Wallace has only ever wanted one thing—to make his father proud. It’s the only reason he’s training to become a council assassin, but he’s not sure he’ll ever be able to go into that line of work. The problem is that his father won’t take no for an answer.
Hawthorne has known Wallace is his mate since the first day of training. He’s too old and grumpy for the young man, so he’s been hiding his scent from him while he tries to find a way out of it, even though he’s not sure he wants to lose Wallace.
When Wallace’s father decides to pull him out of the program, Hawthorne knows he has to do something, and not only for himself. He suggests that Wallace could stay with him for a few days.
And only later realizes that the spray he uses to hide his scent is empty.
Wallace can’t keep hiding forever, but after finding out Hawthorne is his mate, he wants to. But if he wants to be a worthy mate, he has to finally stop trying to make his father happy and focus on himself instead.
And on Hawthorne.
“And you should see him smile,” Kerwin said.
He was beaming, and Wallace had to press his lips together to resist the urge to ask if he was talking about Fergus or their son.
Honestly, it could be either. Kerwin was so completely in love with both of them that it was hard to watch some days. Wallace wasn’t in love with Kerwin or anything like that, far from it. Kerwin was one of his best friends, and he was so happy for him. Kerwin had found his mate, and while it was early in their relationship, they already had a child, since they’d adopted Fergus’s nephew. The baby was doing great, as was Kerwin, and Wallace was happy for the little family.
He was also a bit jealous. He wanted a mate, too. He wanted someone who would love him for who he was and wouldn’t demand he change and do what they thought was right. It felt like too much to ask, so focusing on Kerwin’s happiness and living vicariously through him was easier.
Kerwin knew what he wanted. He always had, at least since Wallace had met him. Kerwin wanted to be a council assassin, and as soon as he’d met Fergus, he’d wanted him, too. He’d wanted to adopt Fergus’s nephew when Fergus’s sister had decided she didn’t want him. He had all of that now. He had all he’d ever wanted.
Wallace was the opposite. He had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. He just knew what he didn’t want—to be here, training to become a council assassin.
“Less talking and more training,” Jamison said as he walked past them.
His expression was severe, but Wallace was pretty sure there was a twinkle of mirth in his eyes. Jamison was Fergus’s best friend, which had to be weird since he was one of the trainers at the facility, but they were making it work. Sometimes it felt more like a big family than a bunch of people who wanted to become professional killers, but Wallace supposed that he felt that way because his own family was dysfunctional. He’d seen more love and affection in the group of trainees than he had at home.
“Yes, sir,” Kerwin answered.
Jamison rolled his eyes but didn’t tell Kerwin to stop being a smart ass. That was probably because he was over at Kerwin and Fergus’s home at least once a week, usually more often. He was the baby’s honorary uncle, along with Wallace and Seymour. That kid would never have to worry about anything because he was surrounded by people who would do anything for him.
Including killing someone.
Well, that wouldn’t be Wallace, or at least, he hoped it wouldn’t have to be. He might be training to become a council assassin, but he was pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to kill anyone even if he tried. Technically, he knew how to do it. But the thought of blood made him queasy, and the thought of taking a life, even the life of someone who deserved it, made him want to run away screaming, which wasn’t great when he was supposed to be a professional killer.
But that wasn’t something Wallace wanted to worry about right now. He didn’t want to worry about it at all, but he would have to eventually. This training wouldn’t last forever. He still had a good year ahead of him, but eventually he’d graduate and have to show his trainers and his father what he’d learned and that he deserved to be hired by the council.
He wasn’t sure he did.
Seymour stepped back onto the training mats to face off with Orlando, but Kerwin stayed with Wallace. Wallace had just gotten his ass kicked by Ridge, and he needed a moment to recover before he went back out there. He was used to getting his ass kicked, but that didn’t make it any easier to deal with.
Kerwin knocked his shoulder against Wallace’s. “Everything okay?”
There was real concern in his voice, which made Wallace feel guilty. Kerwin had better things to focus on than him. He shouldn’t be worrying about him but rather about the family he had at home. “I’m fine. Why shouldn’t I be?”
“Yes, you’re right. It definitely sounds like you’re fine,” Kerwin teased.
He wasn’t wrong. Wallace had never been great at lying, which was why he was a disappointment to his father. He’d tried to act enthusiastic about coming here and becoming a council assassin, but like always, his father had seen right through him. He hadn’t been happy, and every time they saw each other, he reminded Wallace that this was his only chance to make him proud, something Wallace already knew and didn’t need to hear time and time again.
“Seriously,” Kerwin said, his voice softer. “I don’t like that you’ve been so down lately. What’s going on with you?” He hesitated. “Is it your father?”
That was the one person Wallace didn’t want to talk about. “Tell me more about the baby.”
“Nope. If you want to know more about Theo, you’ll have to tell me more about you.”
“There’s nothing to tell. You spend every day with me. What do you think I’m hiding?”
Wallace grabbed his bottle of water to give himself something to do. He wanted to distract Kerwin, but he knew better. His best friend wouldn’t be distracted when it came to his happiness, which was a problem, because Wallace didn’t believe in happiness for himself.
He cracked open the bottle and drank half of it as Kerwin stared at him. He was thinking about what he could tell Kerwin to get him to back down, but nothing came to mind. He looked around, hoping Jamison or even Hawthorne would walk past and tell them to stop wasting time, but of course when he needed them to do that, they were nowhere to be found.