Hi guys! We have Sean Michael popping in today with their upcoming release The Teddy Bear Club, we have a brilliant guest post from Sean and a great excerpt, so check out the post and enjoy! <3 ~Pixie~
The Teddy Bear Club
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.
Release date: 1st August 2017
Pre-order: Dreamspinner Press ebook | Dreamspinner Press paperback | Amazon | B&N | Kobo
Thank you very much to MM Book Reviews for hosting me today.
When I heard about the Dreamspun Desires line, I really wanted to participate as an author. I thought it was a great idea. A real throwback to the early days of monthly subscription romance books.
Then I found out that they were supposed to only have a couple of sex scenes. Oh my. So I started searching for some characters who I could keep apart for most of a novel. Then Aiden tugged on my sleeve and told me that he’s run off his feet with two little ones. There wasn’t a lot of time or energy left over for other things.
So I finally had my guys, and they arrived complete with a single dads group which is rife with potential stories.
And thus the Teddy Bear Club was born. I hope to be writing more stories about the men who meet twice a week at the Roasty Bean. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy this one!
Sean Michael ~ smut fixes everything
“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.”
“He isn’t a sleeper? I was lucky that Bee slept from two weeks. She just wants to sleep and eat.”
“Oh, that is lucky. I don’t know if it’s because he misses his mother or what, but no, U is not a sleeper. I thought something was wrong, but the doc says everything’s okay. He’s colicky, but there’s nothing they can do about that.” Devon shrugged. “He’s usually happy enough if I’m holding him, so I’ve gotten to be a dab hand at the one-handed everything.”
“You’re a good guy, man.” Better than he’d have been, that was for sure.
“There’s been times I’ve thought it would be easier to call child protective services, but he’s the only family I have. And I’m all he’s got. We need to stick together.”
Aiden pushed one of the lattes toward Devon. “Here, you need this.”
The girls were laughing in the play area, building things out of Legos.
“Thanks, man.” Devon grinned. “Gotta admit, my caffeine of choice is usually an energy drink.”
Zack chuckled. “Dev’s a gamer.”
“I’m a writer, man.” Dev was clearly trying to go for affronted but wasn’t managing it very well.
“You write game manuals. Which means you have to play the games first,” Zack pointed out.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m still paid to write, not play.”
“Technicality,” Logan suggested.
Aiden got it. He did. He used to spend his entire life on the internet. Now he just spent his nights there. “I’m a web designer. These hooligans don’t understand.”
“Oh, that’s great.” Dev nodded, smiled. Yeah, Dev got it. “These guys are living in the dark ages.”
“So long as the coffee keeps flowing, I don’t give an S-H-I-T.” Aiden spelled it out in deference to the kiddies.
“Sarah can spell, guys, so that’s not going to work anymore.” Logan wagged his finger at them. “You’ll have to use euphemisms instead.”
“I don’t know. ‘I don’t give a sugar’ doesn’t have the same ring,” Dev noted.
“I don’t give a shadow? I don’t give a shamrock?” Aiden was more than willing to play along.
“I don’t give a salamander,” Dev suggested. “I don’t give a sausage.”
“Oh, I don’t know…,” Zack muttered, so softly. “I think we all give a sausage around here.”
Dev hooted, the sound loud enough that the other patrons and the kids all stopped to stare. It was a great noise. “You’re probably right.”
“Ah, boys. When did we lose control of everything?” Logan chuckled, shook his head, and looked at his daughter, who was cradling Bee, talking away to her. “And I mean everything.”
“It’s their birthright,” Dev suggested. “I’ve got a half-dozen apps on my phone for U already.”
“That’s unnatural.” Zack shook his head. “I don’t even have the little tablets for the twins. I just… I don’t want them to be hooked in too soon, you know?” Then Zack blinked, head tilted. “Christ, that sounded judgmental as anything. I’m sorry.”
“I’ll forgive you if you forgive me for thinking you’re not giving your girls the advantage of early adoption of technology.” Dev gave Zack a wink.
“Fair enough. How’s the coffee, Aiden?”
“Perfect, as always.” Little Bee began to kick and fuss, and he leaned down, scooped her up from Sarah’s arms.
“This is nice. Sitting around with grown-ups. You do this twice a week, you said?” Dev asked Logan.
“Yeah. I only have Miss Sarah on Fridays. Her mom and I share custody, and she has piano lessons on Tuesdays, but I still usually come in for the coffee, and the croissants Zack gets from the bakery, so I don’t like missing it.”
Aiden rolled his eyes at Logan and cut him off. “He meant to say yes. Just yes. Tuesdays and Fridays.”
“Sounds good. You guys don’t mind if I crash the party, right?”
Aiden bounced Bee on his shoulder and dug out the prefilled bottle from the diaper bag. “Of course not. Anytime.”
The baby on Dev’s shoulder started whining, and Dev began bouncing him. As if Bee wanted to compete, she started fussing, kicking her little feet.
Dev chuckled as his boy escalated from whining to wailing. “The baby version of dueling banjos?”
“She needs her bottle, but yeah.”
“Yeah, so does U. He’s always hungry it seems.” Dev got a bottle out of his diaper bag and popped it in his kid’s mouth, suction immediate and strong, the crying going blessedly silent.
The little boy was half the size of Bee, a tiny little baby, cooing and fighting for the nipple. Aiden’s girls both looked like their mother, which made it easier for them—blonde and blue-eyed, on the short, stocky side.
“He loves this new formula much better than the one I was feeding him. Who knew?” Dev rolled his eyes. “And who knew this would be my life now? Formula and feedings every couple of hours.”
“Yeah. At least I had warning. Six months to plan for Bee. Linds was finishing up potty training when I got her.”
“Did you adopt?” Dev asked, moving his boy up over his shoulder again and patting his back.
“Yes, but not in the way you’re thinking. I have a sister. It’s complicated, but she’s been committed and I adopted both girls.”
Dev’s eyebrows rose, but he didn’t ask the obvious question of what his sister had been committed for. “Adopted, huh? I suppose that’s the route I’m going to need to take.”
“If you’re going to raise him, that’s your safest bet.” Logan pulled out a business card. “Set up an appointment with my assistant, Markus.”
Dev took the card. “I’d make some joke about chasing ambulances or something, but I’m grateful for the help.”
“To quote our good friend Aiden, I’m basically a decent human being—for a blood-sucking lawyer.”
Chuckling, Dev nudged Aiden under the table with his foot. “Good one.”
“I’m a brilliant son of a b—”
Zack cleared his throat.
Dev and Logan burst out laughing, which set Unicorn off.
“Oh damn.” Dev stood and began bouncing the baby more vigorously.
“Can I try?” Zack asked. “I love the smell of babies.”
“You’re such a girl, man,” Aiden teased.
“Hush, he’s taking U. That’s good enough for me.” Dev held the baby out and Zack grabbed him up.
The wee boy settled down immediately, relaxing in Zack’s arms.
“Damn. You have to teach me how to do that.”
“It’s called being Zack,” he said, and Logan nodded.
“We hate him.”
“Well, now I know what to do when he just won’t stop. You are open at midnight, right?”
“We open at 5:00 a.m., man. I don’t do midnight.”
“There was a time I would have been going to bed at five thirty. Now I crash whenever I can.” Dev grinned. “I will put you in charge of my Unicorn every Tuesday and Friday, though.”
“Sounds like a plan. I miss babies.”
“You’re insane,” Logan informed Zack.
“Hey, don’t talk him out of it, guys; I need him to hold my baby.”
Aiden put Bee over his shoulder, burping her gently.
Logan glanced at his watch. “I should go, guys. Sarah’s got a birthday party.”
“Sure. I guess the kid and I should go too.” Dev looked disappointed, though.
Best-selling author Sean Michael is a maple leaf–loving Canadian who spends hours hiding out in used book stores. With far more ideas than time, Sean keeps several documents open at all times. From romance to fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi, Sean is limited only by the need for sleep—and the periodic Beaver Tail.
Sean fantasizes about one day retiring on a secluded island populated entirely by horseshoe crabs after inventing a brain-to-computer dictation system. Until then, Sean will continue to write the old-fashioned way.
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