Max and his twin, Jessie, moved to Gillham six months ago after the enforcers rescued them from their abusive alpha. Max might not be in peak form yet, but he’s had enough of sitting on his ass all day. When he asks Kameron for a job, he doesn’t expect he’ll be teamed up with his mate.

Dane is still recovering from the years he spent in one of the Glass Research Company’s labs and on the run, but he wants to be useful. When Kameron assigns him to answer the new council hotline, he meets his new colleague, Max. Max isn’t only a coworker, though—he’s also Dane’s mate.

Max and Dane want to move forward, together, but to do that, they have to let go of the past. Max will have to face the council and explain what his alpha did to him, while Dane has to face his past and the betrayal of someone who should have protected him. Getting over a painful past isn’t easy though. Will they be able to keep their relationship steady as they face the memories?

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Cover Art by Valerie Tibbs

Max jerked awake. His bedroom was dark around him, and he had to fight the urge to scream for help. He wanted to, but he’d awakened the entire house more than enough times. He hated that. He didn’t want to do it again.

So he clamped his mouth shut and kept the scream in. When he sat up, the sheet stuck to his sweaty torso, and he had to fight it for a few seconds before he managed to untangle himself. He pushed it to the floor as if it had attacked him, shivering at the sensation of the cool breeze coming in through the window.

The floor creaked just outside his door, and he snapped his head up. The door slowly opened, and Jessie sneaked in, closing it behind himself.

Max relaxed. “What are you doing here?” he asked as he pushed a damp strand of hair away from his face.

“You had a nightmare.”

Max didn’t ask how Jessie knew that. They were twins. More often than not, they were able to sense stuff about the other. There were no rational explanations to that, and Max had stopped trying to find one. “Yeah.”

Jessie was silent as he walked closer and sat on the edge of the mattress. He was always silent, no matter what time of the day it was. It was something he’d learned back when they still lived with their birth herd, when drawing attention to himself would have meant bad things happening.

They were safe in Gillham, had been since they were rescued back in March, but Jessie still hadn’t lost that habit. Max didn’t blame him, not after what they’d gone through at the hands of people they considered family. The kind of family one didn’t want to see if you could help it, the kind that made you cringe when they opened their mouths because they were racist, homophobic assholes, but still family.

With family like that, Max and Jessie didn't need enemies.

But they were finally far away from their herd, and they didn't have to worry about it anymore. That hadn’t helped Max get rid of his nightmares.

“Same nightmare?” Jessie asked.

Max pulled his knees to his chest and nodded. “Yeah.”

“We’re safe.”

“I know that. It doesn’t help as much as I’d like it to, though.”

Jessie patted Max’s knee. “I know. I have them too.”

“You don’t wake the entire house with your screams, though.”

“That’s because I’m too embarrassed to do that. Everyone would come in, and I’d want to die.”

“You don’t think I’m embarrassed when it happens?”

“I know you are. You’re better than me at working through it, though. Besides, you know no one here cares.”

“You can’t really believe that. Of course they care if I wake them up in the middle of the night with my screams.” Max huffed. “How can I not be over this yet? It’s been six months, and it’s not like we were locked up in that basement for that long.”

“It doesn’t mean you weren’t scarred by the time we did spend there. We both were. Still are.”

Max sighed. He felt guilty about bitching to his brother. Jessie was the sweetest guy Max knew, and he’d never say anything about Max’s tone or his words being less than gentle. It was so easy to bowl him over and ignore his feelings, but Max always did his best to treat his brother like he deserved. The nights when he had the nightmares were always the worst, though. He felt out of control when he woke up in the middle of the night with the image of their basement cell still in his mind, pulling him back into the past.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

Jessie shook his head. “No need to be sorry. I understand, Max. I understand.”

Max sighed. “I know. I’m still sorry.”

Jessie knocked their shoulders together. “Move over, will you?”

“Aren’t we a little too old to share a bed?”

“So? Who’s going to say anything? Mom and Dad aren’t here, and it’s not like Zach and Kameron care what we do as long as we don’t create trouble.”

“True. Pick the sheet up?”

Jessie wrinkled his nose. “I don’t think so. It’s all damp. Actually, why don’t you go shower? I’ll change the sheets while you’re in the bathroom and we can go back to bed after that.”

It wasn’t like either of them had to go to work the next morning so they could sleep late. Max knew they couldn’t continue to mooch off Kameron and Zach forever, but Zach had assured him they could take all the time they needed to get over what had happened to them. Max wasn’t sure that would ever happen, but both Jessie and he were working on it with Gentry, the pack’s psychologist. Physically, they were okay. They’d mostly healed from the wounds that had been inflicted on them by their herd. Mentally, well, that was a different thing.

But Max had had enough of sitting around on his ass and doing nothing. Maybe that was why he still had nightmares. Maybe that was why he couldn’t get over what had happened to him—because he had nothing to distract himself. Maybe if he got a job, he’d finally be able to really stop thinking about his past.

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