Authors: Toni Griffin
Tags: #gay paranormal erotic romance
"What's wrong?" Zack asked with a puzzled expression on his face.
"I hope you don't mind but I believe you're about to meet my parents." Simon said as he watched his parents notice him and head in their direction, ignoring the table Isabella was trying to show them to.
"What?" Zack choked out.
"Yeah, sorry, was hoping to keep you to myself tonight but it doesn't seem to be working out that way." Simon turned away from his obviously nervous mate and gazed up at his parents. His dad was grinning from ear to ear and his mom had a perplexed expression on her face.
Simon stood when his parents arrived and gave his mum a kiss on the cheek. "Hey, mum, dad. What are you guys doing out for dinner?"
"Oh, your father's taking me out for our anniversary."
"Nice and romantic, Dad." His dad chuckled at him.
"Oh stop it. You know what he's like. Give him a steak and he's a happy man. This place is fine. It's just nice to go out." He watched as his mum's eyes kept darting back and forth between himself, Zack, and Hayley.
Simon looked at Zack and grinned. He didn't want to ruin the surprise too soon. He looked back at his parents in time to see his mum elbow his dad in the ribs. Chuckling, he looked at his dad and raised an eyebrow.
His dad sighed "So son, are you going to introduce us?" He knew his dad couldn't deny anything his mum wanted and what she wanted most of all, right now, was to know who he was with.
Looking at Zack, he couldn't help but grin as he made the introductions. "Zack, these are my parents, Maryanne and Joe Holland. Mum, Dad, this is my mate, Zack Bennett and his daughter, Hayley. His attention rushed back to his mum at her quickly indrawn breath. One hand was covering her mouth and the other seemed to be squeezing the life out of his dad's arm.
"Mr and Mrs Holland, it's lovely to meet you. Your sons are wonderful men." Zack held his hand out for his dad to shake.
His father shook his mate's hand and grinned widely. "It's nice to meet you too, young man. Welcome to the family. Please call me Joe."
Simon looked at Hayley who sat quietly watching everything. Simon held out his hand for her. "Hey Princess, can you come here for a minute? There's someone I would like you to meet." Hayley nodded as she stood and walked around the table before she took Simon's hand.
Simon looked at his mother and smiled at her. "Hayley, this is my mum and dad." Simon looked at Zack to make sure what he was doing was okay. The smile and nod he got in return, let him know his mate was happy for him to continue. "You can call them Nanna and Poppy if you like."
Hayley looked up and him and smiled, "Okay." She let go of Simon's hand before she walked up to his mother and looked up at her. "Hello. Do you like my dress?" Her soft melodic voice questioned before she lifted her arms in the universal symbol of 'Up.'
Simon watched his mother as a tear ran down her cheek before she bent and picked the little girl up into her arms and crushed her in a hug. "Your dress is beautiful and so are you."
Simon looked away from the sight when he heard a throat clearing. Looking at his dad, he couldn't help but be in awe of the love he could see shining on his face for his wife. He hoped he and Zack would be that happy in the future.
"You do realise your mother is going to spoil that poor child rotten. And I'm never going to get a moment's peace around the house anymore." Simon just laughed and nodded.
"So Zack, Alex tells me you're a teacher."
"Yes, Sir. Math is my main subject but I also teach social studies."
"Alex told you about Zack?" That would probably explain the grin on his face when his dad had seen him sitting there with Zack.
"Yep, and let me tell you, keeping that a secret from your mother was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Thank god, we saw you tonight, I don't know if I could have kept something as big as a grandchild from her for very long."
Simon laughed again. His dad had never been able to hide anything from his mum.
"Anyway, Zack, it was nice to meet you and I'm sure we'll get plenty of opportunities to get to know you better, but we should really head to our table and let you get back to your evening."
"You too, Joe, Maryanne, enjoy your dinner." Zack took Hayley's hand and led her back to the table. Not two minutes after they settled down again, their meals arrived. Simon watched as Zack took a bite of his steak, which was quickly followed by the most sexual noise he had ever heard.
Simon had to bite back his own growl as his cock hardened at the moans coming from his mate. "Enjoying that steak, are we?" Zack's eyes snapped open and a blush covered his cheeks. God, he was gorgeous.
"Sorry. Didn't realise I was doing that. This meat just melts in your mouth. And it's cooked to perfection."
Simon looked at Hayley who was happily dunking her own piece of steak and chips in tomato sauce before attempting to get them in her mouth. Leaning across the table, Simon lowered his voice so he was sure Hayley wouldn't hear him "It's fine, but next time I hear that noise coming from your mouth, I would prefer it if we were in bed and naked."
* * * *
Zack could feel his cheeks heat even further before he put his knife and fork down. The thought of him and Simon being naked in bed had his cock sitting up and waving hello. However, it wasn't as simple as that. He had Hayley to think about. He needed to make sure Simon was in this for the long haul. That the idea of helping him to raise Hayley for the rest of their lives was what he wanted.
Zack had been nervous about meeting Simon's parents. He definitely wasn't expecting it to happen in the middle of a restaurant on their very first date. Maryanne had loved Hayley and that was a good sign. She needed grandparents to spoil her. The thought that his parents never got the opportunity hurt his heart. It hurt even more knowing her other biological grandparents were cruel, bigoted assholes.
Zack shook his head trying to get his thoughts back to where they needed to be. Looking over the table at his mate, he noticed Simon had stopped eating as well and was watching him. He seemed to be waiting for whatever Zack was going to say.
Schooling his nerves, Zack bit the bullet. "As much as I would love to fulfil that idea, I need to know how you feel about Hayley first. You have to understand, this is a package deal. I'm all she has left and I won't give her up for anything. Not even my mate."
Zack was watching Simon closely and didn't miss the hurt that quickly flashed across his face before being replaced with something Zack hoped was understanding. "I would never ask you to give up Hayley. She is a part of you and will always be. As soon as I met you, I knew this was a package deal. I admit I'd never really thought about kids before, but I'm not against them and Hayley is a beautiful little girl."
Simon reached across the table and once again took his hand that had started to shake. Giving the hand a gentle squeeze he continued. "I've never really been around kids much, apart from my brothers so you're going to have to help me. I want us to be a family. I want my mate and, I hope one day, Hayley can be our daughter along with any other children that may come along."
Zack didn't know what to say. Actually he didn't know if he could say anything to that. The lump that had taken up residence in his throat felt like it was the size of a tennis ball. Instead he sat there and nodded his head as tears streaked down his face.
He watched as Simon stood up and walked around the side of the table until he crouched down bedside Zack's chair. The feel of Simon's hand gently cupping his cheek and wiping away his tears was so wonderful to his touch-starved body. The soft whisper of his mate's voice had shivers running down his spine. "We'll work it out as we go, honey. You're mine and I'm not letting either of you go." A soft kiss was placed on his lips before Simon stood and resumed his seat at the table.
"Daddy, are you okay? Why are you crying?" Hayley's voice broke through the fog that was trying to take hold. Turning to face his daughter, Zack couldn't help but let out a bark of laughter at the sight before him.
Hayley had managed to get sauce everywhere. And when he said everywhere, he meant it. The sauce was in her hair, on her dress, up her arms, on her forehead, and all over the table. The only place it seemed she didn't get the sauce was the napkin he had tucked in the front of her dress.
Zack could hear Simon chuckling across from him. "I'm fine, Pumpkin. Look at you though, you're a mess." Hayley just beamed up at him, like it was everyday she went around wearing tomato sauce. "It's all Simon's fault, isn't it, sweetie?" Zack laughed as he started to wipe his daughter down.
"Me? What did I do?" Zack could hear the mock horror in Simon's voice as he tried to defend himself against the allegations.
"Yeah, it's all Simon's fault." Zack laughed and Hayley giggled along with him as they condemned their dinner companion.
"Fine, okay. I admit it was me. I was trying to make a tomato sauce monster. How do you think I did?"
"I think you succeeded." Zack admitted as he wiped the sauce from Hayley's hair. Once Hayley was semi-respectable again, he helped her finish her dinner as he and Simon finished theirs. They ordered Hayley some ice cream while they sat and sipped on coffee. Zack couldn't help but smile across the table at Simon. He didn't think he'd been this happy since the day his daughter was born, and even then that happiness wasn't complete as he could tell the toll everything had taken on Sarah's body.
"What are you thinking about?" Simon's question dragged his mind back to the here and now.
"You looked really happy for a moment and then your expression fell like you were remembering something sad." Zack wasn't aware he showed his thoughts so clearly, but it wasn't anything he wanted to keep secret so he told Simon what he had been thinking about.
"Happy looks good on you." Zack could feel his lips turning up at the corners with that pronouncement.
"Yeah. I think I'm going to make it my mission in life that you're always to be happy and smiling." Simon lowered his voice a little "You look sexy as hell when you smile."
Zack couldn't help the blush that rose up his cheeks or the wide smile from forming on his face. The fact this beautiful, intelligent and sexy-as-sin man in front of him wanted to make him happy for the rest of his life caused his body to heat and his heart to melt.
"Come home with me tonight. Please?"
"Simon." Zack sighed. God, he wished he could. He wanted nothing more in that moment than to go back to Simon's and get naked and sweaty with his mate. Just thinking about it had his cock hardening against his pants. "I wish I could but I have Hayley."
"I know, Zack." Simon reached over and caressed his cheek. Zack couldn't help but turn into the touch. "I understand anything we do from here on out will include Hayley and I'm fine with that. I was suggesting we go back to the hotel and get what you will need for the night. There is a guest room right next door to mine at home."
Zack had to admit he really wanted to agree. Spending the night with his mate would be wonderful but having a two year old in the house could be a little distracting. For everyone. "What about everyone else, Simon? It's not like you live alone and having a two year old in the house can be exhausting."
"The guys will be fine with it. Marcus and Brian want kids anyway and, I think, Alex and Jason are going to want them soon as well. As for Rick, he's been going out a lot recently so he shouldn't have a problem with it either."
Zack bit his bottom lip. He was so tempted just to say yes but he needed to make sure Hayley would be happy with the situation. Looking at his daughter, he didn't care how difficult it made his life by having a two year old, he wouldn't change her for the world. "Hey, Pumpkin?"
"Yes, Daddy?" Hayley looked at him. She had finished her dessert and started back in on her colouring, sticky fingers and all.
"Would you like to sleep over at Simon's house tonight? You'll get to sleep in a big bed, but Daddy won't be in the same room. Just like it was before we moved here, I will be in the room next to yours."
Hayley looked like she really thought about what he had said. He wasn't sure how much of what he told her she really understood, considering her age but she looked cute anyway.
"Will I still get to sleep with Woofie?"
"Of course, we'll go and get your princess jammies and some clothes for tomorrow."
The grin that broke across his daughter's face at the mention of her favourite pyjamas was priceless. So was the excited bobbing of the head and the loud "Yay!"
"I take it that means yes?" Simon said, chuckling.
"It does indeed." Zack replied, turning to look at his mate. He knew all the heat and desire he felt for Simon was visible in his eyes. He couldn't wait to get his hands on his mate's naked body.
Zack watched as Simon discreetly reached below the table and adjusted himself. "I think it's time to pay the bill and get going, don't you?" Simon asked as he stood up and walked around the table to help Hayley pack up her colouring.
Yeah, it was definitely time to go. The sooner they left, the sooner they could get to the good stuff. Zack just hoped Hayley would sleep through the night.
Simon couldn't believe how hard his cock was as they pulled up outside his house. Images of what his mate would look like naked and writhing under him had plagued him the whole way from the restaurant. His wolf was riding him to lay claim to his mate and Simon was just as impatient, but knew they needed to get Hayley settled for the night before either he or his wolf would get what they wanted.
Getting out of the car, Simon grabbed Zack's overnight bag while Zack released Hayley and pulled her out of the car. "Let's get this tomato sauce monster washed and in bed, huh?" Hayley giggled at him as he tickled her side lightly.
"Sounds like a plan," Simon agreed with him.
Simon held Zack's hand as they headed inside. It wasn't late and the others, less Rick, were all in the living room watching the Friday night football game. Simon wasn't sure what was wrong with his youngest brother but he was starting to worry a little. Recently, Rick had been going out nearly every night and not coming in till after everyone else was fast asleep.