Out of the Shadows
By Julia Davies
Jai Hanson knows that Dane is his mate; he's known it since they met. If only he could get Dane to realize it too.
Dane Bryant joined his new wolfpack in an effort to leave his old life behind, to protect the secret he has kept hidden for years but he is finding it harder than ever after meeting Jai. He knows that in acknowledging his attraction to Jai, he will have to make the move out of the self-imposed shadows and admit his sexuality, but fear keeps him quiet. When his sister, Sasha, needs help getting away from her abusive boyfriend, however, he finds himself turning to Jai.
As Dane gradually begins to open up to Jai, events around them seem determined to cause them problems. Between Sasha's ex-boyfriend stalking them and Dane's father's reaction to the news that his son is gay, they both know this isn't going to be easy.
“When are you going to get your car fixed?” Jai asked, pulling his motorcycle alongside Dane’s car.
Dane gave the car’s tyre a disgruntled kick. “I can’t afford it at the moment.” He brightened and asked, “Do you think if I leave the keys in, someone might steal the damn thing? It’s insured.”
“No thief in their right mind would steal this piece of shit,” Jai replied. “No offence meant.”
Dane sighed. Jai was right. His car was a rusted heap with mismatched doors that he had salvaged from the scrap yard, and it tended to break down at least once a week. Unfortunately, with his rent and bills to pay, he had the choice of replacing his car or eating. As a werewolf who liked his food, he chose to eat. He did feel bad about having to continually call on his friends to come out and collect him so often.
“Thanks for coming to get me,” he said, climbing onto the bike behind Jai.
* * * *
Jai should have said thank you to Dane, or to that damn car of his, but he kept his mouth shut. He had felt it from the moment Dane walked into his life, the instant attraction, but Dane either hadn’t noticed his interest or didn’t intend to. Jai suspected the former and kept his thoughts to himself, instead finding ways to spend time with Dane until the man was ready to acknowledge it. These recovery runs were as eagerly anticipated as the trips to the pub or chats at the office that he managed to orchestrate.
Jai shrugged his shoulders. “No problem.”
Dane slid his hands onto Jai’s waist to hold on as they set off, and Jai felt a rush go through him. Innocent as it was, that simple touch made blood race to his cock. Fuck. He wasn’t sure how much longer he could keep this up. For two months, ever since Dane had joined the pack guard, he had been fighting to keep his hands off, look but don’t touch, to force thoughts of Dane to the back of his mind. He had lost count of the number of mornings he had awakened with the covers kicked back and his hand around his dick. Images of Dane filled his mind as he jerked off, and he always came imagining that it was Dane’s hand on him. Thoughts of having Dane beneath him, and being able to sink his cock into the object of his fantasy’s tight little arse, could keep him awake at nights.
They pulled into the car park behind their offices and Jai drew the bike to a stop. A shame it wasn’t a longer journey, he thought with a sigh as Dane let go of him and climbed off the bike.
Jai secured his motorcycle and then walked in with Dane. Everyone else was already there, hard at work. Or rather, trying to look busy. Usually, they would be arranging permits for other weres to visit, escorting the Alpha if he travelled or policing the pack. It was a quiet month so far; not so much as a rogue wolf straying into pack territory.
* * * *
The day rolled by at an irritatingly slow pace. Jai was playing his umpteenth game of solitaire on his computer and discreetly watching Dane when Ret came out of his office. He grinned as Ret headed for Brand’s desk, where his boyfriend Andy was sitting. Not long ago, Andy had been inducted into the world of werewolves, first as Ret’s human mate. After an accident that left him fighting for his life, they had no choice but to turn him. He would never have survived without becoming a wolf and now, five months later, he had adapted well.
It’s adorable to see them together, Jai thought with a smile. Ret may act like a bad-ass to the outside world but, it was clear to those who knew him best—his guards—how much he adored Andy. Jai glanced at Dane again; he would give anything for Dane to look at him as Andy looked at Ret.
He could keep trying, however. The two of them had become good friends over the past few months, growing more comfortable around each other. Eventually, Dane would see that they were mates and reciprocate, he was certain of it. Dane was at ease around those in the guard who were gay or bisexual, although Jai still wasn’t sure whether or not Dane himself was interested. The mate bond, however, was something that couldn’t just be ignored.
“Dane, you need a ride home?” he asked, glancing at the clock. The little paperwork they had left had been done and it looked as though Ret and Andy were packing up, ready to go home.
The other man shook his head. “I’m going to take the bus,” he said, not meeting Jai’s eyes.