Damien is an enforcer, and he loves his job. He loves helping people who don’t have anyone else on their side, and he loves his team like a family. There’s something missing in his life, though, and he knows what it is. A lot of his friends are finding their mates, yet he’s still single.
Jake is back in Gillham, hoping to talk some sense into his father. Jake still thinks Sei is too young to be mated with an eighty-six-year-old bear shifter, but his dad doesn’t listen, no matter how many times Jake tries to tell him that.
When Damien and Jake meet, Damien’s age is a problem for Jake from the very beginning. There are only twenty years between them, which isn’t a lot for shifters, but Jake can’t see beyond it and beyond how fragile Damien looks. So he leaves.
Damien accepts a job as a bodyguard in the hope he’ll start forgetting Jake. They’re in the same city, though, and when Jake tentatively reaches out to him, Damien will have to choose whether he wants to give his mate a second chance or not. To complicate things, someone is after Hudson, the man Damien is protecting and who also is a friend of Jake’s family.
Will Damien give Jake another chance? Or will something happen to separate them before they can get over their problems?
Damien was jealous.
Why was everyone and their mothers finding their mates except him? Rob had found Anthony, Lenny had found Yerad, Jackson had found Cerris, Mael had found Scott, and Damien had found his right hand, which was the only thing he’d had sex with in quite a while.
He sighed and looked at the happy couples scattered around the living room of the enforcers building. They were all chatting, cuddling, and kissing—and Lenny looked like he was about to maul Yerad right there on the couch—while Damien was clutching his book. He’d been reading the same page for about fifteen minutes.
“What’s with that face?” Lee asked as he flopped onto the couch next to Damien.
“I’m just reading.”
“Yeah, sure. Come on. What’s up?”
Damien sighed and closed his book. “I’m all right.”
“But you want to meet your mate too.”
Lee patted Damien’s knee. “You will. I can’t imagine a guy like you won’t find his mate. You’re too kind and sweet.”
“I could find him years down the road, though.” And what would Damien do in the meantime? Stare at the happy couples around him and become bitter?
“Or you could find him tomorrow, and you’d be moping. Do you really want him to see you like this?” Lee gestured at Damien’s clothes, and Damien looked down.
Okay, so he was wearing sweats and an old T-shirt he should throw away, what with the holes in it. But he was comfortable, and after spending almost a week sleeping on the ground in his ocelot form, comfortable was the only thing he wanted to be. He wasn’t going to dress up just to spend time reading in the living room. Besides, Lee was lucky Damien had changed out of his favorite pajamas before leaving his bedroom. Hot pink wasn’t his favorite color, and he wouldn’t have missed the opportunity to complain about Damien’s pants.
God, how he missed Nysys sometimes. He wouldn’t have said anything about Damien’s choice of pajamas. Actually, he probably would have asked him where he’d bought them.
But Damien didn’t live in Whitedell anymore. Besides, it wasn’t like he didn’t like his team, because he did. Rob was still somewhat intimidating, but he was the team leader, so Damien hadn’t expected them to braid each other’s hair. Jimmy kept mostly to himself, which wasn’t surprising since he was the only human member and the most recent one. He was thawing, though, mostly thanks to Lee. The fox shifter had taken it upon himself to become Jimmy’s best friend, and it was fun to watch most of the time.
But Damien liked his team, all of them. He guessed he was lucky only Rob was mated for now, because it kept the sweet phone calls while they were on assignments at a minimum. That would probably change sooner or later, but Damien was ready to bet he wouldn’t be the next one.
Lisa might be. Everyone knew she was seeing a wolf shifter from the Gillham pack, but she hadn’t told them if he was her mate or not. Either way, she had a boyfriend, and Damien was still lonely.
“We could go out,” Lee suggested.
Damien looked at his sweat pants again. “I’d have to change.”
“Well, maybe. I wouldn’t care of you came into town dressed like that, but if you’re going in the hope of finding your mate or at least a guy to bang tonight, it might not be the best outfit.”
Damien huffed. “You know I don’t pick up one-night stands.”
“And maybe that’s your problem. How are you supposed to find a guy if you don’t even try?”
“Maybe I don’t want to find a guy.”
Lee made a frustrated noise. “I know. You want to find your mate, and I get it. Isn’t it what all of us want?” He looked at Lenny, who had pulled Yerad in his lap and was slobbering all over his face in what was probably supposed to be a kiss. “Okay, almost everyone, although you don’t see him complaining he gets that sweet ass every night. But you know what I mean. We all want our mate, but not all of us are living like monks in the meantime. I’m sure you wouldn’t have problems finding a boyfriend, holey clothes notwithstanding.”
Damien wanted to say he didn’t want a boyfriend either, but he kept his mouth shut. He knew what Lee would say—are you going to stay single until you find your mate? Even if that happens twenty or thirty years from now?
Damien didn’t have an answer to those questions. He wanted to say yes, but he was lonely. There was no way for him to know when he’d meet his mate or even if he’d ever meet the guy, and the loneliness was getting to him. Maybe he could find himself a boyfriend like Lee had suggested. It could even be something serious, although that might be a problem if either of them found their mates.
The best thing to do would be keeping it light and easy, but that wasn’t what Damien wanted. He’d told Lenny he wanted love and someone to share his life with, and while he’d always thought that would happen with his mate, maybe it just wasn’t in the cards for him.
“You’re thinking too much,” Lee said. “You don’t have to go out with the idea of finding yourself a husband or anything. I know what you think about one-night stands, but you don’t have to actually have sex with the first guy you find. You can just chat and get to know a guy, then see if you want to take it further than that. You’ll never meet your mate if you stay on this couch, hon.”
“Yerad and Lenny met in this room,” Damien pointed out just to be contrary. “Jackson and Cerris met upstairs, but still in this house.”