About The Teddy Bear Club
Author: Sean Michael
Word Count: 49700
Page Count (pdf): 192
Series: The Teddy Bear Club – book 1
Genre: M/M Contemporary
Date Published: August 11, 2020
Publisher: Sean Michael
Heat Rating: 2
File Types available:
Moved to Kindle Unlimited
Two lonely men. One perfect family.
Aiden Lake adopted his institutionalized sister’s two daughters, and he’s a good dad. He works nights on websites and gets in his adult time twice a week at the Roasty Bean, where he meets with other single gay parents.
Devon Smithson wants to be a good dad now that his sixteen-year-old sister asked him to babysit her newborn… three months ago. But he’s overwhelmed with the colicky baby. An invitation to the daddy-and-kid gatherings at the café is a godsend. The pot is sweetened when his friendship with Aiden develops into more—maybe even something that can last.
But the mother who kicked Dev out for being gay wants to get her claws into the baby, and she doesn’t care if she tears Dev, Aiden, and everything they’re building apart in the process.
Originally released by a different publisher.
“Come on, Linds. Let’s get your baby sister ready to go see Uncle Logan and Sarah.” Aiden grabbed the baby’s light jacket and jostled her into it.
“Marci and Missi too, Daddy?” Linds asked, her bright blue eyes fastened on him like he was the answerer of all questions.
“Should be, yes.”
Logan had shared custody, and they all tried to meet twice a week at Zack’s café, the Roasty Bean, so the girls could play.
Not that Sarah played much anymore. Nine years old was way older than he remembered it being, and she was into her phone and spending the night and painting her nails different colors. His little Linds wanted to be her in the worst way. Sarah put up with it surprisingly well.
His biweekly meetings with Zack and Logan helped him stay sane and offered a safe and controlled place for the kids to play. Not to mention the Roasty Bean had the best caramel hazelnut lattes in town.
“Daddy, your belly is rumbling.”
“That’s because I need my coffee!” He growled playfully, hugged Linds tight and grabbed the diaper bag and the carrier in his other hand. “Let’s go have an adventure!”
“Adventure!” She ran ahead of him, opened the front door, then closed it as soon as they were all through. She carefully locked it, then slipped the key into the diaper bag and hurried down the stairs ahead of him. “Adventure! Adventure! Do you think they’ll have ricemallow treats today, Daddy?”
“I bet. Hold my hand.”
“What? I said hold my hand. You can run around at the park this afternoon all you want.”
“Me and Bee both?”
“Bee’s a little young to run. She’s not even walking yet.” One day he’d have two mobile kids and then he’d never sleep again.
He hoped it didn’t rain. It had been nice first thing, but now the clouds were out, blocking the sun, the air smelling of dampness.
It was only a couple of blocks to the Roasty Bean, Linds chattering at him the entire way, talking about everything and nothing. The sound was cheerful and normal, and God, he wanted to… he wanted to go have a beer and hang out by some fancy-assed pool and soak up the sun like any other guy. He hadn’t signed up to have kids, but here he was, father to two little girls. Hell, he supposed he’d been lucky—he’d had a few months to prepare for Bee at least. Meghan had been pregnant when she’d been committed, and he’d inherited Brooke—his little Bee—before she was even born.
They crossed the street, and Linds pulled away from his hand, squealing and running to the coffee shop as she saw her “Uncle” Logan and his daughter Sarah.
His best friend scooped Linds up in one arm and kissed her little cheek. “Hey, angel girl.”
“Uncle Logan! I want ricemallow treats!”
Aiden smiled at Sarah, the young lady offering him a half smile in return. “How’s the baby?” she asked.
“Bee’s fine. You want to hold her?” His headache was beginning to throb now. That caffeine was calling his name.
She nodded and he pointed to the chair. “Once you’re sitting.” She went to the table where Zack, Logan, and a stranger were sitting, and he put the baby in her arms.
“Hey, Aiden. You’re late.” Zack winked and stood. “You want your usual?”
“Please. Two of them?”
“Oh, honey. Late night?” Zack always knew.
“Work.” He had a bunch of updates to do, and it was easier to pull his shifts at night when the kids were asleep.
Zack patted his shoulder. “Oh yeah, this is Devon Smithson. He’s new to the group. Devon, Aiden Lake.”
The guy had a baby over one shoulder, maybe six months old, maybe younger, a boy if he went by the blue blanket. Devon held out a hand. “Nice to meet you.”
“Pleased, man. This is Lindsay and Brooke, my daughters.” He nodded as Linds squealed to go play with Zack’s twins, and then he plopped down and sighed. “I’ve never been so glad to smell coffee in my life.”
Logan snorted. “You are a drama queen, Aiden. Devon, ignore everything he says. He’s sleep-deprived.”
“Aren’t we all?” Devon offered him a sympathetic smile, the look warm.
“Tell him your boy’s name,” Logan said. He smirked and Devon rolled his eyes.
“His name is Unicorn.” Devon held up a hand. “I didn’t name him, and I haven’t figured out a good short form for it yet. I mean, Uni? Corn? Un?” Devon shook his head, then grinned. “I’m debating calling him Bob.”
“Unicorn? You aren’t serious.” Who would do that?
Logan was busy laughing his head off, cackling like a fool.
“I am deadly serious. My sister was sixteen when she had him. I’m not sure my mother tried to talk her out of it. Hell, I’m not sure my mother knew she was pregnant. I didn’t know about the baby until Teresa showed up on my doorstep three months ago, begging me to babysit.”
“You….” Oh God. He bet he knew the next chapter of this story.
“Mom turfed me when I came out, but Teresa had stayed in touch, and she showed up, crying that Mom had kicked her out too and she’d found a place, but she needed someone to babysit while she moved in. Only she never came back, and her phone is suddenly out of service.” Devon shrugged. “What was I supposed to do? It’s not the baby’s fault my family is screwed up.”
“Did she leave you with a birth certificate? Anything?” That was Logan, his lawyer brain always clicking and thinking. “Christ.”
Aiden stared at Devon, shocked to shit. Sure, he had his sister’s kids, but they were his—legally, totally. No questions. If Meghan ever left the hospital, she’d be able to see the girls, but he was their dad. Full stop.
“No, man, she just left him with me. For the first couple of weeks, I was hoping she’d come back. It’s clear now that she’s not going to, and I’ve been too busy just keeping him alive to worry about custody.”
“We need to talk, man.” Logan held up one hand when Devon tried to argue. “Gratis, but you need to be protected, and so does this child.”
“Maybe you can get his name changed,” Aiden muttered under his breath. Two lattes landed in front of him. “Oh thank God.”
“That would be great, Logan, thanks.” Devon ran a hand through his shaggy brown hair. “It’s great having some adult conversation. And he’s sleeping!” Devon chuckled. “It’s like gold, that.”