Home > After the Storm (KGI #8)(16)

After the Storm (KGI #8)(16)
Author: Maya Banks

“Your father and I wanted to give you the news in person. I know you’ve all wanted us to move into the compound, and I’ve resisted. It’s just that I love this house. It’s where my children were raised. It’s where my grandchildren come to visit their grandma and grandpa. We made memories in this house and it’s not something I’ll ever willingly part with.”

She paused as if to let her words settled over the gathered family members.

“But we also know you worry. And with good reason. This family has been through so much over the last years. And your father and I don’t want to add to your burden. We don’t want you to worry when you need to focus on your own families.”

She took a deep breath, and this time Frank squeezed her hand and smiled reassuringly.

“So we’ve decided to do it. We’re going to move into the compound on the plot of land Sam has reserved for us, though Lord knows he’s probably already given up on us. But we’ve been in contact with an architect. He’s been to this house and drawn the plans of this one so we can replicate this house inside the compound.”

There was an instant barrage of comments from all the gathered family members. Frank raised his hand for quiet and all went immediately silent.

“Let your mother finish. This is important to her.”

Marlene smiled. “I want everything exactly the same. And I know it’s silly to have such a big house when it’s just me and your father. We’re getting older and one would think we’d be looking to downsize at our age. But we want this house. We want every single thing to be the same. We want a house our children can come home to. Even just to visit. We’re keeping every single bedroom the same. So all you boys will have your rooms. It’s important to us both not only that we have a house we made so many memories in, but that you boys have the house you grew up in. A place to gather at Christmas and remember. We want our grandchildren to have those same memories of the place their fathers grew up in. We want you to have your home.”

Tears glittered in her eyes, and when Donovan did a quick sweep of the table, he could see that his brothers and their wives were similarly affected. Emotion was a thick cloud over the table, but in every gaze, there was overwhelming relief.

Relief that their parents would be safe. That they would be inside the compound where they would be protected.

An instant furor erupted, and his brothers and their wives all got up to hug Marlene and Frank both. Sam’s eyes were suspiciously shiny and his jaw was clenched tight. Of all Donovan’s siblings, Sam had been the most worried and the most adamant that their mother and father move into the compound. Relief was stark in all his brothers’ eyes.

When things settled and everyone took their seats once more, Marlene looked pointedly at Joe and Swanny. The two men shared the house that Donovan himself had lived in for the last several years. A house he’d once shared with Sam and Garrett before his brothers had met the women they married.

That house was on the lake but outside the compound. Donovan had only just finished his own house inside, but Joe had made no start on his own home. His plot of land lay empty and he was content to live in the cabin vacated by his brothers. Swanny had moved in until he found his own place. He was a member of Joe’s and Nathan’s team and, like the other members of their team, he had moved closer to the compound and training facilities.

“And when are you planning to start construction on your house, young man?” Marlene asked in a stern voice.

Joe laughed. “Oh come on, Ma. Give me a break. I don’t have any need to build a house yet. Swanny and I are cool at the cabin. And don’t even get any ideas about hooking me up with some nice girl you want me to marry. I’ll build my house. One day. But I’m not ready yet. I’ll worry about that if and when I meet Miss Right and want to settle down.”

Marlene let out a harrumph, but she smiled. “Well, at least you’re finally giving some thought to the future and settling down. This is the first time you’ve actually acknowledged that there will be a someday.”

Joe groaned and the others burst out laughing as a round of ribbing immediately ensued.

“We have some news too,” Sophie said in a soft voice.

Everyone looked their way, taking in Sophie’s soft glow and the joy in her eyes. Marlene caught her breath and put a hand to her mouth in anticipation.

Sam smiled lovingly at his wife and put his arm around her, squeezing her shoulders. There was no mistaking the joy in his brothers’ own eyes as he offered encouragement to Sophie.

“We’re going to have another baby,” Sophie announced. “In seven months.”

The room erupted in exclamations and congratulations, and a round of mad hugging ensued. Charlotte clapped her hands together and bounced excitedly in her seat.

“I’m going to have a sister!” she proclaimed.

“Or a brother,” Sam corrected, amusement glistening in his eyes.

Charlotte shook her head emphatically. “We already have boys. Aunt Rachel has two! I want a sister.”

Sophie laughed and hugged her daughter to her. “No matter what we have, you’ll love him or her. I promise.”

Charlotte didn’t look convinced, but she didn’t argue the point.

“Um, guys, there’s something Garrett and I want to share with y’all too,” Sarah said quietly from her place at the table.

All eyes went in her direction and she blushed madly, nearly diving behind Garrett’s broad shoulders. Garrett smiled indulgently and wrapped his arm around her, pulling her into the crook of his shoulder.

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