OS: Welcome Bru!
Thanks for having me here on Open Skye Book Reviews to talk about my latest release, Hiding in Plain Sight. Today I have another exclusive excerpt for you, and if you’re a fan of the series you’ll recognize one of the key players in this scene–Tate from book one, Camp H.O.W.L. Who better to give relationship advice about bonding with a commitment phobe than Tate, the guy who nearly walked away from his fairytale moonmate bond because he was so hung up on not trusting anyone with a piece of his heart?
Happily ever after is right under their noses.
Harris has been keeping a big secret for years—his unrequited mate bond with his best friend, Jackson. He’s convinced himself that having Jackson in his life is enough. That, and his work at Camp H.O.W.L., keeps him going.
Things get complicated when Jackson applies for a high-ranking Tribunal job in New York City—far from Camp H.O.W.L. The position requires he relinquish all Pack bonds… and that’s when his wolf decides to choose a mate. Suddenly Jackson sees his best friend in a sizzling new light.
Their chemistry is through the roof, but they’re setting themselves up for broken hearts—and broken bonds—if Jackson can’t figure out a way to balance his career and the love that’s just been waiting for him to take notice.
Bio and social media:
Bru Baker writes sophisticated gay romantic fiction with strong characters, real-world problems, and plenty of humor.
Bru spent fifteen years writing for newspapers before making the jump to fiction. She now balances her time between writing and working at a Midwestern library in the reference department. Whether it’s creating her own characters or getting caught up in someone else’s, there’s no denying that Bru is happiest when she’s engrossed in a story. She and her husband have two children, which means a lot of her books get written from the sidelines of various sports practices.
Harris had assumed they’d go out for dinner tonight, but if Jackson had to head in to work, he wouldn’t be able to go with them. Harris could stop at a grocery store and get something to make for dinner—he’d be there early enough to have it done before Jackson had to leave. It could be an apology for whatever the hell he’d done to make his mate so miserable.
Harris huffed out a laugh. God, he was so gone over Jackson. They weren’t even in a relationship, and he was cooking him apology meals after an imaginary fight.
He was dialing Tate before he even thought about it. Harris was way overdue for a visit to New York.
Tate picked up on the fourth ring, just before Harris hung up.
“Harris, hey,” he said, out of breath.
“Tell me I didn’t interrupt you and Adrian having sex.”
“You didn’t interrupt me and Adrian having sex,” Tate said dutifully.
Harris wrinkled his nose. “That wasn’t convincing.”
Tate laughed. “You really didn’t. My phone was upstairs, and I was downstairs in the office. You’re lucky I noticed it ring on my watch.”
Tate lived and died by his smart watch. Harris was a bit jealous. Phones were a big no-no while seeing patients, but a watch could be discreetly checked.
“You’re out of shape if a little sprint up the stairs made you breathe hard,” Harris taunted. “You urban Pack types are lazy.”
He’d gotten to run with the Connoll Pack when he’d been there for a full moon a few months ago. The Alpha maintained a cabin on a huge plot of land a few hours outside the city, and the entire Pack was welcome to run there whenever they liked. Still, it was nothing like living in the forest and getting to run at will. Tate and Adrian were getting soft.
“It’s four flights, asshole. This lazy urban type runs about ten miles a day in Central Park.”
Harris scoffed. “As a human.”
“True. But you run as a human every day too.”
“Because Drew’s human, and it would be rude to leave him in my dust as a wolf.” They’d gotten into a routine of sharing a morning run a few times a week. It gave them time to catch up. It was one of the highlights of Harris’s day. Which was kind of sad now that he thought about it. “Besides, you have to run because you spend all day sitting. You don’t even have a commute.”
Tate and Adrian had spent what seemed like forever renovating their four-story brownstone. They’d had to wait out two leases and then spend months on the process, but the result was stunning. They converted the individual units into a spacious, comfortable house and used the bottom floor for Tate’s practice.
“What’s up?” Tate asked. “You didn’t just call to tease me about my running habits.”
He and Tate had been friends for years, and Harris told him everything, but this new distance between him and Jackson was different. Saying it out loud might make it real.
“I might have,” Harris said.
“Spill.” Tate was using his therapy voice, pitched deeper and no- nonsense. It was ridiculously effective.
“Jackson’s mad at me,” he blurted.
“Jackson spends half his life mad at you and Jordan for some idiotic thing you’ve done.”
“But this time it’s different. He isn’t talking to me, and he never seems to want to be alone with me. I have no idea what’s going on in his head, but it’s almost like he’s afraid of me. I don’t know what to do.”
Tate sighed. “Did you finally drop the mate bomb on him? That could take some time to process.”
Tate had been advising him to talk with Jackson ever since he’d confessed that the crush he’d harbored for years on Jackson had turned into a one-sided mate bond. Harris had never taken the advice, and he didn’t plan to. Jackson didn’t want a mate, and Harris didn’t want to alienate himself from his mate, even if they could only have a platonic relationship. An unrequited bond was better than a rejected bond.
“No. That’s the thing. He just got, I don’t know, weird.”
Tate made a disappointed noise. “Then maybe it’s time. What if he’s feeling the bond, and he’s confused? You can’t just leave him hanging on this. It could be messing with his head.”
Harris hadn’t thought about it that way. What if Jackson was feeling the bond and didn’t understand it? Maybe he was looking at this wrong. If he explained the bond, would Jackson accept it? Would Jackson still come back to Camp H.O.W.L. to visit? Or would Harris only see him in St. Louis for the holidays?
“Stop freaking out,” Tate said, using his therapist voice again.
“I’ll freak out if I want to,” Harris said, aware how childish it sounded.
“If your bond is complete then Jackson could be feeling you freak out,” Tate reminded him.
Shit, that was right. Why hadn’t he thought of that? He was so used to living with the bond he hadn’t even tried to tap into Jackson. If they had completed the bond then he’d be able to pick up on what Jackson was feeling.
“Is that like an instant thing?”
Tate chuckled. “I don’t know.”
“What kind of distance does that work over?” Harris chewed on his bottom lip, his chest tightening. He couldn’t feel anything unusual.
“Depends. For me and Adrian? There’s no limit. At least none we’ve found. I can still feel him even when he’s in Portland. But I’m not sure what the typical range is for a bond.”
Harris blew out a gusty breath. Adrian and Tate were moonmates, which was a different level of connection entirely. “Great. So I won’t know for sure until I’m with him.”
“Hey, it could be stress from work,” Tate said, his voice gentle. “Jackson being distant might not have anything to do with you.”
“You’re right,” Harris said. “I’m probably overreacting.”
“That’s not what I said. Your reaction is perfectly normal, but you’re working without all of the facts. Take it slow, figure out what’s going on, and go from there. Okay? Don’t beat yourself up about this. You’re in a difficult situation, Harris. That you’ve made it this long without going feral or breaking down is a real testament to your strength.”
He’d heard of a handful of cases like theirs over the years. Mate bonds—both platonic and romantic—were common, but usually both sides acknowledged it. One-sided mate bonds were less common, but they did happen. It sucked that it was happening to him.