Viggo Cavanaugh leads an easy life. The European wildcat shifter loves his work as a climbing coach and travel guide, and he’s looking forward to meeting his mate and raising a passel of kittens with her. His life spins out of control when he returns home from a business trip to find his mate already waiting for him. His male mate.
Jaxon’s life has been in upheaval since he’s defied his alpha and risked his life to rescue a shifter held captive by his herd. Luckily, the deer shifter has found shelter with a pride of cats. Jaxon is overjoyed when he scents his mate in beta Alan’s home, even if his mate’s gender takes him by surprise.
Too bad Jaxon’s past soon catches up with him. His ex-alpha kidnaps Xander, the Wildcat Hills Pride’s leader, in order to get his hands on Jaxon.
Between rescue missions, new friends, a dubious ambassador for the shifter Council, and Viggo’s erratic behavior, Jaxon wonders if he and Viggo will ever have a chance at a relationship.
Viggo Cavanaugh whistled along with the radio and drummed a beat on the steering wheel while he drove up Interstate 25 toward Cheyenne. To left and right stretched nothing but greenish-yellow grass for miles. The passenger window was down. A warm summer breeze blew in his face, tousling hair that was due for a cut.
He’d been away from home longer than usual. Mr. Carver, some hotshot company boss from Denver, had paid him a small fortune for a teambuilding experience in Rocky Mountain National Park.
His trips as a travel guide and climbing coach normally lasted one to three weeks. However, Mr. Carver had been generous, so Viggo had spent the last one and a half months showing several groups of stuffy, bored, and fussy suits the basics of climbing and how to survive in the wild.
Save for one fit dude—who Viggo suspected spent more time at the gym than at the office—and a woman with climbing experience, most of the attendants had nagged and complained about the program.
Unwilling customers sucked the joy right out of Viggo’s work. But truth be told, the teambuilding stuff didn’t aim for rousing the participants’ interest in the wild anyway. Instead, the team members should learn how to communicate with each other when they were out of their comfort zone—the office—and act like normal people.
Viggo did those trips occasionally, and only because they brought in money for his shifter pride and family in Nebraska. He’d much rather enjoy trips with people who wanted to learn about climbing and experience the untamed, wild, and dangerous beauty of the world around them. But he had to eat. Plus, he took his responsibility toward his pride seriously.
Although he’d had more than enough time for himself between classes to do as he pleased, Viggo had missed home like crazy. More precisely, he’d missed his baby brother, Thony.
Thony was twenty-three now, seven years younger than Viggo, and newly mated to his best friend of three years. Viggo still couldn’t believe how long it’d taken for those two to pull their heads out of their asses.
But who was he to judge? His own love life wasn’t much to write home about lately. The constant traveling made it hard to hold a stable relationship with anybody in Nebraska.
Also, he was secretly waiting and hoping for his mate to come along, and Viggo just couldn’t convince himself to move beyond one-night-stands with the women he met.
Hook-ups were fun, and a great way to relieve stress without the romantic entanglements and demands of a relationship. Yes, Viggo wanted to share a house with a nice woman and have a big passel of kittens to spoil, but he wanted them with his mate.
Having turned thirty-four months earlier, Viggo wasn’t exactly becoming anxious, but he wasn’t getting any younger, either.
Truth was it irked him that his little brother had found his mate first. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Fate clearly didn’t care for Viggo’s opinion on the matter. Beyond actively searching for his mate—which he did almost religiously during his trips—there was nothing he could do but wait for her.
Viggo laughed and shook his head as he remembered how he’d had to fend off the blonde’s advances more than once over the past week. She hadn’t been unfriendly or ugly. Far from it. She’d been friendly, if a bit over-the-top pushy and dominant. Viggo had always preferred women with black hair, though. Long black hair he could brush his fingers through, or grip during sex.
Of course, in the end hair color wouldn’t matter if he found his mate, whether she turned out to be a blonde or a ginger.
His cell suddenly chirped, startling him out of his musings.
Viggo turned down the music, then pressed the button at the steering wheel to connect the call.
“Cavanaugh Climbing and Wildlife Experiences, this is Viggo. How may I help you?”
Hearing his little brother yell through the line, Viggo frowned in confusion.
“Thank God. I’ve been trying to reach you for hours. You need to come home. Like... yesterday.” Thony sounded agitated and breathless.
“What’s going on, bro? Is everything okay back home?”
Thony almost didn’t let him finish before he said, “No! Nothing is okay. That asshole deer alpha, Hector, has abducted Xander. Alan’s trying to smooth out the tension right now. He and the enforcers are making plans to rescue him, but I just know Jax will do something incredibly dumb. He’ll be injured or killed or—”
“Thony. Thony!” Sometimes his brother wouldn’t stop rambling, and the only way to stop him was with a firm voice. “Take a break, okay? You’re two seconds away from having to breathe into a paper bag. What do you mean, someone has kidnapped Xander? What asshole alpha? And who the hell is Jax?” Viggo slowed down the car and pulled over on the shoulder. There wasn’t much traffic anyway, and he had the feeling driving through the upcoming conversation wouldn’t be the safest decision.
The single muttered syllable was enough to make Viggo suspicious. He knew his brother too well. “You’ve been keeping things from me, haven’t you? What’s going on at home?”