The perfect Christmas gift may be as simple as saying the words I Love You.
Cole is having a difficult time adjusting to life as a shapeshifter’s mate and father to two fledglings. He’d always wanted children, but never in his wildest imaginations did he think he would be raising eagles instead.
For Michael Diamond, finding the words to describe his love for Cole can be difficult. Especially during the Christmas holidays, which also happens to be their anniversary.
Cole had not asked to be stuck in his house in the middle of winter just days before Christmas, among a group of shifters ranging from the noisy to the downright dangerous. There was nothing he could do about it, but he was a flexible kind of guy and had made the conscious decision to make the best of it. It was the attitude that counted.
How did he get caught in the situation? Well, he married a billionaire CEO who just happened to be an eagle shifter. Said husband slash shifter, John Michael Diamond, had laid two eggs just a month after they’d first hooked up. Two months later, both eggs had cracked, and Cole suddenly became a father of two male eaglets. They were not twins, having been laid a week apart by Michael in his eagle form. Fast forward nine and a half months, and the eaglets had turned into fledglings. Noisy, dangerous, and both his sons were downright spoiled little brats.
If someone had asked Cole what he’d imagined his future would be, no way would he have thought it would turn out the way it had. Never in his life had he thought he would have a mate and be a father at his age. He was only thirty-eight, still young, and thankfully, physically and mentally healthy. But… There’s that but.
Should people find out about Michael and their children, there would be many questions that no ordinary couple could answer. Like had there been a surrogate or surrogates involved? Or who’d fathered which child? For the more curious, they’d refer to one particularly sore subject—where were the babies?
Neither he nor Michael had any pictures of babies. Like, zero. There were days when Cole would pinch himself, just to make sure he was not dreaming up his life. Were the boys actually real? Could the absence of pictures be because Diamond was one of those reclusive, eccentric individuals with too much money and power in their hands? Could be, if one were to think the Diamonds were regular humans. But… And there’s that but again. The Diamonds were far from regular. They were not even human.
Cole had worked three years as a caretaker for the Diamond Corp. He’d had reservations when Michael’s eagle form came swooping down from the sky and claimed Cole as his mate. The whole process had all been quite upfront, not the romanticized version like those written by romance authors Cole enjoyed reading. Of course, he couldn’t deny that there had been no better way to spend his Christmas than finding his soul mate. In fact, he hadn’t believed his luck. Still couldn’t, if he were going to be truly honest.
That was last Christmas.
Cole lay on his back, catching his breath and watching the shadows from the fireplace dance across the high ceiling. He didn’t turn to look when Michael stirred beside him. The current house they were living in was not the same one they’d used in area twenty-eight. Right after Michael had staked his claim on him, work had begun almost immediately on this new house located a few miles from Cole’s old cottage. They had moved just two months previous when the fledglings—their sons—had first started learning how to fly.
At the thought of flying and the fledglings, worry ate at Cole. He turned on his side and ran a caressing hand down Michael’s naked chest.
“Are you sure the boys are going to be okay with just Nelson guarding them?”
Michael stretched his arms over his head, a hint of a smile on his lips. “Don’t forget, Davis and Samson are keeping watch on the three of them. I’m sure there’s nothing for us to worry about.”
Cole frowned at Michael’s dismissive voice. “Why aren’t you even worried?”
Michael let out a sigh and faced Cole.
“We eagles have our advantages growing up. While human parents end up running ragged the first years of their children’s lives, we only have to do that around the third year. The boys are enjoying their first flights, but Davis will make sure they don’t go too high or tire themselves out.”
“Tiring themselves out may be a good thing,” Cole muttered. He shook his head. Never in his wildest dreams had he ever imagined talking about flying and his sons in the same thought or sentence.
“Just wait until they turn three,” Michael said, his eyes twinkling, his grin broadening. “Mother always said she never had it so easy being a parent as she had with eagle shifters. Only when we turn three or thereabout do we gain an awareness of our human side and actually have the strength and confidence to shift into that form.”
“Do you even remember your first three years of life?” Cole’s frown deepened. Rose had briefed him all about what to expect after Michael laid the first egg, but he was still finding it difficult to process fully.
Michael shook his head. “It’s all a blur. What I can say is that I cannot forget the feeling of the freedom of flying. Now learning to walk was a very different thing. Also, learning to speak. I kept biting my tongue. And I had to chew my food. It’s so much easier to swallow food down whole.”
Cole raised himself on his elbow so he could look down on Michael. “Is that why you love to sing?”