Authors: Toni Griffin
Tags: #gay paranormal erotic romance
Before Zack could reply Brian arrived with dinner.
Dinner was, once again, a noisy affair. Simon was used to this. Things had been very quiet for a while after Jason's attack in their home. Alex had replaced the dining room table since Jason couldn't stand to look at it. Simon couldn't blame him; being unable to move while a mad man tried to rape him a second time was bound to leave some scars.
With their family growing, the table had been getting a little small for them anyway so Alex bought a large one that could be extended when needed. It took several months but Jason was starting to get back to normal. Simon was sure there were still times when the nightmares gripped him but, thankfully, they seemed to be few and far between these days.
Looking over at Zack, Simon wasn't sure he would have had the strength not to kill the guy if something like that happened to his mate. He and Zack hadn't even completed their mating yet, but Simon could already feel his possessiveness towards Zack.
Biting back a growl, Simon concentrated on the conversation flowing around him. Everyone talked about their day and made plans for the coming weeks. They discussed pack business and set a time for their next dinner with their parents.
Simon was glad he had a close family, not like most households in this day and age. With parents getting divorced left, right, and centre, kids being dragged through custody battles, not to mention the parents that disowned their kids for being who they were. Brian and Jason had both experienced this after their parents found out they were gay. Simon was glad he was a werewolf as divorce was one thing he never had to worry about.
There wasn't a single case of destined mates splitting prior to death. He just hoped he and Zack could be as happy as his brothers were in their matings. Simon was a little nervous about Hayley. He had never thought a lot about kids since he knew from a young age he was gay and so assumed he would never have the opportunity to have any.
The little girl was cute as hell. With her green eyes and red curly hair, he knew Alex was right and their mother was going to go gaga over Hayley. That little girl was about to be spoiled rotten.
When all current topics seemed to be exhausted, Alex turned his attention back to Zack. "So Zack, you said you were a teacher. What made you decide you wanted to apply for this job in the first place? Did you have problems with your old pack?"
Simon turned to watch his mate. Zack seemed to take his time deciding what to say. The table sat in silence as everyone waited for an answer. "Never had any problems with my old pack."
"Did they know you were gay?" Brian interrupted
"Yeah, I came out when I was younger. My parents were great and the other members of the pack didn't care. I was never treated any differently." Zack smiled
"You were lucky," Jason commented. "Both Brian's and my parents and our birth pack turned their backs on us."
"Jeremy Stretton and his father William are great Alphas. There's never been any type of discrimination within the Blue Mountain Pack. As for why I decided to leave. There was nothing holding me there anymore but memories, and I needed to put some distance between my daughter and my hateful in-laws."
Simon was curious about his last statement. In-laws? Had Zack been married before? Was this person Hayley's mother or someone else? Zack had said he was gay so had he been married to a man or woman? God, Simon had so many questions, however he was beaten to the punch by Alex once again. "What do you mean hateful in-laws? If there is going to be problems, I need to know."
Simon looked over at Zack who had been wiping Hayley's face and hands clean of spaghetti sauce. Nodding once at Alex, he finished cleaning his daughter then picked her up and sat her on his lap. Cuddling Hayley close, Zack started to talk.
"My parents were killed in a head-on collision nearly three years ago." Simon inhaled sharply at the thought of his mate losing his parents. He didn't know what he would do if he lost his folks. Reaching over, Simon took Zack's hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. Zack returned the gesture and smiled at him.
"At the time my best friend, Sarah, was pregnant with our daughter. Sarah had been diagnosed with cancer and wasn't given very long to live. She didn't want the treatment because she wanted a child; she asked me to be the father. I agreed. I would have done anything for her. Mum and Dad gave us the money we needed and she got pregnant. They died before Hayley was even born. They never got to meet their grandchild."
Simon raised his hand and wiped away the tear that was slowly running down his mate's cheek. His heart broke for his mate; he'd suffered so much loss in his life already. Simon wanted to take him in his arms and kiss all the hurt away. But he couldn't do that yet.
"Sarah's parents were like your old pack, Jason and Brian. They were extremely religious and wanted Sarah to have nothing to do with me. She refused so they basically disowned her. They wanted nothing to do with Hayley since she was the daughter of a filthy pervert, an abomination in their words. That all changed when Sarah succumbed to her disease."
Simon was continually astounded at the cruelty of some people. Looking over at the little girl snuggled in her daddy's arms, he didn't know how anyone wouldn't want anything to do with her. She was so cute and innocent, had barely had a chance to start a life.
"Not long after I'd buried the only other person in my life that I loved, apart from Hayley, they called child services on me. Said I was an unfit parent. I woke one morning to find two support workers on my doorstep. Apart from burying the people I loved, that was the worst experience of my life. I stood there and held Hayley as these strangers searched my house for evidence of my neglect."
Simon couldn't take it anymore. He moved his chair as close as he could and wrapped his arms around Zack, pulling him close. Zack sighed and leant back, resting his head against Simon's shoulder, before lightly kissing his neck. Zack then kissed Hayley on the head and finished his story.
"When nothing came of the house visit, the Stewarts got lawyers involved and took me to court for custody of Hayley. It seemed as long as their daughter was alive, they were fine with ignoring our existence, but once Sarah died they couldn't handle the idea of their only grandchild being raised by me."
Simon looked at the expressions on the faces of the rest of his family. Every single person at the table had similar looks of anger and disgust at the lack of tolerance of some people. He knew his face mirrored those of everyone else. Simon couldn't believe what Zack had endured in the last couple of years. How could someone think Zack would neglect his daughter? Simon had only known him for several hours and he could already tell how much his mate loved his daughter. That girl would never want for anything if it was within Zack's power to give her.
Tightening his hold on Zack, Simon listened as he finished his tale. "I was lucky to get a good judge who could see what the Stewarts were trying to do. Once the social workers got on the stand and said they couldn't find any evidence of neglect on my part and Hayley was a healthy, happy two year old, the judge had heard enough."
"I was awarded sole custody. Valerie and Howard weren't happy with the judge's decision and tried to appeal. The appeal was denied. The Stewarts vowed to get Hayley away from me no matter what any judge said. By this time, with the funeral costs and all the lawyers, I was out of money. I had to sell the house I'd grown up in; my parents had left it to me. With all the bad memories from the last eighteen months, I couldn't stay there any longer. Plus with the threat of Valerie and Howard, I couldn't risk anything happening to Hayley. I had nothing left holding me in town so I packed all our possessions, found a new job and here I am."
Zack seemed to hold his breath when he finished talking, waiting to see what the reaction to his story would be. His answer wasn't long in coming.
"Holy Shit!" Jason exclaimed
"Those bastards." Rick joined in.
Alex sat there stony-faced for a minute before he finally spoke. "Do you think the Stewarts were serious in their threat to take Hayley from you?"
Zack seemed to think about his answer. "Yeah, I do. After everything they've put me through, I don't think they're just going to let this drop."
"It's okay, you're not alone anymore." Simon tried to reassure his mate.
Zack bit his bottom lip before slowly nodding his head. "I'm really sorry to bring this problem to your doorstep. I wish they would just leave me alone. I've never done anything to them. They even liked me before they found out I was gay."
Alex shook his head "Don't worry about it. You're family now, even if you haven't completed the mating yet. Even if you weren't, we would help you; we're not in the habit of turning those away that are in need of help. Plus when mum finds out you've made her a grandmother, you're going to come face to face with one protective woman."
Jason and Brian giggled at Alex's description of his mother. Hayley looked up from where she'd been cuddling her daddy at the sound of the laughter. Glancing around the table her gaze settled on Simon. A wide grin spread across her face before she quickly turned and launched herself from her father's arms straight at Simon.
Simon grunted as he caught the flying two year old before he pulled her in close for a cuddle.
"Hayley, please be gentle." Zack admonished his daughter.
"It's okay, she didn't hurt me. More surprised me than anything." Simon turned his attention to the grinning redhead in his arms. "Well, hello there, darlin'. Did you enjoy your dinner?" Simon smiled at the quickly bobbing head. "Would you like some ice cream for dessert? Maybe with some chocolate topping?"
The gigantic smile coming from that small face, with her chubby checks still lightly stained with spaghetti sauce caused Simon's heart to skip a beat. Simon knew in that moment he would do everything possible to keep this young girl, who would one day be as much his daughter as Zack's, safe. Simon leant down and lightly kissed Hayley on her cheek. "Hmm spaghetti, yummy."
Hayley giggled, and then her eyes lit up as Brian placed a bowl with vanilla ice cream with chocolate topping on the table in front of her. "Thank you," sang the delicate voice from the little girl in his lap before she picked up her spoon and started eating. Simon kept hold of her while she messily ate her dessert. Looking over at Zack, Simon wasn't sure what the look on his face meant but it gave him hope for the future he wanted with these two wonderful people.
* * * *
Zack watched his daughter sitting in his mate's lap eating ice cream and loved the sight before him. He couldn't believe how quickly Hayley took to Simon, although he shouldn't be surprised. Hayley never had any trouble getting to know new people and was always looking for cuddles no matter where they came from. She always managed to wrap any adult around her little finger within minutes of meeting.
Zack could feel eyes on him and glanced up to see Simon watching him. Simon seemed happy; Zack leant forward and brushed a kiss across his lips. Not wanting to take things further with Hayley on Simon's lap, Zack settled back in his chair.
The conversation around the dinner table turned to everyone's plans for the upcoming weekend. Zack sat quietly and listened. His plans for the weekend included trying to find a place for Hayley and him to live. He'd paid for a week at the hotel and really hoped he wouldn't have to extend the stay longer than that. As much as he loved his daughter, he wanted a room to himself again. Sharing a space with Hayley severely limited what he could do once she was asleep for the night.
Turning his gaze towards his mate again had all sorts of thoughts racing through his mind, thoughts of things they could get up to if they had some privacy. Zack could just imagine the hard chiselled body of the sexy as hell man in front of him; could imagine running his tongue around dark brown nipples before sucking one into his mouth and biting down gently. Zack could almost feel Simon's naked body pressed against his own as Simon gradually slid his hard thick cock deep within his aching body.
Zack's cock, which had hardened at some point during his runaway thoughts, released a small bead of pre-cum. Shit! Shaking his head to try and clear his lusty thoughts, Zack couldn't believe he'd gotten hard thinking about his mate in front of Simon's entire family and his daughter. Zack's cheeks burned as the blood ran to his face.
Realizing he had closed his eyes while fantasising, he reluctantly opened them to find everyone at the table staring at him and trying to hold back their laughter.
Jason sat forward and patted his hand, his face still lit up like he was holding back a laugh. "Don't stress about it. We've all been there. Hell, I was showing off my new nipple piercings to Brian when Maryanne and Joe walked in. Talk about embarrassing." Zack chuckled at Jason's story.
Simon leant forward and whispered in his ear. "I don't know what thoughts were going though that pretty head of yours but I'm thinking I would love a live action replay at some point." Simon's tongue flicked out and licked the lobe of his ear before he pulled it into his mouth and nibbled on the sensitive flesh. Zack felt his cock throb again and his body shiver at the sensations Simon was causing to shoot through in his body.
Simon chuckled at his reaction before kissing the side of his neck and pulling away. "Can you stay for a little longer or do you need to get back to where you're staying?" Zack looked down at his watch and noticed it was getting on towards eight o'clock. He really needed to get going.
Looking into Simon's eyes, he hoped he was conveying how much he really wished he could stay. "I'm sorry, but it's getting late and it's past Hayley's bedtime. I really need to get her back and showered and put down for the night, otherwise, she's going to be really grumpy tomorrow. I wish I could stay."
Simon smiled at him before leaning in for another brief kiss. "I understand," Simon whispered against his lips. Pulling back, he turned Hayley around in his arms so she was facing him. "Now you, princess, be good for your daddy, okay?" Simon tickled her sides and gave her a kiss on the cheek as she squealed with laughter. Giving her a last quick hug, Simon then handed her back to Zack.