I love this time of year when the fall leaves are everywhere. A sentiment my husband doesn’t always share because it causes slippery surfaces for bicycling. LOL
The next book I’ve decided to chat about is my Banded Brother Series. If you haven’t read this series it is about a group of shifters and their human friend. There are two volumes and a standalone. To Kiss a Killer has been re-edited and will be ready for re-release soon. For those who are waiting yes that means my Dragons of Seattle book will be re-released and added to early next year. There are two stories in this volume.
Here is the first chapter of To Have a Human. Buy link here
Carey Gale finished his guitar riff with a quick flick of his fingers, sending the crowd screaming. He loved feeding off the energy of a live audience.
The acoustics in Club Feathers were better than most of the small bars they’d played in, and the owner gave them free drinks.
“Thank you, everyone, for coming out tonight. We’re Banded Brothers, and we look forward to seeing you again in two weeks.”
Carey bowed to the crowd and waved a hand to indicate his bandmates. In his peripheral vision, his friends were bowing.
Thunderous applause filled the bar and a chant of “Next week, next week” went through the crowd. Carey waved again, then went to the side of the stage to kneel by his guitar case and place his instrument inside.
“I think they liked your new song.” His bandmate Eaton Franks crouched beside him, his bare chest soaked with sweat. Eaton’s golden brown hair gleamed under the lights, the same color as his feathers when he was in his eagle form.
Carey nodded. “Yeah, but I think I was playing different tracks from Denton.”
“That’s because you’re a show-off,” Denton teased.
Carey looked up to see Denton’s eyes shift to reptilian for a second, and he froze, wondering what his friend sensed. “You smell something?” Ducking his head, Carey cast a quick glance around the club, hoping to spot any danger before it found them.
“Mostly cat shifters,” Denton said in a low tone. “I thought I scented a wolf for a bit, but it’s faint.”
Even in his human shape, Denton’s crocodile nature gave him a better sense of smell than either Eaton or Carey possessed.
“I didn’t see any wolves.” Carey always kept an eye out for wolves since they tended to be unstable.
“I don’t want to alarm you guys, but there’s at least three cat shifters here, and a wolf just left,” Harris Bender said. He crouched down beside them, cradling his bass guitar like a baby.
Bear shifters had a sense of smell seven times that of the average bloodhound, and Carey had never known Harris to be wrong. He and Denton had always been the first level of alert for their group.
Carey nodded. “Denton already said.”
His friends were leery of other shifters since none of them was affiliated with an official shifter family. The four of them had formed an unofficial pack with Carey as the leader, despite his human status.
“If no wolves are going to attack, I need a drink!” Carey declared. He snapped his instrument case closed and left it behind for Denton to put in the van. Carey and Eaton set things up; Denton and Harris were in charge of tearing them down.
As he headed for the bar, Carey spotted Eaton flirting with a fan. Eaton was always the personable one with the audience.
Carey had the knack of recognizing shifters even when they were in human form. It came from a childhood of hanging around with nonhuman friends. Shifters always moved a little too smoothly, a little more gracefully than everyone else.
The crowd slowed Carey’s progress toward that desired drink. He pushed through, nodding and smiling to fans as they came to congratulate him on his performance. For Carey, the best part of playing to a live audience was meeting people afterward and getting feedback.
Finally free of the bulk of people, he slid onto the closest barstool.
“I hear they have a great selection of imported beer,” a deep voice said behind him.
Carey turned to see six foot–plus of lush shifter goodness. The man’s dark eyes scanned Carey as if he were a favorite treat and the stranger wanted a bite. His midnight hair, cut short, yet long enough for a good grip, sent several hot scenarios rushing through Carey’s brain.
Work was over—time to play.
Carey let his gaze slide all over the delicious man. Cat shifter would be his guess. “Can I buy you a drink?” He nodded toward the bartender.
“I’d rather just take you home and fuck your brains out.” The man didn’t even blink while he uttered the outrageous pronouncement.
“Hmm, a direct kind of guy,” Carey said. “I like that. But I never go home with anyone if I haven’t tasted the goods first, not to mention I don’t even know your name,” he added pointedly.
The guy’s laughter looked good on him. Big, tall, and intense, he probably didn’t laugh half as much as he should.
“Forgive me, I got sidetracked by your half-naked body. I’m Broden Lyall.”
“Carey Gale. And I object to the half-naked thing. My shirt is still on.” Unbuttoned all the way to expose his body, but still on. Eaton was the exhibitionist in the band.
“Barely.” Broden slid one long finger down Carey’s six-pack abs. “I hope you don’t think I was objecting.” His trail ended at the top of Carey’s jeans, where he hooked a finger through the front belt loop and yanked Carey closer until their groins touched.
An embarrassing whimper left Carey’s throat. Broden smelled like something wild and delicious, and Carey could feel his heat through his thin shirt.
“I’m a bit sweaty,” Carey protested weakly as he locked his knees to keep from tumbling into an inelegant heap at Broden’s feet.
“I like sweaty,” Broden growled. “It makes me want to lick you all over.”
Carey’s cock hardened. He had never been so turned on by someone so quickly before. He didn’t generally pick men up at bars, but Broden was going to be an exception.
Broden’s nose twitched before he pinned Carey with a predatory expression. “I see you like that idea too.”
Carey groaned as Broden pressed his crotch against him.
“Do you know what I am?” Broden whispered in his ear.
“I’m guessing a feline shifter of some kind,” Carey replied, rubbing his cheek against Broden, marking him like a cat. He couldn’t hold back a laugh when Broden jerked back.
“And you’re not scared?” Broden searched Carey’s face as if trying to catch him in a lie.
“Nope. Kiss me,” Carey demanded.
Broden captured Carey’s lips without hesitation—tasting, licking, conquering Carey’s mouth. Heat flashed through him as if a flamethrower had scorched his insides. It took all his resolve not to climb the man like a tree and hump against him in front of the entire bar.
When they broke apart, panting replaced words for a minute.
“How’s that for a sample?” Broden asked.
His wet lips distracted Carey, who yearned for another kiss. “Um… it’ll do,” he managed to say once he realized Broden was waiting for an answer. Carey licked his lips to belie his words. Damn, the man tasted good!
“Go tell your friends you’re leaving.”
Broden turned Carey and shoved him toward his bandmates, who were all watching him with great interest. Carey didn’t live like a monk, but he rarely went home with strangers—his father had taught him better than that. This time, though, he couldn’t resist the urge to follow Broden like a lost puppy looking for a new home.
Carey made eye contact with Harris, who raised his eyebrows at him. A shrug and a bashful grin conveyed all that he needed to. Carey made the motion that he’d call later, and Harris nodded.
Carey turned back around to find Broden watching him with amusement.
“All done?” Broden asked.
Carey nodded. “If I don’t call my friend Harris in a few hours, he’ll get worried.”
Harris wouldn’t really, but it was never a good idea to tell a stranger that no one would notice if you vanished for a few days. It wasn’t that his friend didn’t care; Harris just knew Carey could take care of himself.
Even without weapons, Carey had lethal skills. His father had made sure that Carey could handle any situation with or without a gun to back him up. Or, as his father liked to say, “A pretty boy like you needs to know how to take a big man down, because everyone is going to want into your pants.”
His father might not be the most diplomatic person, but he’d taught his son everything he knew and had saved Carey’s ass more than once.
Broden placed a hand on Carey’s back to guide him through the crowd, but he didn’t try to speak until they left the noisy club behind. “Your band is really good. I especially liked that last song.”
“Thanks!” Carey smiled. “We’re getting better. We’ll never hit it big, but we enjoy playing in the clubs. There’s cheap liquor and a friendly audience.”
“Why don’t you think you’ll ever go big?”
Carey shrugged. “I’m not saying that we’d be topping the charts otherwise, but we’re not really committed to our musical careers. I like computers, Harris is a painter, Eaton is getting his degree in quantum physics or something, and Denton is into landscape design. Music is our passion, but it isn’t our life. In order to make it big, you need it to be both.”
They walked along the quiet street, away from the club. Only a few cars passed, indicating the lateness of the night. The cool air made Carey shiver. He’d left his jacket on the stage when he’d stripped it off during their performance.
“Here.” Broden settled his own large jacket across Carey’s smaller shoulders, engulfing him in the shifter’s residual body heat. “I always forget how cold humans can get.”
A snide comment danced on the tip of Carey’s tongue, but the chance of a hot night with Broden had him keeping the words inside. Maybe Broden didn’t mean to sound prejudiced, so no reason to jump to conclusions.
“It is cold out,” Carey agreed, snuggling into Broden’s jacket.
“What do you do with computers? Programming?”
“Something like that.” More like deprogramming.
That was a world of discussion Carey didn’t want to have with a stranger. His hacking skills weren’t something he told other people about. He used them for the benefit of organizations, to check out firewalls and verify security, but most people heard the word hacking and immediately thought Carey was into espionage or willing to break into bank accounts and funnel money. Neither was a discussion he intended to get into with his fuck of the night, no matter how nice the guy seemed. The less information he shared, the fewer the things that could go wrong. “Let’s not talk about me. Let’s discuss where we’re going so that you can fuck me.”
They’d been walking for a while and had passed most of the vehicles parked on the street.
“I live right over there.”
Broden pointed to a tall modern building across the street. Carey had watched them construct the luxury condos a few years ago. They appeared to be well-built, if a bit soulless.
“Nice.” Looked like he was getting lucky in style.
They crossed the street, and Broden used his access card to open the main door.
Carey approved of the security. He could crack the code himself in a few seconds, but it would keep most people out. As they crossed the lobby, he automatically checked for exits. Carey kept his hands to himself in the elevator as Broden pushed the 10 button. You never knew what people might do with elevator video recordings. Carey never put himself in a questionable position where he’d have to access and erase security footage for something so minor.
Once the elevator stopped, Broden led him down a hallway with doors spaced a good distance apart, so the units must be quite large. Stopping halfway down the corridor, Broden then unlocked the door and pushed it open. He motioned Carey forward. “Here we are!”
Broden’s apartment surprised Carey. The place had an unused feel to it, as if Broden never stayed there. High-grade leather furniture, polished wooden floors, and pieces of art glass filled the condo. Carey wanted to take the gorgeous shifter to his house and show him what a real home looked like. The Victorian mansion his grandmother had left him held all the character and warmth that Broden’s beautiful but empty living space lacked.
“I don’t spend a lot of time at home,” Broden said, as if reading Carey’s mind.
Carey shrugged it off. It wasn’t like they were picking out china patterns. If the man wanted to live in a sterile, personality-free abode, Carey wouldn’t point out the flaw. For their purposes, they only needed a nice bed and some lube. Luckily shifters didn’t spread disease, so a condom was optional.
Deciding actions were better than words, Carey stripped off his shirt.
“Not much of a talker?” Broden asked, his gaze followed Carey’s motions.
“No, I’m more of a doer. What about you? Want to do me?” Carey stepped closer until they were almost chest-to-chest.
“Oh definitely, honey,” Broden purred.
Bingo—he had the big kitty’s attention. “Don’t be shy. Let me see what you’ve got.” It was possibly the worst line Carey had ever used, but when Broden removed his shirt and exposed miles of sexy muscles, he had to admit it worked. Carey’s erection hardened against the fly of his extremely tight jeans until he worried about his circulation.
Broden’s nose twitched and a wide smile crossed his handsome face. “Oh honey, I want you too.”
Carey let out an unmanly yelp as Broden picked him up then slung him over his left shoulder like a sack of flour. “Hey!” he protested.
Broden slapped his ass. “Hush.”
“Hush?” Carey wished he’d brought his knife—Broden’s broad back would make an excellent target. He didn’t have long to anticipate the shifter’s death, though, because Broden rushed down the hall and dropped him onto a large bed with a big fluffy mattress.
Broden’s eyes glinted with satisfaction. “Hmm, just as I suspected.”
“You look amazing in my bed.”
Before Carey had the chance to share the smartass comment hovering on his lips, Broden had yanked off Carey’s shoes and tossed them over his shoulder.
“Not a neatnik, I see.”
“Not when I’ve got better things to do than lining up your sneakers.”
Broden took off his own shoes before removing the rest of his clothes without fanfare. Carey would’ve commented on the lack of romance if a surge of lust hadn’t choked him.
“I must’ve been a really good boy in another life,” Carey said, his gaze focused on Broden’s erection.
“Come take your reward, then,” Broden coaxed.
“Mm-hmm.” Carey made gimme motions with his hands, his mouth already watering at the thought of tasting the liquid beading on the tip of the large mushroom-shaped cock head. He’d never considered himself a size queen before, but he might have to revisit that notion. After Broden, he might be ruined forever.
Broden stalked toward to the bed. Traces of the animal inside rose to the surface as his eyes glowed with a feline light and his steps became predatory. When he got close enough, Carey went to his knees and crawled to the edge of the bed. Without waiting for permission, he wrapped a hand around Broden’s thick cock. Peeking up through his long lashes, Carey swallowed him down to the root.
“Oh Jesus!” Broden exclaimed. “I’ve never had anyone take all of me before. Yes, suck me!” Despite his rough tone, Broden placed a gentle hand on the back of Carey’s head and slid careful fingers through his hair.
Carey increased his suction until Broden tightened his grip to hold him still. “Stop. I want to come inside you.”
Carey made a noise of protest before he pulled off. “But I want to taste you,” he complained.
Broden groaned. “As much as I’d like to have you swallow me down, I want to fuck you even more.”
With quick, efficient motions, Broden divested Carey of the rest of his clothing. It took a little effort to peel off his pants, but Broden applied himself to the job. When he’d finished, he paused to admire his handiwork. “Nice. You’re pretty all over, aren’t you?”
“I’m glad you think so.” Carey got his fair amount of attention, but since his three best friends were drop-dead gorgeous, he’d never really thought much about his own looks. From the expression on Broden’s face, the man didn’t find any faults.
“There’s lube in my nightstand.” Broden pointed at the small cabinet next to his bed.
“I’m on it.” Carey leaned over to reach the drawer and yanked it open. He gave a shout of success. “Found it!”
Broden snatched the bottle from Carey’s hand.
“Your ass is mine tonight,” Broden insisted. “Roll over, beauty.”
Carey snorted. “I think I preferred honey.”
“And I think I prefer you on your knees and offering me your ass,” Broden countered.
Carey made a big production of sighing before he rolled over.
Broden slapped Carey’s butt. The sound echoed in the bedroom.
“Hey!” Carey objected.
“Sorry, I can’t resist smacking something that fine.” Broden grinned.
“Less smacking, more fucking.”
“Patience, sweet.” Broden rubbed the red spot he’d caused.
Carey almost said something sarcastic, but the happy sound of the lube top popping open stilled his words. He didn’t want to discourage Broden—he had the uneasy feeling that the man had enough control to withhold sex just to teach him a lesson.
“Easy.” Broden circled Carey’s hole until Carey pushed back against the finger taunting him.
“In me, now!” Carey insisted.
Broden didn’t answer. Instead he slid one finger completely inside and crooked it until Carey bucked beneath the attention.
“More!” A second finger joined the first, then quickly a third, and Carey moaned, “I need your cock.”
“I’ll give you what you need, don’t you worry.”
Carey relaxed as Broden’s erection pressed against his hole. “Now.”
Broden sighed as he slid inside. “You feel so good. Better than anyone, ever.”
“Flatterer.” Carey groaned.
Laughter puffed air against Carey’s skin as Broden rubbed his face against Carey’s bare shoulder. “Are you scenting me?”
“Damn straight. When you leave here, you’re going to reek of me for days.” Broden gave a growl of satisfaction. He pumped in and out of Carey as if his life depended on Carey coming without a touch.
“Keep that up and I’m not going to last,” Carey protested.
“Good. Come!” Broden bit Carey’s shoulder, sending him over the edge.
“Oh crap!” Carey cursed as cum spurted from his cock. Broden groaned, and Carey felt wetness flood his channel.
Finally, with a sigh, Broden pulled out and fell onto the mattress beside Carey. “I knew you’d be a sweet fuck.”
“Glad I could prove you right,” Carey gasped. His heart hammered in his chest as he came down from his orgasm. His shoulder hurt from Broden’s bite, but his body ached deliciously.
“Give me some time and we’ll do it all over again,” Broden said.
Two hours later, Carey felt only a little guilty for sneaking out while Broden still slept the sleep of the well fucked.