The warmth and brightness of early morning sunlight falling on his face woke Jalen. He blinked and stretched, not used to still being in bed at this hour. Rolling over, he saw Shane watching him with a soft smile. "That was the first time I slept past dawn in weeks."
"I thought it best to let you sleep. How are you feeling?"
Jalen shivered as Shane reached out to caress his bare arm. They'd returned late from their trip to the hangar last night. Exhausted, he'd almost immediately fallen into a deep sleep, as though his body needed to store up rest for his coming heat. But now he tingled with awareness, skin already flushed and warm. "I think if we're going to carry out our plan we'd better hurry. Otherwise, we'll have to wait a few days."
"Got it. You shower first and I'll send a message to Director Nelson and ask to speak with her."
"Okay." Jalen threw back the covers and went to shower. He washed with quick efficiency, determined not to linger on any of the sensitive parts of his body that were demanding his attention. If he did, he wouldn't be able to stop. He'd end up walking out of the bathroom and climbing right onto Shane's cock.
Once he was clean and dry, he let Shane have his turn in the bathroom. Jalen dressed in neat but casual clothes then sat on the bed to look at his data pad. He was checking the schedule to see how many respite days they had when a notification came through. It was a message from Director Nelson, granting them a meeting at eleven o'clock. Jalen let Shane know when he came out of the shower, rubbing a towel over his wet hair.
"The director is meeting us at eleven. That gives us time to call your dad too."
"We also have time to eat breakfast."
Jalen shook his head. "Not hungry." Shane came over and tugged him to his feet.
"Try to eat a little something. And we'll bring a few protein snacks back to the room, okay?"
"Yeah, okay." With Shane so close, Jalen breathed in, taking in the scent of his alpha's strength and arousal. "You smell so good." He raised his palms, ready to stroke them over the broad chest in front of him. Just before he touched, Jalen cursed and stepped back. "I'll wait in the hall while you get dressed."
Shane cleared his throat. "That's a good idea."
Jalen stepped out into the hall, breathing in air that didn't smell like the man he wanted to rub up against. It worked to calm him down a little, but he was still twitchy and hot, his skin sensitive. They were cutting this close. Thankfully it didn't take long for Shane to join him. When Shane came out he too was dressed casually. And he smelled different. Jalen wrinkled his nose. "What did you do?"
"Rubbing alcohol. I thought it might help."
"It does. You smell awful." Jalen smiled. "Thank you."
Shane nodded and they set off together, walking close but not touching. In the cafeteria, Jalen noticed that everyone looked happy and relaxed. The tension from waiting to see if they'd been selected was gone. Now they had a few days to rest and recharge. Jalen realized that he actually was hungry and managed to eat nearly everything Shane encouraged him to put on his plate.
Once they were finished with breakfast they went to the communications room. The room was set up with five video phone booths. They were all in use when Jalen and Shane arrived, so they sat on a bench waiting for one to become available. Jalen's heart pounded as they waited. He hoped their plan would work. But he was also terrified it would somehow backfire on them.
After a few minutes, a phone was free. He and Shane went into the booth together and sat down in front of the monitor. The closed door gave them privacy for their conversations, but Jalen didn't trust that Beals Corp wasn't listening in. Luckily for Jalen, he had a way to speak without being heard by any hidden recording devices.
They called Jalen's family first. His mom answered, then called his dad and sisters over to join her. They all crowded in front of the screen, smiling and waving hello.
"Guess who's going into space?" Jalen asked with a grin. His question brought screams from his sisters, tears from his mom, and a proud smile from his dad.
"Congratulations!" They all cheered, the twins popping confetti cones.
"We knew you'd both be selected," his father said as confetti rained down on his head.
Shane leaned slightly forward to speak into the camera phone. "Thank you. The training was tough. And there were a lot of amazingly qualified applicants. We feel lucky to have made it through to the final group."
The twins looked back and forth between Shane and Jalen, matching mischievous grins on their identical faces. "And you're calling us together. That's sweet. Is it because you're such good friends or...?"
"Stop fishing, sis. Yes, we're a couple. These past few months together gave us a chance to see how we really feel about each other. And things just sort of happened from there."
"That's great news, son."
"Welcome to the family, Shane," his mother said. "You've always been a part of it, but now it's official."
"Thank you, ma'am," Shane replied with warm affection.
Jalen was happy to see his family's easy acceptance of Shane as his partner. Not that he'd doubted they would. "We weren't expecting to end up together while we were here but I'm glad we did." He kept smiling as he started speaking in American Sign Language. "Everyone continue talking to Shane. Michelle, pay attention to me but don't react, okay?"
A frown briefly touched his sister's forehead but she smiled and signed okay. Jalen gave her a quick summary of everything that happened, from the injection, to the meeting where Beals and his staff had confessed to the gene splicing and the reason for it, to almost everything that had changed about them.
Michelle's eyes widened but otherwise her expression didn't change. The smile still on her face, she took her right thumb, shoved it into her left fist, then quickly yanked it back out.
Jalen laughed. "Shit is right," he signed back. "We're going to talk to Beals and his team and let them know going forward they need to be upfront about the Zareen injection for future recruits. But we're worried they might kick us out of the program for speaking up. As a security measure we need someone on the outside who can tell the public what took place. We plan to let them know we'll leak the details of the Zareen injection if necessary. Will you help us?"
His sister raised her fist, palm facing the camera to emphatically sign yes.
"Okay. The people who didn't make the program are being released from seclusion this week. Find a guy named Sobelman. He can back up our story that the recruits were all injected with something, and we bet he'd be willing to break his non-disclosure agreement and go public as well. We're hoping it won't come to that but if it does it'll be to our advantage to have another source verify at least some of our story." Michelle nodded and Jalen touched his fingertips to his chin to sign thank you. Then he switched back to speaking verbally, catching up on the rest of the family's conversation.
"Yeah, we're so excited. Last night we saw the jet we'll be flying. It's beautiful. I wish we could have taken pictures but everything is still pretty top secret."
They finished the conversation by promising to call back when they had information on the launch date so they could make plans to come and see them off. "I love you guys," Jalen said as he waved goodbye. "Can't wait to see you again."
"Love you too, honey. You too, Shane."
The screen went dark and Jalen looked up at Shane. "That's done," he said with relief.
"Let's call your dad. Then we go talk to Beals."
* * *
Thirty minutes later, Shane and Jalen again waited in the lobby of Director Nelson's office. Just like before, Shane could sense Jalen's nervousness. He could also feel Jalen fighting to control his heat. Shane purposely didn't touch him, but he offered verbal reassurance. "You're doing great, baby. Just hold on for a little while longer."
Staring straight ahead, Jalen nodded, a muscle flexing in his jaw.
Shane had to push back his own coming rut and the urge to pick Jalen up and carry him back to their room. He started to pop his knuckles just to let out some of the growing frantic energy under his skin when the receptionist spoke.
"Officers, they're ready for you."
"Thank you," Shane said as he and Jalen stood. When they walked into the conference room, Tevoris, Director Nelson and Beals sat in the same chairs as last time. The rest of the seats were empty. Tevoris immediately grinned when he saw them.
"Are you two sure you should be up and about? We don't want any public mating displays in the halls."
The tips of Shane's ears warmed as he sat down. Tevoris' bluntness about mating and heats was so natural, he could only assume that was standard for all Zareenians.
"I'm fine," Jalen snapped.
Shane backed up his mate. "Yes, we both are. That's what we're here to talk about. We are more than thankful for the amazing opportunity to travel into space. And we understand why the recruits were injected with Zareen DNA. However, Jalen and I feel we - that all the recruits - should have received explicit knowledge of what the enhancements were, and been given a choice whether or not to be injected only after receiving that information."
"I see," Director Nelson said. She shot a look down the table at Beals.
Shane looked too. The other man's eyebrows drew together in a scowl, his lips pressed together in a straight line instead of their usual smile. The first crack in his normally jovial demeanor.
"We'd also like to know if these changes will be passed down to the recruits' children." Jalen said.
Director Nelson answered again. "We don't know that yet since there is only so much we can test in the lab. But since I've been informed the Zareenian genetic material is dominant over humans, it is almost certain that at least some traits will be passed down by those injected. Especially if two people who have both been injected with Zareen DNA have a child. But again, we won't know for sure until we have a generation of children from the original group to test."
Shane frowned at how fast and loose they'd played with human genes and evolution. He sensed Jalen's anger and disquiet as well. Shane watched with quiet pride as Jalen sat up straight, shoulders back, palms flat on the table.
"I would like to request that the Beals Space Exploration Program make a change. Give all applicants the opportunity for informed consent to the Zareen enhancement along with their acceptance into the recruitment program."
"I second that request."
Beals, who up until that moment had been uncharacteristically quiet, finally spoke up.
"Are you two making demands on me?"
His face twisted in ugly anger, revealing the fact that he wasn't always the friendly, laid-back inventor he presented to the world. Shane wasn't shocked by that. No one who had as much success as Vincent Beals acheieved it based purely on kindness and benevolence. And his decision to play with people's very being showed how determined he was to forge ahead with what he wanted, no matter the consequences.
"We just want to do what's right. What's ethical," Jalen said as he stared Beals down with quiet determination.
Beals slapped his hands on the table, rising half out of his seat as he yelled. "I don't ca-."
Shane's hackles rose at the show of aggression towards his mate, but Director Nelson spoke up, cutting Beals off.
"They're right, Vincent. The recruits should have been informed. You know I felt that way from the beginning."
Tevoris spoke up as well. "I didn't like the secrecy but as a guest on your planet I went along with your plan. However, after observing this first run, I think it would be best for the subjects to be informed of the injection and all of the Zareen characteristics. My people will not provide any more of our genetic material unless this change is made. I'm sure your scientist will find a way to synthesize it, but that could take time, and set your program back a few years."
Shane started to relax. With Nelson and Tevoris on their side, and no mentions of releasing them from the program, he and Jalen wouldn't have to go through with their plan of breaking their non-disclosure agreement.
Beals slowly settled back into his chair. He clearly didn't like being told what to do. But he didn't want to give up his access to the genetics and technology given by the Zareenians either.
"Fine," he bit out from between clenched teeth.
Shane exhaled a relieved sigh and relaxed fully, as did Jalen next to him.
"I actually have a plan in place for this," Director Nelson continued. "We're holding a press conference to introduce the group selected for the BE 9 mission. During that time, we'll make the information on the Zareen enhancement public. In addition, each person injected will be provided with all the information necessary for their medical records. We'll also conduct a seminar to explain how to share that information with potential sexual partners, and what they can expect in the future. Is that acceptable?"
"Yes," Jalen said.
Shane nodded in agreement.
"Excellent. We wouldn't want to lose our top two recruits over something so easily rectified," she said with a pointed glance toward Beals.
Beals smiled, the mask of the cool and quirky inventor firmly back in place. "Of course not. We'll do everything we can to set the minds of our Bealstronauts at ease so they can focus on the mission." Beals clapped his hands together. "Bealstronauts! How have I not thought of that before now? Excuse me, I need to go and speak with my marketing team." Beals rose from the table and left the room, already moving on to the next topic.
The remaining four at the table were quiet for several moments before Jalen broke the silence.
"Thank you, both. Neither of us wanted to risk our spot in the program but we had to speak up. I feel a lot better knowing that future recruits will be fully informed on all aspects of the program."
"You're welcome. And congratulations to both of you for being selected for the BE 9 mission."
"I admire you for the risk you took," Tevoris said. "Now, seriously. Get out of here. You two are throwing off so many pheromones it's making my eyes water."
Shane's ears warmed again, but he left the meeting with a much better vibe than he had the previous one. Once they were in the hall, Jalen stopped and turned to him. His face was flushed, but a relieved smile curled his lips.
"We did it."
Proud of his mate for speaking up and wanting to show it, Shane pulled Jalen close for a quick kiss. "We did. Now let's get upstairs to our room so I can take care of you."
* * *
Jalen made his way back to the residence tower with Shane, the halls quiet due to the reduced population. As they walked, Jalen let go of the tight control he had on his body. He relaxed, jaw unclenching, fingers flexing as he uncurled his fists. Shane kept his big hand at the small of Jalen's back, fingers occasionally dipping down to brush over the curve of his ass. Jalen shivered each time, as the heat within him rose higher and higher.
In the elevator, he pressed up against Shane's side. By now, the alcohol Shane had rubbed on himself had faded, and his alpha scent filled the air. Jalen breathed it in, then gasped when Shane slid his hand down to cup and squeeze his ass.
He lifted his face for a kiss but just as Shane leaned down to meet him halfway, the swiftly rising elevator stopped, and the doors slid open with a pleasant ding. They held there a breathless moment, caught between the urge to kiss now or get to their room where they could do so much more. The decision was made for them by someone clearing their throat. Jalen looked and saw a fellow recruit standing in front of them, her lips twitching as she held back a smile.
"Excuse us," Shane said as they stepped from the elevator.
They hurried down the hall to their room. As soon as they were inside with the door shut behind them, Jalen threw himself against Shane's chest. He wrapped his arms around his mate's neck, pulling him down into a kiss. It was desperate and wild, a release of everything he'd been holding back during their meeting.
Shane pulled back just enough to whisper a question. "What do you want?"
Jalen's answer was swift and sure. "I want all of you. I want you inside me." Truth be told, he'd wanted that for weeks but he'd also wanted to save that experience until he was in heat. Now, it was time.
Shane smiled, brushing a thumb over Jalen's damp lips. "I can give you that."
With careful yet quick hands, Shane undressed Jalen from his shirt to his shoes and everything in between. When Jalen was naked, Shane again cupped his ass, this time with both hands as he picked him up. Jalen wrapped his arms and legs around Shane and held on tight, wanting every part of his body touching his alpha.
They went down to the bed, Shane on top, kissing just as desperately as they had when they'd first entered the room. But Jalen chafed at the fabric of Shane's shirt and jeans, the materials keeping him from fully experiencing the heat of Shane against him. Skin to skin is what he needed. "Naked. Need you naked so I can feel you," Jalen panted into their kiss as he frantically tugged at Shane's shirt.
Shane rose up and quickly stripped out of his shoes and clothes, baring his broad, muscled chest, tight abs, and powerful thighs. His cock stood up heavy and thick between them, already hard. Jalen's inner muscles clenched at the sight of it, and he felt himself start to go slick. It wasn't a surprise this time, but it was still strange. The same sweet scent from before bloomed in the air. Shane paused to close his eyes and breathe in deep before he returned to the bed.
When he lay back down between Jalen's legs, Jalen shuddered with relief. With desire. He stroked his palms over Shane's back and held him close to feel his chest rubbing over his own tight, aching nipples. It settled him, assuring him that his alpha would take care of him during his heat.
Shane started kissing his way down Jalen's throat, and Jalen tipped his head back giving him all the access he wanted. Shane nuzzled the spot near Jalen's pulse before moving to his nipples. Jalen groaned as Shane drew one into his hot, wet mouth, rolling his tongue over it before lightly nipping it with his teeth. He sucked and tugged on the tender skin of each nipple, while the heat within Jalen grew until he was consumed and writhing with it. He pushed his hips up, desperate to be filled, calling for his lover to give him what he needed.
Shane stopped and rose up, eyes already glowing silver. "Turn over and go up on your knees for me."
Jalen obeyed instantly, rolling to his front, then shifting up onto his knees. Shane gripped his ass with a big hand and spread him open, sliding a thumb between his cheeks. The digit moved wetly over Jalen's skin, aided by his omega slick.
"This - you - are so beautiful."
"It's still weird to be slick there."
"I promise you I love it," Shane said as he patted Jalen's entrance with the pad of his thumb.
Jalen assumed they were about to fuck, so he was surprised when instead Shane pressed a damp kiss to the back of his thigh. "What are you doing?" he whispered.
"Something I didn't get to do last time."
The memory of Shane licking his lips as he stared at Jalen's slick hole flashed in his mind. Nervous, he held still as warm breath blew over his entrance. There was a quick, tentative lick, immediately followed by a husky groan, and a second slower lick with the flat of Shane's tongue.
"God. You taste..."
His sentence remained unfinished as Shane dove back in, burying his face in Jalen's ass, wrapping an arm around his waist to hold him in place. Jalen cried out, his thighs shaking as he held himself up for Shane's worshipping tongue. His body burned as he arched his back and pressed the side of his face to the mattress, panting, mouth open, eyes half-closed as Shane feasted on him. Shane tasted him everywhere, licking the slick from his inner thighs and sucking his balls but returning again and again to pushing his tongue into Jalen's hole as far as it would go. Through it all, soft, hungry growls rumbled from his chest, vibrating against Jalen's skin and making him feel deliciously wanted and desired.
The sweet smell of Jalen's lust was thick in the air, but beneath it another scent teased his nose. That of an alpha ready to claim his mate. Jalen couldn't wait anymore. As amazing as this was, he needed more. "Shane, please!" He wiggled his hips as much as he could in Shane's tight hold, trying to dislodge him. Shane gave him one last lick then finally pulled back.
"Of course, baby," he said as he got in position behind Jalen and set the head of his cock to his entrance.
"Yes. Inside. Please." Jalen quietly begged, uncaring that he was desperate and needy. The heat within him didn't care about pride, it only wanted to be satisfied.
"We'll take it slow. Don't want to hurt you." Shane rubbed the head of his cock in soft circles against Jalen before pressing only the tip in.
Jalen pushed up on his elbows and shook his head. "No. I need you too much to wait." He rocked back, trying to take more of Shane inside him.
"Baby, you're so small here. And I'm... Just let me ease into it."
His voice went rough from the strain of holding back. But Jalen didn't want him to hold back. "Shane, fuck me now!" he demanded. Shane cursed, but thankfully he slowly and steadily pushed in. He was undoubtedly the biggest that Jalen had ever had. But Jalen was so aroused and slick, his rim so soft, that Shane slipped inside with relative ease. Once Shane bottomed out Jalen sobbed with pleasure. Shane's huge alpha cock inside him was everything he needed.
Shane rubbed Jalen's back and caressed the side of his thigh. "Better?" he asked softly.
"Yes." He did feel better. But it was nothing compared to the way he felt when Shane pulled out then slid back in. Sensitive nerves tingled and sparked as Shane's cock dragged over them. Jalen was stretched so wide around him he had to breathe in deep through his nose for a few seconds while he adjusted. And Shane took care of him, keeping his movements slow and easy until he relaxed.
Only when Jalen's muscles loosened, knees sliding across the sheets as he spread his legs wider, did Shane increase his power and speed. He gripped Jalen's thighs and fucked into him with heavy, pounding thrusts that rocked his body forward and back, again and again, and again.
Jalen squeezed his eyes shut, breathing in the scent of their sex and listening to the sound of their bodies slapping together. It was magic. It was everything. He wanted to scream as an outlet to release some of the pleasure pulsing in his blood, so that he could keep going, and take in more pleasure, more sex, more of Shane's cock. His own cock was stiff, pre-cum leaking onto the bed, but he couldn't manage to release the death grip he had on the sheets to give himself any relief.
Shane pulled him up so that Jalen's back was pressed to his broad sweat-slick chest. The new position changed the angle of Shane's cock inside him, giving him new sensations that made him tremble and writhe, pressing his ass back into Shane's pistoning hips. "Alpha!" Jalen cried out.
"Say that again."
Jalen shivered at the command growled into his ear. "Alpha. My alpha. Claim me," he whispered through a haze of pleasure, finally saying out loud the words that had been in his head for weeks.
"You're mine, Jalen. My omega."
As Shane spoke his lips brushed over that sensitive spot above Jalen's collarbone. He slowly licked the spot. Kissed it. Sucked the skin into his mouth. Then... he bit down. Jalen screamed, as white-hot pleasure sparked beneath his skin, in his blood, racing to his cock until cum arced from him in a pearly stream. As he came untouched, Shane moved from gripping his hip to holding him in a tight embrace. His thick shaft swelled even bigger inside Jalen, somehow becoming even harder. This must be the knotting Tevoris had mentioned since a bump - a knot - started to tug on Jalen's rim each time he pulled out.
"I'm coming, baby." Shane groaned against the side of Jalen's neck.
Eventually Shane couldn't thrust anymore. He pushed inside one last time and ground his hips against Jalen's ass, filling him up with a hot flood of cum. Jalen went limp, moaning softly as he accepted his lover's release into his body. And it was indeed a flood as Shane came in steady pulses that seemed to go on forever.
His heart was still pounding when Shane eased them down to their sides, being careful not to jostle the place where they were joined.
"Are you okay?" Shane quietly asked.
Jalen turned his head, looking at his lover over his shoulder. His eyes were still glowing silver, although it was muted now. Damp hair clung to his forehead and his jaw was tight, a muscle flexing there every time his cock pulsed with his drawn-out orgasm. "More than okay," Jalen answered. Some of the tension eased from Shane's handsome face, and he leaned forward to bring their lips together in a slow yet passionate kiss.
As they kissed, Shane stroked a hand up and down Jalen's body, eventually stopping to languidly stroke his cock. To Jalen's surprise, he came again, a deep, full-body orgasm that rolled through him in gentle waves.
Shane groaned. "I love the way you're squeezing me right now."
Jalen only whimpered, unable to speak as he trembled and clenched on Shane's knot. Shane held him through it until both of their orgasms eased up and the thick knot inside him started to go down. When he'd softened enough to do so without causing Jalen any discomfort, Shane carefully withdrew.
Jalen pulled in a deep breath, letting it out on a long sigh. His head was clear, body momentarily cool and calm. "That was intense," he said as he turned to face his mate. He brought his fingers up to the spot where Shane had bitten him, but stopped just shy of touching. "How did you know to do that?"
"It was a feeling I had. Almost a voice - no my voice telling me to claim you." He paused and frowned as he looked at Jalen's neck. "I broke the skin. I didn't hurt you, did I?"
Jalen shook his head. "No. It aches some now, but when you bit me it felt amazing. I came so hard I swear I saw stars."
Shane smiled at Jalen, happy that he'd satisfied him so thoroughly. He got up to get them each a bottle of water. They slowly sipped the cool liquid, talking and relaxing while Jalen's heat momentarily eased off. But soon Shane noticed Jalen shifting restlessly. A flush warmed his chest, spreading up his neck. He peeked up at Shane, licked his lips, then looked back down. Shane's body responded to his mate, his cock moving against his thigh as it filled, fingers tingling with the urge to touch his lover. Shane took the near-empty bottle of water from Jalen and set it on the nightstand along with his own.
"Is it time again?"
"Yeah. I'm sorry."
"Don't apologize. I love sharing this with you." He eased Jalen to his back and slid between his spread thighs. Shane took the time to make sure Jalen was ready then pushed inside. The heat and slick that wrapped around his cock made him groan deep in his chest. Nothing had ever felt so good as being inside his omega mate. Jalen gasped, then bit his lip. Shane touched his thumb to the soft flesh, tugging it free. "Don't hold yourself back."
"I don't want it to be too much."
Shane took in his lover, his flushed skin, kiss swollen lips, eyes bright and silver behind half-closed lids. He looked gorgeous and luscious and Shane would do anything to keep that look on his face for as long as he could. "Not too much. You're perfect." Jalen's lips curled in a smile at that response. Shane bent his head to press a kiss to those smiling lips as he thrust inside his mate slow and deep.
When Shane rose back up he noticed Jalen eyeing his throat before shyly glancing away. Maybe the mating bite went both ways? There was only one way to find out. He lowered himself until they were chest to chest, bracing his elbows on the mattress to keep his weight from crushing Jalen while putting his neck within his reach. Jalen nuzzled into the curve of his shoulder and throat. Shane said nothing, not wanting to influence him either way. He simply continued fucking him as he waited to see what would happen. It didn't take long.
"Shane," Jalen whispered. Then he bit.
"Fuck!" The curse burst from his mouth as pure, concentrated pleasure shot from the spot where Jalen's teeth were in his skin, crackling throughout his body like a streak of lightning. He snapped his hips forward as his cock throbbed with a sudden, sharp orgasm that made the breath catch in his throat. But even after the unexpected release, he stayed hard and kept moving his hips.
Jalen released the bite and lay back against the pillow. "Mmmm." He moaned, licking his lips.
Shane cursed again. He shoved his arms beneath Jalen's thighs, pushing his knees up to his chest, and balling Jalen up beneath him. Jalen gasped and wrapped his arms around Shane as he started going hard. Sweat trickling down his spine, he slammed into his lover with stiff thrusts, the heavy weight of his balls slapping against Jalen's hot skin.
"More, Shane. Give me more," Jalen begged as he lay tucked beneath Shane's body.
Shane gazed into Jalen's eyes as they came together with such passionate force it rocked the bed. There was so much pleasure trapped inside Shane he thought he would explode with it. He drove his hips forward, faster and faster, reaching for the release that they both desperately needed.
"Shane," Jalen breathlessly panted his name. He paused to lick his lips then spoke again. "Something is happening."
Shane nodded. "I feel it too." Something swirled around them like silver star dust, brushing over his skin until it seemed as though Jalen touched him everywhere. But it was more than that. He could feel Jalen within him. Not his thoughts, but his essence. It felt right, soothing Shane's alpha, his soul. He knew without a doubt that now they were truly bonded mates.
His knot rose again, catching on his lover's rim each time he pushed in or pulled out. Shane released one of Jalen's legs. Reaching between them, he took his mate's cock in his hand, thumbing the head until pre-cum slicked his palm with each stroke. Jalen started to shake, his eyes drifting closed as he reached over his head to grip the pillow in a tightly clenched fist.
Shane watched as he came with a wordless cry, his body tight with tension as the cream of his climax spilled over Shane's pumping hand. With a harsh groan, Shane came too, his cock slowly pulsing his release as Jalen's body milked and squeezed him for every drop.
Although they were still locked together, their bodies relaxed, letting them savor the final swells of their joint orgasm. "Jalen." Jalen slowly lifted his lashes when Shane called his name. Shane smiled at his softly glowing eyes and the sweat drying on his brow. He was the picture of satisfaction, and looking at him prompted Shane to speak the words within his heart. "I'm glad we were injected because it led to us together like this."
Jalen raised a hand and trailed his fingers over Shane's cheek. "So am I. I love you, Shane."
Shane turned his head to press a kiss to his mate's palm before he answered. "I love you, too. Here on earth or up amongst the stars, I'll love you forever."
* * *
Launch time approached. Shane and Jalen left the Beals campus to spend time with their families and eat the last fresh, hot cheeseburgers and fries they would have for some time. They even shared a chocolate milkshake, each sipping from a straw as their parents laughed, and Jalen's sisters took pictures. Then there were tearful goodbyes and promises that the three years in space would go by quickly.
Now, they stood on the ramp along with the rest of the Beals Space Explorers, dressed in identical black space suits, glossy black helmets tucked under their arms. They waved to the crowd of family members, friends, news press, and Beals staff. And then it was time to go.
Shane pulled on his helmet, Jalen doing the same beside him. Together they walked onto the massive Beals Explorer Nine, taking their seats in the cabin for non-flight crew. Shane buckled himself into his seat's safety harness, then automatically checked to make sure Jalen was secure.
His own heart pounding, Shane could smell the excitement of his fellow crew members. Above it all he scented Jalen, his excitement bright, happy and so lovingly familiar. Shane looked at his mate and smiled. Although he could only see Jalen's eyes, he could tell he was smiling too from the way his eyes sparkled. The anticipation built and sounds came from everywhere; the pneumatic whine of the hangar's roof opening, the ship's engines surging to life, and the voice of the captain over the PA system.
"Beals Space Mission Nine is a go. Control tower, please count us down."
"Roger that BE 9. Commence countdown."
A steady voice echoed throughout the ship. Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven...
Shane reached out for Jalen. He placed a hand over his mate's, fingers rubbing over his glove to feel the bump of the silver wedding band that matched his own. In between milkshakes and goodbyes, they'd married with their friends and families as witnesses. The media got wind of it, and they'd become America's sweetheart astronaut couple in the days leading up to the launch. It helped smooth over the outrage and confusion when the Zareen gene splicing became public knowledge.
Six. Five. Four.
The ship hummed with power. Shane's seat vibrated with it as they started to rise.
Three. Two. One. Lift off.
They were in the air, steadily rising, slowly at first then with greater speed as the thrusters kicked into high gear. The huge cabin windows afforded them their last looks at earth as they broke through the clouds. Then, so suddenly if you blinked you missed the change, they were outside the atmosphere and in the deep black of space.
Shane was awed as he gazed down at the blue and green globe of his home planet. He turned to look at Jalen, wanting to see the joy of reaching their goal on his husband's face. And his joy was beautiful, his eyes visibly silver behind the helmet's visor.
"We made it," Jalen said happily.
Shane laced their fingers together. "Together. The way it was meant to be."
Ah, and that's the end. Our space boys are happy and together, embarking on a journey to far galaxies. Yay! I'm so happy to have written this story. For weeks all I had in my head was that elevator nook scene where they first realized something was different. I knew I had to give Shane and Jalen a chance to come together before I took on the rest of the Alpha Omega Force series.
If you'd like to have a copy of First Alpha for your e-readers it will be available for free on Barnes & Noble, Apple and Kobo this Tuesday. It will be up on Amazon as well, but it might take awhile for the free price change to go through. So if you read on Kindle/Kindle app I will have a downloadable link here on my website.
And finally, I would love to have your support for the Alpha Omega Force series. Alpha's Desire releases October 30th. You can sign up for my newsletter to be notified when it's available. Please tell any of your reading buddies who enjoy space opera romance!
Thank you for reading! <3
Visit my website: www.ChristaTomlinson.com
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Available on AMAZON - APPLE - BARNES&NOBLE - KOBO October 9th.