- From Scratch (The Fountain Village Mysteries #1)
Finding a mate is supposed to be one of the most magical moments of a bat shifter’s life. For poor Lake Truman, it’s a disaster. His mate’s rejection would have killed the magic all by itself, but the dead body cinches the whole thing.
Bryson Caill just ended a long-term relationship and moved back to his childhood home. He wants to put the pieces of his life back together before entering another relationship. But what he wants and what he gets are two very different things.
Note: This series is a spin-off of Finding Happy (Wingspan 2). The events in this book follow the same timeline as those in Finding Happy.
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Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 18-25
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Fated Mates / Soul Mates
Word Count: 43600
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
Lake gripped his water glass in both hands as he sat at the bar. Bryson hadn't said two words to him since they came in from the back. A part of him thought maybe that was for the best. The other part of him wanted to make demands, but Lake didn't have it in him to push.
Lake jumped and pulled his hand away when someone touched it.
"I didn't mean to scare you." Bryson's deep voice traveled to his ears, warming him from the inside out like a reverse blanket. "I just wanted to explain myself."
"No need." Lake fished around for his cup again. Bryson's warm palm covered the back of his hand. His fingers closed around Lake’s, guiding him to the cool cup.
"No. I think you need to know about Alan."
"I really don't think I do." And now that the ex-lover had a name, it would run through his mind like an obnoxious ghost. He had a sudden need to know what Alan looked like and he couldn't even say why.READ MORE
"We were together for six years. The last year and a half were strained. The love is still there. For me, anyway."
Oh, dear gods. Lake sighed. "I understand. I won't push."
"That's not why I told you. I felt you deserved—"
"To have my nose shoved in your love for your ex. Yeah. I've figured that out already." Gods, the pit of his stomach burned with a fire that made him restless and needy all at the same time.
The air around him moved until he felt Bryson’s breath on his cheek. "We just fucking met an hour ago. Don't you think it's a little too early to be jealous of someone I'm not even with anymore?"
"Well, if we're telling each other about our past conquests, I've got a few. Where to start? My friend Jonathan and I fuck sometimes. It's not love or anything. Just fulfilling a need. And there was Victor. I liked him. He met his mate and moved out of Nirvana Orchards. Not sure where he ended up. Maybe here in the village. And then there was Neil. I think that was his name. It could have been Nick. It was a one-time thing. He was only visiting a friend inside the walls, so yeah. Should I go on?" Lake wanted out of there in a big way, but he couldn't leave until Happy or Brannon came to get him. By the gods, he didn't want to go home either. The last thing he wanted to do was face his dads while he was blind.
For a human, Bryson's growl sounded way more like a predatory shifter. "You made your point."
"Are you sure? I can keep going. You haven't heard about Charlie yet."
"You gotta smart mouth, you know that?"
Lake had never been accused of that before.
He didn't like to argue. Anger came to him quickly and sped away just as fast. He wasn't good at holding on to difficult emotions. Remaining on an even keel brought him comfort, and he liked having that one thing more than anything else. Comfort was easy to achieve under normal circumstances, but nothing about Bryson was normal.
For one, he was human. That alone made things difficult simply because he'd want to take their bonding slowly and that wasn't something bat shifters did for obvious reasons.
"Look. I said I wouldn't push and I won't. I'm not sure what more you want me to say."
Bryson sighed. "I don't either."
"If you want to say no, then say it and we'll both move on."
"But you'll be blind for the rest of your life."
Lake gave Bryson his best fake smile. He hoped he pulled it off but he probably just looked constipated. "Oh, don't worry about me. I'm already getting used to it."
"Shit. This isn't at all how I wanted the conversation to go."
"If you only got everything you wanted, huh?" Oh, Lake was good at sarcasm. If only someone would pay him.
Someone pressed against his back from behind and then a hand touched his shoulder. "Hey. You want to get out of here?"
Lake pulled his hand out of Bryson’s hold and turned in Brannon’s direction.
A chuckle escaped past Lake's lips, and some of the tension left his body. Never in his life did he think he'd be relieved to see Brannon but there it was working through him in stark clarity. "Oh my gods, thank you. Yes."
"Is it that bad?" Brannon whispered in his ear.
Lake let go of his cup of water and stood from his perch on the stool. "See ya around, Bryson."
He was a little proud of himself for the nonchalant way he said those words.
"Lake." Bryson said his name as if he were begging. It would have been sexy under other circumstances, and maybe Lake would have stayed and tried harder to get to know Bryson better, but Lake was five seconds away from crying. No way was he doing that in front of Bryson.
Lake raised his hand in the direction he thought Bryson was in and let Brannon lead him to the front door.
As soon as the door swished closed behind them and he felt the cool air on his face, Lake let the tears take over. He pressed against Brannon, putting his free hand around his shoulders and pulled him closer.
"Aw, man." Brannon pulled him to the left a few steps and then let go of his elbow to give him the comfort he demanded. "You need me to tell you he's a big jerk."
Lake chuckled through his tears. "Yeah."
"He's a big jerk, who will regret letting you go." Brannon rubbed circles on his back and sighed. "In all honesty, I don't know if he's a jerk or not. But the last part is true. He really will regret it, and it probably won't take him very long."
Lake sniffled, and that's when the smell of blood hit him. It was so strong he had to pull out of the hug and cover his nose.
"Don't you smell that?"
Brannon sniffed twice before he made a noise in the back of his throat. He moved away as if following the scent. When he finally stopped moving, he stood several yards away. Probably at the edge of the building.
Lake jumped and stiffened when Brannon screamed.
Lake’s tears, and the reason for them were forgotten.COLLAPSE