Authors: Sara York & H.L. Holston
Cover Lex Valentine
Length 50,000 words
Max Gaines has known one thing all his life: he loves Jamie Matthews. Best friends since childhood, Max and Jamie are inseparable until the day of Max’s sixteenth birthday when he presents as an Alpha instead of an Omega. With Jamie being an Alpha too, they cannot bond and all their dreams of a future together are dashed.
Jameson “Jamie” Matthews has only ever wanted one man, his best friend Max. He doesn’t care when Max turns out to be an Alpha just like him, Jamie is willing to disregard society’s rules and mate with Max anyway. But when Jamie’s rut comes, all their hopes of bonding are in ashes. Jamie joins the Army to hide his pain and to hide from Max.
Left behind, Max is determined to find a way for them to be together. But time is running out as Jamie’s unit is captured by the anti-shifter group The Amity Brethren. Can Max save Jamie in time, or does fate has something different in mind for them?
Max could smell the other Alpha. The thin door of his apartment couldn’t keep the unmistakable stench of an Alpha in a rut out. Max searched for an exit. The bedroom window was nailed shut. In the winter, Old Man Johnson barely kept the pipes from freezing, turning the hot water down so far; Max thought he would die of hypothermia in his sleep because the furnace never kicked on. So repairing the only escape exit in their Denver apartment hadn’t been their landlord’s top priority.
As the Alpha’s scent grew closer and closer, Max’s throat closed and his head spun. Which was strange as he normally dove in feet first and thought about the consequences later, usually after Jamie pulled his ass out of the fire. But an Alpha in a rut was a different beast. They wouldn’t know Max was damaged goods. An inferior, infertile Alpha doomed to never mate and reproduce. They’d just be able to smell Max’s Alpha pheromones and view him as a possible threat or competition.
He wasn’t a threat. As if any Omega would even look twice at Max.
Eventually the smell overwhelmed Max and he acted quickly in order to protect himself. He grabbed his childhood baseball bat out of their coat closet and prepared himself for battle. The weapon would give Max a fighting chance to overpower the Alpha so he could run.
The front door slammed open and as Max wound his swing up, he suddenly stopped. Jamie stood in the doorway emanating anger. His trademark smirk gone, his expression instead fierce and furious.
Max’s roommate stomped in, throwing his heavy winter coat to the side and pushed the door closed behind him. All the while cursing up a storm, and ignoring Max.
“God damn idiots! Sending me home,” he raged, pacing back and forth as he worked himself into a full blown temper tantrum in their tiny living room.
A strange Alpha would have been a danger to Max, but his best friend was more like a brother, so Max had no trepidation being around Jamie when he went into a rut. Their bond pushed aside all those deep-seated Alpha tendencies to stomp out all romantic rivals for unmated Omegas in the area.
He sighed heavily. All that panic for nothing, Max lowered the bat. Jamie in a snit had been a common occurrence throughout their childhood.
He looked at Max, his blue eyes blazing. “Can you believe O’Malley said that I was ‘a danger’ to the guys on the job?” Jamie worked on a construction site in downtown Denver, nearly thirty minutes from their 600 square foot, one bedroom apartment near the University of Denver.
Max shrugged, letting Jamie answer his own question. He’d learned over the years just to let Jamie rant and get it out of his system.
“Me, Max. I’ve had four ruts since I started working there and have I ever been violent?” He looked to Max for confirmation and as Max opened his mouth to respond, Jamie barreled over him. “No! I’m a respectable Alpha. I don’t brawl-”
Max raised an eyebrow at that statement.
Jamie gave him the look. “Shut up, Max. The only time I ever fight is to save your scrawny ass and you know it. Otherwise, I’m a complete gentleman.”
“Francis Kirby,” Max reminded him.
“Ah, Max, you’re going to bring that up? It was eighth grade. The guy deserved a beat down. He called you a ‘little omega bitch’ and ordered you to suck his cock.”
“I remember what he called me, Jamie. Punching him the face for it was all your idea if I recall.”
“As my mother said when Sister Mary Margaret called her to the Reverend Mother’s office to suspend me: ‘Francis is a disgrace to proper Alpha’s everywhere and my son was well within his rights to protect his m-’” Jamie stopped speaking and looked away from Max.
Max closed his eyes and breathed in deep, the pain still fresh all these years later. He wasn’t Jamie’s mate, was never going to be Jamie’s mate; despite their parents thinking most of their childhood that Jamie and Max would eventually bond. The night Max snarled at Jamie and his father during his presentation hunt had crushed that dream. Max was an Alpha, a small and infertile one, but still an Alpha.
Every since grade school, Max had been told that two ‘normal’ Alphas couldn’t bond. They’d kill each other during their ruts. Most couldn’t even live together, let alone be roommates. Thanks to a lack of testosterone during his ruts, Max’s brain and body didn’t view Jamie as an adversary. Despite that night in the mountains, Max had never manifested as a dominant Alpha. Further medical tests in his junior year of high school had determined why.
A gentle hand touched Max’s shoulder and snapped Max out of his musings. Jamie pulled him into a forceful hug and said, “I’m sorry, Max. I know you don’t like to talk about it.”
“Its okay, Jamie.” He snuggled in closer and breathed in Jamie’s unique scent. Cinnamon, musk and a hint of gravel, sand, and cement from the construction site now coated with the flavor of an Alpha starting his rut. “I would have made a lousy mate.”