Aaron is behaving like a brat, and he knows it. He can’t help how he feels, though—at only nineteen, his life is overwhelming. He’s the only harpy-Krsnik hybrid of his age, and it makes him feel like a freak. The fact that he has no idea what to do with his life doesn’t help. His dads won’t let him become a vampire hunter, but Aaron is old enough to make these decisions for himself.
James is working as an apprentice baker, and he loves it. His life is entrenched in Gillham, and he’s not planning on ever moving. He’s jealous of his brother, who at twenty, is already living with his mate, but he’s not in a rush.
Then James meets his mate, and Aaron flies away—talk about being rejected. James has no intention of begging Aaron to accept him, even though he doesn’t want to give up this opportunity. Will Aaron finally grow up, at least enough to see his life is not the disaster he feels it is? And will James have the patience to wait for him?
Aaron was hiding. He needed to make sure no one found him because he would have to do something he didn’t want if they did.
Play with his siblings.
He sighed and glared at his bedroom door. He was nineteen. He shouldn’t have to play with Hazel and Matthew, but he already knew that his fathers would ask him to if they found out he was here. He should have left when he’d had the opportunity, but Matthew had been having a meltdown in the hallway, and Aaron had retreated to his bedroom.
And now he was stuck.
He eyed the window. Maybe he wasn’t as stuck as he thought. He didn’t like shifting, but for this, he would.
“Aaron?” one of his fathers called out. Aaron was pretty sure it was Emery, but he couldn’t tell through the closed bedroom door.
This was it. They were going to check his bedroom, and they would find out he was there. If Aaron wanted out, he needed to do something now.
He got to his feet, shrugged off his t-shirt, and shifted.
His father always became massive when he shifted into his harpy form, but Aaron wasn’t like him. Everyone kept telling him it would change when he grew up, but he was already nineteen, and there was no way he would become as muscular as his father when he shifted. It didn’t make sense that Troy looked that way, either. Aaron supposed his dad looked okay, but he had a bit of a stomach, and he was on the out of shape side when he was human. How could he be so muscled in his harpy form?
Aaron looked down at himself. He was skinny, just like his other dad. There were muscles there, but not too many, which made him scowl again.
“Aaron? Are you in your bedroom?”
Aaron opened the window and climbed onto the sill. He didn’t look back as he threw himself down.
He opened his wings, and the wind caught them. He rose, but it only took a few flaps to get him safely on the ground under his window. From there, he could hear his bedroom door open after a knock, and he hurriedly pressed himself against the wall so that even if his father looked down, he wouldn’t see him. He shifted and shivered, knowing his dad would know what he’d done. There was no way he would have opened his bedroom window otherwise.
Aaron heard a noise above him, and he knew his dad was leaning out the window. He didn’t say anything, and Aaron didn’t dare move. He would hear enough about this later when he went back home. When he heard the window close, he breathed out and put his t-shirt back on. He probably should have thought better about this. He wasn’t sure where to go. It was too late to head to Whitedell, and while he did have friends here at the mansion, the whole place was busy and noisy, just as much as his parents’ private rooms. Aaron’s entire life was busy and loud, which was why he’d been hiding.
With a sigh, he walked around the house to the kitchen. His dads would find him soon enough, but he supposed he could take advantage of the hour or so it would take them to calm down the kids and look for him.
The sliding doors of the kitchen were closed but not locked. Aaron opened them and stepped in, the smell of food wrapping around him and making him relax, even though it was mixed with a burning smell.
He shouldn’t have left, and especially not through the window. He just needed some time to himself, and he hoped his fathers would understand.
“Where did you come from?” Nysys asked. He was standing at the stove, poking at something in a pan.
Aaron wasn’t sure what that something was, since it looked like a charcoal brick by now. “Outside.”
Nysys looked at him and rolled his eyes. “I can see that. What were you doing outside? I thought you were upstairs.”
“You thought wrong. Did you want something?”
Nysys arched a brow. “When did you become so mouthy?” He raised a hand. “Wait. Don’t tell me. You were always mouthy. I wonder who you took that from? Neither of your fathers are like that.”
“Are you saying my dad cheated on my father?”
Nysys’ eyes went wide. “How did you get that from what I just said? Of course not. Neither of them would do something like that. They’re mates.”
It was Aaron’s turn to roll his eyes. “Being mates doesn’t mean you don’t cheat.”
“It does in this pride, and they love each other too much to even think about doing something like that. Now, did you need anything? I’m cooking dinner, and it should be ready soon.”
Aaron looked at the pan again. “I’m going to go upstairs. I’m sure my dads are looking for me.”
“I thought you were running away from them.”
“I never said I was running away.”
“You didn’t have to. You looked like someone was hunting you when you walked in.”
“No one’s hunting me.”
“Not even Hazel?”
Aaron sighed. “I love her.”
“But she’s eight, and she wants to spend all of her time with her big brother. I know you don’t like it, but she’s not doing it to bother you.”
Aaron knew that, but it didn’t make it easier to accept. He’d been an only child for fifteen years, then suddenly, in less than a year, he’d found himself with two siblings. Hazel had been adopted, but it didn’t change anything. She was part of their family, and while Aaron loved her and Matthew, he needed space.
“There you are,” a voice said from the entrance of the kitchen.
Aaron groaned and looked at his father. “You were looking for me?”