She’s pacing again.

Keira is never still, but when she paces, I know she’s wrestling with something. As much as I love watching her pass back and forth in front of me, I hate seeing her distressed.


Her red hair whips around in a curtain as she turns to face me in her office. “Don’t tell me to stop. If I don’t pace, I’m going to lose my shit. How are you so calm? This is not a situation where you should be so calm.”

Like she does more often than not, her words bring a smile to my face.

“I’m meeting your parents, not a firing squad.”

She stomps toward me, and I’m surprised her heels don’t crack from the impact on the concrete floor. “You don’t understand. There will be questions. How are you supposed to answer those questions? I have no answers to those questions, and I’ve gotten thousands of steps in pacing the last few days.”

I reach out and grasp her wrist, pulling her the rest of the way toward me before tugging her down onto my lap. She curls against me like she was made to fit here, and I’m partial to thinking she was.

“Whatever you’re imagining, I guarantee you’re overreacting.”

Her green eyes spear into mine. I don’t know if the fact that she’s not afraid to argue with me will ever stop giving me a thrill. So few other people will dare.

But my wife—I still savor that word on my tongue—will dare everything.

“I don’t overreact,” she says, her lips flattening into a serious line.

“Sure, you don’t, hellion.”

“Don’t you dare patronize me.”

I fight to keep my smirk from growing. “I wouldn’t dream of it.”

She pokes me in the chest. “Lies. All lies.”

Before she can launch into whatever she’s going to obsess over next, I tangle my fingers in her hair and tilt her head so I can reach her lips. It’s the best way to quiet her, and something I’ll never tire of doing.

I went years without kissing a woman, and now I’m addicted to kissing one woman for the rest of my life.

Regardless of what her parents think.

Keira moans into my mouth and I steal inside, deepening the kiss. My palm slides up her leg, intent on slipping between her legs, but the phone on the desk rings and Keira’s head jerks up.

“Ignore it,” I order.

“But my parents are probably—”

My next kiss cuts off her words and the phone quiets. When I’ve finally reached the promised land, teasing her through the damp lace of her panties so she’s writhing on my lap, someone knocks on the door. This time, Keira hops off my lap before I can anchor her to me tighter.

“Keira?” The voice belongs to Temperance, Keira’s second-in-command.

“Shit. Shit. Shit.” Keira rushes for the bathroom. “Stall her so I don’t look like I just had a quickie in my office.”

My dick pulses at the picture she paints with her words but goes down just as fast when Temperance knocks again. I stand, straightening my tie and buttoning my suit jacket, and head for the door to pull it open.


Temperance’s body language changes when she sees me, but she does an excellent job masking her unease. “Mr. and Mrs. Kilgore have arrived. They’ve been seated in the restaurant.”

“Thank you. We’ll be up shortly.”

“I’ll let them know.” Temperance backs away before pausing. “Good luck.”

“I don’t need luck. I’ve already got their daughter.”

Temperance nods, her eyes wide at my remark. “Never mind. Good point.” She disappears down the hallway.

Turning, I see Keira exiting the restroom, her hair and lipstick restored, but the pink flush on her cheeks is still vivid.

I hold out my hand. “It’s time.”

• • • •


With Lachlan’s hand in mine, we walk to the elevator that will take us to the top floor and the restaurant my dad lost his mind over me adding to the distillery. Tonight is the one night a week we’re normally closed, but Odile, my head chef, agreed to come in to serve us dinner. All it cost me was triple overtime and an extra day off to visit her niece.

Done. No matter what, my dad won’t be able to complain about the food. It’ll be perfect.

Lachlan squeezes my hand tight when we step into the elevator and it rises.

“I don’t know if this is a good idea,” I tell him. “Maybe we should’ve waited.”

“For what?”

“I have no idea.”

“It’ll be fine. No bloodshed. No tears. No dead bodies.”

“Don’t count on it,” I say, mumbling under my breath.

Lachlan’s dark eyebrow quirks and I know he heard me. I swear, he doesn’t miss a damn thing.

When we step into the restaurant, my parents are seated at a four-top near the window. The skyline view beyond is on point tonight.

They both rise as we walk in. Retirement must suit them, because my dad’s tan is now interrupted by little white smile lines around his eyes. That’s what a hell of a lot less stress will do for you.

“Wondered if you were really coming,” my dad says as my mom hugs me. He gives me a quick squeeze too.

Now we have the moment of truth.

“Mom, Dad, I’d like you to meet my husband, Lachlan Mount.”

My mom’s jaw slackens, but my dad doesn’t miss a beat.

“Nice to see you again, Mount.”

When he holds out his hand and Lachlan shakes it, my mind riots. Wait just a damn minute . . .

“You’ve met before?” My gaze bounces between the two men like a ping-pong match. “How did I not know this?”

My dad’s lips curve into a smile I’d have to call smug, and he glances at Lachlan. “You want to tell her, or should I?”

“Feel free.”

My dad shifts his attention to me from my husband. “This son of a bitch tried to extort me for protection payments at least fifteen years ago. Told him to go to hell.”

“You did what?” My voice rises, and I don’t know who I’m directing the question at.

Lachlan’s face betrays no remorse. But then, it rarely does. “And you lived to tell about it.”

“Please tell me this isn’t happening right now.”

My mom pipes up, looking as confused as I am. “Will someone fill me in?”

“Keira married a criminal.”

“Dad—” I say, my insides twisting into knots, but Lachlan cuts me off.

“You can let him finish.”

“I lived to tell about it because I had something he needed,” Dad says.

“What?” My voice hits a shrill note, and my stare bounces between my dad and my husband. “Is someone going to fill me in?”

Dad shrugs but his lips curve up in a grin. “I’ll let him tell the story. It’s never been mine to tell.”

Mom slaps his shoulder. “Is that why you never told me?”

“I handled it. You didn’t need to be involved.”

Once again, I look from my dad to my husband. Apparently, I was raised by an alpha male, so there’s no wondering why I was drawn to another.

Lachlan pulls me against his side. “No one has ever dared to say no to me. I was intrigued. Your Irish temper preceded you.”

“Y’all gonna sit down and eat? Because your appetizers are ready, and I’m not serving them cold because of some family drama.”

We all turn to look at Odile as she stands outside the kitchen doors with her hands on her hips.

Lachlan moves to the table and pulls out my chair. Numb, I sink into it.

“Whiskey for everyone?” Lachlan asks, picking up the fifth in the center of the table to pour three fingers into my glass.

“Absolutely,” my dad says, and my mom nods.

I point at my glass, wondering if I’m going to need more than one shot. My visions of this dinner being a success circle the drain . . . at least until Lachlan starts talking.

“There was a Russian. He had something I needed, but he wouldn’t give it up for cash or anything else I could offer. But once upon a time, he’d been to New Orleans and tasted a rare vintage of whiskey and fallen in love with it. He’d just finished his last bottle, and it wasn’t available anywhere. No longer on the market. Not a single bottle for sale.”

My mouth drops open and I stare wide-eyed at my parents. “Your wedding blend, wasn’t it?”

My father grins. “Damn straight. Some of the best whiskey this place ever distilled. We gave cases to a few guests who traveled to attend.”

“How do you know Russians? Do I even want to know?”

“Ohhh, I remember him. Charming. Eyes like blue ice.”

My dad’s gaze shifts to my mom. “It was our wedding reception and you were checking out another man?”

She laughs and squeezes his arm. “I’m married. Not dead. Besides, I knew I got the best man of all them. I still know it.”

Dad’s expression softens in a way I’ve only seen a few times—and only when he’s looking at my mom. “And I still have the best woman.”

Lachlan’s arm tightens around my shoulders, and I shift my gaze to his face. He’s looking at me the same way my dad does at my momThis is what I never knew I wanted . . . and I already have it.

For a few moments, I completely forget about the Russian and the whiskey and the fact that Dad has known my husband longer than I have.

Odile breaks the silence, serving our salads. “Here y’all go. Enjoy.”

I clear my throat, which suddenly feels hoarse. “Thank you, Odile.”

Dad picks up his fork. “So, the Russian wanted the whiskey and I had two more cases, saved for special occasions.” He glances at Lachlan. “We made a deal, and the deal still stands. He never asked for anything else from me.”

“I should have,” Lachlan says.

“What?” I ask.

He glances down at me. “His blessing.”

Something else melts inside me.

My dad laughs. “What if I’d told you to go to hell?”

Lachlan continues staring at me. “I would’ve told you I’ve been there for a lifetime already, and my only chance at escaping was your daughter.”

“I love you,” I whisper, my insides a puddle.

“Not nearly as much as I love you, hellion.”

“Well, damn,” Dad says, “we’re way behind on blending your wedding vintage, seeing as we missed the wedding.”

I tear my attention from my husband to meet my dad’s gaze, and he grins at me.

“How about we meet with Louis tomorrow and come up with the next great whiskey from Seven Sinners?”

Happy tears prick behind my eyes. “I’d love that.”