The SEAL's Secret Heirs(2)

By: Kat Cantrell


The moment the door swung open, Kyle stepped over the threshold and did a double take. Liam. His brother stood in the middle of the renovated foyer, glowering. He’d grown up and out in ten years. Kyle had, too, of course, but it was still a shock to see that his brother had changed from the picture he’d carried in his mind’s eye, even though their faces mostly matched.

Crack!

Agony exploded across Kyle’s jaw as his head snapped backward.

What in the... Had Liam just punched him?

Every nerve in Kyle’s body went on full alert, vibrating with tension as he reoriented and automatically began scanning both the threat of Liam and the perimeter simultaneously. The foyer was empty, save the two Wade brothers. And Liam wasn’t getting the drop on him twice.

“That’s for not calling,” Liam said succinctly and balled his fists as if he planned to go back for seconds.

“Nice to see you, too.”

Dang. Talking hurt. Kyle spit out a curse along with a trickle of blood that hit the hardwood floor an inch from Liam’s broken-in boot.

“Deadbeat. You have a lot of nerve showing up now. Get gone or there’s more where that came from.”

Liam clearly had no idea who he was tangling with.

“I don’t cater much to sucker punches,” Kyle drawled, and touched his lower lip, right above where the throb in his jaw hurt the worst. Blood came away with his finger. “Why don’t you try that again now that I’m paying attention?”

Liam shook his head wearily, his fists going slack. “Your face is as hard as your head. Why now? After all this time, why did you finally drag your sorry butt home?”

“Aww. Careful there, brother, or people might start thinking you missed me something fierce when you talk like that.”

Liam had another thirty seconds to explain why Kyle’s welcome home had included a fist. Liam had a crappy right hook, but it still hurt. If anything, Kyle was the one who should be throwing punches. After all, he was the one with the ax to grind. He was the one who had left Royal because of what Liam had done.

Or rather whom he’d done. Grace Haines. Liam had broken the most sacred of all brotherly bonds when he messed around with the woman Kyle loved. Afghanistan wasn’t far enough away to forget, but it was the farthest a newly minted SEAL could go after being deployed.

So he hadn’t forgotten. Or forgiven.

“I called your cell phone,” Liam said. “I called every navy outpost I could for two months straight. I left messages. I called about the messages. Figured that silence was enough of an answer.” Arms crossed, Liam looked down his nose at Kyle, which was a feat, given that they were the same height. “So I took steps to work through this mess you’ve left in my lap.”

Wait, he’d gotten punched over leaving the ranch in his brother’s capable hands? That was precious. Liam had loved Wade Ranch from the first, maybe even as early as the day their mother had dropped them off with Grandpa and never came back.

“You were always destined to run Wade Ranch,” Kyle said, and almost didn’t choke on it. “I didn’t dump it on you.”

Liam snorted. “Are you really that dense? I’m not talking about the ranch, moron. I’m talking about your kids.”

Kyle flinched involuntarily. “My...what?”

Kids? As in children?

“Yes, kids,” Liam enunciated, drawing out the i sound as if Kyle might catch his meaning better if the word had eighteen syllables. “Daughters. Twins. I don’t get why you waited to come home. You should have been here the moment you found out.”

“I’m finding out this moment,” Kyle muttered as his pulse kicked up, beating in his throat like a May hailstorm on a tin roof. “How...wha...”

His throat closed.

Twin daughters. And Liam thought they were his? Someone had made a huge mistake. Kyle didn’t have any children. Kyle didn’t want any children.

Liam was staring at him strangely. “You didn’t get my messages?”

“Geez, Liam. What was your first clue? I wasn’t sitting at a desk dodging your calls. I spent six months in...a bad place and then ended up in a worse place.”

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