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“Even if they check me out, my paper matches my lifestyle,” I said, ready to fight until the last on this one.

“They won’t just look at your papers, baby,” Kieran said softly, anxiety tightening his eyes. “They’ll want to peel you apart and see what you know. They’ll do it with pain.” His body tightened, and I could see him struggling under the weight of that thought.

I surveyed the enormous structure in front of me. “But this…” I shook my head and took a step back. “Why not a shanty on the other side of town? This is too much.”

“A shanty?” Daisy asked in disgust.

“It’s not yours,” Mordecai said. “We’ll just stay here for a while, use the back way to come and go until the battle is finished, and then we’ll go back to our incredibly cramped home in a not great part of town. This massive improvement is just temporary.”

Kieran leaned into me, warmth radiating off his body and soaking into mine.

“If you stay here, I can stay with you. Or you can stay at my place,” he said, his stormy eyes inviting.

“Foul play,” I murmured, my gaze roaming his incredibly handsome face. Heat flash-boiled my blood and my body vibrated with desire. I could barely breathe. “But won’t your dad think something’s up if you move out? Won’t he check out your neighbors?” My voice had turned sultry, dripping with my aching need.

He took a step to close the distance, his body inches from mine. Electricity singed me as it passed between us.

“Neither of those things are an issue anymore.” His sweet breath fell across my face. I wanted those lush, shapely lips on mine. “He’s on the cusp of connecting Bria to me, I can feel it. It will all unfurl from there. Quickly.” His pause was slight, but anxiety dumped into my body through our connection. “We’re out of time.”

He was worried but not letting it show on his face. Our fate, whether we would live or die, waited on the horizon, just out of sight.

“Which is why you need to make new friends,” I heard Daisy say, but I couldn’t focus—not on her, the obvious danger we were all in, the horribly shortened timeline, or the enormity of this gift.

All I could focus on was Kieran’s eyes delving into mine, urging me to take his hand and let him lead me into the house he’d bought for me. To let him take care of me and the kids. To let him provide for us as he so desperately wanted to.

Silence fell around us. Souls pulsed in bodies. The delicious sea breeze caressed my hair.

Kieran’s stormy eyes dared me to say yes.

14

Kieran

The phone vibrated in Kieran’s pocket, but he ignored it. It was probably Henry calling to update him on the status of the business license for Lionel Curtsy, a fictitious man who’d just inherited a nice sum of money and planned to start a used car dealership specializing in passenger cargo vehicles. Old school buses, vans, trucks—all things Lionel would be purchasing for the business venture to come.

Kieran would then need to come up with more manpower to fill all those vehicles. Sadly, a made-up name couldn’t help him there.

He pushed the interruption from his mind. He’d deal with it later. Right now, he could only focus on the woman standing in front of him with open, honest, and frightened eyes, scared to take this plunge with him.

He couldn’t blame her. He’d felt his own fears all day long, in between surges of nervousness and desire. But the second she had walked up to him, eyes alight with fire and intelligence and passion, his fears had melted. All of his misgivings about the magnitude of this offer had drifted away.

She was his. She’d initiated the connection by joining their souls. She’d cemented it by thwarting his attempts to send her away. She’d nailed it down by turning away her ex-boyfriend at the bar.

Despite his fear that he wasn’t good enough, he did want her heart. He wanted it with everything in him. He couldn’t resist her, and it wouldn’t take long for her to realize that she couldn’t resist him, either.

She was his, and soon, she’d give in to it. Like he had.

“I…don’t know,” she said hesitantly.

“Well, I know.” Daisy gestured toward the house. “Let’s go have a look.”

Fear flashed through Alexis’s eyes again, and she opened her mouth to protest. But honestly, what choice did she have? Everything he’d said was true. Her fear of giving in was the only thing keeping her from seeing that.

“Come on,” he said, reaching out his hand with a smile.

Alexis blinked those deep brown eyes at him, and a stunned look crossed her face. A moment later, the stars in her eyes turned into a glare.

“I said I didn’t know.” She turned slightly to avoid his hand. “Take a hint.”

“It isn’t a hint when you just tell him. Come on.” Daisy grabbed her elbow and dragged her. “I bet Bria is in there. She’ll have a good take on all of this. You listen to her.”

“I don’t listen to her. She always takes your side, and then makes fun of me for my poor choices in life,” Alexis grumbled, though she allowed Daisy to pull her away.

Mordecai gave Kieran a sheepish look before skulking off after the girls. The shifter was really shining through in that boy. He now recognized Kieran’s status as alpha and acted accordingly with his body language. He’d fit into pack life perfectly. It was time he met some of his own.

Thane must’ve been thinking the same thing, because he fell in step with Kieran, somewhat removed from the others.

“I found that pack Jack was wondering about,” he said, and Kieran allowed him to slow the pace a little. “Alexis seems dopey most of the time around those kids, but that’s because the power structure is clearly defined. I saw Alexis throw her weight around earlier when I showed up at her door. It was enough to raise my small hairs. She has leadership potential.”

Kieran nodded as they reached the open door. A squeal of delight from farther inside made him smile. He’d never heard Daisy squeal. That family was as good as moved in.

“Those kids were falling over themselves to do as she said,” Thane went on, giving the large entryway a glance. Tiles made to look like stone covered the floor. High ceilings gave the space a feeling of grandeur and the wide staircase leading upstairs curved away right. The designers had done a great job with it, something Bria had grudgingly acknowledged. Her good opinion on these matters was hard-earned. “She is clearly the alpha, and Daisy used to be the beta.”

“Used to be?” Kieran asked, hanging a right down a small, bare hallway toward the kitchen. He’d brought in furniture, but the rest of the house was a clean slate. Alexis could dress it up however she liked.

“Haven’t you noticed the kids have been bickering a lot lately? Alexis complains that they didn’t used to fight so much. Now that Mordecai is healthy and training, he’s trying to rise up in the pack. He took the back of their line coming in here today, keeping Daisy—the physically weakest member—protected in the middle. He’s probably trying to dominate her socially so as to officially move into the beta role.”

Kieran grinned and shook his head as the space in front of them opened up into a brand new kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances. The rest of his Six and Bria sat gathered around the large, circular kitchen table on the other side of the island, watching Alexis and the kids open and close cabinets and appliance doors as if they were a game show audience. A swinging door led to the dining room, and a bigger, rectangular table.

“Daisy is a spitfire,” Kieran said quietly, watching Alexis’s eyes glimmer. His heart swelled. His chosen family was in this house, all of them. “She won’t lose the intellectual fight to Mordecai very easily.”

“This is true.”

“Did they have any problem finding the doorway?”

“Enough,” Daisy called out, putting out her hands. Everyone turned her way. Bria froze halfway to standing. “We’ve seen the kitchen. Let’s move on!”

Bria laughed and finished standing. The rest of the Six stood up, too, joining the tour. They were all caught up in the delight and discovery of the newcomers.

“The actual doorway? No,” Thane said, following the others into the dining room. “But they sat in the car for a while debating whether you planned to kill them.”

Kieran chuckled and Daisy led the charge to the next room, a bright living room with huge bay windows facing the ocean. A couple of trees dotted the cliff, cutting down on visibility. The distance cut down on it a little more. The view was a pale representation of what his father got to see every day, but it was the best Kieran could do.

“Oh my God,” Alexis breathed, drifting to the windows with her hand on her chest. “It’s gorgeous.”

Apparently, Alexis wasn’t nearly so spoiled as Kieran.

“Who found the way through?” Kieran asked as everyone but Bria walked toward Alexis.

Bria crossed her arms over her chest and looked at the setup with a critical eye. “No. This is wrong. Who has an entertainment center, anymore?” Bria gestured at the piece of furniture in the corner. “And why wouldn’t the couch face it? No, the TV should go on the wall, and a little—”

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