Story Excerpt
Crank's Craving

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Crank stared across the mess hall at Anok, the little neon-green haired man they had found on Paktil. The man was also his mate. The need to drag Anok off to a dark corner and claim him was overwhelming.

The only thing that kept Crank from doing just that was the angered scowls Anok kept sending his way. Okay, maybe he shouldn’t have kidnapped Anok from Paktil, but they were in trouble at the time, and protecting his mate was the only thing in Crank’s head.

Unfortunately, it meant he was now dealing with a very pissed off mate. Crank didn’t think Anok would allow himself to be claimed anytime soon. But it would happen. Crank knew it deep in his bones. Anok was meant for him.

Unlike the other crew members on board the Lady Blue, Crank was a cougar shifter. That in itself came with a set of issues Crank wasn’t ready to face yet, but knew he would have to, and soon.

Now that he had smelled his mate, he had less than one full moon to claim him. If a month passed without tasting his mate’s blood while claiming him, Crank would go feral and have to be put down for everyone’s safety. Sometimes it really sucked being a cougar.

Other times it was magnificent—like now. Even standing across the room he could smell Anok’s sweet scent. It wrapped around him and sank into every pore of his body. Crank would be able to scent out his mate anywhere, anytime. Anok’s distinctive scent was ingrained in Crank’s very blood.

That was how it worked for cougars. One scent of their mate and they were hooked. No other being in the world—any world—would ever smell so delicious or arouse Crank as much as Anok did.

Crank growled when the ship suddenly lurched and Anok grabbed the table in a death grip. Anok’s face paled and his eyes started to dart around the room as if he were frantically looking for an escape route.

Anok suddenly jumped up from his seat and ran for the doorway Crank was leaning against. Crank stepped back and let Anok through. The moment Anok made it past the doorway, Crank spun around and grabbed the little man around the waist.

Anok started to struggle frantically. Crank could smell the fear and panic pouring off of the man in waves. He had to calm his mate. He just wasn’t sure how to do it. The only thing he could think of was taking Anok to his quarters. So, that was what Crank did. He picked Anok up, tossed the man over his shoulders, and carried him down the corridor to his quarters.

Once inside, he set Anok on his feet then reached back to lock the door. The moment he turned back, pain exploded in Crank’s jaw as Anok punched him. Crank shook his head and rubbed his jaw as he glared at Anok.

“What in the hell did you do that for?”

“Because I am not a fucking bag of potatoes!” Anok snapped. He jabbed his finger into Crank’s chest. “That’s the second time you carried me off, and I’m getting damn tired of it. You…don’t…own…me!”

Crank growled and clenched his hands. “Mine!”

“I don’t fucking think so.” Anok waved his hands back and forth in front of him as he started backing away.

Crank didn’t like the fact that his mate felt the need to back away from him. His mate should never leave his side. He stepped over and grabbed Anok’s arms and yanked the man against his chest.

“Mine!” he growled once again. Crank didn’t realize he had partially shifted again until Anok’s eyes widened and the man gently patted his chest. Fear was slowly beginning to fill Anok’s face.

“Okay, whatever you say.”

Crank frowned. That wasn’t right. His mate should never fear him. “Why do you deny me? You know we are mates.”

“Not in this century,” Anok snapped as he started to struggle again. “I’m no one’s mate.”

“You’re my mate!” Crank grit his teeth when pain suddenly radiated up his leg from his shin. “You kicked me in the shin.”

Anok’s eyebrow arched. “I’ll kick you higher up if you don’t let me go.”

As if to prove his threat, Anok raised his leg. Crank instantly turned to the side and Anok’s knee landed on his thigh. It wasn’t painful, so Crank didn’t think Anok was trying to hurt him. He just didn’t understand why the man was so insistent that he be released.

None of the other members of the crew had this much trouble claiming their mates, not even Tank. At least Tank knew Zackary cared about him while they waited to complete the Paktillian ritual that would allow them to be mated. They had even done more than their fair share of fooling around while they waited.

He shouldn’t be having this much trouble, not now that he had found his mate. “Why are you being this way?”

“Because you fucking kidnapped me!” Anok shouted. “You kidnapped me, and now you’re trying to force yourself on me.”

Crank’s nostrils flared as he instantly released Anok. The rage that suddenly flowed through him made his hand tremble as he pointed his finger at Anok. “I’ve never forced anyone in my life, and I’m not about to start with my mate. If you don’t want me, fine. I’ll have Remy drop you off at the nearest spaceport, and you’ll never have to see me again.”

Crank saw Anok’s mouth drop open just as he spun around and unlocked the door. He hit the button to open the door and stepped through the doorway, turning to look over his shoulder at his mate—his ex-mate.

“You can have the room until we drop you off. I wouldn’t want to be accused of not being hospitable.”

Crank turned back around and stormed away. The anger he felt at Anok’s words was mirrored by the deep ache he felt in his chest. His mate, the man he was supposed to spend the rest of his life with, didn’t want him.

Crank had no choice now. Anok didn’t want him, and he would never force the man. He was going to go feral, and there was nothing he could do to stop it.