As promised, we're posting the final few chapters of On the Prowl over the next several weeks. We didn't even make you wait months for it! Before this story ends, I ask that you once again check out Nulli Para Ora's blog and buy all her books because...dayum. That being said...
Brian spent the rest of the week spending time with his mate and following leisurely pursuits. Sometimes, Nulli kicked his ass on video games. Others, Brian researched new types of camera lenses while she watched anime. They did lots of careful and meticulous research for the new book she was writing. Regardless of her injuries, she had a voracious thirst for knowledge that often left them both in dire need of rest and recuperation.
“I think I need to go back to work to get some rest.” He chuckled after a particularly enthusiastic round of research and pulled her hand to his lips for a kiss. “You also seem a little better. Only hissed at me a few times.”
“Are you saying you need a working vacation from your mate? And you think that will get you fewer hisses?” Her laughter filled the space between them, and she shook her head. “It’s going to be weird being here all day alone. I’ll have to send you special texts.”
“Oh, sweet baby Jesus! They’ll think I have a problem if I run to the bathroom every time my phone chirps.” He rolled onto his side and propped his chin on his hand. “You don’t have to stay here, you know. I think that last very impressive round proved that your ribs are well enough for you to at least ride a bike with care. No MMA foolishness, though. Don’t make me come get my ass kicked trying to stop you!”
“You’d actually try that, wouldn’t you? Crazy cat.” His mate rolled her eyes and sucked her teeth. “I’ll see what happens. I’ve been getting messages from the people in my classes. I’ll test it out tomorrow. Don’t want to expend all my energy.” She ran her index finger down the center of his chest. “I have to maintain my wild bobcat reputation.”
“As a certain bear would say, Hell yeah!” He captured her hand and nipped the tips of her fingers. “I’ve asked one of the Wardens to shadow you at the gym. Now, don’t get all pissy and try to beat me up just yet. You’re better, Nulli, not healed. She is healthy and trained for this. It’s the only way I won’t be a nervous wreck at work worrying about you. And before you ask, yes, I have a shadow, too.”
A low growl started in her chest, but quickly dissipated. “Fine. I don’t like it, but I guess we’ll have to do this for now.” Her eyes flashed amber as she looked up at him. “But not forever. I want to have our lives back.”
“Of course not forever. Just until PSI Tech is neutralized or we’re both fully healed. Wounded animals may fight more fiercely, but they’re still wounded and at a disadvantage. Next time, it might be our turn to play babysitter.”
“Unfortunately, PSI Tech is but one company hiring the thousands of so-called scientists who feel the ends justify the means. You once spoke of joining the Wardens. I’m not letting you join them alone.”
“Brian,” she paused and pulled her hand from his. “You know I love you more than anything, but you’re kind of putting me in a cage here. Everything you’ve said in the last five minutes has been don’t, I won’t let, you can’t… I’m still a grown woman. I know where this is coming from, but don’t smother me.”
“I’m sorry. Sort of. I mean, I don’t mean to make you feel caged, but I’d damn sure love to wrap you in cotton wool and bubble wrap to keep you safe.” He ran his hand through his hair and sighed. “I don’t want you to feel caged. I just don’t want to see you hurt again, either.”
“I know, but how about talking with me instead of dictating? Think you can handle that?” She pulled his hand from his hair and rested it on her waist. “Or will we both start making demands?”
“I’ll try, sweetheart. I am trying.” He tugged her a little closer. “I didn’t pitch a fit and say you couldn’t go. Honestly, that was what I wrestled with all week. It wasn’t fair and I knew it, but I wanted to demand it anyway. So, I’m getting there. I just need a few more knocks in my head, first.”
“Then allow me.” She sat up and kissed one temple, then the other. “I love you, Brian. Now get up and get ready for work.”
He pulled her close and kissed her with a growl. “Yes, ma’am!”
The day dragged. His temper was on a short fuse due to a mixture of worry and frustration. He must have sent Nulli a dozen texts in the first hour, making sure she was okay. She called at lunch and growled at him to stop. He agreed, but it didn’t stop him from pacing the office or clawing at the edge of his cast.
His boss caught him on top of a ladder trying to replace one of the cameras that shorted due to the powerful storm. “What the hell are you doing up there, Arcady? I thought I told you to stay on the ground?”
“My babysitters have their own jobs to do. This is a simple replacement job.” He balanced the camera on his shoulder while he strapped it into place. Sliding the panel closed, he climbed down the ladder. “See? All done. What’s up, boss?”
“You don’t owe money or anything, do you? Not in any sort of trouble?”
Brian’s brows shot towards his hairline. “What do you mean?”
“There’s some big, burly redneck in the lobby waiting for you. I don’t like how he looks. Want me to get security to show him out?”
“Redneck?” He rested the ladder on his shoulder and carried it to the maintenance closet. If his guest was who he thought he was, security didn’t stand a chance. “Did this redneck give a name?”
“Killer or something like that.” The older man frowned, but Brian detected a slight hint of fear.
“Killian?” At his boss’ nod, he shook his head and laughed. “Never, ever tell him you thought his name was Killer. He’ll insist I use it, and I can’t call him that with a straight face. Don’t worry, he’s a friend. Killer.” Brian shook his head and chuckled as he headed for the lobby.
The bear shifter paced the small reception area looking a lot like a mafia strongman. His tailored suit hugged his broad shoulders. His briefcase bore the label of an exclusive designer. He ran his fingers through his hair, sending the carefully combed locks into disarray. Below the hum of the air conditioner and the other electronics, Brian heard the low rumblings of the bear’s growl.
“Hey, Killian. What’s up?”
“Brian!” Killian’s face lit up, and he offered his hand. “Got someplace we can talk?”
“Sure, we can use my office. I’ve got an order of pizza on the way anyway. If I don’t eat soon, I’m going to start stalking bears.”
Killian’s laughter rumbled down the hall like an avalanche. Brian asked about Melody’s new job, and they discussed the trials and joys of learning to live with another person. Once inside his office, Brian turned on the radio to muffle their voices and cleared off an end of his desk. Killian set up his laptop.
“First off, the audit is going nicely. My contact in the agency said that due to questionable transactions, all of PSI Technology’s accounts and assets have been frozen.” Killian pulled up a series of charts and screenshots from various local and national banks. Each contained a banner across the top directing the user to a telephone number and name for the agent in charge of the investigation. “Terry’s confirmed the impact of the audit. He called and said they had withdrawn their offer due to a hiring freeze. They’ve lost most of their security, and the place is crawling with government agents not on the payroll.”
“I don’t get it. This sounds great, so why were you growling in the lobby?”
“It’s wonderful, don’t get me wrong. These guys have jumped on this faster than a flea on an old dog, but there’s just one tiny, little problem. Andrea K. Flagston.” He tapped a key and a photograph appeared. Brian hissed as he stared into the face of the woman responsible for his and his mate’s accident. “The head of PSI Tech’s Cryptids Research department, Terry’s contact, and your favorite hit-and-run driver is nowhere to be found. She’s not on the premises. She’s not at her apartment. Her bank account has been emptied and closed, and her cell phone is no longer in service.”
“You think she’ll come for us.”
Killian’s deep green eyes flashed as his fangs pressed against his lip. “I’m sure of it.”
“Why?” Brian stood and paced the small room. “If her lab is gone, what does she have to gain?”
“A new lab. New buyers. Maybe she’ll open a zoo. Who the fuck knows how these humans’ minds work?” Killian snapped closed the laptop and returned it to the briefcase. “Let your bendy mate know to be on her guard, especially at the gym. They still see her as the weakest shifter since she’s just been turned. I hope I’m there when she proves them wrong.”
“I’ve got to tell Nulli about this.” Flakes of plaster drifted to the desk as Brian clawed at the end of his cast. “She’s doing light duty at the gym, but she’ll want to step it up after this.”
“Well, tell her she can’t. I don’t see how she’s in the gym anyway. Hell, she’s got broken ribs. The one time I got a few cracked, I wanted to hibernate for a week whimpering like a cub.”
“Uh huh. I’ll let you be the one to tell her to lighten up. Remember how she kicked your ass last time? She’s even faster now.”
“You do have a point. Though I might enjoy her trying some of that jujitsu on me. All that rolling around on the floor with her legs wrapped around my waist? Hell yes!” He waggled his brows.
“Leave my mate alone, you old pervert!”
“Damn. You got awful greedy when you found your mate. Pity. An absolute pity.” Killian shook his head, but a smile curved his lips. “Seriously, though. I’m happy for you, Arcady. She’s a fine woman, and I’ll help make sure you’re both around to drive each other crazy when you’re old and grey. Let me finish up some errands in town, then I’ll come over later tonight to help keep watch. Melody can’t take time off work, but she’ll be up this weekend if it’s needed.”
“Thanks, man. It means a lot to us both.” Brian shook hands with the bear and escorted him from the building. He wasn’t looking forward to the telephone call to his mate.
The rest of the day crawled by. After a brief but emotional telephone call explaining the situation to Nulli, they agreed to carry on as normal but remain close to their assigned Warden. They also agreed to stay in constant communication during the day. He sent her a text every hour, asking how things were. She sent him one on the half hour doing the same. The minutes between each one were agonizing. He flew out the door the moment the clock ticked over, his Warden shadow close on his heels.
He watched his rear-view mirror almost as much as he looked out the front windshield on the way home. Though he saw no trace of Flagston, he couldn’t shake the feeling he was being watched with ill-intent. He took the longer route home, turning at the last minute down narrow streets, or blowing through yellow lights. He’d apologize to the Warden later.
When he saw Nulli’s car in the drive, he alternated between fear and relief. Just because she was there didn’t mean she was safe within the house. He screeched to a stop, jumped out of the car, and burst through the door. Nulli pulled him inside and pressed him against the wall. As the door swung shut, she pulled him down for a hard kiss.
“Are you okay?” Both spoke at once. Eyes and hands roamed each other’s bodies, checking for injuries.
Brian pulled her close and purred. “I’m fine, Nulli. Scared to death something had happened to you, but fine. You?”
“I’m all right. Just glad you’re here. Do you have to go to work tomorrow?”
“Unfortunately.” He rested his forehead against hers and sighed. “There’s a concert coming in next week. Everyone’s scrambling to get the center ready. That last storm really did a number on the older cameras and some of the wiring.”
“I can imagine.” She held him tight and breathed slow breaths. “This is our life now. Damn these people.”
“Killian offered to come be our teddy bear if we’re scared.” He chuckled softly. “I told him it was highly doubtful. Still, he’ll be here tonight to help stand watch.”
“If I didn’t think they’d send him back, I’d have that bear wait on the front porch.”
His laughter rumbled through the room. “Now you’re just being bad, sweetheart. Killian is a mostly harmless old bear. I also called Doc Roberts, and she said she’d increase the numbers around the house. I’ve done a bit of research on how to increase security on the house. It won’t be like this forever, Nulli. I promise.”
“Even more people?” She stepped back and frowned as she looked around the room. “It doesn’t have to be forever. We’ll always be looking over our shoulders after this.”
His shoulders slumped. “I’m sorry. I wish I could honestly say I could make it better, but I can’t.”
“I’m not blaming you. It’s just… We can’t do anything. We have to wait for them to make a move, and that’s wearing on my nerves, know what I mean? If we didn’t learn anything else, we know that when those people decide to show themselves, they do it in a big way.”
“That’s why the Wardens are beefing up the detail. They’ll have most of their people out of sight. Stealthy. Some in the trees, some in the bushes. Hell, there are a few on the roof, I think. But there are a couple who’ll be deliberately careless. Bait. They think Flagston will make her move in the next day or two.”
“Now I really do want to go for a run.” He knew how she felt. There was no trace of fear in her scent. If she felt as frustrated as he did, she was looking for a quick way to burn it off.
“Soon. Once this is over, we’ll spend the weekend at the cabin. How does that sound?”
She looked back at him before closing her eyes. “It sounds far away.”
He wrapped his arms around her and kissed each of her eyelids. As he trailed his lips over her cheek, he nipped the lobe of her ear. “It’s closer than you think. I’m sorry this happened, Nulli. I wish I could have made your first month as a shifter so much better than this.”
“You still think I regret it?”
“No.” He nibbled her lip and purred. “But I want to make sure you never do. Besides, it gives me an excuse to spoil you silly.”
“Speaking of spoiling…” A devilish smile spread her lips as she backed away from him.
He stalked forward, a low growl rumbling through his purr. “What are you up to, mate?”
“Me? Up to something? Perish the thought!” She turned her back to him and headed up the stairs. “I just want things to get back to normal, that’s all.”
He kicked off his shoes by the door and followed her. “You know it’s dangerous to turn your back on a predator, right?” His shirt landed on the stairs between the floors. His belt slithered to the bottom like an armored snake. “We see it as a challenge.”
“Oh, I know.” She didn’t turn around as she sauntered into the bedroom. “Where’s that collar, kitty?”
“Right here.” Brian pulled it off the dresser and offered it to her. “I need one I can wear to work. This one is too bulky.”
“Put it on.” She sat on the mattress and pushed a box from under the bed with her feet. “Do you need some help?”
“Yes, Mistress.” He struggled with the buckle, then gave up. “Fucking cast.”
“Come here.” She beckoned with her index finger. The look on her face, the curve of her lips, the amber of her eyes, her strong scent, the mischief in her smirk, each contributed to the picture of seduction that was his mate. He bent over and allowed her to fasten the braided leather collar, and when she was done, she pointed to the medium-sized cardboard box. “Open it.”
He knelt at her feet, trailing his fingers over the simple brown box. A quick glance at her face gave few clues as to its contents. He knew it was something special. He knew he’d enjoy it. His purrs grew louder as he popped the tape on the side and lifted the lid.
“You are a wonderful woman, and I love you.”
He lifted a leather harness from the box. It smelled of clean leather and oils. An intricate pattern of Celtic knots were stamped into the straps. He set the strap aside and pulled out a smaller box. Inside were a variety of realistic dildos in a range of sizes. Some were average, some larger. A few made him wince and purr in equal measure.
“I can’t wait to see you wearing this, Mistress.” He chose one of the smaller dildos and fastened it to the harness. “May I help you with it?”
“Mm-hmm. After you lose the rest of those clothes.”
He stood with haste and stripped off his slacks, socks, and underwear. Tossing them into the hamper, he returned to his kneeling position. As he reached for the harness, he noticed a silken pool of black material pressed against the back corner of the box. He lifted it out and unfolded a sinfully, sexy black gown. A medallion with the same intricate knotwork held together the strips of material that covered the breasts. Beneath the medallion, the strips remained open to allow for easy use of the harness.
“This… I have no words.” There were times he wished he had a tail in his human form. He felt like swishing it with glee. “Will you wear it, Mistress?”
Nulli slid over before standing. She pulled off her shorts, revealing the front of a lacy pair of underwear. She eased her tank top over her head before tossing it into his lap. She leaned forward and pulled the racy garment from his hands before stepping into it. The silky fabric glided over her bare skin, and when it was in place, he forgot how to breathe for several moments.
He ran his hands up her legs and tugged on the lacy panties. “These must go as well.” Inching the underwear over her hips, he followed its path with his lips. Her scent called to him for a taste. He nuzzled into her soft curls and growled.
The scrap of lace fell to her ankles. Placing a final kiss upon her mound, he lifted her foot to slide the underwear from her ankle. He kissed her knee, then did the same to the other. He sat back on his heels and gazed up at her. Her beauty stole his breath. The brief glimpses of her body hardened his cock. He purred and nuzzled against her.
“Let’s get that harness on, and then we’ll test your boundaries.” Her voice was heavy and commanding. Her tone flowed like the waters of a river of decadence, snaking into him and filling him with lust.
He picked up the harness with shaking hands. “You are amazing, mate.” He helped her step into the harness and cinched each strap snugly around her thighs. Her sharp intake of breath when he settled the vibrator at her clit made him smile. He struggled with the strap around her waist, but managed to fasten it with only a few low growls.
She looked beautiful and powerful with the large phallus jutting from the black silk gown. The straps over her shoulders covered little more than the tips of her breasts. They parted to either side of the harness. He kissed her stomach, then the tip of the dildo. “What next, Mistress?”
“Let’s get you on the bed while I get that bacon flavored lube you like.” She winked and moved toward her nightstand. “I’m going to enjoy this, kitty. Where is your leash?”
He rose to his feet, his fingers flexing with each purr. His claws extended and retracted with each flex. He pulled the leash from the closet and presented it to his mate before climbing onto the bed. “I hope you enjoy it even a fraction as much as I will. This is a wonderful gift, Nulli.”
She snapped the braided cord in place and gave it a little tug. “I thought you’d like it.” She pulled the strap again, bringing his head close enough for a deep kiss. The heat of her tongue against his pulled a moan from his throat, but when she ran the backs of her fingers along the underside of his cock, his body tensed. “Hands and knees, kitty.”
“Yes, Mistress.” He pulled the pillows over and placed them under his chest. He set his knees at the edge of the bed and rested his head on his arms. The position was embarrassing. Vulnerable. Glorious. His loud purrs vibrated his entire body. His claws kneaded the soft pillows.
Nulli smoothed a hand over his bare ass before sliding it toward his thigh. She palmed his balls, played with them with slow movements, teased them. It nearly drove him crazy. He barely registered the coolness of the lube as it slid down the crack of his ass. He was too busy groaning when his mate pumped her hand along his length, squeezing and pulling with just the right amount of force. They hadn’t really started, and she was already pushing him to the edge.
A tug on his leash brought his attention back to her, and she tightened her grip. “Do you want this?” The rounded head of the dildo slid against him, but she didn’t advance.
“Yes, please.” His fingers dug into the mattress as he pressed against the dildo.
Nulli pulled back, denying him the potential pleasure he craved. Another tug on the leather tether lifted his head. “Beg me to fuck you. Make me believe you really want it.”
He closed his eyes as his fangs dug into his lip. “Please, Mistress. I want you. I want to feel you push that fake cock so deep I’m tasting silicone for a week. I want to have a rash on my neck from you pulling on my leash. I want you to fuck me hard. Rough. I want scratches and bruises. I want to cry your name as much in relief as in pleasure. Please, mate. Fuck your kitty.”
The blunt head of the dildo returned, but this time it felt slightly different. Nulli pressed forward before pulling him to her by the leash. He hissed out a breath as his body stretched to accommodate what must have been a different toy. A larger toy. “Don’t stop now.”
He spread his legs farther apart, inhaling deeply before taking more of the large phallus into his ass. He growled as the pain turned into a sharp burn. He hissed as the burn became a dull ache. When his ass met the cool leather of the harness, he purred. The ache subsided, turned into the beginnings of pleasure. He tilted back his head and roared.
Nulli held him to her with the leash. She pushed her hand between them, teasing his cock and balls yet again while delivering slow, shallow thrusts. “Bad kitty.”
“Yes.” He readily agreed. He would agree to anything as long as she didn’t stop. “I’m a bad kitty, but I’m all yours, Mistress. All yours.” The shallow thrusts weren’t enough. The teasing of her fingers were driving him mad. “Please, Mistress. I need more.” He kneaded the pillows with his claws.
She stilled her hips and gave the leash a hard tug. “I will tell you what you need.” Her hand pumped along his length with delectable pressure and speed, and his eyes nearly rolled back. She brought him close, but she kept the peak just out of reach.
“Ooooh, God.” His back arched. He thrust into her hand, growling when she eased off the pressure. “Please, Mistress, for the love of all that is holy!”
The dildo slid back, almost all the way out. Brian held his breath while Nulli kept it there, unmoving while she teased around his stretched hole with a finger. “I almost believe you, kitty.” Her slender digits traveled toward his balls, but stopped just behind them. Without warning, she pinched the sensitive flesh there while pulling him back onto the toy.
“Fuck!” Brian growled as the dildo suddenly filled him to the point of exquisite pain. “Please, Nulli. Sweetheart. I’ll do anything. Massage your feet. Wash the dishes. I’ll fucking wash the car with my damn tongue, but please stop teasing me. God, mate.”
“Like hell. That tongue is mine.” Another series of shallow thrusts underscored her words. “Don’t you agree?”
“Yes, yours. All of it’s yours. My tongue. My cock. My ass. Everything you want. You already have my heart and soul. Take the rest. Take it all.” Tears filled his eyes as frustration built to painful levels. He struggled between his need for her dominance and his desire for pleasure. He bit his tongue to stop from demanding more. “Please, Mistress.”
The tension on the leash remained, but this time, she pulled back and surged forward with more force. She repeated the motion, and pulled him back to in time to meet her deep thrusts. “Be grateful I can’t bite you from here, kitty. I’d find a new place to mark you.”
“That sounds…” He growled at a particularly hard thrust and pressed back against her. “Wonderful. It sounds wonderful. It feels wonderful. Fuck, yes.” He met her every thrust, purring and growling as the dildo plundered his ass.
He was close. So blissfully close to the aching, throbbing, lusciousness of his climax. That’s when she threw in his version of kryptonite. She purred. A deep, chest rattling vibration traveled through the dildo, into his ass, and spread through every part of him.
The heat built, starting in his abused ass and spreading through his body. His balls drew up tight. Frissons of pleasure spread along his nerves and set his senses on fire. He growled. He tensed. He begged her to never stop. At a sharp tug on his leash, his final thread of control snapped. He came with a shuddering roar.
His mate pulled out and pressed him to his side. She snuggled behind him placing small kisses along his shoulder blade. “How do you feel, kitty?”
“Boneless.” He giggled softly, snuggling into the mattress. “Wonderful. That was… beyond amazing, Nulli. I love you so damn much.”
Her laughs vibrated the skin on his back. “I’ll talk to you after you’re not boneless. You may change your mind.” Another kiss, higher than the last, and then the sharp pain of her teeth as she bit into her mark.
“Yes!” He tilted his head back, giving her plenty of room to claim him. “I love the feel of your fangs. I love knowing I’m yours. I love--”
They heard the sound of breaking glass just seconds before a small cannister bounced into the room. It rolled towards the dresser, filling the room with dense, putrid fog. His lungs burned. His eyes felt like they were full of acid. He could barely breathe. As booted feet pounded across the patio, he rolled from the bed and pulled Nulli down to the floor with him. “We’ve got to get out of here, mate. PSI Tech’s made their move early. The bastards tear gassed us.”