Hunter kept checking his phone. Sailor wasn’t anywhere near ready to pop—she wasn’t even half-close to delivery—but he acted like she was the first human to give birth to another one.
Earlier today, Sam’s spies had texted me at nine a.m. that Persephone had arrived at the Arrowsmith household. She spent a whooping six hours there before going straight to a nursing home on the outskirts of Boston to visit her former grandmother-in-law. She was still out, probably bathing and dressing Greta Veitch, putting her to bed.
My wife, I had to admit, was either the most naïve or disloyal person alive. Possibly both.
One thing was for sure: for all her traits, she wasn’t the pushover I expected her to be. Not by a long mile.
Snippets of conversation sliced through the air, unable to penetrate my thoughts.
“…ripping him a new one. You have to calm down, Kill. You’ve been going so hard at Arrowsmith. You’re lucky people haven’t noticed yet.”
“Kill thinks luck is just lazy math.”
“Kill is not thinking at all. Check out his face. He looks like he is about to kick all of us out again so he can have a snuggling session with Wifey Dearest.”
Speaking of the she-devil, the door to the entertainment room burst open, and Hurricane Persephone thundered in. Raindrops scattered about her face and lips like tiny diamonds, a telltale sign of the showers pouring outside.
One premium cunt and I was down for the count.
It had been getting warmer and nicer recently, but this week, it’d been pissing rain.
The strong resemblance to the scene of Persephone accepting my proposal in front of my friends licked my gut, and I grinned, watching her with an air of amusement.
Finally, she’d come to her senses.
My wife slowed to a stop. By the time I realized she was clutching something in her curled fist, she tossed it at my chest. A soaked, heavy cloth slithered down my dress shirt.
I could almost hear Sam’s, Devon’s, and Hunter’s jaws as they slammed against the floor in unison.
“You’ve been following me!” Persephone thumped her open palms on the table and in one movement, wiped it clean of cards, glasses, and ashtrays. The contents of the table flew to the floor. “I found your stupid soldiers waiting by my car when I left Mrs. Veitch’s nursing home, so I decided to chase them. Got one guy’s beanie. The other was too fast.”
“Which one did you manage to catch?” Sam asked conversationally. “So I’ll know who to fire.”
Her gaze bolted in his direction. She pointed at him. “Shut up, Brennan. Just shut the hell up!”
I removed the now identified beanie from my abs, dumping the thing on the floor with a sneer. I knew an apology wasn’t on the table right now.
A Fitzpatrick never bowed down or cowered to his wife.
He married an agreeable woman who sired other agreeable women, and sons who were as impossible as they were awestruck by their fathers.
That was what I’d been taught.
That was what I’d lived by.
That was how I was going to die, too.
Hunter might have been an exception marrying for love, but he wasn’t the eldest. The leader of the pack. The man who’d been burdened with the task of carrying on all the family traditions.
Besides, I had a reputation to uphold.
“Back to hysterics, I see,” I commented blandly, smoothing my shirt. “Care to tell me something I don’t know? I told you about my plans last week. One of them was to have you tailed. Did you think I wasn’t going to follow through with my threats? Did you think you were…special?” I pouted sarcastically, feigning sadness.
Her eyes widened. We were both thinking the same thing. My so-called plans also included visiting my mistresses and humiliating her publicly.
“You’re following through on all your threats,” she said hoarsely. There wasn’t a question mark after the sentence. I knew I should back down. Every bone in my body told me to, but I had to seize the opportunity to prove to myself she didn’t mean anything to me. That she was nothing but a toy.
I smiled cruelly. “All of them.”
“Following me was against the contract,” she reminded me, having too much pride to mention the other thing I promised not to do.
“Actually, I found a loophole. Sam did the following. I only gave the order.” I winked.
“The devil is in the details.” Sam slouched in his seat, thoroughly entertained.
“Now, that’s just bad manners, Brennan. Show some respect to the mistress of the house.” I snapped my fingers in Sam’s direction, still staring at my wife. “Apologize.”
“My sincere apologies.” Sam bowed his head theatrically, laughing, enjoying ridiculing her. He wasn’t capable of loving a woman and didn’t want me to, either. “My heart bleeds for you.”
It was a peculiar choice of words, considering I’d taunted Persephone about her bleeding heart. I’d never told Sam—nor any other living soul—about the time I’d spent in the bridal suite with her.
The day I couldn’t stop thinking about for years afterward.
But Flower Girl didn’t know that.
Her face reddened, and she clutched the sides of her dress in her fists.
Now was a good time to tell her I did not tell Sam what happened.
That he didn’t know she poisoned herself.
Before I could do any of these things, Persephone turned around and disappeared like a fleeting ray.
All eyes were on me.
“Ready for my monster hand?” I leaned forward on the now empty table, fanning the cards I still held in my hand.
Devon rolled his eyes.
But Sam…Sam knew.
He looked at me with his calm, gray eyes that didn’t miss anything, big or small. Important or mundane.
I plastered my kings on the table and sat back.
Hunter and Devon choked.
“Goddamn.” Hunter smacked his cards on the rich oak. “You always win.”
I glanced at the empty doorway.
Not this time.
Three hours later, my friends were finally gone.
I climbed up the stairs, taking them two at a time. I was forty-five thousand dollars richer and a million times more likely to stab Sam Brennan in the face for his bad advice.
What on earth made me put surveillance on my wife? I already knew she was going to do as she pleased. And what did Sam know about women, anyway? He loathed the very idea of them unless they were his stepmother and sister.