Fire Mates, Book 1
Published 2016 by Book Boutiques.
Copyright © 2016, Lexxie Couper.
All rights reserved.
Heartburn sucked. Even for a dragon shifter.
Tyson Conley pressed the heel of his palm to his sternum and rubbed in a slow circular motion, knowing it would do sweet F.A. to relieve the pain. This is what he got for eating spicy meatball pizza. Every friggin’ time, he ended up in hell. At some stage of the game he was going to learn his lesson.
He could already feel the insidious heat radiating up through his throat from his chest, but whereas a human would pop a Mylanta or two and be done with it, he was now in for a scorcher of a time. Thankfully he couldn’t exhale fire in his human form, but that didn’t stop the inferno in his chest from making him wish he were dead. Damn, it felt like the lining of his digestive tract was being scalded to hell.
Ty let out a growl, a thoroughly bestial sound that made the old duck sitting at the table next to his flinch. She stared at him, washed-out blue eyes wide behind her thick glasses.
He gave her an apologetic smile, fighting the urge to fidget in his chair. “Sorry.” He pushed the remains of his pizza away. He was done. If Ryan ever turned up, he could eat the rest of the damn thing. As far as Tyson was aware, spicy meatballs only made his younger brother more—
A million pinpricks of fire raced abruptly over Tyson’s flesh. Then another million. His breath caught, his mouth went dry and, despite feeling like he was about to spontaneously combust, he felt frozen.
What the hell?
The old duck beside him glared, thin mouth puckered with disapproving disdain. He must have made a noise to warrant her obvious ire once more. What it was, though, he didn’t have a bloody clue. Another growl? A groan?
Invisible fire swept over his skin again, hotter this time—so much hotter. And purposeful. Shooting over his skin like an inferno until his dick was so fucking hard he wanted to cry out in pain. And pleasure. Oh God, did he want to cry out in pleasure.
The mating fire.
Tyson twisted in his seat, frantically looking around the beachfront café even as he felt like he was burning up. No one stared back. No one gazed at him with open hunger. No one stalked toward him with single-minded purpose or made coy goo-goo eyes from afar. The only one paying him any attention was the old duck with the sour-lemon face, and there was nothing hungry or sexual about the way she stared at him. She looked as if she were about to pull an Uzi from her handbag and save the world from a psychopath.
She leaned toward him, eyes narrowing behind her pink glasses. “Are you on drugs, son?” Her lips—painted the same pink as her coke-bottle glasses, Ty noted in a brief moment of surreal detachment—pursed tighter. “Are you tripping?”
Fresh fire scalded his flesh, so hot, so intense, he gritted his teeth. His cock throbbed with such impatient insistency he feared he was going to erupt. He blinked at the old woman. Opened his mouth. Closed it. His throat wouldn’t work. His balls felt ready to burst.
Mating fire? How could he be experiencing the mating fire? Since when were there female dragon shifters in Syd—
A woman jogged toward the café, holding the leash of a massive animal that could be a dog but looked more like a hairy…thing…loping beside her. She moved at a leisurely pace, dark-red ponytail flipping behind her head like a dancing flame, slim body radiating energy, breath slipping from her in streams of delicate mist Tyson knew only he could see.
She ran past the café, dog-slash-thing keeping pace, and Tyson’s entire body went up in flames. Heat and lust and want. Need.
Urgent need. Hungry want. Dire lust.
His heart slammed into his throat. His mate. His Fire Mate. Fuck, he’d seen his Fire Mate. And she was—
He bolted to his feet, stare locked on the woman jogging through the crowded footpath. His table went skidding, bumping into the old duck’s. The remains of his pizza clattered to the floor, along with his untouched beer, his phone and the old duck’s glass of wine. Beer and wine splashed his ankles, dribbled inside his shoes, but he didn’t care. He had to catch her. Had to—
“Sonny,” she hissed. “Do you know you’re making noises like a—”
The word reverberated through his head, drowning out whatever word the old duck had used just as the crowd swallowed up the jogging woman.
He was making noises like a dragon. A dragon in heat.
He was making noises like a dragon in heat because he was a dragon in heat. And Christ on a pony, his Fire Mate had just jogged by, oblivious to his existence, triggering the mating fire—and she was human.
Human. How the fuck could she be human? Surely he was wrong. True, he didn’t detect the distinct honeyed-sulfur scent all female dragon shifters exuded…but since when did dragon shifters mate with humans?
Since never, that’s when. They may fuck them every now and again, but mate with them?
No. It wasn’t possible.
Of course it isn’t. So tell that to your body.
His body, however, wasn’t listening to logic and millennia-old fact. His body was well and truly on its way to shifting—shifting for fuck’s sake!—and unless he did something soon, something drastic and/or crazy, the busy Bondi Beach esplanade was going to find itself plus one very horny, very large, very medieval mythological dragon.
He stumbled away from his table, trying to find the woman—his mate—in the flow of pedestrians filling the footpath that ran between the café and the beach. He had to get to her. What the hell he was going to say, he didn’t know, but he had to get to her and, if nothing else, kiss her. And hope to all things holy that simple contact would quell the shift.
“Sonny, did you know you have a very large erection?” his ever-informative elderly neighbor asked, hissing again, her voice somehow punching through his stunned disbelief.
Tyson blanched. He jerked his gaze back to her, down to his groin, to the bloody obvious hard-on tenting his cargoes, and then back to the woman. “Err…”
She smirked, and for an insane moment, she didn’t look old at all. Or duckish.
And then fresh fire razed Tyson’s flesh, licked at his balls, his groin, and he forgot about old ladies. Fresh fire accompanied by a bone-deep shudder, and he knew his Fire Mate had turned around. She was jogging back toward him.
He bolted. Vaulting over chairs, tables and the café’s neat row of potted palms. There was a shocked shout from behind him, a few loud what the hells, a bray of stunned laughter—and then nothing.
Nothing but the thumping of his heart and the roaring of blood in his ears.
Bloody hell. He was about five minutes away from an uncontrolled and unwanted shift into dragon form, he was still fighting a mean case of heartburn and he was sporting an erection the size of a cricket bat. What a perfect first impression to make on the complete stranger he was going to kiss right here on the busy Bondi Beach foot—
He ran straight into her.
There was a startled oof, a growl, a warm and firm body pressed to his…followed by an explosion of heat over his flesh, through his body, into his soul.
Two wide, stunned blue eyes stared up at him—and then Tyson crushed her lips with his. He kissed her and invaded her mouth and let the demand pounding through his body be consumed by her sweet, destined blaze.
A stranger’s tongue was in Sera’s mouth. In her mouth.
Holy smack, a stranger’s tongue was in her mouth. Rolling and sliding over her tongue. The stranger was kissing her. No, not just kissing her. He was fucking her mouth. Making goddamn love to her mouth with his tongue while something long and thick and wicked hard that was most likely an impressive erection poked at her belly. He was cupping her right breast in a strong, kneading caress, teasing her hard nipple, and what was she doing?
Just what the hell was she doing?
Was she fighting him off? Was she pushing him away and kicking him in the balls? Was she letting Hannibal rip said kicked-in balls off?
She sure as hell wasn’t paying heed to all those stranger-danger lectures from when she was a kid, that’s for certain.
No. She was standing there like some kind of skanky ho, letting him. Letting him. His tongue was practically playing with her tonsils and she wasn’t putting up a fight. Far from it. She was kissing him back. Her tongue was stroking his, her lips were parted and she was kissing him back big-time. Holy smack, she was even moaning.
What the hell was wrong with her? It was like she had lost control of herself the second the guy slammed into her. Shit, even her hands had strayed to his chest—his broad, hard, smooth chest that seemed to burn under his light-cotton shirt with a heat that should have screamed fever but instead it made her pulse quicken, her pussy throb and her tongue stroke his some more.
This had to be some random—and thoroughly surreal—act of impulsive seduction. Like the guy in New York who gave out hugs, except this guy gave out mind-blowing, tonsil-stroking kisses. Had to be.
She had to stop him.
Except she didn’t. Someone else did.
“Hey, hey, hey,” a man barked to her right, a second before the tongue-fucking stranger was hauled backward. “There’ll be none of that here, mate.”
Something growled. An animal. A big animal.
Sera snapped her gaze to Hannibal, but her cousin’s dog was just sitting at her heel, licking his balls.
She jerked her gaze back to her stranger—her stranger?—and almost let out a yelp.
She hadn’t gotten a good look at him before, just remembered a quick flash of hunky, dark yumminess a second before he crushed her lips with his. Now he stood glaring at the cop holding his arm, very much still hunky and yummy what with his dark, floppy hair, equally dark straight eyebrows and dark-dark eyes. Very much hunky and yummy but oh so very much frightening. Menacing. Malevolent.
As dark and hunky and yummy as he was, he looked like he was about to rip the head off the cop who suddenly didn’t seem to appear as brave and determined and authoritarian as he had a second ago. Now the cop looked scared.
Scared of her stranger. The guy who had come out of nowhere, kissed her until she moaned and was currently glaring at the cop, nostrils flaring, chest heaving, growling in an utterly inhuman way that turned Sera’s pussy to liquid.
Oh God help her, she’d just French-kissed a psychopath. And was horny about it.
“Y-you can’t…” the cop stammered, stumbling back a step.
Her growling, nostril-flaring stranger sucked in a breath and swung his gaze back Sera. “I can smell your want.”
The claim was a low murmur through barely parted lips. His eyes seemed to glint, another growl rumbled in his chest and, with a shudder unlike any Sera had ever seen, he turned and sprinted away. Through the bustling pedestrians on the footpath toward the crowded sands of Australia’s most famous beach.
He didn’t slow. He didn’t deviate from his path. He ran straight for the water, stripping his shirt as he went, and splashed into the surf, still wearing his cargo shorts and shoes.
“What the hell?” Sera whispered, watching him.
Without breaking his break-neck pace, the sun glimmering off his bare torso, he dove under the first wave and was gone.
Shook her head and blinked again.
Her stranger didn’t emerge from the water. She scanned the waves, certain her eyes were playing tricks on her. Nothing. All she could see was a beach full of laughing, swimming people, none of whom had kissed her senseless in the last five minutes.
Whoever he was, he could hold his breath for a long time.
“Ummm.” The cop beside her shuffled into view. “Do you…do I need to take a statement…”
Sera tore her stare from the breaking waves and frowned at him. He looked uncomfortable. Uncomfortable and ruffled. His cheeks were pink and his gaze didn’t want to settle on anything.
Well duh. Of course he’s ruffled. Did you hear the noises your stranger made? You’re ruffled too—although for some insane reason it’s because you’re horny. And while we’re at it, why on earth are you still calling the psychopathic kisser your anything?
She shook her head and offered the cop a sheepish smile. “No. It’s okay. He’s my…my boyfriend.”
What the hell? Now why in the name of God did you say that?
The cop seemed to flinch, as if the very thought of standing near the psychopathic kisser’s girlfriend was dangerous. He shot Hannibal a quick look, perhaps hopeful her cousin’s Irish Wolfhound-Mastiff mix might give him some reassurance. Hannibal, ever the epitome of un-neutered canine, continued to lick his balls, totally uninterested in the whole situation.
Sera frowned again, this time at the dog. His disinterest in itself was just as freaky odd as her stranger.
God, will you stop calling him your stranger? Seriously, it’s getting…weird.
It was. The whole thing was. The man, his kiss, her reaction to it, the very pleasant heat his touch had provoked, smoldering away in her core. Hannibal’s complete lack of care about it all. She ran with her cousin’s dog for one very specific reason—he wouldn’t let anyone near her. It wasn’t like she was constantly in need of protection; she wasn’t. But just of late, every time she went out she seemed to get accosted by weirdoes. Hannibal kept them all away.
All, that was, except her stranger. And seriously, could you get any weirder?
I can smell your want.
The man’s murmured words slinked through her head and, for the love of God, her pussy contracted.
Now there’s a weirdo, Sera Hayes. Your psychotic kisser. What are you going to do about him?
Do about him? Chase him? Press charges against him? Hell, she didn’t even know his name.
Damn, why didn’t she know his name?
Are you serious?
“…doing this again on a public footpath, okay?”
Sera blinked. The cop was still talking. Admittedly a few steps farther away from her than where he’d stood before, his hand resting on his gun, but still talking to her nonetheless.
He scowled. “I’m not sure what’s going on with you and your…boyfriend, but next time, please avoid doing it on a public footpath, okay?”
The word sent a wave of shimmering, tight, wanton need through Sera. She bit back a gasp, staring at the cop as he continued berating her, her pussy throbbing and pulsing and doing all manner of squirmy horny things at the thought of doing “it” with her stranger. Her nipples pinched tight, her heart raced faster and, before she realized it, she was pressing her thighs together at the memory of the way he’d kissed her. The way he’d cupped her breast and made love to her mouth with his—
The shark alarm at Bondi Beach wailed into life, a high-pitched siren that shattered the highly erotic and utterly disturbing memory.
Sera let out a gasp, her heart not just missing a beat but a whole goddamn chorus. She jerked her stare to the beach, her throat tight. People were running screaming from the surf, the shark alarm continued to wail and, above it all, a cacophony of shouts filled the air, all yelling the same thing: “Shark! There’s a fucking great big shark in the water!”
The cop ran for the beach. At a dead sprint on the exact trajectory her stranger had run only moments earlier. Why the cop was running for the waves, Sera couldn’t decide—hysterical relief over something other than her to deal with, perhaps? Whatever reason, she was glad for it. She wanted to go home. Go home, take a shower and forget this whole surreal episode had happened.
“Strange that a shark could get past the shark nets, no?”
Sera started at the voice to her left. She swung about, finding a little old lady complete with poorly applied pink lipstick and matching shell-framed glasses standing beside her.
“I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, dearie,” the wizened woman continued, “but aren’t those nets there to keep the swimmers safe and the sharks out?”
The woman’s eyes seemed to glint behind the thick lenses of her glasses as she stared hard at Sera. Hard enough to make her squirm.
Sera frowned, gripping Hannibal’s leash tighter. The dog—finally finished with his scrotal-licking preoccupation—came to the party on his protective duties and rose to his feet, a low growl rumbling in his chest.
The old woman shuffled back a step, flicking the huge beast a hesitant look.
Heat flooded Sera’s cheeks. She gave Hannibal’s leash a gentle tug. “Oh, right,” she muttered to him, trying to make him heel. “The psychotic kisser you don’t worry about one iota, but the little old lady gets your wind up?”
“Psychotic kisser?” the lady echoed, that glint not just in her eyes turning her inspection into something close to intense fervor. “You didn’t consent to his affections? Oh dearie, you need to report him. Do you know his name? His address? I can help with the report if you wish. Do you know where he lives? I could go with you now to demand an apology if you like.”
The questions lashed at Sera. There was no other way to describe it. They came at her fast, the little old lady shuffling forward with each one, coming closer and closer. Hannibal growled again. Louder this time. Growled and strained against his leash.
Sera swallowed. “N-no…I don’t…” She stopped, frowned. Looked out at the beach and the hordes of people keeping distance from the waves and back to the old woman with the piercing stare again. “I mean…how did a shark get—”
“You don’t even know the man who kissed you moments ago?” The elderly lady pulled a face of disgust. “Shameful.”
New heat flushed Sera’s cheeks. “That’s not…” She fumbled to a halt, biting her bottom lip with her teeth. Why did she feel like she had to protect her stranger? Especially against a woman who looked at least eighty-five in the shade?
No idea. But you do. Don’t you? And while we’re pondering the surreal and ludicrous, where exactly did your stranger go? Into the waves semi-naked and you haven’t seen him since. He hasn’t popped up once, not even to take a breath. How is that possible? Where did he go?
And why do you so desperately want to know?
She didn’t know the answer to any of those questions. It pissed her off. Enough that she forgot her reprobate mother had managed to raise a daughter who was polite and respectful to elders. She narrowed her eyes at the possible octogenarian scowling at her. Hannibal growled again. “Are you always this pushy?”
“Only with little hussies who snog complete strangers in the street.”
Sera’s eyebrows shot up her forehead, going from angry to stunned in a single jump. “Excuse me?”
The little old lady muttered something that sounded a lot like “stupid cunt”, shook her head and then offered a smile so saccharin, Sera’s mouth fell open. “I must be off, dearie. It was lovely talking to you.”
She turned and shuffled away and, for the first time, Sera noticed she wore running shoes with her matronly dress. Albeit pink running shoes, to match her lipstick and glasses, but running shoes all the same. Pink running shoes and thick black socks.
Sera blinked. “That is the freakiest thing I’ve ever seen.”
Really? Freakier than a gorgeous, sexy guy who scares the shit out of a cop with just a flare of his nostrils? Or freakier than a man who runs into the surf after kissing you with more passion than you’ve ever been kissed in your life?
She swung her head and stared at the beach, doing her best to ignore the ridiculous way her sex throbbed at the memory of that unbelievable kiss. The beach was packed with confused people. They stood at the water’s edge, staring at the waves as if searching for the shark. The alarm was no longer wailing and the cop who’d come to her rescue earlier was now trudging back up the beach, heading in her direction.
“Whoops, Hannibal, time to go.” She pivoted on her heel, tugging the still-growling dog with her, and began trotting along the footpath.
Yes, it was time to go. Time to go home, have a shower and put this whole situation behind her.
Now if only her damn pussy would stop carrying on, reminding her with insistent force exactly what she was trying to forget—one brilliant kiss from a complete stranger.
Stupid bloody pussy.
Tyson climbed out of the surf naked and human once more. Damn it. He really liked those cargoes. And the shirt he’d tossed aside, come to think of it. And he’d only just broken in his shoes so they were perfectly comfortable and—
Crikey, Ty. Are you really worrying about your clothes? You do remember what just happened, don’t you?
He did. But it was better to concentrate on the here and now than the twenty minutes ago. At least until he ascertained the tiny beach surrounded by rocky cliffs he was currently wading toward was as unpopulated as usual. A larger-than-normal wave smashed into the backs of his thighs and he struggled to stay on his feet, casting a slow stare along the deserted inlet as he did so. Thank God he knew the little impossible-to-reach beach existed, otherwise Sydneysiders would be getting a side order of dragon with their six p.m. news that night.
That would be bad. Contemporary man wasn’t equipped to deal with the concept of dragons, let alone dragons that were also humans.
That he’d had to resort to diving into the water back at Bondi Beach to hide his uncontrolled shift made him a little unnerved. That he’d had to swim underwater in dragon form for so long before he was able to shift back unnerved him even more.
Unnerved? Think that’s probably a slight understatement there. Seriously, when was the last time you shifted without intent? Hell, when was the last time you shifted, period?
He bit back a growl, the waves lapping at his ankles as he finally cleared the surf. Until today, he honestly couldn’t remember the last time he’d shifted. Unlike the country’s lucky canine shifters, who could shift and go for a run in the nearest National Park, cocking their legs on any and every tree that came along, dragon shifters were pretty much confined to human form. It wasn’t scared villagers one had to worry about nowadays, but backyard guerillas with their registered handguns. Even heading out to the country posed various threats, given every farmer and his dog possessed a Government-approved high-powered rifle these days.
What with the vicious feral pigs running amuck in the country, Tyson wasn’t surprised the farmers were armed to the teeth. He’d had a run-in with one such wild boar back in his teenage years and his right calf still ached in wet weather due to the injury he sustained. Even a dragon had to draw the line somewhere when it came to taking on prey. Those feral pigs and antsy farmers made flying around in the bush a high-risk exercise. Try to take wing near a farmer’s property and you were bound to have your belly hit with a round of bullets.
Dropping onto the sand, the fine grains biting into his naked butt, Tyson dragged his hands through his wet hair. As always after a shift, his skin tingled. It was a wholly wonderful sensation, like walking through a cascade of liquid heat bubbles, but unlike nature had intended, he couldn’t enjoy it right now.
He’d met his Fire Mate. The one female his id, his soul and his body would forever be joined with. His destined mate, his future, his forever…and she was human. How the fuck did that even happen?
He didn’t know. But he had to find out. It was impossible for a human to be a dragon shifter’s mate. Impossible.
First things first though, Ty. You need to find some clothes.
He wriggled his toes in the sand, staring out at the Pacific Ocean stretching before him and then up at the imposing, vertical cliff face behind him. His home was about forty minutes west of where he was now. Forty minutes of densely populated Bondi packed to the rafters with camera-toting tourists and Smartphone-wielding locals. A naked man running through the streets was bound to grab attention. The last thing he needed was to get his bare butt a spot on someone’s YouTube playlist, Twitter feed or Instagram account.
So, shift again? Wait until night and shift? Fly home?
His gut knotted, his skin tingling with a million pricks of icy fire. As enticing as the idea was, it was dangerous. Too dangerous. The air above Sydney was one of the busiest flight paths in the world. No matter how fast he was, how low he flew, he’d be detected. Pilot, stargazer, it didn’t matter which, he’d be spotted. When in dragon form, he was roughly the size of a sperm whale with a wingspan that rivaled that of a 747. He was also covered in scales the color of iridescent blood. Pretty hard to miss.
Besides, he couldn’t wait that long. He couldn’t. As much as he’d like to believe the whole human-as-Fire-Mate thing was some preternatural fuck-up he could ignore, he couldn’t. His croi, his inhuman source of existence, had found hers—whoever she was—and now he had to claim her.
Claim her, fuck her, brand her and join with her on every level imaginable.
Within the next twelve hours. Or all his worries about being detected would mean sweet fuck-all.
Which means you’re not only going to have to climb the cliff buck-naked, but also do a runner through the streets until you can find something to wear.
Tyson let out another growl, this one a little less human and a whole lot exasperated. He wasn’t a small man. No dragon shifter ever was. At six-five and ripped with muscle, he was pretty damn intimidating to look at. He knew that. However, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t see himself pulling a Schwarzenegger à la Terminator and just walking up to a guy his size, demanding said guy hand over his clothes. While Tyson wasn’t worried about being beaten to a pulp—he was damn near invincible in a physical punch-up, after all—there was that constant social media threat. And the threat of being arrested. That was a situation he could really do without.
As far as the human world was concerned, Tyson Conley of Sydney, Australia, was thirty-five years old. At least, that’s what Tyson’s driver’s license said. If cops started digging however, they’d discover that identity only went back five years. If they really knew he was over two hundred…
No. He had to make it to his home without police attention, or if not his home, at least a phone to call his brother. Ryan had stood him up for lunch. In Tyson’s mind, that meant his brother bloody well owed him.
Okay. So what’s the plan, Stan? Get home, get dressed and get hunting?
He pushed himself to his feet, wiped off the sand clinging to his naked butt, shook more from his balls and swiped a few grains from the end of his cock. His cock which, he was more than a little dismayed to see, was already growing stiff and fat at the idea of finding his mysterious human Fire Mate.
Lord love a duck, he’d never had much trouble getting it up, but this was borderline ridiculous. Getting a hard-on just thinking about finding her? What the hell was his dick going to do when he was actually near her again?
What was it going to do when he was inside her?
The thought was too much for him. Too enticing and too inescapable. He groaned, his gut clenching, his groin tightening. Her taste filled his mouth, his mind having already stored every possible detail it could from their short, explosive kiss.
Fire swept over him, again, scalding his senses. His cock jerked, now as hard as it had ever been, the head wet with pre-come. His balls didn’t just ache, they throbbed with exquisite agony. Needing her touch, her tongue, her mouth…
His knees gave out.
He stumbled back a step, the mating fire rendering his legs weak. God, he could barely stand. Pain lashed through him, the pain of absolute lust and desire. He fell to his knees, gut roiling, breath caught in his throat. Scary need lanced through him. Consumed him. His cock jerked again, a pulsing spasm that sent wicked pleasure deep into his core. He threw back his head and squeezed his eyes shut. Fuck, he was going to shift. Again.
He was going to shift unless he did something to stop it. Something to—
He grabbed his dick. Wrapped his fingers around its thick, rigid length and pumped.
Raw pleasure burst through him. Raw and concentrated and absolute. It speared into his groin, into his very center. He gritted his teeth, blinding showers of red and orange and white erupting behind his closed eyelids. Ancient hunger and primordial need turned his blood to rivers of molten lust. He pumped his cock, head back, mouth open. The image of his mysterious Fire Mate filled his head. They were her fingers on his cock, not his own. They had to be. If he was to stop the shift, it had to be her fucking him with her hand. It had to be her fingers jerking him off, bringing him to release.
He thrust into her tight grip, his cock stretching her fingers wide, his pre-come wetting them, making them slick so he could fuck her hand faster. Harder. And he did, moaning as she snared his balls with her other hands and kneaded them with violent force. A blistering summer gust blew up the beach, like a blast from a sand furnace, and Ty cried out, his skin so hot the wind caused an impossible chill to ripple over him.
His mysterious Fire Mate worked his cock, stroked it, squeezed it. Punished its bulbous head with brutal urgency before pumping again. Her fingers choked the root of his shaft even as she tugged and massaged his swollen balls. He shuddered, the rising excitement in his core licking at his control, running through his veins. The fire simmering beneath his flesh turned hotter, so hot. He cried out again, the sound inhuman. It reverberated around the inlet, bounced off the rocky cliff walls and assaulted him—the mating cry of a creature beyond rational thought.
God help him, he was close. Close to shifting. Close to coming. Close…so close.
Fuck her hand. Fuck her hand and believe it’s her mouth. Before you shift and all is—
He slammed his hand up and down his cock and pictured her mouth sucking it. Pictured her lips stretched. Lips that tasted so sweet, that felt so soft under his. He saw her sucking his dick. Felt her lash its length with the tongue he’d had in his mouth less than an hour ago.
His skin rippled, the shift so close now his bones began to burn as well. A raging inferno consumed him, a pyre of rebirth he knew couldn’t be tempered or controlled. It was a race. A race to release. Either his climax or his dragon would win, and if the shift claimed him first…
Fuck, gonna come, gotta come, gonna…gotta…oh fuck.
A shudder rocked through him. Painful. Violent. He thrust into his Fire Mate’s mouth, fucked it. It was so good. So fucking good. And still the shift loomed closer. His mind, his god-cursed human mind, knew it his hand, not her mouth. His hand, not her cunt. And he needed that mouth and that cunt. Needed them so much. Her sweet pussy that was his and his a—
At the thought of his cock slamming into her sex, Tyson came hard. Ropes of thick seed erupted from his dick, arcing through the air to splash the pristine white sand.
His release poured through him like liquid energy, and as it left him in powerful jets, the fantasy it was her causing this pleasure overwhelmed him. Overwhelmed the shift and, with one final cry, with one final shudder, he collapsed completely. Naked and covered in sweat and come and sand.
But human. Thank fucking Christ, still human. At least on the outside.
But for how much longer?
He stared out at the calm, cerulean Pacific and saw his Fire Mate running past him. Her flaming ponytail flipping behind her, her sublime body moving for him, only for him, and the dragon he truly was deep in his soul growled with rising, insatiable need.
He had to find her.
Now. If not sooner.
* * * *
Sera stepped out of the shower and wrapped a towel around her torso. Well, that was a big freaking waste of time and water. Fifteen minutes fucking herself with her own fingers in a desperate attempt to get the memory of her psychotic kisser out of her mind, and who did she see when she finally closed her eyes and came? In hunky, sexy, smoldering vividness?
Him. Her stranger. It was like he was in the shower with her. If she didn’t know any better, she’d swear she could smell him, a spicy smokiness on her every panted, gasping breath. If she didn’t know better, she would have laid money she’d heard him roar with mutual release when she came.
Of course, what he sounded like when he climaxed was something she totally knew. Not. So what the hell was the whole point of her shower? She was still horny, still thinking of her stranger and now, it seemed, she was insane.
She shoved the corner of her towel under her armpit in ferocious frustration and stormed across her bathroom. “Brilliant. Freaking brilliant. I’m a skanky ho losing her mind. Just what Mum always wanted me to be.”
At the thought of her mother, dead now for close to fifteen years, she pulled a face. Yeah, her mum had been all about maternal guidance and high hopes for her precious little one. As long as the high hopes and maternal guidance didn’t interfere with Mum’s daily poker-machine playing, her nightly bed hopping with whoever offered to pay her rent and her hourly drinking.
Perhaps Sera really was a chip off the old block, in the end. She did, after all, gladly and willingly play tonsil hockey with a complete stranger today.
“Stop it, Sera.” She shook her head, willing the thought of her less-than-perfect childhood away. The damp kiss of her hair on her shoulder blades sent a shiver rippling through her, a delightful sensation that made her nipples pinch hard beneath the towel. So what if she’d kissed a guy? It wasn’t like she was now married to him. It didn’t mean she was going to screw him senseless if she ever saw him again. And seriously, what were the odds of that happening? Sydney was a massive place. A person could be lonely in a crowd here.
And you’re not lonely at all, are you, Sera?
“Damn, woman.” She rolled her eyes. “What is it with you and the melodramatics today?”
Sera hurried from the bathroom into her bedroom. She wasn’t lonely. The fact she didn’t really connect with anyone made little difference. She had her cousin. Sure, he was a bit of an oddball, but at least he didn’t give her a hard time about always feeling cold no matter how hot the day, or teasing her for wanting to constantly be in the sun. At least he didn’t call her “lizard” like her work colleagues did.
She liked her life the way it was, thank you very much. She was doing exactly what she wanted to do—looking after reptiles. One big reptile, in fact. Despite what her fellow animal keepers called her behind her back, how many people in the world could say they cared for a Komodo dragon?
And how many could say they’d been kissed senseless by a stranger in the street? A tall, dreamy, gorgeous stranger who didn’t faze her cousin’s dog and scared the crap out of a cop? A mysterious man who would bring her to climax after climax after climax if given the—
“Oh, for Pete’s sake.” The exasperated groan fell in the silence of her room and she dropped onto the edge of her bed. “Now you’re freaking hornier than you already were.”
This was ridiculous. She wasn’t normally like this. What was going on? Anyone would think the guy had worked some freaky voodoo magic mojo on her to make her so obsessed.
Letting out a sigh, she slumped back on the bed. Her pussy throbbed with the fading echo of her recent orgasm. Her clit still felt tender. Swollen. What she really wanted now, right now, was her stranger between her thighs, sucking on it, licking it. Nibbling on it with not-so-gentle bites before lapping at her—
Sera’s belly flipped-flopped and she caught her bottom lip with her teeth. She truly was a skanky ho, it seemed. An insane, skanky ho with an obsession for a guy she didn’t even know.
“Again, I say brilliant. Freaking brilliant.”
She lay motionless for a long while, refusing to touch herself no matter how much her body demanded she do so. Her body was a slut. As it had proven today. Once she got herself under control, she’d pull on some clothes and head over to work. It was almost dark. She didn’t normally take the long cross-city commute to the zoo come nightfall and the zoo’s sole Komodo dragon, a cantankerous reptile by the wholly silly name of Puff, certainly wasn’t expecting her. But she felt the need to go see him anyway. See him and take comfort in his ancient presence.
Okay, now you really do sound insane, Sera. You need to—
Her doorbell rang.
She snapped upright, bending her body into an abrupt right angle. The towel dug into her armpits and she let out a little yelp, and another—the latter from ridiculous nerves when the doorbell rang again.
So are you going to go answer it?
It rang again. And a fist pounded on the door. An insistent fist.
Sera pushed herself to her feet and ran for the door. It made no sense, of course, especially when wrapped only in a damp towel, but she had to answer the door. She had to. A warm tension in the pit of her belly demanded it. Told her to run to the door, fling it open and throw herself into the arms of the man every fiber in her being, every molecule in her body, told her was standing on the other side. Throw herself into his arms, wrap her leg around his hip and kiss him until—
She stopped herself from yanking open the door half a heartbeat after her fingers wrapped around the knob. What the hell was she doing?
Pulse pounding, mouth dry, pussy aching, she looked down at herself.
The towel had fallen from her body somewhere between her bedroom and the front door. Her breasts were swollen and heaving, her nipples hard and puckered. Her belly was doing some bizarre, hitching dance, as if it knew what was about to happen and couldn’t wait.
She sucked in a sharp breath, dismayed and, quite frankly, more than a touch worried, and let out a soft groan. The air smelled of her pleasure. She was so ripe, so ready to be fucked she could smell her own need.
And even with that horrifying realization, even at the sight of her naked body, at the feel of her juices on the tops of her inner thighs, she was still about to pull the door open. Because on the other side was her stranger, her psychotic kisser. She was sure of it. Completely sure. And she so wanted to be kissed by him again. Kissed and fucked and claimed.
Holy moly, woman, what is wrong with you?
She jerked her hand from the doorknob as if it was a snake. An angry snake. Took a step back from the door.
Stared at it.
Heard her blood roaring in her ears, like the hungry call of a creature from her dreams.
The doorbell rang again and she gasped.
“I can hear your want,” a man called from the other side of the door, his deep voice muffled by two inches of steel-cored wood. “Just as powerfully as I can smell it.”
Sera gasped again. She scurried back, stare locked on the closed door. He was here. Holy fuck, how could he be here?
Doesn’t matter. Open the door and let him in.
She shook her head. “Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin,” she whispered.
“I’m not a wolf,” he called from the other side.
Sera didn’t just yelp this time, she squealed. She stumbled back several more steps, mouth open, ready to tell whoever her stranger was to go the fuck away, when her heel came down on the towel so conveniently on the floor behind her. Soft Egyptian cotton slid over polished wood, and before she could save herself, the world slipped under her and she landed on her arse. With a thud. And another yelp.
“Fuck, that hurt!”
The door slammed open before the exclamation could finish bursting past her lips, the sound of splintering wood drowning out her cry a second before her mysterious stranger stormed into the house and scooped her from the floor.
“What the hell are you doing?”
Her question squeaked from her. There wasn’t really any other way to describe the way the words came out of her mouth. She squeaked them, like a trapped mouse. Except no mouse had ever been held naked against a chest so broad and hard, by arms so strong and perfect. Oh God, were they strong. And perfect.
Reality hit her.
“Put me down!”
She thrashed in his arms, far too turned-on for her sanity. She writhed and bucked until, with another shout, she tumbled from his strong, perfect arms to her feet. God, she was all about making stupid noises today, wasn’t she?
She hit the floor with a solid thud, bounced on her feet, stumbled sideways and scooped up her towel as she went. For a surreal moment she saw herself in all her naked glory—damp hair lashing around her face like red strands of rope, boobs jiggling, arms and legs waving about. For another surreal moment she thought thank freaking God I waxed yesterday, and then she was backing up against floor-to-ceiling mirror, knotting her wet towel around her chest and glaring at the man currently standing in her house.
“Who the hell do you think you are?” she spat out between ragged breaths.
Eyes the color of midnight studied her. He didn’t take a step. He just stood motionless, his tall, imposing, dominating body decked out in snug, faded Levis and a black polo, his gaze trained on her through an artfully messy tumble of glossy raven-black hair. “I—”
She didn’t let him finish. “How did you find me…are you a stalker? Are you stalking me?”
He shook his head, a pained expression flashing across features that were way too gorgeous not to be unnerving. “No,” he said, and Sera ground her teeth at the hungry way her body reacted to the deep timbre of his voice. “But I need to—”
“Fuck off,” she snapped, narrowing her eyes. “That’s what you need to do. Why the hell did you just break in my door if—”
“I heard you fall and hurt your—”
“That doesn’t mean you can—”
“Listen, you need—”
“Get lost, creep! And to think I just masturba—” She slapped her hand to her mouth. Oh Jesus, had she really almost said what she’d been about to say?
Her stranger—stop it! He’s not your anything!—cocked his head to the side and took a step toward her. “What did you just do?”
Sera smooshed herself closer to the mirror and cursed her idiocy—one, for backing her bare butt against a solid surface, limiting her escape options, and two, for opening her big, idiotic mouth. “Take another step,” she snarled, fighting to keep her anger, “and you’re in for a world of pain.” She should have been furious and petrified and panicked. Instead, the closer her stranger came, the more she wanted him, as if she were a cat to his funky-arsed catnip.
Cat, mouse…what other kind of animal do you purport to be this afternoon, Sera? Goat? Monkey? Lizard?
Her stranger’s eyes seemed to shimmer with a burnished heat. “I like the sound of that last one.”
Sera’s mouth fell open. He didn’t just read her mind. No way. “Okay, seriously, take one more step and I’m kicking your balls in!”
A small, crooked grin curled one side of his mouth. “One more step and I’ll have you flattened to that mirror with my mouth on yours.”
A wave of traitorous heat rolled through her, tight and delicious and…wrong. This was so wrong. A strange man was in her house, had broken into her house and seen her naked—God, held her naked. He’d kissed her, stalked her back here and now she was horny? Again? This couldn’t be any more wrong.
So why does it feel right, Sera? Right on every damn level?
She narrowed her eyes. And then said the most ridiculous thing she’d ever uttered in her life. “Try it.”
His nostrils flared. “Okay.”
He moved. With wholly unnatural speed.
One second he was several feet away, the next he was pushed against her, his hands pinning her wrists beside her head, one thick, hard thigh rubbing between her legs. Rubbing over her clit. Stimulating it. Teasing it.
“H-how…” she began, her voice barely a croaking whisper. “How did you…”
“Because I’m a dragon,” he stated on a low murmur, gazing into her eyes, “and you’re my Fire Mate.”
And then his mouth did indeed claim hers. Thoroughly.