Chapter One Va larius Lemusson tapped his thumb impatiently against the seam of his jeans. He really didn’t want to be there. Too many shifters—and even a vampire and gargoyle or two—were crowded into the hotel conference room. Wolf shifters were stationed at every entrance to monitor who entered, confirming their secrecy. His lion hated being cooped up with so many unknown shifters, making him edgy. The pheromones given off by the mated wolves made it even worse instead of better, since all he could think about was finding a willing partner—hell, male or female, he couldn’t give a shit at this point—and fucking them through the nearest flat surface. Damn, I need to get laid. Even as part of him felt honored that his pride leaders, Perrin and Terence, had chosen him to represent them at this gathering—after all, he’d only been with them, less than a year—most of him just wanted to go home. Unfortunately, he couldn’t, and Valarius knew that. He needed to know what the other shifters planned to do about the human government knowing about their existence…if anything. Unfortunately, it didn’t look like any resolution was going to come today. Some representatives wanted to keep secret everyone the government didn’t know about, yet. Some people wanted to reveal how many there were—not locations or species, but a general number figure—so the government knew they’d be a force to be reckoned with if push came to shove. Still, others wanted to wait and see if 1 .
Just Lion Around Chapter Two B rice Gaithers had hoped when the bathroom door was shoved open, it would be the bouncers. Instead, in walked one of the…well, not the biggest men, but this guy was damn close. Unfortunately, the hope that the sexy stranger would help him died quickly enough. With the way he was moving closer, dark eyes sweeping over him with lust and…something else, now Brice feared he’d join in. God, my life sucks. All he’d wanted was a night away—away from his friend, Vee, and Vee’s wolf shifter boyfriend, and away from their sickeningly sweet lovey, dovey attitude. When they’d gone to some shifter convention thingy, Brice had left for the club. He’d thought he’d found a little fun with Donnie, the guy who seemed to be the group speaker, but when he’d joined the man in the bathroom for a quickie, he’d discovered they wouldn’t be having that quickie alone. “He doesn’t look very willing,” the newcomer stated. “Can’t he speak for himself?” Much to Brice’s shock, and causing a fair amount of shame, the man’s deep growly voice actually caused his prick to start thickening in his boxers. Donnie smiled coldly at Brice, his gaze full of warning— and that got his untimely arousal to disappear, thank God. 9 .
Just Lion Around Chapter Three Va larius gave his statement to the cops, all the while keeping an eye on Brice. He’d practically roared with satisfaction upon his mate’s desire to be taken to his hotel room. It told him that even after the traumatic evening, Brice still felt the mate-pull and wanted to give in to it. He also knew he’d have to take it slow. Finding out his mate was a human meant claiming him would be harder than if he’d discovered it in another paranormal. Often, the idea of shifters took humans time to understand and accept. Time was something Valarius didn’t have a lot of, but at least he was in the territory of a pack open to same sex matings. Not like his old pride. Banishing those thoughts—they were in the past— Valarius again sought out Brice. He couldn’t wait to learn everything about his sweet little human. He wanted to run his hands over Brice’s lean body, explore every inch of his smooth skin, and see if his red and blond locks were as soft as he imagined. “Is there anything else you’d like to add to your statement?” the officer asked. Valarius refocused on the tall, slender human in front of him. Just shy of six foot, the guy stood as tall as possible, his back ramrod straight in his uniform, as if that would make 15 .
Just Lion Around Chapter Four B rice felt warm and comfortable and—for the first time in months—safe. He snuggled deeper into the pillow. After a second, he realized it didn’t feel right. Wiggling his fingers, Brice felt crisp, course hair and firm flesh. Prying open an eyelid, he peered through the gloom of early morning light and stared down at the man he used as a pillow, drinking in bronzed skin, hard muscles, thick arms, and dark goatee around a firm mouth that offered so much pleasure. The events of last night returned, first freezing his insides, then heating them. The sexy man underneath him had stopped the attack, had saved him, and given him pleasure, not to mention this wonderful sense of comfort and safety. Brice couldn’t remember the last time he’d been on the receiving end of a blowjob. Most men interested in him expected him to service them. And how did I repay him? By passing out. Smiling at the relaxed expression on his sexy lover— Valarius, his foggy memory supplied—Brice decided it was time to return the favor. Brice slithered down Valarius’ body, taking the covers with him while admiring the firm pecks and deep grooves of his lover’s abs. Following the guy’s thick treasure trail to the neatly trimmed, though still thick bush, and the cock nestled amidst the dark curls. 23 .
Charlie Richards Chapter Five Va larius slouched in the uncomfortable chair and checked the time on his phone again. Twenty-two minutes… He fought against his urge to demand to see his mate, knowing it would only cause trouble. The bastard Detective Pierson had refused to let him back. He thought back to the conversation he’d had with his alpha. Perrin had been happy for him…a bit reserved, since Brice was human, but Valarius understood that. His alpha would need to be thinking of his pride’s safety. Valarius knew he would need to stress the importance of secrecy to Brice once he revealed that he was a shifter. Gods above, I hope he understands. Just then, his lover’s heady aroma tickled his senses. Even though he felt disappointed because he hadn’t been able to enjoy his mate the evening before, he could still place the man anywhere in the same room…and he had plenty of plans to seduce his mate later. Standing, Valarius watched Brice weave between desks and chairs, making his way toward him. His lover gave him a wan smile, the lines around his eyes giving away the stress and emotion he hid behind a tight-lipped smile. Before Brice could reach him, a pair of men caught his mate’s attention. Brice’s smile tightened further as he turned and greeted them. Curious—and concerned—Valarius headed their way. His snarl at the receptionist caused her to 32 .
Just Lion Around Chapter Six B rice moaned and bucked, unable to control himself as Valarius stroked his fingers lightly over the sensitive skin of his hips and the crease of his groin. His shaft bobbed in the air and he bowed his back. “Val…oh, Val, please,” Brice whined. He twined his fingers in the comforter, his legs shifting restlessly. “Easy, lover,” Valarius crooned. “I got you.” Valarius had him all right. He had him going nearly out of his mind. The second they’d hit the hotel room, his lover had been all over him, touching him with lips, tongue, and hands. He’d maneuvered Brice backward across the room, deftly stripping them both of clothes, then laying him out with Valarius levered over him. Now, tingles danced across his skin, his erection throbbed, and fire sizzled through his veins. Valarius seemed to have a single-minded obsession with giving him the most pleasure he’d ever experienced, that Brice thought he’d black out at any second. His head near Brice’s groin, Valarius nipped the sensitive skin at the dip of his hip. Brice hissed. His cock jerked and pre-cum oozed from the slit. Valarius buried his nose in Brice’s pubes, tugging the trimmed hair, sending a fresh wave of prickles dancing across his skin. Valarius wrapped his fingers loosely around Brice’s stalk, massaging the sensitive wrinkled flesh under his head. He 39 .
Just Lion Around Chapter Seven Ro lling his eyes, Valarius listened to the same shifters give the same arguments. No one wanted to budge on their stances. Irritated—and missing Brice more than he missed breathing—he rose and headed toward the door, drawing attention to himself. He’d intended just to make a discreet retreat. Unfortunately, Declan must have thought he wanted to chime in. “Ye have something to say, Valarius?” the alpha wolf called. Valarius paused at the side of the room and thought quickly. He wasn’t really known for his diplomatic skills. His leaders just expected him to report back. “In my opinion,” he started slowly. “We need to be open to changes. That said, it doesn’t mean we need to go into changes passively. Even though a river pushes a canoe forward, the man with the paddle steers.” He shrugged. “We need some control of our fate. I say we let them know we are a force to be reckoned with.” Before others could start shouting denials or their own point of view, he added, “It wouldn’t be safe to let anyone know the number or location of our cubs. That’s just asking for trouble. But if we go to them and demand representation in decisions of how our species is dealt with, even if just behind the scenes, it’ll be a start.” 47 .
Just Lion Around Chapter Eight Sa ted, Brice relaxed on the blanket, mostly on his back and propped up on his elbows. He tipped his head back and enjoyed the sun warming his face. The champagne was almost as delicious as the taste of Valarius’ kisses. Add in the chocolate covered raspberries—which Brice found nearly as sweet as the man lying next to him, his head propped on his palm as he peered at him—and Brice thought this was probably the best date he’d ever been on. And it isn’t because of the amazing sixty-nine we shared fifteen minutes ago… “So, tell me about yourself, Brice,” Valarius urged. Turning his head on his neck, Brice met Valarius’ dark- eyed gaze. “Not much to me, really. I’m from Idaho originally. My family disowned me when I came out. When my buddy moved here to live with his truck driving boyfriend, I came, too.” He shrugged and dropped fully to his back, placing his hands under his head and gazing at the clouds floating across the deep blue sky. “I work about thirty hours a week at All Weather Outfitters and take online courses.” Valarius reached over and traced a couple fingers along Brice’s arm, sending goose bumps over his skin. “So, I was thinking…” The hesitance in Valarius’ voice caught Brice’s attention. He rolled to face his much larger lover, surprised to see 55 .
Just Lion Around Chapter Nine A blood-curdling shriek ripped through the clearing, and Valarius wasn’t the only one that froze. His lion recovered almost instantly as he recognized his mate’s cry. Valarius leaped sideways, raking his claws against the darker lion as hard as he could as he passed. Taking continued advantage, he landed on the other cat’s back, sank his jaws into the shifter’s throat, and threw his weight sideways. He took the smaller lion with him and pitched the cat, throwing him against a tree. Rolling back to his paws, he swung his head around to see his lover still screaming, but he didn’t appear to be in any actual danger. During a lull in the noise, where Brice seemed to be sucking in a breath to start the racket again, Valarius heard shouting and the crashing of people running down the trail and through the bush…and they were coming closer. Valarius growled low in his throat, watching the other three lions come to the same conclusion and scatter. He wouldn’t—couldn’t—leave his mate…or at least, not until he knew the other lions were gone. When his heightened shifter eyesight spotted the flash of bright colored clothes through the trees, he grabbed up his jeans in his jaws and leaped behind a copse of trees, then padded deeper into the woods. He hesitated for just a 63 .
Charlie Richards Chapter Ten B rice heard Valarius’ voice, but why did it sound like it came from a long way off? His mate—oh my God, no, did I just think that?—was talking to someone. He wondered how he could hear them over the sound of the engine, but then he realized that the roaring was his pulse rushing through his brain. Gentle hands eased the helmet from his head, then threaded through his hair, cupping his skull. Thumbs massaged his temples. “Come on, Brice,” Valarius crooned, pecking the corner of his lips. “Show me those pretty baby blues, hmm?” He swallowed hard and forced his eyes open. Brice frowned and glanced around, spotting Declan McIntire standing on the porch of his home. The alpha wolf shifter peered at him, his brows creased, obvious concern in his dark eyes. “There you are,” Valarius murmured. “We need to get in the house. I’ve explained what happened to the alpha and he’s sending out people to search for Rayban and his pals. I’ve gotta call my own alpha and let Perrin know what happened, too.” Brice frowned, but followed his lover’s urging hands and slid off the bike. “I don’t even know what happened,” he mumbled. “Why’d they attack you?” He didn’t really 72 .