• authoraprilkelley1

Dragons and Mistletoe by April Kelley - A Saint Lakes Short Story & Giveaway

so it's not hanging a new chapter of Winter Storm is coming this Monday (wink)

Lucas had a to win but first he had to get Bennett into an ugly sweater.

The holiday season filled Lucas with joy, cheer, and all the falalala goodness. He just wished Bennett would get with the program. And by program, Lucas meant, wear the sweater with a black dragon on it to their holiday celebration. Lucas would win forty dollars and beat his brother-in-law at his own game. But no, Bennett bulks at every turn.

Author Note:

This short story takes place right after Leave it All (Saint Lakes One).

For A Saint Lakes/Wingspan Universe reading order, please visit my website:


Author’s Mailing List


Chapter One

Lucas held Sage’s hand, pulling him toward a store with sweaters hanging from circular racks.

Since it was the holiday season, the store was one of those that popped up in an empty mall space in time to provide shoppers with one more green and red buying choice.

The workers utilized every space, including the walls, putting the most outrageous and ugly in front of everyone. A sweater with round ornaments hanging from stole Lucas’s attention. The ornaments were multicolored and looked terrible.

Lucas loved it.

Christmas music and mall chatter provided background noise. People walked with shopping bags from one store to the next on a mission to buy the perfect gift. It was the stuff Christmas shopping was made of and brought Lucas’s good mood up ten notches.

Two of his shopping companions were downers, though. He didn’t hold it against Sage, who had a good reason for his mood, but Bennett would either get with the program or wait in the car. Bennett would probably find the car more enjoyable except he was extremely protective and he didn’t know what Lucas would buy. He had more control if he tagged along, going from store to store. Or so Lucas let him believe. Since Lucas knew Bennett loathed the thought of a ton of overpriced shit in their house, to the mall, they both went whether Bennett liked it or not.

Bennett’s brother, Owen, walked next to him. Owen smiled and looked content, unlike Bennett, who scowled at everyone they passed.

Vaughan stood on Bennett’s other side.

Vaughan had two states of being, teasing and serious. And the latter he schooled a person better than a teacher. No other speeds existed.

The three of them looked like a wall of Somersets, protecting Lucas and Sage’s backs. They were hard not to notice because they were all above average in every way. In particular, Bennett drew a lot of attention because he was by far taller and broader than most humans. Almost all dragon shifters were on the larger side. Owen and Vaughan might be of average height and leanly muscled, but Owen had dark hair and eyes that were eye-catching, and Vaughan wore a mischievous smile. People stared.

Lucas stopped walking and turned to meet Bennett’s gaze. “We’re getting something from this store.”

Bennett raised his eyebrows. “You are. I’m not.”

“You’re scaring people.” Lucas turned. At least he had Sage on his side.


“Your face.”

“What’s wrong with my face?”

“Nothing. You’re gorgeous. Even when you look unhappy. Trying smiling, Benny. Sheesh.”

When Bennett obeyed, he showed teeth, exaggerating the effort.

Lucas shook his head and turned back around, continuing toward his destination once again. “Nevermind.”

Owen chuckled. “You look constipated, brother.”

“Fuck you.” Despite Bennett’s words, he chuckled.

Lucas leaned into Sage and whispered, “He’s a grinch.”

Sage smiled, but it didn’t quite reach his eyes. He had been lifeless lately. Turmoil swirled inside him, but on the outside, he showed nothing but depression and stress. Healing people was what Lucas did best, but he couldn’t fix Sage’s problems. Sage’s mental illness was too big and held the weight of kidnapping and sexual assault. Post-traumatic stress disorder was what a doctor would call it.

Lucas called it heartbreaking. He knew how scary getting kidnapped was. Stavros’s coven took him and Sage at the same time, after all. There were still times when Lucas woke from a nightmare. But he hadn’t been sexually assaulted or beaten so badly he almost died. That had been Sage’s to carry all by himself, but if Lucas could take it all away, no matter the cost to himself, he would in a heartbeat.

“I bet they make a sweater with the grinch on it.” Sage had tears in his eyes as if speaking let the emotions escape. It didn’t matter what he said or that Sage was trying to keep up with Lucas’s lighter mood.

Lucas toned down the good cheer. His heart ached for Sage, and he knew it showed even though he tried not to let it.

When they got to the closest rack, Lucas let Sage’s hand go in favor of wading through the ugliness.

Sage chose an area on the other side of the circle, going through the motions even though Lucas could tell his mind was a million miles from focusing on clothing.

Lucas had begged Sage to come. He and Mother Estelle thought getting out would do Sage good but watching him struggle to cope with simple, pleasurable tasks like shopping, Lucas wasn’t so sure.

Okay, shopping as a pleasurable task depended on who he asked.

A part of Lucas expected some magically cure when Garridan entered the picture. Sage would focus on the fact Garridan was his mate, and their love would make things better. It was all mushy, romantic nonsense that never happened in real life.

Garridan had his own problems anyway. Not shifting for so long had made him feral. It was a condition Lucas had done a bit of research on because he hadn’t been able to heal Garridan’s mind completely, and he wasn’t sure why. Perhaps the fracture was too large. Regardless of the reason, Lucas wanted to make sure Garridan would heal on his own. While it seemed hopeless, most of his research suggested Lucas’s healing magic would help him overcome the feralness. It would just take time.

“Are you sure about Christmas?” Lucas held up a shirt with an elf stringing up Christmas lights on a tree.

“If you’re sure Garridan can be around me without bonding, then yeah. I want to be with him. I just can’t. Yet.” Sage gave him a worried look. “What if I can’t ever mate with him?”

“You and Garridan will both heal and find a way to make it work. Have faith.” It seemed hopeless, with Garridan barely making sense and acting primitive and instinctual.

“I doubt it.”

“Hey, Debbie Downer, why don’t you come with me to the cooking store, help me pick out something for Forrest and maybe mom too. You’re good at gift-giving,” Owen interjected.

“Why the cooking store?” Sage followed Owen.

“Both like to cook, but Forrest has all the latest kitchen gadgets. I need help finding something unique,” Owen said.

“I doubt I’ll be able to help, but I guess I could try.” Sage’s voice trailed off as they made their way around the corner.

Bennett, who had stood next to Vaughan off to the side a few feet away, closed the distance between them and kissed him on the cheek. “I need to look for something. Stay here with Vaughan and tell me if you leave the store.”

Lucas nodded, knowing Bennett meant to talk to him through their internal link. “Are you buying me another present?”

“No.” Bennett was. Lucas could tell by the way he tried not to smile.

“Liar.” For a moment, Lucas’s hunt for the perfect ugly sweater took a back seat to Bennett’s ass as he walked away.

He must have had a dreamy look on his face because Vaughan chuckled.

Lucas put his attention on the sweaters again. He looked through half the rack before he found one he liked. He held it up to get Vaughan’s opinion. “Do you think Bennett would wear this?”

It was mostly green with reindeers and holiday lights all over it and decidedly toned down compared to some others, which was why Lucas thought of Bennett.

Vaughan chuckled. “Hell no. Bennett wouldn’t wear anything in this store.”

“Yes, he will.” Lucas wasn’t exactly confident in his claim, but he could maybe get Bennett to wear something with a bit of persuasion.

Vaughan shook his head. “I bet you he won’t. He’s so fucking stubborn.”

“The whole family says that about him, but I don’t see it. He does almost anything I ask, within reason, of course.”

Vaughan held out his hand. “Bet?”

“You’re on. Twenty bucks says he will.” Lucas took Vaughan’s hand and shook it.

“I’ll double it if you get him to wear something with a black dragon on it.”

Did they make ugly holiday sweaters with dragons?

Lucas looked around for a customer service person and found a man behind the counter toward the back of the store. Lucas made his way there, with Vaughan following somewhere behind. When he arrived at the counter, the man behind the register smile. “How can I help you?”

“I’m wondering if you have something with a dragon on it.”

“I’m not sure, but our fantasy section is that rack there.” The human pointed to his left.

He didn’t mean to sneak into the man’s mind. Sometimes it just happened. The learning curve was a long one. Lucas saw that the man was a human and a very cynical one. He was also trying to put himself through school and having a difficult time financially. He felt lonely, although Lucas wasn’t sure why.

“The rack with the red and green stocking hats sitting on top,” The man directed.

Lucas and Vaughan made their way over. He knew Vaughan was into their bet pretty deep because he began pawing through the sweaters. Since Lucas was competitive, he wanted to be the first to find what they were looking for.

Vaughan held up a sweater that had a picture of Gandalf in a Santa hat. He smirked and raised his eyebrows.

Lucas chuckled. “Nice.”

It took a couple of minutes, but Vaughan was the one who found the first one. The sweater was red with silver sparkles all over it.

“Has to match Bennett’s dragon or no deal.” The dragon was green, not black, and if that were the thing that got him out of the bet, then, by the gods, he would use it because he knew Bennett well enough to know getting him to wear an ugly sweater would create an argument. Lucas was a lover, not a fighter, primarily where Bennett was concerned.

“Fine.” Vaughan went back to his search.

As luck would have it, it was Lucas who found it. He should get something for finding the sweater. It was blue and had white snowflakes all over with a black dragon in the center. As much as he could argue the fact that the dragon wasn’t black, but just a silhouette, it was thin, and Lucas wanted the forty bucks.

Vaughan laughed. “You’re so gonna lose, Lucas.”

“Just get your money ready to put in my hot little hand.” Lucas looked for one in Bennett’s size and then made his way to the rack with the reindeer sweater.

Chapter Two

When Bennett pulled into their driveway, Lucas grabbed the door handle, intending to get out of the car, but Bennett stopped him with a hand on his arm.

“I’m gonna need you to stay in here.” Okay, what the fuck was going on?

When Lucas turned and met Bennett’s gaze, his expression gave nothing away. “Why?”

“Just let me go inside first. And shut your eyes.” Bennett telling him to keep his eyes closed, clued Lucas in, and when he got it, he grinned.

Lucas shut his eyes. “Just let me know when I can come in.”

When lips met his, Lucas kissed back. Then they were gone, and the engine shut off. Bennett’s door open.

Keep them closed. The trunk opened, and something solid brushed against the car before everything when silent.

They’re closed. They’re closed. Sheesh.

It was about five minutes longer than Lucas thought it should be before Bennett spoke through their link. It’s okay to come inside now.

Lucas got out of the car and went to the trunk, which Bennett had left open. Lucas grabbed his shopping bags before shutting the car up. He was halfway to the house when he felt Bennett’s distress, and then a grip of sadness hit Lucas, so strongly, for a second, he questioned his own feelings. Quickly realizing something had happened, Lucas made his way inside.

With Garridan feral and violent, Lucas could guess. And the sadness made sense because Bennett and Garridan had a history. Garridan had been a father to Bennett after his parents died. His disappearance for so many years didn’t diminish Bennett’s love. So yeah, Bennett struggled emotionally.

What’s wrong?

Nothing I couldn’t handle.

Just tell me. Lucas was already getting annoyed by Bennett’s evasive tactics.

Garridan attacked me. He’s all about his mate. The frustration came through loud and clear in every word. Lucas didn’t need to read Bennett’s mind because Garridan had been about getting to Sage from the second they met, and nothing had changed. Bennett knew that Lucas knew. Hell, the whole family knew it. So yeah, the words were said more out of frustration than to import knowledge.

Bennett came from down the hall. He probably put whatever he had bought Lucas in the spare room, the one Garridan wasn’t in.

The second Lucas saw the big scratch across Bennett’s face, he wanted to kill Garridan. He dropped his bags by the door.

“Don’t do anything to him, baby.”

“I’ve had enough of this whole situation, Benny.” As soon as Bennett came within reach, Lucas hugged Bennett around his middle. He lay his head on Bennett’s chest and closed his eyes, sighing in contentment. He knew he needed to fix the scratch but just wanted to hold him for a moment first.

“Me too, baby. I’m at a loss with Garridan. He’s way too feral to function.” Bennett held him tight.

After a few minutes, he pulled back enough to focus on Bennett’s injury. “Let me fix your wounds.”

The ball of light appeared near Lucas’s chest like always, but he took it in the palm of his hand before pushing it into Bennett. It didn’t take much energy to fix such a small cut. He was growing into a stronger witch, so he could do a lot more before draining his energy anyway.

Bennett hissed as the light did its thing. The scratch disappeared right before Lucas’s eyes. The visible effect of his magic would never stop surprising him.

Bennett smiled and kissed him. “Thank you, baby.”

“You’re welcome. Now, where’s Garridan?”

“In his bedroom. Probably plotting against us. He doesn’t understand why we’re keeping Sage from him. He thinks we’re holding Sage hostage. I’d like to tell him why, but I think hearing about the violence would make him more protective, which may make him more dangerous.” Bennett rested his forehead against Lucas’s and sighed.

“He’ll get better. It’ll take time, but he will, Benny.”

Bennett nodded.

Lucas wanted to change the subject, so he whispered, “What did you buy me?”

Bennett chuckled. “Yeah, right.”

Lucas pulled away, trying to keep his serious expression and failing. “I don’t like surprises that much.”

Bennett snorted and walked to the small foyer area by the door to gather Lucas’s shopping bags. “You love surprises.”

Lucas nearly ran after Bennett, not wanting him to unpack the contents of what he bought and see the sweater. He had to butter Bennett up with sex before he saw the sweater to win the bet. It was all about timing and using what he had to his advantage. He had his fabulous ass, which Bennett appreciate more every day, and Lucas planned on using it to get what he wanted.

As soon as Bennett held the bags, Lucas snatched them from his hands and walked back through the kitchen and into the living room, heading for the hall that would lead to their bedroom.

Bennett was hot on his heels. Lucas could practically feel him breathing on his neck.

“What did you do?” Bennett laced the accusation through every word.

Lucas chuckled, stopped walking long enough to shake his ass. “Don’t you worry your pretty head over it.”

Bennett wrapped his arms around Lucas from behind, pressing his hard length against Lucas.

Need crashed into him. He forgot about everything else, including where they were. “Take me to bed.”

Bennett stepped around Lucas, grabbing his hand. They made their way down the hall.

As soon as they got inside their bedroom and shut the door behind them, Bennett took Lucas in his arms. Lucas moaned when he felt Bennett’s cock against his abdomen. God, how he wanted to taste Bennett’s pre-come, feel all that hardness against his tongue.

Lucas kissed Bennett, licking in between his lips just a little before pulling back. He hoped he looked sensuous as he dropped to his knees.

Lucas unbuttoned Bennett’s pants, pulling the zipper down before pushing his pants and underwear off. Lucas looked up to see Bennett take off his shirt. He dropped it on the floor next to his feet.

Lucas took Bennett’s length in hand, wrapping his fingers around it. Something about the weight and familiarity brought a sense of contentment for reasons Lucas had never thought about with any real consideration. Still, he thought it had something to do with being in love with Bennett.

“Oh, fuck, baby.” Bennett’s curse brought Lucas back to his task.

He licked the pearl of pre-come off the tip before taking it into his mouth, meeting Bennett’s gaze the whole time. The feel of it on his mouth coupled with the taste gave Lucas a punch of desire so strong he couldn’t keep his eyes open.

Lucas pulled off partway before taking it to the back of his throat.

“Oh yeah, that’s so good, baby.” Bennett threaded his fingers through Lucas’ hair, not demanding, but just resting there.

Bennett smelled like cinnamon. So close to his skin, the scent enveloped him. Every time Bennett’s cock hit the back of his throat, he got a big whiff.

He set a rhythm that Bennett quickly stopped. Lucas opened his eyes and met Bennett’s gaze.

“Fuck, the way you look at me.” Bennett shook his head and cupped his cheek. “Get yourself ready while you suck me.”

Lucas nodded and stood long enough to take his pants and underwear off. He pulled his shirt over his head as he went to his knees again.

While Lucas got naked, Bennett grabbed the lube for their nightstand drawer. Bennett stood in front of him again, and Lucas went back to what he was doing, taking the cock into his mouth as if it never left.

Bennett moaned, holding the lube in his hand for a few seconds before pressing it against Lucas’s hand. Lucas released Bennett’s cock and took the lube. He let Bennett take over, pumping his hips until he set a rhythm he liked. Lucas squeezed some lube onto his fingers by feel and then reached behind himself, pressing the tip into his hole.

He moaned around Bennett’s cock, which ramped them both up, although Bennett slowed his thrusts. “By the gods, baby. You’ll need to hurry.”

He slipped a second finger in, opening himself as quickly as possible. When he thought he was loose enough, he pulled off Bennett’s cock with a pop and stood. Pulling Bennett by the hand over to the bed and lay on his back, immediately playing with his ass, wanting that fullness.

“You’re so fucking sexy, baby.” Bennett gripped his cock, watching Lucas as he stroked it.

“Please, Benny. I need it.”

“Yeah, tell me how much.” Bennett climbed on the bed then and settled in between his legs.

Lucas pulled his fingers out of himself and watched Bennett lube himself.

Bennett took both of Lucas’s hands, holding them over his head at the same time he settled on top, pinning him to the bed.

“I need you more than I need to breathe,” Lucas whispered.

Bennett’s eyes changed to his dragons when his cock pushed inside Lucas.

He couldn’t speak, not that he had anything more to say. The pleasure built, making words impossible. He lifted his hips, meeting Bennett’s gentle push in, wanting more. Harder. Faster.

He moaned and felt a tingling in his gums. Witches weren’t supposed to grow teeth like a shifter, but Lucas was unique. He didn’t bite Bennett often, but it was an overwhelming urge to reaffirm their bond when he did. He supposed Bennett’s dragon needed it just as much.

Bennett’s mouth was open as he pulled out partway and then thrust back in again. His teeth dropped down, and he smiled wickedly. Lucas didn’t know why until Bennett’s cock rubbed against Lucas’s prostate.

A white-hot heat surrounded him until he couldn’t think about anything but wanting more pleasure. The need built. He’d cum soon.

Bennett thrust back in harder, setting a rhythm that stole Lucas’s breath.

“Bite me. Oh, gods, Please.” Lucas babble, not knowing what he was saying. It was pure instinct when he turned his head, making room for Bennett as he bit down. He moaned when he felt Bennett drink.

Lucas focused on the cords of muscles, where Bennett’s shoulder and neck met, on the scarred wound he had put there a while ago. Lucas bit down, letting the sweet blood settle into him. The bond was already substantial, but still, they needed the affirmation. He came without any touch at all except for Bennett’s abdomen sliding against him.

Bennett stilled, for a second, before grunting. His movements grew erratic, and then he stopped, his body going almost boneless, although he didn’t crush Lucas. Bennett released Lucas’s hands, so he wrapped them around Bennett’s broad shoulders.

Lucas licked at the wound on Bennett’s neck, wanting those last drops. Bennett did the same when the purring started. He rubbed his cheek against Lucas, sounding and acting more like a cat than a dragon.

“I love you,” Bennett whispered.

“Mmmm…I love you too.”

“Are you going to tell me what you bought? I already think I know, and I’m not wearing it.”

Lucas needed a strategy. More than just sex because Bennett made him forget. It was too good to think.

Chapter Three

The second Lucas heard the shower running, he jumped out of bed, putting on pajama pants. He walked over to the closet and grabbed the bag with their sweaters in it.

Vaughan, that big doubter, was going down today because Lucas had finally figured out how to get Bennett in the sweater, and it was so simple it was almost ridiculous.

Christmas should always involve an ugly sweater. They could start a new thing as a couple. He would use the word tradition a lot since shifters seemed to love that shit.

Lucas grinned.

He lay the sweater on the bed and then knocked on the bathroom door once before opening it. He peeked his head around the corner and said, “I have something special for you on the bed.”

“I’m not wearing it, Lucas. I mean it.”

Here we go. “We could start a cute tradition.”


“It would be our thing.”


Lucas sighed. When all else failed, level with him. “Fine. I bet Vaughan forty dollars you would wear it. I’ll split it with you.”

“Hm.” Silence for longer than made Lucas comfortable, and then Bennett said, “I’ll think about it.”

“And I’ll throw in some good cheer in the form of a bj every day until new years.”

Bennett chuckled. “You’ll do that anyway.”

“It wasn’t guaranteed before. Now it is.” Lucas tapped his finger on the door frame. “It’s a good offer, Bennett. You should take it.”

“Twenty bucks and seven blowjobs?” Again, with the silence. What a drama queen. “I’ll think about it.

Lucas rolled his eyes. There wasn’t much more he could say to sway Bennett, so he changed the subject. “Do you want coffee now or wait until we get to Mother Estelle’s house?”

The Somerset tradition was to have breakfast on Christmas Day before opening presents. Then the clan came for an evening run. The clan run Lucas could do without, but he was looking forward to the rest of the day.

“I’ll wait, baby.”

“Okay, I’m going to gather the presents, get them in the car.”

“Make Garridan help you. Don’t go outside by yourself.”

Lucas sighed. “Okay.”

Lucas left Bennett to his shower and contemplating his clothing choices.

He knocked on Garridan’s door and heard a grunt, which he took to mean he could enter. Lucas took a deep breath and turned the knob. Garridan had his back to the room. The blankets were barely covering him.

“I need your help.”

“Give me my mate.” Garridan turned and snarled out.

At least he wasn’t trying to kill him anymore. That was an improvement.

“You’ll see him today, but only if you promise not to bond until he’s ready.”

Garridan showed his teeth, growling as he stalked Lucas. His face, half-shifted, gave away his intention. Apparently, Garridan wasn’t done with the violent attacks.

Lucas froze him in place before shutting the door to the room, leaving Garridan there. Lucas could feel him trying to pull against the control, but the dragon wasn’t strong enough to resist. Grabbing an empty laundry basket, he carried it to the living room, where they had set up the tree.

He had about half the gifts loaded in the basket when Bennett shouted, “A dragon, Lucas?”

Since bonding, Bennett had never once yelled at him until then and over a stupid sweater. You’d think Lucas was asking him to wear high heels or something.

Lucas shouted back. “Just wear it, Bennett.”

“Come here.”

Lucas sighed and stopped what he was doing, going into the bedroom again. As soon as he got there, Bennett dropped the towel around his waist.

All thoughts but one fled. When Bennett spoke, Lucas had a difficult time deciphering the words. “I love you, and putting that thing on my body proves it, so you better not ever forget this day.”

“Three things.” Lucas wrapped his arms around Bennett’s neck and then gave a little hop, wrapping his legs around Bennett’s waist. He kissed him once quickly. “First, I’d rather go on your body.”

“I’d rather wear you too.” Bennett supported him with a smile and hands on his ass.

“The second thing is that it’s impossible to forget you in that sweater, so you have nothing to worry about.”

Bennett narrowed his eyes. “That’s the exact reason I shouldn’t wear it, but I’ll do it just because Vaughan is an asshole sometimes. Not because of the money.”

“What about the blowjobs?” Lucas grinned.

“As I said, you like giving me those anyway.” Bennett had him there. “What’s the third thing?”

“I love you, too—more than life itself. And I appreciate you helping me win because…yeah, losing to Vaughan would mean he would never forget it for the rest of my life. Pure torture.”

“I could have told you not to make a bet with Vaughan.”

“So, what I’m hearing you say is that wearing it is your fault.”

Bennett threw Lucas on the bed. Lucas bounced once before he settled. He propped himself on his elbows and chuckled as Bennett stalked him, complete with a playful growl. Bennett settled over him, kissing and nipping to tickle, causing Lucas to squirm.


“You’re gonna make us late.”

“Me! You’re the one on top of me.”

“You’re the one who mentioned sucking me off. You know what that does to me.”

Indeed, he did.

Chapter Four

When the car came to a stop, and Bennett shut the engine off, Lucas turned in the passenger’s seat of the truck, narrowing his eyes at Garridan, who sat in the backseat with a pissed expression. He still wasn’t over Lucas freezing him for over an hour. If the guy didn’t act like an asshat all the time, Lucas wouldn’t have had to do that.

He didn’t understand why they were keeping Sage from him and was incapable of understanding anything beyond the fact his mate wasn’t with him. Garridan was doing a bit better. He was at least capable of being around other people, even if he did get violent some of the time.

“Don’t touch Sage unless he asks you to. Follow his lead, and you won’t scare him.” Lucas would freeze him again if necessary.

Garridan’s eyes changed, and his fangs dropped as he looked over Lucas’s shoulder towards the house. “My mate.”

Lucas turned to see Sage standing in the archway of the front door. He focused on Garridan again. “Yes, that’s right. He is your mate. But he’s been traumatized. It’s your job to help him, not make it worse.”

Lucas looked at Bennett with concern. It wasn’t going to work. Every time Sage was around, Garridan acted like he wanted to drag him to the nearest cave and fuck him for days, which generally wouldn’t be a problem, but Sage had said he wasn’t ready. Lucas didn’t blame Sage for needing time. He’d protect his friend against anything, including the advances of his mate.

He won’t let Sage get hurt ever again.

I know you want to help, but it’s up to them now. Bennett spoke through their bond.

Lucas smiled. He had a moment of panic when Garridan exited the car. He started to get out, but Bennett put a hand on his forearm, stopping him.

“Just wait. Let’s see what happens.”

Lucas nodded and projected to Garridan. Don’t touch him unless he asks you to.

Garridan stopped a foot from Sage. Lucas couldn’t hear what he said. Probably something about Sage being his mate.

Sage said something back and smiled shyly. After a few exchanges of words, Sage pointed above his head at the mistletoe. Garridan took a step closer to him, and then Sage lifted on his toes, placing a kiss on Garridan’s lips. It was so sweet and a gigantic leap in the right direction.

Lucas leaned over and laid his head against Bennett’s shoulder. “That’s the best Christmas present ever.”

“Oh, so I can take everything that I got you back to the store?”

Lucas pinched his nipple through his sweater. Bennett chuckled and covered his hand, stilling him. “Not funny. I want my presents.”

“Let’s go in the house. Might as well get this over with.” Bennett patted the back of his hand once before opening the door. “I wonder how many of my siblings will have to die today for teasing me.”

Yeah, Lucas wondered the same thing. “Quit being dramatic.”

“Realistic, you mean.”

By the time they got to the door, Garridan and Sage were already standing just inside the door. They were holding hands and Garridan’s eyes shifted to his dragon, but he didn’t crowd Sage try for anything more.

His nostrils flared, and he growled as they entered. “My mate. Mine.”

“Yes, we know.” Lucas rolled his eyes. “I would hug you, Sage, but I think that would be a bad idea, given the circumstances.”

Sage couldn’t even get out a response. His eyes focused on first Lucas’s sweater and then Bennett’s, and then he snorted out a laugh. It was the first time Lucas had ever heard it, and that was the real Christmas present.

“Told you,” Bennett growled.

Vaughan must have heard their voices because he came into the room, took one look at Bennett, and cursed, immediately started fishing around in his back pocket for his wallet. He pulled out two twenties and handed them to Lucas. “Unbelievable.”

Vaughan seemed to focus on Sage and what would have been a teasing response turned serious. He met Lucas’s gaze and then Bennett’s. “It was worth it.”

Bennett nodded. “Yes.”

“You look completely ridiculous in that thing. You know that, right?” Gods, did Vaughan have to poke at Bennett?

“I’m aware,” Bennett growled but never lost his smile. He held his hand out and open, wiggling his fingers expectantly.

Lucas put one of the twenty-dollar bills into it and pocketed the other bill.

Vaughan shook his head. “Cheater.”

“I prefer the term resourceful.”

“Teaming up is cheating.”

Bennett pulled Lucas into his side and kissed him on his temple. “But we are a team. Best remember that and stop making bets.”


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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

the author

April Kelley is an author of LGBTQ+ Romance. Her works include The Journey of Jimini Renn, a Rainbow Awards finalist, Whispers of Home, the Saint Lakes series, and over thirty more. She’s a main contributor at Once and Books. April has been an avid reader for several years. Ever since she wrote her first story at the age of ten, the characters in her head still won’t stop telling their stories. If April isn’t reading or writing, she can be found taking a long walk in the woods or going on her next adventure.

If you’d like to know more about her work, visit her website and sign up for her newsletter https://www.authoraprilkelley.com/.

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