Nicky’s living his happily ever after with his handsome mate Marco. He thinks he’s finally getting his life together now that the Hunters are gone, and he and Marco have the relationship he always wanted. When Marco falls desperately ill, Nicky sees his world crashing around him. Nicky’s prayers are answered when Marco awakes, but he’s horrified to discover that the illness attacked the bloodmatch, and Marco has no memories of Nicky and their life together. Even worse, Marco has reverted back to the overbearing, dominant alpha Nicky first met. Desperate to regain what they had, Nicky agrees to the D/s relationship he never really wanted, but unable to be submissive, he asks Marco for a separation, only to discover that Marco can’t let him move on. In despair, Nicky runs away. Can Marco find him and regain what they had? Or will they lose each other forever?
Marco sat down beside Nicky, who reached for his hand and slipped his own inside. “I missed you this morning when I woke up,” Nicky said, looking up at Marco from under his lashes. “I was hoping you’d still be in bed beside me.”
Marco looked him up and down but didn’t respond at first. Then he put Nicky’s hand back in his own lap. “I’ve missed you too. Tell me, Nicky, why aren’t you wearing your collar this morning? “
“Um, collar? See, I thought that was just some, you know, bedroom thing we were doing last night.”
“Well, yeah, you know…it was kinda hot. Like when you put your cum all over me. I even had some of that in my eyebrows this morning. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, but next time, probably not really necessary for, you know, my ultimate satisfaction.”
“Nicky, it wasn’t a bedroom thing, as you say, and I think you know that. I won’t put up with these little subterfuges, and I understand from what people are telling me that you’re kind of known for them.”
“Well, I wouldn’t say that, exactly.”
“No? According to my council members, the first few months you were here, you ran away and joined with a rogue group who were challenging my leadership of the pack. Then to top that off, you became their champion and challenged me in the ancestral ring.”
“You’ve been checking on me? But that was all a huge misunderstanding, Marco. And I didn’t run away, I was kidnapped by them. Then they explained to me how harsh you were being with their mates, and forcing them to act all submissive when they didn’t want to, and I…uh…I did sort of challenge you, actually. But I didn’t know what it meant at the time, really. When you faced me in the ring and told me the consequences, then I submitted to you right away.”
“Yes, and then turned feral from lack of wolf’s blood because you were carrying out some kind of half-assed experiment.”
Nicky reached for his hand and Marco let him take it again. “I didn’t know it would make me feral, Marco. You saved me, you know.”
“Of course,” Marco said, rubbing his thumb over the back of Nicky’s hand. “I’ll always save you—you’re my mate. Even though I’m just getting to know you—well, it feels like it to me, anyway—I already feel very protective of you. That’s why I was alarmed to also hear you disobeyed a direct order and risked your life by going to the prison with my nephew Rory to save Ian from the Hunters.”
“And then when I correctly gave you a punishment for it that seemed to be a very reasonable punishment from what I heard, you ran away again.” Nicky dropped his eyes back to the tablecloth, but Marco’s finger forced his chin up gently but firmly. “You and Logan both were gone for over two weeks, I believe. With Hunters in the woods.”
“Yes, Marco.” Nicky’s voice was very quiet.
“I don’t mean to be harsh with you, Nicky, despite what your friends Logan and Evan were probably telling you, but I can’t allow you to risk yourself like that again. As my mate, you’re my responsibility, and I take my responsibilities very seriously. I have to teach you to be a good mate and a good example to the other mates in the pack. I think I need to retrain you as my mate, Nicky. And we may as well get started today. Go upstairs and find your collar. Put it on and stay in our rooms until I get there. Understood?”
“Sure, I understand.” He pulled his hand away from Marco’s and stood up. He gazed down at Marco and took a deep, steadying breath. “That doesn’t mean I’m going to do it.”
Jeremy grinned down at him and led him outside, one hand wrapped possessively around Nicky’s waist. Nicky relaxed and let Jeremy steer him into the shadows of the patio. Once there, Jeremy put Nicky against the wall and began kissing him, long passionate kisses that were quite nice. Jeremy was very good-looking, Nicky thought. He wasn’t overly tall, like the wolves, only a few inches taller than Nicky. That made a nice change. His body was lean, yet powerful, and his muscles were compact and lovely. He seemed to be so sure of himself and his place in the world, something Nicky envied.
What would it be like to be a cherished partner again? To have Jeremy Tate love him? Perhaps it was time to truly move on. He leaned further into Jeremy’s kiss and Jeremy pulled his head back slightly and smiled down at him. “I told Marco not long ago that there were others who would snap up this beautiful prize. I’m ready to offer you all the love you’ll ever need, sweetheart.”
A growl from behind them made them both turn to look. Nicky watched Jeremy suppress a smile. “Well, I wondered how long it would take you to follow us. Marco. Your claim on this man is over. No one wants you here.”
Marco grabbed his shoulder and ripped him away. Jeremy reeled back at his attack and fell on his ass, as Marco stepped protectively in front of Nicky.
“You gave up your right to protest this, Marco,” Jeremy yelled. “Get out of my way!”
Marco turned and seized Nicky possessively around his waist, hauling him to his side, still growling. “Get off my land, Tate, or I won’t be responsible. Leave now!”
Jeremy got to his feet and glared once at Marco before addressing Nicky directly. “I’ll be back, Nicky. Don’t let him do this. Stay strong.”
Jeremy pushed past them and disappeared inside. Nicky wanted to rail at Marco, but before he could say a word, Marco grabbed his hand and towed him behind him like a child as he walked determinedly into the nearby woods. When Marco first appeared behind Jeremy, Nicky had felt for a fleeting moment like he was cheating on Marco. How stupid was that? Marco had thrown him away, and he had no right to act like this.
Marco pulled Nicky along in the dark behind him, and Nicky started to seethe with anger. He dug in his heels and struggled against going forward. Marco stopped and stared down at him, and Nicky could see the wildness in his eyes. He recognized the look, and knew how close Marco’s beast must be to coming forth. Not a good thing, he thought, and shivered to see the beast so close to the surface.
Something told Nicky it would be wise not to fight Marco now, and besides, he didn’t want to, anyway. Making a sudden decision, Nicky turned his head and gave Marco his vulnerable throat, and it seemed to do the trick. Marco made a soft, growling, whining sound deep in his throat and pulled Nicky to him, wrapping his arms around his waist and burying his face in Nicky’s neck.
He sank down on the ground with Nicky still clutched to his body and tucked him beneath it. He removed Nicky’s clothing with swift, impatient hands, throwing it aside on the trail. Then he sat up and divested himself of his own clothing, as Nicky watched him with a hungry gaze, wanting to devour every inch of the golden flesh he was uncovering. He didn’t care if Marco didn’t love him anymore. Marco’s thick shaft was gorgeous as it was revealed, a thick pearly drop of pre-cum seeping from his slit.
Nicky rolled up to his knees, wanting to possess that shaft, wanting to taste, to lick and touch. Marco gazed steadily at him as he came toward him, doing nothing but watching him with glowing eyes.