AUTHORS' NOTE: We're back with another intriguing pair! This will be a story we write in connection with "You Belong with Me". There will be crossovers, but these two needed their own forum. LOL!

Xabi'a's name is pronounced "Ex-ah-be-A".

Chapter 1

Xabi'a knew something like this would happen. He should never have left Zerca, his home planet. He should never have left the ship, period. He had known most of the risks in coming, but being left behind was not included in them. He had assumed that his captain would have made an accounting of all his crewmen just as he had had upon take off from their own planet. Yet had he heard Turean had taken on a mate – a feisty one at that – and no doubt had been more preoccupied with him than to worry about others. He understood that things like this happened every rising, understood that mistakes were made, but what he couldn't seem to understand was just how it had happen to him.

With a soft sigh he kicked a nearby pebble, tracking it with his eyes as it skidded then rolled over the walkway, only to kick it again as it came to a stop. Just as he had been doing the past three hours. He, just like the rest of the crew, had been updated as to the ways of this planet, or at least to the best of their computer's knowledge, but even that didn't exactly tell him what he was supposed to do. He had no money, as they called it, so he could go nowhere – but then where was he supposed to go? He was stranded with absolutely no direction. From what he understood of this planet's space-travel it was rather, well, minor. Their best ships could not even make it from their galaxy, much less all the way to Zerca.

For what seemed the millionth time in a few hours he turned his blue-green eyes to the sky. Was this perhaps his punishment from the divine powers for not being forward enough and manly enough to do right by his newly inherited business? For not being the all-powerful warrior the rest of his people were? He had taken the chance to work upon Captain Turean's ship as an out, he knew that. He had left his cousin in charge until his return and had every confidence the man would do right until then. Yet did he still feel guilt and shame. This was his responsibility, this was the gift left to him by his now deceased parents. And he had shamed them by running away from it – and getting himself stranded on some estranged planet.

He ran a shaky hand through his messy blond-brown locks. At times like this he felt totally useless.

Cade whistled as he drove his rental car along the back road away from his new client's farm. The man he'd met earlier had been eager to arrange for Cade's studs to mate with his mares, and that meant more business for the ranch. It finally took off and was now a thriving business. After his dad had died, he didn't think he'd ever be able to get the ranch up and running again, but a wise investment in a couple of long-shot racehorses had panned out, and now Cade was paid well for the studs' siring services.

He would stay the night at a nearby hotel, as it was late in the afternoon and he wouldn't be able to get a flight back to Montana until morning. This didn't bother Cade either, as he was feeling restless and a night away from the ranch would do him good. His thoughts wandered as he drove, and he found himself dwelling on Jake's wedding a few weeks prior. Jake was his best friend and, unbeknownst to the man, also Cade's longstanding unrequited love. Cade had been his best man and never let on his feelings. Who would accept a gay horse breeder in Montana? He sighed morosely and ran a hand through his shoulder-length ebony hair. Someday, he vowed to himself, he would make enough money to sell the business off and go live somewhere nice where he could find and live with his love, whoever that man may be. He was out there though, Cade believed that with all his heart.

He glanced up the road and saw the lithe figure of a man walking aimlessly, a bit ahead of his car. Normally, he would ignore strangers walking by, but something inside of him demanded that he stop. So he did, pulling up behind the figure and parking on the side of the deserted road. The male, young and sinewy, and completely entrancing in his beauty, looked up Cade and raised an eyebrow in question. Cade breathing quickened and his heartbeat slammed into motion. Their eyes locked and the smaller man, with light hair and unusual blue-green eyes, opened his mouth in shock.

Cade stared back silently with only one thought running through his mind, and he unknowingly spoke it aloud. "MINE!"

Had Xabi'a not already been shocked by the sheer fact that the man before him was his mate, he definitely would have been with that loud, almost growl-like, statement. His eyes widened to a comical size as he looked over the man – or at least what he could see of him behind the door. He had beautiful dark eyes and hair, broad shoulders, and was so very tall. My, but he's a mountain of a man. The youth swallowed hard … and he belonged to him. He'd had little doubt growing up that he would be the bearer, the life-giver. But this man, the sheer domination and all human power that radiated from him was just ... overwhelming.

He watched as the tall man moved from behind the machine's door. His expression was one of shock, confusion and utter possessiveness as he stalked over to him. He stood a good six inches above Xabi'a, and his eyes seemed both hard and tender as they stared down at him, as if trying to figure out just what the hell was happening. After what seemed like forever the man spoke again, his voice soft but firm, with a subtle burr that seemed to rumble. The smaller man shuddered inwardly. Zerca, he had a sexy voice!

"What's your name, kid?"

The boy opened his mouth to speak, but the words just wouldn't seem to come out. Instead he reddened a bit. He had always been rather embarrassed of his stutter. Had always thought it made him seem weak in the eyes of others. And he didn't want this man to think that of him. Nor did he want his pity. Yet was this was his life mate, and lies were not permissible. So, with a deep breath and a prayer that he at least wouldn't stutter when he revealed his name, he said, "X-Xabi'a." He squeezed his eyes closed for a moment feeling the worst kind of idiot – so much for that prayer.

"Cade," the man replied with a curt nod of his head in acknowledgement. "What are you doing walking out here all by yourself?" He asked the question as if he had a right to. As if he had already decided the boy was his and so took his protection in hand. But then it was his right.

"I-I was f-forgotten-n," he said, his blush remaining in place as he spoke. "M-y c-captain return-ned w-without me.

Cade raised a sleek black eyebrow, at the same time wanting to grin. The beautiful creature stuttered, and he found it adorable. Well, that and it was nice to know the vision before him wasn't perfect. He didn't think he could deal with someone who was. "What, are you in the military or something, kid?" He raised his other brow when the boy looked at him questioningly. "Guess not – where you headed?" He frowned at himself, not wanting the boy to go anywhere, but stay easily in reach.

"I d-do not-t kn-now. I-I am str-stranded."

Stranded? Peculiar. The boy didn't look like the military type, but when he'd said his captain had left him, it was the only logical scenario Cade could come up with. His attire, though, was entirely too plain for a military youth on a mission. He wore a tight blue t-shirt and snug black jeans. Cade let his eyes wander down his lithe form appreciatively. Something inside of him – that same something that told him this boy was his – insisted that Cade take this boy with him. He needed to stay with him at all times, too. It made no sense, really, but the kid just said he'd had nowhere to go. And the possessive streak that gripped the large man before showed no signs of leaving. He didn't know why or how, but this kid was his. All his. Instinctively, Cade put out his right hand to Xabi'a and waited expectantly. He knew this was important to forming a bond with the boy. The why of it escaped him, but he didn't care about that right now. He needed Xabi'a to take his hand and acknowledge him.

The smaller man stared down at the proffered hand solemnly and drew in a deep breath. Though Cade didn't understand the importance, he did. And he knew that once he took that hand, his fate would forever be sealed. Yet, to refuse one's life mate was unheard of on Zerca, especially since finding one was so rare. But taking Cade's hand meant the end of being completely free. He wanted his freedom.

He looked up into the dark-as-midnight eyes and saw that Cade knew he was his. Earthlings didn't necessarily believe in life mates though. How was this possible? Yet, with this man it was. There would be no avoiding him now that he was stranded alone on this planet. And there would be no way to trick him. Cade knew Xabi'a was his, and from the look in his eyes he was determined to keep him. Sighing in defeat, the smaller man slowly reached out his own hand and put it in Cade's.

A bolt of energy leapt into Cade's hand as Xabi'a touched it. The larger man closed his immediately engulfing the smaller one. A hum began and grew in intensity the longer he held onto the boy. So he held on for a long time and kept Xabi'a's blue-green eyes on his own dark ones. The bond was instant and habit-forming. Cade had never felt so alive and complete. It was unnatural, really. Just an hour ago he was feeling melancholy over losing Jake … and now this boy completed him. Made him whole. Xabi'a. He was his now. He would always be his. Slowly coming back to the present, Cade smiled softly at the boy who still looked up at him in shock and wonder.

"Let's go home, Xabi'a," he drawled as he led the youth back to his car.