Richard Tillson was happy with his life...well...sort of. He has spent the last few years of his life making a name for himself in the dance community, has a very expensive apartment in Manhattan and he knows he's gorgeous. So why is he so miserable? Enter Vernon "Vet" Tate. The older brother of Richard's best friend Amanda Lynn. The first time the two men meet it's when Vet is saving Richard's life from an oncoming vehicle. Moments later Vet is turning Richard's life upside down by telling him that his baby sister, who had passed weeks before, left her three newborn children to Richard, to share custody with Vet. Things wouldn't have been so bad for Vet, a wolf shifter, if Richard wasn't also his mate, his very human, very male, mate. So how will Richard cope with becoming a father, giving up his sophisticated New York lifestyle for a ranch out in Wichita Falls, Texas, and finding out that not only do shape shifters exist, but he's the mate of the Alpha?
"You Richard Tillson?" the other man asked as he pulled a picture out of his pocket along with an envelope. Richard froze and turned to face the other man. How did this man know his name? He didn’t owe anyone any money and he was talented but he didn’t think that the government was looking for him. He hadn’t done anything illegal and he had no family that would be looking for him. Realizing that it had to be for a totally different reason that the man in question knew his name and had a picture of him, along with an envelope, he nodded, unable to speak. Maybe he won the lottery?
"I was comin' to yer place when I saw ya' leave. Just kinda followed you, planned on talkin' to ya, or at least introducing myself when I saw you gettin’ ready to cross the street with the car comin' right at 'cha," the other man explained, obviously seeing the fear in Richard's face. "My name is Vernon Tate, you knew my baby sister, Amanda Lynn?"
Richard felt the fear lift off of him at the mention of his best friend, Amanda Lynn, whom he called AL, from college and graduate school. He smiled at the other man. So this was AL's older brother? He was hot! He stood at about 6'7", he was all muscle on top of muscle, his neck thick like a linebacker, his skin tanned by the sun. He could remember AL telling him about the family farm down in Texas; that was probably how he got so tanned.
"Oh my god! Yeah! You're Vet?" Richard asked excitedly, his naturally bubbly personality shining through as he thought about his best friend. He sobered almost instantly. AL and her husband had passed a few weeks ago in some kind of weird hunting accident. Some hunters shot them when they mistook them for wolves. Richard had been on tour in Paris and by the time the news had reached him, the funeral had already taken place.
"I'm so sorry for your loss," he said compassionately. Vernon, or Vet as AL called him, merely nodded, blinking away the moisture in his eyes.
"Um...so why were you looking for me?" he asked as he led Vet over to the benches in the park. He sat down gently, feeling a little sore after his tumble with the other man a few minutes earlier, he crossed one leg over the other and smiled when Vet practically flopped onto the bench, and his legs spread wide.
"I don't really know how to say this, but, see Mandy, she and her husband, well they thought quite a bit of you, they felt real bad that you had to miss the wedding but still stayed in contact and she just gave birth to triplets, you know a few months before the...uh...accident and the lawyer said she left instructions for the care of the triplets," Vet paused here, his eyes locking onto Richard's as if imploring him to understand. Richard wasn't stupid by any stretch of the imagination. Contrary to what his father and brothers thought, he had an above average IQ that wasn't diminished or negated because he was gay or because he danced for a living. Even with that it took him a while to really grasp what Vet was saying, but when he did he gasped.
"You HAVE to be joking! AL and Cameron left their triplets to me? Why would they do that? I'm single, unmarried, GAY, and I have a very successful career as a dancer! I mean, well, a somewhat successful career. I'm not working right now, but still!! They lived in Texas and AL said you both came from a very traditional, if slightly unusual family. How are they going to feel about AL leaving her babies to me? And how am I supposed to support them? I'm all by myself? What was AL thinking? I can't-" Richard's words were cut off abruptly when Vet leaned forward and took his lips in a hard and passionate kiss that fried his brain. Everything faded away, the ever-present sounds of New York became a soft buzzing noise, the bench he sat on became as comfortable as though he were sitting on his king-sized bed, and he felt as if he were floating and weighted down simultaneously. After a few minutes, when air was essential for them both, the two men pulled away from each other. Richard stared at Vet in shock, his blue eyes dark with desire.
"They left the triplets to you because they trusted you. Both sets of parents are dead. They left money, a house, cars, a college trust fund for all three babies, everything you could possibly need, they left it for you. They trusted you. Besides you really only have partial custody," Vet smirked at the look of trepidation that crossed Richard's face.
"Who am I sharing custody with?" he asked, although he suspected he knew the answer.
"Well, that's why I'm here. You're sharing custody with me and I came here to fetch you and bring you back to Texas to help me raise...well...our children."