Authors: Lynn Hagen
Micah flopped down in one of the chairs on deck, tapping his thumb against his leg. He was going nuts already just sitting here. The only thing he could see where seagulls. “Why are you suspiciously hanging around here?” he asked the birds in flight.
“If they answer, I’m outta here,” Cody joked as he sat beside him.
“Paul give you anything besides his gut?”
“Nope. Only his gut instinct.”
Micah’s head fell back against the chair. He wondered what Oliver was doing.
* * * *
Oliver took special care in removing the gauze. He smoothed the ointment over Micah’s name. The artist had done an amazing job. Micah’s name arched around his nipple about an inch above, and clouds hovered above it with a moon hidden halfway behind them. Love was written in small letters to form the name Micah. He had wanted it to be different, special.
He grabbed his T-shirt and quickly pulled it on when he heard Micah moving around in the next room. He wasn’t ready to show his maybe mate the gift he had been excited to give him. If his actions last night were anything to go by, Micah probably wouldn’t even appreciate the gesture.
Oliver shoved his boots on as he headed downstairs, avoidance his new mantra. If he stayed away from Micah, his heart wouldn’t continue to rip in half.
“You skin ting ting?” Oliver bit back a laugh at the funny little Asian. You needed a full time interpreter around Keata, or some really good drugs to even begin to understand a damn word he said.
“Do you mean sting?” He really liked Keata. It was never boring around the little guy. He kept everyone on their toes just trying to decipher what he was trying to say. Maybe they needed to take a Japanese language course to help the man out. It probably would be nice for Keata to have a decent conversation with everyone instead of just his cousin, Kyoshi.
Oliver gave it some thought as he answered Keata. “Yes, it stings, but I like it. What did you get?” Oliver’s curiosity was piqued as much as everyone else’s about Keata’s tat.
“No, no. Oliver no sneaky. No tell.” Keata waggled his finger.
It was worth a try. Oliver and Keata made their way into the kitchen to find the other mates sitting down to breakfast. They grabbed a plate and joined the buzzing chatter.
“Hawk kept kissing it all night. I told him to stop, but he just growled.” Johnny laughed.
“Maverick was speechless. Let’s just say I was well rewarded for the effort.” Cecil giggled as he shoved pancakes into his mouth.
Oliver felt a pang of jealousy at how these guys’ mates reacted. He wished with everything in him that he too had a favorable story to toss in, but his wasn’t the happy ending type, his was depressing.
“Blair isn’t telling. He just keeps smiling that big goofy ass grin over there.” Cecil tossed a biscuit at Blair’s head, who in turn smacked it away.
“I’m with Blair.” Drew blushed. “Let’s just say I’m willing to go get them all over my body if I have another night like that again.” Drew chomped on a piece of bacon as the smile grew wider.
“Storm said he wanted to get one with my name as well. To honor our mating.” Kyoshi beamed.
Oliver ate quietly while he prayed no one asked him how Micah reacted. They knew he hadn’t been mated yet, but no one asked why and Oliver was grateful for that, considering he was still trying to figure that question out himself.
“Can I see yours, Oliver?” Drew asked from across the table. Oliver pulled his shirt up and compliments sang around the table, but still no one asked about Micah’s reaction. He really had misjudged them from his first impression. These guys were people Oliver could be friends with. They all had their issues, from drug addiction to partner abuse, and Oliver figured they knew when to leave a subject alone.
“It’s beautiful, Oliver.” Drew smiled.
They all showed off their own work of art, and each one had its own twist of personality to it, none were the same. Oliver arched a brow at Blair’s. Above the name Dakota was a wolf with his canines extended, what was up with that? He heard about Blair’s little biting fetish, so he figured that’s what his tat symbolized. He didn’t think he would ever truly understand his brother’s need for pain.
“Keata?” Blair leaned forward, a hopeful look in his eye.
“No, no. Blair no sneaky.” Once again, Keata shot down any attempt at finding out his elusive tattoo.
“Fine. You know secrets don’t stay secrets around here for very long.” Blair sat back as he pouted. Kyoshi interpreted what he had just said to Keata.
“We see,” Keata replied.
“Give us a hint,” Drew begged.
“Four letters.” Keata giggled, he knew too many warriors had four letters, let them keep guessing.
They all jumped and stared at one another when a loud booming knock resounded through the kitchen. Someone was trying to bring the front down. They all got up and crept to the foyer to see who had the walls vibrating.
“Bring him here now!” Was demanded in the deepest timber voice any of them had ever heard.
“Who’s that?” Johnny whispered.
“Don’t know, but whoever it is…fuck me, man, he’s huge,” Oliver replied as they watched the warriors race to the front door in their wolf forms, growling and snapping. The stranger didn’t even flinch.
“What the hell is going on, Zeus?” Maverick matched Zeus timbre for timbre in his commanding Alpha tone as he walked to the front entrance.
A spark of anger shot across Zeus’s features as the dark-skinned warrior fought for control.
“I have been patient waiting for my mate to be presented. Enough. I want him brought to me.” Zeus clenched his fists at his side as his eyes searched for his mate.
“Who’s he talking about?” Drew asked in a hushed voice.
Everyone shrugged. Oliver drank in the man’s sheer size. Holy crap, he stood an inch taller than Maverick. He reminded Oliver of Goliath from the Bible. His body was massive, with bulges and ripples on top of muscles. He prayed he never met that man in a dark alley. It would take the combined efforts of all the warriors to bring him down.
“As I have told you, Zeus, this is Jasper’s decision. I cannot and will not force one of my Sentries to mate. Now if you wish, we can adjourn to my office to discuss this.” Zeus nodded, and Maverick led him down the hall.
Jasper’s mate?” Oliver trembled at the thought of having a mate that intimidating and ominous. Micah was fierce, but this wolf looked as though Mother Nature herself pulled him from the bowels of earth and formed him. Scary shit.
“I thought Cody was his mate?” Drew asked with a confused expression.
“Nope, just best friends and lovers,” Cecil informed him.
Poor Cody, Oliver thought. He must be going through hell knowing his best friend was going to be taken from him. The two Sentries had been together for over two hundred years and adored each other, constantly groping and kissing each other.
Oliver had noticed since Maverick met with the new Alpha of the Eastern pack that Cody had kept his distance. He had wondered what was going on, and now he knew. This was some messed-up stuff.
Then again, Oliver had wondered why Jasper wasn’t with his mate. Speaking of, where was Micah?
“There’s a fair in town down by the marina. Did you want to go?” Micah asked as he pulled his boots on.
Oliver stood in the middle of his room stunned. Was Micah really asking him to go? Oliver’s heart quickened, and his excitement was barely contained at the thought of spending time with his intended mate.
“Okay.” He breathed out as he tried to get his raging hormones back under control.
“Good. I’ll let the warriors know you’ll be there.”
“Wait, you’re not going?” Oliver asked with disappointed and confusion lacing his question.
“No, I have patrol duty today, but I’ll make sure you have money and are taken care of.” Micah smiled as he walked out of the room.
Oliver ground his teeth as tears stung the back of his eyes. He wanted to scream as the rage built inside. It kept festering until Oliver wanted to tear his room apart. His anger escalated when he felt the tears finally fall.
* * * *
Oliver took the bag of cotton candy as he strolled along, the blue sugar melting on his tongue as he and Evan got in line to ride the Ferris wheel. Evan was a nice enough wolf, but Oliver couldn’t help but wish it was Micah. He knew there was a way to jump-start the mating, but all the mates were being tight-lipped about it. Besides, would he really want to force the claiming? He would always wonder if Micah truly wanted him or if he was with Oliver because he had tricked him into it.
The Ferris wheel stopped at the top, and Oliver peered over the side at the activity below. Sometimes he wished he could be anybody but himself. He could hear the music and see the smiles as couples held each other’s hands and laughed. Why couldn’t that be him? He spotted all the warriors below. They weren’t hard to miss with their massive sizes. He even saw the mates running around to the various stands, trying to win the cheesy stuffed animals.
Oliver spotted skaters to the far left of the Fair. They were in some sort of park showing off their skills. His eyes followed the stunts and tricks the guys were performing. Maybe he could talk Evan into going over there for awhile.
His seat jerked as the ride slowly descended, bringing him back down to earth.
“Can we go over to the park for a moment?”
“Why would you want to go over there?” Evan’s suspicious amber eyes settled on Oliver. The wolf was known to have an air of danger about him. Blair once said the guy breathed pain. Evan didn’t take shit from anyone.
“Just wanted to watch the skaters for awhile.” Oliver studied his escort for the day. He was a handsome wolf. His brown hair fell in waves to his shoulders, and he had beautiful amber eyes that seemed to glow. Oliver looked him up and down, appreciating the honed muscles and firmness in his fatigue pants and tight black T-shirt. He wasn’t bulky like some of the warriors. He was sculpted and compact, just the right amount of bulge.
Oliver leaned in a little closer, inhaling Evan’s masculine scent. His cock jerked when the musky odor assailed his senses. He stepped back when he realized what he had been doing. This wasn’t Micah, and he needed to keep his distance. So why did he want to lean in again?
Evan shrugged. “I don’t see a problem with that.”
He led the warrior over to the edge of the park as they both watched the boys and their talents. Oliver slid his hand in Evan’s as he led him over to a park bench. He didn’t release him as they sat down, Oliver sweating bullets.
Evan gently tugged his hand free as Oliver drew in a deep breath. He was confused at his actions, questioning his body’s reaction. Micah was his mate, wasn’t he? Oliver felt the pull, felt the connection, so why was he feeling attracted to Evan? Oliver laid his elbows on his knees as he watched the squirrels run around, chasing each other up and down a tree, and listened to the skateboards grinding against pavement. He felt the heat from Evan’s close thighs.
Did he really want to watch the skaters, or did he want to be alone with Evan? The thought scared him. Maybe they should get back to the fair. Oliver pulled an image of Micah up and saw his gorgeous, shabby, black hair wet after a shower, his black eyes twinkling when he tried to joke with Oliver. The way he looked at Oliver with disappointment, and the way Oliver always felt so alone and isolated.
Oliver scrubbed his face as he sat back. What the hell was wrong with him? Maybe he had ink poisoning from the tattoo and it was eating brain cells. His head fell back in irritation at the way he was acting.