old Betty was.”

He laid a book back on the shelf—The Study of Lycanthropy. “You don’t say?”

“You got a name, mate?” Luke asked. Though he supposed it didn’t matter if they observed formalities at this point. Neither of them would be going anywhere. This day had been a long time coming. Though Luke had played it out in his mind a million times over, the attraction and the circumstances were still hard to wrap his head around.

“Charlie.”

“Luke.”

“I figured that one out already,” he said in a snide tone which made Luke smirk.

Cocky little shit, isn’t he?

“She used to make biscuits and tea for me,” Luke continued on with his story, running his hands along the spines of the old, worn books, his most prized possessions. “The other kids were afraid of her, but I’m a big fella, always have been. I would do almost anything to fill my belly. So she cooked and I ate while she told me stories.”

Charlie watched him close, his piercing grey eyes keen, wiser than his youthful appearance suggested. At first glance, he didn’t look a day over twenty.

When he remained silent Luke continued, “You know, stories about the four races. Humans, nightwalkers, shifters and witches.”

Those dark eyebrows shot up and Luke tried to hide his amusement. “Told me how they kept the balance in nature. Humans with love, nightwalkers used power, the shifters for justice and the wisdom of the witch. Like an organic checks and balances system, the world can’t function without all four. She used to have strange folk visit her once and awhile, probably some of those beings. Ended up killing her, too.”

“I’m sorry,” Charlie whispered, none of the cynical tone remaining.

“So was I, but I hadn’t spoken to her for years. My mum and dad refused to allow her to have any contact with me after she took me to get this when I was fifteen.” Luke slid his shirt off in explanation, turning so Charlie could see the Celtic symbol of protection against supernatural beings tattooed onto his right shoulder. Standing before the smaller man, shirtless, he felt vulnerable and it aroused him more than he expected.

Charlie let out a laugh, the smile softening the angular lines of his face. “Explains why the mind wipe didn’t stick. I suppose you know what I am?”

“Nightwalker,” Luke answered softly.

Charlie gave him a puzzled look. “If you knew, why did you try to help me outside? You should’ve known I didn’t need it.”

“I didn’t know what you were until you played your mind trick on Tim.” Luke tossed his shirt on the bed. He could tell by the messed blankets and the blood stain, Charlie had slept there while he’d worked. Knowing the man had felt comfortable enough in his home to sleep, warmed him inside.

“Well, if it didn’t work on you, why did you go along with it? I could’ve been a vampire.”

Luke shrugged. “I knew you weren’t.”

He made a sarcastic face. “How?”

“I just did. I’ve seen your other kind, and I knew you weren’t one of them. You would’ve killed us if that was all you were after. I figured if you needed to hide from the authorities, you must have good reason.”

When Charlie began to pace again, Luke took the opportunity to admire his beauty. His dark hair was floppy and in need of a haircut, giving him a younger, almost cute appearance. But those eyes were anything but youthful and innocent. They could flash from deadly to sexy in a second. Small, but by no means skinny, his pale skin hugged shapely muscles and those jeans wrapped around a pert little arse. From what Luke felt earlier, what he lacked in height he did not lack in the trouser department.

Luke had never met a nightwalker and had only seen a vampire the once. No stranger to the supernatural world, he’d had a werewolf lover in America during a summer he’d worked on a guest ranch while living out childhood cowboy fantasies. Of course, Joel Amitola didn’t have a clue Luke had known what he and his brother were. Luke had met more than his share of witches, too, but he’d had the least dealings with nightwalkers. Somehow, the one before him didn’t seem as scary as the stories indicated. Luke didn’t feel threatened at all. He felt perfectly safe with Charlie.

Leaning one hip against the ladder in front of his bookshelves, he crossed his arms as Charlie paced. He would need a moment, because there was a whole helluva lot more to clue the bloke into before the night ended. Luke could hardly believe it all himself.

After a long enough delay, Luke spoke. “Look, I appreciate what you did, Charlie, healing me. If you need refuge for a while, you wouldn’t be the first one I gave it to. I have kids who hang out here.”

“I’m no kid,” Charlie snapped. “I’m ninety-seven years old.”

So his nightwalker had issues with being short and mistaken for young…good to know. Luke wanted to tell him he loved little guys, the adorable twinks who came into his bar, but he figured the comparison might not be appreciated. “But you need asylum just the same, don’t you?”

After a moment, Charlie relented with a curt nod.

Luke bobbed his head once in acknowledgment. “I have to ask, since the kids living here have been dealt enough shit. If I help you, are they in danger from those wolves?”

Charlie sighed and made his way across the room, putting his back to Luke and looking out the window at the grimy London buildings making up the less than stellar view. “No, those guys are just idiots. The woman on the other hand, she could be a problem. She could tell the people after me where I am.”

“Who’s after you?”

He turned and studied Luke before he answered. “You just learned firsthand about the healing power of nightwalker blood.” He gestured to the shelves. “You can read all these books a million times over, doesn’t mean you will ever know as much as you can about our races. Someone squealed to the wrong person, or somebody saw something, I don’t really know. All I know is that I have American Federal agents on my trail and because I’m not in a colony I’m easy pickings.”

“Why? Do they want to make you a lab rat and study you?”

Charlie nodded. “I think so. I haven’t seen them here in London, but that blonde bitch?”

“The one who called off her wolves?”

“Yeah, she’s neck deep in conspiracy shit back home. There’s some mixed-species supernatural who’s supposed to bring balance to world. Or kill us all, I don’t know which. I stay out of politics. Margo might not know the FBI is following me, but in her mind the location of a nightwalker without a colony could be valuable intel to barter for something she wanted for the Cause.”

Luke sniffed in amusement.

Oh, Betty, you wise old gal….

This evening had turned into one surprise after another, every little detail falling into place.

He climbed a few steps up the ladder to retrieve an old tome. A book of prophesy Betty’s grandmother had given her. Taking the fragile book from the shelf, Luke leafed through it as he descended. When he found what he sought, he read the passage aloud:

“And there will come a time when a child will be born of a creature of the night and a creature of the earth. This child will have the spirit of the wind and the soul of fire. He will hold the balance of the races in his right hand, and the key to destroy them in his left.”

Those words rendered Charlie speechless.

“This is a grimoire,” Luke explained. “A witch’s spell book. Betty gave it to me after she took me to get the tattoo. She said to keep it safe. When she got killed, her flat had been ransacked. They must’ve been looking for this. I inherited her things and figured since the people who killed her never found what they were looking for, it would be safe to put the grimoire back in the collection. Not much good it would do them anyway, without the other half.”

“The other half?”

He showed Charlie the back of the book where the binding had been torn. “Aye, the grimoire was made by the Jamison sisters, Betty’s ancestors. They knew the danger the prophesy represented and the threat this child could pose to the balance of the universe. So they tore it in half, dividing the spell to find the child. One sister went to America but her part of the book was lost during the Salem witch hunts. The other book was passed on, eventually finding its way into Betty’s hands. And now mine.”

Charlie sniffed. “Maybe it’s a good thing the other half is lost. I don’t like the idea of anyone using the spell. I never thought the prophesy was true, but then again, the grimoire in your hands isn’t supposed to exist either.”

“If it didn’t exist, then how would people know of the prophesy?” Luke asked, a grin tugging at his mouth.

Charlie made a sarcastic face. “All right, you got a point, smart ass. But seriously, Luke, people would kill you for that book without a second thought. I’m going to pretend I’ve never seen it and if I were you, I would burn it.”

Luke’s head shot up. “Did you just tell me to burn it?”

“Yes. Then forget all about the stupid prophesy,” Charlie reiterated, getting impassioned. “If you don’t want these kids you care for getting hurt then you want the grimoire as far away from here as possible.”

How could all of this be happening? Too much of tonight could be a coincidence, but Luke had to know for sure. “Why are you helping me?”

Charlie shrugged irritably. “I don’t know. Why did you show me that book? I could have just killed you and taken it. Started my own colony of nightwalkers bent on taking over the world.”

Climbing the ladder, Luke chuckled and replaced the book on the shelf. “You won’t kill me.”

“How do you know?” Charlie got in his face when he stepped down.

Rather than be scared of the powerful creature, Luke’s pulse raced at his show of dominance. He felt overpowered, but safe. Protected. And Charlie’s proximity made it difficult to think. The memories of feeding from him, kissing him, feeling him in his arms made him warm all over. He forced a cleansing breath. “The same way you know you can trust me.”

He scowled, cross at something. “Oh yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“Then trust me when I say, burn the book.”

Luke shook his head. “I’m a scribe. Maybe I’ll put it in a safe deposit box but I was raised to protect this information, pass it on. Not to destroy it. Knowledge doesn’t kill, people do.”

“But you end up dead either way.”

“True, but I have a responsibility. Sometimes people come to me, mostly witches, looking for answers. Betty kept records for fifty years, her grandmother another fifty before that and so on a dozen generations back. She had no children so she passed the duty of her family onto me. I’ve been studying these books and scrolls for ages. This is who I am and you cannot ask me to change.”

“The people who killed Betty could kill you.”

Aroused by Charlie’s passion and fire, Luke challenged, “You won’t let them kill me.”

Charlie glared up at him and Luke couldn’t help but be reminded of a tenacious terrier taking on a bear. He forced himself not to grin.

Lips pursed tight, Charlie let out a frustrated growl and whirled away.

Luke watched him pace again, his slight body vibrating with frustration. “I understand your concern, but as a scribe I must remain neutral.”

“You stopped beign neutral the moment you took me in.”

“You have no colony, no affiliation. You’re as much on the outside as me. We need each other.”

The nightwalker stopped to face him, his eyes challenging, stubborn. “I don’t need anybody.”

“Aye, ya do. We can help each other. I need help protecting the grimoire and you need a colony, like the humans need their family, the shifters need their pack and the witches need their covens. You cannot thrive alone.”

“And you mean to be my colony?” His voice had lowered to a sexy octave that made Luke so hard, so horny he didn’t know if he could finish his point before he threw himself at the man, begging to be fucked and bitten.

Power radiated from the smaller creature but Luke knew it posed no threat to him. He needed Charlie to acknowledge Fate had brought them together for a reason. “We could benefit greatly from each other. I am large and healthy. I could give you blood and you could help me keep the grimoire safe.”

Charlie looked gob-smacked. “You’re talking about a sire bond. W-why would I d-do that?”

Luke moved closer, feeling brave and determined to make his nightwalker see the light. “I’ve studied sire bonds for many years and I know that it’s already begun between us. I can feel you in my veins, as you feel me. You took in my blood when you licked that scratch. The only thing holding us back is your denial. You want me. I want you. Why fight what destiny has brought together?”

“I don’t believe in destiny,” Charlie scoffed. “I make my own decisions.”

Luke took his turn at sarcasm. “Then why did you stay and help me? Why didn’t you leave?”

“Because I’m a nice guy, that’s why,” he snapped.

A hot, impatient craving consumed Luke. Enough of this back and forth.

He closed the gap between their bodies and Charlie sucked in a breath. The man’s nipples were hard on his chest and Luke could see the outline of his hard cock through those jeans. The damn fool was just being stubborn. Luke longed to kiss him hard, make him see reason. Make him see they were destined to be together. But Charlie had to be the one to make the move this time.

“Oh, it’s more than that, and you know it,” Luke whispered. “But the truth scares you.”

Charlie scoffed again, but didn’t back away. His Adam’s apple bobbed on his neck. “I am a nightwalker. I am scared of nothing.”

“You’re scared of how much you trust me. How much you want me. What it might mean. You feel drawn to me as strongly as I feel drawn to you.” Luke reached out ran a hand across Charlie’s bare chest. He shivered and Luke recalled the way he had rubbed his nipples back and forth against his chest. Flicking one with his thumb, he grinned when Charlie shivered. “Why are you fighting it?”

His eyes darted around and his voice went hoarse. “I-I don’t know.”

“Then let go, baby, follow your instincts.”
Chapter Four

 

Fuck, Charlie wanted to let go.

Give in to the craving devouring him. The need to touch, and feed, and make love to Luke.

He could still taste the decadent sweetness of his blood, feel it working through his body, energizing him. He’d had no choice but to clean the poison from the wound, though he’d known the act would bond them temporarily. But he hadn’t expected Luke to remember. The mind wipe should have worked. It always worked.

Who knew the dude would be a scribe with a protection tattoo?

Like everyone else, Charlie had always imagined scribes to be hags or old men, not sexy, gay bar owners. Scribes were the record keepers, usually the kid in the witch family with the least magic but sometimes just ordinary humans. And this ordinary human scribe happened to be in possession of a grimoire which could get him killed. If the Cause ever learned it still existed or that it held a summoning spell to find the prophesied kid, Luke would be in serious shit. A protection tattoo could only do so much.

No wonder he’d felt such a powerful forewarning about Luke.

The man needed his protection.

For some reason, Charlie’s cynical mind-your-own-business motto had flown out the window the moment he set eyes on the big guy. Why he cared so damn much he didn’t know, but he needed to make Luke see reason. The idea of Margo or those other wolves learning about the grimoire, maybe hurting him…no!

He could never let that happen.

“You have no idea what you got yourself into, do you?”

“I’ve been in possession of these books for a long time,” Luke replied. “Betty died for them. I know the risks.”

“Does anyone know about the grimoire?”

Luke shrugged those mountainous hairy shoulders, nearly distracting Charlie. “No one but you. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, I collect old books.”

“That’s not good enough,” he chastised, real fear for the scribe making him anxious. “You need to burn the grimoire.”

A wide grin cut through Luke’s face, showing even white teeth and making him more handsome than before. “That’s what Betty told me you would say.”

“What?”

Smiling, lost to an old memory, Luke’s gaze roamed over his book collection. “And you didn’t think you were very powerful old gal, did ya?” he whispered.

Charlie bristled with impatience. “Well are you gonna elaborate on that or just leave me hanging?”

Luke cocked a brow. “One of the last things Betty told me was that one day I would meet a nightwalker. He would save my life and tell me to burn the grimoire.”

“Lucky guess,” he scoffed. Charlie hated witches and their pretending to know shit before everyone else. Especially when they were right.

“She said you would argue with me but I was supposed to stand my ground and tell you I had to protect the grimoire. She told me that the nightwalker would become my sire.”

Shock kicked Charlie’s attitude to the curb.

The words ‘sire bond’ had played through his mind since they first met, dancing in the back of his thoughts. Now Luke kept mentioning it, making Charlie’s desire to form a bond with Luke even stronger. Sure, he missed having a colony, but bonding with a human? A total stranger? Had he lost his marbles?

His mouth gaped a few times before he sputtered, “T-there’s no way, no….”

“Isn’t there?”

He could come up with no reply for that because Charlie had never felt as comfortable with his fellow nightwalkers as he did standing in this room with Luke. Already filled with the protective urges a sire bond produced, he could sense Luke in his veins, in his bones. In his soul. The desire to bond completely with Luke was so powerful he could hardly escape it.

Could it be true? Had some old witch seen them together, bonded? It would explain why he came to the bar. He hated annoying drunken humans, laughing and carrying on. Yet he had lingered just long enough to have a run-in with the wolves, causing Luke to need healing. A small pocket of terror gripped him when he realized one little alteration in his day could’ve caused him to miss Luke. But when he glanced up at Luke’s kind face, relief washed over him, a balm for his spirit.

Maybe this had been destined.

Luke ran a hand along his arm, sending shivers to his cock. “You feel it, don’t you?”

“Maybe….”

A species designed to bond with humans, in flesh and in blood, Charlie never thought he wanted to sire a bond with a man he would have to protect, feed from, and live with as a unit. Plenty of his kind did it, though, just like shifters formed their own connections to witches. But not Charlie. He prided himself on his independence and didn’t like the idea of Fate dealing out the hand he should play.

Yet, a need for this human consumed his very being, more than a hunger for blood ever had.

Moving closer, Luke’s heat and the tempting call of his pounding blood swamped Charlie. He couldn’t think clearly anymore. His fangs stretched and he tried to breathe normal though it sounded like a pant, even to him. The hunger was already altering his vision, no doubt his eyes were glowing.

“I have people after me,” he argued. “I would be placing you in danger….”

“We’ll manage. I’m safe with you here,” Luke whispered. “I haven’t felt this way in a long time. Betty was right. You were sent for me.”

Pulse pounding, Charlie’s fangs dropped fully at Luke’s sultry tone and everything went grey with lust. He still couldn’t accept this was actually happening to him. “I am a monster for all intents and purposes, how can you feel safe with me?”

Luke leaned in, inhaling the scent from Charlie’s neck and exposing the vulnerable tender flesh covering his jugular vein. He saw the red blood pulsing, hard and fast—the only thing his nightwalker vision could see when so close to feeding.

Oh fuck, he wanted to taste him so bad…

“You will never hurt me. You can’t.” Luke’s breath tickled his ear and he trembled.

“No,” he agreed quietly. “I can’t hurt you.”

Cautiously, he reached out to caress those vast muscles in front of him…so warm and firm. The hair teased his fingertips and Luke shivered beneath the exploring touch. Charlie had no clue how to process the emotions going on inside him, the battle of fear and desire. “I’m worried about you having that grimoire.”

“You can fixate on that damn spell book all you like. But we both know you are here for me, not some papers,” Luke said, boldly licking across his jaw. “I want you to feed from me, Charlie. Make love to me….”

He moaned. Nuzzling the guy’s neck, he couldn’t deny he’d been compelled to come to this place to meet Luke. Everything felt so right. This moment, this man. As if he had been waiting all his life to stand here with Luke, to be intoxicated by the way he smelled, to hear the sound of his voice, feel his body heat, taste him…his fangs ached and his mouth opened. Drawing nearer to Luke, he paused just shy of warm flesh.

“Do it,” Luke pleaded, his voice taking on a desperate whine. “Bite me, fuck me. If I don’t feel you inside me soon, I swear I’ll die!”

A shudder wracked him. That was more than any nightwalker could be expected to resist.

Taking one big hand in his, Charlie led Luke to the bed. They hardly knew each other, but he supposed that would come in time. All he needed to understand right now was Luke belonged to him—whether Fate or some old witch had deemed it so, he didn’t really care anymore.

He wanted him.

Head spinning and stomach burning with a sudden, painful hunger, his dick had grown so hard it hurt. His teeth hurt, too, desperate for what Luke offered so freely. Charlie pressed him onto his back and stretched out on top, relishing the heat of his body and the prickle of chest hair. He raised his lip to expose his fangs and his vision went grey as the nightwalker genes kicked in. Luke did not flinch at the flash of his eyes. Rather, his face turned wanton with need. He’d experience the joy of a blood exchange already, the ecstasy, and unlike every other human Charlie had fed from, Luke remembered him. It was erotic, thrilling to be with a lover, not just a man he fed from then fucked. To savor a passion only time together could richen was something Charlie had never thought he would experience.

Splaying his hands over Luke’s chest, he ran them down the broad, hairy expanse, eyes on his face, ruddy with desire. He trailed his fangs gently down his skin, delighting in the power he held over the bigger man, how badly he could see in Luke’s eyes that he wanted Charlie. Not because Charlie had bewitched his mind so he could feed. But because Luke simply wanted him.

He slid Luke’s jeans off, delighting in his first glimpse of the cock he’d only felt against his body. Wrapping his lips around his fangs so he could nibble on his foreskin without hurting the delicate skin, Charlie went down on him. Luke came alive beneath him, writhing and groaning with relief. Pumping his shaft, he licked the tip, all too aware of the blood engorging it, such a delicious nectar only a few bites away. Burying his face in Luke’s groin, feeling the bushy thatch of hair prickling his cheeks, Charlie’s mouth watered to taste.

“Please,” his lover begged. “Just do it…”

With a starved hiss, Charlie sank his teeth into the V between his thigh and groin.

Luke twitched from the initial sting but soon began to moan. Hot, delicious liquid flowed over Charlie’s tongue, warming his insides, fueling his own erection, easing the hunger and pain. Nothing had ever been so sweet. He sucked hard, Luke’s erect dick bobbing warm by his cheek. He reached up and stroked it, wanting Luke to enjoy the moment. He tasted like ambrosia, the addictive flavor igniting every nerve in Charlie’s body. But before he took too much, he drew back, blood tricking on his chin.

Eyes glazed with passion, Luke stared down at him. “Fuck me…” he pleaded, raising his knees to expose himself, drawing a lustful groan from Charlie.

Just as eager, Charlie placed his hand under one of those thick, powerful legs, his nightwalker strength pushing it up effortlessly despite their dramatic difference in size. He dove below to spread the wetness of the blood and his saliva over Luke’s hole. The dark taste of his rim, the teasing hairs, and the way he twitched as Charlie worked him, spurred his lust.

Red stained the sheets white, trailing from the bite wound and down Luke’s groin in a bright scarlet line. The scent of it made Charlie impatient to claim him, be inside the man he’d bonded himself to by blood. He sat back, searching the drawer of the bed stand for lube, the place all men stored the vital sex supply. Finding it, he slathered his dick then pushed Luke’s legs apart, arrowing his cock at his lush hole. The tightness fought him for a moment, but with a few careful thrusts he slid inside Luke’s snug chute, the heat and tightness wracking his body with passionate tremors.

“Oh,” he moaned, creating a rhythm, moving his hips at an angle to stimulate Luke’s prostate. “So good….”

Grunting with every push inside, Luke reached up and stroked Charlie’s face. “So right….”

Their eyes locked and they both smiled. Feeling at peace, Charlie placed a hand over Luke’s, holding it against his cheek. He drank in his lover’s beautiful face, wondering if it would always be like this for them. He didn’t know, but deep in his heart and in his soul, he did want there to be an always.

Had he gone crazy?

With Luke smiling at him, gaze wanton, open and vulnerable, Charlie decided it didn’t matter. He wanted this bond. It felt like the only thing he’d ever done right in all his days.

Releasing Luke’s hand, he put his wrist to his mouth. He hadn’t bothered to put his fangs away—his lover knew who and what he was—and he sank them into his flesh, reopening the wound from earlier.

Luke watched him do it, licking his lips. When Charlie brought that open wrist to his mouth the man went wild. A novice no longer, knowing what pleasure it could bring them both, he gripped him hard and sucked deep. Charlie cried out as ecstasy blazed inside him. Luke shuddered as he, too, felt the connection of their sire bond. Like a million tiny lights bursting into darkness, an opening of the heavens.

The bond between them intertwined their souls, uniting them like nothing else could.

Though he prided himself on his prowess in bed, it all ended far too soon. Luke’s wanton moves, his tight ass, the hairy feel of his thighs, the savage way he fed, the union of their hearts. It all pushed Charlie over. With a gasp, he pulled his arm away. Luke’s head fell back, blood running down his chin.

Charlie seized his thighs and a few hard jabs brought him to release. Luke was fast to join him. Spitting on his hand and jerking his cock until cum sprayed them both, adding the thick whiteness to the smears of red blood.

Gasping and spent, he licked Luke’s face and neck clean of blood. His new lover returned the favor, long slow kisses carrying them as they came down. Charlie slid from his body, but stayed between those powerful thighs as he cleansed away the man’s cum too, savoring the combined delicious flavors.

Luke stroked his cheek, drawing him up so he could look at Charlie’s face. The fear in those green eyes stabbed at Charlie’s heart. “You gonna stay for a while?”

Charlie let out a sigh. “I shouldn’t. The Feds are after me, but I can’t leave…I can’t…” His voice trembled with confusion and Luke drew him into a tight embrace.

“Good, I don’t want you to leave. Ever.”

Snuggling into the bigger man’s arms, Charlie rested his head on that wonderful, hairy chest. “Luke?”

“Yeah?”

“This feels right, doesn’t it?”

“Aye, it does.”

Little drops of blood stained his skin, and Charlie twirled the hairs there. “That frightens me.”

Pulling him closer, Luke wrapped a leg around him. “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of you.”

 

 

 

Chapter Five

 

Two weeks into a blissed out honeymoon phase, Charlie still lived with Luke in his flat. He couldn’t quite explain it, but they had fallen into a natural ease, as if they had known each other all their lives. His new lover had a lot of questions about nightwalkers and Charlie did his best to answer them. It should’ve been odd opening up to a stranger, but Luke didn’t feel like a stranger. He never had. There was no denying Charlie trusted Luke.

Completely.

Crazy, but there it stood.

Apparently, one of Luke’s strays had been arrested last night for giving out “blowies for five quid”—damn he loved British colloquialisms. Luke had gone to bail him out, leaving Charlie bored, restless and alone in the flat. To kill time, he decided to go downstairs to the bar and have a bloody Mary. Though tomato juice and vodka could never compare to the real thing no matter how much hot sauce Tim put in it.

Charlie felt like every other blood he’d tasted must be a cheap knock-off compared to Luke’s. It had become like a weird combo of Red Bull and crack and he couldn’t get enough of it or enough of Luke feeding off him. Thinking about his lover’s hot, thick essence filling his mouth as his own was sucked from his body, made Charlie’s skin flush.

Adjusting his crotch before he entered the bar, he couldn’t believe one human could still make him hard. But the more time he spent with Luke, the more he wanted him. He loved the way the solid, hair-covered lines of Luke’s body had now become familiar, a cherished place only Charlie got to play with. He didn’t think he would ever grow tired of the man’s body or enthusiasm for life and knowledge. Luke had infused Charlie with a newfound appreciation for living which years of solitude and struggle had slowly whittled away. He hadn’t felt this good in…well? Ever.

This sire bond thing had turned out to be pretty fucking awesome.

“What’ll it be?” Tim asked when he slid into a stool. “The usual?”

“Yup.” He waved politely to one of the regulars sitting at the end of the bar. “Hi, Lenny.”

“Charles,” he slurred. The old alcohol-soaked queen with over plucked eyebrows was the bar’s only customer. Charlie found the guy amusing because his accent thickened the more his blood alcohol level increased until the point Charlie couldn’t understand a damn thing he said.

A drink garnished with celery and a pickle was placed in front of him. “There ya go.”

Charlie raised it in a toast then took a sip. “Awesome, as usual.”

“Thanks,” Tim said. The bartender had turned out to be straight, oddly enough, so Charlie’s initial jealousy had been unwarranted. He had been suspicious of Charlie moving in with Luke at first, but it hadn’t lasted long. Perhaps he, too, sensed the rightness of their bond.

“Is Luke back yet?” Charlie asked, suddenly hungry for his lover though they’d fed good last night. Hell, they fucked and fed so much he had to convince Luke to buy black bed sheets to hide all the blood stains the washing machine couldn’t remove.

“No.” Tim slammed his hand down on the bar in frustration. “He should’ve just left George down there, the bloody fool.”

He smiled. “Nah, Luke can’t do that.”

Tim nodded in resigned agreement. “That wanker will never listen to reason.”

“Which one?” Charlie joked and Tim gave a bemused snort.

As stubborn and kind-hearted as they came, Luke would fight to save George from a life of prostitution, drugs and disease with his last breath. Such determination and generosity was something Charlie adored about Luke—loved maybe? He couldn’t decide which yet. Probably both, though the word ‘love’ had yet to be spoken between them. He could sense it coming, however, and it didn’t scare him as much as he expected.

“I need another gin and tonic, sugar,” Lenny said.

Pouring another double, Tim slid the drink to the man with a smile. “There ya go, sugar.”

Charlie sniffed a laugh and raised his glass to the old drunk, though old wasn’t an accurate description compared to Charlie. Lenny was a good thirty years younger than him. There was a decided family feel about the place and Charlie wondered why he had hated bars so much before. Maybe because everyone else would be having a good time with friends and he’d been alone. Or perhaps it was just because of Luke.

Being with Luke these last two weeks felt like he’d finally come home. As if this was where he should’ve been all his life. Here at Luke’s Saloon, he had found the colony he’d been looking for.

Of course, Charlie may have found a man to sire a bond with, but that didn’t stop him from being a cynical bastard—which was why it didn’t really surprise him when Margo and her two lap dogs walked into the bar like they owned the place before Charlie even finished his celery.

“Hey, I thought we told you two to bugger off?” Tim growled at Allen and Scott.

Lenny perked up and turned to watch the sudden arrival of entertainment during his liquid lunch.

Charlie raised his hand to Tim. “I got this.”

Tim scoffed. “Luke’ll whip my arse if I let those blokes rough you up again, mate. You’re half their size.”

He wanted to tell the straight goon he was a fucking nightwalker and no one could ‘rough him up,’ and that if Tim pointed out his height one more time, he would go vampire on his ass. But he reigned in his anger. Luke needed his protection and Charlie couldn’t do that if he flew off the handle and ate his friends every time they pissed him off. As long as everyone thought they were just a couple of regular humans having a big gay love affair, no one of consequence would ever pay attention to them.

Pride be damned—Charlie had finally found a reason to control his temper.

“You two,” Margo said to her boys. “Go wait outside.”

Scowling, Tim watched them leave. On the way out, Allen knocked over a chair at the table where Stephen sat doing school work. Scott brushed roughly passed him.

“Hey, watch it,” the twink snapped.

Allen and Scott laughed meanly then went outside. Probably going to finish the back-alley fuck Charlie interrupted two weeks earlier.

Margo held out her hands in a show of surrender. “Better?”

Tim grunted in acquiescence then went back to slicing lemons.

“Can I help you?” Charlie asked.

“Perhaps.” Margo slid onto the stool beside him. “Vodka tonic.”

When Tim went to make her drink, Charlie leaned in. “Look, I don’t want any trouble. They don’t even know what I am.”

She gave him a sly look. “But I do.”

Frowning at her loaded tone, he asked, “What do you want?”

“Are you for or against the Cause?”

“I’m Switzerland.” Years of training enabled Charlie to lie without allowing his heart rate to alter, something a wolf could always hear. It also helped being three times her age and having the benefit of her Royal arrogance on his side.

“You say that, but no one can stay neutral forever,” she told him sagely, accepting her cocktail. “Sooner or later the Cause will come to your door.”

“And I suppose today is sooner rather than later?”

She didn’t answer, instead, she watched Stephen stuff his books into a backpack and stow it behind the bar. He slid on an apron to help Tim get the bar stocked for happy hour.

Margo stirred her drink, the ice rattling wetly. “You know one little phone call to child services about the under age kids working here and your human blood bank might get in trouble.”

Charlie fought a growl and his fangs tightened at the threat on his man. He forced himself to stay calm. He didn’t know what the bitch was after, but he had to remain indifferent if he wanted to keep his sire bond a secret.

Making sure Tim was out of earshot, Charlie let out an indifferent sigh. “Luke is a good fuck and he’s got plenty of blood to spare. I wipe his mind, so he has no clue. You know I don’t have a colony, and I don’t want any trouble. If you gotta find this magic savior kid, more power to ya. I just wanna live and fuck and eat in peace.”

Sniffing, her eyes roamed over the décor. She curled her lip. “This place is so tacky.”

“Your point being?”

Picking up her drink, she stood and began to peruse the empty bar, looking at the six-shooters, cowboy hats, John Wayne movie posters and lassos adorning the walls. Charlie followed, knowing she was scenting the place, but for what, he didn’t know.

The mechanical bull in the center of the room seemed to amuse her. “These Brits are so weird, don’t ya think?”

“I guess,” he said, glad they no one was paying them any attention. Obviously deciding they weren’t interesting, Lenny had gone back to his gin and ogling Tim and Stephen as they worked.

“You may be a nightwalker, but you’re an American. You know they don’t do things like we do. I can’t trust anybody in this city and could use you on my side. I can make it very worth your while.” She trailed a finger up his chest and gave him a seductive smile.

Charlie chuckled. “You’re barking up the wrong tree, sister. You got nice hair and big tits, but I like cock. Big, juicy, dripping cock. Ain’t got no use for a pussy. Or the Cause.”

Her sneer told him the other F-word was on the tip of her tongue, but she wanted something and homophobic slurs would not be the way to get it. He waited for her to get to the point.

“I’m looking for a scribe.” She held out a card. “If you hear anything about one in this town, you call me.”

Charlie’s stomach dropped to his feet then lodged in his throat. He took the card and somehow managed to keep his voice level and uninterested. “I don’t usually hang around old men.”

She shrugged playfully. “They have cocks, too.”

Frowning, he studied the card. “What do you want a scribe for?”

“That’s my business. But they are getting harder and harder to find.”

He forced a chuckle. “Probably cuz they’re all dead.”

She twirled her straw and took a tiny sip. “Maybe.”

“Everything all right?”

Charlie turned as Luke came up beside him. His lover’s mellow voice and solid presence ordinarily calmed him, but with Margo looking for a scribe, the last thing he needed was his scribe to show up. Behind Luke, he heard Tim and Stephen say hello to George. Charlie hadn’t expected Luke to bring the kid back and he looked nine kinds of beat down. Bet he’d gotten an earful from Luke on the drive home.

Though mildly curious what had happened at the jailhouse, Charlie had bigger problems to worry about. He plastered on a grin for his lover. “Yup, just fine.”

Luke eyed him for a moment, the knowing twat seeing right through Charlie’s act. When Luke looked at the she-wolf, she grinned, her eyes roaming up one side of his huge frame and down the other. Charlie didn’t have to tell her she was batting “oh-for-two” because Luke put a proprietary arm around him. “You need something, miss?”

Making an expression of surrender since her feminine wiles held no power in this joint, she swirled her cocktail glass. “Just chatting with an old friend from the States.”

“Oh,” Luke said in a friendly way. “How do you two know each other?”

If Charlie had to guess, Margo didn’t think Luke’s politeness was anything other than a bar owner speaking to a customer. “Oh, we sometimes run in the same circles.”

She gave Charlie a sly smile, but the words ‘I’m looking for a scribe’ kept playing through his mind.

What the fuck did she want a scribe for?

As part of the Cause, she could be in London for any number of reasons. She could be looking for a scribe for a hundred other reasons, too. Had she come to Luke’s Saloon that first night just to find her missing cocksuckers, Allen and Scott? Or did she have a more insidious reason? Did she know Luke was a scribe or suspect he had the grimoire?

Charlie wanted to curse. The man’s generous nature, his desire to share knowledge meant there were supernaturals out there who knew he was a scribe. He’d said witches came to him sometimes looking for information and explanations on different herbs and lore. As much as Charlie wanted to put an end to that shit, he knew he would never win the argument. Which meant he had to be extra diligent in protecting Luke.

Thankfully, Luke followed through with getting the damn grimoire out of the flat and into a safety deposit box. It didn’t mean they were out of the woods. If Margo found out Luke was a scribe, there would be no getting rid of her and the stupid Cause.

The bitch needed to watch her step. He’d fed well the last two weeks and hadn’t felt this powerful in decades. If he sensed she knew who Luke was, she and her two idiots would be dead in a matter of minutes. Lenny, Tim, Stephen and George he could mind wipe if he had to.

Charlie would not allow her to threaten his new colony.

“What’s that?” Margo demanded, startling him from his murderous thoughts.

“What?” Luke asked as she shoved passed them, her attention fixed on a picture nailed to the wall. The snapshot was of Luke and some cowboy buddies from the summer he’d worked in the States.

“Where was that taken?” Her eyes flashed gold and a threatening growl rumbled in her chest.

Dropping his fangs at her aggressive display, Charlie took a protective stance in front of Luke. Though he might be half his lover’s size and shorter than Margo, the she-wolf knew who held the power. Blinking once, her eyes returned to normal.

“It was just a simple question,” she said sweetly.

“Don’t answer it,” Charlie told Luke, his tone low.

Luke’s gaze darted back and forth between Margo, the photograph and Charlie, but he stayed silent.

Margo sniffed and flipped her hair. Gods, Charlie hated hair flippers. “You don’t have to get crazy. Just tell me when that picture was taken and where.”

Tipping his head to the side, Charlie studied her. Her pretty face fought a grimace, and it intrigued him how, in one flash, the woman could go from drop-dead gorgeous to frighteningly ugly.

“No one’s getting crazy,” Charlie said in a calm way. Something or someone in that photograph obviously meant something to her. “But we won’t answer your question without something in return. Isn’t that how this shit works?”

She crossed her arms and raised her nose in the air. “What are your terms?”

“I want you and all of your pack to leave and never come back to London. I don’t want to ever see your face again or hear about your Cause. To you and your pack,” he gestured between himself and Luke, “we don’t exist.”

She quirked her brows. “That’s an awful lot of requests for just a little ol’ picture.”

The desperation was pungent in her sweat and Charlie knew it was a helluva lot more to her than just a picture. “We both know that’s not true.”

Margo’s eyes went to the picture again then her gaze swept the bar with disgust. “Fine, I don’t know what sort of information you’d ever hear in this shit-hole that could benefit me any way.”

“Hey, now,” Luke warned, feathers ruffled in defense of his beloved pub. Charlie brushed his fingers lightly down his arm to rein him in and he backed down at once. No sense pissing the bitch off when they were so close to getting rid of her.

Margo sneered at them. “Just tell me what I want to know and we’ll be done.”

Raising his palm to his mouth, Charlie bit into the flesh. Luke winced in sympathy but Charlie didn’t flinch. The blood oozed and he held out his hand. “Swear on it, wolf.”

Addressing her formally gave Margo pause. Out of the corner of his eye, Charlie could see Luke’s inner student studying the ritual with scholarly curiosity. Typical scribe, he supposed, always learning and absorbing.

Margo didn’t make a move to accept the terms of the agreement but Charlie stood his ground. Among their species, a blood vow was a binding contract, and the closest thing he could get to a guarantee the nosey bitch would leave them alone for good.

After a standoff which felt like an eternity, Margo held one finger up. The nail grew right before their eyes. She sliced her palm then accepted Charlie’s handshake. “You got yourself a deal, nightwalker.”

Her blood sizzled a little against his as they shook—a mark of the conflict between their races. He made no move to clean off the smeared blood or any indication his open wound stung as he turned to Luke. His lover’s eyes were wide, confused, and Charlie placed his clean hand on his chest to gain his complete attention. Maybe Margo would think he had to compel him for an answer, but he used the moment to convince his lover with a pleading look that telling Margo what she wanted to know would keep him and the grimoire safe.

Though their time together had been brief, Charlie and Luke had developed a deep understanding, and while he could read the doubt in his lover’s eyes, he could also see the trust. A trust which seemed to grow stronger every day.

He smiled softly at Luke. “It’s okay, baby. Tell her.”

His mate frowned but gave Charlie a slight nod, having faith in his judgment. With a quick glance at the picture, Luke answered, “It was taken five summers ago in New Mexico at the Double Bar Guest Ranch. Why do you need to know that?”

Margo grinned, the expression terrifying in its malice. “Answering questions wasn’t part of the deal. But I thank you.” She held up her cocktail in a toast. “Good-bye, boys. May we never meet again.”

Then, very dramatically, she downed the drink and slammed the glass on the bar. With a spring in her step, she headed to the exit. Charlie followed to make sure she took her two idiots with her. He wanted all of them gone, and the sooner the better.

Outside, Allen and Scott jumped to attention when Margo burst through the door.

“C’mon,” she announced. “We’re going home. I found him.”

“Who’d you find?” Allen asked, scratching his head.

She smiled and repeated slowly, “Him….”

“You mean…,” Scott began, eyes widening in shock.

Margo laughed with wicked delight. “Yes, that’s exactly what I mean. This is the first clue we’ve had in seven years. There’s no time to waste. I want to be on a plane for America tonight.”

“Who did she find?” Charlie asked Allen.

“Her mate,” he answered.

Margo was swift to whack him in the back of the head.

“Oww!”

“Did I give you permission to speak?” she growled.

“No, mistress,” he muttered, rubbing his noggin. Charlie kinda felt bad for the guy. All those hits in the head probably didn’t help with his smarts.

“C’mon, let’s go,” she snapped.

“We have a vow,” Charlie reminded her. “You won’t come back to London ever again.”

Margo gave him a sneering once over. “Don’t worry, nightwalker. You’re beneath me and I will forget all about you after this. But I do appreciate your help.”

Arms crossed, he shook his head and watched the arrogant Royal walk away. Only when he was sure she had disappeared did he return to the bar.

“They gone?” Tim wanted to know. “Or are they coming back?”

“They better not be coming back,” Stephen muttered. “Fucking wankers.”

“They’re gone,” Charlie assured them. “And they won’t be back.”

Before Tim could ask any more questions, Lenny ordered a fifth drink. Stephen and George helped themselves to some soda, forgetting about Charlie as Luke ushered him into an alcove near the back storage room.

“What was that all about?” Luke demanded in a hushed whisper. “Was that a blood vow?”

“Yes.”

“I didn’t know you had magic.”

“All blood has magic, even yours. If she breaks the vow and comes back here, she’ll have nothing but bad luck the rest of her days. She’s gone for good, baby. You’re safe,” Charlie said, his heart rate calming as he caressed Luke’s huge chest, reassuring himself they had indeed dodged their first bullet.

Luke wrinkled his face as he thought about that. “So I betrayed a friend just to save myself?”

“More like save the world,” he told him with a smile. “If Margo or anyone in the Cause ever got their hands on the grimoire, there’s no telling what could happen. They could find a witch to write the rest of the spell, find the kid and destroy the world. You’ve been in a war for a long time, even though you never knew it, baby. And we just won our first battle. This is a good thing.”

Luke placed those big hands on Charlie’s slender shoulders, rubbing him lightly. For the first time since they met, acceptance of the seriousness of their situation shone clear in his face. “What would’ve happened if you hadn’t been here?”

“But I am here,” he reassured him, wrapping his small arms around Luke’s solid waist. “And I’m not going anywhere. I will do anything to keep you safe. Even if it means turning vampire and killing every one of them to do it.”

Luke crushed him to his body in a hard embrace. “No, I don’t want that.”

The warm, solid feel of his lover holding him close made the whole incident seem like a distant memory. All he could recall was being with his bond mate, in his arms, content and happy. He sighed then pulled back to look up at Luke’s gorgeous face. Feeding from Charlie had erased all the fine lines around his eyes, his skin appearing more supple and youthful than before. He looked about thirty rather than his actual forty-five. “Then we will just have to be careful, wont we?”

Nodding, Luke agreed. “Very careful.”

With a grin, he burrowed deeper into his bear’s embrace, satisfied they were safe for now. Whoever had placed them together—be it Fate, destiny or some crazy witch—it no longer mattered. He was home.

Charlie pursed his lips as a thought occurred to him. “So do you know the werewolf Margo is after?”

“He was a friend, a long time ago.”

The way he said ‘friend’ made Charlie think there had been more than a friendship but he didn’t want to hear it. Luke belonged to him and whoever lived in their past could stay in the past. “Well, lucky for you, Margo was more interested in him than us.”

“Do you think she’ll hurt him?”

Shrugging, Charlie said, “He’s her mate, so I have no clue. Wolves fight each other all the time, but they can take care of themselves. You, on the other hand, cannot. That’s why I’m here.”

Luke kissed his forehead, his body engulfing Charlie with love and gratitude. “My hero.”

He chuckled. “I believe you’re the one who saved me first.”

“No,” his lover whispered. “We saved each other.”

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