Hurri Cosmo       

Love is the answer

CHAPTER ONE

Now this was irritating.


Grey flipped the postcard over to see if he could figure out who and why it was sent to him, but the only thing on the back was the return address of the company that it came from and his name and address neatly typed on a label. Clearly it was an advertisement and actually should say “occupant” instead of “Grey Dymon.” How Mates, Inc. got his name was a mystery. He turned the card back over and read the message on the front again as if in the two seconds it took to read the other side the words would have somehow changed. They hadn’t.


Congratulations!

You have a Fated Mate!

And you’ve been sent this FREE GIFT CARD so you can meet him!

Please enter the code exactly as it appears below on the Mates, Inc. website

and instantly receive all the information you will need to

MEET YOUR FATED MATE!

Free gift code: 22o4f!F+Hs+c0Y0+esk@DE

Some restrictions may apply. Contact Mates, Inc. for details.


Who in the hell would send him a Mates, Inc. gift card? Why in the world would Mates, Inc. even have gift cards?


Just plain bizarre. Some kind of sick joke.


He shook his head, grabbed the rest of the mail, which consisted of bills and “occupant” crap he would throw away up in his apartment even though there was a garbage can next to the mailboxes where most of his neighbors pitched the unwanted stuff. Grey half considered tossing the gift card in it, but it actually had his name on it so he headed up the stairs with it still in hand where he would shred the damn thing.


Who could have done this?


But then again, maybe no one had. Maybe this was simply one of those tricky-ass advertisements designed to get someone sucked in. When they got to the information about the fated mate, Grey bet the “some restrictions may apply” would pop up and obtaining such knowledge would take a small fee. Or a large one. Didn’t matter to Grey which. He wouldn’t pay either. He had had enough of dating websites.

Which was why this irritated him.


Grey wriggled the key in his apartment door until the lock finally gave way, opened the door, pitched the mail on the kitchen counter, and turned to close himself in.

And fated mate? Ha! Ridiculous. As far as he was concerned, they didn’t exist. At least not for him. He had done enough dating to know that. All those damn websites were the same. None of them had been a wise decision for his heart or his bank account.


How would a mating website be any different?


Well… technically a mating website was more appropriate for him, being he was a wolf shifter and an Alpha to boot, which didn’t help matters. Except he had never known mating websites even existed, so there was that. But finding someone even compatible to be with for a few hours was hard enough in the big city, much less a fated mate, which was what this website was suggesting they had already done for him. The only guy he had met recently who fit the bill of “compatible” was the bartender at Coyote’s Bar and Grill.


Plus, somehow, they knew he was gay. The “fated mate” they had found was a him.

How?


He picked the card back up from the counter and headed to the shredder. He was going to show whoever thought he was stupid enough to fall for something like this it wasn’t true.


No, he saved all his stupidity for dating.


Well, not all his stupidity.


What Alpha in his right mind ever cut and run from his own pack? And just because the one man he had fallen for was already taken? Already mated, for fuck’s sake, and to the head Alpha?


Thankfully, he had handled the leaving well. He said his mother in the city was gravely ill and he had to see to her. Except his mother had been pretty much a no-show all his life and even though last he heard she did live here in Whiteridge, he had never stepped foot in her house. And he lied about her being ill. Well, physically ill that is. Mentally ill was a whole other story. One he had no intention of ever being a part of again.


He sat down at his computer desk. He needed to check his email, and then, even though the night was young, he wanted to figure out something to do for dinner. Maybe he would order in. With the Mating Moon on the rise, things would most likely get crazy tonight, and for the first time in ages, he wanted to steer clear of having anything to do with it.


The shredder sat next to the desk on the floor so he leaned over and jammed the card into the feeder.


Nothing.


What the hell?


He pulled his chair over so he could check if the machine was on. It was. He carefully fed the card into the entry point again. Sometimes the stupid thing was temperamental and he had to hold the paper just right in order for it to work. Still nothing. This time, Grey rose from the chair to unplug and plug the shredder back in again. Still nothing.


Damn it!


He whomped back into his chair.


Nothing ever worked longer than ten fucking minutes anymore.


He glanced at the card again.


You have a fated mate.


Well, what could it hurt? It wasn’t like anyone would know. There was no one in the room with him to laugh at him when he got to the part where he had to enter his credit card information again and he was proven right. The card was simply a cunning advertisement, a way to get some lonely slob to spend his money.

And doing this would probably give his computer a virus of some kind or, worse yet, adware or malware, whatever the latest trend was.


So, he shouldn’t do it.


He opened his computer and typed in the web address.


Welcome to Mates, Inc.! Are you searching for that someone special? That one someone you can share your life and grow old with? Well, here at Mates, Inc., we are dedicated to the art of finding that someone for you. Yes, that’s right, the art of finding that someone! Your fated mate. Whoever or even were-ever that being is, wolf, bear, cat, bird, we will find him or her or them for you. Click HERE to enter!


Nice music. Happy. Encouraging. The graphics appeared to be professional, not that he would know. But someone spent time and money on the site. Grey hovered the cursor over the capitalized word “HERE” and, after a second of hesitation, clicked on it.


Congratulations! You have taken the first step in finding your fated mate! How can we help you, you ask? Simple! Fill out the on-line form, which will tell us all about you and what you are looking for. Doing so will only take a few minutes. Just click HERE.

Yep. That was exactly what he thought. They didn’t know shit about him specifically. If he had to fill out some on-line form, they hadn’t found anyone, including him.

But then he realized there was another line below the “just click here.”

Or did you receive a fated mate card in the mail today? Then you’re one of the LUCKY ones! That means we’ve already FOUND your fated mate. You get to click HERE!


Holy fucking shit!


Grey slammed his computer shut, glancing around to check if all the curtains were indeed closed and no one was truly peeking in because he felt there had to be. The damn thing hadn’t said his name, but it might just as well have.


Why the hell that scared him as much as it did, he had no clue. But suddenly he was thinking someone was watching him, and that flat-out freaked him out.


Who needed to fucking date anyway? So what if there was yet another Mating Moon on the rise? Who the hell cared? He had at least four men who would jump at the chance to be fucked senseless. All he had to do was make a phone call.


Like Donlan. He could call Donlan. Sure they had only been out together one time but, hell, the man practically begged him that night and it wasn’t that long ago. Plus, Donlan was rich as shit, and it might be nice to be taken care of for once, even if someone else in charge tended to drive him a little nuts. Okay, a lot nuts, but, fuck, it would be just this one night and only for the sex, nothing else. Not like the guy was his fated mate or anything. He certainly hadn’t needed a website to tell him that.

Neither he nor Donlan felt anything for each other except lust. However, if he were honest, that wasn’t as hot as it should have been. Donlan did have a great body. He wore a suit well. When Donlan had shown up that night at Coyote’s, he hadn’t turned only Grey’s head, that was for sure.


The guy had sauntered up to the bar, having spotted Grey from across the room, appearing every bit an Alpha, although he was just a human. Grey had both thrilled and cringed at the implications of such a matchup. But Counterparts, Inc. guaranteed happy endings. Too bad Grey hadn’t figured out at that point the “happy ending” they were referring to was their own, in once they had his credit card number, Counterparts, Inc. was happy.


But it had been an interesting night, he thought, as he remembered back to their encounter…


“Hi. Are you Grey?”


The large man had walked across the floor toward Grey, nodding and smiling at admirers all the way. He knew how to use those hips, which made Grey’s cock at the very least interested. He was good looking, too, a definite plus. Killer body, tall, blond, his face clean shaven. Now he stood right in front of Grey.


“Yes. You’re Donlan?”


No last names. Not yet. Counterparts, Inc. left that particular detail up to the people dating. No home addresses. First names only, and the initial meeting in a very public place. And what was more public than Coyote’s on the corner of Fifth and 22nd, the heart of downtown?


Grey didn’t necessarily frequent bars, but ever since he moved to this city, this was the one he came to whenever life was getting to him. He liked the atmosphere and the bartenders—well, one bartender in particular, Kade, who always seemed to be able to make Grey smile. Grey remembered being thrilled Kade was behind the bar that night when he arrived early for his date with Donlan. He already had a beer in hand and was enjoying Kade’s company when Donlan strolled up to him.


“You’re big.” Donlan’s focus had slipped down Grey’s body, landing and staying on his somewhat attentive cock, but when Grey didn’t respond, with words or a growing bulge, Donlan had glanced back up and extended a hand, his thick lips in a half smile.


Grey took his hand and gave it a quick pump. “Well, you’re certainly not small,” Grey replied but did not follow his statement up with a reciprocal walk down Donlan’s body, which seemed to frustrate the man. Instead, Grey downed the rest of his beer, put his bottle on the bar, and caught Kade’s blue-eyed gaze. Kade nodded and smiled as he took the empty. The bartender walked away with a swing in his ass, almost like Kade was doing it on purpose, as if he were trying to catch and keep Grey’s attention. Which had been the first time Grey found himself wondering what the man would look like naked and begging. Kade, although a little older than Grey, was smaller, and maybe not totally cut out for the job of a bartender. There had been times when customers became irate or a box had been too heavy to lift or some drunk jerk became too touchy. Such behavior brought up Grey’s Alpha instincts to swoop in and protect.


Which took him back to his date. A man totally on the other end of that spectrum.

He swung his gaze to Donlan, whose half smile was now a bit of a frown. Whoops. He hadn’t meant for that to happen, but he had to admit Donlan’s size and demeanor was disappointing. Even though Grey liked to get a little rough in bed, and having a partner bigger than the normal Omega helped, this man was on the too big side. Certainly appeared Counterparts, Inc. hadn’t really read his application all that closely. Of course, he hadn’t mentioned the Alpha thing. There had been no question for it so he didn’t mention it. Seemed the dating websites didn’t care.

Still, here they were, and the night was young.


Donlan shook himself, then smiled again, leaning forward slightly. Instantly Grey leaned back and away. What was he trying to do? Kiss him? Oh geez. Probably. “Sorry. I… just thought…”


Jerking back, Donlan blinked. “No. Don’t be sorry. I shouldn’t have come at you like that. So. Should we… um… get a table?” Donlan asked as he glanced around the immediate area where Grey was sitting. Grey had already lost the stool he had been trying to save, too busy talking to Kade to notice the bar filling up. He was definitely not being a good date so far and would have to try harder.