Valentino's Cowboy [Brac Village 10]

By: Lynn Hagen

Valentino looked uncertain, but turned and grabbed the tray. Abe let out a silent breath, wondering if the handsome cougar shifter was going to keep him once the guy regained his senses.

Chapter Four

Valentino took Abe’s belongings into the house, setting everything aside as he waited for his mate. Abe slowly climbed from the car, glancing around. He could see that he needed to cheer the man up. He wanted to see that gorgeous smile once more.

“Welcome to the Prayze Castle. Stables are out back and the handmaidens are waiting to serve you. But I must warn you, no matter how hard you try to make the guards smile, they are unwavering in their duties to our home.”

Yeah, he lived in a small bungalow with an entire forest outlining his home. It was small, but he liked it. There were three bedrooms, one Valentino used as an office. The kitchen was spacious, the living room a nice size with a pretty damn cool fireplace.

He had never had a fireplace before and was still a little afraid of catching his home on fire. The front lawn was cut…for a change, and Valentino had pulled all the weeds in the flowerbed, but still hadn’t planted anything, so it just sat there, boasting a clean pathway of dirt.

Hmm, he hadn’t noticed that the bushes needed hedging. He’d have to put that on his ever growing to-do list.

His mission had succeeded when Abe gave him a wide smile, his cornflower-blue eyes lighting up. “And what a nice castle you have.”

Valentino tapped Abe on his pert little nose. “Don’t make fun of our home.”

He moved in closer for another taste of his mate’s delicious lips, but Abe pulled away. “Can I get a tour?”

Valentino silently harrumphed. He’d give the man a tour, right to his damn bedroom! Something was up—and he wasn’t referring to his cock. Valentino was going to get to the bottom of his mate’s squirrely behavior.

“Right this way.” He gave an over-exaggerated wave toward the front door, his arm sweeping wide. Valentino took a moment to gaze at Abe’s tight little ass as his mate walked through the door.

He sighed. What a nice ass it truly was. Maybe he would show Abe directly to the couch where he could bend the man over and—Valentino hurried inside when he heard a crash. Abe was laying spread out on the floor, howling in pain.

The man had tripped over his own belongings. Damn it! Valentino yelled at himself for leaving them right there in the doorway. He scooped Abe up, settling on the couch with his mate. “Let me see, hon.”

Valentino examined the bandage and didn’t see any blood, but Abe’s fingers looked red and painful. He set his mate aside and hurried into the kitchen, grabbing an ice pack from the freezer.

“Don’t put that on my hand,” Abe said loudly as he held his injured hand to his chest, cradling it. “I don’t want anything touching it right now.”

The man’s mood had been sour ever since…Valentino had to think about that for a moment. Ever since Abe got a close look at his injured hand. Hmm, he was going to have to fix that emotional problem as well.

He just wasn’t sure how. Tossing aside the ice pack, Valentino took a seat on the couch next to Abe, pulling the man’s legs up onto his lap. He ran his fingers up and down his mate’s leg, worried that maybe his hand had been further injured by the fall. “How does it feel now?”

The smile from earlier was gone. “It’s still throbbing.”

So was Valentino but he was pretty sure that Abe wasn’t in the mood for sex. The long frown on the man’s face was a huge indication of Abe’s spiraling mood. There could also be other issues as well. Valentino had uprooted Abe in his fit of rage. It never occurred to him that maybe the fey didn’t want to be here.

He had been so self-absorbed in his anger that Valentino never stopped to think what Abe would want. There was no way he was apologizing to Gavin, but if Abe wanted to go back to the ranch, Valentino would set things straight with the bears.

His fingernails scratched along the denim as he prepared himself for the rejection. “I was a little presumptuous when I gathered your things. If you would prefer to go back to the ranch—”

Immediate stiffness filled Abe. Valentino could practically touch the tension that filled the room.

“Although”—he gave Abe’s leg a light squeeze—“you would miss out on the incredible breakfasts I whip up in the mornings.” He hoped eggs and toast counted in his statement.

The tension drained and Abe relaxed. “You cook?”

Now that seemed to perk the fey up. Valentino ran with it. Abe seemed out of sort here and he wanted to make the man feel at home. He hadn’t said he wanted to go back to the ranch, so Valentino was taking that as a good sign.

They just needed to get to know each other. “I’m pretty good in the kitchen.” He liked to experiment with new recipes. Not all of them turned out right, but for the most part, they were edible.

He hadn’t sent himself to the hospital yet.

Abe pulled his legs down, seeming a little less agitated than he was before. The tension line around his eyes and mouth were finally gone. Valentino sat there struck by Abe’s full lips as they curved into an innocent smile. “I’m hungry. So, why don’t you show off your cooking skills for me?”

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