A Zane Po’ Boy Preview
A Zane Po’ Boy
The O’Hagan Way 3 (Marius World 8)
Copyright © 2012
Eight Months Ago
“Holy shit,” I gasped as twin blurs raced toward me. They knocked me back onto the couch and started rubbing themselves against me while doing naughty things with their tongues while we were in public.
“We found our mate, Brian,” one of them said. Okay, Isaac had asked about a Brian and Banning. I guessed this was them and I was meeting them up close and very personal. Yeah, since the other was now groping me. Very, very personal. Brian stopped long enough to gaze at me with this funny look I couldn’t place. “Ya be wanting us, me mate?”
“Oh, yeah,” I moaned as they did their best to drive me wild. They were hot and twins. Who wouldn’t want them? I mean, they were twins. Twins good. Especially when they were about five ten with bright red hair that was cut short but not too short where I couldn’t tell that their hair would curl if they grew it out. They had silver eyes that were almost iridescent and were getting darker. Trippy.
I heard people talking around us, not really paying attention when hands moved under my shirt. Then I froze. Did Brian say mate? I breathed in deeply and took in their scents. Shit. Yes, they were my mates. They smelled like fresh oranges and strawberries, a heavenly scent in my book. I’d never smelled anyone better. That had to make them my mates, right?
I started to pull away, but Banning tightened his grip on my shirt. “Ya be having a room in this house?” Banning asked me as they pulled me to my feet, those strange, gorgeous eyes pulling me in. Damn, that accent made me weak in the knees. “Because if not, I think we be biting ya with everyone here.”
“I–I’m in one of the guest rooms,” I stuttered, glancing at Isaac. He smiled widely at me and gestured for us to leave. Great, he wasn’t going to be any help.
“Go, go claim your mates and be happy.” He chuckled. I knew that laugh and sighed. It wasn’t the mean you’re so screwed laugh that comes when a friend is knee-deep in crap and it’s just too funny not to laugh at. It was the I’m so happy you’re happy kinda laugh. Except I wasn’t happy. I was about to shit a brick and run.
“Lead the way, me mate,” Brian purred and rubbed himself suggestively against me. Then they took off toward the main hallway by the front entrance, and it was move with them or simply be dragged along by them.
Talk about coming on strong! Yeah, that wasn’t adding to the amount of freaking out I was doing inside. But we needed to be alone to talk anyways. I wouldn’t have this discussion around my best friend and the twins’ brothers.
I was trying to figure out how to explain that this was happening too fast when we got to my room. And of course they started taking off their clothes, unbuttoning their collared shirts, and beginning to pull off their jeans.
“Stop, just stop!” I shouted as I covered my eyes. “There’s no way I can think if you’re both naked.” They were identical twins of gorgeousness, and just from the pale flesh exposed when they took off their shirts, I was rock hard.
“Why do ya need to think?” one asked in that sexy brogue. “Ya not want us?”
“I want you so much, but I don’t think in the way you mean,” I admitted, feeling like a Grade A douche bag. I couldn’t just hop right into mating, no matter how hot they were. I needed to think.
“Brian, he means he not planning to keep us, just have some fun with us,” Banning said quietly. “That all your mates worth for to ya? A little fun, some slap and tickle, and send us on our way?”
“That’s not what I said!” I snapped, removing my hands from my eyes because I felt silly standing there like that. “You’re going too fast. I can’t think. I didn’t even get your names before you threw yourselves at me. I heard Isaac say them and—”
“Threw ourselves at ya!” Brian growled as he yanked on his shirt and buttoned it back up. “Ya be our mate. We didn’t know we had certain rules to follow or games to play. Ya want us to court ya like some bonny lass before talking about a dowry?”
“That’s not what I meant—” I started to argue. I wasn’t implying they were sluts, but they did, literally, launch themselves at me. And since I’m not used to men jumping me, yeah, it was a shock.
“We wait six hundred and forty-three years to find our mate and this be what we get?” Banning shouted, throwing his hands up in the air in exasperation. “A mate who doesn’t want to mate and just wants to roll around in the hay!”
“Would you just listen to me?” I begged, feeling as if the floor that was already unstable was falling out from below me.
“We heard enough,” Brian sneered as he stormed to the door. “Have a nice life.”
“No,” I whispered as a pit formed in my stomach. I watched as my mates left without another word. What the fuck just happened? I just wanted to talk. Was that so wrong?
* * * *
“There’s a car coming,” me twin grumbled as we loaded up the wool onto the truck. We’d spent the past week shearing all the sheep Dillon had bought in the spring to diversify our farms. It was a dirty, crappy job that I was glad we didn’t have to do too often. But it put us in a foul mood, not that our normal mood had been great recently.
“Doesn’t look familiar,” I replied with a grunt. “Maybe Dillon bought Shane and Sean a new car? That man does dote on them.”
I heard Banning mumble under his breath. I wasn’t sure, but it sounded like, “Must be nice to have a mate like that.” Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. Me heart hurt when I thought of our mate. Mostly because of longing.
“Oh fuck, it be Isaac and his cat mate,” Banning groaned. Our gazes met, and we realized the only reason they’d be showing up here. Zane. We dropped what we were doing and raced to the car.
“He be hurt?” I asked immediately as we got to them.
“Depends on your idea of hurt,” Rory scoffed as he stepped out of the car and looked us over with contempt. His bright blue eyes were flashing with anger.
“You fix my friend!” Isaac shouted as he slammed the car door. I flinched at the sound. “I can’t fucking keep quiet anymore. He’s going to end up getting himself killed, and then I’m going to kill you both, in-laws or not.”
“What be the meaning of all of this?” our ma hollered as she came out on the front porch. Her hands were on her hips, her hair and long dress blowing lightly in the breeze as she regarded us with one of her fiercer expressions. “Don’t ya go threatening me sons, lad. Ya won’t like the outcome.”
“I’m sorry, Brighid, I truly am,” Isaac replied in a calmer tone, still focused on us. “But they’ve destroyed my best friend, someone who’s like a brother to me. If I have to take on the whole O’Hagan clan to get him back and have your sons pull their heads out of their asses to do it, then so be it.”
“We talking about Zane?” she asked in a cold tone. “The bastard who wanted to use them for sex?”
“What?” Rory and Isaac gasped. It was Rory who continued. “Where did you get a crazy idea like that?”
“From us,” I growled. “He wanted to romp and not keep us.”
“Yeah, he told us that’s what you thought,” Rory sneered. “But that’s not what he meant, and he certainly never said he wanted to use you just for sex. He asked you to slow down and talk. You freaked out on him and left. You never even gave him a chance to explain. Hester said you left before the Mariuses did and that meant you were with Zane a whole ten minutes maybe.”
“He didn’t want us as mates,” Banning said, not sounding so sure this time. I wanted to smack him. I knew we handled this wrong. I’d begged Banning to go back to America and give it another go at talking with Zane. He was too hurt from the rejection to even consider it.
“He wanted a minute to fucking think!” Isaac shouted, rubbing his hands over his face and growling in agitation. “Did he ever say the words I don’t want you as mates?”
I exchanged a look with me twin before we both shook our heads.
“Did he ever say that he only wanted you for sex? Or did he just say that yes, he wanted you and found you both attractive?” Rory asked, his hands fisted on his hips, looking just as pissed.
“The latter,” I admitted sheepishly.
“Oh, lads, I think ya fucked up good,” our ma whispered softly. “Ya flew off the handle again, didn’t ya?”
“He said he didn’t want us in the way we meant,” Banning said stubbornly, shaking his head as he ran his fingers through his hair. “We wanted to mate and claim him. What else could he have meant? He wanted our bodies.”
“Of course he did, but just because he didn’t want more than that right that second when you just fucking met, didn’t mean he wanted you only for sex!” Rory rambled, rolling his eyes.
“Wait, huh?” I asked. The shifter lost me on that one.
“You’re both hot,” he answered in a huff. Isaac growled and Rory shook his head and turned slightly so he could talk to his mate. “They are. Stuff it. You can get jealous I appreciated other men later.”
“I love you, baby.” Isaac chuckled.
“Me, too.” Rory gave his mate a wink before turning back to us. “Yes, he didn’t deny that he wanted you. He knew you wanted to mate, and he said he didn’t mean it in that way.”
“See, that’s—” I started to argue.
“For once, let someone finish their thought,” Rory growled. I shut me trap before ma did. “He meant he didn’t want to mate right that second. He’s got issues, just as you clearly do. And when you jumped him—”
“He said that, too!” Banning exclaimed. “He said we threw ourselves at him.”
“You did,” Isaac growled. “Literally. You freaked him out, shocked him, and he needed a minute to catch up. But you couldn’t give that to him, could you?”
“He—I—we,” Banning stuttered, looking to me for help. I didn’t have any to give. They were right.
“We flew off the handle,” I whispered, months of longing swarming me. It was so strong and full of regret it almost brought me to me knees. “We screwed up.”
“You think?” Isaac sneered, shaking his head before turning back to Rory. “This was a mistake. They don’t deserve Zane.”
“What’s the other option, Isaac?” Rory asked gently as he moved to his mate. “We’ve tried everything else. If Zane keeps going the way he is, he’ll be dead in a few months. We both know he doesn’t take any precautions on missions. He almost died this last one and he’s wasting away to nothing.”
“What do ya mean?” I was scared to know the answer, but part of me had to.
“He used to be more built than I am,” Isaac answered, his eyes showing a deep sadness. “We’re both six six, but he used to have at least a good twenty pounds of muscle more than me. He used to be two hundred and seventy-five pounds. The clinic weighed him when he got back and was injured. He’s one hundred and eighty pounds. In eight months he’s lost almost a hundred pounds of muscle. He won’t work out, he barely eats, and I doubt he has been drinking enough blood to sustain himself.”
“Zane’s been volunteering for the most dangerous missions since you both left,” Rory explained, getting choked up. “He always comes back hurt. The moment he’s healed enough that they’ll send him back out, he goes. One of these times he won’t come back. Gabriel was out with him on this last mission and said Zane didn’t even fight back when the demons attacked him, like he was trying to die.”
“It was either come talk to you or tell the Council that he has to take a leave. And he won’t ever forgive me if I do that to him,” Isaac said sadly. Rory went and hugged him, and Isaac buried his face in his mate’s hair. “I can’t lose my best friend. Zane’s always been there for me. He’s a good man. He’d never just have used his mates for sex. You misunderstood him and bailed before he could explain.”
It only took me a split second to make me decision. “Give me five minutes to shower and pack.”
“You fix this because if he dies because of you I’ll file a formal grievance and kill you myself,” Isaac said evenly, his eyes flaring with hate.
“I can only promise to try.” That was the best I had. I turned and ran toward the house, not even waiting to find out what Banning was willing to do. I ran past me ma and into the house, me frantic footsteps echoing through the house. Banning caught up with me at our room.
“Are ya even going to ask me what I think?” I could feel his anger as strongly as me own.
“We fucked up, twin,” I answered, shaking me head as I peeled off me dirty clothes. “We fucked up big-time. I be asking ya for months if we could go back and try again, but ya said no. I’m done letting ya decide for both of us. Our mate needs us, and if ya can’t swallow ya pride and go to him, then that’s ya decision. Mine is to go.”
“Ya would pick him over me?” he whispered, and I could hear the pain in his tone.
“Why does it have to be one or the other? I’m not picking him over ya! I’m going to help our mate. Ya should be, too.” I left him standing there and took the quickest shower ever. Hell, I didn’t even wait for the water to warm up. I grabbed a towel and started drying off on the way back to our room, not caring if anyone saw me naked. Time was of the essence, and I wasn’t going to waste any more of it.
“Ya are right and I’m sorry,” Banning said softly, grabbing me arm as I walked past him. “Don’t leave without me.”
“Never, me twin,” I whispered as I pulled him into me arms. “We can fix this. We’ll get our mate. But we need to work as a team, okay? No more of this him versus ya shit. It be the three of us against the world.”
“I’ll try.” That was the best I was going to get from him, and I would take it.
“Hurry up now. I’ll pack for both of us.”
“Right.” He jogged off toward the bathroom, and I quickly threw on some clothes. I just grabbed the first thing I saw, which ended up being an old blue T-shirt and some faded jeans. Banning just walked back into the bedroom, freshly showered, as I finished packing a couple of bags with the basics. I’m sure in me confused daze of worry and apprehension I forgot half of what we’d need. But it wasn’t like we couldn’t buy basics in America if we needed them.
Five minutes later we were both ready and running back out to the car. Our das were in Greece helping Caleb and our brothers out. So I couldn’t help but feel bad bailing on our ma when she needed us on the farm. But it was like she guessed what I might say.
“Go to ya mate. I’ve been running a farm long before ya both came into the world. Dillon and your brothers will come help, too,” she said firmly, giving us both a kiss and a hug. “Ya only get one mate, lads. Don’t fuck up this time and make this right.”
“Aye, we’ll fix what we broke,” Banning replied sheepishly. “Ya know we didn’t mean to though, right?”
“It be hard when dealing with matters of the heart. But ya both be men and dense, so I’m sure none of ya did the right thing and were too stubborn to go to the other one. None of that should ever matter. Ya mate need ya both and ya go. He be family and nothing would ever make ya walk away from any of us no matter what we said. Ya remember that and ya both be fine.”
“Love ya, ma,” I said, swallowing back the lump that had formed in me throat. She was right. We walked away too easily no matter what we thought Zane had said. I just hoped he would forgive us. I wouldn’t blame him if he didn’t, but I really prayed he was a better man than we had been. Otherwise, we were screwed.
We finished our good-byes and hopped in their rental car. The air was thick with tension as we drove to the airport.
“Umm, I just realized something. Don’t we need to be booking flights?” me twin asked after several miles. “Did ya think we would agree so fast and you have seats on a flight soon? Or do we have to change your tickets, too?”
Rory turned around and gave us a wink. “Isaac has his own jet. We took it here. I can’t say I don’t want to spend more time in Ireland. It’s a beautiful country. But we need to get home to Zane. We hoped you’d be coming with, but if you wouldn’t, we still have to get back to him. I don’t like leaving him alone.”
“He’s not alone,” Isaac replied, slipping his hand into his mate’s. “Besides, it’s not like we can watch him at the warrior compound anyways. When I was there the other day, all he did was grunt at me.”
“He no longer be living with ya both?” I asked, me eyes going wide.
“No, he moved out a few months after you both left,” Rory answered with a weary sigh. “He said he was tired of us hovering and pushing him. We were trying to get him to go to Ireland or at least take better care of himself. It backfired and now he avoids us. The only time we get to see him is when he’s injured and lying in the clinic.”
I felt me eyes burn at the pain our mate must have suffered. Isaac was right. We didn’t deserve Zane. Why had we ever left?
“Don’t worry, we can fix this,” Banning said as he took me hand.
“I hope so,” Isaac mumbled from the front seat. “Zane’s had a hard enough life. He deserves to be happy, and after what he did for me, god knows I would do anything for him.”
“What did he do for ya?” I asked, wanting to learn as much about our mate as I could.
“He saved my life. I did a lot of bad shit in the name of trying to keep my family together, but it all ended up backfiring on me. I broke when I had to kill my father and was trying to let myself die from an injury I got in the fight. He saved me and made me see there was life beyond an old promise I made.” He glanced at Rory before focusing back on the road. “I owe him everything. He put me on the path to finding the love of my life.”
“He sounds like a good man,” Banning said quietly.
“He is. I hope that part of him hasn’t completely died after what you did. If you can’t bring him back, I’m scared he’ll be lost forever. And the person he is now isn’t good.”
“We can fix this,” I whispered, more trying to give myself a pep talk than believing it. I wasn’t sure we could. But I knew we had to try. What other choice did we have? He was our mate, and we wouldn’t be walking away from him again.