His to Hold (MM)
Tea and Empathy
Love can be found when you least expect it ... if you take a leap of faith.
Cole Gallagher never intended to date an empath. Empaths bond for life, and they like to keep their bonded anchor happy, which is more responsibility and power over another person than anyone ought to have. Despite his lack of interest in being an anchor, Cole gets talked into meeting a coworker's empath cousin, and he genuinely likes the man.
Aiden is everything Cole wants in a partner: charismatic, witty, cute, and a lot of fun. The catch is that he only has a few months to find an anchor, so Cole faces pressure to quickly make a lifelong commitment. When Aiden is kidnapped, Cole has to decide whether he will let his fears win and walk away, or take a chance on love.
Be Warned: m/m sex
“Those must be the Hagemann Gorges. I hear they have some spectacular diving holes. No sharks, either.”
“No. Just the odd electric eel.”
Cole winced. Sharks were almost always harmless and didn’t bother him. Electric eels, on the other hand, inspired a less-than-rational fear. In retrospect, reading how an electric eel could stop a man’s heart one night when he was seven hadn’t been his greatest idea.
“The truth comes out,” said Aiden, his tone gently teasing. “You’re only Mr. Fearless about sharks.”
Cole attempted to salvage his pride. “More like I’m only not Mr. Fearless about electric eels.”
This failed to convince Aiden. “Sure. Nothing else scares you.”
Fortunately, Cole appreciated a man who stood up for himself and was a touch on the sassy side. “What else is there in life to be afraid of, besides electric eels?”
“Deep water sharks, for one. Falling from great heights. Death. Dismemberment.”
“Well isn’t this cheerful.”
Aiden shrugged with a glint of mirth in his eyes. Damn, he was cute. “You asked.”
“Remind me not to do that again.”
They were headed toward Lemke Wildlife Reserve, according to the onscreen map. It was beautiful. A herd of bison grazed next to where the river meandered around a bend, across from where giant turtles sunned themselves and not far from a stately grove of prismatic vielefarbe trees.
Nevertheless, Cole was more interested in Aiden than the scenery. He gathered that Aiden felt the same way, if the frequent glances and smiles were anything to go by. The chemistry between them was almost palpable, so it wasn’t much of a risk to take Aiden’s hand when they stood for a better view.
“You do realize physical contact makes you an open book, empathically speaking.”
Actually, Cole hadn’t. He kept his grip anyway because he liked Aiden a lot and wanted to see if they were as good together as he thought they might be. Sure, it was still a little disarming to know how little privacy he had around Aiden, and he wasn’t ready to make any commitments, but there wasn’t anything malicious about Aiden’s empathy. It was simply part of him.
He gave the younger man’s hand a squeeze. “Me being an open book hasn’t scared you off, huh?”
“No.” Aiden gave him another smile and squeezed right back. “I’m sorry to be the one to inform you that you really aren’t a frightening guy, Cole.”
“You’re crushing my self-image.”
They chuckled together and went back to admiring the scenery, hands still entwined.