When Mael agrees to help Lenny retrieve his best friend Scott after he’s been dumped, he thinks it’ll be an easy in and out job. He knows it isn’t as soon as he sets eyes on Scott, because Scott is his mate.
Scott’s just been dumped by his boyfriend of several weeks, who went back to his ex. He’s surprised when he realizes Mael is his mate, then worried when Mael and the rest of his team are sent to work with Mael’s tribe—and Mael’s ex-boyfriend, Muirgeh, who is his tribe’s leader.
Though Mael and Muirgeh were together two years, that’s in the past. When Scott persuades Yerad to shimmer him to the tribe in the middle of the mission because he doesn’t trust Mael and Muirgeh, Mael is angry, but he understands. Besides, Scott is useful to the team, and he helps them look for the shifters stealing food and entering tribe territory.
Will Muirgeh’s presence influence Mael and Scott’s relationship? Will Scott be able to get over how close Mael is to Muirgeh? And what will happen when Mael accidentally initiates the mating bond?
Mael aimed for Lenny’s face with his hand. He already knew Lenny would duck—they’d trained together often enough that he could read his friend without problems. The way Lenny’s shoulders hunched when he started moving downward was a dead giveaway.
So Mael kicked out, aiming for Lenny’s groin. Lenny’s reaction was predictable. He finished ducking and cupped both hands over his dick, and Mael was able to swipe his legs from under him.
Lenny tumbled on his ass.
“Oww,” he protested.
Mael stood over him, his hands on his hips. “It’s your own fault.”
“You went for my dick!”
“Isn’t that what a real attacker would do?”
“Maybe, but this isn’t a real attack,” Lenny grumbled.
Mael rolled his eyes and held out a hand. He tensed when Lenny took it, just in case he decided to try pulling him to the floor. When he didn’t, Mael hauled him up and let his hand go.
Lenny brushed his ass, as if the gym mat had somehow made him dirty, and scowled at Mael. “You really had to go for that?”
Mael shrugged. “We’re training. I won’t treat you like a child just because you’re lazy.”
“I’m not lazy. I’m just still in vacation mode.”
“You came back a week ago.”
Lenny pouted. “I know. It feels like it’s been months, though.”
“Then you shouldn’t have problems getting into work mode.” Mael stepped away and got ready. “Again.”
Lenny sighed. “I wanna go to lunch.”
Mael ignored Lenny’s words and attacked. He wasn’t surprised when Lenny managed to keep up—he might still be in vacation mode, whatever that meant, but he was good at what he did. They all were. That was why they were in Gillham, training to help the council. It was their job, and Mael was glad he hadn’t let his family talk him out of it.
They’d tried, but he wanted to be useful. He knew he could make a difference, and he was doing that with every mission, every person they saved, every conflict they managed to solve without a body count. He didn't care what his parents or his tribe thought. Not anymore.
They were both sweaty and panting when Angelo patted Mael’s shoulder. “Go shower. You’re done for the day.”
Lenny groaned and wiped the sweat from his forehead. “Thank God. I think Mael needs to go out and find himself a guy. He’s sexually frustrated.”
Mael hit Lenny’s arm. “Shut up.”
Lenny winced and rubbed his arm. “What? It’s true. You pounded me into the floor, and it wasn’t even in a fun way. You have too much energy, man, and the best way to get rid of it is by having sex. We can go out tonight, if you want.”
Mael pushed his damp hair away from his face and arched a brow. “I’m sure Yerad would be happy to find out you suggested taking me out to pick up a lover.”
Lenny scoffed and waved Mael’s words away. “He knows I wouldn’t do anything. I can look, but I can’t touch. You can touch, though, and you should. No sex makes for a grumpy Mael, and no one likes a grumpy Mael.”
Angelo chuckled. “I’ll let you deal with Lenny. He’s not wrong, though. You should take some time off and have fun. When was the last time you went home?”
“When I left the tribe to become an enforcer.”
Angelo blinked. “That long?”
Mael shrugged. “My family and I aren’t exactly on the best of terms.”
Angelo frowned. “You never said anything.”
“That’s because it doesn’t matter.”
“That’s bullshit,” Lenny intervened. “They’re your family. Of course they matter.” He cracked his knuckles, probably going for an intimidating look but managing only to wince. “Now tell me what they did to you.”
“Leave it, Lenny. You don’t have to go beat them up. They never hurt me. They just disapprove of me, and you can’t say your own parents aren’t the same way.”
“I can’t beat up my parents, though. I can beat up yours.”
Angelo rolled his eyes. “No one is beating up anyone here. Lenny, stop trying to look tough and go shower. Mael, make sure he doesn’t do something stupid.”
“I thought that was Yerad’s job.”
“That’s too much of a job for one person, so you’ll have to help.”
Mael sighed and shook his head. “That’s the curse of my life. The worst part is that I was the one who chose this. I could have ignored him, but I’m too soft-hearted.”
Lenny pouted. “You guys are mean.”
Mael punched him again. “Go shower, or you’ll stink when Yerad comes to find you for an afternoon nookie.”
That was enough to make Lenny hurry away from the mats and into the locker room. Angelo laughed and patted Mael’s back. “Go with him and make sure he doesn’t slip and bash his head in or something.” He turned toward Tanner, the human member of their team, and curled his finger at him. “Come on. Let’s see what you have.”
Mael followed Lenny at a slower pace. Lenny was already in the shower when Mael walked into the locker room. His sweaty clothes were on the floor. Mael knew that was where they’d stay, but he kicked them together so no one would trip on them. They’d probably still be there tomorrow, but he wasn’t Lenny’s maid. Lenny would remember them once he was out of clean gym clothes.
Lenny was loudly singing, and Mael wondered how Yerad could stand being with him. He loved Lenny as a friend, but sometimes he was impossible to tolerate. He was probably Mael’s best friend, but that didn't mean Mael was blind to his faults. Maybe Yerad was. They said love was blind, after all. Yerad had to be at least a little, since he was with Lenny.
Not that he had a choice, since they were mates.