The countdown to Book 4 continues this week with another snippet from B&B 4: A Sanguine Solution.
B&B 3.5 Remainders, an f/f novella set during The Symbiotic Law is also now available through amazon!
“Sorry,” the wolf muttered, though there wasn’t anything apologetic about his tone, only a hint of confusion and more bitterness than was probably healthy to hear in the voice of the man who claimed to be in love with you.
“Are you tired?” Pat asked. “Hungry? I could fix you something.”
“It’s too early for dinner.”
“I’ll start something,” he said, disappearing into the kitchen.
Ethan lay there listening to his partner open and close the refrigerator in quick succession. He smelled onions cooking and knife noises moving against a cutting board, but it was impossible to tell what Pat was fixing. He wasn’t a gourmand or anything, but the wolf had a surprisingly robust collection of recipes that he could fix without too much effort. Something about helping to cook family meals growing up, Ethan hadn’t been paying much attention when he’d explained it.
At any other time he would have been more than happy to reap the rewards of Pat’s skills, but he’d found it difficult to keep solid foods down—when he could bring himself to eat anything in the first place. He knew intellectually that a loss of appetite was symptomatic of several things, depression being one, but knowing that didn’t help him get over the apathy that had spread through every corner of his life.
He blinked his eyes open some time later, not noticing when he had slipped into a light doze. Pat stood over him, one hand warm against his shoulder to shake him awake. Ethan cringed under the touch; everywhere he could feel Pat’s body heat his skin started to crawl—the sensation akin to a thousand centipede legs shimmying across his body.
Pat let go and jerked back. “It’s ready if you want to eat.”
Ethan dragged himself up into a sitting position and eyed the bowls of pasta on the living room table.
The television was on but muted in the background, paused on the Netflix landing page.
He held the bowl of homemade mac’n’cheese in his hands while Pat sat down next to him, careful this time to keep a spare couple of inches between them. It was hard for the wolf, who had become rather touchy-feely on their globe trotting adventure over the autumn. He figured that it must have been that pack mentality labeling him as part of the wolf’s family or something. That’s what a mate was, right? Like a soulmate or something equally ridiculous. He’d been reading Jansson’s book about it, but Ethan still struggled to think the word “mate” without grimacing in disbelief. He hadn’t been raised to believe in that kind of hocus pocus, which was saying a lot when he’d been trained in just about every other sort of magic. But magical, pre-determined soulmate crap? Not in his wheelhouse.
But ever since Patrick Clanahan had gotten it into his head that Ethan was his mate, he seemed to take every opportunity to get up in Ethan’s business. Before—well, before it hadn’t been so bad. The wolf was easy enough on the eyes and a decent lay, open to instruction and eager to please, which Ethan had appreciated on more than one occasion. But that was before.
He forced himself to take a bite of the food so that Pat would stop staring at him and eat his own dinner.
In the here and after he couldn’t trust his instincts. The same instincts that told him to sink into Pat’s strength and let the wolf carry him. The same instincts that had led him astray so badly in the previous year. And he couldn’t trust Pat’s instincts anymore than his own; they were ruled by this belief in a magical system of true love.
Love. It made his insides cringe up in a kind of secondhand embarrassment whenever the word slithered out of the shadows around them.
Ethan couldn’t trust that either.
Instead he sat in Detective Pat Clanahan’s living room trying not to gag on objectively delicious pasta while the television droned quietly in front of his glazed eyes.
He slipped into the bathroom afterwards and stayed in there longer than was polite.
He needed more clothes but he was loathe to pick them up from his apartment, and at the same time he couldn’t ask Pat to do it. The wolf would—wouldn’t ask a question about it either, but Ethan’s pride held him back.
Cold water out of the faucet felt soothing against his overheated skin.