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  1. Just a little life update:  getting officially married tomorrow to the love of my life. He's always been there for me, and I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with him. 

    So, this means I'm a little behind writing Chapter 5 of Love in the Shadows, and I'll be a bit behind for a couple of days. But y'all better believe I'm spending a good chunk of my honeymoon with Mason and Vincent! I'll be back!

    -Aaron :)

    1. 1brokNangel


      Congratulations.....hope you have an amazing day !!!!!!!💜💙💜💙

    2. Reader1810


      Congratulations!! :wizard:

  2. I suppose there isn't too much of an issue with being destined to spend the rest of my life with someone like Mason...but if Gary Busey showed up on my doorstep saying "Hello, love of my life," I might be concerned... Chapter 5 is in the works ;D
  3. Fuck that hurts. Mason collected his thoughts as his truck came to a halt. Shoulder's dislocated. Vincent! He snapped his attention to his mate. "Vincent! Are you hurt?" Vincent's head was lax, leaning downward and to the left. Mason checked for a pulse on his mate's neck. Unconscious. He needed to get an ambulance here, so he unbuckled his safety belt and went to open the door, but it wouldn't budge. The door was frozen shut with three inches of ice. Mason narrowed his eyes and he realized what happened before the crash. Vincent. You saved me. Mason cut Vincent's seat belt with a shifted fingernail, and debated how he was going to get the body out without causing further injury. The wolf's ears twitched. Whispers. Mason stopped all movement and focused on his hearing. "...get 'em?" "Go around the other side and make sure. Damned mage. Stay alert!" Pure hatred filled Mason. Mercenaries. And they're trying to kill my mate! I will slaughter them! Mason listened for the footsteps to get closer so he could make a move. ...Now! The large man bounced to the middle console between him and his mate, and kicked the windshield with all of his might. The second it popped out of place and onto the pavement, he shifted to his wolf, tearing his clothes. He would be able to move faster and strike with more precision. Mason sprinted out and off the truck's hood, taking a wide berthed circle. He needed to see how many people he was up against and what weapons they had. Two men. Submachine guns. Gotta keep it moving or I'll be in trouble. The mercs appeared to be startled when a large furry animal bolted out of the vehicle. They weren't expecting me. I'll take out the bigger one, seems like the leader. Mason turned direction and targeted the taller man. "Fuck, what is that?!" Mason felt a twinge of excitement, almost wanting to toy with his prey, but knew that he needed to end this fast. He was within distance of the man, and lunged, aiming for the neck. Too slow, you bastard! With a swift and precise bite, Mason took his target's life, blood spilling onto his muzzle and the asphalt. The body crumpled lifelessly. There wasn't time to relish in the victory, as the other man began peppering the area near Mason's paws. Sprinting again, Mason looked over his new target. At least this one can fire his gun. Probably scared shitless that his boss got taken out. He mentally smirked. Good thing he can't lead his shots. Mason circled the remaining merc as he missed every shot. His gun began clicking when he pulled the trigger. The wolf's eyes shot open. He's out of bullets! Mason darted towards the man, prepared to end his life. Just as Mason was about to lunge, a thin cloud of black smoke appeared in front of the merc. The wolf halted and retreated a few feet back. Smokescreen? When did he pull that out? His attention was brought back to the smoke as an agonizing scream filled the air. Something happened! Faulty grenade? What is… The smell of creek lilies filled Mason's nose. Vincent? The wolf stayed on edge, but watched as the smoke began to dissipate. A figure wearing a dirty white long-sleeved shirt appeared to be bent over. With the smoke clearing, Mason understood what happened. He...Vincent took the guy down! He was just in the truck! Is this the power of a shadow mage? Trepidatiously, Mason slowly approached his mate. He let out a woof to let Vincent know he was coming from behind. Vincent's head whipped around, and Mason saw his mate's serious face for the first time. Whoa! That's a pissed off look. I hope I’ll never see it again. Vincent had the last merc pinned face down with an arm being twisted and a knee in the small of the man's back. A small grimace came to the corner of his mouth. Wolf! Wait...that’s Mason! Glad he’s okay. The mage brought his attention back to the merc. "Who do you work for? Answer me now!" Vincent's voice became cold and stern. He needed to command the conversation between his captive. "I..oww! I ain't tellin' man!" "Oh?" Vincent looked back to the wolf, and motioned his head for Mason to come around. Mason obliged. He wanted to see the face of the man who dared to mess with him and his mate. "Well, would you rather talk to me, or talk to him?" Mason got what his mate's goal was. I'm so stupid. I was blinded by anger, and I would have just killed this guy. He could be full of information! The wolf began growling, shoving a wave of intimidation in the merc's face. The man's face ran wild with terror, and started squirming under Vincent. Slamming his knee down, Vincent forced the man to settle down. "Stop moving! Now fuckin' talk! Who sent you?" The mage turned to the wolf. "Mace, you got some rope or something so I can tie this guy up?” A woof left the silver wolf's mouth, and began to trot towards the truck. Thirty seconds later, Mason came back with some baling twine. "Here ya go, Vin." "Thanks, Ma-" Vincent looked up and grabbed the twine, but quickly looked away when he realized that his boyfriend was naked. I...umm, wow! The second he saw that Mason's leg and hip were pants-less, Vincent's instincts told him to look away. "Umm, Mace? You might want to, uhh…" Mason looked at the back of his mate's head, and looked down. "Oh. Right. Be right back!" He didn't mean to stand around naked, but it didn't cross his mind. Running back to the truck, avoiding the smaller pieces of broken glass, Mason grabbed a small backpack from the rear seat. He grabbed some pants and shoes, and proceeded to put those on. Once done, he grabbed his leather jacket and cell phone, and walked back to Vincent. He was surprised to see that his mate already bound the merc's hands and feet together. Kid works fast! "You got him, Vinnie? I'll start making calls." Vincent nodded but didn't look away from the semi-shirtless hunk. Holy shit...he's fucking hot! Look at that, well, everything! Those pecs, those abs...that body hair! The mage's eyes circled over every thin strand of hair that filled the wolf's chest, leading down to his defined stomach. A cough from Mason brought Vincent's eyes up to the wolf's face. Mason pulled his phone up to his ear and slid his tongue across his bottom lip, which made Vincent blush hard. Mason let the phone ring, but quickly began losing his patience. C'mon, pick up, ya dick! "Mason! Must be important if you called my personal number." "Yeah, Henry. Can you get a couple pack-friendly officers and a paramedic at the last SR 47 intersection near my house? My boyfriend and I got t-boned. We got one tied up and a body." "Jeez, Mace! What the hell happened?" "Long story, but these two hit us on purpose and shot at us with machine guns. They were mercenaries. I'll meet with you tomorrow on this, but for now, we need to get this cleaned up." "I agree. I'll send Poll and Ingle, but Mason, I'm going to need details on what's going down." "Understood, Chief." Mason hung up and let Vincent know that help was on the way. He had a few more calls to make, but he made sure to keep an eye on their captive, even if he couldn't do much of anything. Need to call Dave and get his ass here. And a tow truck. ...My truck! Mason frantically looked at his black truck to inspect the damage. Well, the windshield was my fault, all of the windows are either cracked or shattered, and I don't know how this ice will affect things. The wolf decided now was not the time to grieve, but he hoped that the damage was minimal. Probably need to borrow the old beater from Dad, for the time being. He pressed '2' on his speed dial, and after one ring, the line picked up. Mason heard his Dad's gritty voice. "Hello?" "Hey, Dad! Need a favor." "Anything, son." "Just got in an accident. I was wondering if I could borrow the rust bucket for a week or two." "Sure. Everything okay? Not hurt, are ya?" Mason appreciated his Dad's concern. "Yeah, I'm good. It's been a hell of a night. If you can bring it in the morning, that’s be much appreciated." "Yeah, yeah. That's fine with me. Oh, and one thing. Your mother wants you to call. She needs to ask you a question." "Gotcha, I'll give her a call tomorrow evening. Some serious matters came up and I'll probably need some advice on how to handle it." A deep, guttural laugh came over the phone's speakers. Damn, that laugh is still scary. "Any time, son. I'll let you get a start on things. Night." "Night, Dad. Thanks again." Mason hung up and shot a text to Dave, telling him the location and to get there ASAP. He got an immediate text back saying, 'Yes Alpha.' Mason walked back to his mate and the merc. "He talking yet?" "Not, not yet. I'm tempted to see how he responds to his fingers being poked with an ice dagger." Vincent formed a knife with his right hand and started tapping the tip on the asphalt near the merc's digits. "I imagine it wouldn't feel nice." "Yo...you wouldn't! Cops are on the way and they'd know if you roughed me up!" Mason curled a smile, and knelt down to get in the man's face. "You mean the cops that I have in my back pocket? The cops who are going to turn a blind eye at that dead body over there?” He grabbed a fistful of hair and shifted to his golden eyes. “You have no idea who you’re fucking with.” The wolf stared into the petrified face. Love ya, Vinnie, but you gotta know how to scare ‘em. “Now. Talk!” Mason’s deep voice boomed in the quiet air. Vincent’s bones shook, and he felt the need to respond, even though the question wasn’t directed toward him. After hearing Mason’s Alpha voice, the merc began spilling his guts. Just as both Mason and Vincent suspected, Stefan sent the two man team after the mage. He, nor his boss, were the ones to discover that the mage was here in Owensville, and they weren’t privileged to know that information. The duo caught up to Vincent just earlier this afternoon when they drove past him walking on the sidewalk. Vincent widened his eyes. I was heading toward the library. No point in getting upset over that. All I could have done was wear a hoodie, but it was too warm outside to have one on me. The fact they saw me was already beyond lucky! Mason looked behind him as he heard a faint police siren heading their way. Well, about time! He looked back to the merc, who got distracted by the distant red and blue flashing lights and fell silent. As Mason was about to intimidate the man for stopping, Vincent slammed down his dagger’s tip onto the pavement. “Keep talking!” Vincent’s eyes were nearly soulless, frantically fidgeting, and wanting more information. The bastard got so close to me. And now, I have a merc in the palm of my hands! I need every bit of info this guy has! A warm hand was placed on Vincent’s back, and it shocked the mage out of his thoughts. He looked up to see Mason standing next to him. If there has been one silver lining here, it’s been him. “What’s up, Mace?” Mason knelt next to his mate, sharing the warmth of his body. "Just want to make sure you're okay." He put a smile on, hoping it would calm Vincent down. It's almost over, little one. The police will get here, we get the truck towed, and we can be on our way. Vincent let out a long sigh. "I'm fine. Just can't wait for tonight to be done with." "It will be soon." Both men's attention was drawn away as the police car pulled up to the intersection. Mason got up and began walking to the officers as they got out of their vehicle. "Officer Ingle. Glad you could come." The taller mixed officer stepped forward and shook hands with Mason as he leaned his neck. "No problem, Alpha. I know it’s bad when the chief gets on the horn. This is Poll. She's new to the area, but already knows the drill on the supernatural." The smaller ginger-haired officer stretched her arm up to shake Mason's hand. "You must be Mr. Wilson! I've heard great things." "Welcome to Owensville, Officer." Ingle took off his police ball cap and brushed his clean-shaven head. "What kind of mess do we got here, boss?" Mason pointed towards the scene. "Hitmen. Targeting my boyfriend. He's hunting a wanted mage who doesn't want to be found. Got one tied up, the other dead. Going to need the live one interrogated for everything he knows. Tell Detective Shaw to use any means necessary." "Yes, sir." "I'm also gonna need a wrecker to bring my truck to Old Man Richard's. It's in pretty rough shape." Poll was scribbling in her notepad. "You got it. Who's the kid?" "Vincent, he's with me. I'm going to take him back to my place tonight. Ingle, can you spare an Omega to patrol my property and forest tonight, just to be on the safe side?" A nod came from the lycan officer. "We'll be by tomorrow to get an update. Dave should be here shortly to help clean up. Not a word of this gets out to the pack or the public just yet." Mason turned to go and comfort his mate. A white truck pulled up next to Mason's truck, and Dave got out. He walked up to Mason and Vincent, greeting them with a turned neck and somber words. The Alpha put his hand back on Vincent's shoulder. "Hey. I don't feel comfortable taking you back to your apartment by yourself. You're staying with me tonight." Vincent's face turned beet-red. I...I'm what now? He's taking me back to his place? "I, uh. Oh, okay. I'll need some clothes, though." A sly grin flew onto Mason's face. "You can wear some of mine that I outgrew." Oh yeah. Gonna make you reek of my scent. After a few seconds of thought, Vincent nodded. "We'll stop by your place tomorrow for your clothes." Reassurance trickled through Vincent. Maybe staying with Mace isn’t such a bad idea. He’s got connections here that can help me find Stefan. Vincent smiled as he swam in his thoughts. That, and he’s a big, sexy hunk. Mason turned to his Beta. “You mind giving us a lift?” “Sure thing. You need a ride in the morning?” “Nah. Dad’s going to drop off his old truck. I will need to meet with you tomorrow afternoon. Once I meet with Henry and Dad, I’m thinking about contacting some of the local Alpha shifters. Would be smart to coordinate with them on sharing information and finding Gregoro.” Dave crossed his arms and nodded. “I agree. If he can coordinate hitmen to do this kind of damage, it’s safe to say he’s capable of worse.” Mason agreed. But his priority was to get his mate to safety. “Let’s go.” Dave fished his keys out of his pocket while the Alpha wrapped his arm around Vincent and pulled the smaller man closer. He needed to make sure his man felt safe. He leaned in and kissed the side of his head. “I guess we can pass on the horror movie tonight.” After all of the stress and anger from the past hour, Vincent couldn’t help but burst out with laughter. He latched his arm around his boyfriend’s hip for stability as he attempted to tame his giggle fit. “Oh Gods, that was funny. Do you have that much of a one track mind?” A chuff escaped Mason’s lips. “Well, I can safely say that you’ve been on my mind all day.” He began walking with Vincent and Dave toward the white single-cab Silverado. Something clicked in Mason's mind. "Hang on, be right back." The wolf trekked over to his truck for the last time. He opened the passenger door and found Vincent's library book on the floorboard. Closing the door, he walked back to Vincent and handed it to him. Vincent smiled, as he forgot all about it. "Thanks, big guy! Almost left it behind." "Not a problem." Mason looked to Dave. "Let's go." Dave got in the driver seat. Mason opened the door for Vincent, as he scooted in and over to the middle seat. Once Mason climbed in, and everyone buckled their belts, the Alpha latched his arm around his mate's shoulders and pulled him in close. Vincent felt at home in Mason's arms. After tonight, he could really use the comfort. The mage leaned his head into his boyfriend's body and yawned. Mason leaned down into the man's ear and whispered, "Once your inside, we'll get you a shower and tucked into bed. You've had a long day." A small sigh came from Vincent. "I need a shower, but I'll take a cup of coffee. I don't want to mess up my sleep schedule. Makes work a living hell if I get thrown off." Dave butted in the conversation. "I can take you off the schedule for a few days, Vin. You probably need to recover a bit with that large bruise on your head." I have a bruise? Vincent reached with his left hand and felt nothing on the left side. Nothing. He quickly reached for the ride side and felt a dull pain as soon as he touched it. Fuck! That stings. Must have hit my head on the door when we made impact. "Thanks, Dave. I appreciate it." Mason curled a smile. Thanks, bud. More time with my man. He gingerly placed his hand on Vincent's shoulder and gently kissed the bruise on his mate. "That'll do for now, but we'll get a compress on that when we get home." Vincent blushed, but hid his feeling of surprise. The pain is going away! He looked up to his man. Same stupid grin. "Thank you, too. For everything." A purr-like growl flowed through Mason's chest. "For you, any time." Silence filled the cabin as Dave drove on, and the couple enjoyed their own company. *** Dave took off down the long gravel driveway as Mason led Vincent up the front porch. The mage was taking in all of the details of the property. Nice house! Cute wooden porch swing. Would be really nice to read out here some time. Mason unlocked the front door and stepped in to turn on his living room lights. "Well, welcome to my home." Vincent followed his boyfriend into the spacious room, and admired the decor. The room was massive! Two faux leather brown sofas sat across from each other with a humongous matching recliner against the back wall. The walls were painted a warm beige, white crown molding ceiling, with a large wooden beam across the middle of it, matching the red oak plank flooring that encompassed the room. Against the wall to their immediate left was the biggest flat screen TV Vincent had ever seen, with a light teak wooden console cabinet table directly under it. Vincent's eyes caught the large canvas art hanging above one of the sofas. The canvas piece was a large forest covering as far as the eye can see, with the rising sun behind it. "It's beautiful." Mason came up behind the man and put his arms over Vincent's shoulders. "That's the forest behind my house. I took that picture when I went on a ride in a helicopter with my Dad." "Oh wow! That's cool!" Vincent looked up to Mason and saw his sly grin. Nope! Uh-uh! No way in a million years. "You're not getting me in a helicopter. Just putting that out there." Mason chuckled. Now I gotta put him in a copter. "Let me give ya a tour." He took the mage's hand and took him to the kitchen. One step in, and Mason adored Vincent's brightened face. Someone likes a nice kitchen. Vincent couldn't describe the love for Mason's kitchen. Near-brand new appliances, island with two lower-back barstools, and one of those fancy pot and pan holders that dangles from the ceiling. I always fucking loved those! Pearl white tile flooring, and navy blue covered the walls. It looks like it came straight out of a magazine or one of those cheesy home makeover shows! "There is no freakin' way you did this." "Yeah, you're right. I had a stager from the realtors the pack works with and got it remodeled. Didn't want my mom's color palette in the kitchen anymore. Pink and rose wallpaper isn't my style." A giggle escaped from Vincent. "Whoa, wait! Was this your parent's house?" "Yep! I grew up here. My parents wanted a swankier place, so they left me this. Had to do some work in redecorating and a couple roofing spots, but I've turned it into my own house." "Well, so far, I love it." Vincent looked up at the lighting around the island, then the bulbs above the cabinets. "Hey, are these two sets of lights on the same or separate switches?" "Separate, why?" Mason looked curiously at his little mate. Know something about electrical work, kid? "You should think about switching the bulbs over your island to Edison bulbs. Gives off an industrial glow, and works super well with blue walls. They'll raise your electricity bill by a dollar a month, but it would be worth it." Vincent could see Mason's eyes moving from light to light, picturing it in his head. Then meeting him. "That'll work. How'd you know that, Vinnie?" "I have a thing for those home makeover shows. They caused me to have a pipe dream to do interior decor for a living." "Why don't you go for it? Not a lot of people know about Edison bulbs, and that was a damn good suggestion." Vincent shoved his hands in his pockets and exhaled out of the nose. "Because, well. Between finding Stefan, running from him, and working dead-end jobs one after another, I don't have much time for dreams." Mason's heart tore. Aw, hell no! I'll be damned if he thinks his dreams are unobtainable. "Vincent, you can do anything you set your mind to. When this is all over, I can have our pack realty office train you in home staging, if that's your ambition." His boyfriend's words melted into Vincent. He walked over into Mason's arms and rested his head. "Thanks. I think I would like that.” "Like I said, any time. Let's get you a shower and fresh clothes." Mason led him back into the living room and through the hallway. Vincent couldn't wait for a hot shower. His body's exhaustion was creeping up on him. That stunt he pulled before the crash drained him, but he refused to let it show. I've never manipulated my frost affinity like that. I'll have to play around some more later to see what else I'm capable of. Mason led his mate to a door, opened it, and flicked on the lights to reveal a bright, but simple bathroom with a walk-in shower. Vincent loved how it had a similar tile like the kitchen, but cut into smaller tiles to showcase a difference between the rooms. "I'll go get you some fresh towels and some bottles of shampoo and body wash." The bigger man started to walk out of the door frame, but leaned back in. "Oh! And be careful turning the knob. It can get real hot, real fast." After Mason left, Vincent unbuttoned his shirt and dropped it to the floor in a clump. He leaned in the shower and turned the knob halfway between the hot and cold labels. Cold water ran, but quickly became steaming hot. Jeez, you weren't kidding! He dialed back towards the cold and began feeling for the perfect temperature. Little more cold...too cold...ehh, fuck it, that's good enough. Vincent stood back up, and was startled as Mason opened the door, holding a folded blue towel with a couple bottles on top and a few clothes in between. Mason stopped, as he realized his mate was shirtless. His eyes flashed golden as he looked over every skin cell on the man's body. Ho. Ly. Shit. Those slender muscles. Those tufts of hair on his belly. Gods, those nipples. Vincent began blushing realizing that the wolf was eyeing his torso. Mason placed the towel on top of the edge of the sink cabinet. "I'm gonna start the shower in my room. Wait for me in the living room and we can start a movie." Mason walked back out of the bathroom, but not without getting one last glance at his mate and licking his bottom lip. The mage regained composure and walked over to the objects left by his boyfriend. He took the towel and rolled it on the towel rack, and slipped the remaining clothes off his body, placing them in the pile, with his glasses on the counter. Grabbing the bottles of shampoo and body wash, Vincent walked in the steamy shower. Mmmm. Feels good. Vincent whipped his head under the running water. His bruise reminded him of its presence, it brought a dull pain, but began being soothed. He heard the sound of the other shower in the house beginning its flow. A smile ran across Vincent's face as he squirted shampoo into his hands and started scrubbing lightly. Once rinsed, he started on the body wash. Vincent felt thankful for what the Gods have given him. He washed his slender body. His dick was a modest three inches soft, six fully erect, but not girthy at all. Vincent soaped up the front of his body, then gathered up the excess suds and reached behind his back, lathering his shoulder blades and all over his butt. Vincent always made sure to clean his body thoroughly. He rinsed his body with water, and dipped his head one last time before shutting off the flow. The mage opened the shower door and grabbed the towel, drying off from head to toe. Once satisfied, he wrapped it around his waist and stepped out onto the blue bath mat. Looking through the clothes, Vincent caught a lavender scent wafting from them. Unfolding them, he took inventory. Big black basketball shorts. An even bigger purple collegiate hoodie… Underwear? No underwear? Vincent squinted his eyes at the end result of the assumed plot. Damned wolf. He put on the shorts, tying the strings tight to prevent any cleavage showing throughout the night, and popped the sweatshirt over his head. Looking in the mirror, only one image swept Vincent's mind. I look like I'm a hussy about to do a walk of shame! Vincent took one last sniff of the hoodie's collar. He smelled the detergent, but found the underlying scent of his boyfriend. Pine trees and cinnamon. Manly. Sexy. He heard the water still running in the other shower. Bigger guy. Must be more to wash. Vincent smirked at his little joke and stepped out of the bathroom, turning off the light. The mage ventured back to the living room per Mason's instructions and sat down on the sofa under the forest picture. He spent time gazing at the teak console and got up to see what was in the glass cabinet doors. Vincent was impressed and in light awe. Mace has nearly all the new game consoles! Must be an avid gamer. His thoughts were cut off as he heard the water shut off. Panic ensued in the mage's mind. Oh Gods! Do I sit on the sofa? Do I lay down? How about the chair? The other sofa? Vincent rushed a decision and sat back down on the sofa. I need to calm down! Big deep breathe in...and out. He leaned back, discovering how comfortable the sofa was. "Well, someone looks comfy!" Vincent shook in surprise when his boyfriend appeared, leaning in the hallway frame. He was wearing baggy gray sweatpants and a black athletic tank top that showed off his big biceps. His hair was still damp, and completely left uncombed. It took everything in the mage’s power to stop himself from drooling on the couch. Mason could tell he caused his mate to jump. "You're not in the Queen of England’s royal palace. Make yourself at home, especially if you’re going to be here for a couple days.” The wolf gazed at his mate. He looks sexy as fuck in my clothes. Can’t wait for my scent to rub off on him. He walked past his little man and sat down at the left end of the couch Vincent was sitting on. “C’mere, hot stuff.” Vincent smiled and scooted closer, leaving an inch gap between the two. A chuff left the wolf's mouth. "Closer. No need to be shy." Mason leaned and wrapped his arms around the smaller man, pulling him closer to his body. "Are you afraid of cuddling? Because if you are, there's gonna be a problem." A giggle came from the mage. "A problem?" "Yeah. But I got a good solution. Wanna hear?" Curiosity got the better of Vincent. "Sure." Smirking, Mason loudly whispered in his mate's ear. "You let me hold you while we watch a movie…" He then looked Vincent in the eyes, purposefully flashing his golden amber irises. "...or I start tickling." Vincent gasped. "You wouldn't dare." The wolf bared his teeth in a predator-like grin. Oh, he fucking dares. In an instant, Mason had one hand on Vincent's left lower rib and the other under the right armpit. "I like dares." He moved his hands back to a non threatening position. "Now relax! You've had a rough day. It's okay to take a personal day every once in a while." Mason leaned in and kissed his mate's cheek. "Let's watch a movie. And I promise, no horror." Vincent gave in and leaned into the man's hold. "Sounds good with me." Mason felt satisfied with the response. Any movie will be fine. As long as I get to keep you in my arms. "I'm gonna make us some popcorn." The wolf took the remote from the end table and turned on the TV. "How about you pick out something for us to watch." Vincent inched forward to let his hunk have room to get up. Just as Mason walked into the kitchen, he spoke up so his mate could hear. "Vinnie, you like ranch?" Ranch? Thought he was making popcorn. "Uh, yeah! I thought you were making popcorn?" "I am. Was just curious, cutie. Whatcha got so far for our movie?" Scrolling through the first streaming service, Vincent found a couple options. "Well. They just added the newest John Wick movie." Mason scowled. Need to watch that, but I want something I can just listen to. "Nah, I had enough action tonight. Got any comedies?" "Umm...Oooh! They got 'Mrs. Doubtfire' with Robin Williams! It's my favorite movie of all time!" Perfect! "Works for me. Go ahead and start it, almost done in here." The microwave dinged and he pulled the steaming bag open. Mason reached in his pantry door and grabbed a ranch dip packet. After shaking it to get all of the powder away from the opening line, he ripped it and poured half into the popcorn bag. Mason rolled the bag closed and shook vigorously. Once done, he poured the contents into a large plastic bowl. Vincent was curled up where Mason was originally sitting. When the wolf walked back in, the smaller man relished every step. Mason could tell his mate was watching him, so he started walking slower and let his golden eyes shift. Gonna give him a show he'll think about all night. Mason took his free hand and rubbed his stomach, pulling up his tank top, revealing his abdominal muscles. Oh, yeah. That'll make him drool. He shot his gaze into Vincent's hazel eyes, and purposefully licked his bottom lip. Reaching his destination, Mason set the bowl down next to the TV remote and leaned into his mate's personal space. He climbed on top of Vincent and let the lightest of growls rumble out of his chest. Vincent could barely contain himself. He wanted whatever Mason had planned to happen right then and there. Fuck, this is the best tease ever! Vincent felt the wolf placing a bit of weight on him. Just as he put hands on the wolf's hips, Mason leaned back. His patented sly grin appeared. "You're in my seat." Mason got off his mate, reluctantly, and patted Vincent's back. The look on Vincent's face was priceless, but the wolf stomached the laugh. "Just scoot up, and I'll let you lay on me." Mason took his spot, but swung his right leg over Vincent, positioning one leg on either side of his mate. He reached for the bowl of popcorn with his other arm pulling Vincent closer. The Alpha's seat wasn't the most comfortable, but he knew his mate would be. Mason placed the popcorn bowl in front of Vincent and grabbed a couple pieces for himself. The mage was cozy in his new seat. He leaned back into the wolf's arms, obtaining the sensation of safety from the world's problems. How can one guy create that feeling? It just feels too right. Vincent turned his head and looked up to his boyfriend, and got a caring stare in return. Vin, you are falling, and falling hard. Mason leaned down and pecked the forehead with a kiss. "Don't let me end up eating that whole bowl. You wouldn't want me to get fat, would ya?" A mental image of his boyfriend with a large belly sprung to mind, and the mage let out every laugh and giggle in his system. He picked a piece of popcorn and let it fall into his mouth. The flavor confused Vincent, but he was delighted by the strange combination. Ranch powder...on popcorn. This is freaking delicious! There's just a hint of butter, but with the ranch, it's just perfect. "I would have never put ranch seasoning on popcorn. When did you learn this trick?" Mason chuckled. "You'd be amazed at the shit you learn in Scouts." “Heh. Of course, a manly guy like you being a Boy Scout. How long were you in Scouts?” “For every year. From Tiger Cub to Eagle Scout.” “That’s cool. You probably learned loads in those years.” Vincent pressed his head against the wolf’s chest. “Don’t you have to do some big project or something to get Eagle Scout?” A strong puff of air came from Mason. “Yep. Was a pain in the ass, but totally worth it. Coordinated with the two local cemeteries in the county and marked older headstones of war veterans that weren’t recognized when the headstones were placed with Armed Service medallions. Focused on Union Civil War, Korean Conflict, and both World War vets.” Amazement ran through Vincent’s veins. “That’s very noble, Mace. How many medallions did you place?” Mason grabbed a handful of popcorn. “A hundred and twenty-seven.” He threw a few pieces of corn into his mouth. Vincent’s mouth opened in astonishment. “That’s incredible! You did this all by yourself?” “Well, a couple of the other scouts helped place them, but finding the veterans and mapping out where they were was all me.” Interest piqued Mason. Not a lot of people would find that interesting, or even know that Eagle Scout rank requires a community service project of middle-sized magnitude. “How did you know about the service projects in Scouts, Vinnie?” Vincent sighed. “My parents had me in Cub Scouts for a little bit before...before they passed.” The wolf gave his mate a hug. “I didn’t mean to bring up any bad memories.” Vincent held the hands around his biceps. “They weren’t bad memories. Good ones, actually. Dad was one of the fathers who were more involved. It’s one of the best bonding times I can remember with him. Taught me how to tie a couple knots and the basics of first aid.” A faint memory clicked in Mason’s head. “You’re from Maryland, right? Do you remember your pack number?” “Umm. Pack 432, out of Elkridge.” A big smile came from Mason and jumped up in excitement. “No way! Small world. I went to a summer camp in South Carolina and met a couple guys from Troop 432. They would have been the same age as you and me. I’ll have to go and look back at my picture album, I’m sure I got pics with them!” Curiosity got the better of Vincent. “Do you remember any names?” “Yeah. Caleb and...oh Gods. Jack or Jason?” Vincent almost spilled the bowl of popcorn in excitement. “No fuckin’ way, Mace! You know Caleb? He was, like, my only friend I made in Scouts! It really is a small world.” Oh, then do I have a surprise for you, my mate. “Then I got a little secret for you.” His mate’s hazel eyes were glued to Mason’s with anticipation. “He’s pack.” It took Vincent a few seconds to realize what his boyfriend meant, but when it hit him, the mage’s jaw dropped. He’s here? In Kentucky? ...He’s a shifter? “I...I had no idea he was a lycan. Is. Is a lycan. Wow. He’s here? In Owensville?” “Yeah, he’s here. Him, his mate, Tasha, and their little one, Lowe. And he’s not a lycan shifter. He’s ailouros.” Mason could tell the terminology lost Vincent. “He’s a lion shifter.” Vincent raised his finger, as if to ask a question, but lowered it, trying to figure out how to word it. “Your pack consists of shifters other than wolves?” “Yeah. It ticks off some of the other Alpha shifters, but I don’t believe older traditions in our culture have a place in today’s time. I just cut through the bullshit and accept anyone who needs a place to call their own.” Traditions? Must be some more of those rules that I skimmed over in my book. “What kind of traditions are you talking about?” Mason exhaled hard out of his nose. “There are several that I don’t work with. Most packs believe in an Alpha-based hierarchy, where the Alphas father many children to fuel the pack, making stronger and stronger generations. Some packs don’t condone gay relationships or matings. We work with more foster care and state-funded orphanages than most packs or tribes in the country.” Vincent felt moved. He’s making a hell of a difference in the world. Well, his world. This guy is truly amazing. “You’re doing great things with your pack, Mace. You should be proud!” The Alpha held onto his mate tight. “Like I said, I cut through the bullshit. You need anything to drink, hot stuff?” “Uh, yeah! I’ll have a glass of ice water.” “Kay, scooch up a bit.” Mason bent his knee to get around his little man, and trekked to the kitchen. He opened the fridge and grabbed a can of cola and his water purifying pitcher. Mason poured the water three-quarters full into a glass from his cabinet. “Mace, I do have a small question about something you said.” The wolf grabbed the drinks and made his way back to his special seat. “Sure thing, just let me get back on the couch. Here’s your water.” Once Mason was back in his spot, he pulled the end table out so Vincent could set his glass down. “Alright, what’s on your mind?” “I was curious about when you said relationships and matings.” Mason’s heart took a nosedive. Uh-oh. Here we go. “Is it common for humans and shifters to form relationships?” Well, that didn’t go where I thought it was going to. Mason shifted to sit a little straighter. “It’s not uncommon for them to engage in relationships. It can be real dicey if the human isn’t aware of the supernatural things in the world. That usually warrants an Alpha’s attention, since it’s not recommended to just say, ‘Hey, I’m actually a shapeshifter and, turns out, your neighbor is one too.’ Normal humans can get traumatized rather quickly about things they always thought were reserved in movies.” Vincent giggled at the neighbor line. “So, us being together has been a small blessing in disguise, since I’m a mage?” Oh, Vinnie. You are more than a blessing. He kissed the back of Vincent’s head. More than you will ever know. “Oh, yeah. That definitely helped out. I still have trouble intervening in pack relationships when one of mine finds a mate or potential mate.” Mason swallowed his tongue once the words left his mouth. “Potential? I guess I’m still new to shifter terminology. What does ‘mate’ mean? Is it kinda like a husband or wife in your culture?” Vincent looked behind him to see his boyfriend. Mason did his best to keep his brow from furrowing. It’s time. “Vincent. I need to talk to you about something.” He grabbed the remote to pause the movie that they weren’t watching. Vincent turned his body to be more structured. Okay. Serious face, calling me ‘Vincent,’ and pausing our movie. Probably some serious info on pack culture. Better take mental notes. “Fire away, Mace.” The mage set the nearly empty bowl of popcorn on the end table next to his water. The wolf took a ragged sigh, and reached for his mate’s hand. “I know you haven’t reached that part of your book, but I’d like to talk about shifter...courtship with you, and how it can work.” Taking note of his mood and speech, Vincent could tell his boyfriend was a little nervous. Only time I’ve seen him nervous was when he stalked me. “Mason. I know we’ve only known each other for a few days, and it’s bonkers that I’m saying this. But I trust you. You helped me when only a few others have, and you’ve put your faith in me. So I’m putting my faith in you. You don’t have to be nervous with me.” Vincent gripped his boyfriend’s massive hands and looked deep in his eyes. “You can tell me anything. I’m not going anywhere.” A weight had been lifted from the Alpha’s shoulders. He gazed into his mate’s eyes, allowing his golden irises to flicker lightly. I have no idea if he is feeling anything in regards to our destined bond, but it sure as hell looks like it. “There are two ways that a shifter may find love. They can commit to a relationship, building trust and feelings for each other naturally. Just like humans. Like how we’ve been doing.” Mason flashed a smile, and got one immediately in return from Vincent. “The other way isn’t as complicated. According to lore and religious texts, the Goddess of Destiny, Aliz, was deeply disturbed by how cruel shifters, and some related beasts, were unable to live satisfied lives. They traveled across the globe, searching for love, but they were shunned by all, other than their fellow shifters. After about a thousand years of watching our people forcing themselves to procreate out of necessity, and not love, Aliz deemed it necessary to intervene. She spoke with her brothers, Dinbe, the God of Love, and Yir, the God of Luck, and negotiated that the shifters deserved a chance at happiness. “Dinbe was all for the idea. He contributed to the idea that all beings, whether human or humanoid, deserve love. It is rumored that he was actually upset with himself for not bringing up the issue to the other gods before then. “Yir hated the idea. In his mind, monsters didn’t deserve love. And shifters fell into the monster category. He was content with letting our people walk the Earth, aimlessly wandering with little to no chance at true love. The god argued that since shifters possessed superhuman capabilities, order must be balanced, and their happiness was the cost.” Mason felt his mate squeeze his hand. Looking at his face, all the wolf saw was anger. “Vin, you good? Need you to settle down.” If Vincent’s eyes could change color, they’d go red. He knew that some of the fabled Gods were fickle, but to toy with a person’s way of finding love, or pure happiness. That goes too fucking far. He took a deep breath, but kept his grimace. “I’m sorry, Mace. I just have some personal feelings about the Gods.” "Let it all out, Vin. I'm here to listen. You can squeeze my hands as hard as you need to." And Vincent did just that. Hard enough to make the Alpha wince in discomfort. "I believed in them when I was little, back when my parents took me to the services. We prayed to the Gods of Love, Order, and Luck." Vincent grew silent for a moment, but carried on. "I haven't spoken their names since that night, Mace. Your story makes me hate Yir even more. I don't hate him as much as Stefan, but it's getting close. No one should-" Mason pulled in his mate for an embrace. The anger drifted from the mage as tears came in for replacement. How could they take them away from me! They were all I had and they took them! "Shh shhhhh. It's alright, little one. You're still here. We will find Stefan and he will pay by our hands." He leaned Vincent back and gazed into his eyes. "The Gods do mysterious things, things that no one in this world can account for." I had no idea he resented the Gods this much. I expected some blame, but to bottle up this much...it's unhealthy. "I can't bear to see you like this." The wolf moved himself to lay down on the sofa, putting himself on the edge. "Here, lay next to me." He watched as Vincent lay down next to him, pinning his mate between him and the back of the couch. "Let's enjoy the rest of the night. Together. With Mrs. Doubtfire. I'll tell the rest of the story in the morning. But for now, let's clear your mind." Vincent exhaled out his nose, and agreed with Mason's plan. As much as I hate those Gods. I would have liked to hear the rest of the story. But he's right. I need to relax a bit. He turned to his left side and draped an arm over Mason's chest, and rested his head on the wolf's pectoral. Yep. I can tell he's a good cuddler. Mason smiled as he laid his arm on Vincent's back, giving his mate his shoulder to use as a better pillow. "You're cold. Want a blanket?" "Nah, I'm just cold natured. It's a thing with being a frost mage. You're keeping me warm enough." Mason growled in satisfaction. "Good." The two directed their attention to the movie. Giggles and hearty laughs filled the living room as the men relished in their own company. *** The film credits began rolling. Love a classic. Mason looked down to see that his little man was still asleep. He first noticed a light snore fifteen minutes after they started cuddling. He's so peaceful. The wolf grabbed the remote gently without disturbing Vincent's slumber and turned the TV off. The wolf leaned over and gave his mate a kiss on the forehead. "Time for bed, hot stuff. Let's get you tucked in." Vincent, in a dreamlike state, struggled to open his eyelids, speaking an almost unintelligible mutter about needing five more minutes. "You can get more than five when we get you in bed." Mason lazily got up from his seat and gently pulled his mate to a seated position. They began walking together with Mason leading the way. "I got you set up in the guest room. There's plenty of blankets and-" Vincent latched on to Mason's body, still half asleep. "Mmph. If it's okay, you mind…" A deep yawn rushed out of his lungs. "You mind if I sleep with you tonight? You kept me warm." The wolf's eyes flashed golden. "Of course you can. But if things happen, I won't be held accountable." His mate mumbled a confirming sound, and Mason turned the mage around and headed to his bedroom. He opened the door, but kept the lights off to prevent Vincent's eyes from being blinded. Pulling back the comforter, he sat his mate down, and watched as the little man quickly climbed in between the sheets, facing Mason. The wolf moved around the king sized bed, never breaking his stare. He climbed into his pillow-topped bed and took off his shirt. Mason always slept naked, but made an exception for tonight. Need to try to let him get as much sleep as possible. He left some space between him and his mate. Mason wasn't certain that he could keep his wolf in check for much longer. He closed his eyes and took a happy breath, and started to drift off to sleep. "Mace." The wolf heard his mate's whisper in the quiet room. "Can you hold me?" His eyes shot open. Mason pushed himself forward to latch on to Vincent, spooning the smaller man from head to toe. "Yeah. I got you." Mason couldn't help himself but give a kiss to his mate's neck, on the same spot from where he sucked on earlier. A whimper came from his mate, and forced Mason's cock to twitch. Gods, that whimper will be my undoing. Something pressed against the wolf’s groin, and made a slight circular motion. Realization struck Mason like lightning. He’s grinding that perfect ass against my cock! The wolf pressed himself against Vincent's butt and grabbed his hips. "Warning you, Vin. You're pressing buttons." Even half-asleep, Vincent liked pressing buttons. He kept gyrating his hips. Jeez, he's packing down there! Vincent felt his boyfriend's mouth latch onto his hickey and started sucking. He let out a soft moan, and that caused Mason to suck harder. Shoving the cover across the bed, Mason got up and turned his mate onto his back, climbing over in a split second. I want him now! I need more of him! He attacked the little man's mouth, demanding immediate access for his tongue, and growling softly as Vincent gave it to him. His large hands began roaming. His chest, his nipples, his cock, his balls, that ass. I want it all. His tongue left the human's mouth, lifted the hoodie's bottom rim with one hand, and found the left nipple with precision. Heavy breathing from his mate forced the wolf to lick harder, making circles and clasping his mouth over the target. He spent several seconds with his toy, then moved to the other nip. Enough playing. I want his seed. Vincent stared in the set of golden eyes as his partner leaned straight up. "Shirt. Off. Now." Gods, that voice is intoxicating. He fumbled out of the large sweatshirt and flung it to the floor. He gazed at the silhouette of the man, seeing that his eyes were traveling all over his exposed torso. Vincent reached and touched the shifter's abs and chest. He's just so fucking hot! Mason let out a ragged breath as his mate touched his body with those electric fingertips of his. "Touch me. Touch my body, Vinnie." The fingers turned to hands as they wandered the Alpha. "Mmm, Gods. Feels so good." He closed his eyes and swam in the feelings of ecstacy and adrenaline. The wolf leaned in, letting his body weight press on Vincent. "I'm gonna run my tongue over every part of your body until you scream. You're mine, Vincent. I'm gonna make you scream in pleasure." Mason felt his mate's cock twitch. And I know where to start. He placed his hands on his mate’s chest, and lowered his head, using his tongue to lead a trail as Mason pushed himself further down Vincent’s body. Until he found his prize. Vincent’s slender cock was begging to be freed from the oversized shorts he was still wearing. The wolf’s irises glowed brighter as his head stood mere centimeters away from the erect appendage. This...this is mine. Mason took two fingers and pulled the fabric down, ever so slowly. Going to make this moment perfect. For him, and me. Just as the fabric reached the tip of his mate, Mason flicked his eyes up to Vincent’s. “Do you want this, Vin? Because I want this. I want you. In my mouth. Down my throat. For as long as your body can handle me.” Mason let the edge of the fabric slip from Vincent’s cock. It’s just as perfect as I imagined it. Mason lustfully took in the sight. Thin, but long. Little puffs of hair along the base. Perky balls. Where to begin? Never leaving his mate’s gaze, Mason ran his tongue in around Vincent’s spheres, lapping them as he took in the taste. Sweet as sin. Vincent let out a helpless whimper, and that caused Mason’s heart to soar knowing he’s pleasuring his little man. It encouraged the wolf to continue. Time...for the main course. Mason rolled his neck before preparing for more. His wolf couldn’t stand this slow and methodical pace. The animal inside him wanted a more forceful and commanding tempo. But this is for Vincent. He deserves this, not a mauling. I’m going to enjoy every second of this. Mason let his mate’s orb out of his mouth, and fixated his attention on the shaft that stood before him. “You want this, Vinnie? You want my mouth?” “Yes. Mace, yes! I want it.” Vincent needed it. Every touch has had his body begging for more. A growl escaped into the dark room. Yes, beg for me! Mason tamely grasped his mate’s cock at the hilt, and felt the body shudder. He pumped his grip slowly, holding the stiff shaft. The wolf refused to stray his gaze from Vincent’s. Moving his hand up and down, he could feel the waves of pleasure going through his mate’s veins. Mason couldn’t hold himself any longer. He needed to taste more of his man. Running his tongue across his lips to moisten them, the wolf moved his face closer to Vincent’s manhood. He positioned his tongue at the base and ran upward to the crown, taking a single swipe. Vincent’s mouth widened in awe. His muscles and bones turned to liquid as his boyfriend began taking single licks on his cock. Gods, stop teasing! It’s too good! “M-Mace. So good.” He lightly pushed his hips upward, signaling that he wanted more. The irises of the Alpha flashed brighter as he got the hint. Oh, you want more? I’ll show you more... Mason took one final lick, and paused, looking deep into the hungry eyes of Vincent. Giving him a wily grin, he took every inch of his mate in one fell swoop. The wolf's eyes rolled to the back of his head as he savored the taste of Vincent. He pulled back up ever so slowly, sending waves of warm pleasure through Mason's new plaything. Vincent laid motionless in pure bliss as he felt Mason slide back down. Gods, he's good. So warm, so tight. Don't think I can last much longer. He clenched his pillow as he fought to keep his body from wiggling free from his captor. Taking short, uncontrolled breaths, Vincent whispered garbled words of rapture. "Mace. Oh, Mace! I'm getting close." The words made Mason let every ounce of lust out. He sped up his motions, fueled by the desire to obtain his prize. Give it to me! "Oh Gods, Mace! I'm com...I'm coming!" Vincent couldn't hold on any longer. He felt his body beginning to pulsate from the tips of his toes. Mason reacted to Vincent, and dived down to the hilt. The rush of warmth pushed the mage over the edge and he let out a pleasure-induced moan. Vincent filled Mason’s mouth. The wolf growled in satisfaction as he hungrily took every drop. So sweet, ever so salty. Want more. I want more of him. The cock in his mouth began to shrivel, but the cock in his pants raged on, demanding attention. Mason slipped Vincent out of his mouth. “That was hot, Vinnie. I loved sucking you off.” The smaller man got his breathing under control, but was still enjoying the orgasmic afterglow. “That...that was amazing, Mace.” Satisfied with his compliment, Mason laid down on the bed, face-up and next to his mate. Vincent turned his head to meet his boyfriend’s gaze, leaned in and landed a kiss on the lips. But Mason didn’t want to end with just a kiss. He pulled himself closer, pressing his boner into his mate’s thigh. Vincent took a sharp breath, feeling something large poking him. Oh...Oh my Gods. He’s really big! Not freaky big, but...big. Turning his body to face Mason’s, Vincent stared into the golden eyes of his Alpha hunk. “My turn, big guy.” He reached and began fondling Mason’s large cock through the man’s sweatpants. A soft and content growl came from the bigger man’s throat. “Mmm. You like that?” Vincent nodded as he stroked the veiled shaft. “You want to see it?” The wolf smelled the lust coming from his mate’s body. Oh, yeah. He wants to see. After getting a sheepish nod, Mason slid his hand and thumbed the waistband of his sweats. He pulled downward, letting his hard-on loose. Vincent stared in awe. It’s so big! Veiny, thick, uncut, long. And keeps it nice and trimmed. He wanted to please his man, just as Mason did for him. The mage looked back and forth between the cock, and his boyfriend’s golden lust-filled stare. “Go on, Vin. I know you want to.” Mason licked his bottom lip. “Suck on me.” Swallowing hard, Vincent grasped the shaft once more and started stroking. He looked up to see Mason’s facial expressions. I want to make sure I’m doing a good job for him. Deep chest movements and hard nasal exhalations told Vincent that he was. He lifted himself and swung his leg to straddle Mason’s legs, placing his head right above his new obsession. He took one last look in Mason's eyes and moved in closer. Vincent grasped the hilt of the shaft and circled his tongue around, rimming the head. Covering the head with his mouth, he took a quick and short drop, getting a feel for the rock hard girth. Mason let his little mate perform. Damn, he's a tease. But it's too good. With each bob, he could see Vincent going down further and further. The Alpha noticed that a wall was met for Vincent, about six inches in. "Take your time. Yeah, that's it." Vincent leaned his head back slightly to peer up to his man's stare, soaking in those amber irises. He likes what I'm doing. Time to show off a bit. The mage focused on his fingertips and put the thinnest coat of ice on his index and middle digits. He reached up and gingerly trailed them up and across Mason's abs, never letting his mouth leave the large cock. Shocked at the play, Mason's abs tingled from the chilling touch and let a manly moan fill the air. "Gods!" He's using magic! Fuck, that's hot! "Touch me more." Vincent hummed on his cock, reaching farther up to his nipple. He looked down to his mate. "Any more tricks up your sleeve, Vinnie? I want it all!" The mage gave an affirming hum as he popped his mouth off Mason. Vincent ran the lines of his lips with his icy fingers, placing the thinnest lines of frost upon them. Let's see you handle this, big boy! He went back down and got back to work. Mason gripped the sheets as he felt indescribable pleasure. So fucking good! His lips are cold, but his throat is burning hot! Gods, keep going Vinnie. Can't last much longer. He looked down to stare at him, but a wave of lust hit his heart as he saw Vincent with bright lavender eyes. The wolf scanned the room and caught it. In the corner of the ceiling, he saw the moving pink cloud, and Mason's eyes widened. He's using a sight ward. To watch us from a different angle. That's so fucking kinky! "Lean up, Mace." Mason did so, putting his attention back to the mage. Vincent moved his hand and reached to touch Mason's forehead. When the index finger landed, a bright light covered Mason's vision. After a brief second, Mason dropped his jaw. I...how... He wasn't looking at Vincent's extended arm any more. Mason's view switched to what Vincent was seeing in his sight ward. Him. Me. Us. Laying on the bed. Vincent turned his head to face the ward and smiled deviously before returning to work. Mason could feel the sensation of his mate's mouth, but was in awe when he saw his own body. My...my eyes. They're lavender, just like his. Vincent waved his hand out and twirled his fingers, causing the view to aim next to his face as he bobbed up and down on Mason. It was a little disorienting for Mason to figure out what direction to turn his head, but quickly relinquished ambition and laid his head down on the pillow to enjoy the scene. "Vin. This is amazing. You feel so good, and it's hot to see you like this." Vincent hummed as he kept his eyes open, relishing the view himself. "Won't last much longer. Keep going. Suck my cock!" The mage took the ice on his fingers away and cupped the man's large balls while speeding up on the shaft. He wanted it. He wanted Mason in his mouth. Just feels too right. Mason's cock began getting larger. Here he comes. "Vin-Vinnie. Oh, Gods I'm gonna blow!" Mason breathed hard as he ran his hand through Vincent's hair. When his body began convulsing, he gripped the hair and let out a loud roar. Vincent swallowed as fast as Mason filled his mouth. He was amazed at the amount that came from the sexy hunk. When it stopped spurting, Vincent kept the shaft in his mouth for a few seconds, savoring his work. He pulled off Mason's manhood and curled up next to the shirtless man. Mason wrapped his arm around his mate's body. "Vinnie. That was, without a doubt, the best I've ever had. You're amazing, you know that?" A giggle escaped the tired man. "I try. You're pretty amazing yourself." Yawning, Vincent laid his head down on a pillow. Mason kissed his mate on the side of his head. "Sleep. I can tell you're exhausted." Him using magic during sex must've costed him. Shortly after a couple mumbles, a tender snore filled the air. The wolf leaned back in his bed and grabbed his phone. 9:27p.m. Two missed calls from Mom. She probably heard from Dad I was in a wreck and started freaking out. Better call her. Like a shadow, Mason sneakily got up and left the bedroom without making a sound. He selected his mom's contact in his phone and made his way outside to sit on his porch. "Hey, Mom! Was ju-" Mason wanted to catch up with his mom,but was quickly cut off by a shrill voice. "Do you have any idea how worried I was? I mean, honestly! I had to hear from your father that you were in an accident. Then I hear from Dave that it was caused by mercenaries, and how you were shot at!" Mason let his mother ramble on. I really should have seen this coming. "Mom. Mom! I'm fine. You know I can take care of myself. This isn't the first time I've dealt with something this crazy." He regretted the second those words left his lips. "What do you mean, not the first time?! I swear, you are just like your father!" Out of wanting to calm his mother down, he let out a chuckle. "I'm fine, Mom. Honest. Believe me, the truck is in worse shape." His laughter always brought his Mom back down to Earth. "Hmph! Well, as long as you are okay, that's all that I can ask for." Mason was satisfied that there wouldn't be any more outbursts. "Sorry I didn't call back, just had to make several phone calls. Dad said you had a question for me.” The wolf could barely hear his mother's long fingernails clicking on a hard surface. "Why, yes, my son. I have a very important question. “When were you going to tell me that Vincent Bolton is your destined mate?”
  4. I am beyond excited for this!!! The fans have been waiting for fifteen freaking years! I can't count how many times I played the original game. Myr, I highly recommend playing it before the sequel comes out. It's on Steam for a decent price if you're interested.
  5. I was raised in Indiana (I know, not technically in the southern area of the US, but everyone around the area acts like they came from an episode of the Andy Griffith Show), but I grew up hearing these phrases, and I use some of these very frequently (i.e.: sippy sack and red-headed step child). My mother has a tendency to call people who are unambitious in their work or occupation as useless like "t's on a boar hog." This phrase still makes me giggle.
  6. I've worked in grocery retail for over a decade, and I always had the intention of writing a very extensive how-to styled book on smarter grocery shopping and behavioral activities. There are so many chapters laid out in my planner document for it: merchandising psychology (chapter titled "It's There for a Reason), tricks on how to save money, and how the shoppers actions affect the store itself and the workers. I have picked up the idea time and time again, but it just keeps getting shot down in my head, mostly because I don't believe it would be effective in the hands of most readers.
  7. I am enjoying the reader speculation so much! But I can't help but leave a gallon of Kentucky sweet tea for y'all to sip on, because no one seems to mind what Miss Elaine thought was interesting about Vincent...1k words in so far on Chapter 4. Stay tuned!!!
  8. This comment just made my day! Thank ya kindly!
  9. Thanks so much Buz! I love that I'm the new kid on the block, and getting compliments from my new neighbors! I wanted their dinner date to be as perfect as possible, but *sigh* there must always be a snag in the plans. The next chapter is under way, and will definitely be posted within a week, maybe two. Work's been pretty brutal and I'm finding a little less time to write. But I won't let y'all down!!!
  10. Thank you for your comments! They are very insightful, and I always appreciate the compliments!
  11. Rustling his legs between the cool sheets and warm comforter, Vincent lazily woke from his deep sleep. Five more minutes. He rolled over his full size mattress and grabbed his phone from the cardboard box he used as a nightstand. One o’clock in the afternoon. So much for five more minutes. A groan escaped his throat. Time to get up. Vincent sighed and sat up on the bed. He began blinking his eyes in an effort to wake up faster. Coffee! The mage pushed himself on his feet and made a bee-line for the kitchen. He opened the pantry cabinet and grabbed a single use coffee pod. After placing it in his coffee maker, Vincent grabbed a mug, filled it with water, and poured it in. He pressed a few buttons and let the machine whir to life. While his breakfast was brewing, he pulled out his phone to check for messages. None. Wonder what Mason is doing. He tapped a message to his new boyfriend. ‘hey, just woke up, whatchu doin?’ Coffee is almost done. Just enough time to get dressed. He made his way back to his room and opened his closet. Vincent grabbed his pair of nice navy blue jeans and a slim fit white button down shirt. The smell of coffee hit his nose as he put his pants on. Slipping on his shirt, one arm at a time, the mage ventured back in the kitchen and grabbed his hot mug. Sipping lightly, Vincent felt the hot dark roast flow down his throat. It was not long until the mug was empty and warmth filled Vincent. He sat up in his folding chair that sat in the empty dining room. Looking around his scarce apartment caused a sigh of sadness. Vincent never owned much. He was always on the move, so he usually kept a small bag of clothes. Furniture was never needed, and he kept enough money to buy a few things, like a coffee machine, a mattress, and food. Every place he rented, it always stayed blank. Nothing that can be helped. Why decorate when I could be going at any moment? Despair filled the mage’s mind. This is why I need to get cracking at the books. I must learn more about how to use my magic. I need to get stronger! A ding came from Vincent’s phone. He pinched the phone from his tight jean pocket and unlocked it. ‘hey cutie sorry. was out in the barn. no signal there. Cant wait for the date. i’ll be by at 6’ Vincent grinned hard. Perfect timing. Could really use a pick-me-up. His fingers flew across his flat touchscreen. ‘its all good. Can you pick me up at the library? I want to check out a book ive been meaning to read’ Just as Vincent set the phone in his lap, Mason responded. ‘Of course. anything you want hot stuff. Need a ride there?’ ‘no, thanks for offering tho. It’s just a couple blocks away.’ ‘anytime, hope you read plenty of important stuff. I’ll see you later ;)’ Vincent smiled as a familiar warmth flowed through his mind and body. Even through a text, I feel him. He grabbed his wallet, keys, and knapsack. Time to go to the library! *** The walk to the library is always peaceful. Trees lined the sidewalk almost perfectly, providing shade across the street. Benches were placed every half-block, facing the traffic so people could watch cars go by. This town really is something. I think I’m really starting to like this place. It’s almost magical. Vincent stepped off the sidewalk to enter the parking lot of the county library. He admired the three story architectural masterpiece. The stonework consisted of copied European themes, with a hint of Gothic and mid-Renaissance mixed in the decorative additions. A true work of art. Just don’t know how it got put in the middle of Kentucky. And the interior suited the exterior. Lush burgundy carpeting met the warm lighting, the wooden bookcases and tables, and large stained glass windows across the second story. Sliding ladders lined the cases, and many colored book spines filled the shelves. Even coming nearly every day, there were sections of the library Vincent has yet to visit. But for now, the mage had one section in mind: Mythical creatures. I think it’s high time I learn more about shifters. The fact I don’t know anything about the culture and history of wolven shifters bothers me. I’m uncertain of specific mannerisms that wolves share, so I need to be aware of things that may upset or irritate Mason. Or things that will put a smile on his face. The thought put a smile on the mage’s face. He began heading towards the furthest corner of the library. It was almost a universal system across the international library system: most of the boring stuff gets stuffed in the back. And Vincent was fine with that. No one ever goes to the back, which means peace and quiet. After searching for a few minutes in the right section, Vincent came across some series on creatures, specifically mentioning humanoid mythicals. He ran his fingers along the collection of book spines, skimming through the long titles. Elf. Jinn. Nymph. Satyr. Shifter! Here we go! Vincent grabbed the grey book and weighed it in his hand. It's sort of heavy. He opened it to the last couple pages. 620 or so pages. Yeah, this is a double nighter. I can get started on a couple parts now and check it out for the night. The mage flipped to the table of contents and skimmed to see if there were any sections worth skipping ahead to. Let's see. Variety of Shifters. Standard traits. Moon Cycle. Transformation. Pack and Class Organization. Courtship and Reproduction. World Geographical Relevance. Vincent stopped, and backtracked to the previous chapter title. Courtship. That might be interesting, considering I'm dating an Alpha. Thoughts of their makeout session flew into his mind and Vincent's legs began to wobble from his memory. Fuck, that was hot! He grabbed the book and moved to his favorite table, sitting in the far corner. Moving to the middle of the tome, he sat down in the padded wood chair. I think I'm going to start with 'Pack and Class Organization. May give me some insight on dating an Alpha. Vincent began his literary adventure. In regards to most shifter varieties, groups of shifters are referred to as 'packs' or 'tribes.' Most packs and tribes are led by a strong shifter, an Alpha. They are followed by other class members, such as Betas and Omegas. Alphas are regarded as the strongest in their group, and are to be respected in the highest regard. Beta members are considered advisors or bodyguards for the Alpha's family, mate(s), and loved ones. Most remaining members of packs and tribes are considered Omega members. These shifters, though stronger than most humanoids, have no desire to be in power. They provide support to the group in a variety of ways, just as humans provide in their society. Vincent continued until the end of the section. He read some underlying details about how to show signs of respect towards Alphas. Bears respond to a dip of the head, wolves by showing your neck, and most others with a bow. Good to know. The mage checked his phone for the time. He still had several hours before Mason was due to arrive. Time for a bathroom break. He got up, leaving his book and bag on the table, and made his way to the lobby. On the way, Vincent passed the reception desk, and saw that Elaine was typing away at her computer. She looked up just as Vincent laid eyes on her and grew a thin smile. "Why, hello Vincent! I didn't see you come in. How long have you been here?" "Good afternoon, Miss Elaine. I've been here about an hour or so. Just reading in the back corner again." Vincent walked up closer to the desk. Elaine was the head librarian, and she was the sweetest lady on the planet, at least in Vincent's opinion. For a middle-aged 50 year-old, Elaine was a looker, and could probably pass as someone twenty years younger. Well-maintained shoulder length brown hair, slender figure, and a personality that had all of the high-school boys ogling. She wasn't afraid to crack the whip at troublemakers, and she was a walking encyclopedia. Especially in the supernatural regards. When Vincent first walked in the library a month ago, Elaine could smell the magic emanating from the younger man. Over the following week, they got to know a little about each other. They were both versed in frost affinity, and shared some of their knowledge. Elaine sighed and let a light chuckle out. "I should have known. What are we researching today?" "Doing a little reading on mythical creatures. Something came up in the frost histories tome I checked out the other day, and needed a reference." A small fib, but pretty harmless. "Anyway, it was good to see you, Miss Elaine, but I really need to use the restroom. I'll check with you before I leave." "Oh dear, go on ahead! I didn't mean to hold you up." She shot an endearing smile toward the younger mage. Vincent waved and paced toward the restroom. Elaine felt a slight wind from the younger man's leave, and couldn't help but inhale and smell his pleasant cologne. But there was another scent hiding under it. It feels slightly familiar. Elaine's thin eyes flicked in recognition. Well, well. Isn't that just interesting. *** A yawn escaped his lips. Jeez, this book has all sorts of stuff in it. Vincent read a few more of the chapters, and it was nearly time for Mason to swing by. Miss Elaine came by an hour ago to say goodbye before her shift ended. Vincent could always tell when she was nearby. She must be a master frost mage. Her presence makes the area go cold! His back felt molded to the chair, but Vincent felt the need to read one more chapter. He sighed, and made his decision on the next chapter. Courtship and Reproduction. Vincent stretched his arms and leaned forward into his book. Shifters, unlike humans, may commit to courtship with another humanoid being through two viable ways. They may court through a standard relationship, just as humans have performed for all of existence. But shifters are able to commit to courtship in a process that remains exclusive to their culture. It is believed that the God of Destiny, Aliz, places… 'Bzzt!' Vincent snapped out of his reading dreamlike state when his phone vibrated noisily on the table. It's probably Mason. He looked to see that it was, and how he was waiting outside. Vincent got excited, grabbed his new book, and made his way to the check-out kiosk. After checking out, he walked out of the lobby and saw that the giant black truck was pulled up at the entrance, with Mason in the driver's seat. Vincent looked up to meet his boyfriend's gaze. Warmth began filling him as he opened the door and began his climbing session into his seat. "Hey, Mace!" Vincent admired his boyfriend. The wolf was wearing a deep blood-red button up dress shirt and black denim jeans. Mmm, what a stud. "What's up, hot stuff? Learn anything important?" "Yeah!" Vincent held up his library book to show. "Got a book on shifters. Learned a lot on how packs and tribes are organized, differences between the kinds of members, and a whole bunch of other stuff." A shot jolted through Vincent's mind. Oh, shit! I forgot that he's an Alpha. I should have bared my neck to him. He turned his head away from Mason to show him respect. Mason's eyes shifted bright gold and grabbed his mate's knee with intensity. A yip came from the smaller man's throat as the lycan fought to mark his neck right then and there. A growl from the deepest pit of his throat filled the vehicle. "Vincent!" The mage struggled with the immense pressure being put on his leg, and focused on his feet. Fuck, what did I do? He called me by name, so I know I did something wrong. "I don't know how far you got in that book. But, for now, do not bear your neck to me. You are human, and you are not a member of my pack." Mason blinked his eyes hard to suppress his wolf's desires. Opening his eyelids to look at his mate, he took his hand from the boy's knee and lifted his face to meet the Alpha's. "We are dating. You do not submit to me." Well, not yet anyway. "But since, you are dating an Alpha, my pack, as well as other lycan shifters will bear their necks to you. I know there is a lot to learn about our culture, but I'll be happy to help you with it." Vincent let a mental sigh out as he smiled towards his boyfriend. Okay. So no neck bearing or dipping for me with him around. Also, showing of the neck means submission. Gotcha. "Sorry. The book has a lot of detail, but I guess it needs more references. I haven't got to the courtship chapter yet, so that probably has more notes in it." Courtship? Oh, fuck. He's a bright kid, so he'll probably put two and two together and figure out that he's my mate. I'll probably have to tell him during the date. That'll definitely go over well. "Courtship, huh? I can definitely help with that." Mason let a subtle growl as he leaned in and gave his mate an electrifying kiss. He knew that would take Vincent's mind off his little book. The wolf kept the kiss going as he pressed his tongue against his mate's lips, demanding entrance. Vincent happily replied with a whimper and allowed it. Mason moved his hand to the back of Vincent's head, running it down to his neck, and along the jawline. The kiss didn't last long enough as the Alpha pulled away, never taking his gaze off the mage's. Mason smiled as he put his truck in gear to leave the parking lot, then placed his hand back on Vincent's knee. "So, I know I said I would make dinner for tonight, but I had a better idea. How does Biacci's sound?" Vincent gasped with excitement. "I love Biacci's! Their carbonara is amazing! Are we really going there?" Oh please, say yes. Say yes! "Of course, we're going! I already booked the reservation." Mason turned off of Main Street and drove a couple of blocks before pulling into a side lot. "And there's a special surprise waiting for you inside." The mage began thinking of what the surprise could be as both men got out of the truck. Mason walked around to his mate and grabbed his hand. He wanted everyone to know that Vincent was his. He guided the smaller man up the sidewalk toward the front of the upscale Italian restaurant. Going inside, they were greeted by the host, who confirmed 'Mr. Wilson's' reservation for two. In the sun room. Vincent's jaw dropped. The...the sun room? You are fucking with me, right? His eyes went to Mason immediately, and they were met by that sly smile and narrowed piercing stare. You, Mr. Alpha, are out to impress. And it's working. I know for a fact, that you got to have connections, or a fat wallet, to book the sun room. “If you could follow me, please.” Two menu placards appeared in the host’s hands, and began walking down the main hallway through the restaurant. A thin staircase came into view in the back, and the three began their ascent. The thin and pale host brought the men to a set of large and ornately carved doors. Vincent admired the doors for the first time: artistic carvings, displaying a large sun setting over a field of workers. Obviously hand carved, possibly a century old. Truly beautiful. The host gave a light cough, snapping Vincent back to reality. A blank stare from the employee was shared between Vincent and Mason, but the thin man turned away and pulled open both doors. “The sun room, gentlemen. Please, be seated. A waitress will be with you shortly.” He walked out of the couple’s way, allowing Vincent to get his first glimpse of the illustrious dining room. A mere gasp couldn’t begin to describe the mage’s astonishment. A large pane glass window took up the wall facing the door, overlooking a few single-story rooftops, and beyond that, the forest that edges the southern side of the city. As if the timing for dinner was perfect, the sun began to set over the forest's horizon. In front of the view, a small circular table, ordained with a single red rose in a slim glass vase. Silverware placed in specific uniformity, with fabric napkins stylishly rolled in each of the water glasses. White lily petals were scattered across the center of the table atop the rose colored tablecloth. Vincent was in pure awe. He slowly turned his head to meet Mason’s subtle gaze. The wolf grinned, knowing that his mate’s mind was blown away. I may have gone overboard, but he deserves the best. And first impressions are the most important. “So, what do you think, Vinnie?” “I’m, well.” Vincent was trying to stay composed, but he really felt touched. He did all of this for me. It’s the most romantic thing I could ever think of. He gave Mason’s hand a firm squeeze. “I think it’s perfect.” Mason’s eyes gleamed as he heard the words. The wolf led Vincent to the table, and pulled out a chair for the smaller man to sit. Vincent blushed and accepted the gesture, as Mason walked over to the opposite chair to seat himself. Menus were placed in front of each man, and the host walked away, as a waitress came with a pitcher of water. Vincent and Mason removed the napkin from their glasses, and the middle-aged lady poured her ice water into Mason’s glass. She looked up to Mason, then quickly bearing her neck. Vincent’s eyes opened wide in shock. She’s a wolf shifter? I can’t even tell from looking at her! The waitress turned to pour water into the mage’s glass and turned her head to reveal her neck to him as well, then left through the doors. Mason chuckled and flipped through his menu. “Yeah, that takes getting some used to. Vinnie, what sounds good?” “I already have my heart set on the chicken carbonara. Biacci’s makes it like no one else.” The waitress came back in with a basket of buttered breadsticks. Vincent caught sight of Mason licking his bottom lip at the baked goods. Once they were set on the table, two of them were immediately snatched by the Alpha. A giggle came from the mage. “And what sounds good to you?” Mason twiddled his breadstick between fingers and shot a lustful look at his mate. “You look pretty delicious.” The statement went to Vincent’s groin and caused blood to rush to his cheeks. “Oh, Gods. I meant for dinner!” A hearty laugh bellowed in Mason’s throat. “I think I’m going with the lasagna.” He took another bite of his warm breadstick. “Or maybe the beef brasato. Hell, I may order both. I’m pretty freaking hungry!” Vincent withheld a giggle as he saw that the waitress came to take their orders. He ordered the carbonara dish with a side salad, and Mason ended up choosing both entrees and a side stracciatella soup. Once written down, the waitress left once more, leaving Vincent and Mason alone again. The mage leaned back in his chair. "So is this one of the perks of being an Alpha? Booking this swanky dining room and getting first class service?" Mason sipped from his glass and sat it down gently. "Among other things. The owner and I are good friends." He leaned forward on the table. "But I think being a mage would have pretty nice perks too." "Yeah. It definitely comes in handy. So what all has Dave told you about me?" "Well, pretty much everything. How you're damn handy with clairvoyancy and frost magic. And how you are one of the rare shadow mages." He saw that his mate was surprised to be addressed as that, and let out a small laugh. "He told me how you scared the shit out of him with that move you did in the bathroom in JD's. Oh man, I wish I was there to see his face!" Vincent covered his mouth with a laugh. "He told you that? That was really funny. When he made an angry face, I about lost it." The wolf howled in laughter, but subtly changed to a more serious face. "He also told me about this Stefan guy." A depressed frown washed over Vincent. Yeah, almost forgot about him. Mace has been keeping me preoccupied. I need to get back to finding him. "Vincent." He looked up to see a serious scowl on his boyfriend. "You and I just started dating, but you have gone through a terrible ordeal that I can not ignore." Anger began filling through Mason, but he pushed it aside. "You live in my territory, and I will not stand idly by as someone's way of life is threatened under my watch. As long as Stefan is breathing, and you are living in Owensville, my pack and I will assist you in any way we can." He saw Vincent's eyes tearing up and Mason reached out his hand to grab his mate's. "Hey, hey. Did I say something wrong?" The mage couldn't help but swim in his emotions. I...I've never been offered help like this before. This big wolf guy shows up randomly, and is ready to just hand me the fucking world. I haven't done anything for him. And yet, there he is, giving me everything he's got. "Mace...Mason. I. I just don't know what to say, or do, or, well...anything. Between you and Dave, you guys…" He bit his lip, catching himself from letting the dams under his eyes from bursting. "You guys have given and offered so much to me. And I don't know why! "I haven't done anything productive toward you, or your pack, or anyone in this town.” Vincent couldn’t hold back any longer. Tears began flowing, but he didn’t care. He has been working alone for so long. Compassion from others felt like a mystery. Looking up to Mason, Vincent needed to know. “Why are you being so nice to me?” A thin smile appeared as Mason let out a long sigh through his nose. Here we go. He’s all worked up, tears rushing down his face, and I’m about to tell him that he’s the destined love of my life. Not that it would sound crazy to him or anything. “Vin, I’m being nice because I care for you. I know we literally just met, but I feel something special with you. My wolf wanted to be near you ever since I laid eyes on you.” Mason squeezed Vincent’s hand a touch tighter. “You have been hurt. And that hurts me. I won’t stop until the pain in your life is gone.” He released a heavy sigh. Here goes nothing. “Vincent, I think you…” A waft of air crossed Mason’s nose. Food’s coming. Can’t have members of my pack think I made my mate cry. He closed his eyes, wishing he had more time to talk to Vincent about their relationship. Another time, then. “I think you shouldn’t let these thoughts cloud your judgement. I’m here to be your boyfriend, and as the pack Alpha, I can’t allow the possibility of this...murderer running in my territory.” Mason dug his eyes into Vincent’s, which have now had time to dry. “You have friends here. You just haven’t met them yet.” The wolf lifted Vincent’s hand to kiss the forefingers. “Now, let’s worry about this later. The food is about to come through those doors. Can’t have everyone think I’m treating you wrong.” Vincent sat and blinked, comprehending his boyfriend’s logic. I do have friends here, I was just too blind to see them. Dave was always my boss, but we go to breakfast and talk a lot. Miss Elaine helps me with my studies, bringing new books that might interest me. And now Mason. This big guy feels attracted to me in some way. I can tell he’s holding something back, but I’m not one to judge, what with me keeping my shadow magic in the proverbial dark. He wiped his eyes with his sleeve and took a deep breath. “You’re right, Mace. We can talk more about it later. And I have a feeling that you, and your...wolf...would never treat me wrong.” A golden flash of Mason’s irises made the mage smile. The doors opened with the waitress carrying a serving platter, and the sizzling meat seared the air with its scent. She placed the plates in front of the men. “Dinner is served, gentlemen.” *** Damn. That was amazing! The two men nearly forgot everything that was said once they ate the first bite of their dinner. Vincent’s eyes rolled back into his skull for every nibble of his carbonara. He reluctantly let Mason have a piece after catching him sneaking looks. The wolf was so upset that he didn’t order it, he attempted to bribe Vincent with the brasato. When that didn’t work, the lasagna was next in the bidding. Sorry, bud. You ain’t getting your paws on my pasta. I treat this stuff like gold! The conversations between the two were very inquisitive. Vincent revealed that he was originally from a small town in Maryland, but abandoned it once he began his adventures. He goes back once a year to visit around the town’s annual festival: grab some deep fried chocolate cookie dough, maybe have a beer. And see his parents. It was always the last thing Vincent did in town before leaving. The cemetery was gloomy, and centered around a willow tree. The mage wasn’t of age to decide how his parent’s should have been buried at the time of their deaths, and none of the relatives could stomach to make a decision. So the state gave them the standard small headstones. They couldn’t even put them together on the same headstone. Vincent knew they were together under the earth, but it was a small detail that he wished he could change. Maybe one day, I can give them what they deserve. Mason didn’t have much to add from their previous date about himself. Instead, he talked more about his pack dynamics. The pack covered half of the county, Owensville included. Vincent was astonished to learn who was under the Alpha’s influence. This is bonkers! The police, an aide at City Hall, and in different governmental offices throughout the county. And several owners of the best restaurants in town. Maybe there’ll be more dates in the future. The wolf mentioned that nothing crazy happens in his territory. It is a relatively peaceful area: plenty of retirees, many of the townsfolk act like they appeared from ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ and the lowest crime rate in the state of Kentucky. Mason described how he and Dave worked closely with the police chief to weed out the linger drug problem the town had when Mason became the Alpha just a couple years ago. There are some meth heads operating outside town, but they are close to snuffing them out. Mason also explained that he hosts bi-weekly pack meetings at his place, where they go over important business, have a grill-out, and run in the woods. A confused look came across his mate's face. "By run, I mean a four-legged run." "Oh! That's neat! I would love to see a bunch of wolves all together!" A grimace appeared on the bigger man's face. "I'm afraid that's not possible, Vinnie. You have to be pack to come to the meetings." Not that he wouldn't become pack soon, though. He was certain that it wasn't intentional, but his mate made a pouty face, and it brought a smile to Mason. "Sorry, babe. That's just the rules. But, if you're down for it, I'll let you meet my wolf." Vincent looked up. Is...is he serious? "Your wolf? Like, your wolf wolf?" Mason nodded. "Umm, wouldn't that be, like...isn't that a little crazy? Me meeting a wolf?" He never felt more like an insane person. Meeting...a wolf. Is the wolf a person? Does he have a different personality? Is it like a dog? Does it play fetch and chew on sofas? Mason couldn't help but laugh at his mate struggling with the concept. "No, no. It's not crazy. My wolf is just me. Just a little furrier and more animalistic. Not gonna lie, he's been dying to meet you." He saw Vincent's face turn pale. "Don't worry, I won't bite you. As long as you don't run or throw daggers, you can't be in any danger. Color returned to Vincent, but still felt apprehensive. It seems really important to Mace for me to meet his wolf. And it could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close without getting shredded to bits by one. "That sounds nice. When would be a good time?" Mason could feel his wolf's heart soar knowing that he would be near his mate. "Well, how about tonight? I planned on inviting you back to my place for a movie night." And maybe a little more than a makeout session. Vincent smiled. He was still shaking in his shoes, but excitement took over half of the nervousness. "Sounds like a plan." "Then, what do you say we get out of here?" Mason got out of his seat and walked over to his mate. He took Vincent's hand and escorted him out of the chair. They took two steps towards the door before Vincent pulled on Mason's hand. "Wait! Aren't we gonna pay?" The waitress never brought us a bill. "Didn't I say that the owner and I were good friends?" "You did." "Did I say that he owed me a favor for shoveling out his driveway last winter?" Vincent's mouth opened in astonishment. "We just got this dinner for free?" All Mason could do was grin as he pulled his mate out the double doors and down the staircase. Vincent giggled as he let his arm get dragged through the restaurant, and Mason had no intention of letting go. The men reached Mason's truck, and the wolf guided the smaller man to the passenger door. Just as Vincent thought his boyfriend was going to open his door for him, Mason spun him around and pinned him against the door. The larger man put his body against Vincent's smaller frame. Letting a moan escape his lips, Vincent pulled Mason closer. Need more of this. His body feels so good. He looked up to see the Alpha's shifted golden eyes, and felt his body turn to water. Mason dipped his head down and locked lips with his mate. A growl rumbled through the wolf's throat, excited that he was claiming his mate's mouth. Mason let go of Vincent's lips and changed his target to his mate's neck. Once latched on, ecstasy swam through the Alpha's mind. He sucked on Vincent, pulling blood to the underside of the skin. Need to mark him, make it known he's mine. He felt his mate latch on to his back tight, struggling to stay quiet as Mason's tongue began tormenting the tender skin. Feeling the man under him squirm made his wolf go nuts. Mason's bulge became unbearable and he started grinding against his mate. "Oh, Gods. Mace! You feel so good. Don't stop." Mason growled from the deepest pit of his throat as he heard his mate beg for more. Fuck, he can beg! If he keeps this up, might blow my load here and now. Need to stop! When Mason felt that the marking met his standards, he released his mate and began catching his breath. He glanced down to his Vinnie. Heh, he's out of breath too. Damn, he is too fucking cute. Mason narrowed his eyes, giving his mate a devilish look. I need you in my bed. Now. "How 'bout we take this back to my place? You know...for a movie." Vincent felt like putty in the man's hand. "Uh-huh. Oh, yeah." The mage would go along with anything his hot boyfriend wanted if it meant more contact. Mason opened the door for his little mate, and walked around to get in his own door. Putting the key in the ignition, both men finally noticed it was dark. Damn, night snuck up fast… Mason grabbed his mate's hand, and pulled out of the side lot. "So, I live slightly outside of town. Just gotta hit Main and ride out Old State Road 47 for a couple miles. I think you'll like it!" "Well, you're the driver. So what movie did you have in mind?" "Not sure. I got a big collection, and I have all of the streaming services. What kind of movies do you like, hot stuff?" "I like a good comedy, or action flick. But I swear, I do not do horror!" Mason laughed as he turned the truck off Main Street and onto the Old State Road. He always disliked the road, since it didn't receive funding from city or county street departments for lighting. Just a couple traffic lights, his truck headlights, and the moon were the only source of illumination. The wolf didn't have to worry much, as he can see well in the dark, but many cars have been run off the road over the years. "Horror movies aren't that bad! Besides, you'll have me to hold onto if you get too scared." "I mean, that's a definite bonus, but I still don't do horror." Vincent kept his eyes on the pitch black road, noticing the passing green-lit traffic light. "You may have to hold me real tight." A rumble came from Mason's throat. "I'll hold you and I won't let go." The wolf tossed a side-eye glance to his mate, just as Vincent looked up. His smile is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. Tonight's already been great, and Gods know how much better it can get! Mason looked deep in those little hazel eyes, while trying to keep an eye on the road. Vincent's smile faded, and a pale yellow light glowed in his right iris. "Mace. Mason!!!" The wolf shot his head to the left. Time seemed to slow down as Mason's instincts began to kick in. Thoughts filtered in too fast. Oncoming car. Intersection. Too late to stop! Brace! A deep and loud grunt from Vincent commanded his attention, as the mage tipped his head back with his muscles trembling. Mason saw his hands were glowing a faded blue and slammed onto the dashboard. Thick sheets of ice shot outward along the dash, toward the driver side door at near lightning speed. Just as the Alpha understood what his mate's goal was, the vehicles collided. Mason's head whip-lashed against the passenger headrest. The truck spun across the intersection, broken glass spreading across the asphalt. Car alarms filled the quiet country air.
  12. Last night was something out of Mason’s dreams. He saw his mate. Got to smell him. The only thing that he understood was that he needed more. Vincent became his object of desire. Since laying eyes on his little human, Mason spent the last 36 hours fantasizing intimate times with his mate. A growl emitted from his throat, as he imagined spreading Vincent’s legs, looking at the beautiful body that lay before the alpha. The longing to mate with him has been pulling strings in the back of Mason’s mind. His cock hasn’t been a quiet muscle. Dave texted earlier in the morning that they needed to meet up. He had more details on his date with Vincent. Mason and his beta made plans to grab a bite at JD’s for lunch. It was Mason’s favorite spot. Good Gods, those burgers… Mason pulled his truck into the small diner’s parking lot. The wolf-man began grinning ear-to-ear, knowing he was going to learn more about how to please his little magical mate. Mason stepped out of his truck to see Dave and his white truck taking the spot next to his. “Dave! Had a good shift?” Mason walked towards his beta, and stretched out his hand for a shake. Dave met the shake with a firm grip and a dip of his head, exposing his neck, submitting to the powerful alpha. “Shift was good, pretty easy night. Damn warehouse dinks keep sending stupid stuff.” Dave leaned in and whispered, “They sent me 84 bottles of the generic brand of fat free ranch. Even all the ‘Karens’ in Owensville can help me now.” Dave snickered as Mason began howling in laughter, nearly doubling over. Mason collected himself, and opened the door to the diner with Dave following behind. The two wolves claimed their usual booth, and Dave sat with an exhausting sigh after a long workshift. “So, you have some details on my mate?” Dave popped a smirk and leaned an elbow on the table. “Yeah, and I kinda needed you to be sitting.” Mason’s smile of pleasantry quickly melted. Dave’s followed suit. “It’s nothing bad, Mace. Vincent and I had a long talk last night after the shift, and he...let me know of things that you should hear.” *** Ho. Lee. Shit. What, in the ever present Gods, did I just hear? My mate. Is actually...a very powerful mage. Pretty well adept in three affinities. One being the shadow affinity. Vinnie is academic, cunning, sly, and even a little devious... That’s fucking hot! I mean, pretty disturbing that may be able to take me on in a fight. But that just makes him even sexier. Makes me want to force him to submit to me. Submit to my wolf. And he’s hurt. His family torn from him, and he is hunting those responsible. Anger rose within Mason’s body. My mate isn’t alone in all of this. The alpha’s eyes were itching to shift. I’m going to kill this Stefan bastard! “Mace. Calm down.” Mason’s eyes shot up, his irises flashing gold. He was almost irritated that his beta interrupted his train of thought. “I know this place isn’t exactly popular, but there are humans here. As your friend...and beta, simmer down.” Dave took a sip of his coffee and set the mug on the table. “We don’t need a big silver wolf chewing these leather seats, right?” Mason snorted out of his nose, half annoyed and half humored. Taking a big breath, he relaxed into the booth seat. “You’re right, Dave. It’s just a hell of a lot to take in. I mean, I just wish I could have been there to see a cute and tiny man hold a six foot tall beta wolf hostage!” Mason gave Dave a smirking stare as the slightly older shifter rolled his eyes. “Yeah. That was...totally funny. Would like to see you deal with having icy daggers at your throat.” Dave grabbed another sip of his coffee, “So that was the first reason I needed to talk to you today. Now for the big topic of the week.” Mason instantly directed his attention to Dave. That wasn’t the big announcement? “So Vincent made a...demand.” Dave picked up his mug of bean juice, awaiting for an outburst from his alpha. He stared at Mason, who was leaning comfortably in his leather booth seat. A smile quickly came across the bigger man’s face, and he rested his elbow on the table, placing his fist on the underside of Mason’s chin. “That’s real cute. My little Vinnie thinks he can make demands.” Of course, he can get anything he wants. Only the best for my little mate. Mason put his hands on the back of his head, keeping his mind on his special man. “What can I do for him?” Dave shot a skeptical look at Mason. “...uh. Mace? Are you good, man?” “Yeah. Why do ya ask?” “Well, usually when someone asks you to do something, you kinda lose your cool and get seriously pissed.” Mason smirked and leaned forward on the table. “Vincent is my mate. I will do anything to make sure he’s happy...no, I need to make sure he gets everything he ever needs.” The alpha sat back, but kept eye contact with his beta. “Dave, when you find your mate, you will understand. With Vincent, I want him to be the happiest man alive. Don’t get me wrong, I still need to show that I’m the strongest and in charge, but he is an alpha’s mate. He deserves the world.” He also deserves to be underneath me, with my hands on his slender body. “But Dave, what did Vinnie need?” Mason looked completely lax, but Dave could tell the bigger guy had a tinge of nervousness behind his dark brown irises. Dave readjusted himself in his seat, sitting himself straight up. Time to get down to brass tacks here, can’t keep the man in anticipation. “Mace. Vincent thinks you should be the one to ask him out. Not me.” Dave took the last bit of his coffee from his mug and saw that he had Mason’s undivided attention. “Far from it for me to ask you to do something, but I believe Vincent is right here. I think you should stop by the store tonight and introduce yourself.” The alpha wolf thought about doing two different actions at the same time: he wanted to take his beta out to the truck and give him a good barking, asking where he got off on telling his alpha what he should be doing in regards to Vincent. Mason also wanted to kick himself in the ass for putting relationship matters with his own mate onto Dave’s shoulders. This is the most cowardly act that I’ve ever done. I feel like a girl in middle school. “Yeah, you’re right, man. I should have gathered up the balls to say hi. Does Vinnie work tonight? I’d like to stop by and see him.” Mason’s grin widened. He was going to meet his mate. In person. Dave nodded, affirming a positive response, “Yep, he’ll be there tonight. I’ll stick him on aisle eight again, so you can also grab your spaghetti you forgot.” A cheeky smile landed on Dave’s face as he slid his money across the table. A small growl escaped Mason’s throat. Irritation trickled throughout his veins just thinking about attempting to grocery shop twice in the same week. I hate grocery shopping. If my mate wasn’t employed there, I wouldn’t go in unless I have to. The two men got up from their booth and set out to continue their day, with Dave looking forward to his bed, and Mason to plan out his evening. He needed to make sure he approached Vincent properly, and not to scare him. Or piss him off. There’s a small chance he might kick my ass… *** A deep yawn rumbled the wide torso of the alpha wolf as he slumped in the driver seat. Mason had been stalking the parking lot of the Greenthumb. He needed to see his mate. Even if he was practically sleepwalking. After his lunch with Dave, Mason put in some work on his parent’s farm, but not the kind he enjoyed. On a perfect day, the wolf would roam the field of crops or spend time working on restoring his father’s old tractor. Needless to say, perfect days don’t happen every day. It was near the end of the month, and paperwork needed to be prepared for the next. And Mason hated paperwork. Mason put the paperwork off too long and he had to bunker down in his office for the better part of the day. Inventory intake, supply usage, looking and gathering buyers, and reviewing expenses. Crunching the numbers wasn’t the issue, but how long it took. Mason wasn’t a patient man, and wanted the job done. Several hours, invoices filed, and a stack of manila envelopes stacked to be mailed later, and the alpha was done. He looked to the side of his desk and noticed that Vinnie’s shift started in an hour. Mason shot up out of the office chair to find his muscles nearly atrophied, and started to shuffle his way to the shower. On the way down the hall, the wolf began to shed his body of clothing, in an effort to get to the store before Vincent clocked in. The sound of incoming cars stirred Mason back to the current time. Several cars and a few trucks pulled into the same small corner of the parking lot. Mason dug his eyes on the group of vehicles, waiting to see who came out. A couple men began opening their driver side doors, and the occasional coming from the passenger side. Three more came out of a little aged beige Toyota Corolla: the man and older lady from the other night. And Vincent. Mason bucked up straight in his seat and leaned forward to make sure he didn’t need glasses. My mate doesn’t have his own ride? He’s a powerful mage with an ability to damn-near teleport, and he chooses to catch a ride with coworkers? The alpha eyed his mate from across the parking lot, giving every ounce of attention to every move. Vincent was wearing a baby blue v-neck and blue denim jeans, all just the perfect size, showing his slender muscles and slight baby fat. Gods, how will I be able to keep my hands off that man? Mason has always preferred men in his sex life. There is something about having a man under you, and him submitting to a more dominant man. He really had a thing for shorter men who can take care of themselves physically. And my little Vinnie fits that bill… Mason stalked Vincent from afar as the smaller man entered the store. I’ll give him a few minutes to get clocked in and I’ll go in. *** Well, another night means another nine hours of...spaghetti sauce? Doesn’t happen often that I get the same aisle three nights in a row. Must be doing good on my stock times with this aisle. A smile crossed Vincent’s face, knowing he’s been assigned an aisle he’s efficient at. With stock crews, you usually get thrown on a different aisle, unless you are pretty fast on a particular one. Vincent didn’t think this aisle was too rough. Aisle eight is the “dinner aisle” by nickname. After the managers ran all the numbers, it was the most popular in the store. Just one grocery aisle has all the canned meats, pasta noodles, pasta sauces, salad dressings, and soups. Sure, this aisle called for the most cases to be stocked in the store, but most of the product is shelf-ready: just cut off the plastic and shove it on a shelf. After about fifteen minutes of stocking, Vincent got himself into his usual stocking rhythm. Oh yeah, it’s going to be a pretty smooth night, and that means an easier time keeping up with my wards. After the big scary alpha showing up and blowing through wards, Vincent placed up a third ward between the first by the door and the second near his aisles. The only problem currently is that it is ten in the evening, and the store is still crowded. Having a mental “ding” going off in your head every four seconds would be annoying. Vincent made an executive decision to keep the wards off until midnight, or until traffic dies down. I doubt Stefan would send a merc in a crowded building. So now I can relax soundly for a few hours without looking over my sh… Vincent’s eyes shot wide open as the hairs on the back of his neck stood straight. The feeling was familiar: someone was watching. Vincent turned his head to one side of the aisle to see no one. Then turned his body around to almost bump into a human wall of a man. “Oh, sorry about that, sir! Anything I can help...you…” Vincent slowly looked up to see his alpha wolf stalked from the other night. On his aisle. In front of him. So close, that Vincent could feel the body heat emanating from the much larger man, and that made the mage weak in the knees. Mason knew what he just did, and grew a sly smile. “Yeah, can you show me where the noodles are? I’m making a nice dinner this weekend.” He dug his dark brown eyes into Vincent’s hazel ones. The big wolf had every intention of laying on the charm thick. Blood went rushing to Vincent’s cheeks as he struggled to pry his eyes away from the wolfman’s. “Ye-yeah, they’re at the end of the aisle on the right, over there.” Vincent pointed his arm away from him and his customer. “Oh. Well I was wondering if you could show them to me. I need a good recommendation.” Mason dipped down closer to his mate’s ears and whispered, “I have a date on Friday, and I haven’t a clue what he would like.” Vincent began a desperate mental search for stability. This man caught him off guard, and, like a true Casanova, caused his legs and brain to turn to pudding. He’s so forward, and completely unabashed! Okay, Vin, get ahold of yourself. You can handle this. He’s just talking to you. Not stalking, or roaring, or shredding. Talk! “Kay. Let me show you.” See? Talking. You remember, Vin? The first thing you were taught as a kid? “Are you planning on using red or white pasta sauce?” The brows on the larger man flickered in height. “I intended to use red, but if you have a better option, my ears are all yours.” “Alright. Everyone loves a standard tomato sauce, but I think alfredo is a bit more versatile. If that’s your choice of sauce, I recommend this vermicelli noodle. But if tomato is your thing, the standard spaghetti can’t go wrong.” Mason’s interest piqued. “Sounds like you know how to cook. Can’t say I’ve used alfredo much. What makes it...versatile?” A smug grin came across the wolf’s mouth, as he relished his mate’s word choice. Embarrassment swept over Vincent, as he recognized the word play just a second too late. “Well, alfredo is pretty ve...useful!” Nice try, wolfie. “You can add crushed garlic cloves, leaf spinach, sauteed mushrooms. And the flavor of toasted garlic bread comes out just a little better than with tomato-based sauce.” Vincent read the man’s expressions when he mentioned all the vegetables. Meat eater. Should have seen that one coming… “Or you can add bacon or sausage to the meat for extra flavor.” Eyeballs returned to Vincent as he spoke. Yep, meat eater. Might need to work on that one. The grocer walked a few steps over to the sauces to point out a couple brands that most people skip out on. “These two here are the best kept secrets in the world.” Mason seemed very surprised about his mate and his culinary knowledge, then proceeded to feel a little stupid. He works at a grocery. He’s bound to try things normal people won’t. The little guy may even be able to show me up in the kitchen. Not that it is a bad thing. “Really? These don’t look too bad. I think I’ll get them both.” “Cool. Just don’t mix them together, the flavors won’t compliment well.” Please don’t tell me you just came in to get my opinion. ”Anything else I can help you with?” Oh there is definitely something you can help me with! It took everything in Mason’s power to stop his eyes turning gold. “Yep, there is something I need.” He saw his mate was trembling ever so lightly in anticipation. “I’m gonna need your number, and a time to pick you up on Friday.” A gentle smile appeared on Vincent’s face, just as a smug grin went on Mason’s. The shifter couldn’t help but bury his smoldering gaze into his mate’s. Vincent quickly swallowed what was left of his gut and gave the mystery man his digits, feeling a bit like a floozy. Mason quickly put the number in his phone and sent a text. A bing sound came from Vincent’s pocket. Pulling out the phone, Vincent saw that a contact was shared titled “Mason Wilson.” “Well, nice to meet you, Mason. I’m Vincent. It really is nice to meet you.” Just a speck of shade for stalking me. “Oh, no. The pleasure is all mine. Do you prefer to be called Vincent, or are nicknames allowed?” “Just because you asked, I’ll allow it. I usually hate being called Vin or Vinnie. You would be real surprised to hear how creative people can get.” Mason chuckled and directed his gaze back at his mate. “Vinnie it is. When and where can I pick you up?” “I can send you my address early Friday morning.” Vincent looked at his phone’s lock screen clock. Damn, time flies. I need to get my work done. “Hate to cut you off, but I kinda need to get back to work. I’ll be texting you later, kay?” Mason felt a little crushed that his time got cut, but he understood. “Sure thing. Didn’t mean to hold you up.” He quickly grabbed a box of the vermicelli that was recommended earlier and put them in his hand basket. “It was incredible to meet you, Vinnie.” Mason felt such an urge to give his man a little kiss, but his human side knew it was a little too early for that. Just as Mason was going to turn and prepare to leave, Vincent grabbed hold of the bigger man’s hand with such grace. Electricity flowed in the shifter’s veins, feeling the man’s soft skin and warm fingers against his own. Mason turned his attention to the smaller man. “It’s nice to meet you too, Mason. It means a lot that you came in. I know you didn’t mean to send Dave in the first place, but you definitely made it up by doing this.” Vincent rubbed his fingers through the man’s much larger hand, not knowing what torturous pleasure he was putting Mason through. “I’ll text ya in the morning, and maybe we can do something between now and Friday. You know, casually?” Mason’s mind was flying trying to keep him on the ground. His wolf was going nuts, and began barking some very insensitive demands. Either get going, or get going on him! Mason slowly pulled his hand from Vincent’s, but lightly latched on to the tips of the fingers. He lifted up the hand towards his lips and gave his mate a touching kiss on the forefingers. Letting go of Vincent’s hand, Mason dipped down and whispered, “I’ll see you soon, hot stuff.” He then gripped his basket and began walking away from the man of his dreams. Mason’s eyes were begging for a shift, but he suppressed his wolf’s urges and headed to check out. Vincent watched as his sexy date walked away. The wolf was no longer a scary threat to him. Dave kept his word. He’s just looking for a date. Don’t know why he’s going after a nerdy guy like me. He can probably get any person he wants, especially as an alpha. The mage shrugged and got busy with his work, considering he was now behind by twenty minutes. Mason’s heart was beating a little too fast. My mate. He’s more adorable than I could have imagined. Those cheeks blushing were enough to drive me crazy! Taking a deep breath, Mason took his basket towards the checkout area. *** “Oh, man! Rough night!” Waiting in line to use the time-clock, Vincent was in agreement with his coworker’s outburst. Jeez, aisle eight is no joke. Most of the stuff is easy to stock, but the boxes are larger and heavier. My arms and legs feel like jelly! Vincent walked up and punched in his employee ID and his fingerprint to clock out for the day. A firm hand placed itself on Vincent’s shoulder. He darted his eyes to see Dave, smiling like always. “Good job tonight, Vincent. You’re not too shabby on aisle eight. You ran five hours worth of product in just four!” “Really?” Vincent drew a prideful smile over his face. “That’s awesome!” “Yeah. Hope you don’t mind, but I’ll probably have you on eight from now on. No one can hardly get it done on time, but you breezed through it like nothing.” Vincent didn’t mind the aisle. And he would get faster with repetition by memorizing where every product goes. “Sure, Dave. Whatever makes the job easier.” “Awesome. Also, Rich over in frozen is going on vacation next week, so I might have you working some half grocery, half frozen shifts to cover that. Make sure to bring a light jacket and gloves.” “Gotcha.” “Alright. You got a ride home today?” “Yeah, Elise and Darnell said they could drop me off when they picked me up.” Vincent hated relying on others, and while having his own vehicle would be really useful for work, he didn’t see much of a point since he could just travel in the shadows much faster. Although, it would be nice during the daytime when shadows are scarce. May have to look into getting some wheels… Dave had his phone out, and his fingers were tapping furiously. Vincent gave a light snort. Probably answering his girlfriend’s fifty million texts. Man, this new one is a little crazy, even for Dave. Sure hopes he wakes up and sees it before she finds a way to trap him. Several taps later, Dave slips his phone in his front pocket and lets out a hollowed sigh, “Sorry about that bud. Ladies. Be thankful you’re into guys.” Vincent laughed and turned to head outside with Dave in front of him. Can’t wait to get home and shower! Then going to head over to Beansies for a coffee and start on that book I checked out of the library. Thoughts of the book of frost magical records from nineteenth century Greenland nomads filled his imagination, as Vincent felt the fresh air hit his nose. Until he smacked his face into Dave. The collision caused Vincent to stumble backward and land on his rear. Landing on the hard concrete was going to leave a light bruising later. “Oh shit! Vinnie! You alright?” The dull pain throbbed as Vincent dismissed the call out to him. “Hey, Vinnie. You good?” Vincent’s eyes shot open as he looked up. That wasn’t Dave’s voice. Sounded like… His gaze landed on his dreamboat date, Mason. Vincent stared at the man, dressed in a navy blue polo that fit a little too well, who had a look of concern plastered on his face, and was bent down, ready to assist him. Blinking several times, just to confirm that his date was actually in front of his face, Vincent brought himself back to reality. “M-Mason. What are you doing here?” “Are you alright? Are you hurt? Can you get up?” Completely ignoring Vincent’s question, Mason was more worried about his man. “Huh? Oh, oh yeah. I’m good, just lost where I was for a second.” Mason got back up and outstretched his hand. Vincent grasped it, feeling how warm and large the shifter’s hand was. Lost in the moment, his arm was pulled with a surprising force, lifting his body up to his feet. Jeez! Pull my arm out of its socket, why don’tcha?! Mason smiled, knowing his mate was unharmed. Inside his head, he debated on snapping Dave’s neck for causing Vincent to go tumbling down. Giving his beta a quick death glance, all of Mason’s attention directed back to his Vinnie. “Well, glad to see you’re okay.” Vincent tried his best to keep himself from blushing. This guy. Looks like he genuinely cares. “Thanks, Mason.” “Call me Mace. Keeps my full name from rhyming.” It took a moment, but an unkempt giggle escaped Vincent, realizing his first and last name rhyme. Oh, man. That must really get annoying. “Alright, Mace. But you still didn’t say why you’re here.” Mason rubbed the back of his head. “Well, not gonna lie to ya. I pulled in last night as you all did, and I saw you carpooled. So I figured you might need a ride when you got off work.” He hated the fact his mate made his stoic stature melt to a puddle of goo, even if they haven’t officially started dating. Vincent kept himself as composed as he could be. This guy. Stalking me outside my work. Thinking he’s all slick and stuff. A smile crept on Vincent’s face. “That was sweet of you. I’m sorry, Mace, but I already told Elise and Darnell I’d give them a couple bucks for gas to take me home.” His eyes flew over to the employee parking to see… The beat up beige Toyota Corolla pulling out of the lot and towards the traffic light. Just freaking great. Let’s see if I ever offer to give them gas money. Mason looked at the dinghy sedan drive away, and comically looked back at the little man. “Looks like they had a different idea.” He saw how irritated Vincent was and decided to step it up. “Listen, my offer still stands. I’ll even throw in a cup of coffee and a bite to eat.” Oh, you’re good. Devilish good looks AND good luck. Vincent was a little hungry, but he still had a lingering trust problem with the Alpha. “I really appreciate…” If his day couldn’t be thrown off any more, Vincent’s stomach rumbled, demanding food. Blood rose to his cheeks, as Mason and Dave could not help themselves but chuckle. “I think that settles it. You are coming with me.” Mason placed his hand square on Vincent’s back and pushed him forward to his truck parked in front of the store. While dealing with a slightly fussy man, Mason turned and waved to his beta good-bye. The wolf led Vincent to his black truck, and opened the passenger door for him. “Need any help up? My truck is kinda big.” Well, fuck...I’ll say! Vincent saw that the seat was as high as his chest. I might need to pole vault just to buckle in! “Umm, I think I got it.” He first placed his left foot on the shiny step-up under the door frame, and jumped to grab the e-handle on the roof of the cabin. One little hop, and Vincent sat down in the largest truck he had even laid eyes on. Vincent admired the incredibly clean and sleek interior. Squeaky clean, and nice leather. Must have cost him a pretty penny. The driver side door opened, and Mason stepped in with ease. Vincent furrowed his brow, despising the fact it took no effort for him to get in. Must be nice to be tall. The door closed, and the shifter locked eyes with his passenger. Vincent’s body shivered, and as much as he wanted to look away, the man’s gaze kept his full attention. Mason could smell the tension in the truck cab. Well, I did just force him to come with me to Gods know where. Let’s start with coffee. Could really use a few cups. “Want a cup of coffee?” He narrowed his eyes, “My treat.” Blood rushed to the mage's cheeks. He makes me feel like prey. "Umm...I mean, I won't turn it down." A smile crept on Mason's face. "Good!" The wolf put his key in the ignition and started the truck. "Where do you usually go for coffee?" "I usually head to Beansies, but if you got some place in mind, I'm down. Just not JD's. I've already been there twice this week." "Beansies sounds good." The wolf pulled the gear shift, placing the truck in drive, and slowly left the parking lot. Mason turned down a side street, then onto Main Street. Mason knew the drive would be peaceful, since it was still the early hours of the morning, and most of Owensville didn't get on the roads until 7am. He had the intention of taking his time so he could get to know his mate better. "So Dave tells me you just got into town a month or two ago. What brought you here?" "Well, Owensville's county library is one of the largest in Kentucky, and has many old texts that can't be found elsewhere." Vincent was not fibbing. He heard of the three-story library from some academics he met in Arkansas and made a quick shadow run to see. He fell in love. Historic texts that would make collectors ogle. Digital archives dating back to pre-Revolutionary War eras. Spacious reading areas and dedicated research rooms with marker boards for long studies. Vincent has spent many a night with piles of magical tomes in those rooms. But the library didn't last long as his only obsession. Coffee runs in the mage's veins, and Beansies became a love affair. They owned an extensive menu of hot and iced brews, tasty baked goods, and had an exquisite taste in modern decoration. Vincent brought his attention back to the conversation at hand. "Plus the town is quiet and I can kick back a bit. Life's been rough the past couple of months." Mason furrowed his brow. "How so?" The shorter man slumped down in his seat and ran a hand through his hair. "For most places I go to, I can't land a job since I don't have a lot of experience in any one field of work. It's just a little of this and that. I'm just happy I ran into Dave when I did, or I probably would have kept it moving." A shock went through Mason's heart. I could have missed out on my mating with him! Gods, who knows if I would have met another person compatible for me. Need to remind myself to thank Dave. Turning his head slightly to look at his mate, "Well for what it's worth, I'm glad you stuck around." The wolf played a daring card and placed his hand on the knee of his passenger. "You're too cute to skip town." Vincent gushed at the compliment, and began struggling to keep the blood from rushing to his jeans. "Thanks! You're not too bad yourself." A smile was flashed on Vincent’s face. Mason fought the urge to eye-fuck his little mate, since he needed to pay attention to the road. He would get plenty of time to do that over coffee. I’m glad he finally admitted his attraction to me. “Ha ha! Glad I meet your standards.” “Oh...ha! Well, you definitely exceed my standards. I’m actually surprised you want to go on a date with me. Hot studly guy like you can get anyone in the world, but you’re going after me.” Vincent’s smile faded into a grimace. “I’m a nobody, and I’ve always been kind of a loner. All of my foster homes didn't want...” A growl erupted in the cabin, causing the windows to vibrate. The wolf had heard enough. His heart ached for his mate and the troubled life he has lived. But no more. Not while he is mine. “Vincent.” The young mage peered from the corner of his eyes to see his driver. His knuckles were gripped tight around the steering wheel, and muscles were trembling in agitation. But when Mason locked his golden irises with Vincent, he relaxed his arms. “I will not stand for that sort of talk. You are most certainly not a nobody.” I don’t want to release too much info. He may not be ready to know that he is an Alpha’s mate. Mason gave a light squeeze to the mage’s knee. “Give yourself some credit and self-respect. You deserve that much, at least.” Every ounce of emotional strength in Vincent’s body was being spent. He wanted to break down and sob so hard. I know every word he said is true. But damn it, it’s my life, and it was how I was brought up. I’m allowed to be depressed about it! “Hey, hey.” Mason’s sultry voice brought Vincent back to life. “I didn’t mean to make you feel bad, Vinnie. Just wanted to cheer you up. I know growling wasn’t the best move on my part, but my wolf couldn’t help it.” Mason placed the engine in park. They were at Beansies, but the wolf needed to calm his little mage. "You gotta be proud of yourself, bud. You're a brilliant mage with kick-ass powers and, from what Dave tells me, you're the fastest stocker in the crew!" The wolf leaned in close to Vincent. "And if I were to bet, you're probably the smartest person in this town." Warmth filled Vincent's heart. No one has ever said something like that to me. His puffy eyes looked up to his new friend. "Thanks, Mason. That really means a lot." He wiped his eyes and composed himself. "Let's get coffee." The two men opened their doors to head inside the bean brewery. Mason pace-walked in front of his mate to open the door. "After you." He watched as his man's gaze looked up to meet his as the smaller man stepped in front. Gods, he's fucking adorable. The aroma of cocoa beans and baked goods blasted his sensitive nose as a welcome sign. Baristas working complicated espresso machines lined the workstations, and workers slid trays of fresh croissants into the display racks. Now those are fresh! Vincent and Mason walked to the queue line, admiring the selection of bagels, breads, and cookies. The line seemed to be moving quick as the cashier was taking orders like a champ. Fairly soon, they were next in line. The tiny blonde girl flashed a smile of recognition at Vincent." Hey, Vin! You want the usual?" "Yep. Black iced coffee and two double dark slims, Stacy." "Coming right up. And for you?" Mason flashed a quick smile, "Large caramel macchiato with almond milk and a croissant. Cream and sugar, please." Vincent's eyebrows raised. Umm, girly coffee for a manly man? He looked up to the taller man, and got a raised eyebrow in response, as if he were to say 'Go ahead, say something.' "Gotcha, total comes to $14.27." Mason handed his debit card to Stacy, who took and slid it on her kiosk. Once returned, the wolf put the plastic card in his leather bound wallet. The two men turned and sought out their seat. They grabbed a high seated table in the corner and waited for their order to be called. Vincent had the intent of sitting across from his company, but Mason pulled his chair closer to his right instead. The wolf couldn't resist being as close as possible to his mate. Just as Mason was about to seat himself, but Stacy's shrill voice hollered for their order. He turned and walked to the counter. Grabbing the mute gray basket and cup holder, Mason curiously looked at the names on the cups. 'Vin' 'Hunk.' Mason snorted in minor laughter. Cute. Sorry, lady. Never played for the home team. He walked back to his table to see his mate texting on his phone, and grinning. The wolf placed the basket of goodies in the middle of the table, and handed Vincent his coffee. "Thanks! So what was with that giggle up there?" "Your little friend up there thinks she's a comedian." Mason turned his cup so his mate could see his new nickname. The mage started laughing, covering his face so the noise would be deafened. Crossing his arms, Mason leaned back and watched Vincent react to the silly moment. He found that his mate's laughter warmed the shifter. I want to hear that every day of my life. "Oh my Gods, that is really funny! I'll need to text her later and tease her about this." "You know the cashier like that?" "Oh yeah. Stacy is cool. She's been wanting to hang out, but with me working overnights, our schedules never work out. So we mostly text." Mason smiled, and reached forward for his croissant. Still warm, and I feel the flakes on my fingertips. The wolf took a delicate bite, and let his eyes roll into the back of his mind. The mage stared at the man next to him. Croissants. Note taken. Vincent nabbed one of his cookies and took a big bite. Once chewed, he washed it down with a swig of his coffee. When Vincent let the straw leave his mouth, he noticed Mason staring at his cookie. He smiled, grabbed the remaining whole cookie, and split it in half. "Wanna try?" Mason's eyes flashed hungrily, but took the offering with gentle hands. These are very thin! Yet, strong to hold the mounds of chocolate. He took a bite, and tasted the rich cocoa in the mounds, and the bitter dark cocoa in the dough. This is pretty good, but has nothing on my croissant. Mason was about to lean in and whisper in Vincent's ear, but the wolf felt eyes on him. On his mate. He peered to the right inside his peripherals. Found him. A middle aged man, wearing a camping shirt and khaki cargo shorts. The man snorted and shook his head in disapproval. Anger fumed inside Mason. Homophobic asshole. A barely audible growl escaped his lips, and put his feet on the ground to make his way over to the human. A soft hand latched on to Mason’s, and at lightning speed. Mason already knew it was his mate, since the contact was irresistible. All negative thoughts were washed away with pure bliss as the wolf turned to his man. "What's up, bud? You got a little ticked off there." "Nothing that we should worry about. Let's just enjoy the moment." Mason could ignore the gaze on him, but if the man in the corner even thought of a single insult upon his mate, he wouldn't be able to control himself. The urge of marking Vinnie is killing me. He's mine and I need the world to know that he is not to be disrespected. Mason turned Vincent's hand into his own, and held firm. *** The two men talked and laughed for what seemed like hours. Vincent enjoyed hearing the wacky stories of Mason and Dave when they were growing up. Can't wait to bring up lawnmowers around Dave. Mason, on the other hand, did not get much out of Vincent. But that was to be expected. He did take mental notes of all the places his mate loved to go to. As it turns out, the two shared several favorite restaurants around town and the surrounding counties. Might have to switch the steakhouse for Biacci's. They make damn good lasagna! "Oh, man! This was fun, Mace." "Sure was. But I think it's about time for you to go to bed. You do have work tonight, right?" Vincent frowned. "Yeah. But then I get my night off!" That perked up the smaller man. And I'm going to make it a good one! Bubble bath with a bottle of sauvignon blanc, reading the frost histories book, and a date with Mr. Stud. The alpha really grew on Vincent, and was no longer scary in any sense. "Alright, time to get you home." Mason took the cups while Vincent grabbed the basket, and took them to the waste station. The wolf unlocked his truck with his key fob, and ventured out of Beansies to open the passenger door. Vincent waved to Stacy and climbed in the cabin. Mason jumped in, started his truck, and maneuvered out of the cramped parking lot. Vincent told him the apartment complex he was renting from, and the wolf headed in that direction. He saw that his mate had his arm on the seat rest. I can't get enough of him. Mason slid his hand over the younger man's, and held on with the wish of never letting go. He saw his mate's cheeks blush lightly. Oh yeah, can't get enough of that either. Several minutes later, the truck pulled up on the street curb of the complex. Both men wished the morning wouldn't end, but with a long yawn, Vincent knew it was bedtime. The mage went to open the door, but the hand that held his tightened. He looked back to Mason. "Vinnie, today was amazing, and I can not wait until our date." The shifter grinned. "Let me walk you to your door." Vincent smiled as his heart began palpitating. With a smile like that, I might take you past the door. "I can't either, Mace." Both men opened their doors and Mason hopped out with ease, while Vincent took his time getting out of the monster-sized truck. Mason walked around to meet his mate, and followed the smaller man to his door. Just a little too closely. He could feel his own body radiating heat. Damn, it's hard for me not to just pin him against his door and take him right there. His eyes shifted gold with lust. Maybe just a tease before Friday… Vincent got his keys out from his pants pocket just as he felt the hairs on the back of his neck tingle. Man, I know he's looking at me. He stuck the key in and unlocked his door. Putting the key back in his pocket, Vincent turned around. "I'll see you Fri-" The wolf got close and personal with the smaller man, letting his lust take over. He gazed down at his mate's hazel stare, and leaned in close. Vincent couldn't help but let his muscles turn to goo. "I had fun today, Vinnie." Mason placed his hand behind Vincent's back and pulled him toward the wolf's body. Leaning in further, Mason landed his lips on Vincent's. Sparks flew in Mason's mind, and could only imagine the same for his mate. Vincent melted into the wolf's body, and wrapped his arms onto the man's hips. He pressed his lips against Mason's, wanting more. The men pressed themselves against the apartment door for leverage as they shared this hot moment. Mason needed more. He pressed his tongue against Vincent's soft lips as they parted. A whimper escaped the smaller man and allowed the sensual intrusion. Mason let loose a subtle growl as he explored a new part of his man. More. I need more. The smaller man met the tongue with his own. Gods be damned! He's good at this. Vincent gripped Mason's hips tighter, which caused another growl to be let loose. Mason took a long swipe of his tongue inside his mate's mouth, and gave one final kiss before he parted from Vincent. Both men were breathing heavily after their exchange. "As much as I want to keep going, you need to get your sleep." The wolf chuckled as he saw Vincent's aflutter. "We can pick this up on Friday. I'll be here at 6." "Okay." That was all Vincent could muster. He felt his lips were bruised and every bone in his body could barely keep him standing. Vincent blinked his eyes several times, and looked up to see that the wolf was still holding him. Fuck, he feels warm. I bet he is an expert cuddler. He shifted his gaze upward and admired the man's eyes. I could stare at those eyes for hours. Mason narrowed his eyes, and gave his mate one more peck on the lips. "I'll see you later, hot stuff. Text me when you wake up." He let his grip on Vincent's back go, and backed away slowly, not letting him out of his sight. Once inside the truck, he started the engine, and waved at his smiling mate. Vincent gave a returning wave. His curiosity popped, and fished out his phone. He quickly tapped out a text to Mason, 'Should have asked, but just 1 question. Does this make me ur bf?' And, send. He saw the man turn around to see where he was going in reverse, but stopped and looked at, what Vincent presumed was, his phone. One second later, and he saw the man's eyes flash amber, and began typing. Vincent's phone vibrated. 'Fuck yes! Ur mine now.' The recent news plastered the biggest smile Vincent ever wore. He looked up to see the set of amber eyes burning a hole through him. Vincent couldn't help but let newfound joy into his heart. He waved once more and turned to enter his home. He took the world's fastest shower, put on a pair of basketball shorts, and flopped onto his bed. Exhaustion was settling in, so he quickly grabbed his over-sized fleece blanket and wrapped himself in it. Vincent sighed, thinking about how great his morning was, even though he didn't get to go to the library like he wanted. But the morning with Mace was amazing! I think this could be a pretty good time. His last thought was of the smoldering make-out session before he drifted to blissful slumber.
  13. Vincent Bolton released a loose sigh as he placed the last jar of Apresta-branded spaghetti sauce on the shelf. Hearing the subtle collision of glass meeting metal made his eyes close, wondering how many more times that sound will happen tonight. He brushed his medium length, dirty-blonde hair out of his face, and pulled out his phone, and confirmed that, in fact, his shift just started an hour ago. Vincent mentally groaned at the concept of doing this for another seven hours. Turning to break down his box, he slips away to the all-familiar recap of how he came to work at a grocery store in the middle of Kentucky. Rumor came that Stefan was in the state. The goal is simple: study and practice affinity, find Stefan, and kill him. Vincent’s eyes darkened as the scene from fifteen years ago swept his memories, as the slender mage slayed his mother and father, as if they were mere toys. The mage came looking for something, ‘precious’ or ‘powerful.’ His mission was filled with failure and spilled blood of non-magical folk. Stefan turned to the boy. Little Vinnie, as his parents called him, faced the steel-gray eyes of the murderous man. Tears rushing down the boy’s face, he cried out an uncontrollable sob. He didn’t understand why his mother and father lay motionless on the floor, and how this mysterious man made flames appear in the palm of his hand. One thing was for certain, and that was this man caused these bad things to happen. Vinnie gathered up his rushing emotions, and charged at the intruder. “Go away! Get away from my mommy!” Vinnie babbled out under the tears and mucus running down his face. He threw punches as hard as he could at the man’s legs. His fists grabbed Stefan’s leather trench coat, and wildly thrashed his arms about to no avail. Stefan stared at the boy with his cold eyes. He placed his hand on the boy’s head, and pushed him away. The mage kept his eyes on the child as he turned and walked out the door into the night. Stefan collected his thoughts. The boy will follow, there is no need to spill more blood tonight. And the slender man stepped out of the door frame, and vanished before Vinnie’s eyes. Vinnie couldn’t believe that the man disappeared. He ran to the doorframe, and frantically scanned the outside of the house. The boy’s mind had enough. Ten minutes ago, he had his whole world. And now it’s gone. He looked back at the door frame, and Vinnie caught his breath. Wisps. Little wisps of smoke. Vinnie scrambled to get closer and see more detail. Moving his hand over the wisps, they flowed in the gentle breeze. This isn’t smoke. It’s darkness. That guy disappeared into darkness. What kind of guy can do that? Looking up in the starry night sky, the nine year old boy made a solemn promise as he closed his eyes. When opening his eyes, twenty-six year old Vincent returned to his grocery store. I’m going to kill that man. No matter what it takes. ***** Mason Wilson pulled into a parking spot halfway down the parking lot of the Greenthumb Grocery. He didn’t usually shop here, but it was pretty late and his usual grocery was already closed. Mason exhaled out of his nose as he pictured the long lines at the one or two registers that were probably open. He hated waiting. On the bright side, his long-time friend, Dave works here and they could chat for a bit. A smirk crawled onto Mason’s face, and opened the door to his 2010 Toyota Tundra to climb out. Shutting the door, and walking around to admire his newly acquired truck. The grille was black. The rims were black. The interior, the body, and everything that could be painted or upholstered, was black. It was love at first sight when Old Man Richards said it was up for sale. To Mason, it screamed MANLY. And his wolf wanted it. The 6’ 3” 27 year-old man started his walk towards the entrance. Mason stooped lower to see himself in the side-view mirror. His light brown eyes followed the neatly trimmed and full beard that ran his jawline. Roaming his hands through his short brown hair to keep it nice and spiky, the wolf wanted to make sure the wind didn’t mess up his devilish good look. He surveyed the patio awning that showcased the summer furniture and large bags of mulch, housed the video rental kiosk and metal propane cabinet. Laughter came from the darker corner, as Mason turned his head to the other side of the building, and saw three people sitting on a picnic table. Workers, most likely. Break time. Mason shifted to his golden wolf eyes to see if he recognized any of them. A very standard-build guy in his 40’s. An elderly lady in her 70’s. And Dave. Smokers. Dave needs to curb that habit. Mason chuckled to himself and made his way toward his best friend. Can’t hang out long, those cigarette fumes burn my nose like a bitch. Almost instinctively, Dave turned his head towards his upcoming buddy and unveiled a warm smile. “Mace! What’s going on man? Haven’t seen you out here in a few weeks!” Hands were outstretched and grasped in a firm handshake. “Stopped in, your store is the only one open 24/7 in town. Surprised you and your cigarettes haven’t burned it down yet.” The other workers snorted and laughed at their boss being made fun of. Dave’s brows flatlined and flicked his cigarette to relieve it of its ashes. “Asshole. Would you believe that I’ve been cutting back? Down to smoking just three a day.” A smile came across both men. “What’cha coming in for, Mace?” “Just a few things. Bacon, eggs, stuff for spaghetti, and a couple odds and ends. What’s with you, don’t you usually work the dayshift?” A deep breath left Dave’s nose as the six foot man folded his arms. “Yep, but we got a couple newbies that need their hands held. Didn’t get the memo when stocking groceries became rocket science.” Mason bellowed a hearty laugh, imagining some high school kids fumbling around, acting clueless. “I won’t hold ya up. Go on in there, I’ll be clocking in shortly.” Mason waved as he walked away towards the entrance. Walking into the slightly unfamiliar store, the big man grabbed one of the tacky green shopping carts, and pushed it into the produce section that greeted every shopper. He pushed past the greenery and headed to the bakery. The lycan male was always a meat, potatoes, and sandwiches kind-of-guy. Mason smiled to the bakery lady, who was placing frozen rolled dough onto trays. Fresh. That’s a laugh. Even though they were frozen, the aroma of bread baking was intense, and Mace loved it. Mason stopped and took a big whiff of the department. His eyes shot open. He smelt the bread, but there was something there. Something that never crossed his nose. Mason’s heart started beating, and his eyes were begging to shift to aid him in his search. Abandoning his cart, he prowled onward in the store, passing the meat department. No time, need to find it. Need it now. Urgency moved to his feet, as his wolf was knocking on the door to his mind. No way. It’s here. Has it always been here? Mason picked up his pace, walking like a man on a mission. He walked down the store, side-eyeing down every aisle until he found it. Patience was running thin as he was almost to the end of the store. Mason looked up, saw that he had a couple aisles left to search. It has to be here, the smell is strong. His eyes shifted amber-gold without him meaning to, as he gazed down Aisle 8. The canned food and pasta aisle. The smell cumulated. It’s here. Mason carefully stopped before going down the aisle, and peeked around the corner. Down the aisle, sat a pallet of boxes and plastic-wrapped cases of spaghetti sauce, a cart filled with broken down cardboard. And the most beautiful man that Mason has ever laid eyes on. They widened as he began stalking the only person that mattered in the store. The boy was wearing a vibrant red t-shirt and black pants, with yellow active sneakers. He couldn’t have been taller than 5’ 8”, and, if sopping wet, maybe 160 pounds. The boy...no, man. From what Mason could see on the man’s side, his left eye showed dedication in his work, with slight purple discoloration under them. The man has a chin strap that hasn’t been trimmed in quite some time. He was sporting a pair of black, thick-rimmed, plastic glasses that made him look intelligent. Mason lowered his eyes to find his new object of obsession. The black pants were nice and snug on the man’s behind. His ass is subtle, but Mason knew that it would be perfect wrapped around his cock. A growl emitted from Mason’s throat. The sexy man’s head nodded up, and began turning Mason's way. Quickly turning away from the aisle, the shifter began getting his breath under control. Short and sexy as fuck. He’s mine. He’s my mate. All mine. Air. I need air. Now! Mason rushed back towards the entrance. Groceries be damned, more important matters are afoot, but he needed to breathe and think. Nearly out of the store, Mason needed out, and he wasn’t afraid to brush past anyone. He smelt the outside air as he collided with Dave. The stumble almost caused Dave to fall back. Almost. “Mace, what’s going on, I smelt your panic from ins…” Mason glared in Dave’s eyes with his own golden pupils. Oh, fuck. Something either pissed him off, or I magically did. Either way, I gotta talk to him. But Mason spoke first. “You. Follow. Now.” His voice sounded like it came from the deep pits of hell. Dave dipped his head to the side and followed his Alpha, and lit up another cigarette. He knew he was going to need it. Dave could barely keep up with Mason and his brisk pace as they reached the black truck. The alpha did an about face, and stared down the beta shifter with his golden irises. “Who is the man working on aisle eight. Short, glasses, light beard. Tell me now.” Every muscle in Mason’s body was in overdrive. It is taking every ounce of willpower in his body to prevent the alpha from going back in the store and dragging that sexy man somewhere dark and secluded. “Mace, what did Vincent do to you? Whatever he did to piss you off, it’s done and I’ll fire him. Just need ya to…” Dave was going to tell him to calm down, but got the exact opposite. Mason grabbed Dave by the shoulder, putting an intense pressure on his beta, and got face to face. Dave could smell the anger that emitted the eyes, the hot air coming out of the nose, and shifted fangs. “You say one word to my mate, and I will gut you like a lamb! You got that, Dave?” Mason made his intentions clear, as he stared at his bewildered friend. Mason blinked, and realized what he just said, and pushed his wolf down. “Dave, I’m sorry. I-I didn’t mean to threaten you.” He reached out and grabbed Dave’s arm. Mason let out a large sigh, “I walked in, and I smelt him. He smelt like lilies at a creek bed. I know he’s mine. He’s mine, Dave.” A wave of relief rushed over Dave, as he chuckled and clapped his hand on Mason’s back. “Congratulations, man! I am so happy that you found your mate. No hard feelings, I didn’t know.” I just told him that I was going to fire his mate. I’m lucky to be alive right now… “So did you introduce yourself to Vincent? Or do you want me to help with that?” Mason looked at Dave like he was just given a baby pup. Vincent. That is his name. “You can help me get set up with Vincent? Dave, I can’t repay you. What’s he like? Do you know what food he likes?” Mason’s eyes widened in thought, then quickly narrowed them as he looked Dave in the eye, “What time does he go on breaks?” Dave bent over laughing at what he was hearing. “Mace, Mace! Slow down man. One at a time, and I’ll tell you all I know.” Mason leaned over to gather all the information on his mate. *** Well, tonight’s been interesting. Dave went on break. Five minutes later, and a big mountain of a man entered the parking lot. Then this same man moves in the store, stops, then makes one hell of a bee line for me. Vincent’s mind was moving a million miles an hour. His first ward at the bakery was breached, followed by his second personal ward that covered the aisles on both sides of his. Damn, man moves fast. *** The mage was well versed when it came to a fight. His affinities blended together well. Vincent became very adept in his clairvoyant abilities, beginning at the age of 11. Putting up wards that alerted movement to him were easy. He was then able to control his eyes to establish a mental sight ward, a supernatural security camera at 16. At 20 years old, Vincent became one of the lucky few mages to acquire a second affinity: frost. Spending days experimenting with the power, and nights studying dusty books in libraries, he rapidly grasped how to control it. Pushing out with his hands in different velocities, he can summon frost or ice in light powders, or chunky hail at high speeds. After a week of playing around, he can focus the hail into larger forms, and refined shapes. Months later, hail became sharp swords, bulky staves, and delicate daggers. Then, on a pitch black night, two short years ago. Vincent was studying hard with a pile of books in a local library in Arkansas. He got some bogus rumor on Stefan’s location, and rushed to the library to learn more. To become stronger. Frustrated, unable to understand the concepts and hypotheses on forced learning of other affinities, Vincent stormed out of the small library and began his walk to his apartment he rented on a weekly rate. His anger circled around and around again in his mind, how he couldn’t force his body to learn a new affinity. Vincent picked up the pace little by little, until he was running down the sidewalk. Tiring out, he gave one last burst of speed, closing his eyes, and shouting at the top of his lungs! Winds flowing past his body, Vincent just wanted to avenge his family. After running for another minute, the young man slowed to a halt with his hands on his knees, catching his breath. I can’t beat his darkness with just clairvoyance and icy daggers. I need more. A stern sigh came from Vincent’s nose, and straightened up his back to see...not the state of Arkansas. In the place of the small, woodsy town of 3,513 hickfolk, was the hustle and bustle of New York, New York. Eyes widened, breath shortened, Vincent began looking himself over for a clue. A double take was needed as he looked to his shoes. Smoke. Darkness. The same as that damned night my parents died. Vincent took several weeks off from magical studies. The conflict within himself demanded all spare energy. He possessed the very magic that killed his family. The mage blamed the Gods, Fate, and Destiny for days, but upon further meditation, he realized that he was given power. Power that could vanquish Stefan. It didn’t take Vincent long to figure out he needed to bottle his anger, and learn how to release it in small spurts. The only problem with the power is that it came with one environmental requirement, something that no other affinity asked for: the user must be touching some sort of shadow. In more detail, the user must stay in the shadows to continue to use it. Once that matter is met, the mage could move just under the speed of light, and become ethereal in the process. Although, Vincent’s further studies and success in the matter didn’t make him enthused about his newfound power. The shadow affinity. Regarded as the only dark art in the magical world. Mages could either earn this affinity by devoting themselves to a negative morality, by doing evil deeds in the world. Or it could be thrust upon them by random chance, but that chance was beyond slim. Less than half a percent, upon the already slim two percent of humans developing an affinity in the first place. Mages gossiped and rumored about that these afflicted mages were devil worshipers, destined losers, and eventually, outcasts. Vincent never saw his power that way. He didn’t gain it from evil morality. It was from frustration. He never harmed someone of ill intent. It took him a long couple of weeks to come to an ultimate conclusion. And the second goal in his life came to fruition: he was going to make the shadow affinity something to be proud of. Combining all three of these affinities, Vincent could fight any opponent. Search, slash, and sneak. He can perfect his affinities. He can kill Stefan. *** The hairs stood up on the back of his neck, reminding the mage of the current dangers around. The man is watching me. Waiting for me to make a move. Vincent decided to put his clairvoyance through an exercise. He knew the guy was watching from the left, so Vincent closed his right hazel eye. Never done this, but let’s try it. After a controlled breath as he placed a jar on the shelf, Vincent opened his right lavender eye. Using his power, he created an eye-hole above his aisle in the rafters. He positioned it just outside the aisle to get a good vantage point of his new stalker. Vincent was impressed. A cut above the usual mercs Stefan sent his way. Tall, dark, brooding, and handsome. How much did this guy cost ya, Stef? Am I starting to be a problem for you, old man? What Vincent didn’t understand was the fact this guy was just watching. Waiting. Lurking. Not that he didn’t mind. The stalker was handsome, and if the guy likes what he sees, that can make it easier to dispose of him. Just in case the guy tried something, Vincent kept part of his shoe under the shelving unit, stepping into the shadow. He moves, I disappear into the darkness. You aren’t the only shadow mage now, Stefan... His eye was beginning to hurt after a minute of the stalker just standing there. Vincent had to maintain control of his facial emotions, or he would be tipped off. He continued to move his hands, pulling forward jars to the edge of the shelf. I need to make it seem like I’m still doing work. A growl came from the corner of the aisle, and Vincent re-solidified his concerns, but lost his mental grip when he slightly moved his head toward the man in hiding. Looking through his sight ward, the man hid behind the end-cap of the shelf. For the first time, in a very long while, Vincent’s heart sank in fear. The man’s eyes glowed an amber gold. Alpha wolf shifter. Fuck. This won’t be an easy fight. Should I call for Dave? Vincent knew his boss was a shifter, and he let Dave know he was a mage that knew some of the clairvoyance and frost affinity powers. They kept each other's secrets, but Vincent couldn’t let his boss know everything. Dave was pretty strong, but Vincent was doubtful that both of them could make it out of a fight unscathed. The mage focused all emotion on his lavender eye, and keeping it open while maintaining complete control. The wolf took a deep breath and began his trek back towards the meat department, then the bakery, then produce, then the exit. What? You’re just going to leave after you found me? Pussy. Vincent kept his sight ward moving through the rafters, tailing the retreating lycan. What Vincent didn’t expect was that the mystery wolf runs into Dave. And Dave leans his neck, and follows the wolf outside. Vincent gasped and lost control of his eye, reverting it back to hazel. It took a few seconds for his breath to get caught up. That took a little too much energy. How does Dave know this wolf? Dave couldn’t be a spy, I literally met the dude as I stopped in this shithole town a month ago. Vincent didn’t have time to worry about details. He quickly walked through the nearby double doors to the back dock. Walking became running, as he pushed through the emergency exit door that was unlocked and unarmed. Dave, if you’re crossing me, you really need to quit smoking your cigs out here. Once his foot hit the darkness, Vincent flew into the shadows along the building wall, leading up to the roof. He re-solidified and leaned out over the edge of the store roof, searching for Dave and his partner. Finding two guys the size of football players in an empty parking lot was easy. Both wolves were in a heated discussion near a black truck halfway down the lot. Unfortunately, clairvoyance doesn’t work with audio, so Vincent just has to watch for physical clues to happen. Emotions were all over the place with these two: anger, fierce anger, misunderstanding, happiness. Vincent kept his eyes on both guys, but his attention wanted to go completely to the alpha wolf. C’mon Vinnie. Sure, he’s smoking hot, but he may be trying to kill you… oh, fuck it! Vincent got a good view earlier of him, but extra surveillance doesn’t hurt. He stared at the bigger man for half a second longer. What a handsome face! Cute beard stubble, pretty stoic facial details, spiky hair that screamed for hands to be run through. Big guy that looks like he works out. I love a big guy that works out. Vincent admired his stalker. He wished that they could have met at a corner bar or in an alleyway. The mage blinked and felt that tingle go down his arms through the light hair along his forearms. Vincent looked up to the alpha wolf’s eyes. The alpha was gazing a hole though Vincent with his amber eyes. Fuck me. It’s like he knew I was looking at him. Vincent panicked and retreated behind the edge of the roof. Gotta go. Get back inside and just pretend to be a wallflower. The small mage retraced his steps back to his aisle, and collected himself along the way, prepping for the fight of his life. Vincent quickly threw some precautionary wards around his aisle. Alright, he probably can’t keep up with me if we take the fight outside in the dark. I can use my frost daggers to get in close, then get out. Guerilla tactics. “Vincent!” His name getting called snapped his thoughts. Vincent looked over to Dave. How did you get around that ward? He must have been in the area before I cast the spell. He was smiling. Why are you smiling? “How’s the aisle going? Everything good?” Dave’s face showed concern, but Vincent saw the thin layer of nervousness below. Vincent decided to smile, and walk up to Dave. Gonna leave it all on the table. What’s the worst? A fight that I can run from? “Dave, it’s going good.” He got up in Dave’s face and whispered in his ear, “Back-dock. Now.” And walked towards the double doors. He didn’t need clairvoyance to know Dave was confused and pissed. Dave followed the little guy through the double doors with his head down, wondering how many more times tonight he was going to get bossed around. He chuckled and looked up, and didn’t see Vincent. Puzzled, he looked down the hallway to the right, then walked up further to the hallway to the left. “Vincent? Where’d ya go…” His sentence cut short, Dave felt a small arm with intense pressure pull him around to the hallway wall. His back slamming against the wall, Dave got his arm free, ready to let a punch fly with all his might. His body went as cold as an icy dagger pressed against his neck. Dave’s eyes flashed to the dagger, followed the arm, all the way to Vincent’s dark gaze. The wolf’s own gaze became squinted as he tried to deduce why his alpha’s mate was holding a magical blade to his neck. What a crap scenario. I could get sliced open here. Or I could lay hands on my alpha’s mate, then I’ll really get sliced open by Mace and his oversized claws. Well, time to do my job: talk. “Vincent, what is this all about? Whatever is going on, we can talk this out.” Vincent, as disarming as his slightly high pitch man voice could be, it was just as scary as Mace’s alpha voice. “Hate to do this Dave, but I need answers. And you’re going to give them to me. Is that okay, boss?” Dave studied the little man quickly, breathed a snarl before nodding an affirmative. His stance is slightly off balance, favoring his left foot. When I need to, I can grab the wrist, and kick his feet out from under him. Shouldn’t hurt him too badly, and, I pray to the Gods, Mace would understand. “Alright, Vincent. What do you need to know?” “I need to know who the alpha shifter is that stalked me on my aisle, how you are connected to him, and what both of your intentions are towards me.” Dave’s eyes widened in shock. He felt stupid. Really stupid. He was a beta wolf, an advisor to an alpha. And he didn’t see a 5’ 6” runt with glasses as the kind of guy to know this much about the lycan world, let alone use some wicked magic tricks to hold him hostage. He needed to word things properly to get the dagger away, and to make sure things with Mace work out well. “The alpha that was in here is of no threat to you, Vincent. I need you to know that. I’m his best friend, and I’m his beta wolf. He came in to get groceries, and he got...a little distracted. By you.” Dave noticed Vincent’s eyes being surprised by this news. “He got a little nervous when you were turning around, and bolted like a scared little puppy. He ran into me on his way out, and had me follow to see about…about…” Dave stumbled on his words. Purposefully. Vincent re-positioned his knife against the wolf’s neck. “About what Dave?” Dave looked into the small man’s face. He could tell that his eyes were itching for that big detail. Dave let a dry chuckle out of his throat, and smiled at the serious face. “Well, he may be a big bad wolf, but he certainly can act like a teenager.” A sigh left the wolf’s mouth. “My alpha, Mason Wilson, would like to ask you out on a date.” *** A date. A date? Wait...what? Vincent’s eyes shot open when his boss said that the big and scary alpha lycan, that came in this store like a bullet, that stalked him, and ran away...wanted a date. Butterflies flew in his stomach. That hot alpha lycan wants to see me? Romantically? I’m nothing special, and he probably can get damn near anyone he so chooses. A sense of urgency sparked though these silly thoughts of Vincent’s. Are you kidding yourself, Vin? This guy bolted in here, stalks you, and you’re thinking about letting your guard down to get some dick? He is still a credible threat. A credible, and sexy threat. A chuckle left Vincent’s throat. Dave seemed both confused and relieved simultaneously. The frost dagger disappeared from the human’s hand, and Vincent stepped back, now lost in laughter. Looking back at Dave, Vincent had to ask, “You are kidding, right? It is kinda hard to believe that an alpha is too chicken to ask a guy half his size on a date.” Dave was still trying to read Vincent. This isn’t the same guy I hired. He usually was all smiles and acted a tad dainty. I have no clue where this scary assassin came from. But I need to play this cool and understanding. “Yeah, he isn’t one to confront his feelings too well, so I’m doing my role as his Beta to help convey them. I would like to let you know his intentions for this Friday evening...which you now have off work, by the way.” The mage gave a calculating stare to the shifter. Vincent was incredibly conflicted. On one hand, Dave has been here for me since day one, got me started at this decent job, and helped find an apartment. He’s been one of the only friends I’ve made here. I do trust him. On the other hand, there are new details that have come to surface about this man. He’s a Beta wolf, with an alpha that came in here and acted fairly shady. Now, there is a demand for a date with one of the most smoldering hot men I’ve ever laid eyes on. I need to get more information. And I probably need to share more with Dave. “Dave, there are things that I need to tell you, and there are more things I want to hear from you. I will agree to the date.” Dave grinned pretty damn hard, hearing he has done his job correctly. “But.” The wolf’s eyes flashed back to the small man. Vincent was glaring back, as if to assert more dominance in the conversation. “You and I need to have a serious conversation. Not as coworkers. As two people keeping each other’s secrets. As friends.” Friends. Both men flashed the word though their minds, smiled, and shook hands. “Dave, I am trusting you with my life with this information. I need you to help me with my goals, and I’ll be happy to help with yours.” Dave nodded, “Vinnie, I’d be happy to help you with anything. I am all ears, and you know I’m not one to be concerned with much in life, so fire away.” That made Vincent smile pretty hard. “If it’s going to be a lot of stuff to tell, we can probably wait until after the shift. We can grab some breakfast at JD’s then.” Vincent agreed to the terms, and both men shook hands once more. They left the back dock to get back on their aisles, and realized they needed to make up for lost time. *** Mason waved to Dave as he turned back to go into the store, and climbed in his own truck with the intention of heading home. The two wolves just finalized their plan of attack for the alpha to woo his mate. Mason wasn’t exactly enthused when Dave admitted that the boy was a mystery. Not much details have been shared between his beta and mate, which both angered and pleased Mason. I don’t want anyone to get their hands on him. But I need to know more myself. His mate has been wandering around for the past several years, didn’t have any family to lean on, and just recently got his life in order. Mason’s heart broke for his mate. He wanted to swoop him out of that store and into his arms, whispering sweet sayings in his ears. This nearly trumped the other feelings that were felt for the kid. Nervousness crawled in the back of the alpha’s head. He’s a mage. From what Dave said, not to shabby at icey knives, and able to see things happen around him. A dark smile curled on Mason’s face, imagining the joy of meeting the challenge to sneak up on his mate. A small wave of pride kissed the mind of the alpha, knowing his mate can hold his own in the world. I would be honored to fight alongside him, and protect him. Dave did mention that Vincent isn’t an idiot, and is probably hiding more than he has let on. Apparently, the younger man was able to tell that Dave was a shifter in the first week of the job, and had the balls to strike up a conversation, confronting the topic. Probably caused Dave to crap himself. Mason snickered, boosting his confidence that his mate would be perfect at his side. Mason sent Dave to inform Vincent that they will be going on a date this Friday. Dave was about to put a finger up, arguing that Vincent had a shift, but was met with one of Mason’s infamous ‘make it happen’ stares. The details were Mason’s responsibility. We can head to the city and grab a table at a steakhouse. Going to make sure he gets plenty to eat and drink. He is worth splurging on. Maybe take a nightly stroll along the river park. Mason’s wolf wanted some heavy interaction with his mate, but things needed to go perfect, and there couldn’t be any rushing through this. Putting the keys in the ignition, Mason made his way home. During the drive, one detail of tonight’s events bothered him. How did my little mate get to the roof that fast? I’m certain he’s nimble and swift, but to get onto the roof… Mason didn’t bother Dave with these details. I do enjoy the fact that little Vincent was admiring me. Shows that he feels the attraction as well, even as a human. The wolf didn’t live too far from town, but to most, it seemed far out there. Going above the speed limit on the familiar roads, Mason pulled into his newly paved driveway, parking outside the unopened door for his two-car garage. His garage was neat, well-lit up, and everything had its proper place. It was also attached to a three bedroom, two-bathroom ranch style house that Mason grew up in. He just got the house from his parents, as they were moving into their parents’ much larger estate further outside the city limits. When Mason got the deed to the property, he needed to make changes. The house was his, and his parents left a decent amount of unwanted furniture and some smaller trinket possessions. After sorting through the pieces he wished to keep, Mason got a small moving truck and donated the rest. Then ordered all new furniture and art that he wanted from online and furniture stores in the bigger metropolitan area nearby. Mason got out of the truck cab, and took off his shirt, exposing his lightly defined abs. Need to run. The shifter stepped inside the garage side entrance, and dropped his shirt on the lid of his deep freezer. Taking off his clothes at a brisk pace, being impatient about letting his wolf loose. Once naked, Mason closed his eyes and let his wolf come to the front of his mind. Dropping to all fours on the cold concrete floor, Mason’s body began to shift from human to wolf. Silver fur rapidly growing from every pore, across every inch of skin. His eyes turning amber gold, teeth changing length, bones and joints painlessly snapping in place, allowing the wolf to run at incredible speeds. The wolf stood on his four legs, measuring to be just under five foot in height. Shifting doesn’t cause any harm after performing it several times, and it only takes seven or eight seconds. The silver wolf took light steps out of the side door, and turned his head towards the woods hiding behind the ranch house. Mason trotted at a pace, increasing speed until his wolf was running towards the treeline. Just for about half an hour. Maybe get some food since my spaghetti won’t be made tonight. Brushing past trees at a breakneck pace, all attention was diverted to finding a prize for his wolf. Searching for fifteen minutes in the all-quiet forest, the wolf spotted a doe a quarter-mile ahead. Smaller, but it will do tonight. The shifter began his stalking. Putting one paw in front of another, avoiding small twigs that may alert his position, the amber eyes were focused on his meal. The predator easily halved the distance without exposing himself. Silly girl. You need to be more aware. You haven’t looked my way in the past 20 seconds. That will be the cost of your life. Enough toying. Time to eat. The wolf broke his slow pace, and rushed into a dead sprint. The doe knew its fate, but ran nevertheless. Yes, run from me! A snort of breath left the beast’s muzzle as he closed the gap between himself and the meal. If the need for food wasn’t necessary, Mason would play with his food by taking a couple swipes at the doe’s body. But he was hungry for meat. The wolf sped up, closed the gap, and lunged at the doe. Teeth sunk into the collar, and claws ripped the sides. It was over. Mason’s wolf began eating, getting his fill. His imagination began to wander as he continued his meal. He couldn’t wait for his wolf to chase his mate in the woods, for his mate to see him for who he is. And to complete his mating and be able to run with his mate. Well, once Vincent completed his turning. Mason intends to give his mate a small opinion on the matter, but his wolf demands a fellow wolf to mate. I will have him. The wolf finished his meal, and let out a howl to the heavens, letting the creatures of the night that he had been satisfied. One more snort of his muzzle, and Mason began his walk home. Returning to the garage to collect his belongings, Mason shifted to his human shape. The changes from human to wolf reversed themselves, as his fur receded back into his pores. Seconds later, and Mason stood naked as the day he was born. Holding his clothes in one hand, he walked through the door to step inside to his kitchen. Mason walked down the hall to his bedroom, flinging his clothes in his clothes hamper. He crawled on top of his comforter, and rested his hands behind his head. What a day! I saw my mate, and he is everything I could ask for. Short. Handsome. A little meat on his bones. And my Gods, that ass is perfect. Mason’s thoughts soothed his nerves, and caused his cock to rise. Mason moved his right hand to stroke his now erect manhood. The alpha was modestly proud of what he was given. Uncircumcised and at attention, Mason measured eight and a half inches, and was fairly girthy. Mason was happy with his body hair, but he tended to keep his manhood groomed, as left alone, hairs would be pulled by his foreskin. The man shuddered as he thought of Vincent, and how he should be here, pleasing his alpha. Mason’s imagination roamed as he envisioned his short mate on his knees, begging to suck Mason’s cock. His fantasy of Vincent had the small man sucking Mason, only being able to get half the length, and using his hand to stroke the remainder to the hilt. The wolf’s breath tightened as his body warned of release. Picturing Vincent’s perky ass in those pants from earlier this evening, Mason stroked his cock faster, wanting to mate with his man. Mason wanted to feel Vincent under him, writhing from being touched. The fantasy of his Vinnie pressing his hole against the alpha’s massive cock caused Mason to close his eyes and roar, as ropes of seed erupted across his chest and body. His breathing was ragged, and Mason quickly realized he couldn’t do this again without thinking of his little Vinnie. Vinnie. That’ll be the name I call him. He’s too cute to be called Vincent all day. Blinking several times, Mason began collecting himself. He was a mess, and grabbed his shirt from earlier and cleaned most of the cum. Throwing the shirt in the hamper, he turned on a shower to his liking. Mason began counting the seconds to Friday night. *** Dave and Vincent were absolutely stuffed. Vincent was nearly comatose, and Dave rubbed his newly pregnant belly. Gods watch over this place. JD’s has the best omelettes, and I’ll fight in this place’s honor. Dave downed the restaurant's famous lumberjack omelette with ham, cheese, ham, peppers, cheese, bacon, and more cheese, along with a stack of pancakes and a side of crispy American fries. Vincent had every intention of just getting a coffee and the value breakfast, that probably couldn’t feed a mouse, but Dave was not having any of it, and demanded he order something that cost more than $10. Can’t have Mace thinking I’m starving his mate. The kid barely eats, and I know that will change when Mace gets his hands on Vincent. Dave looked back at Vincent, who had his head leaned back, looking out of the booth window at the passing traffic. “Alright Dave, time to talk.” Vincent’s head bounced forward, meeting his eyes with Dave’s. “Just to clarify, I’m gonna tell you some things that may shock you. All I ask, is that you don’t look at me any differently.” “Vincent, I’ve seen a lot in my days. Not saying I’m an old fart, but I’ve dealt with my fair share of bull. Lay it on me.” Dave rested his elbows on the table, leaning forward so Vincent didn’t have to speak louder than necessary. Vincent looked at his empty plate, and released a sigh. Looking up at the wolf, Vincent let his life leave his lips. “As you know, I’m a mage. You know that I’m decent at handling my frost power, and pretty good with my clairvoyance. I am a little more versed than I let on. Any time I’m off work, I am probably studying, practicing with my affinities, or sleeping. I can definitely hold my own in a fight.” Vincent let a chuckle through his throat, “Honestly, I was debating whether I needed your help in taking down your alpha, if it came to a fight.” Dave released a laughter to create a calm between the men, but that statement rattled some nerves. He needed to debate to call for back-up? He has some serious confidence in battle, especially if he intended to fight an alpha lycan shifter. “I figured you were pretty scrappy in a fight, but when you had me against the wall, color me impressed, Vincent.” Vincent’s cheeks blushed rosy for a bit, not being used to receiving compliments. “Thanks Dave, but there is more to my story.” Dave nodded and let the smaller man continue. “I’m here because of my past, and a vow I made to myself when I was nine years old.” Vincent’s eyes began to grow cold, and the wolf could feel the man going to a dark mental space. “When I was nine, I watched someone murder my parents.” Dave nearly choked on his coffee. “Vincent. My Gods man, I can not tell you how sorry I am. Did they catch the guy?” Vincent furrowed his brows and shook his head. “Do the police have any leads? Is there anything I can do to help?” A faded smile came to Vincent’s face, “I appreciate the concern, Dave. The police called off the search a month after their deaths. There were few clues, and they ran thin fast. The worst thing about that night is that no one believed what I saw.” Interest peaked in Dave's mind. “What did you see, Vincent?” Dave shifted position in his booth to stretch a couple muscles. “I saw the man. The guy who killed my mom and dad. He was in his thirties then, and now pushing 50. Steel-gray eyes, no compassion or emotion in them. Blonde hair, but graying on the sides. Slightly taller than me, but rather skinny. Wore a black leather trench coat and black pants.” Vincent taking a pause for a sip of his soda. “He was also a mage.” Dave could feel the pressure of how destiny is causing these two to intersect. He listened carefully as Vincent continued, “Obviously, something like that can cause a man to be obsessed. And that’s what I am. I researched this man over the years. His name is Stefan Gregoro. He is an Italian man who has lived in America for years before killing my family, and has scoured the world for magical artifacts to make him stronger, or for pure collecting. “He is considered a master in clairvoyance and fire affinities. He burned my parents’ throats when they didn’t tell him what he wanted to hear. They died as non-magical folk.” Dave saw how void Vincent’s face appeared when telling the story, but he could smell the anxiety and anger being pushed down. “When he was done, Stefan walked out the door, and disappeared into the shadows.” “Did you tell the police which way he went?” “Dave. I’m being literal.” Dave looked puzzled, and Vincent explained while staring into his drink. “He is also a shadow mage.” This news caused Dave to sit up straight. “A shadow mage? My Gods, that’s rare. I’ve heard that shadow mages always became evil, but I didn’t think I would be around to learn of one existing.” Vincent got a bad taste in his mouth when hearing Dave’s remark about evil shadow mages. “That’s another thing I need to talk to you about Dave.” This brought Dave’s attention back to the story teller. “I’ve considered myself an academic. I study and I study hard. During the last five years, I’ve been across the country, learning as much as I can about my powers, and how I can use them. I am beyond proud of what powers I have been given. “Now Dave, I won’t sit here and let someone trash-talk magical ability. Stefan is the worst human on this planet, in my opinion. I intend to hunt him down, and kill him. But I won’t let you say that we’re evil people because of our gifts.” Dave felt guilty of the message he received. “Having power is something to be proud of, Vincent, and I’m sorry if I insulted you…” The sentence was abandoned. Realization hit Dave like a mack truck. He said ‘we’re evil people…’ and ‘our gifts.’ That doesn’t mean… “Yes, Dave. I see your face. Your face just slid right off. I am a shadow mage.” Vincent looked hard into the wolf’s eyes. “I am not evil. I’m not a pleasant person either, but I’ll be damned if I get labeled in the same boat as a monster like him. It’s my goal in life to make the shadow affinity something to be proud of.” Vincent studied Dave’s face like a book. The wolf swallowed down what’s left of his now dry mouth. Dave’s probably got a million things going through his mind. I need to calm this guy down before he chews my head off. “Dave, would you like for me to show you what I can do? I promise I won’t bring harm to you or others.” Left in disbelief, the offer piqued Dave’s curiosity. He wants to show me what a shadow mage can do? I’ve seen fire and frost in action, but I gotta see this! “Y-yeah. I would like that a lot, Vincent.” Dave brought out his wallet and dropped two twenty dollar bills, and got up to get ready to leave when he noticed that Vincent was gone. His eyes were deceiving him...right? What in the hell? I would have noticed him getting up… Dave inhaled through his nose, and he could still smell Vincent being here and nearby, but he was nowhere to be seen. A light knock on the window pane caused Dave to step back and sharply turn his head to the outside of the building. Vincent had his knuckles up against the window, gathering the wolf’s attention. Dave’s eyes were wider than they have ever been before. He’s...outside? I just got up from my seat, and he was able to get outside at the same time? Dave blinked and… he’s gone again! Can the kid teleport or something? Dave heard a toilet flush from the men’s restroom, and narrowed his eyes. We are the only ones here, and we’ve been alone for the past hour. The large man was taken aback when Vincent came out of the bathroom, grinning from ear to ear. “You look so lost, Dave! I swear, I thought you wolves were pretty good hunters.” Vincent was on the verge of breaking out in laughter, as he could see the steam pouring out of Dave’s ears. “Alright, alright. That was below the belt. But this is the main thing we can do as shadow mages. Take a careful look at the floor around you.” Dave looked down and saw what Vincent was referencing. Smoke? No, shadows. He can move in the shadows. Oh man, that’s cool as hell! Shooting his head back up to meet Vincent’s, “I get it! You can move in the shadows. Vincent, that is incredible! You should be proud of that! How does it work? You just get to do it all willy-nilly?” “Not really. I can only use my shadow affinity when I am touching the shadows of an object, or the darkness of nature’s night. I also have to harness and channel my emotions, and ride with them as I move. I can almost move at the speed of light.” Vincent shot a smirk at Dave, “Makes traveling around the world pretty easy.” Dave’s jaw dropped. Travel. Around the world. Fucking what? “Wait, you can go anywhere you want? Like different states, or countries?” Vincent nodded, “Yep. I have been measuring the time it takes for me to travel when I’m ethereal. I can travel from state to state in about 25 seconds if I run as fast as I can. Because I become a shadow, I can travel on water, and go almost anywhere I please. But it only works when I’m in the shadows.” Questions were being fired at Vincent like if he were lecturing children. Dave’s curiosity came from nowhere, and could not be satiated. One question really stuck with Vincent, because he has not studied or experimented with it. “Can you bring another person when you travel in the shadows?” That would require a lot of energy, and I don’t imagine being able to traverse very far. Maybe short distances, but that will require further research. He told Dave that he needs to study more on that, and that he would answer more questions later. The two guys walked out the door and leaned up against Dave’s older Silverado. “Alright Dave, I’ve told you plenty about my life. I got a couple questions to ask you.” Dave looked over and nodded. “I need to know about your alpha. At least get me ready for this date. Are there things I need to be aware of?” Dave laughed loudly at the idea of Vincent getting ready for a date with his best friend. “Okay, Vincent. His name is Mason Wilson. He’s twenty-seven. Pretty independent guy. Has his own house, and truck. He works on his parent’s farm, making an honest living. Mace likes to get things his way, but that’s because he is an alpha. He is a compassionate guy, treats everything he owns with pride and delicacy.” Dave grabbed a cigarette from his denim pockets, and lit it with a match. Looking down at his coworker, Dave gave a serious look, “Vincent, he will want to own you. Not in any sort of derogatory manner. If you agree to be his m...boyfriend, you will be his to protect, and to please.” The wolf took a long drag and blew his smoke towards the morning sky. “And if you say yes to him, you will make him the happiest man alive.” Vincent leaned against the truck. He felt a twinge of pride when learning his date has his life in order. But there was a prick of fear. I don’t like that idea of being some sort of ‘property.’ I am my own person after all. And I’m not exactly trustful of his initial plan to stalk me. He could have just walked up and had a normal conversation. The boy looked at the wolf, “Dave, I will go on this date.” Dave clapped and nearly howled. He did it. He did his job as Mace’s beta to get Vincent to go on a date. “On one condition.” And just in a flash, Dave’s heart went from his chest, to his stomach. Tightening his breath, the shifter faced the shorter and younger mage. I hate that he is now scary to me… Vincent cracked a smirk, as he saw the turmoil in the wolf’s mind. “Before this date, I need one thing.” He placed both hands in the pockets of his pants, and tapped the tip of his shoe on the concrete. “I demand a little respect from the man who has penciled himself in my planner. Tell him I would like a proper introduction, and from him, not you, to ask me out. He may be an alpha wolf that, no doubt, deserves the utmost respect, but it seems a little childish to send someone else to ask me for a date.” Nervousness and conflicting interest got caught in Vincent’s chest. Am I about to ask Dave to do the same as he was asked by Mace to do? The boy’s eyes blinked with confirmation. No. I won’t stoop. If a man wants me, then he needs to...well...man up! “Dave, I won’t ask you to do something that a certain other person should be doing for himself. Thanks for breakfast, Dave. I’ll see you tonight at work?” “Yeah, I’ll be coming in an hour early to a head start on the new displays on aisles three through five.” The two men walked away from each other, Dave towards the driver side door, and Vincent to the passenger. “Oh, and Vincent…” The younger man whipped his head around as he opened his door. “I’ll talk to Mason. Expect him at the store before Friday.” The wolf grinned as he dropped himself in his bucket seat, and closed the door behind him. As the engine came to life, Vincent couldn’t help but stand. With intense emotional conflict. On one hand, the very intimidating alpha wolf shifter will show up between tonight’s shift and Friday’s date, and may or may not be in the best of moods. This Mason is indeed an imposing figure, and wouldn’t be afraid to rip something...or someone, to shreds for making him do something against his will. But on the other hand, Vincent will get to see his date a little earlier than anticipated. As intimidating as he seems, the young boy couldn’t help but let the butterflies roam his mind and stomach. The shifter was dark, tall, handsome, and my Gods that ass. If he played his cards right, Vincent may get to grab it. A man can dream. Vincent giggled as he hopped in Dave’s passenger seat. He couldn’t wait to be dropped off to get a little sleep.
  14. Mason, an alpha wolf shifter, discovers that a young mage, Vincent, is his destined mate. While Mason attempts to woo his mate, Vincent continues to develop his magical power, and hunt down his parents' killer. Together, these men will build trust for each other, create everlasting memories, and track down the dangerous mage, Stefan.
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