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Published by EVERNIGHT PUBLISHING ® at Smashwords


www.evernightpublishing.com




Copyright© 2019 Marie Medina



ISBN: 978-1-77339-909-6


Cover Artist: Sour Cherry Designs


Editor: Audrey Bobak



ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.


This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.






HUNTED BY HIS ALPHA


Wolves in the Fae Court, 1


Marie Medina



Chapter One

Gregor arrived at the fae palace early so his Beta, Luke, could inspect their rooms to his satisfaction. They had adjoining suites in the luxurious building that looked like something out of a fantasy novel. Gregor had been given leave to roam the palace freely—apparently, a servant would find him when he was needed. Gregor wasn’t completely sure he wanted to know the details of how the fae pulled that off.

While he was glad the fae were finally ready to form an alliance, he had to admit he didn’t exactly understand the fae. They insisted on staying in their own realm most of the time. If he understood correctly, their “realm” was basically a very small continent hidden in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Asmund, the fae’s current king, had offered a weary smile when Luke had asked if they were responsible for ships and airplanes disappearing. As that smile had faded, Gregor had noted that the king hadn’t actually answered the question.

As shifter packs all over the world expanded, the danger of discovery grew. The fae had remained hidden for thousands of years with the aid of their magic, and soon, shifters might have no choice but to depend on that magic to keep them safe from the humans who would likely fear them.

Gregor eventually found the gardens and took a deep breath once he was back outside. He hated being cooped up for too long. He doubted he had time to shift and have a little run, but he could at least stretch his legs.

As he walked, he felt his body stirring. Gregor hadn’t taken anyone to his bed for a long time, yet now seemed an odd time to suddenly start feeling desire building. But soon, a scent hit him full in the face—and other places as well. The Alpha stopped in his tracks, confused. He scented another wolf shifter. It was faint yet unmistakable. Gregor moved slowly as he tried to track down the scent. A soft sound caught his ear, like a page turning, and he walked down a hedgerow toward it.

On a bench in the middle of a tall circle of hedges, Gregor saw a man lying on his stomach and reading a book. He was thin and had the delicate, beautiful features of a fae. His long dark hair spilled down his back, stopping just above the perfect curve of his ass. The man seemed to sense he was being watched, and when he looked up, Gregor gasped at the beautiful golden hue of his eyes.

He’s part wolf. And mine.

Gregor approached slowly, even though he wanted nothing more than to kneel and kiss the man’s full lips while sliding one hand over his ass. The man wore leather pants that clung to him perfectly, but he was barefoot. The material of his loose-fitting shirt was so thin it did little to hide his body, much to Gregor’s delight. The man closed his book and sat up as Gregor approached.

“You must be the Alpha of the wolf pack,” the man said.

“Yes. And who are you? I smell wolf on you, but no wolf has ever been as beautiful as you are.”

The man smiled and rose, standing just a little over five feet tall. “I’m Jared, the king’s cousin. And one of the reasons you’re here, actually.”

“You are?” He definitely liked the sound of that.

“Yes. My mother was fae, but my father was a wolf. He left when I was very young.” Jared looked down, frowning. “Because I couldn’t shift as a child.”

Anger rose in Gregor. “What was his name?”

“Aaron.”

“I can find him, if you wish. Abandoning your mate and your cub is a crime.” I’ll beat him senseless for hiding you, for nearly robbing me of my mate.

“He’s dead. A car wreck over ten years ago. My mother has passed away as well, though much more recently. Asmund has been more like a big brother than a cousin to me, and he finally decided to give this alliance a chance because he wants me to know your people. My other half, so to speak.”

The entire time he’d been talking, Jared had also been moving closer to Gregor. Reaching out, Gregor slid his hand around Jared’s waist, which made the smaller man gasp.

“Did you even realize you were doing it? Moving closer to me?” Gregor whispered.

“No.” Jared looked up at him, arching into Gregor’s body a little. “Is it because you’re the Alpha? I know so little about shifters.”

“A little bit, maybe.” He leaned down and buried his face in Jared’s thick, silky hair, slowly breathing the man in. “I followed your scent here.”

“My scent?” Jared asked.

“Yes.” He took Jared by the chin and tipped his head back. “Will you come to my bed tonight?”

Jared actually shuddered. “I think I would like that.”

Gregor chuckled. “You think?”

Jared licked his lips. “You’ll have to promise not to crush me.” His hands slid up Gregor’s chest and then over his biceps. “You’re much larger than any fae I’ve ever been with.”

Gregor growled low in his throat, not liking to think about Jared being with others. He loved the way Jared’s grip tightened on him at the sound, but he didn’t want to scare his little mate away. “I can be gentle, but I think the wolf in you will take to me quickly.”

“How long will you be here?”

“Only until tomorrow.”

Jared licked his lips again. “Since I’m one of the reasons you’re here, seems only right I make you feel welcome.”

Gregor bent and kissed Jared, claiming his mouth with a fierceness that surprised even him. Jared melted into it, and then he actually grabbed Gregor’s shoulders and hoisted himself up so he could wrap his legs around Gregor.

Gregor’s wolf rose within him, demanding that he claim his mate now. But he made the beast retreat. There would be time enough later to thoroughly claim the sensual creature wrapped around him. He slid his hands under Jared’s ass and squeezed both cheeks. They both panted when the kiss ended.

“Always wanted to be fucked by a big, strong man like you. I’ve never dared to sleep with a human man.”

Gregor caressed Jared’s ass. “Never dared? Why do you say it that way?” He hated that his mate had been with other lovers, but he knew he would simply have to accept it if he wanted this man to be his.

Jared rested his hands on Gregor’s shoulders. “My magic is weak because I’m half-blooded.” He pushed his hair aside, revealing his pointed ears. “I can glamour them, but there’s always a danger my magic will fail. Same thing with portals. If I was in danger, I might not be able to get away. Or use magic to defend myself.” He bit his lip as he unwrapped his legs and slid down Gregor’s body. “My best friend … he was raped and beaten by a human. He was only fifteen. I was fourteen. It scared me so much, and I stayed with him while he healed. He made me promise to be careful around human men. I even stayed away from human women.”

“You’re bi?”

Jared narrowed his eyes. “Bi?”

“Bisexual.”

“Oh. Um, fae like both sexes equally, so we don’t use those terms.”

“I’m sorry about your friend. Men can be monsters, and I’m glad you were careful. You’re so beautiful I think you’d have men all over you, eager to possess you.” He caressed Jared’s cheek and laughed. “Just as I am.”

“I’m not exactly resisting.”

“I know, which makes me regret that I need to go. Will you come to me tonight? I’m very excited about fulfilling your fantasy.”

Jared smiled. “At least you aren’t offended I’m throwing myself at you.”

Gregor considered telling Jared that they were mates, but he didn’t want to talk about that in a rush. Jared might need a bit of convincing since he was only half-shifter. There would be plenty of time for that and more tonight. He settled for saying, “I think we were meant to meet, Jared.” He stole another kiss and then made himself walk away, plans spinning in his mind.

Ten minutes later, when he was admitted to the king’s study, he walked to the desk and leaned over it to look Asmund right in the eye.

“We no longer need to spend hours talking over those points I wanted to negotiate. I’ll accept all of them as you wrote them. If we can add one thing to our agreement.”

Asmund looked startled as he asked, “What do you want?”

“I want this alliance to be sealed with a mating. Between me and Jared.”

****

Jared had never felt so aroused in his life. Yet he didn’t feel ashamed at all, for once. Gregor embodied his ideal in every way possible. The Alpha stood over six feet tall, and he had a broad chest and shoulders. His rich, brown hair looked thick enough for Jared to tangle his fingers in it as he rode the man, and he imagined himself running his fingers through the thick hair of the man’s chest as well. He’d never been with a hairy man before, but he’d always thought of it as an appealingly masculine feature. His well-trimmed beard made his profile regal. Gregor was definitely the epitome of masculinity, every inch of him virile and dominant. He was twice Jared’s size in every way, and Jared found himself wondering about the cock he’d briefly felt pressed against him. Some fae men were pretty well endowed, but he felt sure Gregor would stretch him to his limit tonight.

If only he were staying a little longer. He sighed as he ran a hand absently over his own half-erect cock. I’ll just have to make the most of tonight. And hope he returns soon.

While the fae were considered a sensual race, Jared knew his wolf half made him crave sex more than most. More than one lover had called him insatiable. He imagined what people would say when they found out he’d bedded the handsome Alpha shifter. Many men and women would be jealous.

Jared smiled as he stripped off his clothes, slipped into the bathroom, and turned on the shower. He stroked himself as he stood under the steamy spray of water, and he approached a climax quickly as he thought about Gregor. He pressed one hand to the wall and braced himself as he came, the release taking his breath away.

After his shower, he threw on a robe and reclined on the couch. He thought about what he might wear, though he smiled because he knew he wouldn’t stay dressed for long once he made it to Gregor’s room. He was just wondering where Gregor and his Beta had been put when a knock came at his door.

“Who is it?” he said, sitting up and hoping it was Gregor come to claim him early.

“Asmund. I have news.”

“Come in.” Jared made sure his robe was fastened properly as he rose to bow to his cousin.

Asmund smiled as he waved the gesture away. “I hear you met Gregor.”

Jared stared at the grinning man. “Um, yes, I did. He mentioned that?”

“Mentioned it? Jared, you’ve worked a miracle! There were no negotiations at all. All those points he wanted to pick over are settled. We got our way in every one of them.”

“Because of me? I don’t get it.” Was the guy so excited about tonight he’d breezed through the negotiations? Jared didn’t think that was possible.

“Fate is on our side. I knew you were special, but I never imagined you as an Alpha’s mate.”

Jared opened his mouth but didn’t say anything for a moment. Clearing his throat at last, he said, “Um … did you say mate?”

“Yes. Gregor said he caught your scent in the garden. That’s how it happens, you know. Scent.”

“Yeah, he said something about my scent, but he said nothing about us being mates.”

Asmund looked puzzled, but then he waved his hands dismissively. “You two can work that out later. The contracts are all signed, and we’re sealing the deal with your betrothal. He insists on calling it a mating, but you’re royalty. We’re calling it a betrothal. I already have people working on the feast arrangements.”

“Betrothal?” He shook his head vehemently. “I didn’t consent to that.”

Now, Asmund’s eyebrows went up. “He said you agreed to be his.”

“No. We met and liked each other, and he asked me to come to his bed tonight. That’s what I agreed to. That is not a betrothal.”

“But you did agree.”

“To fuck him. Not marry him!”

“You said you like each other. It’s not like he’s going to throw you over his shoulder and take you home with him tonight.”

“Why wasn’t I summoned when he proposed this?”

Asmund crossed his arms defensively, his foot tapping now. “He said you’re his mate. You’re half-wolf. I figured you had to be feeling the same call or pull or whatever.” He sighed heavily and clasped his hands in a pleading gesture. “Please. We can have everything our way, on our terms, if you agree to be his.”

“I know nothing about him or his people. He lives in the human world. What if I don’t fit in?”

“Can you at least try?”

He mentioned my scent and said he thought we were meant to meet, but he didn’t say one fucking thing about mates. Does he think I’ll just submit because he’s the Alpha? Because I desire him? He’s got another think coming. “I won’t be disrespectful because I know this alliance is important, but I’m not going through with this until he and I have a long talk. A very long one.”

“There’ll be plenty of time for that now. He’s staying indefinitely now.”

“He is?”

“Yes.”

“I see.”

Asmund crossed his arms again. “What’s wrong? He made it sound as if you were all over him.”

I was, but that’s none of your business. “I’m just not sure I want to be joined to a man who will treat me like this. Not consult me. No matter how attractive he is.”

Asmund smiled. “He is an impressive male.”

Jared glared at his cousin.

Asmund laughed. “What? I thought you were having second thoughts about him.” He pushed a strand of his own long, jet-black hair behind his ear. “I’m no wolf, but maybe I can convince him to mate me instead. We look enough alike, even if I am a bit older.”

“If I’m actually his mate, then his desire is about more than my looks.”

Sighing, Asmund said, “I know. I’m just trying to get a rise out of you.”

“I wanted to get laid. That’s it. I know nothing about him.”

“You already said that.” He reached out and grasped Jared’s shoulder. “Look, keep me informed, all right? I don’t want an angry wolf busting my door down.”

“You could always renegotiate.”

Asmund stared at him a long time. “I don’t think Gregor will be open to that. The way he talked about you … he’s not going to give up.”

“That’s crazy.”

Giving a shrug, Asmund said, “He is a beast, deep inside. Maybe you can fight it because you’re only half-wolf. But Gregor?” Asmund shook his head slowly. “The way he made it sound, you’re it for him. He’ll never want another now he’s found you.”

“He should’ve said that before he signed those papers.”

Asmund turned as if the conversation was over. He opened the door and then looked back, “Then go tell him. He’ll come looking for you soon enough if you avoid him.”

Jared glared at the door after his cousin closed it. Avoid him? Not a chance. He’s going to answer to me. Right now.

****

Gregor smiled when he turned his head and saw that the person barging into his bedroom was Jared. The man wore only a robe, and Gregor was just about to reach for the sash when he noticed his mate also wore a scowl.

“What’s wrong? If someone has upset you, they’ll answer to me.”

The scowl deepened. “Answer to you, huh? And why is that?”

“Because I won’t stand for anyone upsetting you.”

Jared rolled his eyes. “You’re the one answering to me right now. You got that?”

“For what?”

Jared’s mouth fell open. “Are you serious? You really think I came marching in here because I’m mad at someone else?”

“I think you better tell me what’s going on.”

“I was just informed that we’re betrothed. And I don’t recall being asked. Or courted.”

“Betrothed is your cousin’s word. Wolves don’t marry. We mate.” He stepped closer. “And as I recall, we already had plans to do that. Plans you were very keen on.”

“I’m only half-wolf. You want me, then you do it properly.”

Gregor grabbed Jared and threw him down on the bed on his stomach. He covered Jared’s body with his, making sure the other man felt the cock rubbing against his ass. “Properly? To the wolf inside me, this is what’s proper. Claiming you here and now, just like this.”

Jared trembled for a moment, his scent making his arousal clear, but then he fought against Gregor. Reluctantly, Gregor slid off him. Jared rolled to his back, his robe sliding partially open for a moment before he closed it again.

His cock is hard. He wants me as much as he did before. Why is he resisting? Doesn’t he feel how right this is?

Jared stood up and got right in Gregor’s face, actually pointing a finger up at him, which would’ve been comical in different circumstances, given their height difference. “No wedding, no wedding night.”

Gregor could do nothing but stare at him, at first. “You’ll forgive me if I’m confused. You’ve had lovers before, and just a couple of hours ago, you had yourself literally wrapped around me, rubbing that cute little ass against my cock. Seemed pretty damn excited about coming to my bed.”

Jared pulled his robe tighter around his body and crossed his arms over his chest, his stance rigid and his expression unyielding. “That was just going to be fucking. No one said one damn thing about mating.”

“Well, then, I guess I’ll say it now.” Despite the defensive body language, Gregor reached out to touch Jared’s cheek, glad when the other man didn’t pull away. “You’re my mate. I scented you in the gardens. And when I found you, I was dumbstruck by how perfect you are. The beauty of a fae and the grace of a wolf. And I now see you also have the fire and passion of a wolf. That’s fitting for an Alpha’s mate. While you’ll submit to me, no other will dominate you. Ever.”

Jared’s eyes flickered, as if he meant to step forward and melt into Gregor’s arms as he had earlier. But instead, he stepped back. “I’m attracted to you, but it’s no different from the attraction I’ve felt to others. How do I know you’re telling the truth?”

“Bullshit.”

“Excuse me?”

Gregor stepped forward and tangled his fingers in Jared’s hair. “I said, bullshit.” He tugged on Jared’s hair to make Jared look up into his eyes, enjoying the man’s gasp. “You feel the same pull I feel. You came rushing here wearing nothing but a thin robe. You trembled when I pinned you, and your cock grew hard. You know you’re mine. Feel it deep down. You might be angry I didn’t talk to you first, but it’s pretty damn obvious part of your fantasy is being forced into submission.” He tightened his grip on Jared’s hair and kissed him, never breaking the embrace as he backed the smaller man against the wall.

****

Jared cursed himself as a moan of pleasure came up his throat. His aching body betrayed him, his cock hardening and jutting out to press against the man who now had him pinned to the wall. He fought the kiss, at first, but soon enough, he was returning it, passionately. Never had he been so hungry for another, but he couldn’t yield like this.

Not yet.

He pushed against Gregor, unwilling to forget his purpose. He tore his mouth from the kiss and turned his head away, panting. “Do you want a mate or a whore?” he said angrily.

Gregor went completely still and stepped back, freeing Jared and letting go of his hair. “What did you say?” Gregor asked, sounding both hurt and angry.

Jared looked up at him. “I asked what you wanted. A mate. Or a whore.” He straightened his robe, but then he stopped, letting it fall open. His hard cock curled upward, the tip wet. He stroked it as Gregor watched. “My body wants you, but I’m not a bargaining chip. A piece of chattel. I won’t be treated like an object, and I won’t call lust love.” He closed the robe again. “I’m angry and hurt. I still want you, but not like this. Not when you think so little of me. Until you can respect my feelings and talk to me as if I’m more than something you want to stick your dick in, I have no desire to see you.”

Gregor came closer but didn’t touch him. “I can see you truly know nothing about wolves. There’s been a misunderstanding here. More than one.” He took another step. “We can talk about this now. After I’ve seen to your needs.”

“Once you’ve had me, we both know there won’t be any talking.” He moved away from Gregor. “It will settle nothing and give you the victory.”

Gregor reached out and grabbed him by the wrist. “Letting me claim you will show you that you’re my mate. Once I’m inside you, you’ll know. I’ll knot you, and you’ll feel what I’m feeling.”

“Knot me? I’m fae. You can’t get me pregnant.”

“Knotting is about the bond between mates as well.”

Jared drew his wrist from Gregor’s hand. He touched the wall and opened a portal back to his own room. “You want me, Alpha? Then you woo me.”

“Stay, and I will. You’ll see how easily a mate can tame any wolf.”

Jared scanned the bookshelves in the room, but he didn’t see what he was looking for. He knew he needed to leave quickly before his portal collapsed. If Gregor kissed him again, they’d be rutting on the floor like animals in no time. “The king and I are first cousins, so technically, I’m a prince, despite having a non-fae father. There’s a library here. Learn how to woo a fae prince, and then we can discuss a possible future together.”

Gregor’s hands clenched into fists as he said, “When I finally claim you, and claim you I will, I’m going to punish you for this.”

Punish me? Jared fought a shudder because he had a pretty good idea what kind of punishment the Alpha had in mind. He smiled at Gregor, licking his lips. “Be careful. Threats like that might motivate me to make you wait even longer.” He stepped through the portal and quickly closed it before Gregor could say anything else.

Practically collapsing on the bed, Jared flicked his wrist to be sure his bedroom door and the doors to the outer rooms of his suite were locked. Asmund could still get in, but if the king barged in on him masturbating, that was his problem.

Jared made quick work of stroking himself to completion. Twice in one day I’ve spilled into my own hand over this man. Jared arched, biting his lip. He’d probably forgive me anything if I went back to him right now, but then he’ll never respect me. His body ached, the hurried release not enough as he thought about Gregor taking him. Knotting him. Spanking him? He smiled, wondering if something like that would be part of his punishment. He cleaned himself up as he imagined it, his hands tied to the bedposts as he knelt on the mattress facedown, his knees spread wide with his ass raised. His body would tremble as he waited for his ass to be reddened … and then taken by the beast of a man who laid claim to him.

Jared sighed as he cast off his robe and moved to the bed. “Doubt I’ll sleep tonight,” he said to himself, his only comfort the knowledge that Gregor was likely in the same state.

Chapter Two


Gregor got out of bed for the tenth time, finally giving up on sleep as the sun began to rise. He dressed hurriedly and went in search of the library he’d been told about. He’d fallen into bed determined not to give in to the game Jared wanted him to play. But spending the night alone in that huge bed, knowing his mate could’ve been there with him, had him reconsidering. He’d been glad his Beta had been preoccupied with patrolling—Gregor didn’t know what he was going to tell Luke if he couldn’t find a solution by tonight. While Luke was one of his most loyal Betas, an Alpha who couldn’t claim his mate was always viewed as weak.

A servant showed him the room, and Gregor thanked him before entering. For almost a minute, he simply stood there in the doorway, staring at the unending room and the shelves that extended all the way up to the ceiling, which seemed very far away.

A throat was cleared at his side. “Can I help you, Alpha?”

Gregor looked down at a young fae man who was barely four feet tall.

“I would love some help.” He tilted his head. “You know who I am?”

“Of course. Aside from your size, your power is obvious.”

“I don’t really have powers. Not the way you do.”

The man smiled. “Call it your strength then.” He gave a slight bow. “I’m Caden, the librarian. Are you perhaps here for books on our history? Or maybe something to please your betrothed? A surprise perhaps?”

My betrothed? Word travels fast around here. But he didn’t want to reveal too much. “I am here because of Jared. A pack is very different from a kingdom. I don’t know much about”—he sighed, hating to say the words—“courting a prince.” He tried to smile. “I want to please him.”

“Ah, I see!” Caden said. He turned and flicked his wrist. Dozens of books came flying from the shelves and settled in little piles on a nearby table. He walked over to the table and beckoned Gregor over. “These will be a start. Etiquette books, mostly.” He grabbed a red one. “But you might find this one interesting, if you wish to impress Jared with something special.”

Gregor looked at the title. “The Great Union.”

“Yes. Most humans don’t realize that the word fae—no matter how you spell it—is kind of a catch-all phrase that applies to dozens of different magical beings. The fae race, as it is today, is actually a blending of two races—elves and sprites.” He pointed to his ear. “That’s where the pointy ears come from, the elven side. The short stature and petite frame came from the sprites, a graceful and quite lovely race. Both races were dying out, until elven men started bedding female sprites. This happened thousands of years ago, so some things in the book will probably seem odd to you, but it might help you to see how the two races adapted to one another.”

“Perhaps. Thank you.” Gregor sat down at the table and opened the book, even though he didn’t think he’d find much of interest in a history book.

“Just snap your fingers if you need anything.”

“Thank you,” Gregor said, even though it seemed the man had already left him. He sighed and glanced over the table of contents briefly. His gaze flitted up to the piles of books before him.

It’s going to be a long day.

****


Six Hours Later


Gregor paced outside the king’s private rooms as he waited for permission to enter. The door flung open, and the servant who’d brought him there came back out.

“My apologies, sir. I only needed to make sure His Majesty was prepared to receive you.” He gestured to the door. “Please enter.”

“Thank you. No apology needed.” He felt bad, as his agitation must’ve been perceived as impatience. He strode in and closed the door, spying the king standing out on the balcony.

Asmund smiled at him from his place by the stone railing. “Things must’ve gone well last night. Neither one of you showed up for breakfast. Or lunch.”

Gregor frowned, wondering why Jared might not have shown up for those meals. Was he hiding? And if so, from Gregor or the king? “We both slept alone last night.”

Asmund’s face fell. “What? Did you two talk at all?”

“We talked. And I was given an ultimatum.”

“Oh, dear.” Asmund sighed. “This is one of the reasons I wanted more contact with the wolves. Jared’s so different from us in many ways. I’ve never known anyone as stubborn as he is.” He leaned on the railing. “What did he say?”

“He said I’d have to woo him. Properly. He practically climbed me like a tree within minutes of meeting me, but last night his exact words were no wedding, no wedding night.”

Asmund went pale, worry plain in his eyes. “Perhaps I can talk to him again.”

“I have another idea.” He braced one hand on the railing and leaned over to look the king in the face. “Tell me about The Hunt.”

Asmund looked confused for a moment, but then his eyebrows went up. “The Hunt? How did you learn about that?”

“The library. Caden helped me, though I don’t think he intended for me to find that.”

“If you read about it, you know all there is to know, really. As the elves became less fertile, and females more scarce, elven men turned to a race that had the opposite problem—too many females and nowhere near enough males.”

“But those females made them work for it. The way Jared is trying to.”

“You could put it that way, but remember, he is only half shifter. It’s partly my fault. I assumed, from what you said, that he felt the pull as well. I really should’ve summoned him. He was pretty angry when I talked to him.”

“You’re his king. He should obey.”

Asmund smiled. “Kings and Alphas are different. I could use my power to make him obey me, but I love him too much to make him hate me.”

“He wouldn’t hate you. He feels the pull, too, no matter what he says. He’s angry he wasn’t consulted. Once we’re mated, he won’t care.”

“So what do you propose? I’m not sure I understand.”

“According to what I read, at first, the sprites were mischievous. They’d make the elves chase them. Hunt them down. But then it changed, it seems.”

“Yes. Once the races had begun to blend, some sprites would call for a hunt to find the most worthy male. That’s when they began referring to it as The Hunt. It was for sport as much as anything. A sort of sexual game.”

Gregor nodded. “And there was another option as well.”

Asmund frowned. “Another option? After a few hundred years, it all stopped. No one has declared a hunt for well over a thousand years. I don’t know what you mean.”

“What I mean is there was another form. It wasn’t always the women initiating things. When a man declared for a woman but was denied, he could invoke The Hunt if no other suitors came forward. She had twenty-four hours. If he caught her, she had to yield.”

Asmund narrowed his eyes. “Yes, well, today I believe we call that rape, no matter what those old texts say about it.”

“I agree. But it gave me an idea. Hear me out. I want to propose something altogether new. I come from a race of hunters, so to speak. Jared sent me to the library to punish me for what I did. But trust me, he wants me. He’s going to give in, but on his terms. The wolf in him, though? It wants to be claimed by its Alpha. He’ll jump at this idea if we present it the right way.”

“We? I’m not sure I want to be this involved in my cousin’s sex life, if I’m honest.”

Gregor sighed. “You help me, or we go back to square one with this alliance. We wrote the mating into the contract. No mate, no alliance.”

The king’s eyes went wide. “Are you serious?”

“Yes. He’s my mate. I don’t expect you to understand. The desire is almost instant, but so is the need to protect. To care for, provide for, fight for. He and I have had two conversations and touched twice, but I would kill for him. I would die for him.”

The king considered him for a long moment. “Tell him that. He’s stubborn, but deep down, he’s tender-hearted. In a way. Tell him how it feels not to have him at your side. He’ll persist in this if he thinks his denial is only hurting your pride. But show him you’re aching in another way—one that has nothing to do with your cock—and he’ll stop. Open up to you again.”

Could it work? The idea of Jared feeling bad and trying to make things up to him certainly had its appeal. “And if it doesn’t work?”

“Let’s try it my way first. All right? If he keeps giving you a hard time, then propose it. If you’re actually right, he’ll jump at it, won’t he?”

“I think so.”

“He’s never hesitated to fall into bed with anyone. If he wants you, he won’t hold out much longer.”

Gregor growled.

“What?” Asmund said, his eyes widening.

“I’m a wolf. I don’t like constantly hearing about my mate’s former lovers.”

“We do have sprite blood—they were a sensual and mischievous race. Add in the wolf part of him? Might explain his behavior. I can’t believe you’ve been celibate all these years.”

Gregor let his breath out in a huff. “That’s hardly the point.”

The king laughed. “Then don’t bring up how many lovers he’s had. He’ll make it the point if you start acting jealous.” The king turned to look out across the land. “Do as you wish. I can always back you up and use the alliance as a justification, though the more I think on what he said to me, the more I believe you might be right. He’s not the submissive type, so his anger might be as much at his desire to yield as it is at you and your actions.” He sighed. “Whatever it takes to get you two to settle this.”

Whatever it takes? My thoughts exactly.

****

Jared sat in his receiving room and stared at the door. He’d never been so bored in his life. According to the servants, Gregor had in fact risen very early and gone to the library. No one had yet delivered any news of him leaving. Jared’s meals had been brought to him, but he’d only picked at them. He wanted to go find Dane, his best friend, but he didn’t want to run into Asmund. He and his cousin had never argued about anything before. While the king always showed strength when he needed to, his one weakness was how much he hated conflict with individuals. That’s the kind of mate Gregor actually needs. Asmund probably would’ve bent right over the desk for him as soon as the contract was signed.

Jared frowned at that idea. His cousin had only been teasing him yesterday, trying to prod him to action. And if Jared was Gregor’s mate, the wolf wouldn’t want another anyway.

Right?

The idea of Gregor satisfying his need inside another made Jared feel hot all over. He rose and tried to think of something else as his mind threw up images of Gregor with other men. Resting his hands on the mantelpiece, he closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

A knock came at the door, and his eyes popped open. He definitely didn’t want to talk to the king, but he felt undecided about Gregor. “Who is it?” he asked.

“Gregor.”

He let go of the mantle and stood up straight. Smoothing his clothes, he turned around and said, “Come.”

The smile on Gregor’s face made him wish he’d said, “Come in,” instead. The way the large man got him hard with just a look both annoyed and fascinated Jared. He cleared his throat and said, “Good afternoon.” He cringed inwardly at how stiff he sounded.

“I’m hoping it will be. I’ve been doing some reading and hoped we could talk.”

Jared gestured to the longest couch. “Certainly. Please have a seat.”

“Thank you.” Gregor sat and patted the cushion beside him. “Will you join me?”

Jared sat across from him, with a table between them. “What did you want to talk about?”

Gregor fixed him with an intense gaze. “The way you changed completely once I’d done something to displease you. And what it’s doing to me.”

“I changed because what you did hurt me. Disrespected me.”

“And I apologize. I made an assumption based on your initial reaction to me, and I’m sorry I did that. But there’s something you simply don’t understand. Centuries ago, no wolf asked permission to claim a mate. The moment I scented you, you became my world. You’re mine.”

“So I’m just your little fuck toy? No rights of my own?”

“That is not what I said. You’re mine to fuck, yes, but also to love and cherish. To protect and care for. To provide for. I will kill for you. Die for you. My every action revolves around you. I would even turn on my pack or step down as Alpha if you were in danger. You can ask me for anything, and I’ll do all in my power to give it to you.” Gregor rose. “I only ask for one thing from you.” He knelt at Jared’s side and reached for his hand.

Jared didn’t pull from his touch, but he grew nervous when Gregor didn’t say anything. He cleared his throat, very conscious of the other man’s nearness. “One thing?” he asked.

“Quit denying the pull you feel. Let me claim you. Make you truly mine.”

Jared withdrew his hand slowly. “I’m glad you apologized. Despite what you think, I do understand how shifters feel toward their mates. But what you need to understand is that I won’t bind myself to anyone based on some primal urge.”

Gregor gazed down for almost a minute before standing up and looking at Jared. “And that’s your final answer?”

“I asked you to woo me. Not talk me into coming to your bed.”

Gregor smiled, but it was an odd smile. Jared thought it looked playful, with a hint of something else underneath it. “Then you leave me no choice. I’ve already spoken to the king about this.”

“About what?” Jared said, shrinking back as he waited for Gregor to make a move.

“I’m invoking The Hunt. Unless you accept another suitor by sundown, The Hunt will begin in the morning. I believe I’ll allow you a three-hour head start, since I am a wolf.”

Jared laughed, but the look on Gregor’s face killed that laughter within a few seconds. “Who told you about this?”

Gregor’s smile broadened. “I read about it in the library. Where you sent me.”

“My cousin actually agreed to this? The type of hunt you’re talking about is what led to it being done away with.”

“I’m a hunter. This type of courtship seems fitting to me. And yes, your cousin agreed. If you defy me, and him, the alliance is void. We’ll start negotiations back at square one.”

Jared jumped up. “You can’t do that!”

“I can. Our union is what seals this deal.”

Jared turned away, his mind racing. All I have to do is let him fuck me. Then everything will be all right. The alliance will be saved. We can worry about the consequences later. The thought of pulling Gregor into the bedroom made his body stir, and he turned and looked at the Alpha.

Gregor still grinned at him, crossing his arms over his puffed-out chest.

Jared turned away again. He thinks he’s already won. If he wants to play games, then fine. We’ll play a fucking game. Pushing his hair behind his ears, he tried to calm his features as he faced Gregor again. “We’ll do it your way. If you don’t catch me, you’ll leave me alone?”

Gregor hesitated, but eventually, he nodded. “Yes. But rest assured, I’ll catch you. I could follow your scent all the way around the world.”

“And if a suitor comes forward, and I accept him? Or her? You’ll concede?”

“Yes.”

Jared looked to the clock. “It’s five hours until sunset. That’s plenty of time.”

“Already have someone in mind?”

“Several, actually.” He made for the door, knowing he’d lose his cool if they dragged this out too much longer. “If you’ll excuse me.”

Gregor threw a hand up to stop him. “Just a minute. We have to follow all the rules.”

“Which ones am I not following exactly?” He searched his memory but couldn’t think of anything else he was supposed to do.

“You can’t leave this room. If you’re circulating among others, you could bribe or persuade someone to come forward and declare for you. You’ll stay here, with a guard in the room. It will be announced far and wide what is happening. Anyone wishing to declare for you will go to the king and—”

“Stop!” Jared said, moving to stand nose to nose with Gregor. “I shouldn’t have to follow all these rules. You aren’t following them.”

“How am I not following them?”

“I’m not rejecting you. I’m telling you to slow your furry ass down. You can only invoke The Hunt if I reject you.”

“You’re denying me. That is a rejection.”

“You’re impossible.”

To his surprise, Gregor didn’t argue. Instead, he knelt down. “And you’re hard as a rock.” Gregor’s hand reached out and moved over the bulge in Jared’s trousers.

Jared sucked in a gasp. Nothing had ever felt so good, and this was just the man rubbing him through his pants. What would more feel like?

Gregor watched him closely as he slowly unlaced the trousers. “I’d make a joke about the lack of zippers around here, but I like this. It’s like opening a present.”

Jared started to reply, but then his cock was in Gregor’s large, warm hand. Gregor’s strong fingers moved as if they already knew what Jared liked. His heart pounded as his breathing quickened. Gregor’s dark eyes transfixed him as a surprisingly rough tongue flicked out to lick the pre-cum from his tip.

“I thought my submission was the goal,” Jared said.

“It is,” Gregor said before suckling the head all too briefly.

“Then how come you’re the one on your knees?”

“Because this is my kind of wooing.” Gregor took Jared’s full length into his mouth in one swift movement.

Jared cried out, grabbing the man’s shoulders to keep himself upright. Soon the Alpha’s hands were on his ass again, supporting Jared as he feasted on him. Jared could think of no other word for it. He felt as if he was being devoured. Gregor sucked him so perfectly, bringing him to the edge and then somehow staving off his orgasm.

Jared had both hands tangled in Gregor’s hair before he even knew what he was doing. He tugged on the man’s hair and tried to control his movements, but Gregor proved too strong. And then a flick of that talented tongue across the base of his cock had him coming. Jared cried out as he spilled into the Alpha’s mouth. The world seemed to tilt around him, and he realized his legs had buckled. Gregor was gently lowering him to the floor, all the while sucking down his cum. Jared propped up on his elbows and watched the Alpha milking his cock, and a shudder moved over him. No one had ever looked so good sucking his cock.

The Alpha’s eyes flicked up as he pulled off of Jared’s cock, licking his lips. He inched up Jared and held his gaze. “I want that sweet taste on my tongue every day for the rest of my life. Say you’ll be mine.”

Jared turned his head away, but Gregor took him by the chin and brought their lips together. He’d never tasted his own cum before, and he returned the kiss greedily. Gregor pressed close, his cock rubbing against Jared’s leg. When Gregor drew back, he began unbuttoning Jared’s shirt and kissing his chest. He raked his teeth over one nipple before laving it with his tongue.

Even as Jared panted with need, he made himself wiggle away. “No. Not like this.”

Gregor sat back on his heels. “Not like what?” he asked, sounding exasperated.

“Not on the floor like animals. Not right after a fight.”

“It was an argument, not a fight.”

Jared got to his feet and tried to tuck himself away. The Alpha’s mouth on his skin had him half hard again, and he didn’t want Gregor seeing that. “If you insist on this farce, then get on with it. Send in my jailor.”

Gregor stood up, his expression a mix of anger and pain. “After what just happened, you can’t yield even a little?”

“You wanted it this way. If you catch me tomorrow, I’ll lie down on the forest floor and let you fuck me until we’re both exhausted.”

Gregor reached out and caressed his cheek so lightly that Jared wasn’t completely sure the Alpha’s fingers had actually made contact. “I said you could ask for anything and I’d do all in my power to give it to you.” He took a deep breath and asked, “Do you want me to stop pursuing you?”

No! Jared gazed down. “Could you take me without knotting? Would I be able to walk away if we aren’t right for each other?”

Gregor growled.

Jared lifted his gaze, and he saw that Gregor’s dark eyes had turned gold, a color very similar to Jared’s eyes. Gregor stalked forward but didn’t touch him. “You won’t be mine yet won’t release me. Once I’m buried deep inside you tomorrow, you’ll understand.” He backed away. “I’ll see you at dawn.”

Gregor marched from the room, the door slamming so hard the wall shook. Jared hugged himself as the last few moments played through his mind. A guard named Michael came in a few moments later.

“Your Highness,” Michael said with a half bow. He hesitated before asking, “Is this really happening? I thought someone was playing a joke on me when they told me to wait outside.”

Jared sighed. “It’s happening.” He turned to the window and looked outside, a heated debate taking hold of his mind.

****


Seven Hours Later


Jared made himself eat dinner because he’d hardly eaten all day and, apparently, he’d spend most of the next day running through the woods. He hadn’t actually expected anyone to come forward and try to “save” him. He imagined everyone was as confused as Michael had been by the news. The entire kingdom was probably talking about it and speculating. Many might think it was a joke, a bit of fun to celebrate the alliance of the two powerful races.

Michael had left at sunset, and Jared felt glad to be alone. He’d considered leaving the palace—maybe even going to hide in the human world—but what would be the point? He had a feeling Gregor would be able to find him no matter where he went. Plus, there was one little problem.

He didn’t want to run or hide. He wanted the Alpha to find him, to claim him.

Jared poured the last of the wine from the decanter into his glass. He sat back in his chair and stared down at the liquid before taking a sip. Why couldn’t Gregor be just a little more patient? Give me a few weeks at the very least. We could still have sex. Surely the knotting isn’t some involuntary thing he has no control over. A powerful male like him…

His thoughts turned completely carnal once again, and he downed the wine to try to calm himself. When a knock came at the door, he groaned. “Who is it?” If it’s Gregor, I’m done for. One look and my damned clothes will fall off.

“It’s me.”

“Dane?”

“Who else?”

Jared set his glass down and headed for the door, flinging it open and dragging his best friend in. “Who else? I never know these days.” He closed the door and leaned against it. “I’m glad you came.”

“How could I stay away? I wanted to come sooner, but I was told I could only see you if I wanted to marry you. What the fuck is going on?” Dane asked, reaching out to rub Jared’s arm.

“I met the Alpha of the wolf pack yesterday. Seems I’m his mate. I was looking for a wild night, and he’s looking for a lifetime of them. He wants to claim me. Had Asmund put it in the alliance documents. Consummate the deal, you could say. I got angry and … well, things escalated.”

“You’re that man’s mate? Wow.”

“Wow?”

“Yeah. Wow. They’re both amazing.”

“Both?”

“His Beta. Luke. Haven’t you met him?”

Jared shook his head. “No. Just Gregor.”

“I saw him last night. Patrolling or something. He’s kind of fierce-looking. But he saw me and smiled. Changed his whole countenance.”

Jared stared at his friend. “If you tell me you went to his bed last night, I’m throwing you out of here.”

“What? No! We just smiled at each other. I haven’t even met him.” Dane’s cheeks went bright pink. “I’m just saying that he’s…”

“Wow?”

Dane rolled his eyes but then smiled. “Something like that.” He crossed his arms. “Mate, huh? What’s that been like?”

Jared opened the door and gazed around, then shut it again. Then he went outside and looked around before shutting the balcony doors.

“What are you doing?” Dane asked.

“Just checking.” He sighed as he threw himself down on the couch. “It’s been maddening. I’m just in the garden reading, and suddenly I look up and see the most amazing, sexy man I’ve ever laid eyes on. We start talking, and it’s like I can’t get close enough. He kissed me, and the embrace was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. I couldn’t get enough. We were going to spend last night together, but then he decided that I belonged to him.”

“If you’re his mate, you do.”

“Dane!”

His friend sat down beside him. “What? It’s true. But he belongs to you too. Works both ways. Mating the Alpha is like marrying the king. The alpha position isn’t inherited—it’s won. The rest of the pack has to support you. If there’s another contender, you fight for it. Centuries ago, the fight would be to the death.”

Jared narrowed his eyes. “Been reading up on shifters?”

Dane blushed again. “We’re linking our destiny with theirs with this alliance.” After a moment, he went on and said, “Is there some reason you don’t want to be his mate?”

Jared didn’t answer.

Dane frowned. “If you can’t tell me, how are you gonna work it out with him?”

“I do want to be his mate. Want him to claim. But he didn’t even ask.”

“What if he apologized?”

Jared hesitated before saying, “He already did.”

“And you forgave him?”

“Yeah.”

Dane’s frown deepened. “So, is this really just a joke? You’re doing this for fun?”

Jared closed his eyes. “We’re doing it because I’m not going to be some meek little thing in his shadow the rest of my life.”

Dane’s expression softened. “You won’t be. He’ll be wrapped around your finger. Your word will be his command.”

Jared opened his eyes to look at his friend. “What the hell have you been reading?”

“Poetic chronicles. They’re actually quite beautiful.”

His stare fixed on the floor, Jared said, “I don’t know what to do. I feel the wolf inside me like never before. As if he’s talking to me.”

“What’s he saying?”

“He’s telling me to submit. He wants to please the Alpha. Belong to him. My skin feels too tight, and my blood is running hot.” He adjusted his pants. “My cock is driving me crazy.”

“Then call this off and go to him.”

“He’ll never respect me.”

“Never respect you? For acting like a wolf?” Dane shook his head. “Alpha or not, a wolf knows its mate. And wolves act on it. It’s not instant love, but it’s an instant bond.”

“I’m not a full wolf.”

“Doesn’t matter. The wolf is still in there.”

Jared scrubbed his hand over his face.

“What are you going to do?”

Jared rose and went to the window. “What else can I do? I’m going to get up at dawn and let him hunt me down.”

Chapter Three


Gregor stood with Luke as he waited for the signal from below. The sun had just popped up over the horizon, and he watched the edge of the forest. He would be allowed to watch Jared enter, and then he would begin his wait. Many fae had gathered below to watch, and the king had ordered a buffet be laid out for everyone once it became clear many would come to see what happened. Most seemed to think this event took place purely for their amusement, as a sort of celebration of the alliance.

Gregor scanned the crowd slowly because Luke kept looking down at one man in particular. That same man kept darting glances up at them. The man was a little shorter than Jared and had long, golden hair. His features were striking, though more feminine than Jared’s. His frame was more petite as well. “Did you do more than patrol last night?” Gregor asked.

Luke didn’t take his eyes off the man. “I slept alone, if that’s what you’re asking.” He met his Alpha’s gaze. “I’m simply admiring the beauty around us.”

“You’re admiring one beauty more than others.”

Luke’s jaw tensed. “It’s unwise to get my hopes up. We get one mate, and mine is gone.”

“And she would be sad to see you spend the rest of your life alone.”

“I scratch the itch when I need to.”

Gregor looked down at the blond man. “He looks quite willing to help you scratch.”

Luke chewed his bottom lip and said nothing, though the tension had left his face.

Someone began waving his hands down below, and Jared emerged from the crowd. His mate looked up at him, and Gregor wished he was allowed to stand closer. Even with his keen eyesight, he couldn’t really read the expression on Jared’s face.

Jared bowed to the crowd, and everyone applauded.

“No one knows it’s real, do they? That Jared is actually resisting?” Luke said.

“Resisting? More like being stubborn. I’m learning a lesson, in his eyes.”

“Hmmm.”

Jared ran into the trees and disappeared.

Just wait until I catch you.

Luke looked over at him. “I think a mate with a little fire is perfect for you.”

“Of course he’s perfect for me. He knows it as well as I do.” His body stirred a bit as he remembered the sounds Jared had made yesterday while Gregor was sucking him off. The entire kingdom will hear you screaming my name soon enough.

Luke laughed. “Just a few more hours. It’ll be worth it.”

Gregor let out a deep sigh, turning because he felt someone approaching.

The king came to stand beside them and said, “Are you sure you want to give him three hours? The way he looked a few minutes ago, he might come running back before then.”

“Really?” Gregor said.

“He’d deny it, of course, but I think he’s only going through with this because it would be embarrassing to call it off. Plus, if he did call it off, everyone would know he’d really denied you.”

“We were just discussing that,” Gregor said. “The fact everyone thinks we’re merely trying to entertain them.”

“Makes me wish I’d thought of it. It’s certainly making everyone view the wolves with more favor,” Asmund said. “I think my people are getting excited about the alliance.”

Gregor managed a smile. “I’ve certainly never been ogled quite this much.”

The king laughed. “I read that often your race finds mates among humans. Could there be mates here as well?”

“Possibly. The fact I found mine here will encourage others to hope.” He met the king’s gaze. “We each get one mate. Only one. Some never find their fated mates.”

“That’s sad,” the king said. “We keep to ourselves here. I’d be willing to encourage more intermingling. I’ll definitely be coming to visit Jared.”

“Perhaps we could find you a mate, Your Majesty.”

“What percentage of your population is female?” Asmund asked. “I’m going to need an heir one day.”

“About thirty. But an omega might suit you well.”

“Wouldn’t I have to be a wolf to get him pregnant?”

“No. Omegas are special. Only one in every ten ordinary wolves is an omega. Any man could get an omega pregnant.”

“Ah. I should continue with my reading.” He pointed down to the blond man. “Jared’s friend Dane has been doing lots of research. He’s always been an excellent scholar. We sit and talk some evenings.”

Gregor cast a quick gaze over at Luke, who seemed to suddenly be paying more attention to their conversation. “The blond? There by the table?”

“Yes, he’s Jared’s best friend. I should introduce you. I’m sure Jared will want him to visit often.”

“I’d like that.” Gregor eyed his Beta again, noting the deep breath Luke took.

“He may be shy at first, but he’ll warm to you.” Lowering his voice, the king said, “He had a bad experience in the human world several years ago.”


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