Lone Wolf

Orithain and Rina

April 2009

A cool wind rustled the heavy evergreens despite the dampness of the day, presaging the coming autumn weather, and Diarmuid MacTiernan raised his head, brushing shaggy dark blond hair out of piercing blue eyes as he looked out over the beautiful but lonely vista. His gaze took in the visibly changing seasons before dropping to the large wolf-dog whining at his feet.

"Stop that, Shep," he scolded, his authority eroded by the hand that was stroking his friendís head. "You know I need to finish this piece before we can go play." He had expected to be finished before now, but he had been distracted by the arrival of a small private plane that passed overhead earlier that morning and landed at the townís airport a few miles away.

Diarmuid wondered vaguely who would be visiting Erin, Colorado, since it was hardly a booming vacation spot and his agent wasnít due to come collect more of his pieces for another week, but he knew better than to venture into the town to find out. Relations between him and the other pack members remained much better when he kept out of sight and out of mind.

As he mulled over that thought, a large black wolf stepped out of the forest and sat at the edge of the clearing, eyeing him with what could only be termed intent interest.

Startled, Diarmuid laid his tools aside to watch the wolf quizzically, trying to decide if he was a shifter or an ordinary wolf. "I donít remember seeing you around here before."

The wolf gave a barking laugh at that and trotted forward, completely without fear of either man or dog.

"Well, either youíre the friendliest wolf Iíve ever seen, or youíre a shifter too." Looking amused, Diarmuid watched the newcomer come forward. "You probably shouldnít stick around here though or youíll wear out your welcome in town."

A sneeze greeted that remark, and if an animal could be said to roll its eyes, this one did before continuing forward to sit a few feet away from the pair, politely waiting for the dog to welcome him.

Shep sat up, his ears perked forward, and whined a greeting as he rolled to his back, acknowledging an alpha male. Diarmuid chuckled. "Well, Shep has you pegged."

The wolf gave his barking laugh again at that and rose to walk over and nuzzle the underside of the dogís throat before looking up at the man beside him, his head cocked to the side.

"You know, Iím not buying the idea that youíre just a wolf, so communication would be a lot easier if you shifted." Diarmuid was surprised by how at ease he felt around the visitor, but he found it easy to talk to the black wolf.

This time the bark changed into a laugh as the wolf distorted, changing into a tall, muscular man who smiled at Diarmuid, totally at ease in his nudity. "Easier for you, perhaps, but what of your friend?" His rich baritone was lightly accented with a Mediterranean flavor.

"Shep doesnít really expect conversation, and heís used to me going back and forth." Diarmuid smiled shyly. "Now I know I havenít seen you before."

"That would be because I just arrived here this morning." The smile broadened as the man gave Diarmuid a slight bow. "Iím Nico, and you are..."

"Diarmuid. But you really shouldnít be out here. The others wonít like it."

Nico chuckled quietly at that. "Not that I care, Dermot, but why would the others not like it?"

Diarmuid hunched his shoulders, shrinking in on himself. "Iím not very popular around here." He looked away. "Mixed breed."

Nico reached out and tilted Diarmuidís head up again, his touch gentle and caressing. "And what is wrong with that? Iíve traveled the world, and I must tell you being purebred is not marker of being a better person than someone who isnít."

Diarmuidís eyes widened, shocked at words heíd never heard from anyone but his parents. "Everyone else here is a purebred, and they disagree."

"Then it is they who are the idiots, caro, this I promise you."

Diarmuid was clearly unconvinced. "They can make your visit very uncomfortable if they decide they donít like you," he warned.

Nico smiled again, and this time there was nothing friendly in it. "They may try, but I assure you, Dermotóbah, I am mangling your name; what else are you called, caro?"

"Youíre getting it close enough," Diarmuid said with a shrug. "Itís the only name I have."

"Hrmmm, perhaps I should give you another then, one that is all my own..." Amber eyes narrowed as Nico studied him, and he smiled. "Though I shall keep it simpleóDer, if you donít mind?"

Diarmuid smiled faintly. "Itís sort of nice. But it seems kind of pointless when youíll be gone again soon enough."

The amber eyes narrowed again before Nico shrugged. "Perhaps, but perhaps not. I have developed a liking for the company here."

"Iím sure the alpha would be happy to have you stay, if you donít mention coming out here."

Nico growled low in the back of his throat and took a step closer to Diarmuid. "Your alpha will not tell me where to go or who to see."

Diarmuid blinked in surprise, taking a step back. "I... You just donít understand how things are here."

"Oh, I understand, caro; I simply do not care. I would much rather walk down the streets of your town with my mate than hide in the woods." He smiled sensually. "Though running in the woods with my mate is another thing all together."

"Your..." Diarmuid looked around in confusion. "Iím sorry, I donít see him... her?"

Nico laughed at that, his rich chuckles echoing through the clearing. "You tease me, caro. I admit, I did not expect this, but I am not one to argue fate."

Diarmuid frowned slightly. "I donít understand."

Now it was Nicoís turn to frown. "You do not feel it?"

Diarmuidís eyes widened comically. "Me?" he squeaked.

"I do not think this feeling in my gut is for your dog."

That startled Diarmuid into a laugh. "Iím sure Shepís glad of that. But... me?" He shook his head.

"You donít feel it? The connection?"

"I..." Diarmuid frowned. "I donít know; I never thought I could even have a mate."

"Then perhaps you should think on itóor perhaps I am too bold; it is a family trait, I fear."

Speechless, Diarmuid stared at the tall, dark, handsome man, wondering wildly when his life had turned into a fairytaleóand a particularly unbelievable one at that.

"Or perhaps you need time to think," Nico nodded to himself. "I have not even asked if you are involved with someone, incredibly selfish of me, I am sorry, caro."

"Involved? Me?" Diarmuid laughed.

"You say that like it is impossible."

"Of course it is. Who would want to get involved with a mutt?"

Nico took another step closer, invading Diarmuidís person space, their eyes level though Nico outweighed him by at least twenty pounds. "Do not say that about yourself."

"Itís the truth," Diarmuid said with the faintest of shrugs.

"And what does it mean? That your parents found love outside their shifted speciesówhy would this make you any less?" Nico raised a hand and stroked the side of Diarmuidís face.

"Everyone else thinks it does."

"Then leave this place with meóahh, but again, I push you, caro. Perhaps you would go for a run with me?"

"I... Iíd like that." Diarmuid smiled slightly as he began unbuttoning his shirt.

Nico smiled and took a step back, watching in appreciation as Diarmuid undressed, baring a lean, but toned body to his gaze. "I am glad you chose this, Der."

"I hope you donít mind if Shep comes with us. He always runs with me."

"He is your family, of course," Nico smiled before shifting back to wolf form.

Shep bounded around excitedly, yipping as Diarmuid shifted. A moment later the three of them loped out into the forest, the wind ruffling their thick fur.

Giving his barking laugh, Nico bumped against Diarmuidís side, ducking back to pass behind him and nipping at his tail.

Yelping, Diarmuid whirled around, nearly catching Nicoís rear leg. His eyes mischievous, he tucked his nose under a pile of leaves, then flipped them up in Nicoís face.

The black wolf sneezed, then yipped when Shep bumped into him from the other side and dove at them both, bowling them over. Regaining his feet, Diarmuid lunged at Nico, knocking him off balance, tumbling him over Shep. Nico regained his feet in a flash and faked to the left before tearing off into the woods, daring the other two to chase him.

The three of them raced through the forest, startling several rabbits and squirrels, but they ignored the small animals, intent on playing together. They ran together until they all were panting for breath, and Nico nudged Diarmuid when Shep collapsed to the ground beside them. Diarmuid tilted an ear toward him questioningly, and Nico nodded at the ground, his head tilted to the side.

Diarmuid settled down, curling his tail around him and huffing out a deep breath while Nico settled next to him, close, but not pressing the connection, plainly giving Diarmuid whatever space he needed. After a moment, Diarmuid lowered his head, resting his chin on his paws... and Nicoís.

The black wolf chuffed out a low bark, settling fully on the ground as well, his head next to Diarmuidís, and if, when he licked his jowls, he caught the other wolfís as well, it wasnít his fault.

Diarmuid tilted his head, regarding Nico quizzically, and after a moment, he nudged the black wolf with his nose. Nico lifted his head then and deliberately licked Diarmuidís muzzle, making Diarmuid snort and nip at the tip of Nicoís ear.

Nico shifted back to human then and stroked a hand over Diarmuidís side, his fingers sinking into the thick gray fur. "You are beautiful, caro," he murmured.

After a moment, Diarmuid moved a little closer, resting his chin on Nicoís thigh, and he let his eyes fall closed as he reveled in the petting.

"Thatís it, Der," Nico murmured, continuing the slow, steady movements, the rhythm lulling them both into a peaceful state of mind. After a little while, Diarmuid opened his eyes again and looked up at Nico.

"Yes, caro?"

Diarmuid shifted, his dark blond hair resting on Nicoís leg as he continued to look up at the other man. "This is nice. Itís been a long time since someone petted me like that."

Nicoís hand never stopped in its motions as he looked down at Der. "That long between lovers?"

There was a momentís hesitation before Diarmuid replied, "That long since my mother died."

Nico murmured a phrase in a language Der didnít know and sighed. "I am sorry."

"Not your fault." Diarmuid rubbed his cheek on Nicoís thigh. "I suppose I could have moved somewhere else, but this is home. Where else would I go?"

"Thereís always Europe."

"There are a lot of places," Diarmuid half chuckled, "but I donít know anyone there."

"Tell me where you want to go; we will go together, and then you will at least know me there."

"I... I have no idea. You really want me to go with you?"

"If you want to come."

"I think Iíd like that," Diarmuid said slowly.

Nico smiled and leaned in to brush a kiss over Derís forehead. "Excellent, though I have a bit more business to take care of in town. I would enjoy it if you would care to come with me."

"It really would be better for you if I didnít," Diarmuid replied hesitantly.

"For whom?"

"For you. If you want to do business with anyone in Erin, you donít want to be associated with me."

"Honestly, caro, if the members of your pack want to do business with me, they had best show their bellies to you when we see them," Nico murmured.

Finally realizing that Nico seemed very sure of himself, Diarmuid looked at him questioningly. "Who exactly are you? Youíre not just any visitor, are you?"

Nico chuckled quietly at that. "What do you know of lupine politicsóon the world-wide scale that is?"

Though confused by the apparent shift in topics, Diarmuid answered readily. "Not much beyond the basics. I know the Romani are supposed to have been the first of us, although how anyone can claim to know that, I donít know, but thatís about it. Itís not really part of my life."

"They are right about that," Nico murmured, stroking Derís blond hair as he spoke. "About the Romani being the oldest of usóat least from what we know. Descended from the founder of Rome, still the most powerful of all."

Diarmuid shrugged. "If you say so. And what does this have to do withó" He stopped abruptly, his eyes widening. "Whatís your full name, Nico?"

"Dominico Amadeo Romani is who I was christened, caro," Nico answered wryly. "Would you have me challenge your alpha for your honor? I will do that and more to those who have caused you pain."

Diarmuid stared at him, stunned speechless. He might have suspected, but hearing it confirmed made it real.

"Is this a problem?" Nico asked carefully.

Still looking as if heíd been hit in the head with a two by four, Diarmuid shook his head very slightly. "Romani," he repeated faintly. "Here. Why?"

"I like to travel," Nico shrugged, continuing to stroke Diarmuidís chest, hoping to calm him. "When I do, I pay a visit to the local enclaves to see how they are operating and pass on the information to my family. I do not think they will be pleased with this inbred nonsense they seem to be fostering here."

"Nonsense? But... I donít understand."

"Nonsense? Stupidity, ridiculousness, insanity? Shall I continue?"

Diarmuid stared. "But... itís right to stick to your own kind."

"You would tell this to my sister? She is married to a cougar, and they have children who are both lupine and feline."

Diarmuidís eyes widened. "A Romani married a non-lupine?"

Nico smiled gently and nodded. "And she was not the first, caro. Do not fear, my family will love you for yourself and for the fact that you have brought me happiness."

"You really want me?"

"If you keep wiggling like that, youíll find out just how much."

Diarmuid stilled in surprise, then moved again, smiling with a hint of nervousness, and Nico chuckled low in his throat. "You are a tease, Dermot, but as tempting as you are, I will not have our first time together be in the wild with nothing to ease our passage, so I will simply give you this." He leaned in, brushed the hair back from Diarmuidís brow, and kissed him gently.

Blue-grey eyes wide, Diarmuid looked up at Nico, his expression completely open. "I canít believe this is real," he murmured, raising a hand to touch Nicoís cheek wonderingly.

"I canít either," Nico murmured, turning his face into Diarmuidís palm. "I had always hoped to find my mate but had given up looking."

"I didnít think I could have a mate," Der admitted.

"And what do you think now?"

Diarmuid smiled slowly. "I think maybe I was wrong."

Tired of being ignored, Shep suddenly licked Diarmuidís cheek, whining for attention, and Der laughed as he sat up, trying to fend the dog off.

"It seems I have opposition for your affections," Nico laughed, reaching out to ruffle the dogís thick fur. "Shall we wear him out then, caro?"

"I think weíd better," Diarmuid chuckled, rolling to his hands and knees and shifting back to his wolf form. Ears tilted forward, he eyed Nico, clearly waiting for him to follow suit.

Nico chuckled and bent to kiss Diarmuid on the nose before shifting as well and bounding into the woods, closely followed by both Diarmuid and Shep. The three of them raced through the forest, dodging around trees and taunting one another to try to catch them.

By the time they arrived back at the clearing where they had met, they were all panting, and Nico yipped, nuzzling Diarmuidís ear before cocking his head toward the cabin.

Diarmuid shifted, nodding. "Just let me make sure Shep has food and water, and Iíll join you inside in a minute."

The black wolf nodded and trotted toward the homey looking cabin, shifting to human form when he reached the porch and leaning against the railing, watching Diarmuid as he went about his tasks. It only took a few moments before Diarmuid joined him, smiling nervously.

"Please, come inside," he invited, gesturing for Nico to precede him.

"Thank you, caro," Nico murmured, stepping inside, the braided rug near the entrance soft against his bare feet.

"Do you want anything to eat or drink?" Diarmuid took a hesitant step toward the kitchen.

"Do not trouble yourself." Nico moved forward, up against Diarmuidís back. "I would enjoy seeing your home if you do not mind."

Diarmuid inhaled sharply, unconsciously leaning back against the muscular form behind him. "Thereís not much to see," he said self-consciously, thinking of the palatial homes Nico must be accustomed to.

"But it is yours, caro, and I want to know everything about you." Nico snaked an arm around Derís middle and held him close.

"Thereís not much to learn about me either, but youíre welcome to see it all." Wrapping an arm over Nicoís to keep him close, Diarmuid took a step forward, drawing them toward the living room. He looked at the simple room, furnished with rustic hard wood and overstuffed chairs in earth tones, liberally coated with wolf and dog hair, and several of his carvings and wondered how it would look to Nico.

Nico studied the room over Diarmuidís shoulder, smiling at the hominess of it all, though part of him snarled at the idea that his mate had been alone for so much of his life. "It looks very welcoming and comfortable," he said, rubbing his thumb over the soft skin of the other manís abdomen to soothe him.

"It is comfortable. It was brighter when my mom was alive, more flowers and things, but itís enough for me and Shep."

"Do you like flowers, caro?"

"Well, theyíre pretty and smell nice, but Iíve never had any desire to be a florist, if thatís what you mean."

Nico chuckled at that, his chest brushing against Diarmuidís back as he laughed. "No, I was simply asking if you cared for them; it is easier to woo oneís mate when you know what they like."

"You want to give me flowers?" Diarmuid laughed softly. "I prefer them alive and uncultivated. My tastes are pretty simple."

"I want to give you whatever will make you happiest, Dermot," Nico answered.

"Right now, thatís just having you here. Thatís more than I ever expected."

"You undervalue yourself," Nico murmured, pressing a kiss against the side of Diarmuidís throat.

"I think youíre seeing things, but I like it." Diarmuid looked over his shoulder at Nico, hesitating before adding, "The carvings are mine."

"Really?" Nico let go of Diarmuidís waist to go examine the nearest piece of woodworking more closely. "Caro, this is wonderful, primal and alive." He smiled warmly as he ran a hand over the carving of a running wolf.

Diarmuid smiled shyly. "I enjoy carving, and I found an agent years ago, an old friend of my fatherís. I make enough off the ones I sell that I donít need to worry about anything."

"I can see why; they are amazing."

"Thank you." Diarmuid looked at him. "Iíd like to try to carve you. I donít often do people, but your face... Iíd like to try."

"Whatever you wish, caro." Nico set the carving down and walked back over to the other man, reaching up to stroke his face. "I truly mean that."

"I... Itís going to take a while to get used to that, to believe it," Diarmuid admitted.

"Perhaps by our fiftieth anniversary, you will agree with me."

"OuróWell, yes, I suppose by then Iíd have to." Diarmuid smiled crookedly.

Nico grinned as well. "Excellent." That said, he leaned in and brushed his lips against Diarmuidís, making Diarmuid sigh softly and rest against him, shivering as their naked bodies pressed together.

"Caro, you tempt me," Nico purred, his arms going around Diarmuidís lean body and pulling him closer.

"So do something about it," Diarmuid suggested, biting his lip as he hardened against Nico.

"As in take you to your bed, lay you down and claim you for my mate?" Nicoís voice was a rough growl as he rubbed the length of his body against Diarmuidís.

Diarmuid whimpered and nodded jerkily. "The door at the end of the hall."

"Show me."

Reluctantly peeling himself away from Nico, Diarmuid started down the hall, glancing back to make sure Nico was following only to find the other man right behind him. His smile widened, but then he hesitated, looking back again. "I, uh, Iím probably not very good at this."

Nico growled and pressed against Diarmuid again, his erection hard against Derís ass. "I happen to think you will be very good at it."

"I hope so. Iím sure Iíll get better with practice," Diarmuid added hopefully.

"Either way I am sure we will have much practice." They entered Diarmuidís bedroom, but Nico wasnít looking at it as he was too focused on his mate and getting him to the bed. Equally eager, Diarmuid went straight to the bed, then stopped next to it.

"How do you want me?"

"I would like to see you, caro. Do you have a preference?"

Diarmuid laughed a little wildly. "How would I know?"

Nico stroked a hand over Derís belly before gently turning him around. "Then together we will learn."

Diarmuid let his hands rest on Nicoís hips, and he nodded slightly. "Iím sorry Iím not better at this," he said quietly, his eyes downcast.

"Dermot, do you have any idea how arousing I find the fact that you have never shared your body with another before?"

Startled blue eyes rose to meet Nicoís dark gaze. "You do?"

Gently Nico took Diarmuidís hand and drew it down to his erection. "I do, caro. Together we will learn what brings you the most pleasure."

"And you too," Diarmuid said, stroking him. "Iím sorry I keep making you repeat all this."

"It is no hardship." Nicoís voice deepened as Diarmuid slowly explored him, and he released Derís hand to explore his body as well.

"It seems pretty hard to me."

Nico chuckled at that and pulled Der in with his free hand, sliding his tongue into the other manís open mouth and groaning as he tasted Diarmuid for the first time. Diarmuid moaned softly, pressing closer, and they both gasped as they overbalanced and toppled onto the bed.

"Exquisite," Nico breathed, rolling over on top of Diarmuid and grinding down against him, feeling the damp warmth of their precome spreading between them.

"Nico!" Diarmuid moaned, arching up against him, his entire body shivering with growing pleasure.

"Yes, Dermot, I am here, Iíll always be here for you," Nico rasped, drawing Diarmuidís legs up and around his waist so they could move together.

Whimpering, Diarmuid rocked faster, then cried out as he came, unable to hold back. Nico growled in response and closed his teeth on Diarmuidís shoulder as he shuddered, the wet heat of the other manís semen sending a bolt of pleasure through him as he came as well.

Diarmuid groaned, closing his eyes. "Iím sorry; Iíll do better next time."

Nico chuckled and tilted Diarmuidís face toward him, waiting until the blue eyes opened before speaking. "Caro, didnít you notice the fact that I came but moments after you did? There is no Ďbetterí when we both find our pleasure together."

"Oh. But we didnít..." Diarmuid flushed.

"Did you enjoy this?"

"I think thatís pretty obvious."

"Do you think I enjoyed it?" Nico was smiling slightly as he asked this.

"Also obvious," Diarmuid admitted.

"Then does it matter what we did or did not do?"

"I suppose not." Diarmuid smiled slowly, his angular features lighting up. "I hope that doesnít mean we wonít ever do anything else?"

"Do you take me for a fool?!" Nico demanded, glaring down at Diarmuid before breaking into laughter and kissing him again. "We have a lifetime together, and we can do whatever we like."

"That sounds really good." Diarmuid hugged him tightly.

Nico nodded and nuzzled his throat. "Indeed it does, caro."

"You really want me to leave with you?" Diarmuid asked, finally beginning to believe it.

"I do, if you wish to come with me."

Diarmuid looked at him a little helplessly. "Donít you think you should get to know me a little better first?" Although he could no longer deny Nicoís obvious interest in him, he still thought that the other shifter would soon grow bored with him.

"I could say the same for you, caro," Nico responded before nibbling at Diarmuidís lower lip. "I swoop into your life, declare us mated and want to take you away from all that you know; I do not blame you for being cautious."

"I just donít want to disappoint you. I really donít know how to do this."

"Do you think I have been mated before, Dermot?" Nico asked curiously. "This experience is new for me as well."

"I meant being someoneís lover," Diarmuid admitted, flushing slightly again at having to say that at over forty years of age. But heíd never expected it to matter, and only now was he starting to admit to himself how much it had hurt and how very lonely he had been.

Nico reached out and stroked a hand over Diarmuidís face, brushing the dirty blond hair back from his eyes. "Do you expect me to say that I do not like the idea that I will be the first to touch you, taste you? If so, caro, you are sadly mistaken."

The repetition was starting to sink in and sooth Diarmuidís nerves. "Iím glad," he said softly, raising his arms to wrap them around Nicoís waist.

"I am also." Nico leaned in and nuzzled Diarmuidís throat, breathing in his scent and feeling a contentment that he had never known steal over him.

"I still think it would be better if I didnít go into town with you though," Diarmuid said quietly a little later.

"I will not make you uncomfortable, caro, but I wish you would. I do not wish to be separated from my mate so soon after finding him."

"Promise you wonít do anything, um, drastic?"

"Define drastic."

"No attacking people or insulting everyone for no reason."

"Though if they give me reason?" Nico asked, cocking his head to the side in a very wolf-like gesture.

"Define reason," Diarmuid replied dryly.

"Looking at you or speaking to you in anything other than a polite manner or not looking at or speaking to you," Nico replied promptly.

"No," Diarmuid said emphatically. "I donít want the first time we go anywhere together to end in violence," he added, shamelessly playing Nico.

"I have a temper, caro," Nico warned before sighing and kissing Diarmuid. "But I will control it if you wish."

"I wish. And Iíll do my best to make it worth your while."

Nico growled and nipped at Derís throat, chuckling. "Your best will definitely be worth my while, caro."

"Youíre going to have to teach me what you like."

"Iíd rather you experiment and find out for yourself."

Diarmuidís eyes widened. "You wonít tell me if you donít like something?" He suddenly looked very nervous.

"I will tell you if there is something I do not like," Nico promised. "But I doubt there will be much you can do that I will not like. I hope the same is true for you."

"Iím sure it will be." Diarmuid smiled shyly. "I like you touching me."

"Like this?" Nico asked, shifting to his side to run a hand down Diarmuidís chest, making Der shiver and press into his touch.

"Thatís nice."

"Just nice?" Nico shook his head sadly and rubbed a thumb over Diarmuidís nipple, raising it to a tight peak, and Diarmuid whimpered, his back arching.

"Oh please," he whispered.

In answer, Nico moved off him and lowered his head to lap at the raised mound of flesh, teasing it with his tongue before closing his lips around it and sucking. Diarmuid clutched at Nicoís shoulders, his legs spreading as he squirmed, unable to believe how good this felt.

Nico growled around the tight nubbin of flesh, gently biting it before switching to the other side of Derís chest and giving that nipple the same treatment.

"So good," Diarmuid gasped, his fingers stroking restlessly over Nicoís shoulders and back, causing the muscles to clench and roll beneath the warm, olive-toned skin as Nico began to slide down Diarmuidís body, mapping each inch of flesh he passed with lips and tongue. Diarmuid watched Nico, his breath growing heavier, and he moved restlessly, wanting to touch Nico too but unable to reach him just then. Intent on what he was doing, Nico moved lower, lapping at the now cool semen on Diarmuidís stomach and groaning as he tasted the two of them mixed together.

"Nico," Diarmuid whispered, spreading his legs wider.

"Yes, caro?" Nico asked, looking up, his amber eyes molten with hunger.

"More," Der gasped, grabbing Nicoís shoulders and dragging him up.

"Everything," Nico promised him, settling between Diarmuidís legs and kissing him hungrily as they writhed together.

Diarmuid looked at him trustingly. "I want to feel you inside me."

Nico groaned and closed his eyes as a shudder ran through his strong frame. "There is nothing I want more, caro. We need lubrication though. Do you have lotion or something of the sort?"

"Thereís some hand lotion in the bathroom." Diarmuid ran his hands down Nicoís back, lightly dragging his nails over the ridges of his spine.

"Perfect." Nico opened his eyes and beamed down at him. "Now if you tell me where the bathroom is, I will get it."

Laughing, Diarmuid pointed at a door to one side of the room. "Right through there. Itís in the cabinet under the sink."

"I will be back in a moment, caro," Nico promised, kissing Diarmuid lingeringly before rolling off of him and walking to the bathroom. After a moment, he returned, holding up the bottle of lotion and smiling as he poured some into his hand to warm it. "Oh, Dermot, the things I want to do with you," he murmured, crawling back onto the bed and settling himself between Diarmuidís legs again.

"Feel free," Diarmuid invited breathlessly, laughing softly. "I never expected sex would be fun."

Nico chuckled and kissed his mate on the nose. "If it was not fun, there would be no reason to do it." As he spoke, he dragged a finger through the lotion and lowered it between Diarmuidís legs, rubbing the tender skin of his perineum and gradually moving back toward the tight entrance to his body.

"Nico!" Diarmuid gasped, squirming eagerly. His fingers kneaded Nicoís shoulders, and he raised his hips pleadingly.

"Easy, Dermot, I will not hurt you," Nico murmured, his voice gone hoarse with desire as he circled his finger around that tiny hole, gently easing it in.

"I know. Please, want you," Der moaned.

"Soon, caro, soon," Nico promised him, pressing his finger in just a bit, waiting for Diarmuid to relax before pressing it in farther.

Diarmuid inhaled sharply, but he continued to look up at Nico trustingly, and he quickly relaxed again, arching up to take the finger deeper, his cock slowly rousing again at the pleasure.

"Gorgeous," Nico purred, sliding his finger deeper and crooking it, searching for the bump of Diarmuidís prostate. Diarmuid suddenly gasped and clenched down as he clung to Nico.

"Oh my God," he moaned, his eyes falling half shut.

Nico chuckled, his voice hoarse with need, and stroked the bump again, grinding his hips and his own renewed erection against Diarmuidís thigh.

"Please," Der whimpered, his hips rocking desperately.

"Oh yes," Nico whispered, slipping his fingers from Diarmuidís ass and stroking more lotion on himself before settling between Diarmuidís legs, his cock pressing against the tight muscle. "Breathe out for me," he rasped, stroking a hand over Diarmuidís chest as he began to press inward.

Instead Diarmuid gasped, his eyes widening as his fingers tightened again on Nicoís shoulders, but after a moment he slowly exhaled and his body relaxed. Nico slid deeper as he did so, finally bottoming out, buried in Derís ass, groaning at the wonderful tightness around him.

"Caro... how you feel," he whispered, giving Diarmuid time to get used to him.

"You feel so good," Der moaned, even the burn of stretching only adding to his pleasure.

"And it will only get better," Nico promised, beginning to rock his hips, taking it slowly until Diarmuid caught the rhythm and started moving with him.

"Any better might kill me!" Diarmuid gasped, raising his legs to wrap them around Nicoís waist.

Nico chuckled darkly and threaded his hands through Diarmuidís dark blond hair, tilting his head back so that he could bite at the offered throat as he began to move, drawing back until he almost slipped from Derís ass before driving in again, growling at the sensation.

Diarmuid cried out sharply, rising to meet each thrust eagerly. "Nico," he gasped, blue eyes opening to see the expression of lust twisting his mateís face.

"Come for me, Dermot," the larger man gasped, driving forward again, his body rubbing against Diarmuidís erection, making Der cry out again. His hips jerked upward and his nails dug into Nicoís shoulders as he came.

"Oh, caro," Nico gasped as the tight spasms rippled around him, and he pulled back for a final thrust before he came as well, at the same time lowering his head and biting Diarmuidís shoulder as he shuddered over and in him.

Diarmuid whimpered softly, clinging to Nico as the aftershocks rippled through him, and Nico stroked his face and shoulders, calming them both with the repetitive motions.

Der opened his eyes, focusing on Nicoís features, and he smiled. "I think Iím glad I waited for you, even if I didnít know that was what I was doing. It couldnít have been like this with anyone else."

"I agree," Nico murmured. "It has never been this way with anyone for me either, and I can only look forward to repeating this many, many more times."

"Maybe as wolves next time?" Diarmuid suggested shyly.

"Excellent idea, caro; I have a brilliant and beautiful mate." He kissed Diarmuid as he spoke, then nuzzled his throat. "I am truly blessed."

"I think Iím the one who got very lucky." Diarmuid pressed closer and stroked Nicoís chest, enjoying being able to touch someone.

"We are both lucky," Nico breathed, running his hand down Diarmuidís back and smiling. "Are you hungry?"

"Not yet. Donít want to move yet," Diarmuid admitted, continuing to pet him.

"Then we shall stay here." Nico sighed happily and stretched, all the while gazing contentedly at his mate.

After a little while, Diarmuid began to fidget. "What? Do I have something stuck in my teeth?"

"No, I simply like looking at you; I hope this is not a problem, caro, because I intend to keep doing it."

Diarmuid smiled, relaxing again. "I think I can get used to it."

"I am very glad to hear that." Nico brushed a kiss over Diarmuidís mouth, sighing at his taste, and Der smiled, wondering vaguely how heíd manage time on his own to work wood, but he let the thought fade away, more concerned with tasting Nico and enjoying the sensation of their bodies pressed together.

"Mmm, you tempt me to simply stay here the rest of the day," Nico sighed.

"That sounds pretty good to me."

"We need to go to town."

"Why? Itís nice here, together." Diarmuid trailed a single finger lightly along Nicoís spine and moved a leg, rubbing his thigh along the outside of Nicoís. He didnít think he was going to be able to distract his mate from his intention, but he was having fun trying.

"You know very well why, caro," Nico murmured, nuzzling Diarmuidís neck. "Once things are settled there, I will gladly stay in bed with you for days."

Der sighed. "Itís not going to be very pleasant," he warned even as he let his head fall back, baring his throat to Nico, causing the other man to growl and nip at the exposed flesh. Diarmuid shivered and raised his hand to cup the back of Nicoís head, moaning softly at the touch of Nicoís teeth.

Nico growled again, biting and sucking at the spot until heíd raised a dark red passion mark on Diarmuidís pale flesh.

Diarmuid watched him from heavy-lidded eyes, shuddering with pleasure. "Are you going to do that every day?" he asked, sounding rather pleased.

"Yes," Nico murmured, leaning in once again to nuzzle Diarmuidís throat. "To mark you as mine for all the world to see."

"And how will they know youíre mine?" Diarmuid stroked Nicoís back, clearly enjoying the contact.

"That will be for you to decide, caro."

Diarmuid hesitated for a moment before tentatively suggesting, "My parents wore matching heavy necklaces, wide enough to fit comfortably after shifting. If we could get something like that..."

"Weíll search the shops in Rome," Nico promised, brushing a kiss over Diarmuidís lips, which curved in a smile.

"Wow, Rome. I never thought Iíd see it."

"I would love to show it to you."

"Iím going to enjoy seeing it with you," Diarmuid said almost shyly.

"Then we shall go when you feel ready to leave your home here," Nico promised.

"Thereís nothing keeping me here except my studio," Diarmuid admitted. "I just never had anywhere else to go."

"Thereís a whole world out there, caro, and weíll enjoy it together."

Diarmuid smiled and kissed him. "Iím glad you came to Erin."

"As am I, Dermot," the other man beamed, stroking his hands down Diarmuidís back. "Now, shall we clean up and go to town?"

Der sighed. "Since Iím obviously not going to be able to talk you out of it, okay. I can pick up a couple of steaks for dinner tonight."

"And we shall prepare them together; Iím looking forward to the thought of cooking with you."

"Weíre going to burn the steaks, arenít we?" Diarmuid chuckled.

"Perhaps we will take a break to allow them to marinate," Nico allowed, and Diarmuidís chuckle turned to a full-throated laugh.

"Theyíre going to be very tender and flavorful."

"Just like you."

"Does that mean youíre planning to eat me?"

Nicoís smile was sensual and wolfish. "In as many ways as are possible, caro."

Diarmuid shivered. "Are you sure we need to go into town?" he asked in a strangled voice.

"I would rather deal with the situation there on our terms and not theirs," Nico reminded him, stroking his back and kissing him gently.

"I think you probably do everything on your own terms," Diarmuid said wryly.

"I hope this will not bother you; it is my nature both to want to lead and to care for those I love."

"Iím sure weíll argue sometimes. I have opinions of my own, but I remember watching Mom and Dad; making upís fun." Diarmuid petted Nicoís broad chest, enjoying being able to touch him.

"Mmm, I look forward to it as well, though I hope those times will be few and far between." Nico brushed a kiss over Derís mouth and pushed up to his elbows. "So, shall we clean up and take a trip? I admit I will have to wait until we reach my place of residence to get clothes."

"Thatís all right; I like you without them, in both forms." Diarmuid smiled at him, almost shyly.

"You have no idea how happy that makes me, but now we must move and get cleaned upóor not." His smile turned feral at the thought of them going into town marked with each otherís scent.

"Staking your claim?" Diarmuid asked, chuckling even as he flushed faintly. The idea was embarrassing, but he had to admit that it turned him on at the same time.

"If it does not bother you, yes."

"I... No, it doesnít bother me." The heated kiss Diarmuid gave Nico was proof of that.

"Then we should clean up enough so that your clothing doesnít adhere to us and make this trip. First we shall stop at my lodging, then on to pick out our meal."

"Just promise me no oneís going to end up in the hospital or morgue," Diarmuid asked wryly, finally, reluctantly, sitting up.

"I will do my best." Nico rolled to his feet and stretched, taking time to admire Diarmuidís bare body as the other man climbed from the bed as well. "Now, once you are dressed, I must ask you for a ride to the home where I am staying so that I may make myself presentable as well."

Diarmuid looked him up and down, a smile curving his lips. "You look very presentable to me. But sure. I hope you donít mind Shep sitting on your lap though. He thinks that half of the seat is his."

"Hrmm, as I would rather not have one of his paws in any sensitive areas, I believe Iíll be sharing his seat in lupine form."

Unable to resist, Diarmuid snickered. "That might be safest," he agreed. "At least till we convince him he has to share."

"Which I have no doubt we can do because I have no intention of sharing my bed with him."

Der looked unhappy. "You wonít let him lie at the foot of the bed when weíre sleeping?"

"Of course, caro," Nico murmured, kissing the frown away. "I simply meant I didnít wish either of us to roll onto him if we are... distracted."

"Oh, thatís fine. I donít think heíd want to be there then either. Weíd disturb his nap," Diarmuid laughed, hugging Nico.

"Mm, we will have to look into the regulations for bringing him to Europe with us."

"Iím not leaving him behind!" Diarmuid exclaimed.

"And I would not ask you to," Nico soothed. "This is why I said we would have to look into what is needed."

Diarmuid nodded, but he still looked nervous. "I wonít go until he can too. He wouldnít understand if I left him alone."

"Then we will both wait," Nico promised. "Though I believe I know a way to solve any issues we might have in that regard."

That made Diarmuid laugh with relief and hug Nico again. "Iím so glad you understand. Heís all the family I have," he explained simply.

"Was, caro, was," Nico murmured, kissing Diarmuidís throat. "Now, you will get dressed and I will watch."

The blue eyes widened before Diarmuid nodded jerkily. He made his way to the simple but well-crafted oak dresser and opened a drawer to pull out a pair of soft, faded jeans. After a hesitant glance over at Nico, he stepped into them without bothering with boxers and did up the buttons at the fly.

"You do realize that all I am going to be thinking of now is the fact that you are bare beneath those jeans," Nico purred, shifting forms and padding over to Diarmuid to nuzzle his legs.

"Good, then you wonít waste too much time in town," Der retorted.

The black wolf backed up a step, his golden eyes gleaming as he deliberately wrinkled his nose.

"Unless youíd rather spend time with them than me," Diarmuid added, a mischievous gleam in his eyes, and the wolf growled, darting forward to gently close his teeth on Diarmuidís jeans. Der laughed and petted him before straightening up again to reach into the closet for a simple, unbleached cotton shirt. Once heíd buttoned it up, leaving the top three undone and the shirt untucked, he called for Shep and started toward the door, assuming Nico would follow.

Shaking his head at just how well his mate knew how to handle him already, Nico followed, letting Shep bound into the truck while he trotted around to the driverís side and hopped up, fixing the canine with a stern glare as he sat at Diarmuidís side.

Diarmuid chuckled and reached across Nico to pet Shep, then pressed a kiss to the top of Nicoís head, causing two tails to beat against the back of the bench seat, which in turn made Diarmuid burst into laughter.

"I think I need to get a picture of the two of you."

Nico gave a low bark and leaned over to lick Diarmuidís cheek, fully ready to allow his mate most anything that would make him happy.

"And then we can get someone to take a picture of all of us... once we get to our new home."

Nico voiced his agreement with a yip before twisting to rub his head against Shepís when the canine barked as well, and Diarmuid smiled as he looked over at them. "Iím very glad the two of you get along."

In a few minutes he pulled up outside the B & B housed in one of the townís oldest and most elegant homes and opened the door after telling Shep to wait for them. Nico followed Diarmuid out of the truck, trotting at his side as he walked up the path to the wide porch and up the stairs to the door.

"This would probably go better if you change back," Diarmuid muttered as he reached for the handle.

Nico shrugged his shoulder and did just that, pulling open the front door and holding it to usher his mate inside, resting a proprietary hand on Diarmuidís waist as he followed. "My room is on the second floor," he murmured, nodding a greeting to his hostess who stared, open-mouthed, at them.

Diarmuid flushed and kept his eyes straight ahead, hoping no one would say anything, while Nico leveled a cool stare at the woman, his narrowed eyes daring her to say anything as they headed for the stairs and started up them.

"Mr. Romani?" Brighid couldnít believe what she was seeing, not a Romani with the mutt.

Nico paused and looked back at her, his head tilted in a questioning glance, a move that pressed him against Diarmuidís side, an arm going around the other manís waist at the same time.

"I... if you wish companionship, there are many who would be pleased..."

The corner of Nicoís mouth drew upward, and a low growl echoed in the stairwell before he looked away, dismissing her, and nudged Diarmuid up the stairs.

Diarmuid had winced at the comment and resulting growl, and he caught hold of one of Nicoís hands, holding it tightly. "I donít care," he murmured. "They donít matter." Of course, he did care but not enough to want to see Nico get into a fight over it.

"It does matter, caro," Nico rasped, turning once again to glare at the woman who was still staring at them. "You wish to say something?" he asked, his voice deceptively calm.

"You couldnít know," she said hesitantly, looking anywhere but at the two men on the stairs, "but heís... well, heís not a real shifter."

"Is that so?" Nico asked, feigning confusion. "How could this be? We ran together, and I assure you he was not human." His fingers tightened on Diarmuidís waist, stroking his side to calm both of them.

"We should go up if you want to get some clothes," Diarmuid said, trying to draw Nico up the stairs.

"His father wasnít," Brighid sneered.

"Interesting, I was under the assumption that his father was feline." Nico turned back to Diarmuid and favored him with a warm smile. "I believe the town has been misinformed about your parentage, caro, though your being a latent would not matter in the least; we cannot become stagnant."

"A lot of people who didnít know him assume he was a normal," Diarmuid explained. "It never seemed worth the effort to argue."

"He wasnít one of us!" Brighid exclaimed, ignoring the warning signs of Nicoís displeasure.

"That is your concern, not mine, though it would be in your best interest not to disparage my mate or his family within my hearing again, signora." He leveled a flat stare at her before ushering Diarmuid up the stairs again.

"Mate?" Brighid stared after them in shock.

"Well, at least there wasnít any blood," Diarmuid sighed as they went into Nicoís room.

"You did not believe me when I said I would do my best to control myself?" Nico asked, glancing at Diarmuid before reaching for the clothes heíd left folded on the bed earlier in the day, soft black linen trousers and a white cotton shirt.

"I donít imagine you have a lot of experience at denying yourself what you want," Diarmuid said wryly while enjoying the view. "I wasnít sure how good youíd be at it."

Nico paused in the act of reaching for his socks and loafers and studied Diarmuid seriously. "I will do my best to keep you happy, Dermot; this I swear to you."

Diarmuid nodded as he reached over and caught hold of Nicoís hand. "I know."

Nico smiled at that and pulled Diarmuid closer to him, settling his free arm around Derís waist and nuzzling his jaw before kissing him tenderly. "This is good."

"This day has turned out very different from what I expected when I woke up this morning," Diarmuid said, sounding bemused.

"In a positive way I would hope."

"Very much so," Diarmuid replied, pressing close to kiss Nico.

"Excellent, then we shall do our shopping and retire to your home."

"Not too much shopping, I hope." Diarmuid knew that the longer they remained in town, the more chance of something happening.

"No, only enough for our meal, then I shall collect my belongings from here, and we will return to your home."

Sounding confused, Diarmuid asked, "Why donít you just pack up and bring your things now, since weíre already here?"

"Mmm, this is true, that would be easier."

"And then we can get back home for dinner sooner." Diarmuid didnít bother mentioning that it would also avoid running into Brighid Galway again, a key point for him but one he knew would inspire exactly the opposite reaction in Nico.

"Another excellent point, caro," Nico chuckled, pulling Diarmuid in for a kiss before gathering his bags and setting them on the bed so he could repack the few things he had removed.

Watching him, Diarmuid smiled as he imagined Nico in the garments... and out of them.

Nico zipped up his suit bag and latched the suitcase, then picked them up after slinging a laptop case over his shoulder. "There, we are ready to begin shopping."

"Are you always this obsessed with shopping?" Diarmuid asked, chuckling softly.

"Well, in this case it will be to fill our bellies so that we will have energy for the night to come, but yes, I enjoy investigating stores to see what they might hold; perhaps we will stop in New York on our way to Italy..." They left the room and started down the stairs, Nico stepping in front of Diarmuid protectively when he saw the small crowd that had gathered in the entryway.

After peering over Nicoís shoulder to see what the hold up was, Diarmuid instinctively shrank in on himself, trying to be less obtrusive, a somewhat futile exercise for a man who stood an inch and a half over six feet.

"Mr. Romani..." The mayor stepped forward, frowning. "I think thereís been some misunderstanding."

"Signor OíDell, if your plan is to disparage my mate to me, I would suggest you rethink it. Now." Nicoís amber eyes were as hard and as flat as his voice, causing a stir in the town elders gathered behind the mayor.

"Nico," Diarmuid murmured, placing a hand on his mateís arm and trying to ignore the shocked expressions.

"I am calm, caro," Nico assured him, though his gaze was still on the others, "I simply wish to settle this matter now so it will trouble us no more."

Diarmuid sighed. "No violence, please."

"I am not getting violent, Dermot; if I were, you would know."

"You canít be serious about this," Michael OíDell sputtered. "Heís a mongrel!"

Diarmuid winced, knowing that wasnít going to go over well, and Nicoís growl was audible in the crowded room. "A mongrel."

"Nico, please. Itís true, as far as it goes. And it doesnít matter; none of them matter."

"While the fact of them not mattering is true, I feel the need to educate them in other matters."

Diarmuid sighed, still keeping a firm grip on Nicoís arm, and the others stirred uneasily. "You canít change peopleís opinions overnight, not even if your name is Romani. And this is not how I want to spend our first evening as mates."

That statement had several of the townspeople gasping.

Nico gave himself a visible shake, and some of the tension left his muscles. "You are correct, caro. Is there anything intelligent you care to say, or is this conversation over?" The last was directed at the townsfolk, who were gaping at them.

The leader opened and closed his mouth several times without managing to say anything, and Diarmuid had to admit to himself that he was enjoying the sight. "I think itís over," he murmured, pressing against Nicoís back.

"Good," Nico nodded shortly, catching Diarmuidís hand and drawing him forward to his side before sliding his arm around his waist as they walked through the others toward the door.

Diarmuid briefly imagined what the town councilís expressions would be if he were to turn and wave at them, and a tiny smile quirked his lips, but he simply walked through the door at Nicoís side, finally believing that his life was truly changing.

"So," Nico asked wryly as they headed down the walkway to the truck, "do I get a reward for good behavior?"

"Whatever you want."

"That I will tell you once we have purchased our meal and returned home."

Der smiled slowly. "I think dinnerís going to be delayed indefinitely."

"I hope that you do not consider this a bad thing."

"I think itís a wonderful thing."

Nico nodded as they walked back to Diarmuidís truck, smiling as he saw Shep peering out at them. "Shall we trade my belongings for your companion?"

"You mean get him in the truck bed and your bag in the cab with us? Good luck convincing him of that," Diarmuid laughed.

"I meant put my bags in the car and take him with us to the store to find our meal," Nico chuckled. "Unless the store is far?"

"Nothing in Erin is far," Diarmuid replied wryly, opening the door to let Shep jump down, and then they both waited for Nico to put his luggage inside before they started strolling down the street. After a momentís hesitation, Diarmuid reached out and took Nicoís hand, causing the other man to beam a smile at him and raise their hands to kiss Diarmuidís fingers.

"This is good, no?"

"This is good, yes." Diarmuid was aware of the shocked looks and double takes, but he refused to allow anything to spoil this. "Iím so very glad you came to visit Erin."

"As am I." Nico pulled him closer and brushed a kiss over the side of his forehead, making Diarmuid let out a soft breath of contentment and lean into him as they strolled down the street, Shep ranging a little ahead of them.

Diarmuid chuckled suddenly. "My agent is going to love you. Sheís been trying to get me to attend some of my showings for years, and I think sheís finally going to get her wish."

"I would enjoy seeing your work on display for the public," Nico admitted. "And we will have to find you the perfect clothes for the events."

"My clothes are comfortable," Diarmuid said plaintively.

"And they look divine on you, but, even so, you need something slightly more stylish for a show, no?"

Der sighed. "Yes, Nico. You can dress me up."

"And then undress you."

"I like that part!"

"I had hoped you might, caro." Nico leaned in and nuzzled Diarmuidís neck as they headed down the main street.

"Iíll show you how much once we get home again." Diarmuid shivered and somehow moved closer to Nico.

"You tease me, caro."

"Do you mind?"

"Not in the least, I enjoy the fact that you want to play with me."

Diarmuid smiled shyly. "And I like that you want to, with me."

"Only with you from now on," Nico murmured, catching Diarmuidís hand and raising it to his lips.

Diarmuidís smile widened, and he stopped walking to hug Nico. "Once we leave here, I donít think Iíll ever want to come back."

"I would give you the world," Nico promised, leaning in to brush his lips against Diarmuidís in a gentle kiss. "And then we will find where we wish to make our home together."

"I just want you," Diarmuid replied simply, a smile curving his lips.

"That you have, for the rest of our lives," Nico promised.

"Then letís get what we need for dinner and get back so you can show me what Iíve got."

"Hey look, the mutt found a friend!" Raucous male laughter followed that comment, and Nico straightened up, his arms tensing around Diarmuid as his gaze centered on the group of locals leaning against the side of one of the stores.

"I take it these are not friends of yours, caro?"

"I donít have any friends," Diarmuid said simply. "But them even less than most."

Nicoís lips thinned as he smiled, though there was nothing friendly in the explanation. "Then you will not mind if I teach them the error of their ways?"

Diarmuid sighed, but he had to admit that part of him would like to see them pay for the misery theyíd put him through over the years. "Iíll mind if you get hurt."

"You have not seen my family and how we play, Dermot," Nico murmured, brushing his lips over the other manís, his head cocking to the side as he heard catcalls from the men by the store. "I will be fine, I promise you." He kissed Diarmuid again and rubbed Shepís head before turning to look at the locals. "You called my mate a derogatory name. That will not happen again."

"Mate?" the one who seemed to be the leader jeered. "Hear that, guys? The mutt found someone dumb enough to think heís a real wolf."

"Oh, he is a real wolf, much more real than you, stronzo {asshole}," Nico growled, taking a stride forward and catching the tall, redheaded man by the collar of his shirt, holding him in place so the angry Roman could slam a fist into his face.

The other two men yelled and threw themselves on the stranger, planning to make him regret interfering with their fun, and Nico snarled, whirling and diving into the fray, methodically reducing each of them to a huddling, whimpering, bleeding form on the ground.

"Okay, that was impressive," Diarmuid admitted, his eyes hot as he watched Nico.

"Faccia di merda {Son of a bitch}," Nico spat, aiming a kick at the lead instigatorís back, eliciting a yelp from him before turning to look at Diarmuid, licking at his split lip as he smiled. "As well as entertaining, but now we must find our meal, no?"

"And get home." Diarmuid pressed up against him, kissing him and letting Nico feel his arousal.

"Mmm, so I am to get a reward for defending your honor?" Nico murmured, drawing Diarmuid closer, his hands cupping and squeezing the other manís ass.

"If you keep doing that, youíll get it right here," Diarmuid gasped, rocking against him.

"As wolves, caro. This time as wolves." Nico pulled back enough to stare down at Diarmuid, his amber eyes molten, and Diarmuid nodded jerkily.

"Yes," he breathed, tangling his fingers in Nicoís dark hair.

"You have food in your freezer, no?"

"Yes, we can find something for dinner," Diarmuid said, squirming hungrily against Nico.

"Call Shep then, Dermot, and we will go home."

Only moments later they were back in the truck, with Diarmuidís foot heavy on the gas as he rushed to get back to his cabin.

"You will need to shift first so that I might prepare youóunless of course, you would care to take me," Nico murmured, stroking a hand over Diarmuidís thigh.

Diarmuidís sharp inhalation was clearly audible. "Oh I do, but not this time. This time I want to feel you claim me."

Nicoís growl at that was deep and feral. "Oh yes."

Der pressed the gas pedal to the floor, and Shep yipped happily as he stuck his head out of the window, making Diarmuid chuckle.

"Soon," he rasped, darting a glance at Nico.

"I can hardly wait." Nico caught Diarmuidís hand and brought it to his mouth, kissing, then licking his palm, and Der whimpered, squirming in his seat as he turned onto the road leading to his cabin.

"If it were not for the fact that we need lubricant, I would say we should simply stop here."

"Iím starting not to care about lube," Diarmuid gritted out.

"No! I will not hurt you, Dermot."

"Good thing weíre almost there then."

"Yes, it is," Nico murmured, leaning over Shep to open the passenger door and dragging his bags out of the truck the moment Diarmuid had pulled to a stop outside his home.

"Weíll have to shut him in the house," Diarmuid said. "Iím not sure how heíd react to us mating; he might think we were playing and try to join in. Iíll teach him better later, but right now..." He shrugged eloquently, his eyes hot as he watched Nicoís ass.

"Right now we do not have the time," Nico nodded, following Diarmuid into the house and setting his bags inside the door before crouching down to rummage in one of them, humming in satisfaction as he found what he was looking for. "It would be best for you to shift first."

"We should go back outside so Shep doesnít think heís going to get to play," Diarmuid said, suiting action to words. Once out on the porch, he stripped down, draping his clothes over the railing, and shifted.

Nico took a moment to admire his mateís lupine form, then crouched down, stroking a hand over Diarmuidís side and back over his haunches, making Der shiver and press back, whining softly at that back of his throat.

"Beautiful," Nico murmured, flipping open the container of lube and squeezing some out onto his fingers then tracing them around Diarmuidís ass, finally pressing one inside when the whines grew in volume.

Diarmuid turned his head to lick Nicoís cheek, leaning heavily against him while enjoying the sensation of Nicoís finger inside him, and Nico added a second, growling deep in his throat, the fingers of his free hand flexing against the thick fur of Diarmuidís pelt.

Der kept his head turned, watching Nico, and the arousal was as clear in the wolfís blue eyes as in the way he pushed back onto Nicoís fingers.

Once he was sure that Diarmuid was ready, Nico pushed back on his haunches and slowly straightened up to begin stripping off his clothes. "Now, caro, we run," he promised, before blurring shapes, leaving the large black wolf standing in his place.

Diarmuid rubbed against his mate, sniffing him while pressing close, and then he stepped back, a mischievous glint in the bright eyes. He nipped at one of Nicoís haunches and immediately launched himself off the porch, streaking for the forest only yards away.

Nico bounded after him, barking as he dove into the trees, chasing after Diarmuid, enjoying the run as much as what would come after it was over.

Der broke into a clearing and stopped, throwing his head back and howling, waiting for Nicoís song to join his, the lower croon twining with his and echoing through the clearing as Nico joined him, circling around Diarmuid, darting nips at his muzzle and sides.

Diarmuid rubbed against him, turning and lifting his tail while looking over his shoulder at Nico, who nipped at his side before moving behind him. Rearing up on his hind legs, he caught Diarmuid around the shoulders and pushed inside him, growling at the clinging heat surrounding him. Whining deep in his throat, Diarmuid clenched down, loving the feeling of being filled by his mate as Nico thrust into him, the mating as wild as their current forms. Nico lunged forward, catching the scruff of Diarmuidís neck between his teeth, the thick grey fur protecting the skin beneath, the mouthful muting his growls as he slammed into his mateís body.

Diarmuid howled, the sound filling the air as they moved together, and he pushed back, meeting every thrust as Nico snarled against his throat, the sound growing rougher as his pleasure rose, reaching a crescendo when he threw his head back and howled as well. Diarmuidís howl rose again to harmonize with Nicoís, and they continued to move together, the pleasure climbing higher and higher. Nico continued to thrust, wanting to feel Diarmuid come apart beneath him before joining him in pleasure.

The grey wolf shuddered, his tail lifting still more, and he let out a series of short, yipping barks as he came, his body spasming around the cock still driving into him, Nico following moments later, his whole body jerking as he came as well.

Der shivered with pleasure and sank to the ground, whining softly as he tilted his muzzle to touch noses with Nico, who followed him down, covering him with his body, their breathing synchronizing as they recovered from their mating.

Diarmuidís ears tilted toward Nico before he lowered his head, letting his chin come to rest on one of Nicoís paws.

Nico rumbled out a contented sigh and shifted, ending up crouching over Diarmuid, his free hand stroking the thick grey fur. "Te amo, Dermot," he breathed, leaning in to kiss Diarmuidís ear.

Diarmuid shifted as well, smiling up at Nico while reaching up to cup his cheek. "I love you too, mate."

Nico sighed happily at that, his whole body relaxing atop Diarmuidís. "You have no idea how happy I am to hear that, love."

A slow smile curved Diarmuidís lips. "Oh, yes, I do. Because Iím just as happy to hear it from you. Weíre going to be perfect together."

"I so look forward to taking you to meet my family," Nico said quietly as he rolled to the side, stroking his hand over Derís side. "They will love you."

"I hope so; Iíd like to be part of your family."

"You are already, Dermot. You are my mate; you are my family."

Der smiled. "I love you," he repeated, pulling Nico down into a kiss that had Nico sighing and leaning against him.

"Would you be more comfortable on top of me?" he murmured some time later.

"I like feeling you on me."

Nico couldnít help but growl in pleasure as he stroked a hand down Derís side, making Der sigh happily and draw him closer. "You feel good."

"I am glad you think so, caro; I intend to stay this way for as long as you like."

"Do we ever need to move?" Der chuckled.

"Only if we want those steaks you promised, and perhaps to let Shep out," Nico chuckled.

"Damn it, I hate it when youíre logical," Diarmuid laughed. "Youíre rich; hire someone to feed us and open the door for Shep."

"Mmm, that sounds like perfection to me, though we have to get to a phone so I can contact someone to do that."

"So we still have to move. Well damn." Diarmuid raised his head to kiss Nico.

"Eventually," Nico laughed, nuzzling his jaw.

"Oh good, we can stay put and enjoy for a while."

"Mmm, most definitely. You will like running in the forests near the villa."

"Iíll like running anywhere we can be together," Diarmuid assured Nico, his blue eyes fervent.

"That will be anywhere we go," Nico promised, kissing him again. "Anywhere and everywhere."

"I still can hardly believe all of this is real. Itís like a dream, but I donít ever want to wake up."

"We are together, caro; this is the truth, the only truth."

"Itís a wonderful truth, and this has been an incredible day." Diarmuid smiled happily, all but purring with contentment.

Nico smiled and kissed him again. "I am pleased that you think so, and I hope to make every day together as good."

"Being together will do that. And dear Lord, youíve turned me into a Hallmark card," Diarmuid laughed.

Nico chuckled deep in his chest and rolled to his back, pulling Diarmuid on top of him. "And this is a bad thing?"

"Itís pretty sappy," Der said, "but I still like the reality that inspires it."

"I am very glad to hear that. Now, perhaps we should go back to your house and prepare our meal together?"

"Hm, yes, I could eat," Diarmuid replied, sitting up.

"Yes, it will give us more energy for this evening," Nico murmured, kissing Derís shoulder before sitting up as well, watching him through sharp amber eyes.

"This evening?"

"You did promise to take me..."

Der shivered, his cock twitching despite his exhaustion.

"And I would hope my mate would not go back on his promise," Nico chuckled.

"I would have to kick myself if I missed that opportunity," Diarmuid assured him.

"To do that would bruise a beautiful part of your body, so I ask that you avoid such things." As he spoke, Nico stroked a hand down Diarmuidís side, feeling the strength in his lean muscles beneath his pale skin.

Diarmuid smiled a little shyly, not yet accustomed to compliments. "I like the way you touch me better."

"Mmm, I am pleased that you do because I do not believe I will be able to keep from touching you often."

"And you think I mind that?" Der chuckled.

"I would hope not, just as I would hope that you felt that you needed to touch me just as often," Nico murmured, continuing to stroke him.

"Your family is going to throw cold water on us."

Nico chuckled and pulled him in for a hug. "Theyíll love us."

"I hope so. It would be nice to have a family again."

"They will love you, and you will love them," Nico promised.

"Youíve changed my life so much," Diarmuid murmured.

"In a good way I would hope."

"The very best way," Der assured him.

Nico leaned in and kissed him again. "So, shall we head back to the house, caro? I am sure Shep is missing you."

"You mean heís missing his dinner," Der chuckled. "But yes, we should get back. Iíll make dinner for you."

Nico stood and offered Diarmuid a hand to stand as well. "And then we shall have dessert and curl up together for the night, then tomorrow we shall look into the regulations to bringing Shep to Europe with us."

Diarmuid took the offered assistance and then took the additional step needed to end up flush against Nico. "How did I get so lucky?"

"You were simply you."

"And youíre the only one who thinks thatís a good thing, so I guess maybe we deserve each other."

"Most definitely."

"Breathe, caro," Nico chuckled, reaching over to squeeze Diarmuidís hand as he turned the black Mercedes convertible down the drive leading to his familyís villa outside of Rome. "They will love you because I do and because of who you are."

"Easy for you to say," Diarmuid mumbled, growing paler as he caught sight of the sprawling villa. "Oh my God, theyíre going to think youíve taken up with the servants," he moaned.

"They will not," Nico said firmly, tightening his fingers around Derís and glancing at him. "They will see my mate, the man I love."

"And all your brothers and sisters are going to be here?" Diarmuid asked faintly.

"But of course. They all want to meet youóand Shep, of course."

Hearing his name, the dog stuck his head over the seat and woofed, making Diarmuid chuckle and pat him. "Heíll make a good impression at least."

"As will you, caro, as will you. Now, shall I run through the names one more time?"

"Please!" Der exclaimed fervently, afraid he was going to get them wrong and offend someone.

Nico chuckled and stroked Derís palm with his thumb. "They understand that there are many of them to remember; as long as you do not forget my name, they will allow you as long to learn them as needed." Seeing the worry in Derís blue eyes, he smiled again and began to recite his familyís names. "My father is Francesco and my mother is Giovana. My eldest sister is Adriana; her husband is Filipo; and their children are Vincenzo and Elena.

"Next is Matteo and his wife Sophia; they have Juliana, Caterina and Fredo; then Theresa, she is mated to Elizabeth. Elissa and Fabrizio have Pietro; then Adrianna, she is the one who is married to the cougar, remember? He is Alan, and they have Antonio, Isabella and Giovani."

Seeing Derís dazed look, he smiled. "There are only two more: Maria and Fabrizio, who are both single."

"Your family is a clan all on its own," Der said, trying to keep the names straight. "What if they donít like me?"

"They will like you, caro. Do not worry yourself over things that have not happened."

"Easy for you to say. I donít have a family for you to worry about meeting." Diarmuid took a deep breath, squaring his shoulders while tightening his fingers around Nicoís.

"I wish you did," Nico said seriously, "but mine will be yours." He pulled up outside the gleaming marble villa and turned off the engine, turning to look at Diarmuid. "I love you, Dermot, remember that."

Diarmuid nodded. "And I love you too, and Iím going to love your family." He darted another look at the villa and winced slightly as an older couple came out, the woman smiling broadly and the man watching with approval.

"Come, caro, meet my parents, I believe they have locked the rest of the pack inside so they might have time with you alone."

Der nodded jerkily, letting go of Nicoís hand to get out of the car, smiling shyly at the Romanis while waiting for Nico to come around the car and join him.

"Madre, Padre, allow me to introduce you to my mate, Dermot MacTiernan," Nico said proudly, sliding his arm around Diarmuidís waist, at least until his mother enfolded the other man in a warm hug.

"Welcome to the family, Dermot," she said, pulling back to look at him, then giving him a welcoming kiss on the cheek. "I so look forward to getting to know our new son."

Diarmuid smiled at her, looking slightly shaken. "Thank you, Mrs. Romani. Iím very happy to meet you."

"What is this Mrs. Romani?" she scoffed, stepping back to smile at him and Nico both. "I am Giovana and this is Francesco, my mate and husband."

The tall, olive-complected man whose dark hair was graying at the temples stepped forward, ignoring Diarmuidís extended hand to enfold him in a hug of his own. "I welcome you as well, Dermot. It is good to see that Dominico has found a mate at last."

"Thank you, sir," Diarmuid said, his smile steadying as he returned the hug. "Iím looking forward to being part of a family again."

"Though perhaps somewhat worried about being thrown into the madness of our pack?" the older Romani asked, canting his head to the side and studying his sonís mate.

Diarmuid chuckled, slowly relaxing at the obvious welcome from his mateís parents. "You sound just like Nico. Or I suppose he sounds like you."

"And something like his mother I believe," Francesco Romani chuckled, letting go of the other man and sliding his arm around his wifeís waist.

"Not so bad, eh?" Nico asked, grinning at Diarmuid.

"Two down, twenty-three to go," Der replied wryly.

"And they will all love you," Nico assured him as Francesco opened the door to the villa to reveal the entry full of waiting family members.

Diarmuidís eyes widened as he took in the sea of people, and Shep hopped out of the car to peer between Der and Nico, his head slightly raised as he sniffed, taking in the scents.

"Come and meet the rest of the family, caro," Nico murmured, drawing Diarmuid forward into a sea of embraces and vocal welcomes.

Standing on the balcony off Nicoís room a few hours later, Diarmuid turned somewhat shell-shocked eyes on his mate. "Your family is incredible... and totally overwhelming," he laughed helplessly.

Even Shep looked exhausted, curled up on the bed, a paw over his nose.

"But it was good, no?" Nico asked, wrapping his arms around Diarmuidís waist and pulling him close, one hand reaching up to stroke the back of his head.

"It was wonderful. I have no idea who I met, but Iím sure Iíll sort them out eventually," Diarmuid said, leaning against Nico and sighing contentedly while inhaling his mateís scent and looking out over the beauty of the San Gemini countryside. "Your home... I love it here."

"I am glad," Nico murmured, turning Diarmuid to that he was leaning against his chest. "We can stay here if you like or go wherever you want."

"Iíd like to stay for a little while to get to know your family, but then thereís so much I want to see." Diarmuid raised his head to meet Nicoís eyes, searching for his reaction.

"We have time, caro," Nico murmured, kissing him. "I would like for you to know them as well and for you to feel at home here."

"Itís dumb, I know, but it makes me miss my parents even more," Der said quietly.

"I am sorry, Dermot. I wish I could bring them back for you. I would love to meet them and tell them what a wonderful son they have."

Diarmuid smiled. "I think they know that Iím happy now, that I found you, and I know they would have liked you." He laid his head on Nicoís shoulder again, his arms around Nicoís waist.

"This is a very good thing as I almost had to strangle my nephew for commenting that you were particularly delectable," Nico murmured, kissing Diarmuidís temple.

Derís eyes widened, and he hid a grin against Nicoís shoulder. "Which one?"

"Vincenzo, but do not worry, I put the pup in his place, and he knows enough not to disturb a mated pair, plus there is the fact that I normally like the whelp."

"He was the hot one, wasnít he?" Diarmuid asked, trying to keep the laughter out of his voice.

"The hot one?" Nico growled, his whole body going tense.

"Heís very nice to look at... but nothing compared to my mate, of course." Der raised his head to show blue eyes sparkling with mirth as he teased Nico, who growled reflexively in response.

"You know weíre mated," Diarmuid chuckled before kissing him. "That doesnít mean I canít admire an attractive man. Youíre the only one I want touching me."

"Are you sure?" Nico asked, his jealousy falling away as his arms tightened around Diarmuidís waist.

"Why donít you touch me and find out?"

"Like this, caro?" Nico growled, sliding his hand down to cup Diarmuidís groin.

"Mmm, yes." Derís back arched, pushing him into Nicoís hand.

"I want you to take me, caro," Nico murmured, licking Diarmuidís ear, making him shiver and lean back, letting Nico support more of his weight.

"Here or inside?" Der asked, his voice deep and raspy.

"Which do you want?"

"Will we offend anyone if we stay out here?" Diarmuid asked, moving around behind Nico while his hands slid down to unfasten Nicoís belt.

"We are newly mated, caro; they will stay away," Nico promised.

"In that case, I want to have you here," Der rasped, catching Nicoís earlobe between his teeth.

"Yes, Dermot, show them all that I am yours as well," Nico gasped, lurching forward to lean against the heavy stone railing around the balcony.

"Mine, all mine," Diarmuid rasped, pulling Nicoís pants down and working on his own with one hand while the other curled around Nicoís cock.

"Always, Dermot, amore mio," Nico gasped, his body spasming as Diarmuid played with him.

"Damnit, we need lube," Diarmuid growled.


Der hesitated. "I donít want to hurt you."

Nico turned to look at him, his amber eyes molten. "You love me, caro; you would not hurt me."

Diarmuid dropped to his knees behind Nico and swiped his tongue over the other manís ass, wrenching a groan from Nicoís throat as he bent forward, his legs spreading to allow Diarmuid more access, which Der took advantage of, using his tongue to open his mate. After a short time, he pressed a finger into Nico, smiling almost ferally when the other man took it easily.

"You, Dermot, I need you," Nico gasped, his forehead pressed against his arm as he pressed back against him.

"Yes," Diarmuid growled, surging to his feet and fitting himself against Nico, then slowly pushing forward, fighting his urge to drive into Nico for fear of hurting him.

"Now, Dermot!" Nico demanded, pushing back, taking Diarmuid deeper, groaning as he was spread open.

Der inhaled sharply and lost the last shreds of his control, his hips jerking as he drove into Nico. He cried out at the sensation of the tight grip on his cock, and his fingers dug into Nicoís hips as his mate clenched down around him, Nico bucking back against him, groaning as he was filled and stretched.

"Mine," Diarmuid rasped, pushing even deeper before drawing back to repeat the action.

"Yours," Nico gasped, his head falling back. "Always."

Diarmuid growled and bit down gently on Nicoís throat, claiming him in every way, Nico groaning and arching his back, his erection slapping against his belly as he rocked back into Diarmuidís thrusts, each drawing a groan from his throat. Diarmuid reached around, fisting Nicoís cock as he fucked him, intent on making Nico come.

Nicoís cries dissolved into Italian as he twisted his hips, rocking between Diarmuidís cock and hand, his movements becoming less rhythmic as his control slipped.

"Yes," Diarmuid rasped, "come for me."

Nico groaned, his back bowing as he shuddered, twisting his hips in Diarmuidís grasp before crying out as he came, his seed splattering the stonework in front of them. The spasms wrenched a cry from Diarmuid, and he only managed a few more stuttering strokes before he was coming as well, his cry muffled as he bit down on Nicoís shoulder.

Feeling Diarmuidís weight against his back, Nico sighed in pleasure, bracing himself to support both their weight. "Te amo, caro," he murmured, reaching up to stroke a hand over Diarmuidís arm.

"I love you too," Der whispered, pressing a kiss to Nicoís shoulder above the imprint of his teeth, drawing another sigh from the larger man.

"I am glad for that as I am glad my family did not send you running."

"Did you think they would?" Diarmuid asked, drawing out of Nico and turning him around until they were face to face.

"Not at all, Dermot," Nico murmured before kissing him. "You are stronger than that."

"Youíre worth fighting for," Diarmuid replied simply, sliding his arms around Nicoís waist.

"Though I hope you did not consider that a fight."

"No," Der laughed. "That was... fun."

"They liked you," Nico said simply, pulling Diarmuid closer and hugging him. "As more than my mate, as a man."

Diarmuid smiled shyly, pleased. "I liked them too. You have a wonderful family."

Nico shook his head though he was smiling. "We have a wonderful family."

"Youíll have to give me a little time to get used to that."

"Of course; we have all the time in the world."

"I like the sound of that." Diarmuid kissed him lightly.

"As do I. Now perhaps we should go inside and relax in our bed?"

"You have the best ideas." Der glanced inside and chuckled. "Although Iím not sure Shep intends to share with us."

Nico chuckled as he looked at the dog curled up in the middle of the king-sized bed. "I believe he can even if it isnít what he wants."

"Heís not getting the middle of the bed though. I intend to curl up against you, not him."

"Damn right!" Nico laughed, leading Diarmuid to the bed and drawing him down to it, Shep grumbling but moving to give them room.

"Mm, this is nice," Diarmuid said, pausing to finish undressing before stretching out beside Nico, who got rid of the rest of his clothes as well and curled an arm around Derís shoulders, holding him close.




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