Sometimes Simple is Better
The wedding of Bob & Shade
"Hey, Bob, what are you doing up here all by yourself?"
I drew in a breath before turning to look at Sinclair. I smiled at the man, hoping it didn't wobble. "Oh, I'm just working on this list." I held up the paper clutched in my hand. After seeing the wrinkles on it, I quickly laid it down and smoothed them out.
Guess I had been clutching it a little too hard.
"Oh yeah, what kind of list?"
"Guest list. Shade wants me to make a list of the people I want to invite to the wedding." I grimaced as I stared at the three names I had written down. My parents and my cat. "It's not a long list."
"Oh." Sinclair smiled as he pushed his wheelchair closer. "Did you put me down?"
My smile didn't wobble this time. I was very excited that my new friends would be coming to our wedding. "You're on Stone's list along with Samson, Stryker, Stone and the others."
"Well, what seems to be the problem then? Why the long face?"
"I can't think of anyone to add. Shade has like a hundred people on his list and I have three, one of them being my cat."
I refused to get married without my cat there. Mustaccio was a part of my family just like my parents were. Besides, he'd look fantastic in the little black bowtie I'd bought him.
"What about relatives?" Sinclair asked. "Aunts, uncles, cousins?"
I shook my head. "Both my parents were only children and my grandparents on both sides are dead."
"Okay, friends then?"
My heart sank a little more as I shook my head once again. "I don't have any friends...well...except Mustacchio and he's already on my list."
"I'm a friend," Sinclair insisted.
"Yeah, but you're on Shade's list." Hadn't I already explained that? "My side of the church is going to be empty."
Sinclair's eyebrows rose. "Your side of the church?"
"Yeah, you know, bride's guests on one side, groom's on the other. Or in our case, groom and groom."
How did that work anyway?
"So, since there is no bride, just two grooms, why not combine everyone onto one groom's list? That way, we'd all mingle together."
I started to smile. "That might work. Do you think Shade would mind?"
"Mind what, baby?" Shade asked as he walked in.
"Since there is no bride, just two grooms, combining everyone together on one groom's list."
"Yeah, we can do that. Just make sure everyone you want to invite is on that list."
I beamed as I grabbed Shade's guest list and added my parents and cat. I held the list out to my mate. "Okay, I'm done."
Shade glanced at list. "Baby, you—"
"Finished the list just in time," Sinclair said as he grabbed it out of Shade's hand. "I'll get started on the invitations right away."
"Sinclair—" Shade started.
"I know, I know, you two want to spend a little quiet time together and I'm in the way." Sinclair waved the paper in the air and then started wheeling himself toward the door. "I'll go get started on this list and get out of your hair."
I snickered when Sinclair hit the doorframe, righted himself, and then wheeled out the door. I turned my smile on Shade when the man sat down across from me.
God, he was gorgeous.
"How are you doing, mate?" Shade asked. "Is all this wedding stuff getting to you?"
I tried to hide my grimace by turning to look out the window. "No, I'm good."
I was totally freaked out.
The small intimate wedding I had dreamed of had turned into the event of the season. A quiet affair with just our family and friends had become a wedding of over two hundred people. Comfortable casual wear had turned into tuxedos with cummerbunds. Daisies had become long stemmed roses. And the simple backyard barbeque I had wanted was now a sit-down five-course meal.
I was totally out of my element.
Shade seemed to want this big fancy wedding. I'd do anything for him, even be totally miserable on what was supposed to be the happiest day of my life.
* * * *
Bob was miserable. I could see it in the slump of his shoulders and the slight turndown of the corners of his mouth. In the last few days, he seemed to be spending more and more time upstairs in our rooms. I couldn't count the number of times I had watched him staring out the window, lost in thought.
It felt as if Bob was drawing away from me and I didn't know how to make it stop.
I didn't like it.
Not one damn bit.
I picked Bob up and settled him in my lap, wrapping my arms around him. I tucked his head under my chin and rested my cheek on the top.
"Tell me what's wrong, baby."
I felt Bob's fingers plucking at the edge of my collar and knew the man was trying to form his thoughts into one cohesive answer. I kept quiet, giving him whatever time he needed, because obviously, he needed some.
"Do we have to get married?" Bob whispered.
I stiffened as something sharp and painful stabbed me through the heart. "You don't want to marry me?"
"It's not that," Bob said. "I just..."
"Just what, Bob?" I winced when I realized how cold my voice sounded.
Well, that wouldn't do.
I picked Bob up and carried him over to the bed. After tossing him into the middle of the mattress, I came down on top of him. I grabbed his hands and pinned them over his head with one hand. I used the other hand to capture his jaw and tilt his face until our eyes met.
"I love you, Bob. I will love you long after I am gone from this world. My greatest joy in this world is making you happy, and right now, you're not happy. What can I do to change that?"
Bob stared at me so long, I began to think he would never answer me. When he finally did, I couldn't help but breathe a sigh of relief. My baby was talking to me instead of hiding.
"This wedding, it's...it's really nuts." Bob's eyes rounded comically. "Like crazy nuts."
I really didn't know what to say to that.
"I know like ten people on that guest list, and three of them are mine, including my cat."
Bob smiled. "Our cat."
"So, do you want me to cut back on the guest list then?"
"No, I want you to invite whoever you want. This is your wedding just as much as it's mine."
"But?" I asked.
I knew there was a but.
"I just didn't expect it to be so big."
Poor Bob sounded so overwhelmed.
"What would you change?"
"It doesn't matter. You've already done so much, picked out the flowers and decorations, our clothes, the food, the music. It's too late to change any of it now. It's all set up and everything."
I would change every damn bit of it if it meant making Bob happy.
I also realized I had seriously fucked up. I had wanted to make the day perfect for Bob and give him the wedding of his dreams. I had been working so hard to make it perfect, I forgot to ask Bob what he wanted.
I pulled Bob with me as I rolled to my side. I tucked his head under my chin again. Once he was all settled against me, I let out a low purr. Almost instantly, I felt Bob relax.
"So, just for shits, grins, and goggles, tell me about your perfect dream wedding."
I chuckled at that. "Okay, and what else?"
My smile grew as Bob began talking, and a plan formed in my mind. Bob deserved the wedding of his dreams, and that was exactly what he was going to get.
* * * *
"Hey, Bob, can you help me?"
I turned to see Sinclair coming up behind me. "Yeah, sure, what do you need?"
"I need some help carrying these outside."
Made sense. The pile of boxes and stuff on his lap was almost taller than his head. There was a basket of flowers on the very top. I quickly grabbed it when it started to teeter.
"What are you doing with all of this stuff?"
"I need to take it out to the back patio."
I started to reach for the boxes, but Sinclair just wheeled past me. After rolling my eyes, I followed after Sinclair, the basket of flowers held firmly in my hand.
I sniffed when an mouthwatering scent filled the air around me. "Is someone barbequing?"
"Oh yeah, we're have chicken and ribs for dinner. Cook must have started the barbeque already."
"I love chicken and ribs."
"Then you're going to love this," Sinclair said as he stopped in front of the patio doors.
I frowned in confusion before looking beyond Sinclair and into the backyard. I quickly noted the people standing on the patio—my parents and the assassins Shade worked with.
"What's going on here?"
"A wedding of course." Sinclair grinned. "And the groom is waiting for you."
My heart pounded a little faster when I spotted Shade stood in the middle of everyone, dressed simply in jeans and a nice white button down shirt, a daisy pinned over his heart.
Damn. He looked fantastic.
"You just stand there while I walk the ring bearer down the aisle," Sinclair said. "When the music starts, you come down the aisle. Shade will be waiting for you."
The ring what?
My eyebrows shot up when I saw Sinclair wheeling himself through the small crowd, leading Mustacchio by his leash.
I was right. The black bowtie did look good on my cat.
Bob and Shade's story is called "Just Bob" the 1st book in my new Assassins Inc. series. You can find it here: http://www.bookstrand.com/book/just-bob
STONE COLD LOVER
Assassins Inc. 2PRE-ORDER TODAY!
AVAILABLE: Thursday, July 6th
[Erotic Alternative Paranormal Romance, shape-shifter, M/M, HEA]
Now that I had replaced Councilman James as leader of the panther shifters, I figured life would get a little easier. Boy, was I wrong. Between losing my mate and the attempts on my life, I have to find out what happened to seven missing shifter kids, and I don't know who I can trust.
I had made myself stay away from my mate for years out of a sense of guilt. That all ended when I discovered someone was out to get him. In order to keep Sinclair safe, I'll have to do something I never thought I'd do...ask for help.
Note: This book is written in the first-person point of view of both main characters.
“How are you?”
I wanted to ask more, but I knew I couldn’t. There were unspoken rules about our weekly conversations. One of them was that I couldn’t ask about the thing that was considered too personal.
“I’m fine,” Stone replied.
That was always Stone’s reply.
I almost smiled.
“Councilman James called earlier and said he had a few new assignments coming through. He asked me to do a bit of research before handing them off to you guys.”
“Did he say who the mark was?” Stone asked.
“Marks,” I said. “From what I understand, there is more than one.”
“Okay, did he say who the marks were?”
“No.” And that was odd. “He asked me to look into a few leads, but I haven’t really had the time to look at them. I’ve been pretty busy trying to clean up some mess Samson got himself into with a pride of lions.”
“Samson got involved with a pride of lions?”
I chuckled at the shock I could hear in Stone’s voice. It had been a surprise to me, too. “Apparently, he camped out in their territory without permission while on an assignment and the pride leader is pissed.”
“And he didn’t wipe the floor with the guy?”
We both knew he could. Samson was huge. Hence the name Samson. He kind of reminded me of a raging bull even though he was a panther shifter, but even that form was huge. He should have been an alpha. I never quite understood why he wasn’t and Samson refused to talk about it.
“I can’t do this anymore.”
Stone’s words were like a knife to the gut, taking my ability to breathe. I knew this day would come at some point. I had always known. I just hadn’t expected it so fast. It had only been a few years.
“Ca—” I cleared my throat and tried again. “Can’t do what anymore?”
I prayed I was wrong about what he was going to say.
“This,” Stone replied. “Us.”
I wasn’t wrong.
I squeezed my eyes shut as tears sprang up at the man’s words. I had to hold it together long enough to allow the man to end things. I refused to let him know how much anguish his words were causing me. I did have some pride.
“These little weekly phone calls of ours are crap, Sinclair.”
Sinclair, not Sin. Stone had been calling me Sin since almost the first day we met. He was the only one who did, and now he wasn’t even doing that.
I guess that kind of said it all.
“Haven’t I been punished enough?” Stone asked in a frigid tone.
I never considered myself a weak man, but in that moment I didn’t want to do anything except curl up in my bed and cry. Stone’s words gutted me, destroying any hope I had ever held onto that he would one day accept me.
When I found my voice and spoke again, I prayed my tone was devoid of my despair. I didn’t want Stone to know how shattered I was. “I’m sorry if you feel our conversations were a punishment, Stone. You have my apologies and my promise that it will never happen again.”
My fingers trembled as I hit the disconnect button on my phone, hanging up on Stone. Knowing that was probably the last time I would ever hear Stone’s voice didn’t make it any easier.
I stared at the phone when it rang. I knew without even looking that it was Stone. He always did like having the last word with anyone. He wouldn’t be happy that I had hung up on him.
I started to reach for the phone but curled my hand into a fist before I could pick it up. It wouldn’t do either of us any good to talk again, no matter how much I might want it. Stone had made his position perfectly clear and I needed to respect his decision.
I just had to learn how to live without the other half of my soul.
I quickly wiped at my eyes when I heard someone coming down the hallway toward my door. If I had been human—which I wasn’t—I never would have heard the footsteps. But, I did. I could even tell it was a man. Women didn’t walk in the same hard clipped manner as men.
I made sure everything important in my office was put away. Not knowing who was coming, I didn’t want to leave any sensitive stuff lying around. I didn’t get visitors often, but still, it paid to be cautious.
When the door opened, I swung my wheelchair around. “Councilman James.”
The man gave me the creeps, and it had nothing to do with me being a coyote shifter and the councilman being a panther. He just had this uncomfortable way about him, as if he was waiting to see what he could get out of a person, whether they wanted it or not.
“Has the Mills contract been completed yet?”
“Not yet, sir.”
“I need you to stop everything you are doing and put this out on the wire. The price, if it’s done in the next twenty-four hours, has gone up to two million dollars.”
I raised my eyebrows as surprise sliced through me. “Two million dollars?”
Some contracts went for quite a bit of money, but it had been ages since one that big had.
“In twenty-four hours.”
Man, someone seriously wanted this dude dead.
“I’ll get right on it, sir.”
“Bring in extra manpower if you need to. This job needs to be completed.”
That surprised me even more than the money.
“Outside contractors, sir?” I wasn’t sure I could ever remember that happening, at least not as long as I had been a handler.
The councilman’s eyes narrowed. He dropped a folder down on my desk as he leaned forward. “I want this contract fulfilled immediately, Sinclair. Is that understood?”
The councilman might want the contract fulfilled, but I was starting to want to know why. He had never been this aggressive with getting a contract completed. He usually just emailed me what I needed to hand off to the assassins I worked with. He hardly ever came down to my office, and he certainly didn’t get so demanding.
It didn’t sit well with me.
I waited until the man left the room before picking up the folder he had dropped on my desk and flipping it open.
I slapped the folder closed and looked toward the door. After drawing in a calming breath, I opened it up again. I don’t think I was supposed to see what was in this file. It was definitely top secret confidential stuff.
Like, seriously hush hush stuff.
The councilman had a file on most of the guys I handled and few who were handled by others. Three of them had termination orders on them.
I crushed Sinclair’s mouth beneath mine, claiming the first kiss between us. Or at least the first kiss he had been awake for. I had kissed him once before, as he lay in his hospital bed and I knew I would never be able to claim him.
The knot in my stomach unfurled when Sinclair opened his mouth and kissed me back. My heart danced with excitement as I showered kisses around Sinclair’s lips and along his jaw to his ear.
“I’m going to claim you, Sinclair. I’m going to make you my mate.”
I wasn’t asking, not anymore.
“Yo-you know when a hyena is claimed, their mate becomes their pack.”
“Yeah?” I stared down into Sinclair’s expressive eyes, watching wariness and a spark of hope dance through his eyes. “A pack of two, huh?”
“That’s why hyenas have a reputation for not belonging to packs. Without a pack, we’re nothing and so few shifters ever find their mates, that we just kind of run wild.”
I trailed a finger down the side of Sinclair’s face. “And what happens when a hyena belongs to a pack?”
Sinclair’s grin was a surprise.
“Everything,” he whispered on a breath.
I grinned, too. I wasn’t sure if the emotion flooding me could be defined as happiness, because I had never been this happy before.
“I’m going to claim you, Sinclair, make you mine for all time. Say you will be mine.” I wanted to make slow, sweet love to Sinclair and show him that I was the right choice to make, the right choice to keep.
I just didn’t think I could go slow.
“I’m yours,” Sinclair whispered. “I’ve always been yours.”
I rolled to the side of the bed and began pulling his clothes off, first his shirt and then his boxers and jogging pants. When I was done, I leaned back and stared in awe of the beauty lying before me.
“You’re the most breathtaking creature I have ever laid eyes on.”
Sinclair blushed and my heart clenched at the display of emotion. Sinclair was gorgeous and wasn’t even aware of it. That only added to his charm.
I climbed back onto the bed and scooted up between Sinclair’s legs. “You’ll tell me if I hurt you?”
Sinclair nodded rapidly.
His body was trembling when I spread his legs apart. When I skimmed my hands over Sinclair’s smooth skin, the shaking only intensified. This was exquisite torture, to have an effect on someone like this. I stole a glance up to see Sinclair watching me.
“What do you want, Sinclair? Just ask and it’s yours for the taking.” I felt a desperate need to please my mate in any way possible.
“Claim me, please,” Sinclair panted out.
We weren’t leaving this room until I did.
Sinclair waved a hand to his right. “Nightstand.”
I reached over and pulled the drawer open, searching around until I felt the bottle of lube under my fingertips. I grabbed the bottle and pulled it to me. I snapped the cap open, squirting a generous amount onto my fingers, and then tossed the bottle aside.
I pushed Sinclair’s knees to his chest and held them there. “Can you hold your legs up?”
Saliva pooled in my mouth when Sinclair gripped his legs and then pulled them apart, barring himself to my hungry gaze.
And man, I was hungry. I had been starving for Sinclair for years.
I reached down and slid my fingers around the tight little opening waiting for me. I could feel the tight ring of muscle quivering as I circled my finger around the hole, massaging it. I watched Sinclair as my finger was slowly swallowed into the tight channel. I pulled out then pushed back in.
I repeated this a few times before allowing a second finger to breach the hole. I searched and twisted my finger until I found the walnut-sized pleasure gland. When I stroked my fingers over it, Sinclair cried out, losing his grip on his thighs.
“Stone!” He clenched his fists into the blanket under him, his head thrashing from side to side. His chest was rising and falling rapidly as a fine sheen of sweat covered him.
I slid a third finger in and began to scissor them. I wouldn’t rush this. My self-control was being stretched to the limits, the anticipation was killing me. I wanted inside Sinclair so badly that I could taste it.
I gently pulled my fingers free and stood before stripping my clothes from my body. I needed to feel Sinclair wrapped around my cock, holding on to me as I claimed him as mine.
Once I climbed back onto the bed, I settled myself between Sinclair’s legs. I poured a bit more lube on my iron-hard cock and then dropped the bottle once again. I lined my cock up with Sinclair’s tight ring of muscles and then pushed forward until the head of my cock popped past the ring of muscles.
I hooked my arms under Sinclair’s legs and then pushed forward, groaning as my cock sank into hot silk. My control was hanging on by a thread as I watched my cock slide farther into Sinclair.
I leaned down, pressing my chest into Sinclair’s. I smashed my mouth down on his, sucking and exploring, dying to taste Sinclair in the worst way.
Sinclair whimpered into my mouth.
I tried to bury my cock all the way to the hilt and then further. I broke the kiss, pulling much-needed air into my lungs. I could feel my canines dropping, the need to bite Sinclair growing to a fever pitch.
When I glanced into his face, I could see his fangs peeking out from beneath his lip. “Are you going to claim me, mate?”
The need was clear in his eyes.