The last thing Sage Kanston wants to do is go to the Shifter Council Headquarters to help his older brother, Glade. He hadn’t been on good terms with him…ever. While growing up, Sage remembered Glade to be a bully, and that trait hadn’t changed when he’d been a pride enforcer. Sage doubted it had varied when he became a council enforcer, either. Still, he likes keeping his momma happy, so to the Council Headquarters he goes.
When the enforcer sent to escort Sage to Glade’s boss arrives—some guy named Mycroft—he’s hit with a scent he never expected. Germaine Messalla, the tall, slender, anaconda shifter, is his mate. His world is turned upside down because his pride always told him same-sex fated matings didn’t happen. To make matters even more confusing, Sage learns that a couple of councilmen are in fated gay pairings. So many things he’d been taught…just aren’t true.
As Sage comes to grips with the changes in his reality, allowing him to accept Germaine, he realizes others in his pride could benefit from what he’s learned. Except, there are those attempting to keep the changes on the council secret. Can Sage and Germaine uncover who’s still attempting to keep certain things under wraps so he can help his pride?
If Sage Kanston had been able to get out of it, he would have. Unfortunately, he liked having his mother happy with him. Especially when the action was fairly easy, just uncomfortable.
Mary Kanston was the only person in the pride who’d always encouraged him, even when she didn’t understand his choices. Still, that didn’t mean she didn’t offer words of warning and discretion, too. It just meant they were wrapped up in motherly hugs and served with a cup of mint tea—her favorite.
To that end, Sage found himself making the twelve-hour drive to the outskirts of Savannah, Georgia and the building that housed Shifter Headquarters. To outsiders, it looked like an exclusive golf club and day spa. Paranormals knew differently—beneath the pretty window dressing above was a massive underground complex housing the Shifter Council’s offices, suites in case they needed a place to rest and freshen up between meetings, plus cells, interrogation rooms, and sentencing chambers.
Sage’s brother, Glade, had told him all about them. He’d made them sound terrifying. Sage never wanted to see them, since so few who went in as prisoners ever saw the light of day again.
Well, that’s what Glade told me anyway. Maybe I shouldn’t believe a word he says.
Except, Glade had scented true.
Being a tiger shifter—a paranormal that shared his psyche with a Bengal tiger and could shift into the animal at will—Sage could use a person’s scent to tell if they were lying or not. It wasn’t an exact science, since if the person actually believed what they were saying, they would smell of truth. Maybe Glade truly thought that was what happened to prisoners.
How ironic, then.
Sage couldn’t help but smirk as the words flitted through his mind. His brother was currently sitting in one of those cells. According to what his father had told him, Glade had allowed a rogue into the facility and had tried to help him kidnap another enforcer’s mate—some woman named Miggs—while she’d been working in the headquarters’ kitchen.
Of course, then his father—Bill Kanston, their pride’s head enforcer—had made a snide comment about the woman’s name. “Who would name their daughter Miggs? Stupid name,” Bill had said. That was followed up by expressing his bigotry. “At least she knows her place. In the kitchen.”
Sage didn’t know how his mother tolerated his dad’s narrow-minded and controlling views. He supposed it had something to do with the whole fated mate thing. In his opinion, Sage would rather never find his mate if it meant putting up with that kind of attitude.
On top of that, Sage wouldn’t know what to do with a woman even if he did find his fated mate. He was as gay as the day was long, not that he’d ever told his father that. His mother knew, though. She’d told him she loved him just the way he was, then followed that up by telling him, “But you need to be very careful. Few people in the pride would understand, and I don’t want you hurt or kicked out.”
For over a century, Sage had taken that advice to heart. He’d been extremely careful about who he’d shared his body and time with. Over the last couple of decades, homosexuality had become much more accepted—to humans, anyway. Paranormals were a bit slower to change. Perhaps it was due to their long lives. Still, it had made it easier for Sage to find lovers.
Hell, Sage even had a couple of friends-with-benefits in a fox skulk. Their territory abutted the pride’s. Every month or so, he would go to his friends’ home for a movie night. Randy and Cain weren’t fated mates—after all, Fate didn’t pair those of the same sex—but they were in a relationship. It was too bad, really, because the guys loved each other deeply.
Of course, if they had ended up fated mates, then they would never allow me to occasionally join them in their fun.
The movies they watched weren’t of the normal variety. His buddies had an extensive porn collection, and Sage loved watching with them…which led to touching and so much more.
Just remembering the last Saturday night he’d spent with Randy and Cain caused his prick to begin to thicken. It had been the prior month, and the amount of fucking and being fucked he’d enjoyed had been fantastic. He clenched his chute as he recalled Cain’s dick in his ass. Sage then remembered how it had felt to sink his cock into each of the men and had to adjust himself in his dress slacks.
Randy was a consummate bottom boy, but Cain enjoyed the occasional dick up his ass, too. Sage understood the man’s position because he was a switch, too. He was only too happy to help both men scratch their itches.
Sage had regretfully had to tell Randy that he wouldn’t be able to make it tomorrow evening, since he wouldn’t be in town.
“You’re going to Shifter Headquarters?” Randy had asked, sounding shocked. “To help Glade?”
“Afraid so,” Sage had confirmed dryly, unable to hide his disappointment…or annoyance. “Not that I know what I’ll be able to do, but my dad wants me to find out if the charges were just blown out of proportion. He says if family shows up to support him, maybe he’ll get off.”
“That sounds like bullshit,” Cain commented, telling Sage that Randy must have put the phone on speaker. “If he really believes that, then why doesn’t he go himself?”
Sage had cleared his throat, uncomfortable sharing pride and family secrets that weren’t his, even with his friends. Still, he hadn’t wanted to lie to the pair. “Well, my father checks emails before passing them on to Alpha Colton or Beta Larry, depending on which one he thinks would be better equipped to handle it.”