Garrick nervously eyed the door to the bar and pool hall, with its darkened and barred windows. He’d been to Silver Cavern before, if not often. Well known in the paranormal community as an “open” bar whose owners were a lesbian couple who also happened to be feline shifters, Silver Cavern was patronized by both human and paras of all sexual orientations. Considered completely neutral ground, the patrons knew how to be selectively blind. No one in the para community wanted to be outed to the humans so they kept to themselves and didn’t bother each other. Here he had no reason to panic.
But he hadn’t expected a response from Divine Intervention to come so quickly. He’d thought he’d have weeks to really screw up his courage before taking the plunge. But Zachary said they had the perfect match on file already. Their psych profiles matched. Their sexual appetites matched. Every fucking thing seemed to match. Even the company’s special magic picked this man from dozens of other candidates.
He was a well-respected master, a dom who’d been practicing for centuries. That was all the information they would give in case either party decided to back out before the actual meeting. He’d know his date by the bronze cuff with stylized “D I” carved on it that he’d be wearing, a match for the one weighing heavily on Garrick’s right wrist.
Centuries? Not many human para lived centuries. Maybe he’s vamp. He could be more exotic, like a djinn or an incubus. Even a non-human para like that would be better than another lupin. I made it clear that I wanted no lupins. To be on the safe side, I hope they avoided shifters all together.
No way to know for sure except to go in. Garrick squared his shoulders, bringing himself up to his full height. The man needed to know what he was getting. Someone completely untrained and with an attitude to boot. Someone who needed to be put in his place and screwed into the floor. A bad boy who deserved to be punished oh-so well and oh-so long. Someone in control of his everyday life but yearning to turn over that control in the bedroom.
A crooked smile twisted Garrick’s full lips as he slapped his palms against the door and stepped into the gloom.
The bouncer, not as big as Garrick, stepped forward to card him. Garrick snorted but reached for his wallet. As old as he was and still getting carded. As he fished for his ID he took the time to close his eyes and sniff. The majority of the patrons reeked of bland humanity. Several para, some he couldn’t quite place the species of. The only shifter was a fox hanging to the back of the room. She probably wouldn’t stick around long with Garrick coming in. They might be wearing their human faces but foxes had little love or trust for any predator. And whatever his sexual inclinations, Garrick was first and foremost the strongest wolf in his pack. No other shifter could mistake that.
The bouncer handed him back his ID. Garrick gave him an absent nod and then started scanning the crowd for the gleam of bronze. He wandered by the pool tables, where he caught a hint of para. A vampire played the pool shark against a group of unsuspecting humans. A few hundred years of practice could make for one hell of a player. He was cute in his way, if you were into the tall, slightly emaciated guys with hardcore auras. He liked the hardcore part but wanted his man with a bit more meat on his bones. Anorexia was a major turnoff for someone his size.
Since the vamp wore no bronze cuff, it wasn’t an issue.
He made his way to the dance floor and watched with a wistful gaze. Male and female bodies in several different pairings and a few trios writhed and gyrated against each other to the pulsing beat of some new punk song as spinning, multicolored spotlights flashed. But no one seemed to be alone and he saw no bronze.
Damn, he hoped his hookup hadn’t had second thoughts.
He finally made his way to the bar in the back, a dark oak affair with shiny fake gold bars for your feet and deep red leather bumpers for your elbows. Two men sat perched there, both delicate, with the darker man taller than the blond by a good four inches but still shorter than Garrick’s own six-foot three-inch frame. Here was a scent that he couldn’t quite place but since they were a couple he guessed it didn’t matter.
He sat one chair over from the slight blond man, marveling that anyone would have the patience to keep up with a hip-length mane. Especially someone with as many facial piercings as this guy had. Made a man wonder what else was pierced. As Garrick ordered his beer the blond glanced at him, his green gaze widening slightly before he shot Garrick a twisted smile and spun his bar stool toward him.
“Not what I expected but not bad at all.” The blond crossed his legs and arms. He tapped his perfectly manicured pointer finger against his thin lips as he considered Garrick. “My, my. Shifter, right? My guess—canine of some kind. Wolf?”
Garrick stiffened, turning to slap the man down, a growl forming deep in his chest. He wasn’t here to be hit on by some punk looking for a threesome, no matter how tasty he looked. If his date would show already, he’d be out of here. But he swallowed his annoyance as his eyes caught on the blond’s drink in his opposite hand, a bronze-encased wrist swirling the glass with an easy twirl.
The guy laughed at Garrick’s amazed gaze, setting the cuff spinning with a twist of his wrist. “Not what you were expecting either, I see. Well if you could’ve found me on your own, you wouldn’t have gone online. Still, I’ll have to have a stern talk with Zachary about his lack of warning.”
The deep, rich, round tone of his voice sent shivers down Garrick’s body. He slid his gaze over to look at the face of this unlikely dom. With sharp but delicate features, the other man had gleaming green eyes and a lush, coral pink mouth that broke the creamy, pale skin. A bar stabbed through one brow and a hoop through the other while a succession of rings climbed both ears.
And his scent flowed like a sweet spring breeze, a thousand different flowers, every sweet, mouthwatering dish that ever tempted a man. God, what was he? It was on the tip of Garrick’s tongue, coiling there like fragrant wildflower honey.
“I think you’ve struck him dumb, Faolan.” The other man chuckled, leaning around to look at Garrick. “And he’s definitely untrained. I believe he’s ignoring your first question entirely. Not very obedient if you ask me.” The man licked his lips and gave Garrick a lascivious wink. “He’s going to be work but he might just be worth the effort.”
The blond, Faolan, turned his attention to the dark man beside him. “I’ll be certain to work with him on his behavior and response time but allowances must be made for his novice condition. And that, my friend, is a discussion for a more private place between only the two of us.” With that dismissal he turned back to Garrick, focusing his entire attention on him. “Zachary told me a little of your need for privacy if not the reasoning. But Aindreas is right. You haven’t answered me and that isn’t a good starting point for our type of relationship. So let’s try again, shall we? What are you exactly?”
“Lupin,” Garrick answered, voice catching in his throat. The man’s undivided attention felt like a weight against his skin. His wolf quivered under the pressure, fighting against uttering a supplicant whimper. The alpha in him didn’t like the feeling but that didn’t stop the blood starting to pool in his cock.
“Good.” A bright smile graced Faolan’s face. The tightening of Garrick’s muscles eased with Faolan’s obvious pleasure. Faolan put his elbows on the bar, bracing his chin on laced fingers and cocking his head to the side. “Wondering what I am? Am I driving your poor little nose mad?”
“Yes,” Garrick replied, feeling like an idiot for his one word answers. But something about the man had
struck him dumb. Hopefully it wasn’t a permanent condition.
“Then I suggest we move this to a more private area.”