Anthony is so clumsy he might as well have invented clumsiness. He has daily encounters with the ground and walls, but he manages to stay mostly healthy—at least until he literally falls on his face into a meeting organized to plan Kameron’s death.
Rob just came back from a three-week mission in the jungle, and the only thing he wants to do is sleep. Of course, that means Kameron calls him of all people to protect Anthony. He hadn’t expected Anthony to be his mate, and it makes up for the lost sleep.
Rob has his work cut for him defending Anthony from walls and the men plotting against Kameron, but it’s not his only problem. Anthony is reluctant to believe Rob is here to stay, and Rob isn’t sure he’ll ever be able to convince him. Will Anthony finally see the truth in Rob’s words, or will problems find him before he can?
Anthony had to grab the banister to avoid falling forward. He’d tripped on his own foot, but he was so used to it that he reacted on instinct.
His mom was passing through the entrance as he walked down the stairs, and she rolled her eyes, but she didn’t say anything. She never asked if he was fine, not anymore. He fell and bumped into things so often that both she and Anthony’s father had given up making sure he was all right. He didn’t hurt himself badly often, and when he did, well, he was an adult. He could take care of himself. Most of the time, anyway.
Once he was steady on his feet, he followed his mom into the kitchen. She was leaning against the counter, a steaming cup of coffee in her hands. Anthony didn’t even think about pouring himself one. He needed to wait until it was cool enough that it wouldn’t burn him when he dropped his cup onto his lap.
Instead he sat at the table and ate a cookie. That was safe—most of the time. He’d almost managed to choke himself with cookies a few times, but it wasn’t routine.
“What are you doing today?” Anthony’s mother asked.
Anthony shrugged. He didn’t have to go to work today, but he hadn’t planned anything yet.
His mother rolled her eyes again. It was something she seemed to do often in his presence. “You’re going to go over to Dan’s?”
“Aren’t you scared?”
Anthony frowned. “Scared? Why? Of what?”
“Those shifters. Dan lives there now, right? At least that’s what I heard through the grapevine.”
“He doesn’t live there yet.”
“But he’s moving.”
Anthony sighed. “Yeah, he is.”
“And you’re not scared of going there?”
Anthony shook his head. “Mom, I’ve been spending time with the pack for the past few weeks. Why should I be scared today?”
“You knew what they were when you went there the first time?”
Anthony thought back to how he’d convinced Dan to go explore the forest around pack territory and how they’d found out shifters really existed. His mother didn’t know, of course. She’d kick his ass for taking his father’s gun and running around the woods with only Dan for protection. “Well, I suspected. No one there ever hurt me or Dan, so don’t worry. I’ll be fine. Besides, Bran would kill anyone who tried to hurt me or Dan.”
“Bran. That’s Dan’s boyfriend, right?”
“His mate, actually.” Now that Anthony’s parents knew about mates, he could tell them that. Kameron hadn’t been extremely specific when he’d explained about mates in the town hall, but he’d said enough that the entire town now knew what mates were.
Anthony’s mom put her cup on the counter. “His mate? Really? So they’re bonded forever?”
Anthony knew Dan and Bran had mated a few days earlier, so he nodded. He’d almost walked in on them, and the thought made him a bit queasy. Bran was hot, but just the thought of Dan naked or having sex made Anthony shudder. It really was like seeing his own parents going at it, although Anthony hoped he’d never actually see that. He wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to scrub the image from his brain.
“What about you? Do you have a mate?”
Trust his mother to poke the sore spot.
Anthony shrugged. “I don’t know. Even if I have one, it’s not like he walks around with a tag on his chest that says Anthony’s mate.”
“How do they know?”
“They can smell it. It’s because of their animal part, you know? They smell someone, and they know they’re mates.”
“Do you think you have one?”
Anthony shrugged again. He didn’t have an answer to that question.
Dan had been pretty vocal when they’d first found out about shifters and mates. He’d never hidden the fact that he wanted a mate, and he’d been lucky enough to find Bran only days after they’d stumbled onto Clea and Christian.
Anthony, well, he hadn’t told Dan what he thought of mates, but he couldn’t deny he did want one, not to himself anyway. Who wouldn’t? He’d seen how mates looked at each other, with such love and acceptance. It wasn’t something he’d ever found in his relationships with humans. No one minded being with him for a quick fuck, or maybe a few of them, but once they found out just how clumsy he was, they all ran the other way. He was too much of a hassle. The only people who accepted Anthony were his parents and Dan. His parents kind of had to accept him. He was their son.
Dan, well, Anthony sometimes still wondered why they were friends. Maybe it was because they’d met when they were still kids. Whatever it was, Dan had stuck around, and Anthony loved him for that. He wished he could have more, though, especially now that Dan had found Bran. Anthony was happy for him, but he wasn’t stupid. He knew it meant Dan wouldn’t have much time for him anymore.
He didn’t blame Dan, and he didn’t want to stop him from being happy. He couldn’t continue clinging to him like he had until now. Not that finding a man would help with that. It was probably time Anthony was on his own for a bit. He couldn’t live his life around a man, be it Dan or otherwise.
“Well, maybe you do,” Anthony’s mom said. “I’m not sure how I feel about that, but I want you to be happy.”
“I am happy, Mom.”