Kayne walked through the early night darkness towards home. He was back from another mission, another job well done. Even as satisfaction coursed through him, a pair of innocent brown eyes haunted him. What would Emmalina think of what he did? Would she be repulsed?
Oh, no this again, he mentally scolded himself. Why are you so hung up on a random lay?
It had been over four months since the night he’d spent with Emmalina, and it normally took him a fraction of that time to even forget a girl’s name. He didn’t have to wonder why she’d stuck in his mind, though; it was her innocence, her gentle naiveté. No one was innocent anymore. Everyone he’d ever run across had been hardened in some way by their circumstances. But not Emmalina. Somehow, she had been coddled and protected. Despite having grown up with a veritable lioness for a mother, she had grown up safe in a world of light.
Kayne stepped into the dark house; with the full moon shining outside, it was actually darker in there than out on the street. If that didn’t drive home how different he and Emmalina were, nothing would.
He went down into the basement and into his bedroom to change into his workout gear. Adrenaline from his hit was still burning in his muscles; he needed to expend some of that energy before he tried to sleep.
Just admit it, he thought to himself as he started in on the bag. You miss her.
He did miss her. He also missed the way she’d made him feel. For a short time, that diminutive little woman had brought him true happiness. Peace.
But that right there was what kept him from going back to her. Kayne was stronger without tender feelings mucking things up. It was bad enough that she still haunted his thoughts; how much worse would it be if she was actually around all the time? How would he focus on the things he had to do if she was always there being pretty and sweet?
And, let’s be real. The second she found out I kill people for a living, she’d run like the hounds of Hell were chasing her.
The thought soured his mood, which was already heading towards foul as it was. He took it all out on the punching bag, losing himself in the rhythmic thumps of his gloves meeting the stuffed leather. At one point, he heard footsteps over his head; his mother returning home. Then all was quiet again except for the sounds of his work out.
When his arms finally felt like they were ready to fall off, he went into the bathroom. He cleaned up at the sink, the pipes squealing and groaning in protest the whole time. This was one thing he actually had in common with Emmalina; the plumbing across the whole town was equally terrible.
After his sponge bath, he left his sweaty work out gear in the bathroom and strode nude into his room. Maybe he’d tired himself out enough that he’d be able to catch a few Z’s without being plagued with dreams of brown doe eyes and thick black hair.
He was just about to climb under the covers when a pounding started at the front door. Instantly on the alert, he found a pair of jeans and pulled them up his legs. As he left the room, he grabbed his gun from the night stand. Kayne took the stairs two at a time.
Somehow, his mother had beaten him there. Shannyn stood at the front door, partially obscuring whoever was on the other side.
“Get the fuck off my property before you get hurt, little girl,” she growled venomously.
“Please, I just – they said he lives here. Is he here?”
Kayne froze in place; he knew that voice. He’d heard it concerned, asking if he needed help, plaintive, asking him to help her; he’d heard it breathy and filled with pleasure. He knew that voice.
His eyes widened with surprise. “Emmalina?”
“Kayne?!” With a cry, she shoved past his mother – no small feat – and threw herself into his arms.
He dropped the gun and it went clattering under the table. For just a moment, he let himself wrap his arms around Emmalina and be happy to see her again. But then that moment ended and questions that needed to be asked raised their heads.
He pulled back, looking into her tear-stained face. “What are you doing here? How are you here?” The only detail he’d given her about himself was his first name. Nothing else. Not the zone he was from, if he had parents or siblings. How the hell had she found him?
“M-my mom died.” A tear leaked out of her eye and she rubbed it away. “I didn’t know what to do. A-and then I r-realized – “she gestured down at her stomach.
He glanced down and his heart stuttered and dropped into his feet. Somehow, in all the surprise of things, he’d failed to notice that she was pregnant. Four months pregnant. There was no doubt in his mind that the baby she carried belonged to him.
“That’s enough,” Shannyn snarled. “Kayne, tell your girlfriend to get out.”
His mother looked at him with pure shock on her face. “What do you mean ‘no’?”
“What’s going on?” Jason asked as he came downstairs. The triplets appeared behind him one by one, eyes wide and staring curiously at the scene before them. Behind them, dawn peeked in from the small window.
“This is Emmalina Lopez,” Kayne said in a hard voice. “She helped me once. Now she’s going to move in.” He looked into Emmalina’s terrified face and gentled his voice. “You do want that, right?” She nodded silently.
“The fuck she is! Where’s the proof that that kid is even yours, Kayne?” Shannyn glared murderously at Emmalina, making the younger woman cower behind Kayne. “She is not staying here.”
Myrcella rushed over and took Emmalina’s arm. “Kayne’s room is downstairs. Why don’t we get you settled in?” She quickly guided the pregnant woman down into the basement and away from their mother’s wrath.
Kayne shot her a quick look of gratitude before turning his attention back to his mother. “She’s staying, Mom. That is my kid she’s carrying. You’re the one who taught me that we always protect family. Emmalina is one of us now, and so is that baby.”
Jason crossed the room, a proud look on his face. “The kid’s right, Shan. It’s the right thing to do, letting her stay here.”
“We can’t just kick her out, Mom,” Quinn said quietly. “You saw her. She’ll die out there on her own.”
Shannyn looked from Jason to Quinn before glaring at Baz. “What about you? Are you going to turn against me too?”
Baz just shrugged. “Move her in, don’t. I don’t care either way. Just don’t expect me to change any diapers.”
Kayne’s mother glared daggers at him. “Fine,” she hissed. “Since everyone wants to let little orphan Annie in, fucking fine. But if she steps one fucking toe out of line, I’ll deal with her,” she promised.
When she disappeared up the stairs, Jason turned a grin on Kayne. “I’m fucking proud of you, Kayne.”
“You did a good thing tonight, son.”
Kayne glowered at him and shrugged off his praise. “Just because it was right doesn’t make it good. And I’m not your son.” He turned away from them all and went downstairs where he found his sister waiting outside his door.
“She’s asleep. She was out the moment she laid down. Poor thing. I don’t think she’s had a decent night’s sleep since her mom died.” Myrcella glanced back towards the bedroom sadly. She sighed softly and shook herself, turning her attention back to Kayne. “So, Mom reached a new level of pissed off tonight.”
“Yeah, she did.”
“You think she’ll get over it?”
“Nope.” He was pretty sure he’d just done something irrevocable to their relationship. He’d had arguments with his mother before, but that had been the Armageddon of arguments. “I guess I’ll go sleep in my old room.” As a kid, he’d had a little room upstairs; it was only in his late teens that they’d expanded the basement, and he’d moved down there.
“Yeah, probably a good idea. Sorry I gave away your bed.”
He shook his head. “No, I was going to anyway.” Pregnant orphan trumped healthy hitman any day. He turned and headed up the stairs, Myrcella following behind him.
Jesus, what a night.