Ned is fleeing New York—and Paris, one of his one-night stands who can’t take no for an answer. He goes back home to Gillham, hoping Paris won’t find him, but not really believing it. The last thing he expected was to meet his mate. He’s only twenty-two, and he has a stalker. What is he going to do with a mate?
Luke didn’t think he had a mate until he met Ned. He was created in a petri dish and raised as a killer until the pack rescued him when he was seven, and he is neither human nor shifter. To add to his weirdness, he’s a virgin, and he’s not interested in sex.
Ned keeps Luke at arm’s length, especially after Paris manages to find him and threatens his best friend, Amy. It gets harder and harder to stay away from Luke, though, and Ned is torn between the need to be with his mate and the need to keep Luke safe.
Will Ned be able to find a compromise? Will Paris be stopped in time, or will he manage to separate Ned and Luke before they even get a chance to be together?
Ned bounced his knee and looked around the airport. He was waiting for his suitcase to appear on the belt, and he was nervous, for more than one reason.
His parents didn’t know he was coming home. Hell, his parents didn’t know he wasn’t going back to the expensive college in New York where he was supposed to be right now. He expected them to blow up and send him back the second they found out, even though that really wasn’t their style.
Jarah was so calm that sometimes it looked like he didn’t care. Ned knew better, of course. He’d only been ten when his father had met Jarah, but he’d seen how much Terry had hurt both of them.
Ned, on the other hand, hadn’t cared. He’d wanted his father to be happy—he still did, which was one of the reasons he wasn’t looking forward to telling him he’d left college—and that happiness came through Jarah, at least in part. Ned could barely remember his mother, not like Terry could, and that had made it easier for him when he accepted Jarah.
Ned almost jumped up from his carry-on, which he’d been sitting on. An older lady was looking at him, a little frown on her face that told him she was worried. About what, he didn’t know, but he was ready to bet he was about to find out.
He straightened and tried not to look as spooked as he felt. “Yes?”
“I just wanted to ask if this was the belt where the suitcases from the New York flight would come out.”
“Ah, yes, it is. Sorry.”
She hurried away, and Ned wanted to shout after her that it wasn’t her fault and that he’d been jumpy for a while.
Having a stalker would do that to you.
The belt finally started moving, and Ned grabbed his carry-on, rolling it closer. He hoped his suitcase would come soon, because he wanted to go home. He also hoped Amy was already waiting for him outside the airport. The sooner he was back in pack territory, the better it would be for him and his nerves.
When he rushed outside fifteen minutes later, he looked around until he spotted Amy leaning on her black car—like her soul, she always said. She waved at him when she saw him, and he rolled his suitcases her way, grinning at her.
She threw her arms around him when he got close enough, and he hugged her back, inhaling her scent. He was home, and he hoped he was there to stay.
“You’re going to have to tell me what you’re doing here,” she said as she moved away.
She opened the trunk of her car, and Ned reached for his heaviest suitcase, but she beat him to it, hauling it up as if it weighed nothing. And maybe it didn’t, not to her. She was one of the three kids who’d been saved from one of those labs back in the day, and she wasn’t quite human. She’d never tried to hide it, and Ned was proud of that. She should be proud of who and what she was, even though she hated being in the middle, not quite human and not quite a shifter.
They climbed into the car, and Amy started the engine, but she didn’t drive away. Ned sighed. He didn’t want to tell her about Paris, even though she probably needed to know. She could kick Paris’ human ass if he managed to find out Ned had gone home. But he didn’t want to tell her.
He was ashamed.
“I dropped out of college,” he said instead. It wasn’t exactly true, but since he had no intention of going back to New York, it was the easiest explanation.
She arched a brow and finally directed her attention to the road, peeling away from the parking spot. “I can’t say I was expecting that. What happened? Is that why you didn’t ask one of your fathers to come pick you up? I mean, I don’t mind, but Jarah could have had you home in seconds.”
“They don’t know I’m back.”
“Wow. Okay, tell me what happened. Last thing I knew, you’d talked to your fathers, and you’d decided to finally give studying a try.”
Ned had. He’d been a bit of a partier when he’d first gotten to New York, but after the face to face conversation with his fathers over Christmas break, he’d decided to give studying a real try. Well, he had, until Paris.
“I should have stayed here,” he said instead of explaining Paris and who he was.
“Why? You were so excited when you were accepted to your New York college.”
“Yeah, but I guess I never realized how much I’d miss home.”
“You dropped out because you wanted to come home?”
“Yeah.” It was true, in part, but he wasn’t ready to take their conversation deeper. “What about you? What have you been up to?”
Amy shot him a glance that told him she knew exactly what he was doing, but she answered anyway. “I haven’t dropped out of college.”
“Ouch. You chose the college closest to home.”
“That’s because I didn’t want to leave. Gillham is my home. I would never leave if I could.”
“You’re going to have to sooner or later.”
Amy was studying to be a genetic engineer or something like that, and while she’d managed to start her studies in Casper, they both knew she’d have to find another college to continue. She was studying pre-med, but she’d have to transfer soon. Ned had hoped she might choose New York, but since he was never going back, it was kind of a moot point now.
“Everything’s good, though?” Ned asked.
She glared at him. “None of your business.”
“You’re my best friend. Of course it’s my business.”