For today’s $10 ARe GC, what holiday movie do you have to watch every year?
When his sister’s mate, Cyrus, asks Peter to harbor his brother, Peter isn’t expecting a bad boy wizard to show up at his door. He’s also unprepared for Justin to be the mate Peter has searched for his entire life. Wizards and werewolves don’t get along. Justin needs a place to crash where no one will look. With a psychotic wizard on his trail and a powerful artifact in his possession, the best hiding spot is the least likely. Who’ll come searching in the middle of a wolf pack? Now all Justin has to do is resist a sexy wolf and he may escape with his heart intact.
Cyrus Kane knocked on the werewolf king’s office door, purposely ignoring the tall guards on either side. His hands shook when he knocked again. He tried to calm his nerves by taking a deep breath even though he knew the other shifters could smell his skittishness. Worry and anxiety jangled him from the inside out.
This had to work. For once, Justin depended on him, and Cyrus wasn’t going to let his brother down. He didn’t know what he would do if the king denied his request. His brother needed help, and Cyrus didn’t plan to leave the alpha’s doorstep until he had his way. He might not be the toughest wolf in the pack, but even his wife would agree, he could beat anyone in tenacity.
“He isn’t going to bite, you know. Anna would kill him,” said George, the guard standing to Cyrus’ left. His friendly smile didn’t calm Cyrus’ nerves, but he appreciated the attempt.
Cyrus returned the smile, though he doubted it would convince anyone of his ease with the situation. Marrying the king’s sister only brought so many privileges. As jumbled thoughts spun about in his mind, the door opened and the king’s right hand man and best friend stood before him.
“Cyrus.” Douglas stepped forward with a welcoming expression and a friendly hug. “You can just walk in, you know. You’re a member of the royal family now. That does come with some perks.”
Cyrus shrugged. He’d never be the type to rush in and start making demands. His wife had more alpha tendencies than he ever would, but it worked in their relationship. She liked to be in charge, and he preferred to have someone tell him what to do.
“I’ll remember next time,” he promised. “May I come in?”
“Of course.” Douglas stepped back to allow him to enter.
Cyrus entered the king’s office and came to a halt before his desk. Moisture left his mouth as he met the king’s gaze for a heart-stuttering five seconds. Only for his brother would he dare to approach the intimidating man, but for Justin, he’d do anything.
* * * *
Werewolf King, Peter Moore, watched his brother-in-law walk into the room and suppressed a smile. His sister’s choice of mates never ceased to amaze him. She had chosen such a timid wolf, sweet as pie and even prettier than Anna. Peter could easily see what his sibling saw in the man, but Peter liked his lovers with harder edges and much tougher. Any mate by his side would have to be strong enough to keep the pack in line and be ready to fight to protect the wolves Peter watched over. Still, Peter would do anything for the newest addition to his family, especially because Cyrus made his sister glow with adoration.
Peter shook his head at the sight of Cyrus’ bare feet. According to Anna, her mate hated shoes with a passion and only wore them when he had to. He rose to greet his new relation. Shaking Cyrus’ hand, Peter leaned forward and brushed his cheek against Cyrus’, marking him with his scent to remind others Cyrus had the king’s protection. Of course for an added incentive, Anna would rip off their head and beat them with it if they looked cross-eyed at her spouse.
However, Peter didn’t keep his kingship by letting details slip by. He smelled Cyrus’ nervousness and saw the apprehension in the wolf’s pale violet eyes when he stepped back. Odd, he didn’t think he usually frightened his brother-in-law.
“Greetings, brother. Is there something I can help you with?” He kept his voice low and calm, projecting reassurance as only an alpha could.
Glancing over, he noticed Douglas still in the room. His best friend shook his head, letting Peter know that Douglas had no idea what had upset Cyrus.
“G-Greetings, brother.” Cyrus looked everywhere but at Peter.
Peter waited for Cyrus to state what he wanted. Rushing Cyrus only led to jumbled sentences and stuttered words.
Cyrus swallowed noisily. “I came to ask you for a favor.” The words stumbled out in a rush as if once Cyrus decided to speak he had to say all the words together.
“Come, sit down.”
Cyrus sat in the chair Peter indicated, fidgeting his feet, then his hands until he began to make Peter nervous. What kind of favor induced a panic attack? Peter perched on the edge of his desk, trying to set Cyrus at ease.
Douglas sat in the chair beside Cyrus. Peter could see curiosity eating away at his beta.
When Cyrus showed no sign of speaking again, Peter tried a small prompt. “What kind of favor can I do for you?”
Cyrus twisted his fingers together, unable to meet his alpha’s gaze. He audibly swallowed before he spoke. “M-my brother is going to be in town, and I was hoping you would grant him amnesty and allow him to stay here.” Amnesty could only be requested for non-wolves to allow them onto pack grounds.
“What is he?” Douglas asked, breaking into the silence.
Cyrus paused for so long Peter wondered if he would answer. “Justin is my half-brother.”
Peter sat up straighter. He knew for a fact there were more than wolves in Cyrus’ family tree.
“Once again. What is he?”
Cyrus found his hands extremely interesting as he avoided Peter’s gaze. “Justin’s a wizard. But he recently broke up with his lover, and I don’t think he should be alone,” Cyrus confessed.
“Do you think he’s suicidal?” Peter could feel the bars closing around him. He didn’t especially want to throw a wizard into the pack mix, but he couldn’t, in good conscience, let the brother of his sister’s mate fend for himself. Pack took family seriously, even adopted family.
Cyrus laughed. “No. He’s just self-destructive. This is also the anniversary of our father’s death, and Justin always acts out this time of year. I worry what he’ll do if he’s left by himself. I don’t want him out on the town picking up men without regard to his safety because he’s depressed.”
“Men?” Peter’s heart slammed against his chest. The image of another man walking around looking like his brother-in-law and hunting other men made Peter’s hunger rise. His inner wolf tilted its head in puzzlement. They’d never been overly attracted to men before. And while Peter had always found Cyrus attractive, it stemmed from a what-pretty-children-he’d-have-with-Anna kind of way.
“Yeah. He’s gay. Is that a problem?”
For the first time, Peter saw the fire Anna always rhapsodized about, flashing in Cyrus’ eyes.
“No. No problem. I stand by my belief that a mate is the one who bonds with our soul and is not determined by sex or species. I know not all weres subscribe to that theory, but as long as I’m king, my people will be able to mate where they will.” Peter remained adamant that weres should be able to match with their soul mate, end of story. Sex or species had no bearing on the true love of a werewolf, despite what some of the older members proclaimed. Peter cleared his throat. “Does he look like you?”
“Peter!” Douglas exclaimed.
“What?” He’d asked a perfectly innocent question— okay, maybe not innocent, but a question.
Cyrus frowned. “No. Justin doesn’t look like me. Well, except the eyes. We both have father’s eyes.”
“A wizard could cause a lot of problems,” Douglas cautioned, frowning his disapproval of the idea. “Some weres can’t resist the smell of magic. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for an accidental mauling.”
Peter shrugged. “The pack can fend for themselves. After all, one wizard can’t cause too much trouble.” A single wizard shouldn’t be a problem among a large pack of werewolves. If Justin and his brother were anything alike, Peter probably wouldn’t even know he was there.
“Cyrus, go ahead and tell your brother he can stay with us. I’m sure the pack can cope for a few days.”
“Thank you!” Cyrus’ grateful expression reinforced Peter’s belief he’d done the right thing.
“You’re welcome.” Besides, it wouldn’t hurt to make Cyrus feel more a part of the pack, even if Peter had to have a wizard on his land for a few days.
The sound of a motorcycle engine was Peter’s first indication he’d completely misjudged the wizard situation. Drawn from his study by the loud noise, he walked out to the front porch and watched a Harley pull through the iron gates with a long-legged bad boy straddling the purring beast.
The motorcycle rolled to a halt, and the driver cut the motor, bringing a welcome silence and the happy event of the rider sliding off the machine. The man swung his leg over the beast with a slinky grace strippers could take notes on.
Cyrus darted out of the house to greet the newcomer. Peter had to restrain himself from grabbing his brother-in-law and pulling him out of danger. Who knew what this newcomer would do to the shy, almost delicate, wolf?
A whiff of breeze brought the scent of the hot man to Peter’s nose. The overpowering smell of magic meant the visitor could only be the troubled brother at his door. Damn, Justin might prove to be the type of trouble Peter could get behind, or inside, or anything involving the two of them naked with a horizontal surface or a vertically flat one.
Peter’s body grew taut with need when he took in how well the blue jeans fit the tall, muscular form standing on his drive. For the first time in his life, Peter’s body awakened for a man. He licked his lips when Cyrus’ brother removed his helmet.
Bright blond hair slid from the helmet like liquid sunshine. He must have made a sound because the brothers turned toward him, and Peter found himself the focus of matching violet eyes. However, where Cyrus’ eyes were soft and gentle and reminded Peter of a beautiful flower, Justin’s were bright and passionate and said he wanted to devour Peter in big, greedy bites.
The wizard gave him a wicked smile before leaning over the bike to pull a backpack from one of the saddlebags. Douglas grabbed Peter’s arm just as he was about to head down the steps.
“What?” he snarled.
“What are you doing?” Douglas asked.
Peter turned to find his best friend staring at him like he was a stranger.
He tried for innocent. “I’m going to greet Cyrus’ brother. After all, he is a member of the family.”
Or would be, once Peter hunted him down, pinned him beneath his mating fangs, and fucked him senseless.
“A brother of a brother doesn’t make him family. It makes him an acquaintance.” Douglas’ hold on Peter tightened.
Peter shook him off. “It’s my duty to greet any newcomer.”
“That’s not what you said last week when Maria’s cousin visited.”
“Maria’s cousin didn’t smell this good. What’s your problem?” He was completely baffled as to why his friend cared if he greeted Justin or not. Besides, Maria’s cousin, a timid mousy female, never appealed to Peter on any level. Not like the wizard on his doorstep.
“You’re looking at him like he’s the last steak at a full moon buffet,” Douglas snapped.
“Is there a problem?” a voice spoke behind Peter like dark, rich coffee. It wrapped around him like a soothing embrace and made him want to show his belly to the other man just for the chance to bask in his presence.
Peter turned and found Justin close, so very close. Unable to stop his wolf instinct, he stepped forward and slid his arms around the other man. “I’m Peter. Kiss me.”
Before Justin could speak, Peter yanked the wizard toward him and kissed him on the lips. Lightning sizzled through his senses. Peter moaned over the contrast between soft lips and rough whiskers.
So not like kissing a woman.
Nothing soft existed between them, just heat and muscle. Justin’s erection rubbed against Peter as the blond battled to take control of the lip-lock.
A low growl filled the air, and to Peter’s surprise, it didn’t come from him. Justin’s large hands cupped his head, and the wizard snatched control from him. For the first time in his life, Peter didn’t mind. The thought had him leaning away from the kiss.
“Stay still,” Justin demanded against Peter’s lips. “I’m not done with you.”
The wizard’s commanding tone had Peter melting against him. One simple certainty hit Peter. This man was his mate. No one else could make him submissive. He’d been born an alpha. He’d known from the age of five when he’d taken over the kindergarten class by the force of his power.
He’d never submitted to anyone.
Except this man.
Peter was trying to digest this startling development when Justin released him.
Panting, the men examined each other. Justin’s slow smile fueled the fire burning in Peter’s gut.
“No!” Douglas screamed. “He’s mine.”
Douglas jumped forward, transformed his human hands to sharp wolf claws, and attacked. Peter stepped into his path, unsheathing claws of his own.
Only to be displaced.
An invisible power lifted him out of the way while a crackle of electricity filled the air. Paralyzed, he watched Douglas fly three feet backward and land hard on the packed dirt driveway.
A moment later, Peter’s strange paralysis vanished, and he could move again. He turned to Justin. “What did you do?”
Justin shrugged. “I couldn’t let you get hurt.” He gave Peter a look that heated him to his toes. “Not after that kiss.”
“Let me?” Peter snarled, shaking off the man’s strange effect over him. This stranger would not undermine his command even if his body melted from the warmth in Justin’s eyes.
“Justin, Peter is the alpha of the pack,” Cyrus whispered, his gaze nervously darting from one man to the other.
“Oops.” The gorgeous wizard leaned over and kissed Peter on the cheek. “Sorry, handsome. I didn’t mean to step all over your alphaness.”
Speechless, Peter struggled to hold on to his anger while his cheek tingled from the contact. He gritted his teeth, fighting the compulsion to drag Justin back to his bedroom and do wicked things to the sexy wizard.
The wild glimmer in Justin’s eyes indicated the wizard seemed disturbingly aware of Peter’s thoughts.
“I think my alphaness can survive. But please don’t interfere again.”
Justin shrugged. “I’ll try not to while I’m a guest.”
Peter didn’t know how to tell Justin he’d become more than a guest. The only way a werewolf left his mate was through death.
With a knowing smirk, Justin followed Cyrus into the pack house, not looking back even when Peter growled at the vision of Justin’s tight ass.
Some things were growl-worthy.
Douglas shook himself off and stood at the bottom of the steps, staring at his alpha.
“What were you thinking?” Peter asked, genuinely surprised. “We’ve never had that kind of relationship.”
“That’s because you don’t like guys,” his beta said, walking up the stairs. “You’ve always been into the ladies until this wizard wanders in, and suddenly, you’re the gay alpha. What the hell?”
“I didn’t know you liked men,” Peter countered. “How could I have not known all this time?”
“Because you only see what you want to, and I was careful to only bring female dates to the pack house. I’m bisexual so it wasn’t hard to hide.”
Peter looked at his best friend, wondering if he’d ever really known him. What else had Douglas hidden over the years? Had Peter really been as unaware as all that?
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
Douglas came to stand on the top step with him. “Because I didn’t want to lose you.” He stepped forward. Peter didn’t step back. Alphas never backed down.
“Some packs toss out gays, and I’d rather hide than be away from you. You’re the most important person in my life.” Douglas begged Peter with his eyes for understanding.
“Douglas, you’ve known me for years. Why would you think I’d toss you out? You should know me better than that.” Hurt knifed Peter’s chest at his friend’s poor opinion of him.
“Damn it, Peter, I’m sorry. I worried the others might pressure you and, for the sake of the pack, you’d give in. I should’ve known better.” Douglas looked like he might hug him, and Peter’s hackles rose.
Peter couldn’t stop the low growl building in his throat. “Step back,” he warned. At that moment, he knew he’d mated with the wizard because the thought of anyone other than Justin touching Peter made him queasy.
“My god, you really did it. You mated with a wizard.” Douglas’ eyes widened with surprise. “The pack won’t take this well.”
“Then the pack can go elsewhere. We both know you don’t get to pick your mate. Fate and the moon goddess chooses for you. I sure as hell wouldn’t pick a wizard if I had a choice, but since I don’t, I’ll take the one offered and deal. Now act like a proper beta and go tell the pack there’s a meeting later. I want to introduce Justin before any rumors spread.”
For a second, he didn’t think Douglas would follow his orders.
They glared at each other for a moment until Peter let out a low growl and flashed his fangs. He would be an alpha with a pack, or he would be an alpha without one.
Douglas averted his eyes like a proper beta should. “Yes, Alpha.” Douglas’ voice broke, and for a moment, Peter felt a pang of sorrow for the loss of his old friend. No matter whether Douglas became reconciled with his bond with Justin or not, Peter’s relationship with his beta would never be the same.