QSFer Jem Zero has a new queer paranormal romance (Bi, Gay, Poly, Trans FTM) coming out on January 31st, and we have the cover reveal: A Fae’s Two Alphas.
Bennett Chiston is fed up.
After eight years with his fae father in Faerie, being trapped in a small Northern Michigan town with his controlling human mother is pure agony. Magic defined Bennett—it affirmed his identity as a trans man and allowed him true freedom.
Too bad Bennett’s father stole his magic and kicked him out of Faerie with zero explanation.
Desperate to return, Bennett hunts down Callum Truett, a reclusive magewolf alpha who may be able to restore Bennett’s magic. He doesn’t expect his long-lost childhood best friend Jesse Chen, another alpha wolf shifter, to barge in during the meeting. The tension between the two alphas is impossible to ignore, but it works in Bennett’s favor when Jesse needles Callum into accepting the job.
As each magical experiment fails, taciturn Callum keeps Bennett grounded, while cheerful Jesse lifts his spirits. The developing three-way connection turns into powerful attraction, even forcing Jesse and Callum to confront the mutual feelings they’d denied until Bennett arrived. Together, they all fit.
Yet Bennett still can’t let go of his desire to leave the mundane realm behind. Everything about it makes him miserable. Everything except Callum and Jesse.
When an opportunity to return to Faerie finally appears, Bennett is forced to choose: give up his two gorgeous alphas, or change his definition of home.
I twist the fluffy dandelion between my fingers, watching it bob and dip with each step I take. Long grasses bend beneath my boots—the ones I donned with some reluctance, not thrilled by the prospect of wearing them in the mid-June heat. I don’t often leave the college town I’ve begrudgingly made my home for the past year and a half, but desperate times, or maybe just breaking points, require actions one might not otherwise entertain.
After confirming our appointment, the magewolf told me how to find his cottage. It’s located on the territory of the area’s dominant shifter pack, the Harrises.
He gave instructions to enter the pack lands from the mouth of a wide field if I preferred to avoid the pack enforcers. I tend to avoid everyone, so I appreciate the option, but it’d be even more considerate if he beat a path through the field.
I’m sweaty in my long pants, but it’s tick season, and even fae aren’t invulnerable to the bloody parasites. Not a half-fae without access to his magic, anyway. Hopefully, with the help of this mage, a solution to the ‘no magic’ thing is incoming.
At last I reach the end of the field and greet the forest floor, pebbles and pine needles scattering the ground leading up to the cottage. It’s a classic affair, rustic wood crawling with vines and large, round stones that have been smoothed by time. Exactly the kind of place one would find a powerful wolf shifter capable of fixing magical problems.
I march up to the front door and knock loudly. The door swings inward before my fist can hit a third time, and my mouth rounds into a surprised O. I was careful not to make assumptions about what this encounter might look like, but the broad, silver-haired man filling up the doorway is still wildly unexpected. My grip on the dandelion slackens until it drops to the rough mat under my feet.
“Hi,” I say, when he doesn’t speak. “I’m Bennett Chiston. We set up an appointment?”
All the man does is nod. “Callum Truett. Come inside.”
The interior of the cottage is also standard fare for the ‘witch in the woods’ vibe, but I don’t get any farther than the doorway before Callum rumbles, “Shoes off.”
I oblige, more than happy to rid myself of the sweaty hiking boots. When I’m done stuffing my socks inside the discarded footwear, I find Callum sitting at a hardwood table, tapping at the keyboard on a laptop that matches the setting only because it looks like a relic from the past.
Padding lightly across the room, I sit opposite the magewolf, then take advantage of the momentary silence to study him. Despite the silver hair, short and tousled atop his head before descending his temples to stubble his strong jaw, Callum doesn’t look older than thirty.
Whether premature greys or magic, I’m not one to judge. My faded teal and purple fashion mullet is all dye now, but before I was deadlocked in a static human body, the pastel oilspill painting my own head was all natural. “Mr. Truett,” I begin cautiously.
“Callum. I don’t know if you remember anything about my email—”
He pushes the laptop screen down halfway. “Just start from the beginning.”
Fine. “My father is fae and my mother is human,” I explain, figuring that’s as close to the beginning as one can get.
Callum leans back in his chair, propping one bare foot up on his knee as he listens.
“I lived with them here, in the mundane realm, until they separated and I went to Faerie with my dad. I loved it there. Unlike growing up in my shitty little Wisconsin hometown, I actually felt like I belonged, which is why I’m so desperate to—”
“Please get to the point.”
I huff, fighting the pout threatening my lips. I haven’t had many opportunities to explain why losing access to Faerie has been so devastating, but no one giving a shit about my feelings is the default state of my life, so I smooth my palms down the crumpled cotton of my pants and summarize. “Not quite two years ago, my dad sent me to the mundane with no explanation why, and he also took my magic away, so I can’t get back.”
Saying it feels anticlimactic. One minute I was in Faerie, doing something so delightfully irrelevant I don’t remember anymore, and the next I was in my childhood bedroom being mauled by my weeping human mother. “I’ve been stuck here ever since. No way to leave, no way to contact him.”
Callum taps his finger on the table. I’m surprised to see, in place of regular fingernails, a thick, blunt claw.
Before I can voice my curiosity, Callum asks, “You want me to contact your father in Faerie?”
In my experience there’s no reasoning with a fae who’s made up their mind. Not when you’ve nothing to bargain with, and what could I offer my own father to change his mind, when he wasn’t even willing to discuss it in the first place? So, I say, “No. I want you to fix my magic without his help.” Then I can go to Faerie unassisted and holler at him in person.
Callum’s thick brows climb on his forehead. “What is your definition of ‘fixed’?” “Being able to use it again…?” The beat Callum is tapping against the swirling wood grain increases speed. He frowns at his hand, then up at me. “Summer Court?”
I open my mouth to give the affirmative, then close it. “Why did you guess that?”
Snorting, he tugs his laptop closer and flips the screen fully upward. “Do you think it isn’t obvious? You’re a summer fae. Half,” he amends.
It’s true, but irritation prickles my spine. “What difference does it make?”
Callum sends me a withering look. “All of it. Especially with Summer Solstice coming up.”
I know the Solstice is coming up, considering it’s the most important celebration known by the Summer Court. I barely remember the events of any specific year, because we were all drunk on sunlight and high off the heady scent of sweat and flowers. Maybe that’s why it didn’t occur to me that what I’m requesting might be aided by Solstice magic’s thinning of the veil.
Sighing at my oversight, I admit, “Yes, I’m from the Summer Court.”
Callum clicks his tongue and shifts his attention to his laptop. He types rapidly, eyes narrowing, then moves his fingers over the trackpad. Enough time passes with him doing nothing but scrolling and clicking that I clear my throat, hoping for some explanation.
He holds a finger up to still me.
Finally, when I’m getting unbearably squirmy, Callum closes the laptop, then says, simply, “I can’t.”
jem zero is a disabled transmasc who lives with zir family in a house built by zir great-grandfather. Ze writes queer romance in science fiction, fantasy, and speculative genres, with strong themes of disability justice and queer/trans love.
Author Website: https://www.jemzero.com
Author Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/jem_zero