Aisling went on and on about how being an aunt was a dream come true, which would have alarmed me about her life goals if it wasn’t for the fact she was about to finish med school and start her residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Athair shook Hunter’s hand like they’d signed a lucrative deal.
In a way, they had.
Gerald Fitzpatrick made it perfectly clear he expected heirs from his sons. Spawns to continue the Fitzpatrick legacy. I was the first in line, the eldest Fitzpatrick, and therefore was burdened with the mission not only to produce successors but to also ensure one of them was a male who would take the reins of Royal Pipelines, regardless of his love for business and/or capabilities.
If I hadn’t had children, the title, power, and fortune would all be given to the offspring next in line to the throne. Hunter’s kid, to be exact.
Athair—father in Irish Gaelic—gave his daughter-in-law an awkward pat on the back. He was big—in height, width, and personality—with a shock of silver hair, onyx eyes, and pale skin.
“Great job there, sweetheart. Best news we’ve had all year.”
I checked my pulse discreetly under the table.
It was under control. Barely.
Everyone’s heads turned to me. Ever since my father stepped down and appointed me as the CEO of Royal Pipelines less than a year ago, I’d been bumped up to the leader of the pack and took the seat at the head of the table during our weekend dinners.
“Aren’t you going to say anything?” Mother played with her pearl necklace, smiling tightly.
I raised my tumbler of brandy. “To more Fitzpatricks.”
“And to the men who make them.” Athair downed his liquor in one go. I met his jab with a frosty smirk. I was thirty-eight—eleven years Hunter’s senior—unmarried, and childless.
Marriage was very low on my to-do list, somewhere under amputating one of my limbs with a butter knife and bungee jumping sans a rope. Children weren’t an idea I was fond of. They were loud, the boring kind of dirty, and needy. I had been postponing the inevitable. Marrying had always been the plan because producing heirs and paying my dues to the Fitzpatrick lineage wasn’t something I’d dreamed of worming out of.
Having a family was a part of a bigger plan. A vision. I wanted to build an empire far bigger than the one I’d inherited. A dynasty that stretched across much more than the oil tycoons we currently were.
However, I had every intention of doing it in my late forties and with stipulations that would make most women run for the hills and throw themselves off said hills for good measure.
Which was why marriage had been off the table.
Until this week, when my friend and lawyer, Devon Whitehall, urged me to get hitched to douse some of the flames directed at Royal Pipelines and myself.
“Well, Athair,” I said tonelessly, “I’m happy Hunter exceeded your expectations in the heir-producing department.” The writing was on the wall, smeared in my brother’s semen from that time he dragged us all through PR hell with his sex tape.
“You know, Kill, sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.” Sailor shot me a piercing glare, taking a sip of her virgin Bloody Mary.
“If you were a selective conversationalist, you wouldn’t marry a man who thinks fart jokes are the height of comedy,” I fired back.
“Farts are the height of comedy.” Hunter, who was only half-evolved as a human, jabbed a finger in the air. “It’s science.”
Most days, I doubted he was literate. Still, he was my brother, so I had a basic obligation to tolerate him.
“Congratulations would have been sufficient.” Sailor poked the air with her fork.
“Bite me.” I downed my brandy, slamming the glass on the table.
“Dear!” Mother gasped.
“You know there’s a term for people like you, Kill,” Sailor grinned.
“Cunts?” Hunter deadpanned, pressing two fingers to his lips and dropping an invisible mic to the floor. One of the help poured two fresh fingers of brandy into my empty tumbler. Then three. Then four. I did not motion for her to stop until the alcohol nearly sloshed over.
“Language!” Mother threw another random word in the air.
“Yup. I speak at least two fluently—English and profanity.” Hunter cackled.
He also used the word “fuck” as a unit measurement (as fuck), engaged in grotesque carnage of the English language (“be seein’ ya,” “me thinks”) and up until marrying Sailor, had provided the family with enough scandals to outdo the Kennedys.
I, however, avoided sacrilege of any kind, held babies at public events (reluctantly), and had always been on the straight and narrow. I was the perfect son, CEO, and Fitzpatrick.
With one flaw—I wasn’t a family man.
This made the media have monthly field days. They dubbed me Cold Cillian, highlighted the fact I enjoyed fast cars and wasn’t a member of any charities, and kept running the same story where I rejected an offer to be on the cover of a financial magazine, sitting next to other world billionaires, because none of them, other than Bezos, was anywhere near my tax bracket.
“Close, honey.” Sailor patted Hunter’s hand. “Sociopaths. We call people like your brother sociopaths.”
“That makes so much sense.” Hunter snapped his fingers. “He really breathes new death into the room.”
“Now, now.” Jane Fitzpatrick, aka Mother Dearest, tried to calm the discussion. “We’re all very excited about the new addition to the family. My very first grandchild.” She clasped her hands, looking dreamily into the distance. “Hopefully one of many.”
So rich, for someone who had the maternal instinct of a squid.
“Don’t worry, Ma, I intend to impregnate my wife as many times as she’ll let me.” Hunter winked at his ginger bride.
My brother was the poster child for TMI. And possibly pubic lice.
The only thing stopping me from throwing up in my mouth at this point was that he wasn’t worth wasting food over.
“Gosh, I’m so jealous, Sail! I can’t wait to be a mother.” Ash balanced her chin on her fist, letting out a wistful sigh.
“You’ll make a wonderful mom.” Sailor reached over the table to squeeze her hand.
“To your imaginary kids with your brother-in-law.” Hunter threw a sautéed bite of potato into his mouth, chewing. Ash went crimson. For the first time since dinner began, I was faintly amused. My sister nurtured a hopeless obsession with Sam Brennan, Sailor’s older brother and a guy who worked for me on retainer.