“McKenna?” Luke asked, glancing up from his game.

I paused, turning to face him. “Yeah?”

“Thanks for making our house feel like a home.” He flashed a perfectly straight white smile at me and my heart melted a tiny bit in my chest. Without a family of my own anymore, I’d been unwittingly making myself part of theirs.

---

When I got home from Knox’s place, I was exhausted. I felt like I hadn’t slept in a week. I wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed and wrap myself up in the blankets, but first I wanted a nice hot shower. Brian wasn’t home, thankfully, so I didn’t have to field any questions about where I’d been all day. I knew he wasn’t happy about me cancelling our plans to go and see Knox.

Under the steaming spray of water, I washed myself thoroughly, scrubbing away any lingering germs, though I’d been careful at Knox’s, washing my hands and disinfecting everything I’d touched over there. Drying myself with an oversized towel, I padded into my bedroom and dressed in pajamas. I didn’t care that it was only late afternoon. I felt like going to bed.

Crawling under the covers, I was asleep as soon as my head touched the pillow.

Chapter Seven

Knox

When my texts and phone calls to McKenna went unanswered, I decided to drive over to her apartment to see for myself what was going on. Just as I suspected, she’d come down with the flu. After an unpleasant exchange with Brian, I found her in her bed, curled into a tight little ball.

“McKenna?” I whispered.

Her eyes opened slowly, taking several moments to focus on mine. “Knox?”

“You caught it, didn’t you?” I smiled down at her, brushing her hair back from her face.

“Uh huh,” she nodded.

I knew there’d been no way she could have hung around me and the boys, as sick as we all were for four days straight, and not catch this nasty flu. Something tugged inside my chest seeing her so pale and listless. I wished there was something I could do, but unfortunately I knew this thing had to run its course. “Can I get you anything?”

She pulled the blankets up higher toward her chin. “I’m cold. Maybe an extra blanket.” She tipped her chin toward the chair in the corner where a fluffy throw blanket was folded.

I arranged the blanket over her and then crawled into bed beside her. “Here.” I opened my arms. “I’ll warm you up.”

She snuggled into my chest. “Mmm. My own personal space heater.”

McKenna dozed in and out of sleep while I lay there holding her. She stopped shivering after about ten minutes and soon her skin was growing damp with perspiration.

Now that my strength had returned and all the boys were healthy again, I’d returned to work. But if need be, I would stay here and care for McKenna, just like she’d done for us.

After a brief knock, Brian pushed open the door. Shooting him a scowl, I wondered if he invaded McKenna’s privacy like this often. Dickhead. “Need something?” I asked. McKenna’s eyelids fluttered, but she remained curled against my side.

“I’d prefer the door to stay open if you’re going to be in her room with her.”

Was he f**king serious? “Are you her father?”

Opening her eyes, McKenna looked up at me and frowned. My choice of words hit me at that exact moment. Fuck. “I’m sorry. I’ll be right back.”

I climbed from her bed and met Brian in the hallway, softly closing the bedroom door behind me. “What’s your problem with me? Or is it with any man being with her that isn’t you?”

“McKenna may trust you, but I don’t. And I certainly don’t trust you alone in a bed with her.”

“She’s sick. Do you really think I’m going to try something?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know how you work – what you’re capable of.”

“I have issues, I’ll be the first to admit it, but I’m not a f**king ra**st. Christ.” I shuddered. It made me wonder what McKenna had told him about me. Did he actually think I’d make her do anything she wasn’t ready for? The truth was, McKenna had been the one driving the physical aspects of our relationship this entire time. Not that I’d give good old Brian the satisfaction of knowing that.

“She hasn’t told you, has she?” Brian smirked.

“Told me what?”

“McKenna’s still a virgin. At least I’m pretty sure she is.”

All the air was ripped from my lungs. McKenna was untouched? That piece of information made me both deliriously happy and pissed off. How could she not have told me? What if I’d let things go too far the other night? “That’s her business,” I said, recovering.

Brian narrowed his eyes. If he wanted to believe I was the bad guy, that I was dangerous for her – too f**king bad. McKenna brought out new sides in me, made me feel things I’d never felt before. And I wouldn’t hurt her, would never force her. He could think whatever he wanted to about me. I had zero problem knocking him on his ass again if the occasion called for it. And the way my blood was currently coursing through my veins, stirring up anger and resentment inside me, I wondered if now was that occasion. Instead, I took a deep breath and forced myself to calm down. “If we’re through here, I have a sick girl in there to take care of.” I headed into her room and closed the door behind me, signaling that she was mine to care for, not his.

Seeing her lying in bed again, there were a million things I wanted to ask her about. Brian had just dropped a huge f**king bombshell on me and I wanted to ask McKenna if it were true. If she was a virgin, we were on two totally different wave-lengths. What could she be thinking about wanting to enter into a relationship with me? Our conversations came roaring back me. The way she angled her hips to mine the other night, seeking, wanting… I couldn’t be expected to control myself and go slow like she needed when she did shit like that.

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