Home > After the Storm (KGI #8)(14)

After the Storm (KGI #8)(14)
Author: Maya Banks

If that happened, he hoped like hell it was here and not after they’d moved on and disappeared. If whatever was stalking them was going to catch up, then he wanted it to be here where he could protect them.

He shook his head. Not that rage over any woman or child in such a situation was new to him or even a surprise, but his personal reaction to this woman—Eve—well, he wasn’t sure what the hell to make of that.

There’s been something about her. Those eyes. The moment she’d cracked the door of the dilapidated trailer and he’d glimpsed those beautiful, expressive golden eyes, it had been like being sucker-punched in the gut. The more he’d seen, the larger the knot had grown in his stomach. He’d never felt so goddamn helpless in his life, and helplessness was not an emotion he was frequently confronted with.

He was a take-charge guy. He took action. He wasn’t a passive observer to any wrongdoing. Especially when it involved children or women. And yet he’d had to play it cool. To stand there and pretend mild interest. Had to force himself to back off and not come on strong and overwhelm and frighten the hell out of her.

Because he knew. He knew if he’d made any such movement, she would have bolted and he’d never see her again.

The more he pondered the situation, the more he knew he had to gather as much information as he could about her, and he was going to have to be damn discreet about it. And that frustrated him to no end. It wasn’t what he was accustomed to. He solved problems. He took action. It was who he was. It was who KGI was. It was what they stood for.

And now he was going against every instinct deeply in-grained. To walk away. Pretend what he’d seen didn’t matter.

The hell it didn’t.

There was a way. There was always a way. He wasn’t the geek of this organization for nothing. Sure, he had the brawn, but he also had a brain. He could kick ass with the best of them, but his best talent was his intelligence and problem-solving ability. He could work magic with computers and technology. But none of that was going to do him any damn good if he couldn’t get close enough to her to figure her out. And that was going to be the biggest challenge of all.

As he and Rusty had suspected, they were the last of the Kelly clan to roll in. The yard in front of his parents’ house looked like a used-car lot with all the vehicles scattered. By the time Rusty got out, Marlene was already on the porch, a look of exasperation on her face.

“You’re late,” she called out unnecessarily. “I’ve held lunch for half an hour waiting for you two to make your appearance.”

“I know, I know,” Rusty said as she hurried toward the steps. “I’m so sorry.”

Marlene Kelly eyed Donovan, who approached at a slower pace. He had his best puppy-eyed expression in place because it was one his mother couldn’t resist. Judging by the resigned look she gave him, she well knew she was being manipulated.

He dropped a kiss on her cheek after he mounted the steps. “Sorry, Ma. We’ll explain later.”

Her expression immediately became worried and she glanced rapidly between him and Rusty.

“Is anything wrong? Is everything okay?”

“You worry too much, Ma,” Donovan chided. “Everything’s fine. We’ll explain after we have the dinner you’ve already held half an hour. No need to make everyone wait to eat when they’re probably all frothing at the mouth to taste your cooking.”

She glared. “Such a smooth talker you are. You know just how to appeal to my ego to get yourself out of trouble. But all right. Let’s go eat. It’ll wait, but don’t think I’ll forget! We’ll have that conversation before you leave.”

Donovan chuckled. “Of course. Would I hold out on you?”

“Yes!”

Rusty laughed and the three entered the house, and Donovan was immediately assailed with the smell of home. Distant conversation. Laughter. A child’s giggle. Coming home never got old. Every time he stepped into his parents’ home, he was immediately at peace. Only today, he wasn’t quite as appeased as he’d usually be because his thoughts were still occupied by Eve, Travis and Cammie, who didn’t have this. Family. That sense of unwavering loyalty and unconditional love.

He was lucky. Damn lucky. And it made his chest tighten to think that only a few miles away was a run-down trailer filled with vulnerable people who were desperately in need.

And indeed, his mother did have something up her sleeve. Something more than the usual family gathering on Sundays, when schedules permitted and none of his brothers were off on missions.

It was evident in the secret smile she threw his dad as they all ate lunch around the huge oak table to which leaves had been added over the years as the family had expanded beyond its original size.

Now with all the wives and grandchildren, the table was massive in length, but his mother had been determined that everyone be able to sit at the table. There was no separation. No kids’ table to the side. Everyone had a seat where she could look down the table and see all her children and grandchildren at a glance.

His mother was fairly bristling with anticipation, which meant that she had a surprise for them all. He just wondered what the hell it was.

Excitement was in the air. It permeated the entire lunch. His brothers and their wives smiled and the conversation was animated. Sarah and Garrett were glued solidly to one another, Sarah giving the big man a smile that likely melted Garrett to his toes.

Sophie was glowing as she sat between her husband and their daughter, Charlotte. Sam touched her often. Just a brush with his hand. Or he’d loop his arm around the back of her chair and pull her in close as they ate and laughed.

   
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