Pawprints: Second Nature
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by Anne Cain
Description: Gabe and Hayden have been sweethearts since high school, and as college seniors, they can't keep their hands--or mouths--off each other. As hot as things are in the bedroom, it's their love that really keeps the fire burning in their relationship. But there's a problem that makes Gabe nervous about accepting Hayden's proposal to spend forever together. Gabe is actually a dog...and Hayden is terrified of them! Bitten as a kid, Hayden runs from anything that barks, and that's kept Gabe's lips firmly muzzled until now. There's no way he can keep his four-pawed, tail-wagging side a secret when he's supposed to share everything with the man he adores. Just as Gabe decides to come clean with the truth that he's not human, Hayden makes a shocking discovery of his own: he's not human either. Caught between two worlds and the sex-driven beings known as Wairs who inhabit both realms, Gabe and Hayden have no idea if their love can survive. Especially when the full moon brings out a demon sorcerer set on coming after Hayden--to either claim him or destroy him. Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse, male/male sexual practices.
eBook Publisher: Loose Id, LLC, 2008
eBookwise Release Date: October 2008
53 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [194 KB]
Reading time: 112-157 min.
The urge to break into a run formed a nagging itch under Gabe's skin that worsened the more he tried to control his pace. Sodium lamps colored the brick walls a dingy shade of orange as he trotted forward, moving through the scattered shadows from the rows of trees that lined the path. He couldn't stop thinking of Hayden, and after a few glances convinced him that no one was around, he let loose.
Gabe tore through the campus, his backpack slapping against his rib cage as he raced up the walkway. He caught the whine of an approaching electric cart and broke from the path to avoid the security guard's patrol. Running on the dry grass didn't slow him down, the cool air filling his lungs and numbing his cheeks. He headed toward the brick wall that bordered the university grounds, and taking a running jump, scaled the six-foot height in one leap. He hit the sidewalk at a run and ate up the distance to the crosswalk.
Even at two in the morning, cars and taxis snaked their way through Boston's streets. He raced across the street a second before the light changed, and only one cab driver had reflexes quick enough to blast the horn before Gabe was gone. He turned the corner at the twenty-four hour coffee shop, and passed Rudy's Sports Bar and a string of bookstores and curios. Another turn off the main avenue and he entered a modest residential block. On his left, he counted four wrought iron doorways before hopping up the cement steps leading to the fifth. There, he used his building key at the entrance and crossed the tiled foyer to the stairs. Each section of the four-story complex had two apartments, and the one he shared with Hayden was on the third floor.
Gabe didn't even notice the trip up the stairs. He took several steps at a time and entered the studio apartment, dropping his bag by the door and turning the lock. "Home," he sighed, only now catching his breath.
A soft snore sounded in response. Gabe crossed the small, cluttered room by the slivers of moonlight coming through the partially open blinds. The place wasn't much bigger than the dorms on campus, and they'd just managed to squeeze in a bed, desk, and some chairs. The payoff in having their own place was the privacy, a perk they enjoyed intimately. In every sense of the word.
Underneath the window, Hayden lay stretched out on the bed. An arm stuck out from under the rumpled blankets, and a bare leg dangled over the edge of the mattress so the tips of his toes scuffed the top of the carpet. Gabe came up beside the bed, quietly undressing in the semidarkness.
Hayden yawned and rolled over. The sheets fell away from his shoulder and exposed more of his beautifully tanned skin, smooth and flushed in the chilly air. Hayden slept nude, expecting company between the sheets to keep him warm.
The longing Gabe had fostered in the pit of his stomach all night dipped straight down and shifted into a warm pulse at his groin. He hesitated at the button of his fly, the delicious sensation coursing through him, lifting his cock.
"Hey," Hayden murmured. He gave Gabe a sweet and drowsy smile, and blond hair fell across his eyes as he shifted on the mattress. "Did you just come in?"
Gabe nodded. "I was trying not to wake you."
"Glad that plan failed." Hayden swept a hand across his face to push back his bangs. "I'm already up, in more ways than one."
"Really?" Gabe's cock twitched.
"Come find out for yourself," Hayden taunted.
Gabe allowed his gaze to travel along the naked parts of Hayden he could see, and linger wistfully on those he couldn't. The blanket draped over Hayden's body, clinging close to the skin. Between his thighs, the cloth traced the curved jut of an erection. Desire to be pressed against that taut body, wrapped in its heat and sweet smell, surged through Gabe, and he let out a shaky breath. His shaft kicked against the restrictive fit of his jeans.
"Here, let me." Hayden propped himself up on his left elbow and leaned over. He gripped the waistband of Gabe's pants and pulled him to the bed. Gabe doubled over, one knee on the edge of the mattress, a hand pressed against the wall over Hayden's head. A sense of closeness, of completeness, washed over him. At his waist, Hayden's skilled fingers worked open the button and tugged at the zipper. A shiver rocked Gabe when cool air touched the hot skin of his shaft as the organ bounced free.
"Still forgetting to put on your underwear in the morning?" Hayden raised both eyebrows, his mouth curved playfully.
"It just gets in the way." Gabe winked. He was also tired of losing his briefs whenever he shifted. Socks too. It didn't matter how careful he was with his clothes; he always ended up going home commando or sockless. Not that he could explain that to Hayden.
"I like that idea." Hayden rubbed the flat of his palm over the swelling tip, and Gabe trembled again as his cock rose. Hayden continued to stroke and gently knead the sensitive length. "In fact, whenever you're in the apartment, clothes in general shouldn't be allowed."
"Is that going to be a house rule?"
"Effective immediately." Hayden's strokes quickened, and the shifting sensation of loose flesh over the hard core locked Gabe's voice somewhere in the back of his throat. He managed a low, throaty growl and pitched his hips toward Hayden's hand.
"Whatever you say." He closed his eyes, loving that grinding, sliding feel that sent currents of pleasure arcing through his body. Lust for more contact gripped him, and he whined under his quickening breath while thrusting faster.
"Easy, Gabe." Hayden laughed, but the sound was hitched. "It's not my palm I want you to fuck." Releasing Gabe's cock, he dropped onto his back. As the sheets slipped off his body, the curving length of his erection popped up from a thatch of silvery blond curls.
Running on pure reflex, Gabe thrust a few more times into the empty air before controlling himself. He whimpered, knowing the "lost puppy" was coming through again and not really caring.
"I've been thinking about you all night," he breathed. "I want you so much it hurts." It really did, the ache for Hayden's companionship a knot in his stomach to rival the throbbing physical need that screamed for sex.
Gabe ran his free hand along the top of Hayden's bare thigh, moving with the flow of the soft, pale hairs under his palm. In the moonlight, the faded scars on Hayden's side took on a pearlescent quality. Gabe touched the old wound and found the skin even warmer there. Hayden's scent rose with the temperature of his body to wash over Gabe's senses. Breathing deeply, Gabe dipped down to nuzzle the side of Hayden's neck.
He froze. Sniffed again.
"You went swimming." Gabe nosed the tangles of feathery hair above Hayden's brow. The faint, tangy trace of chlorine stuck to the roots, persistent through the soapy residue of shampoo.
A noncommittal sound escaped Hayden's pursed lips. He kissed Gabe's throat and nibbled on the spot above the Adam's apple. The ploy to distract him didn't work.
"You're not supposed to hit the pool for another three weeks." Gabe pulled away from the arcing touch of Hayden's mouth. He frowned.
"That sniffing thing you do? It's annoying." Hayden made a face. "How do you do that?"
"I breathe through my nose." Gabe chuckled nervously.
"What I mean is, how do you smell so good?"
"Regular showers do the trick--" Gabe stopped when Hayden pressed a finger to his lips.
"You know what I'm trying to say," Hayden said. "That's one of a bunch of quirks I can't explain about you, and I've known you almost half my life."
"But you like quirky." At least that was the excuse Gabe had always clung to whenever Hayden noticed something odd. Like when they spent last spring down on the coast, and Gabe slipped out very early one morning to enjoy the beach on all fours. Hayden wasn't that heavy a sleeper, and he followed Gabe down a few minutes later. If the wind hadn't shifted to carry his boyfriend's scent a second before Hayden climbed over the rocks to hit the shoreline, Gabe would've been caught right in the middle of changing Natures. Explaining to Hayden why he was standing naked on a freezing beach before dawn had turned out to be tricky enough.
Those kinds of close calls over the years forced Gabe to be extra careful about his secret. But he still wished he could tell Hayden everything, he really did. Hayden might even find it funny, considering the irony of it all.
Surprise, Hayden! Your best friend and live-in lover of four years is a dog. That's right--when he's not trying to pass as an ordinary English major, he has fur and a tail, enjoys long runs, and pees with one leg up. He also knows you hate dogs since you were bitten as a child--a very traumatic experience, he understands that. But he swears to God the worst thing he's ever done was chew up a pair of his mom's high heels as a pup. Not too bad, right?
Just imagining the words made Gabe groan. He bit down on his bottom lip and avoided meeting Hayden's eyes.
"I love quirky." Hayden touched Gabe's cheek. "More importantly, I love you."
"Wait a minute." Gabe frowned. "You're trying to change the subject."
"Don't worry about me," Hayden assured him. "I feel great." He lifted off the pillow, touching his forehead to the hard edge of Gabe's clavicle.
"Hayd..." Gabe sat back on the edge of the bed to inspect the closed incision along Hayden's right shoulder. A month after surgery, the area appeared all but healed, at least on the outside. The scar stood out pink and bright against the rest of Hayden's sun-kissed skin, with only a little swelling that most people wouldn't have noticed. But Gabe recognized the tenderness of the area.
"It's not a big deal." Hayden made a point to use his right arm when he reached up to pull the blinds closed with a sharp snap.
He winced, the pained expression flickering across his face obvious even in the muted glow from the refrigerator's icemaker in the kitchenette behind them. But Hayden flounced back against the pillow without making a sound.
"Aha." Gabe leaned over him. "I saw that."
"What are you talking about?" Hayden crinkled his nose.
"How many laps did you do?"
Gabe's frown turned into a scowl. "How many?"
"Six." Hayden licked his lips in the silence that followed. He rolled his eyes and stared up at the ceiling with the same crooked pout he'd used to show his frustration as far back as Gabe had known him. "Okay. Maybe twelve."
"Your cuff isn't going to heal right." Gabe traced a fingertip along the contour of Hayden's tricep, stopping just below the swell of his shoulder muscle. After the procedure, he'd tried sneaking a few licks of the wound a couple of times while Hayden slept. It had helped the incision heal faster, but the real problem lay below the skin.
"If you don't stick to the program your surgeon and therapist talked about, you'll miss the rest of the season," Gabe said.
"I'm going to anyway." Hayden grunted. "They let me off the team this afternoon."
Hayden tested his shoulder, tried to lift his arm perpendicular to his torso. Swearing, he gave up and rolled his eyes again. "The coaching staff says it's just a 'temporary hiatus' until the doctors give me an okay to get back into training. That's their official position."
"Unofficially?" Gabe had a bad idea where the conversation was headed.
"I'm not in shape to make time at the trials next month, so I'm finished." The casual tone he used couldn't hide his disappointment from Gabe. "Not the best way to end my senior year, but at least I'm graduating."
"Hayden, I'm sorry." Gabe rested his head on the cleft of his best friend's chest. He listened to the slow, strong heartbeat within, felt the frustration coursing in Hayden pass through him. Swimming meant so much to Hayden; he loved the sport and was damn good at it. Enough to win a full scholarship to Boston City U and put his name down as a possible candidate for the Olympic trials next year. One small tear of muscle tissue changed everything so quickly.
"Why didn't you call me? Alex would've covered for me at the library."
"Like I said, it's no big deal." Hayden curled his left arm and cradled the back of Gabe's neck. "There's life outside of a swimming pool." Long fingers gently sifted through disheveled waves of hair, the pleasurable sensation traveling through every muscle in Gabe's body. He tilted his head, guiding the reach of those delicious fingers to the spot behind his ear that he loved to have touched.
"Mmm," Gabe mumbled. He burrowed against Hayden's chest, grunting softly. A prickling sensation rose across his skin, an itch to be rubbed everywhere. He squirmed out of his pants and curled up against Hayden. His left leg twitched in rhythm with the scratching and slid up between Hayden's thighs. The weight of his lover's sac rested on his quad, and Gabe pushed up against the heavy mound, sending a deep rumble through Hayden's chest.
Gabe found the column of Hayden's neck with his lips and kissed the pulse point. The tangy flavor of perspiration invited him to lick the area, so he swabbed the length from collarbone to jawline with one sweep of his tongue after the other, pausing on each upstroke for more wet kisses that trailed a path to Hayden's mouth. For a pleasantly long moment, Gabe sucked on the swell of Hayden's lower lip and drank in his sweet taste until he broke away to pant.
The ache building up inside worked a groan out of Gabe. His cock nudged Hayden's hip, begging to be touched again. He thrust a few times and realized with a blush of embarrassment that he was humping his boyfriend.
"Sorry," Gabe murmured. He couldn't help feeling ridiculously horny around his lover when everything about Hayden--his soft voice, his gentle touch, his beautiful face and body--drove Gabe wild. But after the day's bad news, he doubted Hayden shared his mood for making love. "Now probably isn't a good time."
"It is, trust me," Hayden replied softly. "My shoulder isn't the end of the world, but being with you is the most important part of my life."
"For me too." Gabe smiled. He kissed his lover above the heart and held him fast. There was only Hayden, filling his arms, claiming all his attention, all his devotion. Gabe traced the tip of his tongue along the span of Hayden's pec and drank in more of the taste he adored. He stopped at the raised nipple and closed his lips around the brown, moon-shaped area to draw out a long suck on the nub. The flesh hardened into a peak at the urging of Gabe's tongue and heated up, the flavor intensifying as sweat rose to coat the skin's surface. Gabe released the nipple for a few gulps of air, desire sending a shiver of anticipation through his muscles that traveled straight to his cock. More wordless sounds rumbled in his chest while the engorged and very ready shaft between his legs quivered impatiently, demanding release. As in, right now, let's go!
"Hey, slow down." Hayden planted a soothing kiss on Gabe's forehead that stopped another humping session in mid-thrust. His voice dipped to a throaty whisper. "I want to feel that in me."