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    astone2292
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Love in the Shadows - 2. Chapter 2: Sweet Start

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 thirty-six 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 member 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 eighty-four bottles of the generic brand of fat free ranch. Even all the ‘Karens’ in Owensville can't 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 the other 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've liked 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.”

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 was 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 him. 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 the 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 as 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. They're a little bit more expensive, but it's totally worth it.”

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 ding 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 stare, 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 again!

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 seven in the morning. 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 Arizona 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 it 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 six."

"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 gold, 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 golden 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.

Copyright © 2020 astone2292; All Rights Reserved.
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Awesome uplifting chapter, they seemed to have hit it off in a very big way , I am glad mason did the necessary and asked Vincent  out , interesting times ahead

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Well Damn. I need to get me an apartment with a front door so I can be ravaged against it.

Love the length of the chapters and how this story is moving along. Can't wait to see Mace"s home, size of The Pack, etc.

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On 9/3/2020 at 1:52 AM, Buz said:

Well Damn. I need to get me an apartment with a front door so I can be ravaged against it.

Love the length of the chapters and how this story is moving along. Can't wait to see Mace"s home, size of The Pack, etc.

I may not have a apartment and since I live in a trailer house, I can say I have never been ravaged against my front door but I have when someone walked in my front door before I could even shut it! I told him, Whoa! Let me shut the door first! He just shook his head! I am still wondering if anyone got a eye full if they were driving down the interstate that day! lol

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Great chapter. For someone as independent as Vincent likes to be, Mason might take some getting used to. They haven't even reached the official date yet and they're already boyfriends. This is moving faster than Vincent can go to NYC.

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Very fun chapter. It's cool seeing the two of them getting to know each other. And glad Mason manned up and asked Vincent out himself.

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