Will could not stop himself from eyeing the black SUV in his rearview mirror. Shielding his thoughts, he took a deep calming breath and let it out. He’d forced himself to remain calm and cool at the cemetery, hiding his excitement, because he’d sensed instantly that Garrick needed him to be in control. The funny thing was, deep inside him, he wanted to submit to Garrick. He just didn’t want to be the only one submitting.
For years, he’d let men like Seth Dylan and Corey Green top him. He’d never asserted his own will. Never asked to top another man. Never asked for anything. He’d always acquiesced with his partner’s wishes and never made his own known. It could be said that he’d been submissive all those years even though it wasn’t formal. He’d done a little BDSM, but nothing like what Garrick practiced if he’d divined his bloodmate’s thoughts correctly.
Still, for all practical purposes he’d spent years being a sexual submissive. With Garrick, he suddenly felt the need to make his desires known, the desires he’d always had and never expressed or acted upon. In the past, he’d never cared enough to even acknowledge those desires. The patchouli scent of his bloodmate filling his every breath had changed all that.
The desire that stirred within Will had an aggression he’d never known before. He wanted everything from Garrick. The power that emanated from the tall Magia fueled Will’s arousal as did the man’s stark beauty. The lean, angular face filled with character and wisdom complemented the hewn muscles of his body. Garrick had called Will beautiful, but Will knew the truth. He was a mere pretty boy beside Garrick’s blatant masculinity. The man probably had hordes of men and women worshipping him in his club.
A twinge of jealousy pinched Will as he pulled up to his gate and opened it with the remote. Garrick followed him down the drive to where it swept before the house. By the time Will had carefully maneuvered himself out of his car, Garrick already stood at his fender. The Magia ostensibly gazed at the house but Will could feel the weight of his regard and concern.
He limped up the front steps of the gray stone mansion his family had lived in for three generations. The pain in his left leg had dulled to a manageable throb thanks to the pain pill he’d swallowed in the car en route to his house. He hadn’t wanted his senses blunted from the meds but he’d been left with little choice. It was take the pill or be unable to exit his vehicle or stand on his own two feet. Not for the first time, he chafed at his injury and lingering pain and mobility issues.
Sweeping open the oak door, he stood aside to let Garrick in. The Magia gave him a hard, assessing glance as he passed.
“You may try if you like,” he murmured in response to Garrick’s fleeting thought that perhaps he should try to heal Will himself. “I had the best treatment available. I just need a few more weeks of physical therapy and rest. They insist I’m healing quite rapidly.”
“I’ve been told I’m a talented healer, Will. It would be my pleasure to try to ease your pain.”
Will knew without looking that Garrick was serious about applying his skill to Will’s injuries. He also knew that Garrick could feel every twinge and flare of agony that Will experienced. Maybe there was something Garrick could do, but Will wasn’t sure how he would feel about the Magia laying hands on the ruined flesh of his leg.
When Garrick’s mouth curled into a smile, Will realized that at some point the Magia would see his leg unless they fucked with their clothes on for the rest of their lives. He turned away and slipped out of his cashmere overcoat, hanging it in the coat closet near the front door. He held out his hand and Garrick silently handed him his black duster. Will stepped around Garrick, heading for the kitchen. He measured his steps, willing the leather soles of his loafers not to slip on the granite of the entry hall. He had a little better traction on the planked flooring of the huge kitchen and his tension eased.
The coffeepot was his first stop. He pressed the button to start the pot that he’d readied before he left that morning. Glancing over his shoulder, he noticed Garrick seating himself at the long butcher-block table. His second stop was the Crock-Pot that emitted the wonderful scent of beef bourguignon. His housekeeper had a thousand and one delicious Crock-Pot recipes and liked to leave him something every time she came in. Since she came in every two days, Will ate like a king.
He stirred the Crock-Pot, smiling to himself at the slight play on words, then reached for tableware. He limped to the table and began to set it, feeling Garrick’s acute displeasure that he was wasting his energy on domestic and unnecessary tasks. Still, when he sat down across from his bloodmate and the table gleamed with silver cutlery and shining crockery he felt more relaxed despite the slight throb in his left thigh.
They ate the stew with crusty fresh baked bread, drank steaming cups of coffee to fortify themselves for the discussion that lay ahead, and sat in virtual silence, not a word uttered between them. Of course, their thoughts were not so silent.
“I should steal your housekeeper. This is delicious.”
Garrick smiled as he raised his fork to his mouth.
Will stared openly as his bloodmate’s lips parted and the fork pressed within. Every movement of Garrick’s mobile mouth sent lust curling through his body. For now, it totally trumped any pain in his leg.
“She won’t leave the States. I once spent a month in Italy in a rented villa. I wanted her to come along so she could feed me and have a mini-vacation on her days off. She wouldn’t budge even though I offered her double her salary.”
It was, but not nearly as much as the fact that he was probably too injured to properly enjoy his bloodmate or assuage the desire the man set alight inside Will. By the time they both pushed aside their empty plates, Will’s body thrummed with the strongest lust he’d ever experienced. Suppressing it held its own brand of pain.
With easy, economical movements, Garrick stood and swiftly cleared the table. “Stay where you are,” he warned. “Let me do this.”
“You’re a guest,” Will protested.
Garrick snorted in disgust. “I’m your bloodmate. The two things will never reconcile. You were right back there at the cemetery. We are not truly strangers. We never could be. The connection is too strong.”
He wiped his hands on a paper towel and tossed it in the trash bin before leaning back against the counter, his long legs stretched out in front of him. Will gazed at the faded denim stretched across Garrick’s muscular thighs. He longed to strip the jeans from the Magia and feast on his flesh, but his body had its limitations.
“The physical pull is the strongest at this point in our relationship. It must be in order to ensure that two mates, two strangers, bond with each other. It’s fast forwarding through the first date, through all the dating really, to the place where a couple looks at each other and decides to take what’s between them to the next level,” Garrick explained.
Will gazed into his bloodmate’s silvery eyes. They held an expression of caution, but they also held a heat that found an answering flame inside Will.
“So what is our next level by your estimation?”
Garrick pulled himself up to his full height. “I help you upstairs. I help you out of your clothes. I help ease your pain and then I ease the lust in your body.”
The words sent Will’s blood rushing in his ears. He stood up awkwardly and found Garrick right there with an arm hard as iron about his waist. They traversed the stairs slowly and at the top, Will found himself out of breath, as much from his proximity to Garrick as the climb itself. Despite the pill he’d had earlier, every movement of his leg sent pain radiating through him and every brush of Garrick’s hard muscles against his side made him throb with desire.