Max never knew that the day his best friend Vinny came to practice with a scent on him, that Vinny lied about knowing Max’s mate. Max believed that it was fate’s way of telling him that it was not the time to meet the man of his dreams yet, so he continued to live his life. On his birthday, Max finds an angry hawk shifter demanding answers about a man that he never met before. The shifter says that another is his mate but Max knows it is this man.
When Alix comes home after being overseas for many years, he is forced to face a battle for his own mate. He quickly learns the secret that Vinny and Max have been hiding. Alix must find a way to handle the issues that followed him after he left the Marines and the ones with his mate. Will it turn out to be too much for them to overcome?
There was something comforting about breakfast. It was a meal that could be anything, from so basic to over the top. People could have cereal with milk to steak and eggs. Hell, if a person wanted to, they could just have a cup of coffee and a random bakery item. Breakfast was the meal of unity. Whether a person was a lazy slob to a perfectionist, they all could agree that there was a good chance that breakfast was just as important―but would be skipped.
Who had time for breakfast anyway?
Alix lifted a cup of coffee to his lips and pretended that it did not taste like tar. The feel of the thick liquid sliding down his throat was almost enough to make him boycott the idea of breakfast forever. But today, he would make an exception.
Sitting in the airport café, Alix glanced from person to person. His bag was tucked close to his leg and he tried not to look at everyone that passed as if they were a threat. But he had yet to be able to relax fully. It had been years since his feet had been on American soil. So he was having to make a huge adjustment.
Alix glanced at a small child walking hand in hand with her mother. He wondered how many weeks, how many months, it had been since he had last seen a child. Men and women in uniform, shifters running around in the desert had been familiar sights. Being a part of a full shifter unit, Alix had gone a long time around people in just their inner animal form. To hear giggling, crying, and even that long whine of a child had sounded so foreign to him. Alix shifted in his seat slightly and popped his shoulder.
Nine forty-five AM. It was almost time for Scot to get there. The man had insisted on picking him up at the airport and celebrating his first day back. All Alix wanted to do was face plant into his bed and not move for a few days. He could not bring himself to tell the other man that. It had seemed to be important to his friend. Scot had even dragged his little brother down to spend time with him before they both had to return to work and their own lives. Alix knew that there would be no peace in his life until everyone around him relaxed about the fact that he was retired from the Marines now. After spending most of his life in the military, Alix was not sure what to expect for the rest of his life.
“Alix!” The yell of his name had his hand sliding to where his sidearm used to be. He had to remember that the weapon, like his uniform, had been retired for a civilian appearance. Alix was not sure if his friend would recognize him in jeans and a plain shirt.
Alix watched as the two Poe brothers scanned the area, before Logan, the youngest, waved over at him. A small wave was returned as he threw his bag over his shoulder. His feet moved and Alix felt oddly nervous. It had been so many years since he’d last seen either of them. Logan had written him often about baseball, girls, and other random daily facts that he felt needed to be shared. Scot’s letters had been fewer, but still appreciated. With both of his parents dead, they had been his only tie to his home.
Soon, Logan was pulling him into a tight but quick hug. Scot patted him on his shoulder. “Welcome home, man.”
The car ride to New Orleans was slow. The brothers argued over radio stations and Alix became aware that he knew none of the songs that they were talking about it. Not even one of them. He suddenly felt much older than 135 years old. The words of his grandfather, “you weird-ass kids and your weird-ass music” played through his head. He smiled slightly.
“How are the Predators feeling about the playoffs,” Alix asked, getting the brothers to leave the radio alone.
Logan let out a long breath of air, making Alix chuckle. “If we can stop making mistakes, we should be good.” Logan looked backward at him. “You would have killed someone last year. We were at the game for the playoffs, and everyone seemed to think they were on different teams. I am pretty sure that some of the guys thought they were on the Pirates team.”
Alix sat back and listened to Logan go on a rant about their expectations and hope for the upcoming season. Logan made sure to point at both Scot and Alix, demanding that they show up for games. It would seem that Logan got them season passes. The idea of watching baseball games and drinking beer sounded like a good time for Alix. Sitting with screaming fans, not so much.
“I was the first person that you ever played baseball with. It only seems right that I get to see if you are any better now, even if I have to drive to Florida.” Alix smiled at the glare from Logan as the man rolled his eyes and looked forward, muttering something that sounded like, I’ll show you, old man.
“Well, we can do whatever you want today. I’ll even play baseball.” Logan flipped off his brother. “But I’m going to have to leave you with Logan tonight. I have―”
Logan’s loud laugh interrupted anything that Scot planned on saying. Alix barely had time to lean to the side as Logan came plummeting into the backseat. Alix got kicked in the face and shoved his friend to the other side of the car. He cursed slightly as he tried to keep Logan’s feet and other body parts away from him. After shoving and pushing, Logan was sitting beside Alix. “Scot is a traitor.”