Calum has been living with the badgers for months now, but he’s still an outsider, and it’s entirely his fault. His past influences how he behaves, and it’s easier to push everyone away than to allow them in and risk losing them.
Duane just left the military and is looking for a new direction. When he applies for a job as a guard in the forest where the shifters live, he doesn’t expect much, and certainly not to stumble on two guys having words in the grocery store. He steps in, acts as a fake boyfriend, and starts falling for Calum.
But Calum’s fears run deep, and Duane doesn’t know if he belongs in the forest. If those were the only problems, Duane wouldn’t doubt they could make it work, but someone in the forest is plotting something, and they might have involved humans.
The forest is in danger, as is Calum’s heart. Will Calum be able to see beyond his fears? Can Duane convince him they can have their own happily-ever-after?
Julian started getting up from the couch, but Calum shot to his feet and glared at him. Julian looked amused, but thankfully, he sat back down and pressed his hands against his swollen stomach.
“I was just getting some water,” he said.
“I’ll get it for you. I already told you and Kaspar that I’ll take care of you, and it’s why I’m here after all.”
Julian frowned. “You’re not here to help us. You’re here because you’re our family.”
Calum’s heart fluttered. How was Julian so much older than him yet so adorable? He shouldn’t be, but Calum suspected that his pregnancy had a lot to do with it. Not everything, though. Julian was a good man, and Calum loved him.
“He’s right,” Kaspar said from next to Julian. “Even if you didn’t lift one finger in the house, we’d still want you here.”
Calum snorted. “If I didn’t lift a finger, I wouldn’t want me here.” Because no matter what they said, Calum was here first and foremost to help them with their pregnancies.
He’d been stunned when he’d found out that both Julian and Kaspar were pregnant, although he supposed he’d been nowhere near as stunned as they had. Julian had thought he couldn’t have any more children, and when they’d decided to start a family, they’d thought Kaspar was the only one who could get pregnant.
They’d been wrong.
Now, both of them were heavily pregnant and about to pop. Julian’s due date was first, but Kaspar wouldn’t be far behind, and once they both gave birth, the house would be a mess of babies and tired fathers.
Calum couldn’t wait.
He wasn’t an idiot. He realized that most people he’d lived with at the Bishop house didn’t like him. It was his fault because he’d isolated himself and had convinced himself he didn’t need anyone to survive, not even the badgers. But he’d been wrong.
He was glad Julian and Kaspar had seen through his shell and decided to give him a chance. That was why he was here. He’d offered to help them with the babies when they came, and they’d accepted that offer. They’d given him a chance he’d never thought he’d have, and he’d forever be grateful for that.
But that wasn’t the only thing he was grateful for. They’d given him an out, and he hadn’t had to return to the bats. He’d been terrified he’d be forced to, but he should have known better. Even without Julian and Kaspar, Thomas wouldn’t have forced him to go anywhere, even though Calum hadn’t told him why he decided to leave his home permanently.
He headed to the kitchen, filled a glass of water for Julian, then paused. “Kaspar?” he called out.
“Do you need anything, since I’m here?”
There was a moment of silence, and Calum heard Julian chuckle. Then, Kaspar answered, “A glass of water would be good.”
Calum would have brought him one even if he hadn’t wanted it. The dads needed to stay hydrated, and Calum was on it.
He carried the glasses back to the living room and handed them over. He sat back in the armchair, gesturing at Julian to put his feet up on his lap.
“You don’t have to do this,” Julian said, but he was already lifting his feet.
Even though he was barefoot, they were swollen, and Calum started rubbing them. He’d have been horrified at the thought of doing something like this for anyone else, but Kaspar and Julian had become his family. He’d never been as close to anyone as he was to them, not even his parents.
Julian moaned a little, and Calum didn’t miss the way Kaspar peered at him. He swallowed and looked away, feeling like he was intruding on a situation he shouldn’t be. Julian and Kaspar were very much in love, and in any other circumstance, Calum wouldn’t be living with them. If just Kaspar had been pregnant, Julian would be rubbing his feet right now, and it would probably end in sex on the couch. Instead, both of them were so big they could barely get back to their feet once they sat on the couch, so there would be no hanky-panky today, especially not with Calum right there. He had no idea if the two men still had sex, and he wasn’t about to ask. It was almost like thinking about his parents having sex, and that wasn’t something he wanted to scar himself with for the rest of his life.
A knock on the door made Calum jerk up. Julian sighed and got his feet back on the floor.
“I was just starting to relax,” he murmured.
“That will be Cynthia,” Calum said as he rushed to the front door.
The healer had said she’d come around today. Initially, Julian and Kaspar had gone to her, but now, it was easier for everyone if she came to them.
Both pregnancies were going well, which was a relief. Calum wasn’t sure what he’d do if something bad happened to either Kaspar or Julian. He felt closer to Julian, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t close to Kaspar. He’d decided he’d be their protector, and he took that job very seriously. That was why he made sure they had water and good food and didn’t tire themselves too much. He was a bit like a mother hen, but neither of them had complained.
Calum suspected they enjoyed the attention. Neither of them had been loved much when they were younger, especially not Julian. Hell, he’d spent decades hiding in the forest, completely on his own except for his son. He deserved all the love in the world, and while Kaspar was there for that, Calum wasn’t far behind. He loved Julian in a different way, but not any less.