Kin always knew his job as an enforcer wouldn’t last forever. His mother is planning his marriage, to a woman she’ll choose to help advance their family name and fortune. The only way he has out of it is finding his mate, but there’s no quick or easy way to do that.
Saul has thought himself crazy for most of the past ten years. He sees half-transparent animal faces layered on some people’s human faces, and he voluntarily walked into a psychiatric hospital when he was twenty-three. Now he’s thirty-four, and he feels like he missed out on life. When his sister pushes him into leaving the hospital, he hesitates, but she won’t take no for an answer, no matter how much their parents pay Saul’s doctor to keep him there.
When Kin and his team are sent to make sure Saul gets out without any problems, Kin expects the mission to be routine. Instead, he knows Saul is his mate as soon as they meet. Will Saul finally manage to walk out of the hospital? And is Saul really crazy, or is there an explanation for what he can see?
Kin rolled his eyes. “No, Mother, I still haven’t met anyone suitable.”
He stuck the phone between his shoulder and his cheek. He needed to fold his clean laundry, and his mother wouldn’t hang up anytime soon. She still hadn’t gone through her I-can-find-you-a-suitable-woman-for-you-to-marry routine, and she never hung up without finishing it. Not that Kin would ever be able to forget even one word of her usual speech—he’d heard it more than enough times in his life already. His mother wanted him to know she could find him a suitable wife every time they talked on the phone, or in person, and she called about once a week, twice if he wasn’t lucky. At least she lived far enough away and was busy enough that she didn’t come to see him.
Kin pressed his lips together at the thought of his mother walking around the enforcers’ bunkhouse. She would look so out of place, with her neat suits and her row of pearls. She’d be scandalized that Kin preferred to live there than in their family home.
Kin loved the enforcers’ bunkhouse. There wasn’t much space, and he was in close contact with the other enforcers, but those were two of the reasons why he actually liked it so much. His family home was huge, so much that he remembered getting lost a few times when he was a kid. Most of the rooms were almost never used, and the house looked more like a mausoleum than a home.
Kin had also grown up mostly alone. He had a brother and a sister, but they were born years apart, and they’d never been close. Kin had been lonely as a child, but now he wasn’t anymore. His team was as good as a family. He was closer to them than he was to his siblings, except for the new human member, Tanner, but that was because they didn’t know each other yet.
“You’re not getting any younger, Kinsley,” Kin’s mother said in a calm voice.
Kin knew she wanted to throttle him, though. He’d learned to read her expression and her voice a long time ago. She always became calmer when she was angry, probably in an attempt to hide it. She was very good at it, but Kin had known her his entire life.
“I’m only forty-seven, Mother.”
“I was thirty when I had your brother.”
She tsked. “I just want to be able to see you married and happy before I die.”
Kin rolled his eyes. “You’re only ninety-nine. You’re nowhere near dying.” She’d probably bury them all, actually, but Kin didn’t think it was a good idea to tell her that.
“Then I want to see you married before I get too old to enjoy the ceremony. Besides, you can’t come to my birthday party on your own. You know that.”
Because God help them if his parents’ friends had anything to say about that. “Oh, the scandal.”
“Kinsley Jeffrey Blackwood, don’t talk to me that way.”
Kin winced. Things never ended well when his mother called him by his full name. “Sorry, Mother, but it’s true. I don’t see what the problem would be if I came to your birthday celebration alone.”
“The problem would be that everyone would talk about it.”
“I know you care about what people think.” God only knew why. She didn’t need anyone’s approval, not even her own children’s.
“I don’t care about what people think. I care about what they say.”
“They’ll say that I still haven’t found anyone to share my life with.”
“They’ll say I’m a bad mother for not having arranged your marriage yet.”
Kin sighed and sat down, switching his phone to his other ear. “Mother, I really don’t see why this is a problem. You have more than enough grandchildren already. I’m the youngest in the family. Why does it matter that I’m not married and popping out kids yet?”
Kin’s mother made a small, disappointed sound, and he knew it was because of his language. “I certainly hope you wouldn’t be the one giving birth to your children.”
“I don’t have the right equipment.”
“And that’s why you need a wife.”
Kin briefly closed his eyes. “You do know that I’d rather have a husband, right?”
He’d told his parents he was mostly gay several years before. He’d been with both women and men, and hadn’t had problems functioning with either when it came to sex, but his tastes ran more toward the male body than the female one. There was something about being filled with a dick that was almost enough to make him hard just at the thought. Of course, he was on the phone with his mother, so that put an end to any kind of erection before it could even start.
“You know that’s not possible, Kinsley.”
“Right. Of course it’s not. I can have a little dick on the side, but God help us if I actually want to marry a guy. No, you’d rather have me married to a woman and cheating on her while she gives birth to my spawn.”
Kin hadn’t meant to snap at his mother, and he knew he’d pay the price for it. He wasn’t supposed to talk to her in that tone, and especially not to use those kinds of words. He knew it, but living far away from his parents had freed him, and sometimes he forgot how life was before.
“I’m sorry, Mother,” he said. Better start apologizing before she exploded. “I shouldn’t have talked to you like that.”
“No, you shouldn’t have.”
“I’m just...” Frustrated. Angry. A bit hopeless. “I don’t see why I have to marry a woman when everyone knows I’d rather marry a man.” It wasn’t like Kin was in the closet.