Shawn has been alone since his wife passed away. He has his three kids, and he loves them more than anything, but he misses having a partner to share his life with. He’s not looking for one, though, not while the kids still live with him. That’s one of the reasons he’s so surprised when he ends up being a Nix’s mate.
Jarah hadn’t expected to meet his mate when he went to talk to Neriah. He has more than enough problems to deal with—Titus still acting crazy, the fight between the rogue shifters and the humans in town getting worse. And now he has to learn how to be a stepfather, even though Terry, Shawn’s oldest child, hates his guts.
Shawn and Jarah learn to mesh their lives together, but when Shawn and his children are threatened for associating with shifters, Jarah decides to take matters into his own hands. Will he manage to keep his mate safe, or will he lose him before he can even get used to having a family?
Shawn looked around, wondering why he’d been invited to the dinner Neriah had organized. Well, he knew why—Ethan was his friend, as close a friend as one could be. Shawn’s kids called him Uncle Ethan.
So Ethan and Shawn were used to having dinner at each other’s houses, although that had slowed down after Ethan had met his mate, Nuallan. Neriah being Nuallan’s brother and living in the same house, it wasn’t exactly surprising Shawn had been invited to what seemed to be a family dinner. Ethan was there, of course, with his mate. Neriah and his mate, Connor, were there too, as well as Connor’s brother, Elton, and his two mates.
Shawn still wasn’t sure how that worked. Maybe it was because it’d been so long since he’d last had a relationship, but he could hardly imagine having to deal with one person, let alone two. Especially when one of the two was Rabbit, who looked like someone had pissed in his Cheerios that morning. He’d looked like that until Elton had dragged him into a corner to kiss the fight out of him. He was more mellow after that, and he’d looked at Samuel with soft eyes when he’d interrupted the conversation Shawn was having with the man.
But still. Shawn might be Ethan’s best friend, but it didn’t qualify him as family, not like all the others seemed to be. And it wasn’t only that.
They were all gorgeous. Each in their very different way, of course, but there was no denying they were. Ethan was tall and strong, like he’d always been. Rabbit was more slender and smaller, and Neriah was almost tiny.
Shawn was just…Shawn.
He was tallish—five feet eleven wasn’t that tall, but it wasn’t small, either. His brown hair was starting to gray at the temples, just like Ethan’s, but Ethan made it look much sexier than Shawn could ever hope to manage.
Of course, Ethan wasn’t raising three kids on his own.
Shawn didn’t get enough sleep. He didn't eat healthy enough, and he didn't exercise enough. Most of his energy went into his kids and the rest into his job. He wouldn’t change it for anything in the world, but at times like this one, he wondered what his life would have been if Vera had lived.
And dinner with Ethan and the rest of his family wasn’t the right place or time to think about Vera.
Shawn looked around, wondering who he could talk to. He really only knew Ethan, and his best friend was busy outside, grilling dinner while Neriah hovered by him. Neriah had introduced himself to Shawn when they’d met in town, but they hadn’t talked much. Shawn had been surprised when Neriah had called to invite him to dinner, although he’d understood why when he’d arrived. He was there as Ethan’s family.
He should probably try getting to know Nuallan better.
Shawn looked around, wondering where the shy man was hiding. He wasn’t anywhere Shawn could see, but he’d heard Neriah threatening his brother with a painful death if he hid in his room, so he had to be somewhere around. No one in their right mind would go against an order from Neriah, not when he’d looked as fierce as he had when he’d ordered it.
Shawn decided to wander around the ground floor of the house and try to find him. He wasn’t about to go upstairs and invade anyone’s privacy, but he also didn’t want to hover in the corner of the living room like he’d been doing since Samuel had been whisked away by Rabbit. Nuallan was the only person who wasn’t busy with something, or at least Shawn didn’t think he was. And if he was, Shawn could help.
He made his way to the kitchen, thinking he might help to set the table. Nuallan was there, tearing a head of lettuce into pieces. He looked at the door when Shawn entered, and Shawn wondered if he was about to get kicked out.
Nuallan just smiled a bit awkwardly and went back to his shredding.
Shawn cleared his throat. “So, I thought I could help.”
“You don’t need to do that.” Nuallan’s voice was soft, but there wasn’t any hesitation in it.
“I don’t need to, but I want to. It’s either that or stand awkwardly in the living room while everyone else is busy.”
Nuallan nodded, and Shawn put his glass down on the kitchen table. He went to stand next to Nuallan and grabbed half of the lettuce leaves. He started shredding, and the silence was a bit uncomfortable but nice. He felt he should say something, start a conversation, but what was he supposed to talk about? He barely knew Nuallan, no matter how many times he’d seen him since he and Ethan had gotten together.
“I’m sorry you’re not having fun,” Nuallan said, his gaze fixed onto the lettuce.
“I never said I wasn’t. I just feel a bit out of place, I guess. You’re all either paranormals or mated to one, while I’m just human and very much single.”
Nuallan peeked at Shawn, his gaze snapping back to the lettuce when he saw Shawn was watching him. “You’re family, though,” Nuallan declared, his voice stronger than before.
“You could say that, I guess.”
“You are. Ethan loves you.”
“Yeah, I know that. We’re just friends, though.”
Nuallan’s hands stilled, and he frowned at Shawn. “I know.”
“Okay. I just wanted to be sure.”
Nuallan nodded and pushed the rest of the lettuce toward Shawn. He walked to the fridge and came back with cherry tomatoes and a knife.
“You were married,” he said after he’d started cutting the tomatoes in half and tossing them into the bowl with the lettuce.
“Your wife died.”