“That’s it! You are coming out of retirement!” My wife marches down the hall toward me, her stride militant.

“What happened?” I ask, and her mouth screws up into a tight frown.
Shit. She’s on the warpath. If it’s that bad, someone might actually need to die.

“Someone stole my sculpture out of the park! Clearly, this person has a death wish, and I know just the man for the job. Who the hell steals a freaking sculpture made from the front half of a freaking Chevelle? The fucking nerve of this guy.”

“Who says it was a guy?” I have to ask.

Her glare turns even sharper, but it’s cute as hell. And she’s my wife. It doesn’t matter that it’s been five years; it still feels surreal in the best way possible.

“I’m not even going to dignify that with an answer.” She jerks her head toward the backyard, where we have a shed that doubles as a safe room filled with some of the tools of my previous trade. Another wave of gratitude sweeps through me that I was given this chance to unite the two most important parts of my life. I’m a lucky man.

“Why are you not getting your guns so we can track this person down?” She drops her hands on her hips, and I try to quell the smile tugging at my lips. “Don’t you smile at me. This is not a time for smiling. This is a time for bullets.”

“But you’re so fucking cute.”

Her nostrils flare, and if she could breathe fire, I’m pretty sure it would be blazing.
I hold up both hands in a gesture of surrender. “I take it back. You’re not cute at all. Not even a little. Nope. You’re very, very terrifying.”

Temperance glares. “Bullets. Body bags. Stat.”

“Let’s start with hacking camera feeds, so we know who we’re burying.”

She turns on her heel and marches toward the back door. I pause and appreciate her ass in those pants before I follow her. Even after five years of marriage, I will never stop appreciating her ass . . . in more ways than one.

She pauses. “Are you coming or not?”

“I’ll follow you anywhere, babe. But are you sure you don’t want to let the police handle it?” I ask from a few feet behind her.

She stops to throw a sharp look over her shoulder. “Did I not just say the person needs to die? Clearly, the police aren’t the right choice.”

I fight a chuckle as I glance at my watch. “Did you already talk my mom into keeping the girls later tonight?”

We have about an hour before my mom normally allows us to come get them. She takes babysitting duty very seriously, including babysitting when we don’t actually need them babysat. Then again, I will never begrudge Mom more grandbaby time.

“She’s keeping them overnight. She was ecstatic because the blanket fort from this evening has gotten pretty elaborate, and they weren’t going to be in a hurry to leave, anyway.”

Temperance has all her bases covered . . . except one.

“You know you’re going to owe me for this, right? I’m solidly retired. No interest in making a comeback at all.”

She narrows her gaze at me. “That sculpture was a charitable donation. You’d think you’d donate your services out of the goodness of your heart.”

“Babe. Hit man,” I say, again fighting to keep a straight face but failing.

“Kane. Charity.”

I shake my head. “Sexual favors only.” I wink. “Consider it a discount.”

She growls but stalks back to grab me by the hand and drag me toward the backyard. “Let’s hurry up before they get away with it and sell it to some private collector, and it’s never found again.”

“All right. You win.”

When we reach my shed, which is cleverly camouflaged to look like nothing of interest, I slide a rusted metal sign that reads Potting Shed to the side to reveal a biometric lock. As soon as the door unbolts, we step inside the room that looks like a man cave, but the screens on the wall are used for surveillance more than sports.

I stop in front of a desk and push a button under the wooden top, and it slides open for a monitor and keyboard to appear. “Were there cameras nearby?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t asked yet. I’m still too busy being fucking angry.”

Hence the thirst for blood, I think before I type in a few passcodes to get into my computer system and pull up a map.

The city park where Temperance’s sculpture was located sits across from a flower shop and a frozen yogurt store. The flower shop is a mom-and-pop operation that still looks like they’re embracing the sixties, but the yogurt store is a franchise, and franchise means security system.

I explain this to Temperance, and she nods.

“Good. How do we get inside the security system?”

“You don’t want to know.”

I remember the days I used to surveil my wife without her knowing. I still have zero regrets about that. She’s the best thing to ever happen to me, and I can’t imagine living a single day of my life without her by my side. She’s my better half. My teammate. My rock. The love of my life. The mother of my children. The goddess I worship.

“I love you, Temperance.” I say it quietly, but with complete sincerity. I tell her every day, but it will still never be enough.

Her features soften. “I love you too, Kane. More than you’ll ever understand.”

I lift my hand off the keyboard to slide my fingers between hers and bring her knuckles to my lips. I press a quick kiss to them. “You’re right, because I’ll never understand why.”

She could quip back with something lighthearted, but Temperance doesn’t. She understands the demons I’ve fought. She may be on the rampage right now because she’s upset, but her heart is good. She’s truly the best woman I’ve ever met.

“Because the person you are is the exact person I need to make me whole. There’s no one else for me. There never will be.”

I close my eyes and breathe her in. “I will never deserve you, but I will never stop trying.”

“Kane. Stop. You know—”

“That you’re good and I’m not, but I’ll never let you go either. I’ll never apologize for any of it because it all led me to you.”

Her eyes shimmer with tears. “Why do you always have to go tell me sweet things when I’m trying to get you to kill someone for me?”

“Because we both know that I’d do anything for you or our girls, including burn this entire world down.” I turn and lean my ass on the desk and pull her between my spread legs.

“You do know I would never actually ask you to come out of retirement, right?”

I nod. “But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do it in a heartbeat if someone needed killing.” I jerk my head back to the monitor. “Although this might not be the guy.”

“Or girl,” she says as she lifts her hands to my shoulders and slides them around my neck. She pulls my mouth toward hers, and our lips brush.

“So, does that mean you want to spend tonight somewhere other than in here hacking camera feeds to find out who stole your sculpture?” My words come out barely audible as she kisses me harder.

For long moments, the only sound in the room is our heavy breathing. When my dick hardens, I grasp her hips and spin her around so her ass is on the counter. I tear my mouth off hers, ready to devour her right here and now, but Temperance speaks first.

“You find who did it, and we’ll spend tonight staking out wherever they live. And instead of going inside and shooting up the place, we’ll have sex in my old Bronco and make another baby.”

I blink twice, as though that’s going to help clarify the words that just came out of Temperance’s mouth. “What did you say?” I stare at her as she smiles.

“I want another baby, Kane, and I don’t want to wait another year. I know that’s what we agreed, but I’m ready.”

I close my eyes for a moment and send up a prayer to the heavens and whoever has been watching out for me up there all these years. Whoever sent me this woman I didn’t know I desperately needed in my life.

The only reason I agreed to wait another year was because I know Temperance wanted to spend more time working on her art, and the later stages of her pregnancy made it hard. I didn’t want her to think that her dreams weren’t just as important to me.

“Are you sure?” I ask.

Temperance bites down on her lip. “Only if you’re cool with it. I don’t want to rush you—”

I crush my lips against hers, trying to show her everything I’m feeling that I can’t find the words to say. When I pull back, I cup her face.

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but fuck the stakeout. I’m ready for you to give me another perfect little girl who looks just like you.”

Temperance giggles. “Good thing the sculpture is still in the park then.”

My jaw drops. “You lied to me?”

Her lips curve up. “I sure as hell did, and I won’t even apologize for it.”

“Oh, you’re going to pay for that.”

“I’m ready, because if you didn’t already notice—” She glances toward the other side of the room. “I added some new furniture to your shed.”

I turn and look in the direction of her gaze. For the third time in less than two minutes, I’m stunned.

“How the hell did you get a spanking bench in here?”

Her eyes dance mischievously. “I’ll never tell. But I’ve been a very bad girl . . . which means you’re going to need to teach me a lesson.”

Once again, I send a prayer skyward. Thank you for this woman. This life. This love.

I wrap both hands around my wife’s hips and lift her. Temperance’s legs wrap around my waist.

“As you wish.”