Title: Paradigm Shift
Author: Harper Kingsley
Genre: mm sci-fi
Park came into the room after him, efficiently doing a quick search before giving him a nod.
Gregor just rolled his eyes and flopped on the couch, careless of his expensive clothing. “Can you believe that guy? I wanted to punch him in the face.”
“I suppose we’re very lucky you didn’t try it,” Park said.
Gregor snorted. “Did you hear him being all ‘Of course it wouldn’t have worked out’ to me? Then he got all pissy with you and his real personality shone through.” He rubbed his arms with his hands. “I feel dirty.”
“You truly don’t want a Judge as a Bondmate? He is a very powerful man.” Park went to the refrigerator and brought back two juice pouches.
This was one of the things Gregor would miss when he left: real fruit juice. He had only ever known synthetic before, but already he had gotten spoiled.
When he Bonded, he thought that he would choose someone wealthy enough to indulge him. He’d take it as one of the perks of being forced to Bond. He’d always believed in making the best of an otherwise bad situation.
“I might have loved him,” Gregor sucked juice through the straw, “if we’d both been very different people. He was looking for a young lover and a bit of strange in his humdrum life. I wanted to have an adventure and I thought he might be interested. He decided to get all clingy and looked at me like I hung the moon. I ran as soon as I could get my shoes on. I never looked back.”
“But he still found you.” Park seemed to know that Gregor wasn’t comfortable with letting him too close and forsook the couch. He sat on the edge of the coffee table instead. There were probably people that would scream at Park for furniture abuse, but he didn’t look like he cared.
Gregor thought he kind of liked that. There was something appealing about rebel Dylan Park. It made him seem remarkably human.
“I wish he hadn’t.” Gregor leaned forward to set his empty juice pouch on the table. He couldn’t resist taking a deep breath through his nose, drawing in Park’s scent. He sat back before he could embarrass himself. “I was happy with the idea of never seeing him again. That part of my life has been over for a long time.”
He sighed and shifted sideways so he could bring his feet up onto the couch. He wrapped his arms around his legs and propped his chin on his right knee. “I was afraid he would have me arrested. I gave him a fake name the first time we met.”
“He could have arrested you,” Park agreed. “But that would have brought him trouble I don’t think he could justify to Oversight. Your lie may have been illegal, but it was harmless and you’re a Third. The State would rather have you out in the world helping to preserve the human race than send you to Hard Labor. Him raising a fuss would be a bad move for him to make as it would only have damaged his reputation.”
Gregor sighed. “At least there’s that.” He trusted that Park was telling him the truth; Tersoe wasn’t going to do anything to him because of his lie. Which meant he wasn’t going to have to do Tersoe any favors.
“Now he wants to lay a Claim on me though,” he said. “How do I handle that?”
Park slanted him a laughing glance. “You join my Family.”
It was strange how Gregor’s heart could leap like that before sense prevailed. “Will I have to call you Older Brother?” he asked. He’d tried to sound teasing, but it came out bleaker than he’d expected.
Park didn’t say anything, just watched him quietly.
Finally Gregor couldn’t take it anymore and stood up. “I’m going to bed. Please lock the door behind you.”
Park stood and gave him a slight bow of the head. “As you wish, Blessed Tierney.” He turned gracefully and walked to the door, his back straight.
He locked the door behind him. There was a loud click of the bolt striking home when the door closed.
Gregor wandered into the bedroom where he quietly took off his clothes and hung them on the hooks provided. Then he used a clean cloth and the jar of removal cream to wipe away the makeup he’d so carefully applied earlier.
Then he laid down on the large bed and allowed himself to fall apart. Just for a little while.