By: L. A. Casey

“Will you look at me?” he whispered.

It took me a minute but I lifted my head and brought my gaze to his.

“There she is,” he murmured.

Oh, God.

His mouth was in a frown and he was still a little pale, but fuck, he was gorgeous.

Scars and all.

I hated with everything in me that I found him attractive. Hating somebody and still finding them stunning in appearance was torture. Utter torture.

“Things are so fucked up,” I breathed and sat back in the chair. “One of us girls might be pregnant, you’re ill, Keela’s head is turnin’ against her, Nico is workin’ for Brandon Daley and so is me little brother. What fuckin’ else can happen to us?”

The room was silent for a few moments.

“We’ll figure it out. All of us will figure it out,” Kane said. “We always do.”

I blinked. “Yeah, but still, this is a lot of shite to deal with.”

His lip quirked a little. “We’ve been through worse things, babydoll.”

I widened my eyes to the point of pain. “We discussed you never callin’ me that again.”

Kane grinned. “You only get one pass. Either I keep quiet about us fucking, or I don’t call you babydoll. You choose which one you want, but if I was you, I’d hurry because time’s a wasting.”

I hated him.

I hated every fibre in the sick bastard’s body.

“The stupid sex,” I growled. “Keep that to yourself.”

Kane winked. “You got it, babydoll.”

What. A. Prick.

“If you weren’t so ill, I’d kill you meself,” I angrily snapped.

I jumped with fright when laughter sounded from my right.

“He must be okay if she’s threatening to kill him,” Alec’s voice sang with laughter.

I looked up and playfully rolled my eyes as the brothers and girls filed into Kane’s room.

“Good to see you awake, you bastard,” Alec said and leaned in to hug Kane. “You frightened the shit out of us.”

Kane made jokes as each of his brothers hugged him, followed by the girls. After Bronagh hugged him, she walked over, closed the door of the room, and leaned against it. Nico tried to get her to move over to the seat near the window so she could sit on his lap, but she was having none of it.

“I told you no,” Bronagh snapped. “Kane is awake now and I’m not blinded with fear for his safety anymore, so I can remember perfectly fuckin’ well the deal you struck with Brandon fucking Daley. I was serious when I said I’m done with you, Dominic. I want no part of that poxy life, and if you insist on being part of it then I’m sorry to say fuckface, but I’m cuttin’ you loose.”

Oh, bollocks.

They were breaking up?

“Cutting me loose, huh?” Nico said, his voice cool and calm. “Like I’m some snot-faced little boy you sunk your claws into?”

Bronagh glared at him. “Somethin’ like that.”

Nico moved so fast that none of us had time to react. He got Bronagh backed into the corner of the room and blocked her from our view with his body.

I looked at Kane who shook his head at me. “Let them hash it out,” he murmured.

I looked away from him and at Nico’s back.

“You think I want to be involved with Brandy and that fucking life? I fucking don’t, Bronagh. I grew up in it, and all my life I just wanted my brothers and me to have a normal life, but that isn’t on the cards for us. As much as it sucks, this crazy fucked-up life—is my normal. I’m trying to make the best I can out of a shitty situation. And, sweetheart, the fact of the matter is that we’re broke and my job at the gym and with clients isn’t cutting it anymore. I don’t know how, but I blew all of my money and I refuse to get loans from my brothers or to scrape the bottom of the barrel to support us. But fighting... it’s what I’m good at, Bronagh. It’s really good money. It won’t be like it was before—you just have to trust me when I say that. Please. I’m doing this for you. For us.”

Bronagh’s cries were evident then, and so were Nico’s soothing murmurs of his love for her and the promises he swore to keep.

“You promise me,” Bronagh whimpered. “You promise it won’t be like before. You won’t go from country to country fightin’ or be involved in shady shite. Promise if you’re fightin’ that it’s just on that fuckin’ platform in that stupid bloody nightclub. Promise me.”

“Look me in the eyes,” Nico breathed. “I promise you.”

Bronagh cried again, “I love you.”

Their kissing could be heard then, and so could my sniffles.

“Aideen?” Kane murmured. “Why are you crying?”

I waved him off and everyone else who was looking at me. I wiped the tears as they fell from my eyes. “I don’t even know why, but I can’t stop.”

I covered my face as I began to sob.

I was upset and mortified at the same time.

“Ah, darling, everything is okay,” Alec’s voice chuckled as he hunkered down in front of me and pulled me into a hug.

I put my arms around him and hugged him tightly.

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