Xavier’s life has gone to hell. Not only has his ex-boyfriend’s stalker attacked him, but in order to keep him safe he’s being sent to the Gillham pack. It wouldn’t be too bad, if not for the small detail that he hadn’t known shifters existed before that! He’s not sure what he can expect from them, but he doesn’t have a choice. When he meets Andy, he’s weirdly attracted to the man, but Xavier knows he’s not good enough for him.
Andy doesn’t want to play babysitter for Xavier, at least not until he meets him and realizes the man is his mate. He knows he’s going to have a hard time convincing Xavier to at least give their bond a chance, and that’s not counting the other problems their relationship will have to face.
The two mates will have to navigate angry families and the ever-present lab problem, and still Andy isn’t sure he’ll be able to help his mate get over his low self-esteem long enough to give him a chance.
“Come on, pretty boy. This all you have?”
Andy scowled at Nick. “Sometimes I wonder why I’m still your friend, you know? You’re so damn annoying.” Andy hated being called pretty boy, beautiful, and any of those names that referred to his physical aspect. He was so much more than that, damn it! It wasn’t his fault if he was pretty, even with the tattoos and piercings he had had done in the hope to smother his aspect. His cinnamon colored hair was still thick and his eyes still forest green, and he couldn’t change that, not any more than he could change his six foot four height and his sculpted physique, or his classic beauty’s face. Okay, now he sounded way vainer than he really was, but it was the truth.
Nick splayed his hand on his heart and snickered. “Aww, sugar. You’re hurting me.”
Andy scowled, but both of them knew he wasn’t seriously angry. Nick had been his best friend since they were kids, closer to him even than Andy’s brother was. He had been the only one to know that Andy was gay for years, until Kameron had challenged Alpha Erskine a little over six months ago, and had won. The old Alpha had been a homophobic asshole, but Kameron was different, and several members of the pack had since then stepped out of the closet, Andy being one of those. Nick was another one, and it would have been great if they could have felt something for each other, but unfortunately there was no spark.
Andy had had a crush on his friend for a while, when they were teens, but he had long since gotten over it. They worked better as friends than as lovers, and as they grew up, Andy had realized Nick wasn’t his type. They both liked to have the command in the bedroom, at least most of the time, so they just couldn’t sleep together, not in the optic of having a real relationship anyway, and Andy sure didn’t want to ruin their friendship just to get off. So Nick was non-touchable, and had been for years.
Andy grabbed the hand Nick offered, but instead of letting the man pull him up, he pulled, making Nick loose his balance and fall. Andy had been expecting it, so he waited for the man to fall on top of him before rolling them both and pinning his friend under him. Andy straddled Nick’s hips and pinned his wrists over his head. “Sorry, honey-bun. Did I hurt you?”
Nick started laughing. “Nothing more than my ego, don’t worry.” He looked over Andy’s head at the clock that was on the wall of the pack’s gym and scrunched his face. “I guess you won, mister. It’s too late for me to try and take my revenge.”
Andy let his friend go and jumped up. “You can have a rain check.”
Nick nodded. They both patrolled the pack’s territory, and they trained with each other to keep in shape. He was the only one Andy was comfortable doing it with.
“Are you two fairies done here?” a voice sneered behind them, and Andy clenched his fists. Alpha Erskine might have been history, just like his two Betas, but the rest of his inner circle was still part of the pack, and until they did something to hurt a member, Kameron just couldn’t boot them out. The fact that all of them were homophobic and hated Kameron was just the icing on the cake of a fucked up situation.
“Sure, Tom. We were just going to fly away. You can have the mats, although you might want to wipe them down before using them. You wouldn’t want to catch our gayness by touching our sweat,” Nick said, a big smile on his face. Andy didn’t know how he did it, but he admired the man. The only thing he wanted right now was to punch the sneer off Tom’s face, and he had to stop himself from snarling at the man, but his best friend just seemed to find the whole thing funny and got off on provoking Tom and the other guys like him.