On the Double (Guardian's Tales 4)
Zenobia Renquist
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Copyright ©2015 Zenobia Renquist

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Roman offered his hand, knowing the woman before him wouldn't take it. She flinched and pulled back while staring at the brown-and-tan Burmese python resting his head on Roman's hand. Sighing with equal parts annoyance and resignation, Roman glanced over his shoulder to Godfrey. "This is why I told you to stop."

Godfrey opened his mouth and inhaled in preparation to speak but Roman turned his attention back to the woman. "You can leave."

She squeaked, nodded, and then rushed out of the room. A single black feather wafted to the ground in her wake. It showed the severity of her agitation that she dropped the plume while in human form.

Roman mentally counted to ten to give the woman a head start. He had no choice but to follow her. They were both headed for the front door. He hoped to avoid theatrics by allowing her enough time to flee, but that left him in the room with Godfrey.

"I won't stop, Roman. You are an alpha of our unkindness. As such, you should be paired with a mate who will give you alpha children."

"I renounced my ties to this unkindness. That I continue to heed your summons is out of respect. A respect that wanes that much more each time you try to force another potential mate on me." The heat of Godfrey's glare warmed Roman's back but Roman refused to face the man. "The days when I could have had a nice raven girl as my mate have passed. I am bonded to a python. No raven will have me. This conversation is over, now and forever. Good day, Godfrey."

Roman left the room. The heels of his Oxfords thudded against the carpet, revealing his sour mood. His usual stride made no noise, and he blamed Kenz for its presence. The six-foot python added one hundred seventy-six pounds to Roman's lithe form. "You could walk, you know."

Kenz tightened his coils, squeezing Roman's waist.

Roman decided against complaining. Today was a rarity. More often than not, Kenz was the one carrying Roman.

Though Roman thought he might, Godfrey didn't chase them. The days of chasing should be over. Godfrey had to acknowledge the truth. No raven woman would want to be mated to a man tied to a snake. The two were natural enemies. Roman saw it as a cosmic joke that he'd ended up with Kenz -- proof that Fate had an evil sense of humor.

Roman exited the house and went to his car. Once he opened the door, Kenz slid onto the passenger's seat. His clothes were piled in the back for when he shifted to his human form. Roman got behind the wheel and aimed the car toward the highway.

We headed to Guardian now?

Roman nodded in answer to Kenz's mental query. Their connection as lifemates allowed them the private means of communication. Not all lifemates were afforded the privilege. Roman wondered if the ability had something to do with them both being alphas. Or maybe it was meant to force understanding between them so they wouldn't kill each other.

The start of their relationship had been rocky and volatile. If not for being in each other's heads all day and night, hearing each other's thoughts whether they wanted to or not, he and Kenz might have ended their relationship in death.

Those days had passed. With understanding had come acceptance and the knowledge of how to block. Roman heard Kenz's thoughts when Kenz allowed it and vice versa. A thankful reprieve because Kenz's mind wandered to self-pleasure more often than was healthy.

I heard that.

"I wanted you to. And you do think about masturbating far too much."

I'm hard up, and you are too. We haven't been laid since we bonded.

Roman's cell ringing cut off his reply. He tapped the steering wheel button to answer the call. "This is Roman."

"This is Guardian."

"Guardian? To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"Spare me the false congeniality. It's unbecoming."

Roman shrugged. He'd tried. Kenz got on his case no less than once a day about his apathetic attitude and his lack of niceties during normal conversation. He didn't see the point and hated wasting the effort. "Why the call?"

"That's better. I need you and Kenz to come in. I have a mate for you."

A glance at Kenz showed he appeared as surprised as Roman felt. Roman gripped the steering wheel to keep the car steady. "A potential mate."

"I said what I meant."

"Are you sure?"

"Think about who I am, what I do, and realize why that's a stupid question."

Roman glared out the windshield, sorry he couldn't show the expression to the woman herself. "Your last three attempts failed."

"My last three weren't attempts. They were fishing. No bites. I can't do that with Letha. A riot might ensue."

"Letha." Roman breathed in the name and found he liked the feel of it on his tongue. "Why a riot?"

"Come meet her and see."

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