Authors: Tymber Dalton
He rubbed his forehead. He’d been doing that a lot over the past few months. “I’m okay, sweetheart. How are things in Florida?”
“They’re good.” Her mother wouldn’t let her help with dinner, wanted her to spend time with her dad. “We’re starting a new magazine to go with the show. It comes out next month.”
He nodded. “That’s good. Real good, sweetheart.”
His pleasant acceptance and well wishes unnerved her in a way. Until the night of the “Ohio Shoot Incident,” her father had been, literally, a fire
brimstone preacher. Ryan assured her he didn’t really do anything to him, just helped him accept her life as it was. She wasn’t sure that was the whole story.
It was also odd how, despite knowing her father had despised him, Will encouraged her to spend as much time as she could in Columbus with her parents. He was either the world’s best son-in-law
be, or maybe he knew something she didn’t.
“Are you having another headache, Daddy?”
He smiled and patted her hand. “Nothing bad. Just the usual.”
Her mom set the table. “Kenneth, you are going to the doctor whether you like it or not. I’m calling for an appointment tomorrow.”
“That’s not necessary. I told you, both my parents suffered migraines. I’m sure that’s all it is.”
“Daddy, if you’re in pain, why don’t you let the doctors take care of it?”
“You don’t need to spend your time worrying about me, sweetheart. Now tell me about your new magazine.”
That shocked her. He’d been against her working on the Otherworlds show once he found out it was all about hunting ghosts and other paranormal phenomenon. Until the “Ohio
ncident.” Now he wasn’t against it, but he rarely asked her about her job.
“It’s…Jeff’s the editor.”
Let’s see how that plays in Paducah.
Her father nodded. “That’s good. He’s very talented. I’m glad he’s happy working with you.”
She hadn’t broken the news to him yet that Aidan and Jeff were an item. That could wait.
Until Atlanta froze over.
She was simply happy her father seemed to finally accept Will Hellenboek would be his son-in-law.
* * * *
Kal stayed for an hour
had a nice visit. She’d be back in three days for another appointment with her mother for more wedding
planning madness. They were trying to keep everything quiet so the paparazzi didn’t invade the ceremony, although Ryan had assured Kal he’d take care of that.
Why not? He was already performing the ceremony at Kal’s request. After all, he’d brought them together, how fitting for him to officiate. A Baptist minister’s daughter getting married by the Devil, in a church, to an archdemon.
Talk about irony.
She kissed her mom and dad good-bye before driving away. When she was a few blocks from their house, she turned onto a quiet side street and pulled over.
He appeared in the passenger seat. “Ah. All done, are we?”
She smiled. “Thank you for this. I really appreciate it.”
He patted her hand. “No problem, love. Anything, you know that.”
She leaned over and gave him a big hug. “I’m coming back in a couple of days.”
“Right. Just let me know when.”
“You sure you don’t mind driving the car back?”
“If I minded, I wouldn’t have said it was all right. Ready to go home? Or would you prefer the office?”
She glanced at her watch. “Office, I think.”
“Don’t forget your purse.”
She retrieved it from the backseat. “Thanks, Ry.”
“Close your eyes, love.” She did. He muttered something under his breath, his voice disappearing as she felt the shift.
* * * *
After Ryan sent her back to Tampa, he closed his eyes and deeply inhaled. It was tempting to put his nose to the driver’s seat and sit there sniffing the upholstery all night.
With a sigh he got out, walked around the car to the driver’s door, and climbed back in. He winced when he banged his knee on the steering wheel—he’d forgotten to ask her to move the seat. The seat still felt warm from her body.
He tried not to let his mind drift in that direction as he drove to his office.
He would return home to Atlanta after taking the car to the garage. While he could easily transport it to the garage with his powers, it would be difficult to explain if someone witnessed him doing it.
He didn’t mind the drive. It allowed him more time with his thoughts and memories without any intrusions.
If only the world could be different.
Kal’s scent slowly faded from inside the car. Will knew, as did Aidan, that in her previous life, Kal had been Will’s murdered soul mate, Abby. Ryan hated doing that to them, but Will had been trying to die
and all other attempts throughout the years to bring Will back to The Firm had failed.
Ryan couldn’t, however, tell them Abby had been his Chloe in a previous life.
Then he went and nearly blew it when he let it slip to Kal that Abby had been the reincarnation of his soul mate. He didn’t think she had put the pieces together yet. If she had, he felt certain she would have asked him about it. And if he made a point of telling Aidan to keep his mouth shut about Chloe, that would almost guarantee the information slipping out. Frankly, Ryan was surprised Aidan hadn’t spilled the beans yet.
Perhaps he’d finally mastered that damn big mouth of his.
Traffic was light as he made it to downtown and pulled into the parking garage. One last deep breath as the faintest traces of Kal’s scent still lingered.
He’d never deny he loved her still. In his heart, Kal was and would always be his soul mate, no matter who she was today. With her alive, even as a different person, he could never bring himself to love another.
But he would never admit it to anyone else. She was Will’s soul mate again, would be his wife. For the greater good, that’s the way it had to be.
As head of The Firm, Ryan couldn’t allow emotions, even his own, to blind him to the big picture. Ultimately, he was responsible for the safety of mankind.
Kal opened her eyes and found herself in the office she shared with Aidan. Aidan wasn’t behind his desk. Kal stuck her head out the door to see who was still there. Jeff’s light was on. She walked down the hall and pushed his door all the way open. She found him hunched over his computer, the layout software open, still working on the magazine.
“Hey, you okay?”
He nodded, then leaned back. His back audibly cracked. “Yeah, just double
checking the proofs on this. I’m still catching stuff. It seems like no matter how hard I try
I keep missing typos.”
She sat next to him. “We can go over this tomorrow. It’s late. You should get home.” He wasn’t living with Aidan—yet—but she knew they spent a lot of time together. The two men didn’t openly talk about their relationship with others, even though around their immediate “family” Aidan and Jeff engaged in small, innocent displays of affection like they had earlier.
“I’m not in a rush. He’s out with Will and the others on a shoot.”
“Oh, crap!” She clapped a hand over her mouth as Jeff laughed.
“You’re still not down with the whole swearing thing, are you?”
“I forgot about the shoot tonight!”
“Don’t worry about it. It’s an easy one, a private residence. Will called Cabrio in to help.”
She felt guilty about sloughing off her show duties. She had to get a better handle on this. “These wedding plans are driving me crazy. I wish I’d just eloped with him. This is nuts.”
“Be thankful at least
She playfully shoved him. “Yeah, who knew your dad would take the news so well? I’m sorry my dad hounded you all those years.” Jeff had come out to his parents before moving to Tampa. They’d been surprisingly supportive
considering Jeff’s father’s active role as deacon in Kal’s father’s church, and being Kal’s father’s longtime friend.
He shrugged. “Shocked the hell out of me.” He realized what he said, looked at her, and they both laughed.
Jeff had also accepted the news about Aidan’s true identity quite well. Once Ryan helped Aidan and Will prove it.
True love knows no bounds
, Kal figured.
At least Jeff didn’t have to get possessed by a wraith and lose his virginity in the process to be inducted into the inner circle.
“You need a ride home?” Jeff asked.
“I suppose I do. Will brought me in this morning. I don’t want to interrupt him on a shoot.” Not to mention she didn’t want to bother Ryan again.
“How about we stop for a snack on the way? My treat. Give me ten minutes to finish here.”
* * * *
They stopped for ice cream on the way home and spent an hour laughing and talking. Kal really did like Jeff now that neither of them were resentfully avoiding parental involvement in their personal lives. Jeff was good for Aidan. Kal had seen a new sparkle in Aidan’s eye over the past few weeks as the men grew closer. She wasn’t sure what level their relationship had progressed to, but it was obvious the men cared deeply for each other.
Ryan had arranged an apartment for Jeff in Will’s condo complex. Regardless of what Will, Aidan, Purson, and Geryon thought about Ryan, the very fact that Ryan didn’t bust Aidan’s balls, even playfully, over the request was more proof to Kal that there was a caring heart deeply hidden behind a lot of pain in Ryan’s soul.
Jeff walked her to her door and waited until she was safely inside. Kal turned on the lights and settled in bed in front of the TV, waiting for Will’s call. Around ten
thirty, he did.
“Did I wake you up?”
“I wasn’t asleep yet.”
“Did you have a good visit with your parents?”
“Yes. Mom’s going to make Daddy go see a doctor over his headaches. They’re getting worse.”
“That’s good. So what kind of flowers?” Did Will hesitate a moment? She couldn’t be sure.
“I don’t know. I’ll be honest, we looked at so many, I just narrowed it down and told Mom to choose. You know I hate that kind of stuff.” Kal groaned. “I wish we’d eloped.”
His warm, rolling laugh filled her with desire. “Too late now, honey. We’ll get through it. If you need my help, let me know.”
“Thanks.” She thought about it, and finally said it. “I’m just glad you and Ryan put your differences aside for me. I think it’s sweet. That alone is a big stress off of me.”
“Anything for you, sweetheart,” Will murmured. “You know that. I’ll be home around five in the morning. Love you.”
She smiled. “Love you, too.” Kal settled in bed, knowing she wouldn’t sleep well without Will.
* * * *
He popped in around two in the morning to check on her, found her asleep and the bedroom TV still on.
He smiled and leaned over, gently kissing her.
She murmured in her sleep and clutched his pillow tightly to her.
“I love you,” he whispered before disappearing back to the location.
Aidan looked up from the base setup, tonight cramped quarters in the back of the larger cargo van. “How is she?”
“She fell asleep with the TV on.” He pulled his mind back to the job at hand. “You going to check on Jeff?”
Aidan smiled and shook his head. “We’re not quite there yet.”
“I thought you two were an item.”
Aidan shrugged, not meeting Will’s gaze. “We’re still in the flirting and
getting to know each other
stage. I don’t want to rush him. We spend a lot of time together. We talk a lot.”
“So you two haven’t—”
Aidan glared at Will. “
. I sooo did not get all
over you and Kal when you first got together, okay? Lay off.”
Will laughed. “Sorry.” He didn’t let it drop, couldn’t resist the urge to playfully tease Aidan. “Kal thinks he’s got a cute ass.”
tell me your fiancée is checking out my boyfriend.” But he smiled when he said it.
“Then you two
“Aw, come on! Don’t bust my balls about this tonight, huh?” He sighed and looked at Will. “We haven’t ‘done’ anything.” He used finger quotes. “I’m waiting for him to let me know what he’s comfortable with. He’s only what, barely a couple of months out of the closet, not even that. I’ve got forever to wait, dude. I’m willing to wait.”
Will smiled. “You are, huh?”
“Yeah.” Aidan realized what he’d said. “Okay, so yeah, I really like him. I swear, if you and Ryan sic a wraith on him, I’ll kick both your asses to home and back!”
“I don’t think Ryan’s stupid enough to pull that trick twice.” Will frowned. That was such a mixed bag. Yes, he was glad he was now soul mates with Kal, but there was still something deeper there on Ryan’s agenda he hadn’t quite put his finger on. What Ryan had done to bring him and Kal together was sneaky, and supposedly arranged simply to get him back to The Firm. Will suspected more. It couldn’t be that cut
dry with Ryan.
It never was.
* * * *
Cabrio caught something on the FLIR camera. When Purson helped him check the room again, he realized they were dealing with an intelligent haunt. Purs had arrived late on the scene, after setup was complete, so he had to conceal his irritation as he worked with clueless Cabrio to gather evidence.