The edge of dominance, p.6
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       The Edge of Dominance, p.6

         Part #4 of The Doms of Her Life series by Shayla Black
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  Liam frowned. “I can’t imagine what. If I hadn’t seen one of my sisters in years, I’d be elated to clap eyes on her again.”

  “If you had one, I can see that.”

  “Actually, love…” He gave her a sheepish grin. “I’ve got six of them.”

  At that, Raine stiffened. Her fingers went numb, and she dropped her phone. As it clattered to the floor, her eyes bulged. “Six? You never told me.”

  “Well, they live in Ireland. My parents are Catholic, love. So we’re a prolific bunch. I assumed you’d know I have siblings.” He shrugged. “Honestly, the subject never came up.”

  “Never. Came. Up?” Raine swore her head was going to explode. Her temper shot up with her blood pressure. She couldn’t take much more. She might be over a foot shorter than her men, but her temper could tower over them both. “So I’m the only one who has to cough up all the nitty-gritty details of my life? While you two hide all kinds of shit? And don’t talk to me about language, Liam O’Neill.” She wagged a finger at him. “First, it’s Hammer and his suicidal, pregnant wife. That might have been important for me to know. And now you have all these sisters I’ve never heard a word about?”

  “Raine, I suggest you take it down a notch.”

  When monkeys flew. “Tell me their names. Are they married? Do they have kids?”

  “A passel of them. I’m the youngest of the family, mind you. So they all have children.”

  She put a hand over her belly. “Our baby will have cousins. And I didn’t need to know that?”

  “Don’t be angry. I didn’t intentionally try to deceive you.”

  She narrowed her eyes at him, bouncing between hurt and fury. “You once said that I needed to tell you everything, including what I wanted for breakfast. You threatened me with a jar of pickles. So you not telling me about major branches of your family tree is a fucking problem for me.” She stomped her foot. “Maybe you didn’t tell me because you never intended to introduce me to them. Or our child.”

  “That was never my intention. Don’t think you haven’t met them because I’m not proud of you, love. We’ll go to Ireland, if you like.” He rubbed at the back of his neck. “The truth is, they’re a bit overwhelming.”

  “So you were sparing me, is that it?” Raine wanted to believe him…but at barely ten a.m., she had already reached her drama quotient for the day.

  “A wee bit, yes. You’ll see what I mean someday. Ask Hammer. He’ll tell you.”

  “He’s met them?”

  “They came to New York for Christmas one year. I think one or two had a crush on him, but he was married at the time,” Liam explained, then sent her a hopeful smile. “You look adorable when you’re mad, love.”

  “Don’t you dare try to sweet-talk your way out of this. Cough up the details. What else don’t I know?”

  “Well…” Liam hesitated, as if realizing that he might not be able to charm his way out of this mess. “Caitlyn is the oldest. She’s a bossy, wee thing. Meg will always be in your business. Full of questions, that one. Shauna and Rosaleen are twins. They’re two peas in a pod, finishing each other’s sentences. Funny thing is, they married brothers.”

  “Twins?” Was he kidding? She looked down at her stomach. “Twins run in your family?”

  “Don’t worry. Multiple births depend on the female. It’s to do with the number of eggs and…” He grimaced. “The next sister is Aisling. She’s the quiet one…mostly. But she’ll talk your ear off if she’s a mind to. And Maeve is a bloody handful. I almost feel sorry for her husband.”

  Raine was glad she was sitting or she might have fallen down. “Wow. So many.”

  “They’re more overwhelming than I can even explain. Be grateful they’re not here. But we were talking about River. Now that he’s reared his head, do you want to find him?”

  Raine knew the bait and switch when she heard it. Damn it, Liam was lucky she wasn’t hungry or she’d eat his balls for breakfast. “I don’t know. I need to think about it. I’ll be working on the nursery.”

  “Good idea, love. I’ll just…um, nip out to the club so I can retrieve that picture of Hammer and me that you wanted framed. How about that?” He looked relieved that he’d thought of a plausible escape, and it would be funny if she weren’t completely pissed off. And worried.

  Six sisters? And her brother was god knew where.

  “While you’re out, you rack that conniving Irish brain of yours for any other secrets you might be hiding from me. I want them all.”

  * * *

  The sound of workmen hammering away and a saw whining down the hall greeted Liam as he entered Shadows and made his way to Macen’s office. How the man managed to get any work done with all the racket was beyond Liam, yet there Hammer sat behind his desk, signing checks, seemingly oblivious—until he looked up and spied Liam.

  “If you’re here to dissect me, I’m not in the mood.”

  “Bugger that. I’ve got news.” Liam sank into the chair opposite with a sigh. “River surfaced.”

  “What do you mean…surfaced? Where is he? At the house?” Hammer leaned in, scowling. “You didn’t leave Raine alone with him, did you? We can’t until we know whether he’s a sick, violent bastard like their old man.”

  “Don’t be daft. I wouldn’t be here if he’d knocked on our door. The probate lawyer rang this morning and spoke to Raine.” Liam filled him in on the details. “She still doesn’t know where or how to find him.”

  “But she knows her long-lost brother is alive and that he hasn’t contacted her. I’m sure that upset her.”

  “Yes. He’s the last of her family, so I thought she’d welcome him with open arms. But she wasn’t dancing a jig. I think she’s wary.” He cocked his head. “I have this feeling it won’t be long before we see him.”

  “So we may have another Kendall male on our hands.” Hammer rose and rounded the desk, perching on the corner in front of Liam. He pinched the bridge of his nose. “This day just keeps swirling down the drain like a well-flushed toilet… I don’t like it. We don’t know much about River, except that he hasn’t seen Raine for over half her life. I hope he doesn’t think he can just show up and turn her world upside down.”

  “From what Raine said, he hated Bill. Maybe that’s a good sign.”

  “You don’t look as if you actually believe that.”

  Liam didn’t, and he hated to say so. Something about the man niggled at him… “I don’t know what to believe.”

  “He’s probably just a selfish bastard who wants half of Bill’s crap and won’t bother crossing paths with Raine. But it might be smart to ring Seth and see if he’s learned anything new about her brother.”

  “I’ll take care of it.”

  “Is Raine home alone now?”

  “She is, but I set the alarm before I left. It’ll be a bit before the contractors arrive.” Liam shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “But I had to leave before she lost any more of her temper.”

  Hammer grimaced. “Is she still pissed that I left? I didn’t mean to upset her, just think.”

  “She has every right to be angry, but no. After she got the call about River, we talked. I wish you’d been there to lend me that shit shovel I gave you earlier because I really put my foot in my gob.”

  “You did?” A smile played at Hammer’s lips. “How did that taste?”

  “I’ll bet Raine likes pickles more. I swallowed my toes down so far I think they’re lodged in my gut. Oh, but you should have seen her, Macen. She was the Raine we fell in love with, all full of vinegar and sass. Magnificent. I probably shouldn’t have told her that while she was upset.”

  “Yeah, never tell a woman she’s cute when she’s pissed off. What did you do that riled her up in the first place?”

  “We were talking about River…and I might have spilled the news that I have six sisters.”

  Macen’s eyes grew wide. “She didn’t know?”

  “No, I didn’t want to bloody scare her.”

&nbs
p; “That’s valid,” Hammer conceded. “Stupid but valid. How long did you think you could keep them a secret?”

  Liam wanted to be annoyed, but now that Raine wasn’t breathing fury at him, he saw the humor.

  “Honestly, I didn’t think about it at all. I certainly didn’t think she’d lose the plot when she found out. But I mentioned the nieces and nephews and that two of my sisters are twins…and her head spun like a top. I should have shut up then, but I got a case of verbal diarrhea and confessed that more than one had taken a fancy to you years ago. After she turned three shades of red, I thought I’d give her some time to cool off, so I told her I’d find that picture of the two of us. You know, the one she took the first night I arrived in LA. She wants it framed.”

  “So you escaped here?” Hammer chortled. “Jesus. I would have paid money to see you run.”

  “Stop laughing, you wanker. It’s not that funny.”

  “You’re right. It’s fucking hilarious.”

  “To you, maybe. But I’ve grown rather attached to my balls, and I’d like to keep them. I think you should stay home with Raine tonight and put her in a good mood. I’ll mind the club.”

  Hammer sent him a rueful smile. “Are you afraid of our girl?”

  “When she’s this feisty, I might be. She stomped her foot at me.”

  “Oh, that’s when you know she’s good and mad. I’m a little afraid of her then, too,” he confided. “She’ll forgive you…eventually. Don’t worry. Once she has, you can sneak into her purse and retrieve your penis.”

  “Bite me, you bastard.” Liam flipped him off for good measure. “This is a serious problem. She wants to meet the family.”

  Hammer’s smile froze in place. “Oh, shit.”

  “Precisely. I know I should have said something sooner, but I wanted the three of us to be more settled before I called the family.”

  “The whole family?”

  Had he gone mad? “I don’t think she’s ready for that.”

  But Liam knew he’d have to say something soon.

  “If she finds out before you cough all the details up, you’ll need a backhoe to shovel yourself off her shit list. How long do you think you’re going to hold them off?”

  Liam winced. “It’s not as if I have a choice now.”

  “Nope. I’m not surprised Raine wants to meet them. Unless River turns up and proves he’s not butt-fuck crazy, she doesn’t have any family.”

  “God, I must love that woman. All right. I’ll ease her into the family.” Liam gave a long-suffering sigh. “You’re enjoying my problem, aren’t you?”

  “Yep.” Macen gave him an unrepentant grin. “What’s your next step?”

  “I have to give our little hellcat time to calm down. Whatever I say now will only overwhelm her.”

  “Especially after everything that happened this morning.” Hammer sighed. “It didn’t go well.”

  “No. We can’t go on this way, Macen.”

  Hammer wasn’t laughing now. “I know. And I need to handle my shit. I just don’t know how to do it any faster.”

  As frustrating as waiting was, Macen’s admission gave Liam hope. It was a step forward. Hopefully, he and Raine could break through the stubborn man’s walls.

  “I’ll help you any way I can.”

  “Thanks. If you and Raine weren’t everything to me, I wouldn’t bother.”

  He wouldn’t. As much as Liam had wanted to throttle the man earlier, he finally had hope that Macen was trying to resolve his issues, maybe for the first time ever.

  “Just don’t give up. We need you.”

  Somewhere between grim and resigned, Hammer nodded. “How about we find that photo? I can think of a few others stashed in her old room she might want around the house. Maybe that will make her smile.”

  “I’m thinking it would, along with some of those chocolate donuts she’s been craving.”

  “You’re bribing her. And you called me a coward?”

  Liam shrugged and grinned wryly. “I have to make peace with her somehow.”

  “Good point.” Hammer stood. “I’ll help you look through the pictures. We’ll call Seth together, then you can pick up your sugary offering.”

  Behind him, Liam scraped out of his chair and followed. “Good thinking. But let’s not make it too quick, mind.”

  Macen withdrew the club’s keys from his pocket as they headed toward Raine’s old room. But when they reached the door that should have been locked, it stood ajar.

  Worry danced up Liam’s spine. “Are you remodeling her room, as well?”

  Hammer shook his head and frowned.

  They both went on alert, shoulders squared, jaws set. If someone uninvited was poking around Raine’s space, they would make it clear the place was off-limits.

  Macen flung the door open, hurtling it against the wall. Together, they rushed through the doorway. Senses heightened, Liam scanned the room.

  A tall man in a construction vest had invaded Raine’s private space, glaring as he clutched a handful of photos. He zipped around to meet them.

  The man looked familiar—about thirty years old, brown hair, blue eyes, firm jaw. He wore an expression filled with hate.

  “Who the hell are you? What are you doing here?” Hammer demanded.

  “I’m here for Raine.” He sneered. “I assume you’re Master Pervert, her pimp…” Then he growled at Liam. “That would make you her john and her baby daddy, right?”

  Chapter 4

  Hammer had seen this guy before but he couldn’t recall where. The tall, square-faced menace had broad shoulders and wore a glare that pelted him with fury. He’d used the same slur Bill Kendall always had. And Macen definitely knew those eyes.

  They mirrored Raine’s.

  Son of a bitch. This must be River.

  And Hammer remembered now where he’d seen this scum sucker before. The morning Raine had been attacked, he’d been the guy in the emergency room hiding behind a damn magazine, watching him and Liam so closely.

  “I am not her pimp any more than you’re a construction worker.”

  “Nor am I her john,” Liam growled. “River Kendall, I presume?”

  “Yeah. Where the fuck is my sister? Do you degenerates have her chained up on her knees somewhere?”

  Hammer lunged into Kendall’s face, barely managing not to pulverize the prick—and only because Raine would be pissed. Besides, if River pressed charges, he’d leave her short one protector. “Not today.”

  “But you admit you have?” Kendall grabbed a picture from the dresser and slapped it into Hammer’s chest. “I’m not surprised. The news called her a sex worker. I know you’ve been fucking her since she was a minor.”

  “Your daddy tell you that? Sounds like you listened to every line of shit he fed you.”

  “Don’t lie to me. You been pimping her out all this time? Yeah, especially to your buddy O’Neill.”

  “He hasn’t,” Liam insisted. “Hold on. There’s been a misunder—”

  “I’m not misunderstanding anything. This picture proves he’s a
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