Now and Then
Some might have said that Robbie was a simple man, but that wasn’t quite the case.
He led a simple life, to be sure. No frills. He learned early on that what he knew about stealing cars he could put to use in fixing them instead, and he put his all into providing for the brothers he mostly raised by himself. He’d never minded grease under his fingernails, and the cracks on his palms and knuckles that came from hard work didn’t seem so bad—
When he had Ivan to help him patch them up.
On quiet nights, Robbie liked to tuck himself away somewhere private. His brothers Cade and Nathaniel meant well, but they were too young to remember Ivan and only a soulmate knew what it was like to have had, and then to not have anymore. On nights like those Robbie would shut his door, turn out the lights, lay a hand over his faded soulmark, and remember.
“Going somewhere?” Ivan had asked him, leaning his weight on the open door of the Mustang that Robbie had almost hot-wired, had nearly gotten away in. He’d had a sweet mouth, wide and friendly, and a kind face with gray-green dreamer’s eyes, but Robbie barely noticed then what he looked like. All he could feel was the sudden sharp sting at his breastbone. A signal that told him he’d find a mate’s mark risen there when he touched it to be sure.
His mate. No—theirs. He had been startled, and then grateful. He wasn’t alone anymore. Oh, but there were some fine memories of those days. Robbie saved them all, and kept them close to his heart.
Given his choices, Robbie never liked to think about how they fell apart. Finding a soulmate—though everyone did, and then had a spontaneous tattoo-like mark somewhere on their body to confirm the match—didn’t necessarily equal a fairytale happily ever after. Humans were still utterly human. People made bad choices. Robbie and Ivan came from completely different worlds, and they never could find a bridge strong enough to connect them. And in the end…
Well. On quiet nights, Robbie was almost certain he might never see his Ivan again.
But on a noisy night, in a crowded stadium, Robbie discovered he couldn’t have been more wrong. Because there he was. Ivan. Older, with more lines around his eyes, but his mouth was no less sweet and there was an eagerness there. He’d wanted to find Robbie again, too. Had dreamed of him, and wished for a second chance.
And now that they were older, Ivan hoped maybe it’d be different. Maybe they’d find a way to make it work this time.
To be true soulmates, and lovers, the way they needed—and wanted, so much—to become again. For that chance, Ivan would be truly thankful.
The Soulmarked series blurb:
Love’s a complicated affair when finding your soulmarked mate is only the first step. Winning their hearts and hands, and keeping them—now that’s the challenge. The one who has the most power over your heart is the one who can love you the best, but can also hurt you the most. Even when passion rules the world, the road to a man’s heart never did run smooth.
When the stakes are this high, can those who were made for one another find a way to break down the walls and beat the odds that stand between them?
Robbie and Ivan wrought havoc on their first chance at love. Can they mend their fences and find their passion the second time around?
Soulmarked as mates, Robbie and Ivan come from different worlds. Robbie’s the oldest son in a long line of outlaws who live squarely on the wrong side of the tracks, and Ivan’s family tree is packed with law enforcement. That didn’t stop them from falling in love, but when they risked tearing each other apart, they cared enough to let go and hope they’d find a better life.
Years later, the strength of their soulbond still burns bright when chance brings Robbie and Ivan together at the football game of the year. The passion they felt for one another is as powerful as ever, bringing them into explosive contact. They’re not the boys they used to be—Robbie’s turned his life around and raised his younger brothers to be good men, and Ivan’s learned to stand tall and mix justice with compassion. But though they want to hope they can be happy now, not everything has changed. Maybe not enough has changed.
Or has it, after all?
It’s up to Robbie and Ivan, now. Only they can make the choice that will change their lives forever.
Excerpt from Now and Then:
Ivan’s room was larger than the one Robbie had rented, more lush and better-appointed, but still very much a man’s den, with glossy dark wood and a fanciful water sculpture. He’d turned the heat up far too high to ward off the chill of the evening.
Not that cold was a problem, Robbie thought, swearing under his breath. He’d loosened the threads on Ivan’s buttons in his rush to peel the offending linen out of his way, and had nearly wrenched his wrist trying to help Ivan free him from his sweater at the same time. Awkward, but then—oh yes—worth it for the first press of his mouth to skin, gorgeous skin, still smooth but over muscles more developed than he remembered.
“What’s this?” Robbie asked before bending his head to take one pierced nipple between his lips, his teeth. He tugged once, the metal skin-warm yet still shockingly cool on his tongue.
Ivan hissed and dug a hand into Robbie’s hair, kneading his scalp with strong fingers. He could taste the silver, the flavor lingering, when he let go of the pebbled nub. He rolled the other nipple between his fingers, well aware of the roughness of his callus that would catch and pull the way Ivan—used—to like. He remembered when they’d talked about this. Long time ago, now. Long, long time.
“When did you get these done?”
“Don’t know. Don’t remember.”
“Now who’s the liar?” Robbie breathed at Ivan’s ear, sifting hungry fingers through his shorter, forever-disheveled hair, pulling locks forward over his forehead and cheeks. He had forgotten how good it was to be the smaller and shorter one, even if only by an inch and a half, and even if he was wider in the shoulders and Ivan was narrower in the hips.
Ivan lifted his chin. “Doesn’t matter in the least. Does it?”
Robbie couldn’t disagree.
The bed looked as if it would engulf them, but there was a firm mattress beneath the lavish, thickly layered duvet that cradled and cushioned Robbie’s bones. No headboard. Ivan propped himself against the wall, legs stretched out before him. Robbie knelt in his lap, against him, bare as the day he was born. When had that happened? He couldn’t remember. Only that it hadn’t been a moment too soon. More like moments too late. He reached between himself and Ivan, catching Ivan’s cock and rubbing the long shaft in his palm.
“I’d have asked questions if this was pierced, too,” he said, with the breath and words he could steal between kisses. His lips were fuller, plumped from kissing, but he couldn’t satisfy his craving for Ivan’s flavor, his taste. He inched closer, needing more…