Telyn has had enough. He only has his mother in his life—no friends, no family, no job, and no real future—but he can’t stand the abuse anymore. He decides to leave his mother and life as he knows it behind, even though he doesn’t have money or a place to stay, and heads for Gillham.
Lee’s life is changing. He graduated high school, one of his best friends found his mate and moved in with him, and the other was arrested for helping a drug dealer with a kidnapping. Lee is also moving out of the house he’s called home since he was adopted when he was eight, and he needs a bit of time to wrap his mind around everything.
So, of course, life throws him a curveball and drops his mate into his life. Lee has no idea how to help the demon he finds sleeping behind a dumpster, but he knows Telyn is his mate, and he’s going to do everything he can to keep him safe and as happy as possible.
Things aren’t easy, though. Lee throws himself into his relationship with his mate, but Telyn is much more hesitant. He doesn’t know if he can trust Lee, not when he couldn’t trust the one person who should have loved him unconditionally. Lee isn’t easily dissuaded, though, and living on the streets weighs heavily on Telyn. They will have to learn to trust and to live together if they want a chance at a new beginning—for both of them.
“It’s gonna fall.”
“No, it’s not.”
“I’m telling you, you’re going to drop it, and then Lee won’t want to talk to us ever again.”
Lee rolled his eyes—damn brothers! “I already don’t want to talk to you ever again. Why do you think I’m moving out?”
Lee had to admit he was slightly worried for the stuff Jamie was carrying. He’d decided it would be a good idea to balance a lamp on top of the two boxes he was holding, and Lee could too easily imagine the lamp shattering on the floor. He wouldn’t care much, but their mom would, since she’d been the one who’d selected and bought it.
Jamie snorted. “We’re just as relieved to see you go, asshole.”
“Aww. Won’t you miss my pretty face in the morning?”
“I’ll miss having Brandon around more.”
“We all miss him,” Miles said as he snatched the lamp.
Lee breathed more easily. “He’s not dead, you know,” he pointed out.
“He might as well be. He’s mated.”
“Not yet. Well, he and Maddox aren’t bonded yet.” Although Lee wasn’t sure if that was because they’d decided to wait or because of the circumstances. He didn’t think he’d want to bond, not after they’d lost Nathalie, but he wasn’t Brandon.
God, just the thought of her and what she’d done made Lee so angry. And how had he not seen what was happening with her? He and Brandon had talked about it, and Brandon felt the same way. Lee thought Brandon had extenuating circumstances—a guy had drugged him and tried to rape him, then to kill him. And in the middle of that, he’d met his mate and moved in with him. And he was only nineteen.
Brandon made Lee feel like he needed to get his life under control, which was one of the reasons he was moving into his new apartment in Gillham, not far from the animal shelter where he and Brandon had summer jobs. Lee suspected Brandon would spend more time hanging from Maddox’s lips than working, but then, he was probably going to coo over every single animal and try to take them home. Not that he had the space to do that, but maybe he could get a cat or something. Or he could go over to Maddox and Brandon’s house and cuddle their pets. They had what felt like a dozen of them.
Miles waved. “They’re going to do it sooner or later.”
Lee arched a brow. “Do it? I didn’t know you thought about them that way.”
Miles’ cheeks flushed. “That’s disgusting. Brandon’s like my brother. Hell, I like him more than I like you, and we are brothers.”
Lee had been adopted, and having Jamie and Miles treat him like they were actually related always thrilled him. “That’s because you don’t understand the splendor that I am.”
“Yeah, right. So, where do I put this?” He held up the lamp.
Lee looked around the apartment. It was furnished, thanks to Kameron and the pack, but Lee’s personal stuff was still in the boxes he and his brothers had been carrying up the stairs for what felt like an eternity. “I have no idea.”
“I’d personally put it into the trashcan,” Jamie said. He dumped the two boxes he’d been holding onto a growing pile of other boxes. “That thing is ugly. Does Mom think we’re still in the sixties? Lava lamps haven’t been in since about then.”
Lee shrugged. “I like it.” He wasn’t crazy about it, but he doubted he’d have a lot of visitors who’d see it, and the people who would come around knew his mom and wouldn’t be surprised.
Miles pointed the lamp at Lee. “You’re never going to find yourself a husband with this thing in your apartment.”
“I don’t want a husband.”
“A boyfriend, then.”
“I’m sure whoever I end up with will love the lamp.” Lee didn’t think he’d find someone anytime soon, though. He wanted some time to get used to this new life of his—a new apartment, one of his best friends in a serious relationship with their mate, the other one behind bars after betraying them for drugs. Sometimes, Lee wondered if he shouldn’t have stayed home, where everything was familiar. He knew what to expect then, but he had no idea what tomorrow would bring him here.
Brandon! Lee grinned, and Brandon appeared at the door a few seconds later, carrying four pizza boxes. Maddox was right behind him with two bags containing bottles, probably water and soda, since Lee hadn’t yet gone grocery shopping. That was something he’d have to remember to do now, and he wasn’t looking forward to it.
“Sorry we’re late,” Brandon said. He held up the boxes. “But we brought an apology.”
“We should fight every day, if this is the kind of apologies you give,” Jamie said. He made grabby hands, and Brandon handed him the boxes.
“Why don’t you set up at the table? I think Mom put napkins in one of the boxes.” Lee wasn’t sure what box exactly, so hopefully he wouldn’t have to open many of them. Of course, since his brothers were helping him move, he found the box labeled kitchen stuff in his bedroom.
“How are you holding up?” Brandon asked, startling Lee.
“Holding up? You make it sound like someone died.”
Brandon shrugged. “Nat didn’t die, but it feels a bit like she did, doesn’t it?”
“I have no right to be angry with her, not like you.”
“No right? Lee, she might have only put me in the hands of that drug dealer, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t hurt you, too.” Brandon bit his lower lip. “And I know I hurt you when I told you I wouldn’t move in with you. We had these plans, and I—”