As dominant bear shifters go, Stefan Vasiliev is different. He enjoys working at the clan’s day care, tending to the cubs. Too bad having a family of his own is a dream that seems to be out of reach for him. Until he meets the handsome father of cute little Tommy.
It’s hard to be an omega bear shifter without a mate. Shifter society has definite rules about how omegas should act, as Devin McAllister discovers when he’s unexpectedly widowed. He’s lost his job and he’s lost his apartment. As Christmas approaches, he’s afraid he’s going to lose his children. But an unexpected rescue comes in the form of Stefan.
When Devin’s need meets Stefan’s desire to help, there’s no telling what might happen. This might just be the best Christmas ever for these two loving men as they explore what it means to be a family.
Stefan spun in a circle and laughed at the cubs’ antics. Such tiny kids, and yet they made as much noise as if they were a horde of grown-up bears chasing after salmon. Stefan loved their boisterous happiness. Four in the afternoon—pick-up time for most of the kids.
A group of four cubs—three boys and one girl—ran by. The smallest boy was dressed in a blue onesie. He clutched a stuffed bear to his chest. Not as fast as his companions, he ground to a halt beside Stefan to let out a discontented scream. Stefan bent and scooped the tyke into his arms.
“Don’t cry, baby boy.” Stefan settled the cub on his hip and tickled his belly. “Eat your vegetables and you’ll grow up into one fast and strong bear.”
The kid scrunched his nose and made an icky face. “I don’t like ‘tables. I want honey cookies.” He cuddled his stuffy harder, focusing on Stefan with huge brown eyes. God, he was cute.
Stefan laughed. “Don’t we all? Honey cookies are the best. What’s your name?”
“Tommy. I’m this old.” He held up three fingers, looking proud as punch.
“Wow! You’re a big boy, then.”
Clara, the manager of the day care, came over and brushed a hand through Tommy’s wild golden curls. Blond was a rare hair color for a bear shifter. She looked up at Stefan, relief showing on her face. “Thank you for helping out on such short notice. And so close to Christmas, too. Three of my kindergartners are sick with a stomach bug.” She sighed deeply. “I didn’t know what to do.”
“You did right to call the alpha, Clara. Don’t worry. I’m happy to help. I love kids. Who’d have thought, huh?” He chuckled. “I didn’t know I had such a knack for little kids until my half-siblings were born.”
Clara’s gaze softened. “How’s Shea?”
“Oh, he’s great. Tired, but happy. It’s easier now that Dad’s retired. He can care for the babies full-time.” Stefan bounced Tommy. “I know Shea wants to come work for you when the cubs are a little older. Until then, feel free to take advantage of me.” He nuzzled Tommy’s sweet-smelling hair, his bear being naturally affectionate toward small cubs. “I don’t really have a job right now.”
Clara frowned. “You’re not working at the restaurant anymore?”
“Nope. The chef there thought it would be funny to molest me. When my boss wouldn’t believe me, I quit.” Stefan rolled his eyes. “Just because I’m a dominant shifter doesn’t mean I want to f…” He curled his lips into his mouth, his eyes widening. “Ah, let’s talk about this later.”
Clara’s eyes twinkled. “Good idea. Tommy’s new in Hazel Woods. He and his little sister moved here with their father last week.”
“Really? Since Phoenix has taken over clan business, Juri’s been handling the new members.” Stefan let his gaze roam. “Tommy, is your father here?
The little boy nodded his head, his curls bouncing. He pointed his chubby finger.
“Over there,” Clara said. “The guy with the green baby carrier strapped to his chest.”
Stefan gasped when his gaze fell onto the afore-mentioned man. Damn, he’s huge. The guy had the same blond hair and brown eyes as his son. He was easily as big as Phoenix, with wide shoulders and endless, powerful legs. The man hid some padding under his red sweater. He had a neatly trimmed blond beard and a tiny gold stud in his nose.
Their gazes locked. Then the man’s focus fell on Tommy, playing with his stuffy in Stefan’s arms, and his solemn expression softened into a smile.
Clara edged closer to Stefan and lowered her voice. “His name’s Devin McAllister. He’s…a single dad.”
Stefan nodded. He was wondering what had happened with Tommy’s mother when Devin walked over to them and his scent hit Stefan full force. Stefan’s eyes widened. Devin, this giant of a male, was an omega bear shifter. And the one who’d given birth to the adorable boy in Stefan’s arms and the baby girl strapped to Devin’s chest.
The man stopped and held out his hand. “Devin McAllister.”
Stefan shook his hand. He suppressed a shiver when a tingle spread through his palm at the strong grip. “Stefan Vasiliev.”
Devin’s eyebrows arched. “The former alpha’s son?”
“Yes. The second oldest.”
Clara coughed. “The unmated brother.”
Stefan shot her an annoyed glare, then focused back on Devin. “Welcome to Hazel Woods. Clara told me you just moved here. Where are you staying?”
Devin rubbed his huge hand up and down the baby’s back. “In the apartment above Mr. Hawkins’ tool shop. Just until I can afford a house.”
That wouldn’t be anytime soon. Omegas had a particularly hard time getting loans while they were unmated. “What is it you do, Devin?” Stefan looked down at Tommy when the cub rested his head against Stefan’s chest, his eyes closing. His heart melted a little.
“I’m a mechanic. Tried to get work at the shop in town, but…the guy said he’d already found someone for the position.” Devin sounded disgruntled.
Stefan couldn’t blame him. He frowned. He knew the garage Devin was talking about, because right now there was only one in Hazel Woods. Old man Harris had been looking for a mechanic for months. Mr. Harris planned to retire soon and wanted someone reliable, someone who’d be able to take over the garage.
Devin must’ve seen the doubt on Stefan’s face. His expression hardened, and he pressed his lips into a firm line. “I need to get the kids home.” He waved at Tommy, who was asleep against Stefan’s chest. “It was nice to meet you, Stefan. Clara.”
Stefan gazed at the sleeping Tommy. “All right. Want me to carry him to your car for you?”