Niall doesn’t have a problem with shifters, but can anyone blame him for not trusting them entirely? It has nothing to do with who they are, but rather with the fact that the pride has been in hiding for too long—okay, and maybe it’s because both his best friend and his dad are dating shifters, and he’s kind of jealous.
Billy didn’t mean to become a runaway groom. Instead of marrying his long-time boyfriend, he’s back in his childhood room in Green Hill, and he has every intention of hiding there as long as he can.
But Billy’s mom is dating someone, and while Billy is happy for her, he wishes he could avoid the man’s son, Niall. Niall is rude and doesn’t let Billy forget he almost ran him over with his car—he was overwhelmed, all right?
There’s no ignoring that Niall is Billy’s mate, though, no matter how much Billy wishes he could. Finding his mate is the last thing he needs, especially when Niall is the grumpiest man he knows. Can he ignore their bond, though? And even if he wants to give this a try, will Niall?
Niall’s father was hiding something. Niall had no idea what it was, but he wanted to find out. He needed to find out because he wasn’t ready to lose his father, and he was afraid he might.
He couldn’t stop thinking about it. After losing his mother ten years ago to breast cancer, he was terrified of something similar happening to his father. It would be just like the man to hide health problems from his children to protect them, even though all three of them would be angry. The fact that Niall’s father was hiding something pointed to that, and Niall had no idea how to find out what was happening. He knew his father, and if he pushed, his dad would clam up.
Niall just had the time to crunch forward. He felt something move above his head, and he stayed still until he was sure the danger was gone. When he straightened and turned around, he found his best friend glaring at him.
“I told you I was coming in with this,” he said, gesturing at the beam of wood he was carrying on one shoulder.
Niall hadn’t heard him. If he was honest, he had no idea what was happening around him, which was a problem, considering his job.
He sighed and rubbed his face. “I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you.”
Val stared at him for so long that Niall wondered if he was going to try to hit him with that beam. Instead, he put it down, even though Niall was pretty sure that wasn’t where the beam was supposed to go. Val didn’t seem to care, and he came toward Niall, peering at him. “What’s going on?”
Niall shook his head. “Nothing.” He had nothing to say, not when he didn’t know what was happening to his father.
“Bullshit. Something is going on, and I’m getting worried. Usually, you wouldn’t hesitate to tell me.” Val paused. “Unless it has something to do with me?”
“You’re not the center of the universe.”
That made Val smile. “Simon would disagree.”
“That’s because he’s smitten with you.”
“I would be worried if he wasn’t, considering he’s my mate.”
Niall had hoped Val was done interrogating him, but he should have known better because he continued.
“You’d tell me if something was wrong with you, right?”
“You’re my best friend. Of course I would.” And Niall should probably talk to someone about this. The best people to do it with would be his siblings, but he was closer to Val. “Maybe we can talk after work?”
“We should, but you have to survive until then. It’s not like you to be distracted.”
“I promise I’ll be more careful.” If Niall’s father really had health problems, the last thing their family needed was for Niall to get hurt.
He did his best to focus on the work once he and Val were done talking. Luckily, they were in charge of this team, so no one had anything to say about them taking a five-minute break to talk, especially after the way Niall had been behaving. Niall was pretty sure most of the team was worried about him, and he made an extra effort to focus on the work and on his coworkers instead of obsessing over his father. Whatever was happening, there was nothing Niall could do right now. Worrying wasn’t going to help, and his father would kick his ass if he found out that Niall had been so distracted he’d almost taken a wooden beam to the head.
Niall was relieved when it was time to take a break. He let Val talk to the owners of the house they were working on today and started a quick clean-up. He wasn’t in the mood to talk to anyone, even though technically it was his job, since his uncle owned the company he and Val worked for. His uncle had always liked Val best when it came to the job, though, and Niall didn’t mind.
“Okay,” Val said when he got back to Niall. “What’s going on?”
“Not here,” Niall murmured. He didn’t want the customers to overhear a personal conversation.
Val nodded. “How about we grab something for lunch? I’ll tell Simon I won’t be home until tonight.”
“He won’t care?”
Val beamed, just like always when he spoke of his mate. “He’s not my jailer. He loves me, and he understands I have other people in my life, including you.”
Niall was relieved Simon hadn’t demanded Val stop being friends with him or something like that when they’d bonded. Niall had been wary when Val found out he was a shifter’s mate, and he still was. Niall had no idea what to expect when it came to shifters, at least not in real life. He knew the theory, just like everyone else, but when it came to his best friend, it wasn’t enough.
There was nothing he could do about it. Val knew that Niall wasn’t sure how he felt about shifters, but he hadn’t considered that when he’d decided to bond with Simon. Niall hadn’t expected him to. Val was an adult, and he knew what he was doing better than Niall. Besides, he was happy with Simon. The relationship between Val and Niall had changed since Simon had become part of Val’s life, but then it would have changed even if Simon hadn’t been a shifter and if Val hadn’t been his mate.
“Let’s grab something for lunch,” Niall agreed.
Val was already texting, no doubt telling Simon that something was wrong with Niall and that he was going to try to get information out of him.
Niall didn’t mind, although he wasn’t sure how he felt about Val telling Simon what was going on with him.