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“Baby, where have you been?” she rushes out. Not even a full ring and she has the phone in her hands.

“Jesus, Mom, I told you I had the wedding for my friend and wouldn’t be around this weekend.”

“I know, I know. I’m sorry but you should keep your cell phone on you.” She takes a deep breath and seems to hold it for hours before letting it out in a rush. “They’re at it again, Meli.”

“What did the letter say this time?” I question.

“Susan claims that with my old age, and with you working too many hours to care for Cohen, that she should have sole custody. She claims that Sofia’s will was incorrect and that Simon wouldn’t have ever agreed to that, regardless of the fact that his signature is on the contract.”

“How can she argue that son of a bitch didn’t agree with it when Fia had all the proper paperwork drawn up? She wasn’t stupid, mom. She knew what would happen if Susan got her hands on him.”

“I know. She isn’t going to stop easily, Melissa. She wants him. I don’t know why she is so determined, when best I can tell she didn’t give two shakes about her own son. Probably why he ended up crazy and possessed.” I can hear her starting to lose her patience.

“She won’t get him.” I promise. No way in hell, I would snatch him up, and run off to Mexico quicker than she can blink.

“Come over tomorrow? I need to see you; he needs to see you. I would feel better with my baby home with me.”

I laugh but it holds no humor.

“Alright. I’ll tell Dr. Shannon that I can’t stay late and come over for dinner.”

“Love you to pieces, Meli-Kate.”

“Love you too, Mom.”

That night, nightmares of Fia’s life, her insane motherin-law, and shadows stealing my nephew haunt me until the light of dawn filters through my shades. My blissful weekend and the man that has wedged himself in my heart after such a short time are long forgotten.

Chapter 14

For the last two years, I have watched one of the most important people in my life find herself, and then find love. After that, I started second-guessing everything that I thought I was okay with in life. A relationship was never something I wanted; I was happy to spend my time with bitches like Mandy.

Well, that might be a stretch. I have definitely misjudged her, big fucking time. Watching Izzy and Axel find each other again and overcome so much shit to be together, makes me crave what they have. I want someone to lift me up, someone to go home to, and someone to have children with. I am ready, and for the first time in my life, I have a woman I feel might be worth making those changes for.

I won’t go so far as saying it was love at first sight, but it damn sure was hard on at first sight. That motherfucker doesn’t have selective taste though, so I can’t rely on that alone.

The first time she opened her mouth and started throwing her attitude, is when I knew that she is worth it. She won’t be easy. I know that she’s hesitant to start something and I am willing to bet it isn’t because of someone burning her. When she told me about her sister, and I realized just whom she is connected to, I knew… I knew whatever issues she has are because of that motherfucker.

Simon-fucking-Wagner.

The reason I don’t have Grace by my side anymore is the same fucking reason she doesn’t have her sister. I am man enough to admit that it worries me about what will happen when she finds out about that connection.

Monday morning comes way too fucking soon. I have spent the night hugging the pillow that still smells of my Beauty like a little bitch. Every time the scent of vanilla hits my system, it is like a signal straight to my dick to salute the heavens. Every dream is about her. How her blue eyes spark with fire and lust. How they go wide and lost there when she comes. And how when she forgets to be scared, she gazes at me like she knows I hold all the answers.

Yeah, I am officially hooked.

A clear sign of my distraction is my missing Sway’s presence when I pull up at Corps Security. I am busy picturing Melissa bent over my kitchen counter, but when I look up and see Swag waving like an idiot, the hard on I have been sporting all morning dies a quick death.

What the fuck?

Over the last few years that I have known this man, I have learned he is as unpredictable as they come. But the sight that meets me this morning is like nothing he has ever done before. There he is, standing on the sidewalk wearing those camouflage skintight pants things that chicks wear. The ones that make a man fall all over himself to follow her ass around the world, but on this man, they might scar me for life. If that isn’t enough, the sparkling burgundy shirt hugging his round stomach might get a good laugh. Then, I notice what he is doing.

“Sway? Why are you painting the sidewalk?” I question, looking down into the bucket of golden shining paint, “Is that fucking glitter?”

“Don’t you start with all your alpha hotness, Gregory. Of course, this is glitter! You can’t paint the sidewalk gold without glitter!” He’s serious, bobbing his head left and right, and waving his hands all over the place.

“This is for real? You’re painting the sidewalk fucking gold? Does Axel know about this shit?”

“Of course he does, my king of hotness. Don’t be such a tight ass. Actually, never mind that darlin’, be a tight ass… just let me see it.” He starts laughing like a loon and all I can do is look around and notice the explosion of fucking glitter.

“Sway, my man, you wouldn’t know what to do with me.” He sobers instantly and I kick myself for encouraging him. “Forget I said that. Tell me why you feel the need to throw glitter all over the damn place?”

“Because my hunk of fine, glitter makes everyone happy!” When he starts dancing around his paint bucket, I have to leave. There is only so much Sway that I can handle when he is acting like this. I might joke, but that man is the funniest little shit I have ever met.

“Right. You know who loves glitter?” I question, noticing Coop’s jeep pulling in. “Coop loves glitter. Why don’t you go give him a good morning that will make his day, Sway? I’ll even hold your brush.”

“Ohhh! Yes, right away, Sir Sex-o-lot!” He bends over, grabs a handful of glitter, and runs across the lot as fast as his heels will take him. I can see Coop’s eyes widen when he takes in the man running full speed at him.

At this point, I couldn’t stop laughing if I try. The second Coop steps out of the out of the jeep, Sway attacks, throwing glitter in the air and screaming ‘good morning’. When he leaps into Coop’s arms, I fear I might hurt something, laughing as hard as I am.

“Good morning, asshole!” I yell over at Coop and make my way inside.

“What the hell is going on out there?” Beck asks, stepping up to the front window. When he sees Coop trying to untangle himself from Sway, he throws his head back and his laughter booms through the room, causing Emmy to jump in her seat behind the front desk.

“You are all so immature.” I hear her mumble under her breath.

“Cheer up, Em. It’s only Monday… way too soon for that.”

When I see the look in her eye that clearly screams ‘don’t mess with me’, I make quick work at heading to my office and a mental note to find out what is weighing on her mind.

First thing I need to handle is calling that bastard Derrick. Rounding my desk, I slam my body down and listen to the legs of my chair protest before picking up the phone and dialing a number that I won’t forget. After all, when you call it daily for almost two years, you don’t forget that shit easily.

“Johnson,” he says in an impatient tone.

“Derrick.” My tone is lethal. This jerkoff knows I am not a man to cross.

“C-Cage,” he sputters, clears his throat and tries again, “Cage, how can I help you?”

“First thing you can do is tell me if you just conveniently forgot to mention that Simon and Sofia Wagner have a son, a son that is very much alive?”

“Shit,” he hisses, panic taking over his carefree fake bullshit.

“And by shit, I hope to fuck that means you must have misplaced your fucking brain and common sense? Do you not think that would be something, I don’t know, the person signing your goddamn checks to investigate that bastard should know?” My raised voice must have alerted Axel that shit is going down. Before I can even finish speaking, he is walking in, shutting the door, and taking a seat across from me.

“Look, Cage. Man, I didn’t think it was a big deal. The kid was fine. It sucks about his parents, but he went to the chick’s mom. It was all good.”

The growl that erupts from my throat is feral enough to scare any motherfucker. “That kid has a name, asshole. You better fucking send me full case files. Today. I don’t give a fucking shit if you have to rent a goddamn bike and pedal you ass over here. One hour. I want everything you didn’t fucking share with me a year ago!” Slamming the phone down should give me some satisfaction, but the rage boiling inside me just keeps heating up.

“You want to talk about it?” Axel questions.

“You want to tell me why the hell you’re here when you should be at home with your bride?” Changing the subject seems wise with the amount of anger I’m dealing with.

“You try staying at home when you are attacked every two seconds! That woman is insatiable. Never thought I would need a break, but my dick is tired man.”

“Jesus Christ, jackass. Can you not talk about that shit with me?”

“You asked.” He laughed.

“The fuck I did. I asked why you’re here, not why your dick isn’t working.”

“Right, enough about my wife. Want to tell me now what that was all about?” All the humor leaves his face. I can tell he is worried.

“You know Izzy’s friend, the nurse at Nate’s doctor’s place?”

“Yeah, what about her?” He questions, looking at me as if I did something wrong. “Jesus, tell me you haven’t made her your new plaything.”

“Do not fucking call her a plaything,” I growl at him. His eyes narrow at my tone and I would laugh if I weren’t still heated over the plaything comment.

“Okay. You want to explain that shit? I’ve never seen you two seconds from pissing all over the place to mark your territory.” He lets out a laugh and holds his hands up.

Do I really want to get into this with Axel? Sure, out of the five of us, he would be the one with the experience to tell me what I need to do, but having him know what a whipped bitch I am over one chick I just met is something different.

“Nothing to tell, yet.”

“And ‘yet’ means you took her home with you after the wedding. Let me guess. Spent the weekend together. Decided you want to run off into the fucking sunset and have little dogs that yap at the mailman. Maybe if you’re lucky, find a bowling league that meets every Friday. What the fuck man, this timid shit isn’t like you.”

“Fuck you, asshole!” I chunk an unopened pack of computer paper and laugh when it knocks him in the head. “You deserved that.”

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