Julian didn’t expect to have a second chance at life. Then his son dragged him out of the forest, and he met Kaspar.
Kaspar thought he’d eventually go home now that the carriers in the forest are free, but Julian walked into his life and made him rethink everything.
Julian and Kaspar want to be together, but even with the new laws and the majority of the council on their side, it doesn’t mean that people will look kindly at two carriers who want to be together, even if one of them thinks he can’t have any more children.
That’s only one of their problems. Kaspar is much younger than Julian, who already has an adult son. Julian doesn’t know how to live with people after spending the past twenty-five years in the forest.
And the humans are coming, something that could cause more problems than anything they are prepared for.
“I can’t believe you said that!” Chris yelled.
Julian sighed and closed his eyes. He hated that Jacob and Chris were fighting—again.
“What do you want me to say? We already talked about this.” Jacob sounded angry, but also weary, as if he couldn’t do this anymore. If Julian were in his place, he’d probably feel the same way.
Julian knew why Chris and Jacob were fighting. Everyone did. Even though he’d been the last to arrive at the Bishop House, he’d been informed that Chris would one day become the next bobcat alpha. Jacob, on the other hand, was a badger, and a guard. To make things even more complicated, Chris was a carrier. It meant he could get pregnant by Jacob, something his father was bound to be unhappy with. Chris didn’t care about that, though. He was strong-willed, and he knew exactly what he wanted in life.
And he wanted Jacob.
The two of them had been fighting over that ever since things had started to get better for the carriers in the forest. Chris’s father would eventually come back to get Chris and his twin brother, Nico. He would take them home, and Chris would be without Jacob. Chris had been trying to convince Jacob to move with him to bobcat territory, but Jacob had said no every time.
Julian didn’t blame him.
One would think that since Julian had spent most of his life hiding in the forest, he wouldn’t understand human beings. Some days he still had a hard time. But the Bishop House was perfect for him. He was surrounded by people who were like him—shifters, carriers, men who were more vulnerable than most people in the forest. They shared the house with the guards, too, but all of them were good people, like Jacob.
Chris and Jacob should be free to be together. Julian didn’t know if they were in love, but he suspected they were It was obvious from the way they looked at each other. But Chris had big things waiting for him in the future. He would become the bobcat alpha, and he would rule over a wide territory and numerous people. Jacob, on the other hand, was only a guard. There was nothing wrong with that, but traditionally, alpha marriages were arranged. The different shifter groups did that to create alliances and gain allies. That wouldn’t happen in this case, because Jacob was only a guard, not part of the badger alpha’s family.
Julian didn’t think it mattered. As far as Thomas, the badger alpha, was concerned, he already had an alliance with the bobcats. He’d taken in the twin sons of the bobcat alpha when carriers had been hunted, and he hadn’t asked for anything in return. He was a good man, and it showed in the way he treated his sons. Two of them were carriers, yet he hadn’t sold them out. He’d allowed them to choose who they wanted to marry, and they had. They were both happy now, and Thomas wanted the same for all the cete members. He wouldn’t have anything to say if Jacob decided to leave. Hell, he’d probably help him, and he would make sure Jacob had everything he needed to start a new chapter of his life.
But Jacob was resistant. Leaving the cete would mean leaving everything he knew behind to become a future alpha mate. He didn’t want that, and Julian didn’t blame him. The thought of being in a position of responsibility was terrifying, and Julian was more than happy to hide out in the Bishop House. This was where he belonged anyway. He no longer had a place in his gang. He’d left a long time ago, and even though the alpha had since died, he already knew he couldn’t go back, not after everything that had happened.
The cete had become his new family, his and the carriers’. He was happy that he and his son had found a family they hadn’t known they could have, but he wished that family would stop yelling.
“Why won’t you even try?” Chris cried out, pain tingeing his words.
He and Jacob were fighting in the kitchen, which meant none of the other carriers or the guards could go there. It was almost time for dinner, though, and that made things awkward.
Every fight Chris and Jacob had made things awkward. Julian wished he could do more for them, but he’d tried talking to both, and nothing had changed. He knew he wasn’t the only one who’d tried. Everyone in the house wanted to see Chris and Jacob happy, but Julian was starting to wonder if they wouldn’t be happier separated rather than together. They might be in love, but sometimes, love wasn’t enough. No matter how much people tried or how much they felt, it didn’t mean they would succeed.
“I can’t come with you,” Jacob said. His tone was quieter now, but just as torn.
“Because you don’t care about me,” Chris snapped.
“Of course I care about you.”
Julian had heard enough. He rose from the couch and strode toward the kitchen, ignoring the alarmed glances he got from a few of the carriers who were waiting for the kitchen to be empty. He stepped into the kitchen, and both Chris and Jacob turned to look at him.
Chris was smaller than Jacob, but he seemed to tower over him. Jacob was sitting at the counter with his face in his hands. Chris’s cheeks were flushed, and his hair looked like he’d raked his hands through it more than once. He was breathing heavily, but he shut his mouth as soon as Julian walked in.
“It’s almost time for dinner,” Julian said.
Chris shook his head. “And you can’t wait?” He turned his attention back to Jacob without waiting for an answer. “This isn’t over. We’re not done talking.”