Today we shine the spotlight on Cardeno C. who's re-releasing
the entire Mates series with brand new, shiny covers.
First up, Wake Me Up Inside
A powerful Alpha wolf shifter and a strong-willed human overcome traditions ingrained over generations and uncover long-buried secrets to fulfill their destiny as true mates.
“This is the great room. Right over here is the office. To the left is the bedroom. We’re standing in the kitchenette, and the bathroom’s through that door. There you go, tour complete. Welcome to my humble abode.”
Jonah smiled hesitantly at Zev as he gave a tour that consisted of him standing in the center of his two-hundred-square-foot dorm room and moving his hand in various directions. He hoped his nervousness over this visit wasn’t too obvious. After all those years growing up together, being best friends, and then finally coming to terms with the depth of their feelings, Jonah had moved away to school and left his heart behind. He’d been aware of his crush on Zev for years, but it wasn’t until he no longer saw his friend every day that he realized the enormity of his desire for the other man.
It’d been six months since he’d last seen Zev. They’d kept in close touch, of course, but it hadn’t been enough. Jonah had dreamed of Zev every night since he’d moved away. He’d compared every man he met on campus to the man he’d left behind and nobody came close to measuring up.
Jonah had been looking forward to his friend’s visit since the day they’d said goodbye. But now that he had Zev standing inches away from him, he was nervous. Would they still have their effortless connection or would things be strained? Would Zev want to continue their all-too-brief explorations or was he just there to visit his old friend in the platonic sense of the word?
“Okay, couch with stained cushions, check. Two desks, check. Set of bunk beds, check. And a microwave and mini-fridge, check. You’re living the high life here, Blondie.” Zev chuckled as he closed the dorm room door behind him and dropped his duffel bag to the ground.
“Hey, screw you, Hassick. I’ll have you know this is premier student housing. There’s even a waiting list for this place.”
Zev walked over to his friend and wrapped his arms around Jonah’s waist.
“I wasn’t teasing, Jonah. Believe me, this is way better than where I’m crashing these days. At least you have running water.”
The familiar back and forth banter, and the feeling of Zev’s body so close to his, comforted Jonah. This was still his Zev; time and distance had kept them apart physically, but nothing had changed between them. Relief quickly turned to desire when Jonah felt Zev’s hardness press against his hip. And suddenly, Jonah could no longer remember what they’d been discussing.
Wait. Did Zev say something about not having running water? Jonah reached up and stroked Zev’s cheek, enjoying the rough whiskers rubbing against his hand.
“What’re you talking about, Zev? Aren’t you living with your folks?”
“Nah. Moved out months ago. Been camping out in a tent, saving up for my own place.”
Damn, but Zev smelled good. Standing as close as they were, Jonah could feel the heat that radiated off that hard, muscular body, could feel Zev’s breath brush against his face, could see amber eyes that seemed to glow look at him with an expression that matched the longing Jonah felt in his own gut every time he so much as thought about his friend.
“You never said anything on the phone. Why’d you move out?”
Jonah could hear the roughness in his own voice. He tried to swallow down his need. They’d been apart for months. They should talk, catch up on things. He should tell Zev about school, hear about how Zev was doing working for his family business, ask about Lori and Toby.
“Do you really want to talk about my living arrangements right now, Blondie?”
Zev bent down, licked at Jonah’s neck, and groaned. The sound vibrated against Jonah’s skin, causing ripples of pleasure and desire to make their way down his chest to his groin. He was already painfully hard and they’d barely touched each other.
“Ehm.” Jonah cleared his throat. “No, we don’t have to talk about that. What do you want to talk about, Hassick?”
“Don’t wanna talk at all, Blondie,” Zev said, his voice husky.
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Second in the series, Until Forever Comes
A sensitive wolf shifter and a vicious vampire challenge history, greed, and the very fabric of their beings in order to stay together until forever comes.
“I’m hungry,” Miguel rumbled again, and I returned my focus to him. He dipped his face toward the man’s neck and opened his mouth. I barked.
Barked? I shook my head and looked down to see my bloody skin had been replaced by fur. When had I shifted?
I wasn’t the only one surprised by my bark. Miguel and the other vampires turned their heads in my direction. The half-soul stayed as he was: crying and shaking. The stench of urine told me he had soiled himself.
I walked over to them, no thought, no plan, just an uncontrollable need to keep the bloodsucker away from that man. I didn’t want Miguel touching him, feeding from him. So much so that I growled at the mere possibility. And it wasn’t because I wanted to protect the frightened half-soul.
“What the hell?” the vampire who wasn’t Miguel said as he stared at me. “More dogs? I would’ve thought the ones last night would’ve gone home and warned the rest of the mutts to stay where they belong.” He shook his head and sneered. “There was no point in letting them live. Damn dogs can’t seem to understand their place.” He took a step toward me. “Well, I’m sure as fuck not making that mistake again.”
Miguel let go of the half-soul and reached for his comrade, preventing him from moving closer to me. Without the vampire holding him up, the half-soul slid down the wall and sat on the ground, gasping as tears streamed down his face.
“You deal with the humans,” Miguel ordered the other vampire. “I’ll take care of the wolf.”
The vampire ran a disdainful gaze over the three half-souls collapsed on the ground. “Deal with the humans?” he asked.
“Yes. You said we don’t need the attention, right? They were all drunk before we fed. Take them to their homes, and by morning, they won’t remember any of this. And if they do”—Miguel shrugged—“they’ll think it was all a dream.”
Looked more like a nightmare to me, but I wasn’t in any form to comment. Literally.
“We didn’t feed,” the vampire grumbled. “You fed. And you didn’t share.”
Faster than my eyes could follow, Miguel backhanded the other vampire, sending him flying several feet until he slammed against a parked truck. Blood dripped from his nose and lip. He licked his upper lip and wiped a hand across his face, smearing a streak of red over it. Though he didn’t roll over and show his belly, the vampire did as he was told. He climbed to his feet and, with slumped shoulders, approached the human male Miguel had released, who was now just as passed out as his friends.
If I hadn’t already felt the power rolling off Miguel, the interaction I was witnessing would have told me who was Alpha. Or the vampire version of Alpha. I had no idea what they called their leaders. Regardless of his title, this was the vampire who was staying behind to take care of me. Those had been Miguel’s words, right?
I should have been terrified.
I should have fled.
My whole life, I’d been warned about the bloodsuckers. They had no souls, no values, no respect for nature or community or family. And while my kind limited interaction with the half-souls as a general rule, we didn’t abuse them. They were weaker than shifters and we didn’t prey on the weak, a concept the bloodsuckers didn’t understand. The one in front of me, Miguel, looked to be the worst of their kind, hurting and terrifying defenseless half-souls without mercy.
But despite all that, I didn’t move when the not-Miguel-vampire roughly snatched the unconscious half-soul off the ground and moved away with the male in tow.
I didn’t move when the Miguel-vampire stood straight and tall and turned his sharp, piercing gaze on me.
And I didn’t move when, after the other vampire and the half-soul were gone, Miguel started walking—was he gliding?—toward me.
I looked at his feet, happy to see them touching the ground, and then I looked at his face, happy to see he’d focused completely on me. I sat up and tried to smile, which was difficult in wolf form and incredibly stupid in I-was-about-to-get-my-hide-tanned form. I was pretty sure my tail was moving from side to side. I refused to even think of it as wagging.
“I expected you to return to your kind, wolf,” Miguel said, his voice, strong but quiet, coming from barely parted lips. “I came to check on yo—” He stopped mid-word, looking surprised by what he’d said. “I walked by that alley after sundown and you were gone, but I could smell another wolf. A female who smelled like you, but…didn’t. I thought she’d come to collect you.”
Vampires could scent? That was something I hadn’t known. And for him to have distinguished the connection in scents between me and Crissy meant the bloodsuckers’ sense of smell was just as sophisticated as ours.
I wondered if he could read my mind, if that was another vampire trait of which I’d been unaware. But then I realized my head was tipped to the side, my brow furrowed, and I reckoned that being able to read body language would have been enough for him to sense what I was thinking.
Of course, to be able read my body language, the vampire had to be looking at my body. I straightened my posture at the realization. And I felt something else getting straighter too, or rather it was getting harder, which meant it wasn’t really straight. It curved and veered right, actually.
“Well, you confuse me too, wolf.” Miguel’s voice was suddenly huskier and he was near about close enough to touch. “You smell…different.” He took in a deep breath through his nose and shuddered. “You smell good.”
I got up and took the two steps necessary to reach him, then stretched my neck up and nudged his crotch with my snout. He made a noise that was part laugh, part groan. Then he put his hand on my head and pushed me back.
“Doesn’t matter how good you smell. I’m not sticking my dick in an animal. Shift.”
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And third in the series, In Your Eyes
Two very different men with a tumultuous history must overcome challenges from all sides and see past their society’s rules to realize they are destined for one another.
I had a lot to think about, including whether I thought too much. But one thing was at the forefront.
“What about you?” I asked. “Do I ever make you, uh, not think?” I gulped and darted my gaze away, feeling too exposed by the conversation to reveal any other part of me.
“Are you asking if I want you?” Korban said, his voice going husky. He spread his legs and slid down over me, grinding his erection against my hip. “Does that answer your question?”
Suddenly breathless and ramrod hard, I nodded.
He settled on top of me and nuzzled my throat. “I want to bite you,” he whispered. “I want to push myself deep into your body, lock you to me, and mate.”
I whimpered, his words arousing me uncontrollably despite knowing that what he wanted would be uncomfortable for me. It didn’t matter. I had taken what I needed from him twice, and he hadn’t complained. Korban needed to tie—my mate needed to tie—and I would give that to him.
“Okay,” I said, my voice shaky. “You can do that to me.” With him lying on me, it wasn’t easy, but I managed to wiggle out of my underwear and flip over. When my belly was pressed against the mattress and my backside was accessible to him, I said, “Go ahead.”
Waiting for him to begin, I squeezed my eyes shut and gripped the sheets. He didn’t do as I expected and push his prick into me. Instead, he kissed the back of my neck.
“Uh-huh?” He kissed me again, swiping his tongue out that time and licking my nape.
“What are you doing?”
“Kissing you.” He followed the explanation with a series of kisses from my hairline to the top of my spine. “Tasting you.” He licked and sucked his way across my shoulder. “Touching you.” He smoothed his fingers down my flank, sensitizing my skin. “Making love to you.”
“I don’t understand.”
Korban wrapped his arms around me, squeezed me tight, and then wedged his face against the side of my neck and laughed. “Only you,” he said.
“Only me what?”
“I’ll make you a deal—” He kissed my cheek. “Let me do this my way. Try your best to put your active mind on pause and feel. If you still don’t understand afterward, I’ll explain it to you.”
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About the author:
Cardeno C. - CC to friends - is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few "awwws" into a reader's day.
Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno's stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever-after sunset.
Heartwarming Stories. Strong Relationships. Forever Love.
Promotional post. Materials provided by the author.