Bound by Thorns
Park ranger Luke Beteferoce likes the quiet of the forest—a place he can be alone. The dragon shifter keeps himself busy maintaining his territory in the park…that is, until he meets ex-soldier Greyson Paulson. Suddenly, Luke finds himself thinking of all sorts of scenarios that involve Greyson. And with the kind of tension he's feeling, hot, sweaty, nonkinky sex is only the beginning.
While he's perfectly fine being left alone, Greyson finds he enjoys the company of the bossy yet tender park ranger. Soon, trying to fight the heat between them is a losing battle: he's ready to give in to the irresistible lust he feels for Luke. Greyson may not be ready to completely submit, but he still can't stop himself from following every command Luke whispers his way.
Luke hasn't felt this kind of connection and satisfaction with anyone ever before, leading him to discover Greyson's marked as his mate. But with Greyson battling his own limitations and lack of experience, it's going to take Luke more than hours-long hot sex to convince Greyson to stay and accept his destiny.
Book three in the Dragon Soul series
Book 1 of the series is Branded by Flames.
Book 2 of the series is Seduced by the Tide.
Bound by Thorns Excerpt:
The snow was whiter out here. In the city it turned gray so quickly; here it just built up around the cabin and insulated the world, leaving him alone with his whiskey and his private war.
Greyson had never been anywhere this isolated. It wasn’t a matter of his nearest neighbor being a certain distance away—he had no nearest neighbor.
The whiskey burned all the way down and he winced. He needed to grab wood. He needed to make a tin of soup. He needed to do a lot of shit.
What he did was sit and watch the snow.
The leafless trees made interesting shadows and he watched them moving, changing with the wind. That one there looked like a dragon, big wings flapping across the landscape. Then the next looked like a missile, and he closed his eyes against the memory of fire licking against him, of the shrapnel biting into him.
No. No. Eyes open. Focus. Snow. White. Cold. Implacable. The snow simply was.
Greyson took another swig of the whiskey and let it drown him that much more. Please, God, I don’t want to remember. I don’t want to dream.
A crunching noise made itself known, getting slowly louder, drawing near.
He frowned and stood on shaky legs, looking out the window. No one was supposed to know he was here. No one was supposed to be here. No one.
A guy geared up for the winter appeared, some sort of insignia on his sleeve. He kept coming toward Greyson and he didn’t disappear. Not a hallucination, then.
“Great. Fuck.” He made sure the door was locked, closed the curtain. He wasn’t talking to anyone.
The knocks on the door sounded like shots, breaking the heavy silence.
“Go away. I don’t want any.”
“Park ranger. Open up.”
Goddammit, he didn’t want to see anyone. He imagined “park ranger” was as good as “police” out here in the extreme boonies, though, and not answering the door was going to be more trouble than not.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake.” He opened the door. Christ, he hadn’t changed his clothes in two days. At least.
“What can I do for you?”
“You can tell me who you are, what you’re doing here, and how long you’re staying.” The voice was all growl.
“I’m just a guy. I rented this cabin. And as long as I want to.” He could snap with the best of them.
The ranger crossed his arms. “This land is a part of the park, so you’re in my territory. You respect that. You respect the land.”
Greyson snapped to attention and saluted.
Piercing dark green eyes narrowed. “Are you sassing me?”
Sassing? Really? Did he look like a fucking twelve-year-old? He’d been a fucking sergeant for Christ’s sake. “I am. I rented this place. I’m not hurting anything.” And he’d asked for their most isolated cabin when he’d made the arrangements. He hadn’t wanted to be bothered. He’d paid for a month in advance and they had his credit card number to keep charging unless he told them otherwise. This was not in his plans.
“Have you been drinking?”
“Yup.” It took the edge off the constant ache in his thigh and made the daily muscle cramps and shooting pains more or less tolerable. Not that it was any of this asshole’s business.
“Out here all by yourself? You might want to reconsider. If you forget to put on winter clothes when you go out—or even if you do, but pass out in the snow—it’ll kill you. And then there will be paperwork. I don’t like paperwork.”
“Paperwork. God forbid. I’ll try not to freeze to death on your watch.” He’d bet dying like that wouldn’t hurt.
“See that you don’t. I’ll be back to make sure of it. You got enough fuel? Food? Water?” The words were concerned, the tone more exasperated.
“I think so, yeah. Thanks.” Did he? How the hell did he know? He’d never done this before. But he wasn’t about to tell Dudley Do-Right that.
“You think so?” Dudley snorted. “I’ll be back. Try not to die before then.”
The guy was huge, and, Greyson imagined, intimidating, if he was in a place to be intimidated. Either way, Greyson wasn’t fucking impressed.
“I’ll do my best. Have a fab day.” Asshat.
That earned him another snort. “Ditto.”
“Yeah.” He closed the door with a click, locked it, and stumbled to his chair.
The crunching of the ranger’s footsteps faded away, leaving him alone in the woods once again.
Alone with his nightmares. Alone with the snow.
It was all he needed.
* * *
Luke patrolled the forest every day, shifting into his dragon and flying over it, making sure everything was as it should be. For a couple of weeks, he avoided the quadrant where the stranger was staying. No one had been at the little cabin on that corner of the land in a long time. It was too far out even for the service to use as storage, so it sat empty. He went by twice a year to make sure everything was in good repair, but aside from that, it had been empty for years.
It wasn’t empty anymore, as he’d discovered by accident when flying over it some fifteen days ago.
No. Now it was filled with a shaggy blond drunk with the palest blue eyes he’d ever seen. Someone had dropped the ball somewhere, not letting him know the place was now occupied, especially given the time of year.
He found himself flying too close again, sniffing hard, seeking the stranger’s scent to make sure the guy was still alive. If he wasn’t careful, he was going to get caught. There was only one thing for it. He was going to have to go back. He’d take over a lasagna, a case of water, and maybe some milk and a box of cookies or something. Check up on the man. That ought to assuage his need to make sure the guy wasn’t about to expire on him.
He packed the cooler on the trailer behind the snowmobile and headed for the cabin. He was going to deal with this nonsense, once and for all. These were his forests. Nobody came here during the winter. It was too isolated, too far north, too easy to get trapped once the rain turned to snow.
He pulled the snowmobile up next to the cabin, and slowly got off it, noticing a car-shaped tarp next to the building. Was the guy going to come to the door because of the noise, or was he really going to wait until Luke knocked? It wasn’t like he was here for anyone else. He took a moment to look under the tarp, finding a beat-up jeep that had seen better days. Letting the tarp go, he went back to the front door.
When no one appeared, he shook his head, then knocked.
The man answered the door in a pair of boxers and nothing else, long blond hair covering his shoulders, beard masking a heavy frown. Fuck, that lean body was covered in scars, most of them concentrated on one thigh. Luke tried hard not to stare, but damn, they were brutal. Made him wonder what had happened to the guy.
“Can I help you?”
“Wellness check,” he said, pushing his way in. Luke wasn’t waiting for an invitation, especially as he didn’t figure he was going to get one.
“What the fuck? I’m fine!”
smut fixes everything