Authors: Norma Jeanne Karlsson
Tags: #Romance, #romantic thriller, #contemporary romance, #Romantic Suspense
“What if you need help in a class or on a project or somethin’?”
“They’d hire us a tutor and make sure no one knew about it,” Sawyer scoffs like the idea is completely preposterous.
“Maybe yours would, but mine are never around enough to even ask for help at this point. I’ve been told what they expect and that’s the end of it,” Dane explains in a irritated voice.
“Not around? Where are they?” Jake asks in an irritated voice that mirrors my mood.
“Out of town and shit,” Cole dismisses the issue.
Time for the grownup to wade into the conversation.
“Are your parents out of town a lot?” I ask wondering how alone these kids are.
“Cole’s and mine are,” Dane admits with an annoyed tone in his voice.
“My mom’s…uh…busy a lot. My dad works really long hours, but ends up home most nights. I think,” Sawyer explains.
I’m guessing his mother is a drunk or has a boyfriend occupying her time based on Sawyer’s description. I’m hoping for the latter.
“Do you all stay at your houses alone at night?”
“We have staff that lives in,” Cole says with a snort. I second his snort.
“You’re all welcome to stay here with us whenever you’d like. We have plenty of space to accommodate you. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to run upstairs for a few minutes. I’ll be back,” I say turning on my heel and swiftly making my way to the stairs.
“You’re aunt rocks, man. You think she’ll really let us come and eat dinner here every night?” Cole asks disbelieving.
“Yeah. She’s good like that,” Jake offers nonchalantly.
“Stay here too?” Dane asks in shock at the idea.
“If she said it she meant it. No bullshit with Aunt Kay,” Jake states with conviction.
“She’s fuckin’ hot,” Sawyer pipes in.
“Dude, that’s his aunt,” Dane admonishes.
“They aren’t related by blood and he’s not blind.”
“She’s hot and she’s my aunt so let’s not talk about it,” Jake growls.
“Aunt Kay’s my new favorite,” Cole states.
There are agreeing grunts before Jake suggests, “Let’s go shoot.”
I make my way up the rest of the stairs as I hear them exiting the back door.
I arrive home to a mostly quiet house smelling like slow cooked meat. This I could get used to. I spy Jake out back with three guys playing two-on-two. They’re having a good time based on the smiles plastered on their faces. I’ve got to get out of this suit jacket. I climb the stairs and pick up my pace when I hear the sounds of grunts coming from our room.
I fly through the door to find Kat beating the shit out of pillows again, with no shirt on but still wearing heels, pants, her bra and most of her jewelry, her wedding ring on the bedside table.
“I figured out what I’m gonna buy,” she states through a ragged breath not looking at me.
“A fuckin’ heavy bag,” she growls before unleashing vicious punches into the pillows. I stand in the doorway watching in amazement as she pummels the poor things.
Once she’s worn herself out, she collapses face first into the mattress and screams at the top of her lungs in anger. I shut the door and shrug out of my jacket before approaching her.
“Kat what’s goin’ on?” I ask from the end of the bed.
She pops up on her knees, shuffles over to me and starts waving her hands around crazily as she speaks.
“Did you know that there are parents that are millionaires that just abandon their children and force them to fend for themselves?” she screeches.
“Yes.” I thought this was common knowledge.
“Did you know they have to eat alone and sleep in houses with live-in staff?”
“It doesn’t surprise me.”
“Well, it shocked the shit outta me. And that was the easy part of my day, Nicky. Some motherfucker slammed Jake into a locker and held him against it by his throat, bruising him,” she seethes.
“What?” I growl low and menacing. Now I feel like accosting a pillow or two.
“You heard me. And Jake wasn’t gonna tell me. His new friends let it slip and then I had to drag it outta Jake. He doesn’t want me to do anything about it either. So instead, I’m up here beating the shit outta pillows which does nothing to release the fury boiling inside of me!”
“Why aren’t you wearin’ a shirt?”
“Really? That’s what you ask right now?” She rolls her eyes but continues. “I couldn’t get a good swing workin’ and I was gettin’ sweaty. I was tryin’ to preserve my outfit. Why the fuck aren’t you as pissed as me? Big talk this morning, you’re lettin’ me down a bit.”
“I don’t attack pillows when I’m pissed. I attack people. Get cleaned up. I’ll deal with this…like I told you this morning. I’ll take care of you both. Trust me,” I say trying desperately not to look at her tits, which are on display through her white lace bra.
“I may have also adopted three teenage boys,” she informs me like she’s talking about the weather.
“Is that right?”
“They’re left on their own all the time according to them. We have a gigantic house and I like to cook. I don’t think it should be an issue. I’m trying to find something to do and four teenagers is something to do.”
“It’s a lot to do. We are runnin’ an op here, Sunshine,” I point out.
“Well, I’m not a stripper suckin’ dick to get to my mark this time. I’m a housewife tryin’ to be brought into a tight knit fold. More kids, more ins. It’s not like we’re hiding tactical gear in the spare rooms.”
“I’m not arguing with you. I’m just talkin’,” I point out because I can feel her hackles rising. I’m also reminding myself to calm the fuck down because her talking about sucking dick to get to a mark makes me see red.
“I’m talkin’ to you too.”
“All right, so we’ve unofficially adopted three teenage boys?”
“You’re happy with this?”
“Then I’m fine with it.”
Her face goes soft and she throws her arms around my neck, squeezing me tight before smashing her lips roughly into my cheek with a wet smacking kiss. I’ve just taken a very calculated risk. Involving civilians in ops isn’t unusual. Taking on minors could prove disastrous. But the look beaming at me from Kat’s hazel eyes breaks any resolve I have to remain a professional right now. I’m just being her husband. An even greater risk.
“I have the best husband,” she squeals scurrying off the bed and racing to the bathroom. Totally worth it.
I roll up the sleeves on my shirt, make my way downstairs and out the backdoor in the space of a few seconds.
“Jake!” I shout getting all the boys’ attention.
He drops his head to his chest and palms the basketball. The other three look at me with fear on their faces. I ignore them and stalk onto the court to Jake.
I pull his chin up and find the bruise on his throat and take three deep breaths before speaking.
“What happened?” I growl.
“It’s not a big deal. I’m fine,” Jake huffs ripping his chin from my hand.
He’s a grown man and I’m treating him like a child, but for all intents and purposes, he’s my child for the foreseeable future so this is what he gets. We stare each other down for a few beats before a kid with black hair chimes in.
“Will Burke happened, Mister Johnson,” he says quietly.
“What’s your name?”
“Sawyer Lancaster,” he again says in a quiet voice. I’m scaring him.
“I’m Cole Bennington, Mister Johnson,” the kid with light blond hair says.
“Dane Ashcroft, sir,” the darker blond kid finishes.
They all look just like Jake except different hair and eye color. This’ll be fun to keep track of.
“I’m Nick. My wife’s informed me she adopted you boys this afternoon,” I say in a kinder voice.
None of them respond, just turn a little pink with embarrassment.
“They’re alone a lot,” Jake murmurs.
“You guys respect my home, my rules and above all my wife and you’re welcome to be here as often as you like.”
“Thanks,” Dane says through a giant smile. “Aunt Kay’s the shit by the way.”
“That she is,” I agree. “Now that we’re all acquainted I wanna know what the hell happened today.”
“Will’s ex told her posse that Jake was hot and he got all up in Jake’s shit about it,” Cole explains.
“How old is he?”
“Eighteen,” Sawyer huffs.
“How big is he?”
“He’s the same height as Jake,” Cole explains. “But he’s more filled out.”
Jake’s about six feet tall, but still kind of skinny. The other three are just starting to sprout up, all a few inches shorter than Jake.
“He puts his hands on you again you beat his fuckin’ ass,” I order.
“I’ll get kicked outta school. They’ve got a strict no fighting policy,” Jake quickly informs me.
“You let me worry about that. He puts his hands on you again you fuck him up.”
“Yes, sir.” He says it in a way that can be interpreted by the boys as respectful, but I recognize it as him obeying an order. They’re both true in some way.
“Can you fuck him up?” Dane asks shocked at my instruction.
“Yes,” Jake responds never leaving my gaze.
“I can’t wait for this shit,” Cole hoots with excitement.
“He touches you first, Jake,” I remind him.
“Go in and get cleaned up for dinner. You four gonna be playin’ ball most days while the weather’s good make sure you bring a change of clothes. I don’t wanna eat in a locker room.”
“You guys can borrow from me tonight,” Jake says to his friends as they all head for the house.
I follow the stinky boys inside to find them all staring into the kitchen in shock and awe. Kat is standing with her back to us at the stove doing something with food I suppose. Her hair is piled on top of her head in some kind of twisted thing that surely has a name that I don’t know. She’s got on a short sleeved navy sweater that’s falling off her shoulder halfway down her arm. The sweater stops abruptly at her waist where black skin tight spandex pants begin and leave nothing to the imagination all the way down to her ankles where her black high fuck me heels finish the show. She’ll be the death of me.
“Get movin’ guys,” I grunt.
“Twenty minutes boys,” Kat calls over her shoulder.
They all stumble away while Jake offers me a knowing smile. Teenagers.
“Wine?” I ask moving toward the basement door.
“I already got it.”
Fuck that means I have twenty minutes with nothing to do other than stare at her like a teenager. I head to the fridge and grab a beer before settling myself at the breakfast bar.
“Told Jake to fuck that kid up he puts his hands on him again,” I inform her.
“Good. I’m second in line once Jake wipes the floor with him,” she says seriously.
“Guess that means I get the leftovers.”
“Won’t be anything left when I’m done.”
We each go silent for a while as I listen to the boys banging around, showering and changing clothes. Kat finishes whatever she’s been working on at the stove and pulls out the roast. It smells like heaven in this house and the view is pretty fucking nice too.
“You look nice, Sunshine,” I finally break the silence.
“Nicky, these leggings still had the tags on ’em. They cost two hundred and seventy-five dollars! I’ve been instructed by the
to only wear them in the house or for brief errands. Is that insanity or is it just me?” Kat looks at me completely blown away by this.
“It’s a waste,” I grumble.
“Yeah when I can buy some leggings at Target for thirty bucks.”
“It’s a waste you can’t wear ’em to show off your legs and perfect ass,” I state pointedly.
“I’ve mostly been outfitted in dresses and skirts. I think my ass and legs will get plenty of public display for the neighbors and whatnot. Am I tryin’ to draw attention with my ass and legs?” she asks incredulously.
“Don’t think you’ve got much control on that front, Sunshine,” I say through a snort.
“Whatever,” she says rolling her eyes. I don’t think she gets that I’m complimenting her right now. “This isn’t about me bein’ some dim witted sex pot for the locals to ogle. It’s a fairly conservative space that I’m tryin’ to fit into.”
“We’re not very good at communicating. I’m complimenting you. You look great and it’s a shame the DCA has us in this conservative space because I could look at your ass and legs in those things all day long and never get sick of the view. But even in your conservative dresses, skirts and pants the view’s just as good.”
“Mindfuck,” she murmurs turning away from me.
“What’s a mindfuck?” Sawyer asks striding in the room with his black hair still wet, wearing a hoodie and gym shorts. He walks right up next to Kat and leans against her bare shoulder watching her work.
“Men,” Kat huffs.
The kid puts his arm around her waist in comfort like he’s had to do that a lot in his life. She leans her head against his and pauses what she’s doing.
“Group hug,” Cole bellows and runs into the room followed closely by Dane and Jake. The three take the remaining open parts of her body and squeeze the hell out of her until she giggles.
“All right you four, get off my wife and set the table,” I demand in a light tone that still lets them know I mean business.