“Beckie Boo, you can’t mean that.” Ma’s sad face filled his vid-screen.
Beck Brackenstone winced at the sadness in her voice. “Ma, you have to promise me that you won’t go bothering my mate. We’re courting.”
Beck’s courting skills were seriously lacking, but having Ma poke her nose into it would make things even worse.
“But the Half-Moon folks need me.”
Beck bit his lip. His mate led the Half-Moon Guild. The group of assassins had recently moved to Charybdis Station, and they really could use a friend. Poor Ninnetta was recuperating from losing part of her leg. She had a lot of healing to do before she could be fitted for a robotic prosthesis.
“Okay, okay. You can go visit Half-Moon, but you can’t talk about me to Beol.”
She gasped in outrage. “You’re my only son. What else would I talk about?”
“Your five daughters? The million kids you’ve adopted over the years? Pops?”
“Don’t you take that tone with me, young man.”
“Ma.” Beck wasn’t proud of the whine in his voice.
She made a face at him. “Fine. I’ll do my best to avoid your mate, but I’m still feeding the rest of them. They need me.”
Beck knew that was as good as he could hope for. Beck met his mate a few weeks ago, and ever since then, Ma and Pops had been pestering him about bringing Beol to officially meet them. Then there were his sisters and Selene and Hack. Beck almost felt sorry for the poor guy.
“Well, now that we’ve settled that, are you going to explain your behavior?”
Beck frowned. “Huh?”
Ma narrowed her eyes. “Ever since you moved into your house, you’ve been hiding something. You don’t even let your pa go into your workshop.”
Beck yelped and grabbed his tail. “Hiding? There’s nothing to hide. Nothing at all.”
Ma’s eyes softened. “Oh, Beckie Boo. You’re a horrible liar.”
“I am not.” Beck sniffed.
She smiled indulgently. “Of course, you’re not, baby boy.”
Her eyes narrowed and she gave him a hard look. “Now, explain yourself. For months, I go by your house and your door is locked and your drapes pulled. Normally, that wouldn’t stop me, but you even locked me out of your security system.”
She huffed. “You pa and I both couldn’t hack into it.”
Beck rolled his eyes. “I need my privacy. That’s all.”
“Hmm.” Ma gave him a considering look. “A few days ago, I saw a woman and a man sneak in the back, Beck. I didn’t recognize them, but they looked shifty. Are you in trouble, baby boy? I know you aren’t cheating on your mate, so that can’t be it.”
Oh gods. Beck groaned. “Ma, just don’t worry about it, alright? They’re just some of my friends.”
“Then why did they duck behind a bush when Leti and I walked by?”
“Uh, they’re just really shy?”
“Oh no, look at the time. I need to go, Ma. I love you, and I’ll see you at the wedding tomorrow.”
He turned the vid-screen off when Ma began protesting and buried his face in his hands. What was he going to do? Ma was started to notice things, and she would tell everyone. Beck hated hiding things from his friends and family.
Dr. Bloop gave a soft woof and wiggled around Beck’s feet. His puppy was only a couple of months old, but they had bonded hard. Beck adored the puppy.
“Oh, Bloopy. Ma will figure things out soon. I just know it.”
He picked the puppy up and buried his face in Bloop’s soft fur. “Courting Beol wears my brain out and this makes it even worse.”
Beck hadn’t realized how hard courting was. He had been doing his best to build up the courage to ask Beol to be his date for Sebastian’s wedding. So far, it hadn’t happened and the wedding was tomorrow.
So far, he had gone to the man’s house several times, but when Beol smiled at him, Beck’s mind left the building, and he became a ridiculous oaf. Last time, he set the man’s couch on fire. Literally.
“You’re right, Bloop. I should go over there and just ask him, but I won’t bring the welding torch this time.”
“I just wanted to show him my new torch. I made it myself.”
Beck grabbed his latest gift and Bloop’s leash, then headed for the door. “You’re being judgy, Dr. Bloop, and it isn’t very becoming.”
Bloop followed behind him, little tail wagging.