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Riley opened his eyes, not seeing anything in the darkness. He didn’t need light to know that Samuel’s huge, warm body was lying next to him. With a finger Riley probed his tongue, not finding any wounds or even a hint of tenderness. Frowning, Riley’s mind started racing.
“Ask, baby.” Samuel’s deep voice penetrated the dark.
“What happened during that crazy kiss, it changed me didn’t it?”
“The kiss was the first step of the bonding ritual. Mixing our blood and taking it into our bodies connected us.” Samuel’s fingers, which were still entwined with his, tightened briefly.
“Are we done with the rituals? I have to say that last one was a kicker. And by the way, I take it that the exchange of blood is the reason my tongue and lip are healed?” Riley wasn’t stupid by any means. He may only be a mill worker, but for him it paid the bills. He had good insurance, and after putting in his eight hours, he could do what he wanted. That included reading, rock climbing at the gym, and running miles with Katherine. But the fact remained that he had given it all up to help Katherine disappear, except now the plan had taken a sharp left turn.
“There are a few more rituals, baby.” Samuel’s deep voice sounded like it was raking over stones, creating shivers along Riley’s spine.
“What’s the next one?” Riley rubbed the hair on the nape of his neck and tried to ignore the way his cock was responding to Samuel calling him “baby.” Then Riley remembered what Samuel’s cock and balls had looked like in the yellow glow of the streetlight and became distracted by how they would feel, in his mouth.
“Sex,” Samuel answered.
Riley’s mind slammed back into the present. Oh happy day, things might be looking up for him. “Sex is good,” he said. Riley would never deny that he loved sex in any way, shape, or form.
Samuel’s chuckle vibrated through Riley’s body making his asshole twitch. He was coming to realize that this shifter mating stuff took attraction and connection to a whole new level. He would actually be scared if he didn’t desperately want to be skin to skin with the big man.
“It might get a little intense,” Samuel explained. “I don’t want you to be afraid. I’ll take care of you every step of the way.”
“Wait a minute. Why would I be afraid of sex?” Riley started to pull away but their linked hands stopped him. He was going to free his hand but Samuel just held on tighter.
Riley looked toward Samuel even if he couldn’t see him in the darkness. “What is going to happen during the ritual?”
Riley heard the rustle of the bed linens and then Samuel’s lips covered his in a brief kiss. The kiss calmed him, but made the hum thrumming through his blood pump even harder. His nipples prickled as they tightened in reaction to his lion’s touch.
“I now see why my friend Stephan was reluctant to explain the shifter world to his mate. It would be much easier just to show you,” Samuel complained.
“How did that go for him?” Riley challenged.
Samuel chuckled, “Not too well.”
“Just give me the basics. Do we have regular sex or is it done in some weird way? By the way, I don’t do animals, no matter how gorgeous your lion form is.” Riley wasn’t an unreasonable man and kinky was fun, but even he had limits.
Samuel’s thumb traveled slowly over the back of Riley’s hand caressing it gently. Just that small touch made his need grow stronger. “While we are having sex, we will have to bite each other. It’s part of the requirements for lions. I know some of the other cats have to follow different biting rules.”
Riley’s heart sped up. He had always liked a little teeth in his sex play. “Okay,” he agreed.
“Once you have swallowed some of the blood, you will need to lick the wound shut,” Samuel continued.
“Wait a minute. You’re saying we are biting deep enough to draw blood? Isn’t that a vampire thing?” Riley was joking with his vampire reference until Samuel’s next words shocked him.
“I’m almost certain that vampire’s need to bite their mates. I’m not really sure as they are one of the oldest of the paranormal world and tend to be the most secretive. The rumor is that they are so good at masking what they are that even other shifters can’t tell they’re not just humans.”
Riley had long discussions with Katherine about animal shifters. But now he realized that they had never talked about other paranormal beings. Then the “just humans” comment registered. “So I’m just a human to you, lion?” He hoped Samuel liked hot water, because the cat was very close to making Riley lose his temper, and would soon be immersed deep in it.
“You will never be just a human to me,” Samuel responded without hesitation.
“Nice save, but this isn’t going to work if you think I’m inferior to you.” Riley knew from his talks with Katherine that of all the cat shifters, the lions were the most condescending. They were one of the strongest, only smaller to the tiger, and their animal instincts were close to the surface. Riley might have his hands full with Samuel, but the lion-man better respect him as a person or the poor kitty would be shown real quick the error of his ways.
“Shifters are stronger, faster, and heal quicker than humans. But humans are exotic beings that won’t let anything stop them if they feel strong enough about something. I cannot help but respect that,” Samuel answered.