FROM EXCITING AUTHOR OF LGBTQIA ROMANCE SARAH HONEY
A Hot Bite story
Nate just signed up to take a werewolf lover. Hottest. Summer. Ever.
The Shiftercorp Companion Program— where willing humans can sign up to offer their services as a werewolf ‘ companion' for the summer, and be generously compensated for their time and services.
Perth local Nathan Watson is young, single and loves sex, so it makes sense to apply to spend his summer as a shifter' s lover. He' s thrilled when he' s accepted by Shiftercorp, but when the werewolf he chose as his partner is no longer available, a mysterious stranger steps up to claim his contract.
Nate is cautious, but agrees to at least meet the wolf in question— and when he does? Sign him up. Cooper Hudson is drop-dead gorgeous, compelling and irresistible, and Nate can' t keep his hands off him. His only concern is that Cooper' s obviously hiding something about who he is and what he does. Still, Nate' s almost certain Cooper isn' t an underworld boss.
Well, sixty-percent certain.
When Cooper Hudson saw Nate' s profile, he wanted him. And while it probably wasn' t strictly ethical to use his position to claim Nate as his companion, Cooper' s looking forward to flying to Western Australia and spending time with this gorgeous boy. He expects a pleasant summer fling— no more, no less.
Then he meets Nate, and the chemistry between them is scorching. Cooper falls hard— and recognises Nate as his true mate. Now he just has to figure out how to tell him. Oh, and there' s the small matter of what, exactly, Cooper does for a living.
But he' s sure it' ll be fine.
Release date: July 4, 2023
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Print pages: 132
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
Contractually Yours: A Hot Bite story
The cursor sat unmoving over the box on his laptop screen as Nate bit his lip.
He could do this.
He wanted to do this. He’d done his research, and the Shiftercorp Companionship Programme, known as the SCP, was as squeaky clean as it could get without being suspiciously above board. It had been running for almost ten years, since a year after the global werewolf reveal, so it wasn’t like he was worried for his safety.
The inevitable comparison to prostitution that the Programme drew wasn’t what had him hesitating, either. Nate had never seen the Companionship Programme like that. As far as he was concerned, Shiftercorp was kind of like Grindr for shifters—both parties knew what to expect, and everyone walked away satisfied. It was big business, with a lot of shifters preferring a partner who’d consented to and was prepared for the rigours of shifter sex—which was, from all accounts, a wild ride, pun intended.
Nate loved sex, and he didn’t believe there was anything wrong with monetising his talents in the bedroom. What was that saying about “find a job you love and never work a day in your life?” Sure, maybe whoever said it hadn’t had being a shifter’s paid fuck-buddy for the summer in mind, but that was beside the point.
And it wasn’t the shifter factor—Nate had exactly zero objections to getting railed by a werewolf—or even, say, a bear.
Actually, he’d been railed by a bear more than once, but he suspected that it wasn’t even close to the same thing.
Nate hadn’t experienced shifter sex—yet—but he had friends who swore it was a whole other level of awesome, which made sense, given a shifter’s increased speed, strength and stamina. The one thing stopping Nate had been lack of opportunity.
And on a more practical level, applying to the Companionship Programme meant that instead of working as a brickie’s labourer and sweating his arse off mixing cement and building retaining walls in the heat of summer, he’d be getting paid for getting laid. It was a win-win situation.
So why couldn’t he just…hit the button?
He ran a hand through his messy dark hair and spun in his office chair, catching sight of his reflection in the mirror as he did so. When he looked at the picture that he presented, he was able to admit to himself what the problem was.
He was scared he wouldn’t make the cut.
The thing was, most of the applicants for the Companion Programme were eighteen-, nineteen- and twenty-year-olds—uni students looking to clear their HECS debts in one fell swoop. And there was a definite type. Instagram-pretty, with wide eyes, plump glossy lips, perky little tits on the girls and next to no body hair on the guys. Cute little werewolf snacks, every one of them, ready to be gobbled up by the big bad wolf.
Nate didn’t fit that brief.
For starters, at twenty-four he was older than the norm, and he sported a decent amount
of muscle, gained as a result of hauling bricks and sacks of mortar around for years. He was tan from working outdoors, with a light dusting of chest hair and a colourful half sleeve he’d gotten in Bali a few years back on his one overseas trip. His hair got a trim whenever he was near a barber and remembered, so it didn’t exactly have a signature style. His skin-care products consisted of SPF 50+ sunscreen, and his beauty regimen was showering after work.
Instagram-pretty he was not.
He worried that even if he grew a pair and applied, they’d turn him down flat, and he wasn’t sure his ego could take it. As long as the application sat on his laptop unsubmitted, he still had a chance. It was like not checking the lottery numbers—it meant he might still be a winner. Okay, fine. He’d admit that his logic was shaky on that one.
The point was, he wanted this—almost too much. That was why his application had been sitting completed on his laptop for the last three weeks, but he hadn’t pushed the button yet.
Except he’d run out of time to dick about. The deadline to apply for this summer’s intake was midnight tonight if he wanted to make the cut for the January round of selections. And while he made a decent enough wage, it would be nice not to have to worry about money, what with his old ute making weird noises every time he changed gear and his rent going up next month. Nate wanted to buy a place of his own, and this was the perfect opportunity to earn a deposit, because the SCP paid big.
He ran a hand through his hair again, regarded himself in the mirror and tried to think positive thoughts. Sure, maybe he didn’t have delicate high cheekbones or obscenely long lashes and a pixie cut. Maybe he wasn’t a dance student from the local Performing Arts Academy who could
bend in half and lick his own arsehole, but there must be werewolves who weren’t into that whole delicate, waify thing?
Objectively, Nate knew he was decent looking, with deep brown eyes and dark hair that had a hint of a curl when left to its own devices. He’d been told he was hot more than once, and he never seemed to have any trouble finding someone to bring home for the night. Plus, he had a decent-sized dick, and he knew how to use it. That had to count for something, right?
He put on his best smile. “You’re not just a werewolf snack,” he told himself, “you’re the entire fucking buffet.”
And yeah, when he looked at the face in the mirror, he had to agree that he was.
Before he could change his mind, he spun in his chair and hit the enter key. The screen blinked, and a message appeared.
Thank you for your application. We will be in contact in the next seven to ten working days.
Nate let out a loud breath, and the tension he hadn’t known he was carrying left him in a rush. For better or for worse, he was doing this.
* * * *
Nate got a reply the next afternoon.
He was checking his emails on his phone during smoko while he looked across the highway at the Indian Ocean. Working on site across from Hilary’s Beach Harbour wasn’t the bonus most people assumed it was. Sure, the view was nice, but unless the sea breeze was in, it was just a tease, a reminder that other people were spending their days surfing and swimming and walking their dogs instead of working.
That was another reason he’d applied as a Companion—even if he spent the entire month of January as a companion having super-athletic sex with a werewolf, it would still be easier on his body than being a brickie’s labourer during an Australian summer.
It would most likely be a werewolf partner—they made up the majority of the shifter population, followed by felines, and after careful consideration, he’d omitted cat shifters from his selection criteria. Just thinking about
barbed penises had him squirming.
He opened the email, assuming it was just an acknowledgement of his application, but then he read the words, “We are pleased to welcome you to the Shiftercorp Companionship Programme. Please find attached…”
His breath caught. It looked like a Perth tradie who wasn’t Instagram-pretty but who had muscles and ink and a tan gained from working outdoors might have what it took, after all.
“You right, Nate?” his boss, Sully, asked. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Nate remembered how to breathe. “Yeah. Just…” He debated if it was too soon to say anything or if he should wait until he had more details, but Sully had given him a job right out of school, and he’d always been a decent bloke. He hadn’t so much as blinked when he found out Nate was gay, and he’d never once laid him off, even when work had been tight. The least Nate could do was give him a heads up that he might need a new offsider. “I might need time off, over the next month.”
Sully creased his brow. “Everything okay?”
“I applied to the SCP and I got in,” Nate blurted.
Sully raised his eyebrows. “Really? You never said you were applying.”
“Yeah. I didn’t think I had a chance, so I didn’t mention it, but it looks like I’m in.”
He hoped Sully wouldn’t try to talk him out of it, but the man just pulled off his hard hat and swiped his brow with a forearm, spreading cement dust across his skin, and said, “Good for you. When do you start? My nephew’s been after me for some hours over his uni break, so the timing might work.”
Nate cleared his throat. “I dunno. I’ve just been accepted.” He read the email again, paying more attention to the details this time. “I have to screen the candidates and see who I like, and then they, um. Bid on me.” His face
heated at the thought of it.
Sully broke into a grin. “You’re hot property, huh?” He extended his arms and clasped his hands in front of himself, planted his feet and started doing a weird sort of hip gyration that was no doubt meant to be sexy, all while chanting, “Bow chicka bow-wow.” It was hilarious and disturbing all at once.
Nate snorted with laughter. “Stop it. You’re scaring the seagulls.” He’d expected some ribbing, because it did sound ridiculous, being bid on as ‘entertainment’ for single, wealthy werewolves—but in fact it was big business. Nate knew that he could expect to make thousands of dollars, for just a few weeks’ work.
For that, he could put up with Sully taking the piss.
* * * *
There was a certain set of pearl-clutchers who liked to compare the SCP recruitment process to human trafficking, and they were painfully vocal about it. But a happy side effect of the Puritans and their protests was that the Shifter community was almost fanatical about there being not so much of a hint of coercion regarding partnerships through the SCP—which meant that when it came to deciding who he was willing to sleep with, Nate was the one calling the shots.
The initial match-ups were all done via an online profile, but when he met his selection in person, if they weren’t a good fit, he could change his mind and choose someone else, no harm, no foul. And if at any time during his contract he wanted to walk away from the whole thing he could, and he’d still be paid a pro-rata amount for the time he’d worked.
He got to choose who he’d accept as a partner, how long the contract ran for, and what he would and wouldn’t be willing to do. He’d rejected fisting, figging and watersports right off the bat, as well as a heap of other stuff—some of which he’d googled to find out what it was and immediately wished he hadn’t.
It was a pretty sweet deal that was geared towards enthusiastic participation. Nate could see why people were willing to jump through all the hoops that were needed just to apply. Hell, he’d jumped through them himself,
hadn’t he? His least favourite bit had been the mandatory pre-application medical—that shit had been more intimate than some dates he’d been on.
Still, it had been worth it.
Now that he’d been accepted, things moved fast—faster than he’d expected. Nate was sent the profiles of shifters who had expressed an interest in him, and they were all werewolves. He received links to dozens of files so he could give a tick of approval to the ones he liked, and he had to admit, the amount of interest was flattering. It took half a day of going over the profiles while he sat on his bed, laptop balanced on his knees and his ceiling fan going full tilt in an effort to combat the heat, before he managed to narrow it down to just five.
Some people were of the opinion that approving more bidders was better because it encouraged a higher final pay-out, but Nate was more cautious in his choices. He wanted whoever won his services to be someone he could spend the entire summer with, which meant that for him, they needed to tick his boxes when it came to physical attraction. Just because he was getting paid for it didn’t mean he didn’t want to enjoy the sex as well.
Still, Nate couldn’t help laughing at himself. He’d always claimed he didn’t have a type, yet when the five bidder profiles were lined up across the screen, every single one of them was, for want of a better term, a silver fox. Or silver wolf, maybe? Regardless, his preferences were showing. Older, taller, stubbled and with a rugged vibe. And every last one of them had a steely glint in their eyes that said they knew what they liked and weren’t afraid to ask for it.
He wondered if he shouldn’t check the profiles again in case there was someone who wasn’t older than him, but in the end, he decided fuck it.
These were the men whose photos made his dick throb. He couldn’t wait to see if they’d do the same when he met them in the flesh.
Nate checked the zip on his bag one last time, scanned his bedroom for anything he might need in the next week, and, with a final look around, pulled the door shut behind him and made his way to the limousine parked at the kerb.
It was starkly out of place in Balga, the gleam of the sun off the polished paintwork a stark contrast to the peeling paint of Nate’s front door. He fought the urge to apologise to the driver when he ducked into the back seat. But Liz, the werewolf liaison officer he’d been dealing with so far, didn’t comment on the neighbourhood, just gave Nate a small smile and handed him a cold bottle of water from the mini bar. He took it with a grateful nod, pressing it against his forehead for a second before draining it in one go.
He was sweating his balls off in this suit, but the instructions from his winning bidder had been clear. Formal dress for their first meeting. And for the amount that Nate was being offered for his companionship, he figured he could cope with a day’s discomfort.
Nate had found it unreal, the concept of werewolves bidding against each other for him, but after submitting his acceptable candidates, he’d received an email informing him that after something of a bidding war, someone had paid for the opportunity to spend a week with him—the ‘and fuck him stupid’ was implied. The bidder had also asked for the option to extend the contract for up to a month. If that option was passed on, Nate still got a bonus for making himself available.
Bidder D973—Nate wouldn’t learn his potential partner’s identity until they met—was willing to pay an obscene amount for the week and the renewal option, which was pretty bloody flattering—but also, it was enough for Nate to replace his dying ute and still have a decent chunk left put a deposit on a place of his own in one of the nicer areas. It was unreal, looking at properties in Floreat, knowing that now they weren’t forever out of reach.
As long as he and D973 hit it off at today’s meeting and got the paperwork squared away, Nate could be leaving with his werewolf by the end of the day
—and given what he’d seen on the guy’s profile, Nate was certain they would hit it off, because his bidder was the stuff of wet dreams.
Thus, the luggage.
He tapped a nervous staccato with his shoe against the floor of the limo before catching himself and stopping. Werewolves had sensitive hearing, and he didn’t think Liz would appreciate his tap-tap-tapping. He managed to keep himself in check for the rest of the ride, and it wasn’t long before they pulled up in front of the Ritz-Carlton. He huffed out a breath and Liz leaned across and put a hand on his knee. “If you’re having second thoughts, now’s the time to say so.”
“No second thoughts. Just nerves.”
She raised a disbelieving eyebrow. “Your heartbeat says otherwise.” Right. Nate had forgotten that to a werewolf, he was an open book. “Will it help if I tell you that most companions regard this as a positive experience? In fact, plenty of them sign up more than once. I had one client who worked five summers and then retired to Bali.”
Nate nodded, grateful for the reassurance. His racing heart slowed down a bit. He was going to do this. He was going to have the time of his life riding werewolf dick, and he was going to get paid for it. There was no downside to this arrangement. He took a deep breath and stepped out of the car. Time to meet the guy who would own his arse—literally—for the next week.
He followed Liz inside, his duffle bag slung over one shoulder, out of place in the luxurious surroundings that were all floor-to-ceiling timber and marble and gilt. He craned his neck, taking in what looked like giant glass test tubes suspended from the ceiling as Liz steered them through reception. He guessed it was someone’s idea of art.
They left the enormous foyer behind and came to a meeting room, where Liz deposited Nate at the conference table. Her phone rang and she looked at the screen, her brow creasing. “I have to take this. Please wait here and I’ll be right back.” As she stepped outside, Nate heard her say, “Yes
, sir. We’ve just arrived. No, not yet.”
Nate looked around. The room was a cookie-cutter hotel meeting space, albeit a swanky cookie-cutter hotel space. There was the expected long timber table and chairs surrounding it, and carpeting with a blue and white pattern. There was a pitcher of iced water, a fancy table runner and an abstract print of what might have been the ocean on the wall.
He poured himself a glass of water and when five minutes became ten, he gave in and checked his phone, just so he wouldn’t freak out. He was busy scrolling when the door opened and Liz came back in. She cleared her throat and looked everywhere except at him. “Nathan…there’s been a slight change of plans.”
He pocketed his phone and sat up straight. “They haven’t bailed, have they?” Despite his earlier nerves, he found he was more disappointed by the thought that he might not get his week as a werewolf fuckbuddy than he’d expected.
Liz swallowed. “The thing is”—she twisted her hands together—“there was a glitch with the original winning bid. The contract will still go ahead as agreed,” she hastened to add. “You’ll just have a…different partner.”
Her body was a line of tension, and Nate felt a stab of pity for her at having to be the bearer of bad news. He decided that he wasn’t going to be the one to make her day worse. “So, I’m just hooking up with a different bidder? No big deal. Shit happens, right?”
Besides, it wasn’t a big deal. D973 had been the favourite of his selections, true, and Nate had been looking forward to spending a week with him, but it wasn’t the end of the world. “Which one of my selections is the lucky guy now?”
Liz took a deep breath. “That’s the thing. The winner isn’t technically on your list of approved bidders. But his bid is still valid.”
Nate took a second to consider that, and stood and turned so he was facing her. “What do you mean, he’s not technically on my list? I thought your system was meant to be fool-proof?”
“And up until now it has been. And the winner is ID number D973. It’s just…the profile
that was listed doesn’t belong to him. Somehow, D973 was assigned to two bidders.”
The way Liz was fidgeting gave Nate the impression this was all kinds of bullshit. He caught her gaze and held it. “Liz? What aren’t you telling me? Is this guy some sort of psycho who’s hacked the system? Am I going to end up at the bottom of a well, rubbing the lotion on its skin?”
That startled a laugh out of her, which was somewhat reassuring. “No, it’s nothing like that.”
“Is he ninety-five, bald and smells like Dencorub? Are there dentures? Because that might be a hard limit.”
Liz shook her head, and Nate was glad to see that her shoulders were no longer pulled up quite so high around her ears. “It’s none of those things, I promise. And this applicant does match your preferred type, based on who you selected.”
“Oh?” That caught Nate’s interest.
“Oh, yes. In fact, if it hadn’t been for the system hiding his profile, I’m confident you would have selected him.” She bit her lip. “Perhaps you could talk with him, and see what you think? He’s very eager to meet you.”
Nate considered saying no for a split second, but what did he have to lose? “Fine. I’ll meet him.”
Liz gave a relieved smile. “Excellent. Follow me.”
Nate paused where he stood. “Wait, where are we going?”
“Mr Hudson has asked that we meet him in his suite.”
Nate baulked, folding his arms over his chest. “Nope. That’s not how it’s done. First meetings are always public meeting spaces. No hotel rooms. Those are the rules.”
“It’s fine, I promise,” Liz said, with something like desperation in her voice. “Please?”
Nate almost said no. Almost. But he’d always trusted his gut, and he wasn’t getting any kind of serial killer or kidney-stealing accomplice vibe from Liz. It was more like she was trying to keep somebody very, very important happy. “This guy, is he…special? Like, the big werewolf cheese or something?” He couldn’t think of any other reason for he
looked Nate up and down, like he was starving and Nate was the main course, almost had Nate’s knees buckling under him with a sudden urge to submit, to bare his throat to this stranger.
The man’s blond hair was threaded with the slightest hints of silver, which for Nate, added a whole other layer of hnnngh to his appeal. Hazel eyes sparkled with mischief and—Lord have mercy—when he smiled, his pleasure at Nate’s appearance obvious, the corners of them crinkled in a way that should be illegal for reasons of excessive hotness.
His smile made the werewolf look almost rakish, revealing perfect teeth and a dimple in one cheek, just above his carefully sculpted stubble. He had a killer jawline, and Nate lost focus for a second there as he envisioned kissing all along it and nibbling at the pretty ears peeking out from under that glorious hair.
He snapped back to attention when the man stepped forward, his smile sharpening into something well, wolfish, that promised one hell of a good time. He extended a broad palm. “Nathan, I take it?” he asked, his voice a sultry burr.
“That’s, yeah. I am. Me.” Nate took his hand, and even the strength and heat of the man’s grip was enough to have his heart beating faster and his dick perking up. “And you’re…D973?”
The man let out a low chuckle, and Nate held back a groan. That voice was going to be the death of him.
“Call me Cooper. If we’re going to do this, I think we should be on a first name basis.” He raised one eyebrow and leaned in close, placing one hand on Nate’s shoulder. ...
We hope you are enjoying the book so far. To continue reading...