Page 13

“Now he knows how to fit clothes to his body,” Frank said, at stage one of bromance.

“He has a bunch of money and a team of people making sure he gets it right,” I grumbled.

Kieran pulled two bags from the seat of his car before shutting the door and finally turning toward me. Fatigue lined his face and heavy lids draped his eyes.

My annoyance eased. He’d clearly had a day, too, but he was still showing up to cook. That was pretty cool of him.

“Hey,” I said, reaching for the bags.

He shook his head at my offer to lend a hand. “Well, how’s things?”

His accent sounded as though he’d walked straight out of Ireland.

“Do you just affect an American accent most of the time?” I reached the door and pushed it open.

“Demigods can speak all languages in all dialects. It’s one of our powers. We’re made fer ruling, and can do it anywhere. But when I’m tired, things tend to slip. That’s one of them.” His American accent came and went. He sagged where he stood before jerking his head toward the inside of the house. “Go on. Shit before the shovel.”

Surprised laughter bubbled up through me. It wasn’t the sort of expression I would have expected from him. I stepped into the house, glancing around at the mess. Shoes lay in a pile right in front of the door. Sweatshirts dotted the hall, and a couple random hair things littered the run-down carpet. Both kids lay in a heap on the couch, watching something on the laptop.

“Turn that off and clean this place up,” I barked. “You’ve had all day.” I trudged into the kitchen and dropped my handbag onto the counter. “I swear, when Mordecai was sick and we were all busting our asses just to get by, this place looked ten times better. Suddenly, we’re a little more secure and everything has gone to hell.”

“We’ve been working out all day,” Daisy whined. “Would you get off my legs?”

A thud shook the floor as Kieran followed me into the kitchen.

“Ow!” Mordecai hollered. “What was that for?”

“I asked nicely,” Daisy said. “You ignored me. Now look.”

“I was moving! You didn’t have to kick me off the couch.”

“And you didn’t fight half as much,” I yelled.

“Hey, Demigod Kieran,” Mordecai mumbled, stalling next to the kitchen opening. “Thanks again for the procedure.”

A smile spread across Kieran’s handsome face. “You look stiffer than when you were sick.”

“I hurt the same, just in a different way.” Mordecai trudged off down the hall.

Daisy stopped near the table, her eyes narrowing at Kieran. “What are you doing here?”

“Daisy, give him a break,” I said, moving to the paper bags. “He’s my new boss, and he brought us groceries.”

“Since when does the boss do manual labor?” Daisy asked, piling on the attitude. She wasn’t the passive-aggressive type—when she was annoyed, she wanted everyone to know it.

“What can I tell ye? I couldn’t pass up such a glowing welcome.” Kieran smiled as he reached into one of the bags and pulled out a white paper bundle.

She sniffed. “Since when do you have an accent?”

“Daisy, seriously, give it a rest.” I took out ingredients and set them on the counter. “He’s here, this is happening, so let’s be civil.”

Daisy flung out a hand. “I’m just a little concerned, is all. He has stalked you most of the time he’s known you, he’s manipulated you into working for him, and now he’s here, in your home, probably trying to get in your pants. He’s getting too close, Lexi. You need protection from yourself.”

“I’m in earshot,” Kieran murmured tiredly, though not in anger. “In case you hadn’t noticed…”

“She has a point,” Mordecai said as he carried in two glasses and set them next to the sink. A waft of funk slapped me in the face. “Every time he comes around, he seems to want something.”

“A big guy in a small kitchen,” Kieran mumbled. “Hard to miss.”

“Right now he probably wants you to take a shower.” I waved my hand in front of my nose. “Mordie, you need deodorant.”

“He’s trying to cut corners and save some money.” Daisy rolled her eyes. “I told him to spend the few dollars, but apparently his stink doesn’t offend him like it offends everyone else.”

“It’s natural,” Mordecai replied.

“So are farts, but you don’t see people rejoicing when those waft around,” Daisy said. “His feet, too, Lexi. My whole room reeks.”

“Our room.” Mordecai left the kitchen, bending to grab a sweatshirt before disappearing from sight.

“It won’t be yours if you keep up this stink,” Daisy called after him. “We’ll get a dog house and put you outside.”

“Low blow,” I heard from the back bedroom.

“I didn’t mean because you’re a wolf—” The door slammed, cutting Daisy off. “You’re more sensitive than a chick,” she yelled.

The door opened. “Anyone is more sensitive than you. Rocks are more sensitive than you. You’re a hard-hearted old cow!” The door slammed again.

I pointed at Kieran, who was shrugging out of his suit jacket with a mouth-watering grin.

“Did you say you wanted to go out to eat?” I asked. “Because if so, I’m in. Or how about Guinness for dinner? It’s super filling. Any takers on leaving them here and heading down to the pub?”

“Mordecai is super moody lately,” Daisy said, her gaze snagging on Kieran’s upper body as he crossed the small space and dropped his suit jacket on the back of one of the dining room chairs. His white button-up stretched across his broad, muscular back and hugged his large biceps. “I don’t know what his deal is.” She shook her head before turning and kicking the shoes toward the door.

“Place them next to the door, don’t kick them into a pile,” I said. “And he’s not the only one who’s moody.”

She stepped back into view and put a finger to her chest. “I’ve always been moody. That’s my jam. Things are off-kilter when he is as moody as me.”

I sagged against the counter. “Sleep in my room. I’ll sleep on the couch. If that ends the fighting, I’m all for it.”

“Or let me buy you someplace bigger,” Kieran said, his brogue getting heavier by the word.

“Fat chance, Mr. Suave. We don’t need your charity.” Daisy went back to kicking the shoes. “But if you do buy a place, I’d be cool with breaking in and squatting there. Anything to get my own room.” She stepped back into view. “But I’ll take you up on staying in your room tonight, Lexi. I’ll take the floor. Tomorrow, I am going to Febreze bomb my room, and throw all his stinky shit outside. That’ll teach him.” She rolled her eyes and moved off down the hall. “Hopefully.”

“You can sleep at my house,” Kieran said quietly, his tone teasing. “We’d have to sneak you past my father, though.”

I bit my lip to try and hide a smile. “You live with your dad at your age?” I huffed. “What a loser.”

“So.” Kieran pulled out a bottle of wine before glancing around. “What was your day like?”

He opened the nearest drawer and looked inside before shutting it again and moving on to the next one.

“What are you looking for?”

“Two guesses, but I’m hoping you’ll only need one.”

I laughed, because yes, I should’ve known he was after the wine opener.

I stepped forward and reached for the correct drawer, not realizing he was doing the same thing. My fingers wrapped around metal. His warm hand wrapped around mine.

A jolt of electricity fired up my arm before settling into a delicious hum in my middle. His gaze slowly slid toward me. Without lifting his hand, he shifted, and his warm body grazed against my side.

My heart rate increased and my stomach flipped over before dropping down to my feet. The heat from his body, so close, soaked in deep, flash-boiling my blood. His thumb trailed across my knuckles and my core ached for his touch to slip down lower. It craved hard, fervent contact.

A horrifying realization struck—I wanted him desperately, and not just for his hot body. His confidence, his poise, his intense air of command—he was at the very top of the power pyramid, and had proven to be my own personal safety blanket. Despite his possessiveness and repeated attempts at manipulation, I trusted Kieran. I trusted him as a boss and as a man. Though he unapologetically strived to get what he wanted, he’d never once screwed me over. The opposite: he’d lured me in by helping my family. By making our lives better. Even now, he was here to cook a meal.

Without thinking, just reacting to this dawning realization, I angled my body toward him. The heat between us had grown blistering hot, eating through me. I longed to reach up and feel his hard chest before hooking my hand around his neck to pull those shapely lips closer.

I floated on the ardent tide of desire, letting my eyes drift closed. Electricity buzzed through me from his proximity. Magic danced and swirled between us, singeing my skin and forcing a moan from my lips. He’d inherited his mother’s seductive selkie magic, which pierced me in all the right ways, promising unimaginable pleasure. His father had passed down the raw power of the ocean, taking that sexy magic to the next level. It stole my breath away it felt so good.

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