Dean has been in love with Jasper almost since the day they met. He’s never said anything because he doesn’t want to ruin their friendship, but he’d die for Jasper.
Jasper became the alpha of his surfeit after his father was arrested, but he has no idea what he’s doing. He suspects his father’s beta is working against him rather than for him, but what’s he supposed to do about it? Harvey is the only help he has.
But Harvey has more on his mind than helping Jasper, and when Jasper finds out about it, he asks Dean and his team to arrest Harvey. Saying that Harvey doesn’t take it well is an understatement, and when he escapes, Jasper is left alone to deal with everything.
Jasper isn’t really alone, even though he believes he is. Dean has been by his side since he and his team arrived in the forest, and he has no intention of ever changing that. When he and Jasper finally confess their love, they both know they’ll never be alone anymore.
If anything because Dean is—surprise—pregnant.
“How is Jasper?” Luther asked.
Everyone in the room turned to Dean. Dean had expected that. Of all their team members, he was the one closest to Jasper, so it made sense.
And he did know how Jasper was. He’d been with him until just before the meeting, and while he hadn’t wanted to leave, Jasper had pushed him to do so. No matter how close they were, Dean had a job to do, and so did Jasper.
Dean leaned back in his chair. “He’ll be fine. The wound wasn’t deep, and the healer got to him right away. It’s a bit dicier now that he’s back home because he can’t find the skunk healer, but he’s keeping the wound clean, and Thomas agreed to let his healer check in on Jasper until the wound is completely healed.”
Luther, the leader of their team, nodded. “That’s good to hear.”
“What would be good to hear was that the shooter has been caught.”
Luther sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. He looked like he was getting a headache, which was a distinct possibility. Dean was getting a headache, and he wasn’t even the team leader. He could only imagine the pressure on Luther’s shoulders between the team, finding the shooter, and being an alpha mate. There was also Josiah’s pregnancy and the fact that Luther was still settling in with the coyotes.
All in all, everything was a mess and nothing like what the team was used to when they went on missions.
But Dean wouldn’t have it any other way. It was more complicated than any of them could have expected, but it was changing their lives. Before, they’d gone on missions, done what they’d been ordered to do, and gone home. Now, the team had been permanently dispatched to the forest, and the various members were settling down. They were expected to build their lives here while also keeping an eye on the shifters.
Luther, the team leader, had fallen in love with one of the alphas and was building a family while at the same time learning to be an alpha mate. Marlow, who was sitting next to Dean, had settled down with a porcupine shifter. He’d quickly become a father between Misha’s newborn son and his own younger brother, whom he’d moved to the forest after finding out their mother was abusing him. Miriam had a partner, too, and she was planning to move out of the shared apartment the team had lived in since they’d first arrived.
Then there was Dean, who was in love with the skunk alpha and had no idea what to do about it or if he should do anything about it.
“I reached out to most of the alphas in the forest,” Luther explained. “I warned them that someone seemed to have entered the forest and to keep an eye open, but you know how these things go. Most of them were nice enough to tell me they’d let me know, while others made a point of telling me it was none of my business. Whoever came in might not have entirely realized what they were doing. If one of these alphas finds them, they might kill them without ever letting us know about it.”
That was what everyone was afraid of. They had no idea who had snuck in through the hole in the fence surrounding the forest, but it could someone dangerous or just a human who’d decided they wanted to see shifters from up close. If that was the case, they were in for a world of trouble if an alpha found them.
Dean tapped his fingertips on the table. “We’re assuming the intruder isn’t here to hurt anyone,” he said.
“At the very least, they haven’t hurt anyone yet.”
“You don’t think they’re the person who shot Jasper?”
“I don’t. I believe that the person who shot Jasper is the same person who shot the bobcat alpha. My guess is that they’re trying to destabilize the forest and the balance of power in it. What better way to do so than to kill alphas? Things would be different if they’d been targeting other shifters, but alphas? No, this is someone who’s trying to start a war or, at the very least, to kill the alphas who have allied themselves with us.”
It could be any alpha in the forest. Most of them now supported the council and were working together, but that didn’t mean none of them was involved. Besides, an alpha might not be behind the shootings. It could be any shifter who wasn’t happy with how things were going. They only needed a gun and the ability to shoot it.
Which was a problem, because the team had no idea where to start investigating. This was the reason they were here. They were supposed to keep an eye on shifters and ensure there was no violence between the various groups in the forest. So far, they’d done what they could, but if someone was targeting alphas, they’d eventually manage to kill one.
Then the real trouble would begin.
Two alphas had been shot for now, and both of them had survived. Dean doubted it was intentional, but there was no way to be sure. He hoped they’d both survived because the shooter wasn’t good with guns, but who knew? And who knew what else the shooter was planning?
Then there was the human who’d snuck into the forest. The hole in the fence had been fixed, but while they’d found signs that someone was living in the forest, they hadn’t found that person. They didn't know if they were dangerous, and Dean didn’t like it.
There were many things he didn’t like, and a lot of them had to do with the fact that Jasper had been shot.