“I don’t think you’re supposed to get drunk on my graduation night,” I teased my dad.
“If I can’t get drunk the night my baby girl graduates college, when can I get drunk?” My daddy asked.
My mother snorted, but refrained from saying what we were both thinking.
My father didn’t need an excuse to drink.
He and the men of his club drank damn near every weekend, and twice on Tuesdays.
“Hey,” my mother said. “Who’s that boy?”
I turned from my perch against Downy’s porch railing to find Downy’s brother standing off to the side of the party, looking for someone.
I straightened up and said, “That’s Downy’s brother. Be right back.”
Downy was across the yard talking to a few of the boys off the SWAT team and their wives. Reese and Luke. Nico and Georgia. James and Shiloh.
I didn’t know James and Nico as well as I knew the others. They kept to themselves. Their wives, however, were all very outgoing and welcoming, and I looked forward to getting to know them better.
Luke and Reese, however, I was starting to know very well. Since Luke was Downy’s best friend, I saw him more than the others, which meant I saw more of his wife as well.
Reese was quickly becoming a very good friend and confidant, as well as the shoulder to lean on when all the police business Downy was involved in was getting to me.
As I walked towards Downy’s brother, he turned to me and heaved a relieved sigh.
“Hey,” I said as I came up to him. “Are you okay?”
He looked nervous. “Uhh,” he said. “I need to talk to Downy.”
I blinked, but nonetheless said, “Okay, I’ll go get him.”
I would’ve taken Jonah to Downy, but he didn’t look like he was very comfortable there, and among the crowd, he’d draw more attention if he was with me rather than him just staying where he was.
“Okay,” he said thankfully.
I weaved in and out of the party goers.
Circling around the huge bonfire that my father’s men had spent the entire afternoon erecting, and thus being the reason why they were late.
Downy, at least, had a legitimate excuse.
As I got closer to the group, I caught Nico’s dark eyes, and he watched me approach with an unreadable expression on his face.
I smiled anyway, walking up until I was at Downy’s flank.
I scooted under his arm as he raised his beer to his lips.
He took it all in stride, switching hands so the beer was in the opposite one so he could wrap the arm around my side and pull me in close.
They were talking about the dog attacks, and what it meant for the community.
And as reluctant as I was to pull him away, I interrupted Luke and said, “Downy?”
He looked down at me and asked, “Yeah?”
I tilted my head in his brother’s direction. “Your brother is here.”
The men all raised their eyes in the exact direction that Jonah stood, taking him in with their laser focused cop eyes. The women looked around confused, but that was understandable. From what Downy had told me, not many knew he had a family.
“Huh,” he said, starting in the direction of his brother, leaving me standing there watching him go.
Once Downy reached Jonah, who began talking animatedly with his hands, I turned back around to find six pairs of eyes on me, taking me in. Sizing me up.
My belly started to roll in nervousness.
“T-thanks for coming,” I managed to say.
James, the cutie with the blond hair, smiled. My heart skipped a beat, and my face flushed. His wife giggled, as did Georgia and Reese.
Luke and Nico still continued to stare at me.
Finally I lost the ability to hold my tongue and I snapped, “What are you lookin’ at?”
James’ threw his head back and laughed, while Luke just grinned.
I think I might’ve seen a grin kick up the corner of Nico’s mouth as well, but I was sure it was the beer talking.
Luke finally answered. “We’re happy for our boy.”
I blinked. “You don’t have any boys…yet. Do you?”
I looked at Reese for confirmation, and her eyes got really, really wide as she gave me some look that tried to convey what she was thinking, but I didn’t comprehend.
I looked at her Dr. Pepper and asked, “Is that why you wouldn’t go have margaritas with me yesterday?”
Reese started to shake her head, but Luke let go of her shoulders and turned her so he could look at her face.
“I was talking about Downy, but now I feel like you should be telling me something,” he growled.
She opened her mouth twice, emitting a tiny croak, and said, “I was going to tell you!”
Thinking now wasn’t the best time to watch that conversation happen, I turned around and hurried back to where I’d seen Downy and Jonah last.
When I couldn’t find them in the spot they’d been, I walked around the side of the house to the front yard.
I froze when I heard Downy ask, “And you just thought it’d be a good fuckin’ idea to walk up into a man’s property, one of whom you suspected as having an illegal dog fighting ring?”
Downy’s voice sounded rough, as well as concerned, but that’s not what Jonah heard. All he heard was the censure in his voice.
“Well, who the fuck do you think you are, yelling at me? I came up here to tell you because I’d thought my own brother would help me,” he hissed the word ‘brother’ as if it was a poisonous snake on the verge of attack. “If I’d known you wouldn’t be of any help, I’d have gone to the police department. I was just worried about my father catching me in the act, and I figured you’d be the best bet. Apparently, I was wrong.”
He started to walk away, but Downy stopped him with four words. “You are my brother.”
A tear started to form in my eye, and I smiled as I watched Jonah’s shoulders hunch. “You don’t act like you are. I only see you on the rare holiday.”
Downy was silent for a few minutes. “Your father doesn’t like me. I felt it’d be easier to keep the visits down to a minimum so he didn’t think worse of you.”
“Fuck my father,” Jonah hissed. “He’s the whole reason I lost my brother for my entire childhood?”
I blinked at the fierceness in his voice.
It sent Downy reeling, though. “What?”
“I’ve spent my whole childhood wishing you were around more. You have a better relationship with Ridley, and it sucks,” Jonah replied huskily.
I was pretty sure he was containing quite a bit of emotion, but his fifteen-year-old mind didn’t think that it was ‘manly’ to cry, so he was holding all of that emotion in.
“You can come over anytime you want to. I invited you along with her many times. I’ll try to do a better job of coming over. As long as you aren’t surprised when Jackson starts treating you like the plague, that is,” Downy drawled lightly.
Jonas snorted. “Jackson is never home. Mom’s never home. It’s like I live alone now since Ridley moved out.”
“Door’s always open, buddy. However, we need to get you down to the station to give a statement. That all right with you?” Downy asked his brother.
Jonah nodded. “Sure.”
Nodding, Downy turned, finding me at the corner of the house, and smiled. “Come here.”
I went, walking straight into his arms.
“How’d you know I was there?” I teased.
He always knew I was there. It must be some superhuman-alpha thing to always know when people were approaching, regardless of whether they make any noise or not.
“Will you tell the boys where I went? And stay here. Don’t go for a walk,” he told me.
I raised my eyebrows at him. “Sir, yes, sir. Anything else, oh Lord and Master?”
His eyes flared. “You can call me that later.” He leaned forward until his mouth was against my ear, and his dick was pressing into my belly. “When I’m fucking you so hard no sound can escape your lips because you’ve screamed so long and hard that you’ve lost your voice.”
He’d growled that statement against my ear, sending shivers down my spine.
“Promises, promises,” I teased as I skimmed my lips up the column of his throat, going on tip toes to reach just short of his jaw.
His hands clenched on my hips, and he sighed before giving me a chaste kiss on the lips and stepped away.
“Be good,” he ordered, giving me a look.
I held up my hands, which inevitably still had the same beer in it that I’d had for the last twenty minutes.
He raised his brow, but didn’t comment at my gesture, instead turning to Jonah and gesturing towards his cruiser. “Go wait inside while I go grab my stuff.”
With that, he disappeared into the front of the house.
I felt wetness on my hand and looked down to find Peter’s wet nose stuck against it.
I smiled and scratched him under his chin.
“Let’s go back to our spot, buddy.”