Can you forgive being rejected by your mate?
For as long as Jyran Pechman can remember, he's dreamed about finding his soulmate. As a child, he lost his family, and he's been moving around ever since. He hates it, and he wants nothing more than to have a home. A mate. A place to belong.
Gideon Everett might have dreamed about the day he'd find his mate, but his mate was never an unorganized, nut-hoarding squirrel shifter in those dreams. Wolves eat squirrels, so when Jyran walks into Gideon's bar, he throws him out and tells him he wants nothing to do with him. He has a reputation to think about, and he will not be known as the wolf who mated a squirrel.
Being rejected hurts more than Jyran ever imagined, and he swears never to set foot in Gideon's bar again. After the initial shock, Gideon is almost sure he made the right decision. Almost. What if he made the wrong decision? Now when he knows his mate is out there, can he live on as if they've never met, or does he have to ... ugh ... apologize?
“He’s ... dating a human?” Fuck his traitorous tongue. He wouldn’t ask questions.
She shrugged. “There is always someone, but they can’t protect him properly. They don’t know what he is or the danger he’s in. I have to find out who attacked Valerie and why.”
Gideon couldn’t think. There is always someone. His bed hadn’t lacked lovers for the last six years, but he’d never imagined Jyran being with someone other than him. He was his mate, why would he want to bed anyone else? The voice in his head snorted. “Human?”
“What? No, shifter. She had scratches from claw marks. I’m heading to the hospital in a minute to talk to her. When I called, her mother was there, so I figured I’d pop in here first.”
“I mean Jyran. You left him with a human.”
He watched as a little light came on in her eyes. “Right, yeah, our entire team is human these days.”
“What? Why?” Who would want to work with humans? Humans couldn’t protect them.
She shrugged. “They love Jyran.”
Right, and shifters would want to kill him.
“Oh, and he wrote you a letter.” She pulled a paper that had been folded a million times from her pocket.
“He wrote me a letter?” He tried to halt the warmth spreading in his chest.
“Sure. He does it all the time, and then we normally get drunk and burn them. He’s a cute drunk.”
Gideon tried to process what she was saying while clutching the letter.
“Go on, read it.”
Part of him wanted to, another part suspected this would end badly. He slowly unfolded the paper and read the date in the corner. It was dated two weeks prior. He glanced at her, but she was studying her nails.
Skimming the first paragraph, he grinned as Jyran told him about Fewood. How lovely the city was, and how he’d gotten two pairs of shoes from the biggest shoe store he’d ever been in. Then the paper crinkled in his grip as he described, in detail, how Justin had sucked him off in a park under the moonlit sky and now was sleeping in his bed. How lovely he was, how Jyran wished he could love him. Then he went on a rant about how much he hated wolves and ended the letter with a fuck you. It was more like a diary entry than a letter.
“He wanted me to read this?”
“No, of course not.” She yanked it from his grip and tore it. “I had to steal it while he was in the shower. I’d have taken a juicier one, but he was done in the bathroom, so there was no time.”
Gideon filled his lungs. “How many letters are we talking?”
Adara shrugged. “He writes to you almost every day, but then, when he’s extra depressed, we burn them.” Her grin was evil. “You don’t deserve him.”
Maybe not, but he didn’t want him either, so it didn’t matter.
“Why give it to me, then?”
“Because you’re an ass.” She made a move to leave but turned. “If you hear anything about someone wanting to skin a squirrel or kill a singer, let me know, yeah?”
Gideon didn’t know what to do. His inner wolf whined with the need to protect his mate, but he was a stupid, mindless beast. Gideon couldn’t have a squirrel mate. “You think you’re in danger? For real? You’re not here to punish me?”
“Gid, had I wanted to punish you, you’d be bleeding. I’m sorry your idiocy is hurting Jyran, but as long as you’re pushing him away, I can keep him, so the selfish part of me doesn’t mind your stupidity at all. The day Jyran settles down with someone, I’ll be lost. I might stop touring. I’ve made enough money to last me a lifetime, but I kind of like it. He doesn’t, though. One day, he’ll settle for someone, and we’ll stop this nomad way of living.”
“You’ll stop touring?” He didn’t believe her. “For Jyran.”
“There is nothing I wouldn’t do for Jyran, but not until I know he can be happy. Justin is all right, but he’s not the one. I had higher hopes for David. For a while there, I believed David would be enough for him.”
It hurt more than it should. Gideon had worked his way through a long line of lovers, but he’d never kept anyone for more than a night. Jyran had relationships, and it hurt. He laughed with someone, cuddled with someone, shared meals with someone.
But he was a fucking squirrel. Gideon couldn’t be with a squirrel.