Friln had always counted on his lover to be there when things go wrong. But when one brief moment of death breaks his bond with his Thresl mate, he loses the only thing in the world he needs to make him happy.
For the past ten years Friln, the king’s Captain of the Guard, has lived with and loved his Thresl mate Nelrin. When an assassination attempt catches Friln in the crossfire, he is killed. In the brief moment before he’s revived, the bond to his lover is shattered.
At Friln’s death Nelrin loses everything. Bereft of the only person he’s ever loved, Nelrin turns back into his cat form and runs away. Unfortunately he falls into the hands of a pair of scientists who have different plans than redemption for the Thresl race.
The slide of a familiar callused hand down his skin pulled Friln from his sleep. He inhaled deeply, taking the scent of his mate into his lungs, the familiar smell easing him into wakefulness. After ten years, the allure of the man beside him still hardened Friln’s cock with the mere brush of Nelrin’s sheet-warmed skin.
He rolled over then scooted closer to Nelrin—or Rin, as he called his mate—absorbing more warmth. Thresls poured out heat, like personal furnaces for their cooler human partners. Friln hummed his approval. The bright sun streaming through the window, and mental visions of the endless hours of work waiting in his near future, had him squeezing his eyes tighter. Maybe he’d laze about in bed a bit longer. Maybe he’d stay there. Someone might find their happy corpses in a year or two.
Keeping his eyes closed, Friln didn’t move as he waited for his lover’s next step. This game replayed itself every single morning. It never got old. He bit his lip to hold back a laugh, then relaxed his body and pretended to go back to sleep.
Rin traced Friln’s ear, his light touch raising a round of bumps down Friln’s spine.
“I’m not buying it, sweetheart. Time to wake up,” Rin’s deep voice rumbled in his ear. Friln slid his thigh up until his knee bumped Rin’s erection. The quickly sucked-in breath and rumble of laughter rewarded his behaviour. “Don’t think you can change my mind. You know we have guard duty today.”
“Hmm.” He refused to be drawn into a conversation. He had several finer ideas of what they could do with the morning.
Rin continued the trek of his fingers down Friln’s neck. Shivers chased Rin’s touch, raising bumps across Friln’s skin. Anticipation quickened in his gut, spinning and twisting—a combination of lust and love.
“Friln, babe, you need to get up. If you hurry we have time for a quickie before work.”
Now how could he resist that sort of invitation? He slid up and propped his chin on Rin’s chest. “Morning.”
For the first time that day, he opened his eyes, anticipating the vision he knew he’d find.
Damn, I’m a lucky man.
Rin’s dark, sleep-mussed hair stuck out on all sides—a prickly forest monster in the making—and more adorable than any man had the right to be. It didn’t hurt that the gold eyes watching Friln glowed with adoration. Through their mental connection, Rin poured out his emotions, sharing his love for his mate. Friln never doubted Rin’s devotion to him—not since the day when they were eighteen and bonded without parental approval or knowledge. Of course, bonding didn’t come with a guarantee of happiness, and they didn’t always get along, but far more good days than bad decorated their past.
Friln stayed there a moment, soaking in their connection, wallowing in his mate’s attention. If he could relive and pick any time of his life he considered perfect, this would be it. Waking up in the morning and seeing Rin made even sucky mornings worthwhile.
“You all right, love?” Rin’s adoring glance had changed to concerned.
“Mmm hmm. I’m just enjoying you.”
He lay there lost in the beauty of his mate until Rin poked him in the side.
“Hey! No poking. At least not with your fingers.” Other poking was not only allowed but greatly anticipated.
Rin laughed—a soft, joyful sound. “Baby, you need to get up. The king specifically requested us to watch over him while he and Kreslan met with the delegates today. Remember, humans from Kres’ old division are going to be here.”
“Pfft, you know I haven’t forgotten. I have a perfect memory. The king just wants us to babysit Kres and make sure he doesn’t kill anyone. I set up the recorder last night.” Friln always set up a camera to track meetings with off-worlders because they tended to be a sneaky bunch.
“Just because you help out Duke Hellbur doesn’t make your memory perfect.” Rin rolled his eyes.
Friln sat up and glared at his mate for ruining their nice accord. “The duke appreciates my memory when I’m cracking codes for him.”