Authors: Glenna Sinclair
The Callahans, Book 2
Bonus: My second box set. Enjoy!
Copyright © 2016
All Rights Reserved
. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
Table of Contents
I stood in front of the mirror and studied my reflection. I wasn’t the kind of girl who liked to stare at herself for long, but I was wearing my wedding dress, so I figured this could be considered one of those exceptions that everyone always manages to find when doing something they don’t really want to be caught doing. Tomorrow was my wedding day. I was going to walk down the aisle—by myself since my father was busy attending his own wedding clear across the country—and commit myself to the man I loved first thing tomorrow morning. We would exchange our vows in front of our friends—the only people who truly loved us—and party all afternoon as if it was the first wedding ever. Then we were due to fly to the Bahamas tomorrow evening, off to begin our life as husband and wife.
I was getting married.
I stared a moment longer, loving the way the lace and satin flowed from my curves. I was not a conventional bride—hence the pink hair—but I thought I was kind of pretty. I wondered what my dad would say if he could see me…then reminded myself that I was angry with him and I didn’t want him here. It was easy to convince my head, not so easy to convince my heart. Brian was…he was my father in every sense of the word except biology.
I was adopted when I was ten. Well, technically, I was never adopted because of some snafu with the paperwork downtown or something. But the Callahans took me in and raised me as their own. Abigail and Brian Callahan. They loved me, I know they did. But then Abigail got sick and Brian didn’t tell me until it was too late to spend any time with her. And then Ian, one of my five brothers, told me that Brian had a biological daughter all this time that none of us knew about. Just when I was on the verge of forgiving him for cutting me out of Mom’s final days, he goes and replaces me with some girl he’d just met.
Brianna. She was even named after him.
A part of me desperately wanted my dad here for my wedding. My dad and my brothers. But another part of me…
I could see him now, through the windows in my living room. Killian. He was my oldest brother—the oldest of Abigail and Brian’s two biological sons—standing on the street in front of my building like he thought I couldn’t see him. Like he couldn’t see me, standing there in my wedding gown. I knew that was Brian’s doing. He was watching over me as if I was a child, making sure I didn’t do anything I shouldn’t. Whatever that might be. It was infuriating. They treated me like I was still that messed up ten-year-old girl my mom—who happened to be my social worker at the time—brought home one night when she couldn’t find a better foster home for me.
My biological family, if you could call it that, consisted of a mom who disappeared when I was less than a month old and a father who was so brokenhearted by her disappearance that he fell into a bottle and never found his way out. I was eight when he died, in and out of foster and group homes until Abigail Callahan became my social worker. I was a handful by then, a ten-year-old who’d pretty much raised herself. Things that should have made Abigail want to pull her hair out made her smile. She was so happy to have me around, so thrilled to have a little girl to counterbalance some of the testosterone at home, that I could have done a line of cocaine at her kitchen table and she would have found the silver lining in that particular cloud.
And tomorrow I became a part of a new family. My own family.
I wished Mom were here to see it.
I went back to the bedroom and reached behind me to undo the long line of buttons that held the dress to my body. I was nearly to the last when my cell phone rang. I smiled when I saw my fiancé’s smile looking up at me from the wide screen.
“Hi, baby,” I said softly. “You know we’re not supposed to—”
I frowned, fear cold in the center of my chest. “Who is this?”
“My name is Jane Fromer. I’m a nurse at Western Medical Center.”
“Why are you calling me on Davis’ phone? What’s happened?”
“I’m sorry to inform you that Mr. Grant was brought into our emergency room with a gunshot wound to the chest. The doctors did the best they could, but they were unable to save him.”
My knees went weak, but I didn’t give in to it. I ran to the living room windows and searched the street below.
Killian wasn’t there.
I shook my head. “No,” I whispered.
“Ms. Callahan, we need you to make arrangements for Mr. Grant’s body. You were listed as his next of kin in his phone, but if there’s someone else I could call…?”
He was gone. Where was he?
Six Months Later
I was still twisting my hair into a single braid at the top of my head, my slacks singing as I walked quickly across the living room to the kitchen. He was standing in front of the coffee pot, pouring the liquid caffeine into a simple white cup.
“I wish you’d stop letting yourself into my apartment. Where did you even get a key? This is my house, not yours.”
“It’s cheaper to get coffee here than to go to that shop on the corner.”
“Yes, that’s why I set it to brew a pot for me. But I don’t brew it for you.”
“But if I’m going to be here anyway…”
“You could always go home.”
“I would if I could. I’d much rather be twisting rumors about MCorp than watching over someone who doesn’t want to be watched over. But this is what Pops wants.”
? Why do we care so much what
busy with his new bride?”
“Probably. Lucky guy.”
I brushed passed him and opened the fridge, digging out a small container of cream.
“You would admire him. Don’t you have any loyalty for Mom?”
“Of course I do. But she’s been gone for nearly six years now. Is he supposed to act like he died with her?”
“Why not? Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do when you love each other?”
“I think Mom would want him to be happy.”
“With some floosy he had an affair with when you were just a baby? When he was still married to Mom? I don’t think so.”
“She loved him. She wanted him to be happy.”
“If I was married to a man who cheated on me, even if we were separated at the time, I would make damn sure he never saw that woman again.”
“How would you stop it?”
“I’d castrate him before I died.”
“Remind me to never cross you.”
He smiled as he said it, my dear brother Killian, but I hadn’t meant it as a joke. I took the coffee he held out to me and jerked open the refrigerator door, looking for something, though I wasn’t sure what. I just wanted to have an excuse to move away from Killian.
“You’re starting your new job today?”
I glanced back at him. “Why is it you seem to know more about my life than I do?”
“You learn a lot when you have nothing to do but stand around and watch someone.”
“You could go home.”
He groaned, but he didn’t say anything.
Davis, my fiancé, was killed six months ago. Nothing had happened since then. Why did he stay? Why wouldn’t he just disappear? Having him here just reminded me of everything that happened that night, and the last thing I wanted was that constant reminder.
It took me a long time to learn to trust people after what’d happened in my childhood. My biological mother leaving, my father dying. Then Abigail—my mom—dying. I so wanted to trust people; I wanted to have a normal life like everyone else. But I couldn’t. People around me died like flies, and I didn’t understand.
Well, that wasn’t completely true. I’d learned a few things over the last few months that made me wonder if maybe Brian and Killian were somehow behind the death of my fiancé. The cops thought Davis’ death was the result of a random mugging and that they’d likely never find the guy responsible. But I’d known since I was a teenager that Brian’s business partner, Jack McGuire, was the head of the Irish mafia in Boston. And I knew that Brian wasn’t innocent to that world. I’d overheard him and Mom arguing over it a few times. She thought Brian was working with Jack in the mafia, but he insisted he was only running protection for Jack and his men. Mom thought that was just as bad, but Brian argued it wasn’t. That he wasn’t committing any crimes. But he was involved.
I talked with a friend of Davis’ a few months ago, and he told me that Davis had been worried that someone was following him in the weeks before his death. The weeks following the first and last time Brian met him.
I knew Brian didn’t like Davis after an ill-fated dinner we’d shared together. Was it possible Brian had Davis killed because he didn’t want me to marry him? It sounded extreme. It sounded insane. But with Brian…it was a possibility.
There’d been a rumor once that Brian killed a guy when he was a young man because the guy looked at him wrong. It was one of those rumors that he’d built his reputation on in the old neighborhood. I didn’t grow up there, but I knew kids who lived there, and whenever I mentioned Brian Callahan was my dad…I used to be so proud of the respect I saw on people’s faces! But now? It scared the shit out of me.
“We should get going,” Killian said, reaching around me to grab the milk.
“Stay out of my refrigerator!”
“Sorry,” he said as he poured milk into his coffee cup.
I dropped my cup into the sink and stormed out of the room.
If Killian could give up his plush job as the head of public relations at MCorp just to watch over me because Brian told him to, what else would he do for Brian?
I couldn’t shake the memory of looking out the living room window the night David died and finding Killian gone. I had no idea where he was that night. He’d been watching me for at least a week at that point, every night, like clockwork I could look out the window and spot his shadowy figure in a car parked on the curb across from my apartment. Every night except that one. He didn’t even show up at the hospital until I’d been there more than an hour, going through the paperwork with the social worker for the funeral home. Where had he been? Why did it take me calling Ian to get him there?
Had Killian killed Davis?
As crazy as it should have been, it all made too much sense. And if that was the case…I would do worse than castrate him if I could prove it.
Davis loved me. He didn’t deserve what he got.
Killian insisted on escorting me to work. We rode the subway together, but I sat at one end of the car and he stood at the other end, smiling at a cute little girl curled up on her mother’s lap. I watched him and watched the women on the train watching him. He wasn’t a bad-looking guy. He had intense green eyes that contrasted nicely with his dark hair. He kept his hair a little long these days since he didn’t have to don a suit every morning. It suited him and made his narrow nose and jaw look fuller somehow. And he filled out his jeans nicely…not that I noticed. What did I care if his chest was so clearly defined that you could see his heavy, rounded pecs through the thin material of his t-shirt? Or that it was obvious he would have a six-pack when he took off that shirt, or that the muscles in his arms were so well defined, so thick, that my fingers itched to slide up and down those hills and valleys?
So what if he was good looking? He was a minion. He was Brian’s lapdog.
I wanted nothing to do with that.
I stepped off the train ahead of everyone else when we reached our stop. I could feel Killian racing to keep up with me, imagining that he’d be angry, huffing and puffing, when he caught up to me. But he wasn’t. It was as if we were on a pleasant morning stroll as we pushed through the morning commute in downtown Manhattan.
I’d graduated from NYU in December, a semester early. I’d originally intended to go on to graduate school, but that would have required taking money from Brian, and I really didn’t want to do that even though he’d offered. Him and that charming smile…
“You’re my little girl,” he said. “I want to give you everything you need.”
“I don’t need your money.”
He’d looked so disappointed, like a little boy who’d gotten his stick of candy stolen away. But then his new wife—Cassidy…what kind of name was that for a grown woman?—came into the room and the light that came into his eyes made me sick to my stomach. He’d never lit up like that over Mom. What was it about this woman that made him seem so much happier than he’d been with Mom? What would Mom think if she could see him now?
It was disrespectful. She gave him twenty-five years of her life. She gave birth to his two sons and brought him four more. She worked a full-time job and took care of the home. She gave him everything, and how did he reward her? By indulging in criminal behavior and cheating on her with countless women. Then he marries one of those women, like it’s normal to just jump into marriage with someone like Cassidy, as though his life with Mom hadn’t meant anything at all.
I decided to go to work rather than pursue a master’s degree. I was starting as a copywriter for an ad agency on Madison Avenue. It wasn’t one of the really big firms, but it was prestigious enough that I was shocked when they called me back after my interview and offered me a job. If I had to work, this was the position I wanted. It was almost a dream come true.
I hoped Brian choked on it.
Killian walked just behind me all the way to the front door of the building. I turned and pressed my hand to the center of his chest, trying to ignore what touching him did to my equilibrium.
“This is where you stop.”
“You won’t let me check out your office?” he asked, an eyebrow cocked.
I could never tell when he was joking and when he was being serious.
“Go away, Killian. I want to make a good impression today and having you follow me around all day won’t do that.”
“Are you sure? If your boss is a woman…”
I gave him a little shove before I spun around and walked as confidently as I could into the building.
My heart was pounding, and my stomach felt like it was filled with acid. I wanted to throw up and crawl under my blankets back at my apartment, but I smiled politely as I approached the front desk and carefully enunciated my words as I told them who I was and why I was there.
The security process was intense. It took more than an hour, during which I could look out the front windows and see Killian sitting on a low bench in front of the building, staring at the screen of his smart phone. Each time I caught a glimpse at him, the tighter the tension between my shoulders grew.
A tall brunette walked up to me, her hand extended. She had a great smile and a figure that I couldn’t help but envy. She could have been a model, definitely the kind of woman Killian would probably fall head over heels for. If the man was capable of that sort of feeling.
“I’m Sara Cullen. I’m supposed to show you around and introduce you to all the right people.”
“It’s nice to meet you.”
She turned toward the windows, her smile changing, becoming something a little more seductive.
“The hunk out there on the bench. I’ve seen you watching him.”
Her eyebrows rose. “Really? You don’t look a lot alike.”
I glanced toward Killian, wondering if that was a compliment or a subtle put down. Killian was dark where I was sort of a washed out blond. Mom called my hair dishwater blond because it’s a little darker than true blond hair. My skin is as white as Brian’s redheaded paleness. I look sickly so often that I have strangers catch my arm on the street and ask me if I’m okay. And I’m not quite as thin nor do I look as fit as Killian. I’m not really overweight, but I have curves. Too many curves. I’ve never thought I was attractive, but that didn’t mean I was okay being compared to my clearly much better looking brother.
Sara nodded as though that explained everything.
“Is he single?”
I crossed my arms over my chest, trying not to show my annoyance. I really wanted to do well at this job. Sara seemed to get the message. She turned and gestured toward the elevator. The thing was, though, her question set off something in my head. Killian was single. In fact, I couldn’t remember him ever having a woman in his life for longer than a few weeks. One-night stands, that was all really. It was a joke in the family that Killian was commitment phobic.
I wondered if it would be possible to get him to commit. Wouldn’t it be perfect if I could get him to commit and then rip the rug out from under him? Take away his love on his wedding night the same way he and Brian did to me?
Talk about the perfect revenge! I just had to find the right person to steal his heart.
Was Sara it? Could she convince him to commit to her? Could she turn his head long enough to allow me the revenge I wanted—needed—to exact on Killian and Brian? She was beautiful, just the kind of girl Killian used to bring home during high school, the kind who would make him blush when her hand wandered and he caught Mom watching.
She was perfect. This was perfect.