Their virgin secretary, p.39
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       Their Virgin Secretary, p.39

         Part #6 of Masters of Ménage series by Shayla Black
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  “Stupid fuck.” Gates was bleeding but still on his feet. “I’m going to kill you all.”

  He stood over Kellan, pointing the gun straight at his heart. Kellan swallowed, couldn’t breathe. It felt like there was a hundred pound weight sitting on his chest.

  “I already called the cops.” He forced the words out. He couldn’t move his damn hand, but he could buy Eric a second or two. All that mattered was Belle.

  The sirens were growing closer, the wail distinct now.

  Gates’s eyes narrowed. “Fuck. You stupid son of a bitch! Now I just have to kill you faster. Mike!”

  “He’s dead. And Helena is passed out. You’re alone,” Kellan warned.

  Gates leveled the gun. Then suddenly, his head snapped forward, his eyes glazing over.

  Eric stood behind him, the umbrella in his hand. He might have been a football player before, but the man could bat like a fucking pro.

  His partner. His friend.

  Gates fell to the side, and Eric kicked both of the guns out of the way and raced toward him.

  Suddenly, Belle was there too, tears in her gorgeous eyes. “Oh, god, Gates shot his lung. What do we do?”

  Kell could hear the panic in her voice, but the world seemed to be retreating. Darkness started at the edge of his peripheral vision and began clouding his sight.

  And that was when he saw them. Three women. They stood behind Eric. One was older, but still incredibly beautiful. She wore a pretty white dress and a delicate straw hat on her head. Belle would look like this woman one day, when age had matured her, giving her a countenance of beautiful wisdom. Two younger women stood beside her. They were also dressed in white, though they seemed to be wearing clothing from an earlier decade. They looked like sisters.

  What were they doing standing in this room?

  The older woman smiled at him, giving Kellan a look of such beatific peace that it filled him, warming him when he’d been getting so cold before. She looked down at him.

  Thank you.

  She held out both of her hands and the girls took them, threading their fingers together.

  We’re done here, son, but you’re not. You hold on. My baby girl needs all her men. And you tell her a cleansing will work now. The demon who lives here has been defeated. He can’t hurt these girls anymore. They’re free, and so am I. Bring new life to this place, son. It’s a good house again.

  What the fuck? That couldn’t be Belle’s grandmother. He didn’t believe in ghosts.

  She frowned. Such language. And you might not believe in ghosts, but this one believes in you. Hold on, Kellan Kent. If you want a future, fight for your life now.

  Just before he passed out, he could have sworn he saw a light.

  Yeah, he wasn’t going to walk into it. He had things to do here like marry the woman of his dreams and live happily ever after with her and his best friends.

  Kellan let the darkness take him.

  Chapter Twenty-One

  Kellan frowned at Eric. The sounds of the party around him filled the space and made it hard to hold a conversation with someone two feet away. When Belle threw a party, she got serious. Now that the common rooms of the house had been painted and furnished, their floors refinished to a gleam, she’d insisted on planning a party for all their friends to show off the house.

  But only after he’d assured her he was going to make a full recovery from his bullet wound. At the beginning of his recovery, Belle had proven to be a hard taskmaster when it came to his rehab.

  “Are you absolutely sure it wasn’t you?” Kellan asked, searching for Belle across the crowded room.

  When he found her, his heart seized up. She looked luminous in a snowy white cocktail gown, the color contrasting with the gorgeous mocha of her skin. It skimmed over her every curve and showed off her truly juicy ass.

  “I swear to you I didn’t push you out of the way,” Eric promised. “I had barely gotten up the stairs when that first shot rang out. I was behind Gates. How would I have pushed you? Your memory of that night is probably fuzzy. Are you sure you’re feeling all right? Maybe you’ve done too much too fast.”

  Besides the fact that he was becoming more and more certain that he’d been saved by a trio of sweet-faced ghosts, he was feeling positively chipper. Well, his body was in good condition. His head was still fairly messed up, but he was going to deal with that problem tonight.

  “I’m fine. I saw my personal physician when I was in Chicago.” He’d only gotten back to New Orleans a few hours before. He’d been surprised to realize just how much he’d missed the place. A week back in the city he’d called home for the last several years had proven to be illuminating. He’d thought he’d easily settle back in, but he’d longed for the sultry heat of New Orleans, for the smell of strong coffee and beignets in the morning. He’d missed so much about the city. He’d especially missed hearing Belle laugh.

  Eric’s smile became tight, a sure sign he was annoyed. “How was Chicago?”

  His friend likely thought he’d spent his time there working to reestablish himself. Kellan had given that notion some thought. Even after his near-death experience, the need to build walls, to make himself safe had been so strong. He’d awakened in the hospital with Belle asleep at his side, while Tate and Eric paced the floor. They had been steadfast through his recovery, and yet some part of him had still felt the urge to distance himself. He’d been so savaged by Lila and his father that he’d been reluctant to jump into his forever with two feet.

  “It was nice. The office was actually in pretty good shape. Sequoia has strewn plants all around the place though,” Kellan said, taking a drink of the rum punch Belle had made. “Says the environment is more organic that way.”

  Eric shook his head.

  New Orleans jazz played through the living room, but the sweetest sound was Belle’s giggle as she joked with her best friend. Kinley Anthony-Anders said something else, and Belle threw her head back and laughed with unselfconscious joy.

  There was a deep part of him that would likely always want to hide and protect himself, to build those walls no one could climb. He wasn’t listening to that bastard anymore. How could he? Forced to choose between that voice and Belle… No contest. He was home now and he was going to stay here. But it was fun to fuck with Eric’s head.

  “We need to decide what to do with Sequoia actually. His internship is supposed to last another six months, after all.” There was a little question in Eric’s voice.

  Well, if he wanted to know what Kell intended to do with his future, he would have to be more straightforward. “He’s cool. I mean, he’s still fucking weird, but I think I can handle him for another couple of months. I left him with enough to do until I can get back up there.”

  Which would be next week. It was past time to start hiring associates who would run the Chicago branch. Sometimes Eric and Tate just didn’t think big enough. They didn’t have to lose their clients. They simply had to grow.

  The way he had to grow.

  Eric frowned. “Well, I hope you’re here long enough to see all the indictments come down now that we’ve turned the client list over. You know Gates is already behind bars, as is Helena. The judge Gates had been protecting got arrested last night. He was a very frequent customer, from Marie Wright’s days, all the way until just before Karen Ehlers’s murder. They’ve barely scratched this guy’s surface, and already it looks as if the feds will file corruption charges against him. Some other names are being tossed around as clients of Ehlers—senators, athletes, university officials, even a rock star or two.”

  “I’d definitely enjoy seeing what happens with the case,” Kell said with a grin.

  Tate approached, wearing a big, sloppy grin. Damn. When Kell had first started hanging out with Eric, he’d tolerated Tate because they’d seemed like a package deal. The big dork had grown on him quickly. Now Kell couldn’t imagine living without him.

  “Hey, how was Chicago?” The shit-eating grin on Tate’s face let
Kellan know the big guy was far more aware of what he’d been doing up north than Eric.

  The fucker still had him tagged. At one point, Kell would have regarded it as a horrible invasion of his privacy, but now it just felt like someone gave a damn about him. “I don’t know. You tell me.”

  Eric sighed. “You didn’t.”

  Tate shrugged. “He’s been in the hospital. He shouldn’t have been traveling. I had to keep tabs on him. Besides, I didn’t need to tag his phone to hear what he was doing. I just had to talk to Jeremy from Petty and Associates.”

  Yeah, he was never going to be able to slide much past Tate. “I thought he would be good to head up litigation. He got passed over for partner and he’s hungry.”

  Eric’s eyes widened. “You’re taking on new partners?”

  Tate grinned. “Nope. We’re taking on new partners because we won’t be in Chicago enough to keep the firm running, but I don’t want to give up the income. Do you?”

  A huge grin broke across Eric’s face. “Now that you mention it, Belle has very expensive tastes. Do you know how much this master bedroom renovation will cost? We need the money just to feed her need to make things pretty.”

  Eric had accepted him back. Kell was finally coming home. A weight lifted off him and he felt lighter than ever.

  From the other side of the room, Belle looked up and her eyes sparkled as she caught sight of him. He could see her relieved sigh. She’d thought he wouldn’t return. He couldn’t blame her for fearing he would walk away for good. He’d started to a hundred times. But the thought of never holding her again had stopped him. He intended to prove to her that he was a changed man. He’d changed for her. Because of her.

  After a quick hug, Belle left Kinley and approached him with a wariness in her eyes that saddened him. She slid into his embrace, but didn’t give him her usual full-body cuddle.

  Obviously, she had no idea he’d come back to stay.

  “Hey, Kellan. I’m so glad you could make it back for the engagement party.” Her smile was gorgeous but didn’t quite reach her eyes. “How was Chicago?”

  His whole body went on alert the minute she got near him. Blood thrummed through his system, racing to get to his cock because it had been far too long since he’d been inside her. “Chicago was fine, but DC was a little more interesting.”

  Everyone stopped, all three of them staring at him. It was good to know he could still surprise them.

  Eric reared back in shock. “What on earth did you do in DC?”

  “Shit. Did you kill someone?” Tate looked wide-eyed. “Because you really should have called us, man. We would have helped bury the body.”

  It was good to know he could count on Tate if he ever needed to murder someone.

  Kell laughed. “I didn’t kill anyone.” Though he had laid a couple of his demons to rest. “I went to see my father.”

  Belle had tears in her eyes as she looked up at him. “You wanted to mend the rift between you?”

  He hadn’t changed that much. “Hell, no. I looked the asshole in the eye and told him what I thought of him. And then I told him I wanted to be part of the family again—and not because I’m desperate to get in good with dear ol’ dad.”

  Belle reached for him. “You want to know your brother.”

  His brother. Harrison Kent was a toddling ball of energy being raised by nannies and housekeepers. He would be sent to boarding school in a few years, poor guy. His brother was innocent, and he needed to know that he always had a place with someone who would care no matter what. Kellan intended to give his brother what he’d never had—someone who understood him, someone who loved him for who he was, not what he could accomplish or who he could crush on his rise to the top.

  “I do. I don’t know how much contact Dad and Lila will let me have, but I’ll take whatever I can get.”

  He’d finally figured something out. He didn’t have to be perfect for the people he loved. He just had to be there. With them. Through everything.

  “I’m so glad,” Belle said. She kissed him on the cheek. “Kellan, I’m truly happy for you.”

  “How long is this party going to take?” He was anxious to get to the good part.

  “It’s winding down now,” Belle explained. “Kinley’s getting tired. The pregnancy is rough on her, but she’s so happy I don’t think she cares.”

  Tate leaned over and kissed her. “I’ll have the caterers start wrapping up.”

  Eric shook his hand. “Good to have you back. I’ll start gently moving people toward the exits. We have a lot to talk about.”

  They did.

  And Belle had to answer a question before she spent the night serving her Masters.

  All three of them.

  * * * *

  Belle tried to calm her shaky nerves as she let Sir back inside. The house was quiet, the guests and caterers gone. The place was back into shape for the next day. She was going to start meeting with clients tomorrow and her first ones would likely prove to be fairly easy, since Eric and Tate wanted her to decorate their brand new offices here in New Orleans.

  She would miss having them with her all day, but she wouldn’t miss the masses of paperwork and computers underfoot and on her grandmother’s antique surfaces. They were all starting fresh.

  How long would Kellan stay with them?

  She patted her puppy’s head and settled him into his little dog bed they kept in the kitchen. She would have let him sleep in her room, but Eric had nearly killed the little thing by rolling on top of him because Sir wouldn’t stay off the bed. Despite the fact that their new bed was built big enough for four, Sir always tried to sleep right against someone.

  Was Kellan going to take her up on her offer? Was he going to visit her for sex, then go back to his life in Chicago? It had seemed all right when she’d made the offer weeks ago, but now she wasn’t sure she could surrender herself to him all night, then watch him leave the next morning.

  After discovering that none of the men were in the living room or the library, Belle started up the stairs. She’d watched them talking together through the end of the party. They’d had their heads together, and their conspiratorial air had given her pause. What were they up to? They’d given every appearance of plotting and planning together. Had they been deciding how to tell her she’d have two husbands, not three?

  Belle stopped just short of the third floor. When she closed her eyes, she could still see Kellan lying on her bedroom floor, wounded. Bleeding. That night, she’d been so scared he would die. She’d pressed her hands to his body, as if trying to push her life force into him. She’d refused to let him go then. She wasn’t sure she could do it now.

  No matter what he told her tonight, she couldn’t give up on him. He had a second chance. So did she. Belle intended to fight harder than ever.

  Resolve settled over her like a warm blanket. Kell was evolving. He’d gone to DC and confronted his father. He’d reached out to start a relationship with his brother. Those two things had been inconceivable a few weeks before. But now, Kellan was accepting his past in a way he never had. She had to believe he’d come around in time. She would wear him down, give him so much love he wouldn’t be able to say no to her in the end.

  She opened the door, ready to don something sexy and fight for her reluctant man as she seduced the other two.

  But Kellan stood in the middle of the room, looking absolutely perfect in his suit and tie. Eric and Tate flanked him. Someone had transformed the place.

  Belle looked around in complete wonder. “How did you do this?”

  Everywhere she looked, the room seemed soft and romantic. At least a hundred candles lit the room with gauzy splendor. And dozens of bouquets of her favorite flowers, calla lilies, lay all around the room.

  “Haven’t you figured it out yet?” Kellan asked, his voice tight with some unnamed emotion. “This place is magical.”

  Tears filled her eyes. “I thought it was haunted.”

  “Not anymore,
Eric said with a gentle smile. “Not since we found a real medium to cleanse the place.”

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