For fox shifter, Iren, life has taken a stupendous, incredible turn. After years of abuse, he escaped and is now part of a wonderful pack. Alpha Macon is so fair and good to Iren. Best of all he’s the assistant chef to the magnificent Aetius. He can’t begin to describe how breathtaking Aetius is, with his long flowing hair, tight pants, and awesome boots.
Some think Aetius is kind of stuck up and rigid. Iren knows better. After all, they are kind of, almost, in a relationship and have almost kissed. It is just a matter of time before they’re mates. If only that irritating Kane would quit insisting that Iren sit next to him and quit being so, so maddening.
Gabriel Kane knows he has an uphill battle convincing Iren they’re mates and destined to be together for all eternity. The little fox can’t seem to wrap his busy mind around the fact that the arrogant Aetius is never going to mate with him. But Gabriel is fighting for his future and he always gets what he wants, even if he has to fight Iren for it.
When trouble comes to the Wilde Wolf Pack and Kane is injured, Iren nurses him back to health. Does Kane take advantage of Iren’s softening attitude toward him? Yes, yes, he does. Now the pack only has to deal with nasty ferrets, the arrival of a lion, fox, ferret, a baby, and the birth of another baby, oh my.
Iren snuck into the new gleaming kitchen and went straight for the pantry. He knew he wasn’t really supposed to be in here in the middle of the night, but he’d been thinking about this all day long. He just couldn’t sleep thinking about it.
He pulled the container of sugar down from the pantry shelf and carried it to the kitchen counter. After grabbing a small saucer, he poured a little of the sugar out then added a drop of water and mixed it together with his finger.
Iren put the sugar back in the pantry, carried the small dish to the nearest window next to the corner of the room, and set the saucer on the windowsill. He looked up into the corner. If he squinted, he could just make out the beginnings of a spider’s web.
“I’m just going to leave this here for you," he whispered. “If you want something else, you’ll have to let me know.” Iren frowned. “I’m not sure how you’ll do that, but I figure if you can spin a web, you can figure out how to say something.”
A whisper of movement near the doorway and the scent of wolf had him scurrying back into his new bedroom and diving into his bed. He vowed not to let that delicious scent tempt him from his devotion to Aetius.
He was a loyal man. He would not, could not, betray his mate. Even if Aetius wasn’t technically his mate —'cause they hadn’t bitten each other—that didn’t matter, he would be true. He would, yes, he would.
The next day, Iren sat at the dinner table and tried to concentrate on the delicious fried chicken on his plate. He knew it was delicious even though he hadn’t taken a bite of the meat yet. If his beloved Aetius had prepared it, it was perfect, 'cause the gorgeous man was perfect. He was, really.
Across the table, Master Aetius sat, so proud with his long flowing blond hair and smooth, tanned, perfect face. Iren admired that prominent hook of his nose. So strong and majestic. Yes, he was. Those wide shoulders could hold up the world and under the table Iren knew he wore tight tan slacks that showed off leg muscles that could make any fox drool. Iren loved Aetius’s knee-high brown boots. He’d used the little money he had and ordered an identical pair. He couldn’t wait to show Aetius how the two of them would be a matching set.
The man sitting next to Iren reached for the salt and grabbed his attention. Gabriel Kane Wilde was a pain in Iren’s ass. Not literally, because Iren would never cheat on Aetius. But the guy sucked big, juicy, hairy balls. Well, not really, but sometimes Iren wished he’d choke on one or three.
No one in Iren’s entire life had ever made him so mad before. Mad, mad, mad! The man insisted Iren sit next to him at the dinner table. The one time Iren defied him and sat next to wonderful Aetius, the wolf assaulted him. Yes, he did. He picked Iren up and set him on the chair next to his. Iren almost changed into his fox form and bit him right there and then.
Except, he was too hurt that Aetius hadn’t defended him. But he understood when he realized that Aetius had been very busy pouring himself a glass of water.
A hand cupped Iren’s cheek and forced him to turn his head towards the big wolf. If Kane didn’t quit manhandling him, Iren was going to kick him in the knee.
“Eat your food, little fox.” Kane’s hard, dark eyes never wavered from Iren’s face. How different they were from the yellow of Aetius’s eyes.
Iren’s temper sparked. He picked up a chicken leg and shook it at the big oaf.
“Now you listen to me, Gabby baby.” Iren was so mad that he ignored the gasps from the rest of the shifters sitting around the table. “You shouldn’t be telling me what to do. I’m an assistant chef. I have my own bedroom and everything. And”—Iren took a breath and lifted his chin to make his point, or at least he tried with those big fingers holding his face— “you need to quit touching me. I almost, just about, kind of belong to another.”
“Be careful, little fox.” Kane’s fingers let go of his face and enclosed Iren’s hand holding the chicken leg. “I’ve been holding my wolf back to give you the time you need to adjust to your new life. Soon he will take what he wants.”
Kane pulled Iren’s hand closer and sank his white teeth into the chicken leg.
Iren felt his eyes widen. “Are you threatening me?” He jumped out of his chair, scurried around the table, and stood behind Aetius. “There are rules. At least I think there are. At least there should be.” Iren straightened his shoulders and pointed at Kane. “Don’t you be a bully, Gabriel Kane Wilde. If you don’t watch out, I’ll bite you again. I’ll make sure it’s hard enough to leave a mark. Yes, I will.”
“Baby, I’ll welcome your bite.” Kane’s jaw hardened and he pointed to Iren’s chair. “Sit.”
Iren stared at the big wolf and tried to figure out what had just happened. The man always had a shadow of whiskers that pulled Iren’s attention to his lips. Why was he obsessed with the man’s lips?
No, no he wasn’t obsessed with anything about Kane. Really. The guy was too big. Much taller than dear Aetius. And muscles. The guy had way too many muscles. Add in all those tattoos... Iren had spotted him with his shirt off once and the guy was scary. S-ca-ry.
Iren’s stomach growled and he made his way back to his chair. Sighing didn’t help alleviate the confusing feeling swirling around in his chest, so he sighed again. As he sat down, Kane caressed his back, sending goose bumps rippling over his skin.
“All will be well, little fox.”
Iren turned his head and tried to bite the man’s arm, but he wasn’t fast enough. Darn it. Iren would get him one of these days. Yes, he would. Kane couldn't be on guard every second of every day. And Iren had patience, lots and lots of patience. Humongous amounts of patience. Look at how long he'd been waiting for Aetius to acknowledge what was between them.
Iren sent the wolf a scathing glare as he finished eating his food. Kane wasn't handsome in the classical sense, not like his Aetius. He was more rugged. He carried himself with a commanding air of self-confidence that was hard to ignore.
But Iren would ignore it, yes, he would. No matter how much he dreamt, while alone in his room at night, about climbing the tall man like a tree and kissing him until they both passed out. He felt guilty every time he had that dream but he couldn't seem to shake it.
He'd just have to work harder.
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