Claiming Their Kitten Chapter 1

Claiming Their Kitten by Jamie Merrick - MMF Romance Book Cover
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New friends and an unexpected romance… was there a better way to spend a Saturday night?

Tabitha knows most people don’t stay, so she’s used to throwing herself into the moment and enjoying it while it lasts… like playing peekaboo with the happy Daddy and the grumpy Dom. But when playtime is over and the real world comes back into focus, she’s shocked to find they haven’t walked away. Now what?

Harper and Gaylen have always known they wanted a third but that’s been a bumpy road. It isn’t until they meet the feisty little who seems to throw herself into life that things are finally looking up. But that bubble seems to burst when the cute little bounces out of their life quicker than she came into it. Now what?

With questions on their mind and hope in their heart, a happy Daddy, a grumpy Dom, and a confused little might find their happily ever after.

Author’s Note: While this is a standalone book, the series is best read in order. Click here to grab the free prequel.

Chapter 1

“Stop playing peekaboo. You don’t know if she’s taken or not.” Or if she was as sweet and innocent as she seemed…because that would not work in the long run.

I made innocents very nervous.

“But she’s adorable.” Harper’s voice was low, so it didn’t carry across the room to where she was, but his eyes lit up as she dropped behind the couch to hide and then popped up again. “See? Adorable.”

He wasn’t wrong, her grin was ear to ear, but he’d clearly forgotten how bad our luck with women had been lately.

“She’s been sitting next to the same guy for ten minutes. She’s taken.” Probably. At the very least, she looked innocent enough that I’d probably scare the fuck out of her.

Harper knew me too well and nearly snorted.

Poking my side just to make the cutie laugh was the only consideration my logic received from the ridiculous Daddy Dom. “She’d flirt with you if you stopped looking like a grumpy old fart. I think she likes you but you’re not smiling.”

I refused to point out the statistical probability of her liking both of us—because as a math professor he could probably determine it better than I could—but I had to admit he might have a point with the whole grumpy thing.

In my defense, it’d been a long week. After dealing with one idiot after another, all I’d really wanted was to stay home, but Happy Daddy beside me hadn’t wanted to miss the party. He liked seeing the littles even if most of the time we never ended up seriously talking to any.

“If I smile, I’m going to end up decked again by some asshole who thinks I’m going to steal his property.” Some people were not stable.

Evan finally snorted out a laugh from the chair where he’d been pretending to ignore me as he’d talked with Keaton and Walker, having proclaimed them much more entertaining. “Once. You got decked once and you’re never going to let anyone forget it. You’re like a sexy elephant.”

Rolling my eyes as the group around us laughed, I had to shake my head when Harper pointed at me and mouthed to his cutie, He’s grumpy, which had her letting out peals of laughter.
Harper’s smile just widened and he even sighed.

Total goner.

But since he could have the same reaction to Hallmark movies, I wasn’t terribly worried. It seemed to have something to do with his overly perfect childhood. Hell, his parents even liked me and approved of us looking for a third. Yep, it’d melted his brain.

“You’re not going to win because in just a minute he’s going to turn that charm back on you and you’ll end up doing whatever he wants.” Keaton managed to keep a straight face while he made his asshole declaration, but his partner, Walker, was snickering as Evan laughed again.

I had such wonderful friends and a steady, supportive partner.

Was it any wonder I was such a cheerful Dom?

“I can resist Happy Daddy over here. I’ve had lots of practice.” In the five years we’d been married, I’d told him no on more than one occasion.

No, you may not bring home a goat.

No, you may not turn the basement into a laser tag arena.

It didn’t matter how interesting the math was; that was just a stupid idea. His students were a terrible influence…college kids were damned near feral and they tried to talk him into all kinds of shit. But my job had let me build up an amazing resistance to ridiculous ideas.

As a career coach, I had plenty of opportunities to tell people they were making stupid decisions. I might not be nice but I was damned good… and the fact that half my client list were probably subs helped too. But since that wasn’t something I ever talked about with them, it was just a guess.

“I managed to keep him from getting chickens, a miniature pony, and that damned goat. I’m a badass Dom and don’t ever forget it.” Evan and Walker managed not to laugh until Harper sighed and pouted.

As the bad influences snickered, Harper leaned over and rested his head on my shoulder. “But the goat was cute. I still think I shouldn’t have agreed to give you veto power over pets.”

“Pets and shenaniganry. Don’t forget that last part.” He was a danger to himself and others when he was letting a sweet sub talk him into something ridiculous. He didn’t even have to be emotionally involved with them for wide eyes and a pout to make him agree to the stupidest things.

“I know.” Harper’s drama didn’t last long because the cutie watching him rested her head on the back of the couch and gave him wide, worried eyes.

So he winked and stuck his tongue out at her.

Giggles could be heard across the room and I saw several Doms and Daddies looking her way, but she still only had eyes for Harper…and maybe me. I had to admit to getting a few sidelong glances from the cheerful little, but I wasn’t sure what she thought of dating two guys or having a Daddy and a Dom or having the grumpy sunshine trope acted out in front of her.

Evan liked to read and I’d been inundated with links to weird books lately.

He was going to end up making me pretend to be happy just to get him to stop sending the book recommendations. I was starting to think he’d never read anything nonfiction or at least anything sci-fi in his entire life.

Was it even a book if facts and real events or aliens weren’t involved?

But since it looked like I was going to live through a bad rom-com scene no matter what I wanted, I decided to play along. Giving the cutie a wink that had her eyes going wide, I waited until Harper started sitting up to lean over and give him a very PG-rated kiss.

Then I raised one eyebrow and waited as our friends practically giggled.

Her eyes somehow went even wider, and then she started laughing so much she nearly fell off the couch.

Harper glared at me but didn’t put much effort in it. “You could’ve warned me.”

I scoffed. “That would’ve defeated the purpose of surprising peekaboo girl.”

The little in question was still giggling and had finally drawn the attention of the guy she’d been sitting with. He looked over at her and said something but I couldn’t figure out what. Nothing about his behavior said he was frustrated or angry, but other than that, I didn’t have anything to go on.

“It would be much easier to read his lips if he turned just a bit more. I probably shouldn’t tell him to turn around in his seat, though.” Harper was being serious, which was why it was so funny.

College professors were just as weird as their students.

“You’re the one getting decked this time if he turns out to be rabid.” I’d already taken one for the team and that was plenty. Besides, I hadn’t done anything this time but kiss my own husband.

“I’m sure it won’t come to that.” Happy Daddy’s eternal optimism was going to get him in trouble one day.

Even the guys were trying not to snicker.

“You keep telling yourself that.” I loved the nut, but sometimes he wasn’t nearly cautious enough about life.

Marrying me was a good example.

He frowned at the peanut gallery that was now coughing and looking randomly around the room as they tried to look inconspicuous. The cutie seemed to know they were being ridiculous and started giggling again. It made the guy beside her sigh and he finally turned around in his seat to give us all an odd stare.

He wasn’t jealous.

He wasn’t angry.

He wasn’t even flirting.

He was kind of blank.

So what were they?

“Is he straight?”

Evan’s question had me asking one of my own. “Is he a Daddy?”

The peanut gallery all made very skeptical sounds, so I knew I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know what category to place him in.

“Hmm…” We watched curiously as the guy in question grabbed what seemed to be her diaper bag as he stood and she bounced up to follow his lead, her poofy pink dress twirling around her. He said something else to her but I couldn’t figure out what. “Unexpected.”

The agreeing noises that my statement earned had faded by the time they walked over, but we were all confused. Peekaboo girl was skipping and nearly bouncing her way across the room but her companion was…bored, maybe.

Blank definitely.

At least I wouldn’t get decked again?

“Please feel free to let me know if this is inappropriate or just poorly timed, but I would like to introduce you to Tabitha and see if you are a…” He paused, glancing between the two of us and then back to Tabitha before shrugging. “An available Daddy?”

It was obvious asking if Harper was a single Daddy would’ve been stupid at this point.

Her companion was at least a bit confused about how to address us, but Tabitha just grinned and bounced and hid behind one hand again. “Boo.”

Clearly, her little side was on the little end of the spectrum.

Perfect for Harper, but what would she do about me?

Letting Happy Daddy take the wheel, I gave him a smirk and a sidelong glance that had Tabitha giggling again.

At least she seemed to enjoy the grumpy sunshine trope?

Harper laughed like she was the funniest thing he’d ever seen, which just tickled her even more but had her companion rolling his eyes. When Happy Daddy managed to stop making her giggle, he finally nodded. “Yes, I’m a Daddy and I would love to meet a sweet little girl. This is my partner, Gaylen.”

Leaning in dramatically, he gave a bad stage whisper. “He’s cranky and needs a nap.”

Damn right.

She didn’t take offense, though, giggling and nodding and putting her finger up to her lips. “Shh…”

She was going to end up being his partner in crime. I had to fight a strong urge to tell her no goats, but I wasn’t sure I was in the mood to explain that ridiculous sentence
“Good girl.” Happy Daddy winked, which had her smiling even wider and swinging her companion’s hand. “So ignore the grumpy Dom and why don’t you have your friend tell us more about you?”

Bouncing, she nodded and pulled the guy’s hand. He sighed again, which I was starting to be able to relate to. “Tabitha is a single little who is looking for a Daddy.”

Glancing between the three of us again, he shrugged and continued. “She’s never been in a relationship with two men, but based on her current reading choices, I don’t think she’d have an issue with it.”

He ignored her wicked giggle and continued like it was an everyday kind of conversation. “As you’ve probably guessed, her little side is fairly young, although the age varies, and she’s mischievous.”

Good information…but who the fuck was he?

“And what does Miss Tabitha like to play?” Harper shifted so he was sitting on the edge of the couch and smiled at her even though the question was directed to her companion. “There’s lots of toys here tonight.”

“You may take her to play with the tea party set up or the ball pit. She’d enjoy either. You may not play any kind of let’s see if the little is wet games and her clothes stay on.” His dryly delivered answer as he gestured toward her knee-length dress had me wanting to smile even though it wouldn’t have been appropriate.

This was weirder than any date we’d ever been on and I wasn’t even sure it was a date yet.

“Those are perfectly reasonable boundaries and I’m sure you’d be able to help with anything she needs.” Harper’s vague inclusion of the guy had him nodding but still not explaining who he was.

“Once I know where you’re going to be, I’ll hang out near there but I won’t interfere unless something goes wrong. Her safeword to stop everything is banana.” Before he could explain that one, she made a face.

Leaning closer to Harper, she made a gagging sound that had the peanut gallery trying not to snicker. “Squishy.”

Since I happened to agree with her, I nodded as Happy Daddy spent the next few seconds trying not to laugh. “Agreed. That’s a good safeword. We both use oatmeal for a similar reason.”

And because he’d been stubborn as fuck and wanted something personal instead of just using stoplight colors.

She nodded eagerly and made another face. “Slimy.”

“Oh yes.” My answer, and maybe hers, had her companion rolling his eyes.

That set off her and Harper so they were both snickering. Companion guy, whose name I still didn’t think I’d heard yet, shook his head before focusing back on the logical parts of the conversation. “Where would you like to play?”

Her head bopped side to side as she considered the question like she’d been asked if she wanted to share state secrets. “Sit. Balls.”

Sit ended up meaning that she was going to sit on Harper’s lap because she let go of her friend’s hand and plopped down on Harper. He just beamed like she’d given him the best present ever and carefully wrapped his arms around her without holding her too tightly. “Sitting is a very good idea.”

I had to fight to keep a straight face as her companion rolled his eyes again. “Daddies are impressed by the simplest things.”

He wasn’t wrong but it opened up even more questions.

Before I could ask any of them, he pulled an older-looking e-reader out of his jacket pocket and nodded toward the back of the room. “I’ll keep an eye out, Tabitha, but nothing ridiculous.”
I had a feeling she and Harper had the same rules about someone else having veto power over shenanigans.

She gave him an excited nod and waved her fingers before turning her smiling face back to Harper. She poked his chest and then looked at me and giggled. It was clearly a question, so I let Harper figure out what she was asking.

He chuckled and nodded, poking me too. “Yes, grumpy man is my partner and he’s not a Daddy, but he’s a Dom and he plays tea party very well.”

What a wonderful introduction.

She giggled and nodded earnestly like it was the most important information ever. But her curiosity wasn’t satisfied yet because she poked both of us again and then leaned in to whisper into Harper’s ear.

Curiouser and curiouser.

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