The SEAL's Secret Heirs(3)

By: Kat Cantrell

From the city of Kunduz to Landstuhl Regional, the US-run military hospital in Germany. He didn’t remember a lot of it, but the incredible pain as the doctors worked to restore the bone a bullet had shattered in his leg—that he would never forget.

But he was one of the lucky ones who’d survived his wounds. Cortez hadn’t. Kyle still had nightmares about leaving his teammate behind in that foxhole where they’d been trapped by insurgents. Seemed wrong. Cortez should have had a proper send-off for his sacrifice.

“Still not a chatterbox, I see.” Liam scrubbed at his face with one hand, and when he dropped it, weariness had replaced the glower. “Keep your secrets about your fabulous life overseas as a badass. I really don’t care. I have more important things to get straight.”

The weariness was new. Kyle remembered his brother as being a lot of things—a betrayer, first and foremost—but not tired. It looked wrong on his face. As wrong as the constant pain etched into Kyle’s own face when he looked in the mirror. Which was why he’d quit looking in the mirror.

“Why don’t you start at the beginning.” Kyle jerked his head toward what he hoped was still the kitchen. “Maybe we can hash it out over tea?”

It was too early in the morning for Jack Daniel’s, though he might make an exception, pending the outcome of the conversation.

Liam nodded and spun to stride off toward the back of the house. Following him, Kyle was immediately blinded by all the off-white cabinets in the kitchen. His brother hadn’t left a stone unturned when he’d gotten busy redoing the house. Modern appliances in stainless steel had replaced the old harvest gold ones and new double islands dominated the center. A wall of glass overlooked the back acreage that stretched for miles until it hit Old Man Drucker’s property. Or what had been Drucker’s property ten years ago. Obviously Kyle wasn’t up-to-date about what had been going on since he’d left.

Without ceremony, Liam splashed some tea into a cup from a pitcher on the counter and shoved the cup into his hand. “Tea. Now talk to me about Margaret Garner.”

Hot. Blonde. Nice legs. Kyle visualized the woman instantly. But that was a name he hadn’t thought about in—wow, like almost a year.

“Margaret Garner? What does she have to do with any—”

The question died in his throat. Almost a year. Like long enough to grow a baby or two? Didn’t mean it was true. Didn’t mean they were his babies.

It felt like a really good time to sit down, and he thought maybe he could do it without tipping off Liam how badly his leg ached 24-7.

He fell heavily onto a bar stool at the closest island, tea forgotten and shoulders ten pounds heavier. “San Antonio. She was with a group of friends at Cantina Juarez. A place where military groupies hang out.”

“So you did sleep with her?”

“Not that it’s any of your business,” Kyle said noncommitally. They were long past the kiss-and-tell stage of their relationship, if they’d ever been that close. When Liam took up with Grace ten years ago, it had killed any fragment of warmth between them, warmth that was unlikely to return.

“You made it my business when you didn’t come home to take care of your daughters,” Liam countered, as his fists balled up again.

“Take another swing at me and you’ll get real cozy with the floor in short order.” Kyle contemplated his brother. Who was furious. “So Margaret came around with some babies looking for handouts? I hope you asked for a paternity test before you wrote a check.”

This was bizarre. Of all the conversations he’d thought he’d be having with Liam, this was not it. Babies. Margaret. Paternity test. None of these things made sense, together or separately.

Why hadn’t any of Liam’s messages been relayed? Probably because he hadn’t called the right office—by design. Kyle hadn’t exactly made it clear how Liam could reach him. Maybe it was a blessing that Kyle hadn’t known. He couldn’t have hopped on a plane anyway.

Kyle couldn’t be a father. He barely knew how to be a civilian and had worked long and hard at accepting that he wasn’t part of a SEAL team any longer.

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