is the pack's alpha, and he’s always
known he’d need to bond with a woman and produce an heir to
someday take his place. It would be an easy thing to do—if he
weren’t in love with Lonnie, the pack healer. They've been
friends since they were kids, but Alex has wanted more for years.
He's kept it to himself because it made his life easier, and because
he didn't want to lose their friendship.
has been in love with Alex since they were
kids, but he knows Alex doesn't feel the same way. He's had enough
girlfriends to prove it, and Lonnie knows he'll have to watch the man
he loves bond with one of the women Alex's mother keeps pushing at
him, both to keep the pack happy and to produce an heir. That's why
he's always kept what he feels to himself—there's no sense in
ruining their friendship, not for a dream that will never come true.
starts dating Casvain, one of the fey warriors in charge of Zal's
protection, and it changes everything. Alex finally realizes he'll
lose Lonnie if he doesn't tell him he loves him, and it's the last
thing he wants. To his surprise, Lonnie loves him too, but it doesn't
mean everything is suddenly rainbows and sunshine in their lives.
Casvain is behaving strangely, and when both Lonnie and Zal
disappear, Alex knows he needs to find them. Will he be in time, or
will he lose one of them—or both?
and published by V.M. Sanford
Cover by Natasha Snow
© 2016 by V.M. Sanford
rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be
reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express
written permission of the author or publisher except for the use of
brief quotations in a book review.
a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and
incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination
or used in a fictitious manner. No persons, living or dead, were
harmed by the writing of this book. Any resemblance to any actual
persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook
may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like
to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional
copy for each reader. If you’re reading this book and did not
purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please
visit your favorite ebook retailer to purchase your own copy. Thank
you for respecting the hard work of this author.
Table of Content
stretched and made his way to the kitchen.
He needed coffee, and he needed it now.
He yawned as he stepped into the kitchen, rubbing his eyes.
was a squeak, and Alex’s eyes snapped open. Zal was standing by
the stove, a pan in one hand, a packet of bacon in the other. He was
staring at Alex and blinking fast, and Alex grimaced. He reached for
the tea towel hanging on
the wall and placed it strategically in front of his groin. “Sorry.
I’m not used to having so many people
around the house.”
swallowed and waved his pan. “It’s fine. Trust me;
it’s more than fine.”
not sure Jackson would agree.”
Zal put the pan on the
stove. “I might be with him, but I have eyes, and I’m
grateful for them right now.”
Alex grinned and
started to move his towel. “In that case—”
might be grateful, but you know Jackson will bitch if he finds you
anywhere near me naked.” Zal sighed and sneaked another peek.
Alex looked down to make sure everything was
covered. He didn't really
care about who saw him naked, but he was trying to get Jackson’s
friendship back, and hanging around Zal naked wouldn’t help.
Zal smiled and gestured
at the stove. “You do that. I’m starting breakfast, so
take your time.”
“I knew there was
a reason why I accepted to have you and Jackson move in with me.”
“I thought you
did because you liked me.”
“I like your
breakfast making skills.”
Zal swatted the pack of
bacon at Alex’s naked chest. “Shut it, Alpha. You know
you said yes just because you’re scared of Grandmother.”
Alex shuddered. “God,
don’t mention your grandmother while I’m naked.”
“Stop being a
pervert and go dress.”
being a pervert?” Jackson asked as he entered the kitchen. He
was greeted by Alex’s naked ass, and
Alex groaned. That wasn’t going to make Jackson happy, and if
Jackson wasn’t happy, no one was.
Jackson growled and put
himself between Alex and Zal. “What are you doing naked in the
“I forgot I had
Jackson frowned. “Well,
you better remember it from now on. We’re not guests. We’re
here to stay.”
Alex sighed. “Don’t
I know it.”
we don’t want to see your naked ass.”
sighed. “Speak for yourself.” He yelped when Jackson
be ogling Alex, especially not when he’s naked.”
come on. You can’t deny he’s
hot. Besides, you got to sample the goods, so you have nothing to say
Alex laughed. “He’s
right, Jack.” He wiggled his ass. “You did get to sample
eyes widened and his gaze flickered from Jackson to Alex. “Just
what did you two do together? Was it
handjobs, or maybe blowjobs? Something more?”
pressed his palms against Alex’s chest and pushed him. “That’s
none of your business, Zal. Alex, go get dressed before I decide you
don’t need the goods
anymore and get rid of them.”
Alex made a strangled
noise and cupped his dick. “You’re not coming anywhere
near the goods if you want to chop them off.”
“Then go put some
clothes on.” Jackson grinned. “Or I’m calling
stuck his tongue out at Jackson and turned around to leave. Pain
flared in his ass cheek when something hit it,
and he yelped, turning around and glaring at Jackson. He was still
holding the towel he’d used to swat at Alex’s ass, and he
pointed at the door.
rolled his eyes and turned back. He looked down, pulled the towel
away from his dick, and hung it back where he’d found it before
That’s disgusting,” Zal protested.
ignored him and went back to his room. Damn, he wasn’t sure he
liked living with someone, at least not someone who wasn’t
supposed to see him naked. Zal and Jackson weren’t, but Alex
wouldn’t have minded it if Lonnie wanted to see him naked.
each other naked, of course, but it had been to shift and nothing
smile widened when he saw Aeldeth coming his way along the hallway.
Aeldeth’s gaze flickered to Alex’s cock, but he didn't
say anything as he passed by Alex. Alex saw his lips twitch, though.
He really needed
to find a way to ruffle the guy’s feathers. His calm wasn’t
natural. Why wasn’t he reacting in any way to Alex’s
shook his head and pushed open his room’s door.
The jeans he’d worn yesterday were still on the floor. He
pulled them on, grabbed a T-shirt from the dresser, and went back
was in the kitchen—Zal was cooking, Jackson was setting the
table, and Casvain and Aeldeth were sitting at the table, talking.
Alex nodded at Casvain and went to take a mug from the cupboard. Once
it was filled
with coffee, he turned around and leaned back against the counter.
The first sip was
heaven, and he closed his eyes.
was still having a hard time getting used to having other people in
his house, but he didn't really
mind. He liked the company, and he loved having someone who cooked
for him. He’d survived on takeaway and his mom’s frozen
dishes before Zal moved in, and he wasn’t looking forward to
going back to them.
loved to cook, and Alex loved to eat. They’d be the perfect
couple if Zal weren't
already banging Jackson, and if Alex wasn’t smitten with
Lonnie. Not that anyone knew that
because Alex kept it hidden, but he couldn’t help how he felt.
on the agenda
today?” he asked when he opened his eyes.
rolled his eyes. “Work. You know, that thing most of us have to
do if they want to earn money?”
trying to be. What are you going to do today? Sit on your ass in your
“Yep. I still
have to finish coloring that page from yesterday.”
Zal shook his head.
“Children, go sit down. Breakfast is almost ready.”
obeyed. He knew Jackson was joking, but he couldn’t help the
twinge of pain in his chest. They both knew Alex couldn’t
afford to work away from the house. He had enough work to do with the
pack. Making sure everyone was happy and taken care of was a job on
its own. He owned several shops in town, and their rent was what gave
him the opportunity to dedicate his time to the pack and its
plate appeared in front of Alex and jerked him out of his thoughts.
Zal smiled at him when he looked up and
squeezed his shoulder, and he didn't need to say anything for Alex to
shook his head and pushed a strip of bacon into his mouth. It was
salty and crispy, and Alex moaned. Damn, it really
was a good thing to have Zal stay with him. The other three he could
have done without, but not Zal.
“You sound like a
whore,” Jackson said. His tone was playful, or at least as
playful as Jackson could be.
“I’ll be a
whore for bacon any day,” Alex answered after washing down the
bacon with a gulp of coffee.
yeah. I’d do anything for bacon.”
“You need to fix
my happiness, sourpuss.”
narrowed his eyes, but before he could say anything else, Zal slapped
the back of his head. “Eat. You have to go to work in half an
hour, and I need you to give me a ride, so we can’t be late.”
face softened as he turned to look at Zal. Alex sighed. He wished he
had someone to look at like that. He wished someone would look at him
that way, too. He might be the alpha, but it didn't mean he didn't
want love in his life. He wanted it, more than almost anything, but
he wanted it with one man in particular, and he knew he couldn’t
have that man. It didn’t matter that he was the alpha, not in
Being the alpha
couldn’t make Lonnie fall in love with him.
Lonnie ran after the
squirrel. He wasn’t going to eat it, but it was fun to chase
it. Lonnie’s wolf was happy, and it was more than Lonnie could
say about himself.
only times he was really happy was when he was in his wolf form. He
was able to forget about the unwanted feelings he had when he was a
wolf. It was easier to give in to the instincts and let
go of his human half.
a tree, and
Lonnie almost hit it. He managed to stop just before his nose touched
the bark. He wrinkled his nose and huffed. The squirrel was gone, and
Lonnie was going to have to find something else to have fun
sat down and looked at the sky. He wasn’t sure what time it
was, but he probably needed to go find
Alex. Lonnie was waiting for a shipment of medicines he needed, and
he couldn’t see
his patients if he didn't have them, at least not all of them.
was worried for Hank. The old man refused to see
a doctor, and there was only so much Lonnie could do against cancer.
He was doing his best, but it was obvious to everyone that Hank
wouldn’t survive, not if he insisted on being treated only by
Lonnie. Lonnie understood it was tradition—the pack members
only allowed the pack’s healer to take care of them. It
had been that way for centuries. Alex’s
father had followed that unwritten rule, and it had cost him his
did his best, but he didn't have a hospital on hand. He couldn’t
do anything against cancer, no matter how hard he tried. The only
thing he could do was give Hank painkillers. He was glad Alex knew
how to get them without having to answer questions, but they weren’t
going to be useful for long.
sighed and got up. He left the squirrel in his tree and made his way
back home, slower than when he’d ran
into the forest. It was getting harder and harder to deal with Alex,
or at least to do it without blurting out that he loved him.
knew Alex wouldn’t care that Lonnie was in love with a man—his
father might have, but Alex was different. He’d welcomed
Jackson and Zal in his home,
and they were a couple.
he wouldn’t care about that, but he would care about the fact
that Lonnie was in love with him
specifically. Lonnie didn't think he’d be able to stand to
look at the pity
in Alex’s eyes if Alex ever found out. He knew they couldn’t
be together. Even if a miracle happened and Alex loved him back,
Lonnie wasn’t alpha mate material.
wasn’t someone Alex needed by his
side to guide the pack. He was too quiet and introverted, and more
importantly, he couldn’t give Alex an heir. Alex needed to have
a son who would take his place when the time came. He needed an alpha
son, and Lonnie didn't have the right equipment to do that.
Lonnie might have tried
to tell Alex about his feelings if he’d thought they had a
chance, but he knew they didn’t. It was better and easier for
everyone to keep his mouth shut and his feelings under wrap.
climbed the steps to his small house and slid in through the dog
door. He shifted once he was in the bathroom and turned the water on
in the shower. He smelled of the forest, and while he liked that
smell, he was dirty. He’d rolled around on the floor, and his
skin was dirty with earth and bits of dead leaves.
kept his shower short, and once he was
done, he dressed. He sighed as he walked
toward the door. He didn't want to see Alex today, yet he wanted to
see him more than anything.
kind of hated his
Maybe Alex had left the
medicines Lonnie needed in the entrance, or in the living room. That
way Lonnie wouldn’t have to see Alex.
softly snorted as he walked toward Alex’s house. Of course
Alex hadn’t. Those meds were dangerous. He’d never leave
them where anyone could take them.
didn't take long for Lonnie to get to Alex’s house. Most of the
pack’s houses were close enough they
could walk from one to the other, but Lonnie’s house was
especially close to Alex’s because of who they were. Alex was
the alpha, Lonnie
the pack healer. Traditionally, Lonnie should have lived with Alex in
his house, but he’d refused. It hurt enough as it was to see
Alex every day. The last thing Lonnie had wanted back then was to
have to see Alex from the moment they woke up until the moment they
went to bed.
He still felt that way,
and Alex had stopped trying to convince him. He did ask every so
often, but he never insisted, and Lonnie was glad.
was surprised to find Casvain on the porch when he got to Alex’s
house. The man lived in the house, along with Aeldeth, Jackson, Zal,
and Alex, but Lonnie hadn’t really
talked to him yet. He’d tried, but Casvain seemed to be a lot
like Lonnie and kept to himself.
Lonnie nodded at him
when he passed by, and he was surprised when Casvain nodded back.
He found Alex in his
office, the box of meds he needed sitting in one of the chairs in
front of Alex’s desk.
beamed when Lonnie knocked, and Lonnie’s heart skipped a beat.
How was he supposed to stay away from Alex when Alex was so
beautiful? When he looked at Lonnie like Lonnie was the center of his
here to save me,” Alex said.
Lonnie arched a brow.
“Save you from what?”
gestured at the sheets of paper on his desk. “Paperwork. That
and the ghost hanging around the house.”
Alex waved toward the
front of the house. “Casvain. I swear that guy is making me
anxious just by being around the house.”
doesn’t do anything! He’s just there, sitting somewhere
or other and waiting for Aeldeth and Zal to come back from school.”
“Well, yeah, but
I thought he’d do other stuff while Zal is gone.”
know. Watch TV? Read? Heck, maybe even knit. But instead he just sits
around and stares into space, and it’s creeping me out.”
rolled his eyes. “You're
overly dramatic today.”
sighed. “I guess. Mom called earlier. She’s coming by,
and she’s bringing Vanessa with her.”
grimaced. He liked the two women, but they were a bit much to take
they visited one at a time, and Vanessa always brought her kids with
her. Since Alex hadn’t mentioned them, they probably weren’t
coming, and that could mean only one thing—the women wanted to
talk to Alex.
“What do you
think it’ll be this time?”
Alex shrugged. “How
would I know? They probably want to start organizing the holidays or
“So? They started
planning the Halloween party in August.”
they be busy with Thanksgiving? I mean, it’s in a little over
sure they already have everything organized for that.”
licked his lips, and Lonnie couldn’t help himself. He tracked
the move, wondering how that tongue would feel on his lips and if
Alex tasted of the coffee
he seemed to drink by gallons.
shook himself when he realized what he was doing and pointed at the
box. “That’s mine?”
“You know it is.
Alex was every bit the
alpha now, and Lonnie loved him for it. “Still stable for now.”
“You tried to
convince him again?”
but he insists
that if the pack healer was good enough for his father, it’s
good enough for him.”
Alex shook his head. “I
could order him to go to the hospital, but…”
know.” Alex would never do something like that. He never
micromanaged the pack members’ life. He said it wasn’t
his place, and Lonnie agreed. Alex was a good alpha.
phone rang, and
Alex sighed. “I have to take this.”
my box and leave.”
with you,” Alex said before answering.
get anything more out of Alex, so he took the box and left the
office. Casvain was still on the porch, and Lonnie paused. Had Alex
been serious about him taking Casvain for his round? Maybe not, but
Lonnie could always use some help, and Casvain didn't seem to be
doing anything. Lonnie could ask.
“Hey, are you
Casvain looked up, his
brows high on his forehead. “Are you talking to me?”
“No, to the guy
and Lonnie wondered if he’d nearly managed to make the man
smile. “I’m not busy, no.”
Lonnie nodded. “Good.
Would you like to come with me?”
“You want me to
come with you while you work?”
“Why not? Like
you said, you’re not doing anything, and as you can see, I
could use some help.” Lonnie hiked the box higher as he talked.
Casvain stared at him
for a moment before slowly nodding. “I’ll come with you.”
had managed to lose himself in
his work, so much that he startled
when his mother entered his office.
She arched a brow at
his reaction, and he plastered a smile on his lips. “Hey, Mom.
“In the kitchen.
We brought you lunch.”
meant they were going to stay for a while. Great.
Alex looked down at his desk and wondered what he could use to delay
the inevitable. Not much. He still had a few phone calls to make, but
they would take time, and Alex’s mother wouldn’t wait,
not if she had something to tell him. And she did. He could tell from
Alex rose from his
chair. “Right. We should go to the kitchen, I guess.”
everyone?” his mother asked as they left the office.
at school with Aeldeth. Jackson’s at work
and Lonnie and Casvain are visiting Lonnie’s patients.”
Even though he’d been the one to suggest that Casvain went
with Lonnie, he didn’t like it. It made him feel like he needed
to go too, to make sure Casvain kept his hands to himself. Not that
Casvain had ever done anything to suggest he was interested in
Lonnie, or in
anyone else, but Alex didn't like it anyway.
The guy might seem cool and unaffected, but Alex was ready to bet he
was anything but.
“I still don’t
get why they all live here with you. It’s the alpha’s
house. You should be living here with your family, not with a bunch
the heir to the fey
throne, Mom. Where else should I have put him? Besides, I was living
here alone, so it’s not like it’s a problem.
mom tsked. “You
were living here alone for now, but what will happen when you finally
decide to find yourself a mate and build a family? You’ll have
to make them move, yes? Wouldn’t it have been easier to have
them live somewhere else from the start?”
sighed and stayed silent. There was nothing he could say that would
change his mother’s mind. She’d lived in Alex’s
house—the alpha’s house—for most of her life. She’d
mated Alex’s father when she was eighteen, had moved in and had
started popping out kids. She’d had
to stop at two, but she’d lived with Alex’s father in the
house until he died.
had been relieved when she’d decided to move out. He’d
never have kicked her out, of course, but having her around all the
time, sticking her nose into Alex’s decisions as alpha, wasn’t
the perfect situation. It made Alex look weak, and it was the last
thing he needed. His pack members had to trust him and respect him,
and having his mom argue his decisions wouldn’t help. Sometimes
he wondered why she did it. She never had with his father. He
wouldn’t have allowed it. Alex knew he was
more lenient than his father had been, but she was his mom. What else
was he supposed to do?
was in the kitchen, taking containers out of a bag. Alex smiled.
They’d brought lasagna, his favorite.
Well, one of his favorites.
smile faded. That meant that whatever they had to say, Alex wasn’t
going to like it. Actually, he’d
probably hate it and end up angry as fuck.
He waited until the
three of them were sitting around the table to speak. “So,
Vanessa batted her
lashes at him in a way he knew she thought was innocent. It might
work with her mate, but it didn't with Alex. He’d grown up with
her after all.
“What do you
mean?” she asked.
gestured at the table with his fork. “You both came, without
the kids, and you brought lasagna. It has to be bad.”
mother sighed. “It’s not bad.” They both knew it
was bullshit, and Alex stared at her until she finally spilled the
beans. “We just set you up on a date
with one of Vanessa’s friends.”
Alex groaned. “Mom.”
don’t need your help to get a girl.” Or a boy, but Alex
wasn’t going to say that. He didn't want to fight with his mom,
at least not any more than he’d already do today.
“It seems to me
that you do. Your father and I had already been bonded for years when
he was your age, and both you and your sister were already born.”
“You make it
sound like I’m about to die from old age, Mom. I’m only
that’s ten years too old. You need an heir, Alex. The pack
needs you to have one.”
“I know that, but
I’m not going to bond with the first woman I see just because
you think I need to have a kid.”
mom narrowed her eyes. “I don’t think
you need to have a kid. I know
you have to. Who is supposed to take your place when you die?”
huffed. “Do we really
have to talk about me dying? I don’t have one foot in the
grave, Mom. I’m fine. I’m only thirty, and I’m
what? How long are you going to wait? Until you’re forty, or
fifty? You’ll be healthy then too, God help
us, but you won’t be young anymore. You’re not that young
now to being with.”
until I meet the right person.”
didn't mention he’d already met the right person, that they’d
met when they were toddlers. He couldn’t have children with
Lonnie, obviously. He didn't care much about that, but his mother was
right on that front—he needed an heir, and that meant he had to
have children. He needed an alpha kid to groom and take
his place, and they didn't grow on trees. He couldn’t just
adopt the first kid he saw.
snorted. “The right person? All right, and how are you supposed
to meet her? You spend all your days in your office.”
kind of my job, Mom.”
“Of course it is,
and you’re doing a great job. Your father would be so proud of
you if he could see you. That’s why you need to continue doing
your job, and as much as you don’t want to hear it, bonding and
having an heir is part of that job.”
She was right, but it
didn't mean Alex had to like it.
also knew she wouldn’t let go. When she was onto something, she
was like a dog with a bone,
or rather, a wolf with a bone. For some reason, she’d decided
Alex need to bond soon, and she’d do whatever she needed to do
for that to happen.
sighed. “Fine. I’ll meet that woman, but I’m
not promising anything. I know having kids
is part of the job
like you said, but it doesn’t mean I want to have them with
anyone. I’ll choose the person I have them with.”
“Of course you
will. It doesn’t mean I can’t introduce to the women I
mother looked smug, and he let her be. He couldn’t very well
tell her he was in love with Lonnie, that he’d been in love
with him since they were teenagers. Alex might have experimented with
Jackson, but he’d always wanted Lonnie. Lonnie had never shown
any signs of wanting him, though, and Alex didn’t want to
complicate his life or to lose his best friend.
might if lose
Lonnie if Lonnie didn't share his feelings, and if he told his mother
about it, complicated would be an understatement. It was easier to
meet Vanessa’s friend, go out with her, and let her down
gently. He still had time to think about having kids and who he would
have them with.
He’d need to face it sooner rather than later, but in the
meantime, he wasn’t going to worry too much.
the table to pat Alex’s hand. “You’ll see, you’ll
love Crystal. She’s a lovely woman, and she wants children, at
had to fight not to grimace. He’d never actually wanted to have
kids. He didn't have the patience
because the little of that he had was spent
on the pack members. Besides, kids were sticky and drooling. He’d
always known he’d have to have them, though, but he’d
planned to stop as soon as he had an alpha male. Hopefully, his first
born would be.
Lonnie came back to Alex’s house,
Alex was still in his office, and he was alone. Alex had texted him
that his mother and his sister had lunch with him, and Lonnie was
relieved he wouldn’t have to talk to Alex’s mother. For
some reason, she didn't seem to like Lonnie, and the feeling was
that Lonnie had anything against her. She was pushy and nosy, but she
loved her son, and it was enough for Lonnie. He knew she wouldn’t
approve of Lonnie’s feelings for Alex, though. Lonnie wasn’t
planning to tell him, and while he knew why
Alex’s mother wouldn’t approve, he couldn’t help
the bitterness he felt toward her and Vanessa. They were always
meddling in Alex’s private life, and Lonnie had no doubts that
was the reason
why they’d visited
was why he’d come by instead of going home. Casvain had left to
do his job protecting Zal. That meant Aeldeth was probably going to
come back soon, and if Lonnie wanted some alone time with Alex, now
was the moment. It wouldn’t be the kind of alone time he really
wanted, but talking and shooting the shit was good enough.
knocked on the door even though it was
open. Alex looked up, his frown shifting to a smile when he saw it
was Lonnie. “Hey. Come in. Why did you even knock? You know
you’re welcome here anytime
Alex sighed. “I
am, but then when am I not?”
Lonnie slumped into one
of the chairs in front of Alex’s desk. “What are you
Richards needs more men. I was trying to work out if I can do without
a few for a week or two.”
Lonnie wrinkled his
nose. The pack wasn’t big. They had soldiers, like every pack,
but not many of them. He wasn’t sure sending some away was a
good idea, especially with that fey still after Zal, but he wasn’t
the alpha. “Why?”
like he has a poacher on his hands. One of his wolves was
grimaced. He didn't know Alpha Richards well, but the man seemed
nice. “Can you spare a few soldiers?”
know. I’d rather not with the Zal thing, but I’m not sure
I have a choice. Richards is a friend, and he’d help if we
needed it. Besides, Zal has Aeldeth and Casvain. They’re here
just for that.”
Lonnie hummed. That
much was true. “You could tell the fey queen that you’ll
be missing some men for a while. She’d probably send you other
no. I don’t want to depend on her.
She might be Zal’s grandmother, but we both know she wouldn’t
have problems eradicating the pack if she needed to.”
was true too. Lonnie hadn’t spent much time with the fey queen,
but she looked like she’d do whatever she had to
in order to defend her people.
dropped his pen onto his desk and leaned back. “Anyway.
How was your day?”
on. Still refusing to go to the hospital.”
shook his head. “Do you really
expect him to accept?”
not going to stop you from trying to convince him.”
shrugged. “You can bet your ass I will. I can’t force
him, but I can try to bug him until he goes.”
Alex snorted. “He’ll
probably die before he accepts.”
“Yeah, I know.
How was Casvain? Did he give you any problem?”
Casvain had been a surprise. Lonnie had expected him to be silent for
most of the time, and he had, but he’d also helped. He’d
carried Lonnie’s stuff around, had even distracted a kid who’d
broken her arm while Lonnie took care of her. Lonnie had been
surprised, but he’d realized he didn’t know Casvain. He
was probably a great guy under his tough exterior. “He was
Alex arched a brow.
“Nice isn’t the first thing I think of when I think of
when he’s not on the job, I guess. What about you? What did
your mother and Vanessa want?”
be that bad.”
“You know them,
me guess. They
wanted to try to convince you it’s time to bond and breed.”
Alex grimaced. “Yeah.
That. You’d think I’m about to die, the way Mom talks.”
you know they’re right.” As much as Lonnie hated the
idea, it was Alex’s destiny.
had always known Alex would one day find a woman and have kids with
her. He had to. The pack couldn’t be
without an alpha.
It didn't mean Lonnie
had to like the idea, though. Sometimes he wished he could have been
born a woman, but really, he liked his dick too much.
watched Alex go on dates with women since they were teenagers. He
knew Alex liked men too, and sometimes, he thought that maybe he
should talk to him, maybe have sex with him. It wouldn’t be
anything more than sex, though, and Lonnie didn't think he could
stand that, not with the way he felt about Alex.
it was better to stay away, to keep his distance. To
stay Alex’s friend and nothing more.
“What did you
tell them?” he asked.
bit his lower lip. It wasn’t something he normally did, and
Lonnie straightened in his seat. “Well, Mom told me she
arranged a date for me, with one of Vanessa’s friends.”
had never happened before, at least not as far
as Lonnie knew. Alex’s mother pushed him to date, but she
didn't usually set up those dates for him. “Who?”
“Uh, Crystal? I’m
not sure which one she is.”
Lonnie knew her. She
was pretty. Blonde, blue eyed. Tall. If Alex chose her, their kids
would be gorgeous.
Lonnie hated her.
sighed. It wasn’t exactly true. He probably hadn’t talked
to her since they
were in school. He hated the idea of her, though, the idea of what
she could be. It didn't take him much to imagine the date and what
Alex would do
they kiss? Probably. Alex had to show his mother he was at least
trying, and Lonnie had no doubts Crystal would give Vanessa a by
the second replay
of the date. Alex’s mother would know if Alex kept his
distance, and she’d nag him.
“She seems nice,”
he said. What else could he say?
know, Lonnie. You know this isn’t how I want things to go.”
Alex huffed. “I want to bond with someone I love, not someone
my mother chooses for me.”
maybe you should actually
look for someone to love. That way your mom wouldn’t have to do
it for you.”
Alex stared at Lonnie
for son long that Lonnie started to squirm in his chair. He looked
away and swallowed, wondering what the fuck was going on.
“How do you know
I haven’t already found someone? That I’m not already in
jerked toward Alex and gaped at him. “Are you?” Lonnie
wasn’t sure why Alex was saying that
but he needed that answer. He didn't know how he’d react if
Alex said that yes, he was already in love. Lonnie wouldn’t
have thought it possible, because as far as he knew, Alex hadn’t
gone on a date with anyone in weeks, if not months. And if he was in
love with a girl, why hadn’t he told his mother? It would have
been the most perfect
way to get her off his back and
him out of the arranged date,
Alex shrugged and
finally looked away. “It doesn’t matter.”
not? I mean, if you already have a girl—”
okay? Now can we talk about something else? Mom already nags enough.
I don’t need you to do it too.”
snappy tone surprised Lonnie, and he raised his hands. “Fine.
There’s no need to be an asshole.” Alex was hiding
something, and he wasn’t going to
tell Lonnie about it. It made Lonnie even more curious, but he didn't
push. Alex had obviously already enough of that with his mother.
Lonnie just wanted Alex to be happy, and if it meant shutting his
mouth and keeping his questions to himself, then that was what he’d
do. Actually, it
was probably better if he did that anyway.
He didn't want to know
how Alex and Crystal’s date went.
Alex didn't even turn
to look at Zal. He finished drying his chest and wrapped his towel
around his waist. “I’m in the bathroom. I think that’s
one of two rooms where I can be naked without offending your delicate
my sensibilities are just fine, especially
after what I just saw.”
Alex arched a brow at
Zal in the mirror. “Jackson isn’t home?”
Zal stuck his tongue
out. “I could ogle you even if he was.”
“Yeah, right. You
need the bathroom?”
Aeldeth made me meditate outside. Do you know how cold it is? My
balls shriveled and try
inside me. I need to coax them out with hot water.”
want to know about your balls, Zal. I like mine where they are.”
pretty sure Jackson wouldn’t mind
nailing mine to the wall. I swear he looks at me like he wants to
kill me most of the time.”
does. Now are you done? I really
need to shower. I’m freezing.”
“As long as you
hurry. I need to get ready.”
Not that Alex wanted to go, but he didn't have a choice. His mom had
already called twice this afternoon, giving him pointers on where to
take Crystal and what to talk about.
As if Alex needed her to help him with
wouldn’t be the first time Alex went on a date with a girl. He
knew how it worked even though he didn’t want to go.
Zal leaned his hip
against the counter and crossed his arms over his chest. “Date?
You finally got your head out of your ass?”
“What do you
Zal narrowed his eyes.
“Please tell me it’s Lonnie you’re going on that
heart skipped a beat. How could Zal know about Alex’s crush on
Lonnie? Was he
obvious? Probably not, or his mom would have noticed, but then how
did Zal know? “What are you talking about?”
not? Alex, who are you going on a date
“Uh, one of my
sister’s friends, Crystal. I don’t think you know her
Zal let his arms fall
to his side. He looked angry, and Alex couldn’t understand why.
“Seriously? You have a girlfriend?”
Alex rolled his eyes.
“Not yet. I need to get ready, Zal.”
being an asshole.”
Since Zal didn't look
like he was going anywhere, Alex grabbed his toothbrush. He might as
well get ready. He knew Zal well enough to know the man wouldn’t
move until he’d said what was on his mind, probably in a shrill
voice. He looked angry.
“Why are you
going out with that Crystal?”
shrugged. He was glad he had the toothbrush in his mouth. That way he
didn’t have to answer. He wasn’t sure what he could say.
shook his head. “Okay, so you’re not going
Alex shook his head and
spat out the toothpaste. “My mouth was full, Zal. I’m
going on a date with Crystal because she seems like a nice person.”
wasn’t exactly true. Alex did remember her now, after his talk
with Lonnie, but he couldn’t have talked to her more than a few
times since they were kids. She came to the pack meetings, but Alex
didn’t hold many of those, and when he did it usually was
because there was
a problem and the last thing
he thought about was looking at women.
He still wasn’t
sure why his mom and Vanessa thought Crystal of all people would be a
good mate for him, but it didn't matter. If Alex didn't choose her,
they’d probably come up with a dozen alternatives. He’d
have to choose one sooner or later. Maybe Crystal would be the right
wouldn’t be Lonnie, though, no matter how nice she was.
“She might be the
nicest person in town, but it doesn’t tell me why you’re
going out with her when you’re in love with Lonnie.”
Alex froze. “What?”
don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking
about. I wasn’t going to say
anything, but you’re being
an idiot, and I don’t want you or Lonnie to be hurt.”
slowly turned around. “You don’t know what you’re
anyone with eyes knows what I’m talking about.”
“What do you
threw his hands in the air. “Everyone knows you’re in
love with Lonnie and Lonnie is in love with you. It’s so
obvious it hurts, and I don’t know why no one has tried to talk
to either of you yet.”
don’t know what you’re talking about,” Alex
repeated. His heart was beating too fast. Zal had to be wrong. It was
the only possibility. Alex would have known if Lonnie felt the same
way about him than he felt about Lonnie. Someone would have said
something. Alex’s mother would have pointed it out. “Lonnie
and I are best friends. That’s all.”
thinking that makes you feel better, then all right, but you won’t
be able to lie to yourself for much longer, Alex. Do you really
want to hurt Lonnie that way? To make him watch while you go out with
a woman? Why are you even doing that?”
“Do you know
anything about shifters, Zal? Have you asked Jackson to tell you
about us? Or are you just learning about the fey?”
Zal frowned. “What
does that have to do with anything?”
filled me in on the basis, I guess, but we haven’t really
talked about it. I’ve had so much stuff to do that I didn't
have the time to wonder about anything other than college and
stupid lessons. I swear that guy is a pain in the ass even without
coming here. He left me enough notes I’ll have stuff
to read for years.”
Alphas are born, usually from another alpha. My father was the only
one of his siblings to be an alpha. I’m my generation’s
alpha, and my parents didn't have any other kids after
me because they didn’t need to.” And because Alex’s
mother couldn’t have another pregnancy, but Zal didn’t
need to know that.
looked like he didn't understand what Alex was saying, and he
probably didn’t. “So?”
“So I have to
have children. I have to have an alpha son who’ll take my place
when I’ll die or have to step down from the alpha position.”
“I still don’t
see what it has to do with you ignoring Lonnie and going out with a
woman you don’t even know.” Zal frowned. “Wait. Are
you telling me you’re going out with that girl because you need
to—to impregnate her?”
burst out laughing. It wasn’t really
funny. Actually, it
made Alex wish he could stop being the alpha even though he’d
been taught to be one since he’d been a kid. But it was either
that or punching the wall, and Alex didn’t
want to have to redo the bathroom. “I’m not going to
impregnate her, at least not until and if
we bond. My mom would kill me if I had a kid out of wedlock.”
Zal gaped. “So
you’re going to marry her?”
Alex shook his head.
“Not today, but it’s a possibility if we like each other
What about Lonnie?”
Zal, I appreciate that you care, I really
do, but there’s nothing between Lonnie
and me. We’re best friends, have been
since we were kids. That’s all.”
Zal had that stubborn expression again, and Alex knew he wouldn’t
get out of this without problems like he’d hoped to. For some
reason, Zal had decided he needed to take care of this. Alex wasn’t
sure what he was after, but he had to nip this in the bud.
this has nothing to do with you. You might be a guest here, in my
house, but it doesn’t mean you can stick your nose in things
your nose doesn’t belong in. Lonnie and I are friends, and I’m
going out with Crystal. I don’t know what’s going to
happen with her. Maybe we’ll end up just being friends, or
maybe we’ll fall madly in love.”
Yeah, fat chance of that.
“I don’t know, but again, it’s none of your
business. I’d appreciate it if you stayed out of my business,
and I’ll stay out of yours. Or do I have to remind you that
you’ve been avoiding to talk about how you’re going to be
the fey king?”
scowled. “I was just trying to help, but fine. If you want to
ruin your life, then be my guest, but leave Lonnie out
of it. He doesn’t deserve what you’re putting him
through, and you’re an asshole for doing it.”
Alex growled, but Zal
was already leaving the bathroom. He slammed the door behind himself,
making Alex wince.
Alex sighed and stared
at the door. That could have gone better. At least he hoped it would
keep Zal out of his business for a while.
chance of that, too.
trotted between the trees. He usually would have been over at Alex’s
house at this time of the day, but he couldn’t bring himself to
was the day Alex went out with Crystal, and Lonnie didn't want to be
there to see him get ready. Knowing he had
no possibility to be with Alex didn't help to
get used to the idea of him going out with
had tried to think of her as just another date, another girlfriend,
but he knew it was more than that. She’d
been chosen by Alex’s mother. That meant they were halfway to
bonding already. The only thing missing was Alex’s approval,
and if his mother pushed enough, he’d probably give it. It
wasn’t like he had anyone in his life, and he was already
remembered Alex’s words about being already in love and
wondered if there had been some truth in them. Was Alex in love with
someone? If he was, who was it?
it was a woman,
his mother probably wouldn’t have problems with him being with
her, as long as she could give him children. If it was a man, though…
Lonnie couldn’t even think about the possibility Alex was in
love with him. Alex would have told him long ago if he was, Lonnie
was sure of that. Alex wasn’t the kind of guy who kept
something like that hidden.
if it wasn’t Lonnie, who was it? Lonnie thought it probably was
either Jackson or Zal. He couldn’t tell which one, though. Not
that it mattered. Zal and Jackson were in love with each other. If
Alex really was
in love with one of them, he wouldn’t do anything about it.
He’d never risk hurting either of them.
stopped walking and plopped his ass down on the ground.
It was getting colder, but his fur was more than enough to keep him
warm. He didn't want to go home. He’d be alone there, and it
was the last thing he wanted. He also didn't want to be around Alex,
though. Or Zal.
shivered at the thought. Lonnie had seen how Zal looked both at him
and Alex, and he knew Zal had probably noticed Lonnie’s
feelings. He’d want to talk about it, and Lonnie really
didn't want that. He didn't want Zal’s pity over not being
loved back, over having to watch Alex go out with a woman.
moved further into
the forest, and
Lonnie looked that way, his head cocked. He couldn’t smell
anything that shouldn’t be in the forest, and he grinned when
Casvain walked from between the trees. Lonnie couldn’t tell him
anything, but he could make him feel welcome.
Casvain stopped and
looked at Lonnie. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a
wolf smile that way.”
Lonnie widened his
grinned and let his tongue loll out. It made Casvain chuckle. It was
the first time Lonnie saw him do anything close to laughing, and
damn, the man looked good with a smile on his face.
“It’s a bit
hard to talk to a shifter when he’s in his animal form,
shrugged and got up. His ass was half-frozen, but he’d survive.
He trotted to
Casvain and licked the man’s hand, huffing when Casvain
grimaced and cleaned himself on his pants. Lonnie bet Casvain
wouldn’t have done that if he’d licked him in his human
considered the idea. He’d had sex with guys, of course. He
might have been in love with Alex since they were kids, but he was a
man. He’d never fallen in love with any of his boyfriends,
which was probably
why he’d never been with them for long. They just couldn’t
be like Alex.
Lonnie knew he’d
been holding a candle for Alex forever, and that he’d have to
stop sooner rather than later, but he wasn’t sure he could. He
couldn’t help how he felt. God knew he’d tried to stop
loving Alex. He’d never had any success.
was sexy. Lonnie liked his blond hair. It was long, unlike Alex’s.
He also liked Casvain’s pointed ears and wondered how they
would feel if he touched them. Would
Casvain even want him that way? Did Lonnie want Casvain that way?
certainly wouldn’t say no to sex with Casvain, but he wasn’t
sure it was a good idea. Casvain was Zal’s
bodyguard, one of them anyway.
He wouldn’t just leave if something went wrong. Lonnie would
have to see him every day for a long time. If they did have sex and
something went wrong, if they broke up and ended up hating each
other, they’d still have to be close. He wasn’t sure he
could stand having to avoid Casvain as well as Alex.
that was what he
was going to do. Lonnie loved Alex, and he probably was going to love
him forever, but he’d had enough of hurting. Maybe if he didn't
spend as much time with Alex, if he didn't have to see him going out
with Crystal, being happy and laughing, it would be easier to forget
that Lonnie would ever forget Alex, but maybe his feelings would fade
if he stayed away. Maybe sleeping with someone else would help.
“So, what are you
doing out here on your own? Aren’t you usually with Alex at
this hour of the day?”
snarled, showing Casvain his teeth. Did he really
have to remind Lonnie of Alex? Not that he knew what Lonnie was
thinking, but still. Why did all everyone seem
to want to talk about was Alex?
turned around and headed toward home. He didn't know if Casvain was
going to follow him, but it didn't matter. Lonnie was angry, mostly
at himself, but he didn’t want to be
reminded of Alex.
take it you don’t want to talk about Alex,” Casvain said.
“I won’t mention him again if that’s what you
“All right. Can I
come with you? Zal and Jackson are…busy, and I don’t
particularly want to have to listen to them.”
snickered. He never stopped walking, and Casvain followed him. He
stayed silent until they got to Lonnie’s house. Lonnie went in
through the dog door before shifting. He opened the door, letting
Casvain knew he could enter, and hurried to his bedroom. He didn't
have the time to shower, or rather, he didn't want to leave Casvain
alone for too long, so he just put back on the clothes he’d
taken off earlier.
raked his fingers through his hair, trying to press them down a bit.
He knew it was a lost cause, and he hoped Casvain didn’t mind
Casvain was looking at the paintings on the wall when Lonnie walked
into his living room. Lonnie hesitated, unsure what to say. Why had
Casvain wanted to come with him? He’d kept to himself since
he’d arrived. What had changed?
“These are good.”
looked at the painting Casvain was looking
at. It was a painting of the forest, but
then that was what Lonnie always painted. “Yeah. I like the
woods around here.”
looked at Lonnie with a spark in his eyes.
It made him look even sexier, just like the small smile playing on
his lips did. “You’re a man of many talents.”
“I wonder what
else you’re good at.”
eyes widened. Was Casvain alluding at something? At sex? He didn't
seem the type, but unless Lonnie had become really bad at flirting,
it looked like that was exactly
what Casvain was doing.
cleared his throat, wondering how to answer
Casvain’s question. “Uh, I’m not bad in the
widened. “In the kitchen?”
cooking. I’m not bad at cooking. What else could you do in the
kitchen, right?” Lonnie laughed nervously.
can think of plenty of things to do in the kitchen, and most don’t
shook his head. “Okay, who are you and what have you done with
frowned. “I’m not sure what you mean.”
nothing. You’re just behaving weirdly, at least compared to the
way you behave normally. I don’t think
I’ve ever heard you talk this much, and I certainly have never
seen you flirt.”
because I don't
usually flirt with people I don’t like.”
“Oh. And you like
showing teeth. “Very much so.”
wasn’t sure what to do about it. Actually,
he knew what to do about it. He shook his
head, hoping Casvain wasn’t one of those assholes who became
nasty when they were rejected.
“Look, I like you, but I don’t think we should have sex,
not right now anyway.”
Zal’s bodyguard, and I’m…”
“In love with
Would it change
anything if Lonnie negated it? Probably not. “Yeah. I’m
in love with him, and I don’t want to use you as a rebound or
“What do you
Lonnie swallowed and
tried to dry his damp hands on his thighs. “Do you think we can
“You know, watch
movies together, stuff like that. At least for a while. I don’t
want to rush into this.”
softened. “If that’s what you want.”
for now anyway.”
“All right. What
movie did you have in mind?”
Alex couldn’t deny that. She was pretty and sweet, and she
didn't do anything for Alex.
picked her up at her house and had driven her to the restaurant his
mother had suggested. She wore a nice red dress that Alex would have
loved if he’d been able to actually
care. He couldn’t. All he could think
of was Lonnie and what he was doing right now. He wasn’t
answering any of the texts Alex had sent him since they’d last
seen each other the day before, and Alex couldn’t help but
wonder why. He was starting
looked at Crystal, who was sitting on the
other side of the table, hoping to distract himself. She pushed her
hair behind her ear and looked up at Alex, almost shy-looking. Alex
smiled, but it was strained.
He didn't think she noticed.
you went to school with Vanessa?” he asked
because he had to talk about something.
no. I’m younger than her
by a few years. I guess I’m closer to your age than to hers.
No, we became friends over
her kids. She was looking for a babysitter a few years ago, and I
Crystal smiled, and
Alex tried to imagine having kids with her. It wasn’t hard to
picture. The kids would probably be blond, maybe have Crystal’s
wide green eyes. For some reason, it didn't appeal to Alex. He’d
rather have children with Lonnie’s brown eyes.
shook his head and pushed Lonnie away from his thoughts. It was hard
because Zal’s words from earlier kept on popping into Alex’s
mind. Alex wanted to believe them so much, even though he knew they
weren’t true. They couldn’t be.
pushed his glass a few inches to the right. “That’s
needs help sometimes. I guess she didn’t think three kids would
give her that much work, and I can’t help her much.”
At least Vanessa had
their mom. Alex didn’t think she’d be able to deal with
the kids on her own, not after her mate died.
“You have too
much work of your own to do.”
have to make time when you have children of your own, though.”