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       Dovis, p.12

           Laurann Dohner
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  The anger and dread disappeared, replaced with surprise. That’s not what she’d expected him to say.

  “No uncertainty. I want you to become my mate. I think biting you may do it, but if not, I’ll be going into heat in a few months. Maybe that will help. There’s a lot I don’t know about myself since I’m different from others of my race. We’ll figure out together how to secure our mating bond to join physically for life. If you’re willing… Are you, Mari?”

  “Yes!” She didn’t have to think about it. He was offering her a lifetime commitment. She’d be his. He’d be hers. Tears filled her eyes and she had to blink them back.

  “Are you certain? I know this is fast so I need you to be sure. I couldn’t take it if you agreed and then later changed your mind.”

  “I’ve never been surer, Dovis. Everything about you is wonderful to me. I don’t want to lose you.”

  “Good.” He grinned. “We’ll work out the physical part of linking over time, but you are my mate from this moment forward. Agreed?”

  “Yes! I’m yours. You’re mine.”

  “Thank God…because today while you were working, I packed up your few possessions. I want you to live with me. I added you to the access for the lock on my cabin. It’s now yours, too.”

  “Okay.” The idea of sleeping with him every night—well, when he wasn’t on shift—made her overjoyed. They’d work everything else out. That’s what couples did. The most important part was, they’d be together. No worries of losing him, or him walking away. Mates were for life.

  He began to shapeshift. His fur receded, along with his snout. His claws against her became just firm fingers. He smiled at her when he was done and leaned forward, brushing his lips against hers. She threw her arms around his neck and deepened the kiss.

  He growled and broke away, breathing hard. “Stop, or I’ll take you right here.”

  “Do it. I want you,” she breathed, throbbing in all the right places.

  He chuckled. “Always encouraging me, Mari. We need to inform the crew we’re mates.”

  “Now?”

  “Yes. I called a meeting in the dining room that starts in ten minutes. I want to tell all of them at the same time that you’re mine.”

  She was a bit blown away. “You’ve gone from hot and cold, to one-hundred percent committed. May I ask why? Not that I’m complaining. I’m not, by any means. Just curious, now that the shock is wearing off.”

  “I thought about what life would be like both with and without you today. That’s why I didn’t sleep. I decided I want everything with you, Mari. Everything. I don’t know if we can breed children together but I hope we can. Hell, I hope they’re different like I am, if they’re born looking Amarain. I’ve been ashamed of what I am for my entire life…but this ability to shapeshift is what made it possible to be your mate. I like kissing you with my lips and not having to worry about my claws cutting your skin in this form while I make love to you.” He reached up and caressed her cheek with his fingertip. “But I can defend and protect you better in fur. Now both sides of me belong to you. That’s my vow. You’re my mate.”

  She was his mate. That kept circling in her mind and happiness burst inside her. “I love you, Dovis. I want you to know that. My entire life, all I’ve wanted was someone who cared about me…but you’re more. You’re everything I never dreamed I’d find. I’d do anything for you.”

  “Mari…” he leaned close and kissed her, a light brush of his lips over hers. He backed up and smiled. “You’re my heart. Let’s go inform the crew. I want everyone to know you’re mine.”

  She nodded, blinking back more tears. “Do you think they’ll take it well?”

  “Yes. I have to admit, I already told York and Cathian we were together. Just not that we were mates. They were both supportive. Everyone will be. No worries, Mari.”

  “Good.”

  He released her and offered his arm. She took it, and he led her toward the lift. They waited for it, and once inside, Mari stared up at him expectantly when the doors closed, taking them to the dining room level.

  “What?”

  “You’re still in skin.”

  He smiled. “I know.”

  “I don’t understand…”

  “You will.” He winked. “Trust me?”

  “Of course. You’re my mate.”

  “I love hearing you say that.”

  The doors opened, and he led her out, keeping a firm hold on her arm. She followed him, feeling a bit worried. He still didn’t shift back to fur, not even when the auto doors to the dining area of the ship opened. He kept walking forward until they stopped feet inside.

  The entire crew were assembled at various tables. Raff sat alone on one side. Midgel on the other. The Pods sat with Captain Cathian and Nara. Marrow sat at a table with York. All of them had drinks.

  Everyone turned their way.

  York dropped his drink and was on his feet in a heartbeat, snarling and flashing fangs. “Who the fuck are you?” He reached for the weapon strapped on his hip. “Get the hell away from her!”

  Midgel gasped and slid off her chair, slipping under the table to hide.

  Marrow’s chair crashed to the floor as she moved to stand beside York, lifting her fists and readying her body in a fighting stance.

  Raff took a sip of his drink and smirked. He didn’t say a word.

  The Pods just stared at them from their chairs but they were looking at Dovis with open curiosity. None of them showed fear.

  Cathian grabbed Nara and pulled her onto his lap when she tried to get out of the way in case a fight broke out. He grinned, staring at Mari and Dovis. “Good to see you, my friend.”

  “You know this asshole?” York kept his hand on his weapon. “Who is he, Captain? Did he slip aboard when we were at Grover station? Hey, asshole, let Mari go. My friend will rip your pretty face off if he sees you standing that close to her. He’s not one to piss off.”

  Dovis chuckled. “Pretty? You think I have a pretty face?” He glanced at Mari. “Do I?”

  “Handsome,” she corrected.

  “What the fuck?” York muttered. “You dumped Dovis for this jerk? Come on, Mari. Dovis is way better than this…whatever he is.” He leaned toward Marrow, muttering, “What the hell is he? Do you know his race?”

  “Never seen one quite like him before,” she responded.

  Raff stood.

  “Now you’re in for it, invader. He’s an assassin,” York taunted. “He knows a thousand ways to kill your ass.”

  Raff walked over to refill his drink and chuckled. “This is funnier than shit. They have no clue. Midgel, get off the floor. You’re safe.” Raff crossed the room and retook his seat.

  “What in the hell is going on?” York shot a glare at Raff. “Do you know this alien?”

  Cathian continued to smile. “We all know him. Stand down, York. Marrow. It’s fine.”

  “I don’t know him,” Nara whispered.

  Cathian kissed the top of her head and kept hold of her on his lap. “Yes, you do.”

  Mari was amused. She wondered if they’d figure it out on their own. The Pods kept quiet. They clearly knew, but seemed too busy staring at Dovis to say anything. She was pretty sure they might have already known he was a shapeshifter, but this was the first time they’d seen him without fur.

  Dovis finally spoke again. “Sit your big blue ass down, York. You still pondering which mouth of a Teki to kiss?”

  York’s mouth fell open and his eyes widened. “How did you…” He paused, frowning, studying Dovis.

  “I know you called dibs on Mari.” Dovis shook his head. “You will never have her. She’s mine.”

  York stumbled back, hit a table, and his ass sank to the surface. “Dovis? What the fuck, man? Is that you?”

  Marrow swayed on her feet a little, paling. “What? That can’t be him.”

  Dovis looked at her. “I never would have punched you in the arm if hadn’t kept trying to grab my dick. Now I expect
you to never try it again.” He glanced around. “I wanted everyone to know that Mari has agreed to be my mate. I figured I’d tell you in this form rather than my other one, to avoid some awkward questions about our sex life.”

  Marrow just sank to her knees on the floor, gaping at Dovis. “No way! Shapeshifter? How the fuck did we not know?”

  Midgel climbed out from under the table and retook her seat. She crossed her arms and her whiskers twitched, but she said nothing.

  “We always wondered about your appearance,” One stated. “We weren’t sure what Mari’s idea of attractive was until now. She thought it a lot though when you revealed this side of you to her. She likes to kiss that mouth a lot.”

  “Congratulations on mating,” Three said. “Mari is certain.”

  “Stop second-guessing her, Dovis,” Two added. “She won’t change her mind.”

  “How the fuck?” York got back to his feet and crossed the room, stopping right in front of Dovis. “It’s really you? You’re a shapeshifter?”

  “Yes. It’s always been a secret but…you’re my crew. My family.”

  York reached out his hands and gently gripped Dovis by the face, leaning in to get a better look.

  “Don’t kiss him,” Raff called out. “He’ll grow that snout right out in about three seconds flat and make you regret it.”

  York let him go and glanced back. “I wasn’t going to kiss him, jerk. I’m just in shock.” He stared at Dovis. “Fuck. You’re pretty, man! Why didn’t you tell me?”

  “It’s a long story but I plan to share it with you. We’ll sit down with drinks.”

  “We’ve got plenty of them here,” Cathian reminded them. “Come on. Everyone sit down. I’m so happy for you both. To Mari and Dovis being mates! Midgel, serve the happy couple please.”

  “I’m on it.” Midgel rushed to do his bidding.

  Dovis felt everything had gone better than expected when he revealed the truth to his crew. He led Mari to the table where their captain sat and helped her take a seat before he sat next to her. He took her hand and lifted it to his lips, kissing the back. She grinned, appearing happy. He could relate.

  “He really is a werewolf,” Nara muttered. “They exist! I learn something new in space all the time.”

  Mari glanced at her. “What’s a werewolf?”

  Nara pointed at Dovis. “Him. It’s a scary-ass wolf that can turn into a hot guy.” She smiled then. “That’s so awesome that you two are mated. That means we get to keep you forever, since Dovis and Cathian are best friends.”

  Dovis leaned in to Mari. “She’s mine, and I get to keep her forever.”

  His mate reached up to caress his face. “Forever sounds perfect.”

  He loved her touch and staring into her eyes. He had such a beautiful mate. She was the most wonderful thing that had ever happened to him. He glanced around at his crew. They were his family.

  His life had once been filled with loneliness but not anymore. All the anger and resentment he’d harbored since childhood faded from his soul. Mari and his family healed those wounds in his heart.

  Love could do that.

  Not the end. Up next…York’s story.

  About the Author

  NY Times and USA Today Bestselling Author

  I'm a full-time wife, mother, and author. I've been lucky enough to have spent over two decades with the love of my life and look forward to many, many more years with Mr. Laurann. I'm addicted to iced coffee, the occasional candy bar (or two), and trying to get at least five hours of sleep at night.

  I love to write all kinds of stories. I think the best part about writing is the fact that real life is always uncertain, always tossing things at us that we have no control over, but when writing you can make sure there's always a happy ending. I love that about being an author. My favorite part is when I sit down at my computer desk, put on my headphones to listen to loud music to block out everything around me, so I can create worlds in front of me.

  For the most up to date information, please visit my website. www.LaurannDohner.com

 


 

  Laurann Dohner, Dovis

 


 

 
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