“G’ morning, Daddy!” Mallory said, giving his husband one of his bright, beautiful smiles. “Did you sleep well?”

“Good morning, my boy,” Alastair wrapped the younger man in a warm, love-filled look. “I slept very well. It couldn’t be any other way; I shared the bed with the love of my life,” he chastely kissed his husband on the lips.

“Love you too, Daddy, with everything I have,” Mallory wrapped his arms around the redhead’s neck, returning the kiss. “I owe you my happiness; you taught me almost everything I know, and, above all, you gave me the greatest gift of all. Thanks to you, I’m the proud father of two beautiful, lively, intelligent little girls. Thank you a million times!”

“Oh, those two,” Alastair waved his hand, trying to hide the emotions his husband’s words provoked. “I ran into poor Willard earlier, he was complaining about an ache in his back and a stiff neck. Apparently, our princesses didn’t spend the night in their room,” the man grinned.

“Poor guy, indeed! Sleeping with the girls is always a challenge; they have the most impossible sleep positions. Not to mention all the huge stuffies piled on their beds to watch over them. Oh, sweet torture!” Mallory moaned, rolling on his back.

“Call me a crazy old fool, but sometimes I miss sleeping with our daughters. My back and neck are grateful that they are old enough to have their own room, but my soul yearns to feel them close and check on them at night. With each year that passes, our sweet Morwena and Rowena will become more independent until they don’t need us anymore. So let’s cherish the stiff neck and aching back moments while we can,” a melancholic smile played on Alastair’s lips.

“Nah, they’ll always need us,” Mallory dragged the words, imitating his husband’s gesture. “Who else will admire their dresses, give them away on their wedding day or stay with the kids so that they can have a night out with the hubbies?”

“Oh, c’mon,” Alastair let out a small laugh, “by the time those two get married, I’ll be either dead or bedridden so that they won’t have any use for me. On the other hand, you will be a sexy silver fox, admired and envied,” he smiled, capturing Mallory’s bottom lip between his own.

The younger man reacted by cupping Alastair’s face with both hands, delicately caressing his cheeks with the fingertips. Encouraged by those actions, the redhead gently sucked the captive lip, then released it, doing the same with the upper one, making them both swell. Satisfied with the results, he darted the tip of his lip over Mallory’s teeth, demanding access.

Alastair’s husband happily complained, leaning into the kiss, giving up control, abandoning himself to the pleasure, and surrendering to the sweet dominance of the one he loved and trusted. The younger man let himself be relished, savored, explored, letting out soft moans of approval. Each time his husband kissed him, Mallory experienced a lot of emotions, always the same, still new.

Alastair poured all the tenderness, fierce passion, limitless love, and unbounded desire from his heart into the kiss, letting the younger man drink them dry. At the same time, he took his offer of adoration, devotion, lust, and eternal love. The tongues of the two men were dancing around each other, the lips moving with a mind of their own, giving and receiving pleasure.

“Thank you for sticking with me, my precious boy. For giving me all the things, I didn’t know I needed until you came into my life. How can I express my gratitude for everything you’ve done for me over these past seven years?” Alastair whispered, tears glistening in his eyes.

“Well,” Mallory put his head on the redhead’s shoulder, “I’m extremely simple to please. Stay with me and the girls forever, let us give you the love you were denied, allow me to make up for all the years that goddamn piece of trash robbed you of.”

“I’ll do that; you have my word. Nothing in the world I want more than to make you and the girls happy, indulging in the joy you bring me,” Alastair drew his husband closer.

“Speaking of happy moments,” Mallory broke the comfortable silence surrounding them, as they were laying in each other’s arms. “What about going out tonight? I know the perfect place, and Willard would be happy to babysit.”

“I see…do you have a special place in mind? It seems like it, and I may know precisely what you are trying to do, husband of mine,” Alastair smirked. “Heartbeat? Our wedding anniversary? I may be getting older by the day, but there are certain things I can never forget, and that is one of them.”

“Yes, Daddy, you know me so well,” Mallory blushed, burying his face into his husband’s shoulder. “The guys and I thought about recreating the bachelor party as a surprise for you, but we keep forgetting you were once the head of espionage,” he grinned. “Besides, I thought Ian and Duncan deserve a break, those two work like an ox and a dog combined, as Donna Rosa so nicely puts it.”

“You thought well, they could use some fun time, especially my great-nephew, who seemed a little tense last time he visited us. He wanted to talk to us, but, for some reason, didn’t get around to it.”

“Ramsay also mentioned something about his son not being himself lately, saying that he intended to talk to him. Duncan told his father not to worry, reminding him of Tarann’s reaction when he was being intimidated by that wretched Miranda woman and her offspring.”

“I’ll ask Miss Nicky to let us use her office so that we can talk in private, and I’ll get to the bottom of it,” Alastair nodded, a pensive expression on his face. “But for now, how about a shower and a hearty breakfast? I don’t know about you, my sweet boy, but I’m starving.”

Half an hour and a refreshing shower later, the two husbands went downstairs, heading to the kitchen. Willard was already preparing Morwena and Rowena’s breakfast, going creative with their plates. Alastair and Mallory were smiling behind the young man’s back, watching how he was drawing funny faces and cute little animal figures using thinly sliced hard-boiled eggs, sausages and veggies.

Willard loved his daughters immensely, and that was visible in every gesture, word, look and smile he gave them. It was in every hug, in the shine of his eyes and sound of his voice. Being the father of Morwena and Rowena had turned Alastair’s great-nephew’s life around in the best of ways, and the patriarch couldn’t be prouder of the man he’d become.

Embracing his true self, accepting who he was, and giving up to his desires and needs, until then were deeply buried in his mind and heart was another tremendous step Willard took to get the best version of himself. Under the firm, but the caring hand of his Dom, Lucien de Saint-Laurent, he learned to trust, listen, obey, and also gained the confidence that allowed him to confront his father once and for all.

“Good morning Great-uncle, Mallory,” Willard half-turned to the two men, smiling warmly. “Did you sleep well?”

“Yes, kiddo, thank you,” Alastair affectionately patted him on the shoulder, “unlike you, poor thing.”

“Oh, I didn’t mind it at all, especially since the two little princesses rested so well across my back. They were like heating pads,” the young man affectionately spoke, his dark-green eyes shining. “Speaking of, I’m going to wake the sleepyheads up, and I may be a little late for breakfast, so don’t wait for me if you are hungry.”

“We want to ask you something,” Mallory cleared his throat, “would you like to babysit the girls tonight? We have some plans, but they can be canceled if you are not OK with the idea of…”

“Are you kidding me? Go and have fun! I’m delighted to spend some more time with the girls!” Willard exclaimed, gratitude pouring from his voice. “After all, that’s why I’m here, right?”

“Thank you, dear boy,” Alastair hugged the young man. “We’ll grab a bite, and then we’ll go into New York City to meet the rest of the party-goers and get ready for the evening.”

“Is the party being held at Heartbeat, by any chance? Master Lucien told me they have a new, adorable bartender, who’s the god of cocktails and an excellent listener. We intend to go there, sometime in the future, when Master’s busy schedule allows,” the redhead flashed a little, mischievous grin.

“Well, dear nephew, for someone who doesn’t go out a lot, you are quite informed,” Alastair remarked in a neutral voice, as he finished eating. “Time for us to go,” he said, seeing that Mallory had also emptied his plate. “Go upstairs, my sweet boy, I’ll come up in a minute, I just need to wash the plates and…”

“That is my job,” Willard ushered his great-uncle to the kitchen’s exit, “and yours is to dress up for the party. Have fun, I surely will!”

From his spot behind the bar, Abernathy Ashburn, the Heartbeat’s newest sensation, had an excellent view over the dance floor and the tables. The club was as crowded as usual on Sunday nights, but the patrons were very different from those the bartender was used to. The men who kept coming inside the club had a certain air about them, a mix of power, distinction and wealth, something the young bartender saw only once before, about six years earlier, at his brother’s wedding.

The oldest of the Ashburn children, Mallory, appeared accompanied by a gentleman in his early fifties, who’d harbored the same air of distinction. That was the last time Abernathy saw his older brother or heard from him because he’d stormed out after a harsh confrontation with their father.

The young man sighed, wishing he could meet Mallory and talk to him. Not to complain or ask for help, but to tell him how right he was about everything. For years, he hadn’t noticed the poor treatment his brother was subjected to, the long hours he’d spent working himself to the bone, so their parents and siblings could live in luxury.

“Hello, and good evening,” a pleasant masculine voice brought Abernathy back from his thoughts. “let’s see if you live up to the god of cocktails’ reputation,” the leather-clad man continued in the same voice from earlier.

“I’ll try my best, sir,” the bartender smiled a little, intrigued by the presence in front of him. The man had a familiar air, but Abernathy couldn’t remember where and when he’d seen him.” What would you like to drink?”

“Actually, I don’t drink; the cocktail is for my brother Mallory, who’s celebrating the anniversary of a special moment. I’ve been informed that you can determine someone’s preferences by taking a look at their face, so here’s a recent photo of my brother,” the man put his phone in front of Abernathy.

The bartender stared in disbelief at the image on the screen, because the man smiling at him from the photo was his brother Mallory.