The SEAL's Secret Heirs(4)

By: Kat Cantrell

It was twice as hard to accept that after being discharged, he had nowhere to go but back to the ranch where he’d never fit in, never belonged. His injury wasn’t supposed to be a factor as he figured out what to do with the rest of his life, since God hadn’t seen fit to let him die alongside Cortez. But being a father—to twins, no less—meant he had to think about what a busted leg meant for a man’s everyday life. And he did not like thinking about how difficult it was some days to simply stand.

Liam threw up a hand, a scowl crawling onto his expression. “Shut up a minute. No one wrote any checks. You’re the father of the babies, no question.”

Well, Kyle had a few questions. Like why Margaret hadn’t contacted him when she found out she was pregnant. While Liam had little information on his whereabouts, Margaret sure knew how to get in touch. Her girlfriend had been dating Cortez and called him all the time. She’d known exactly where he was stationed.

It was nothing short of unforgivable. “Where’s Margaret?”

“She died,” Liam bit out shortly. “While giving birth. It’s a long story. Do I need to give you a minute?”

Kyle processed that much more slowly than he would have liked. Margaret was dead? It seemed like just yesterday that he’d spent a long weekend with her in a hotel room. She’d been a wildcat, determined to send him back to Afghanistan with enough memories to keep him warm at night, as she’d put it.

He was sad to learn Margaret had passed, sure. He’d liked thinking about her on the other side of the world, living a normal life that he was helping to secure by going after bad guys. But they’d spent less than forty-eight hours together and had barely known each other, by design. He wasn’t devastated—it wasn’t as if he’d lost the love of his life or anything. Not like when he’d lost Grace.

“We used protection,” he muttered. As if that was the most important thing to get straight at this point. “I don’t understand. How did she get pregnant?”

“The normal way, I imagine. Moron.” Liam rolled his eyes the way he’d always done when they were younger. “Do you have any interest whatsoever in meeting your daughters?”

Kyle blinked. “Well...yeah. Of course. What happened to them after Margaret died? Who’s taking care of them?”

“I am. Me and Hadley. Who’s the most amazing woman. She’s the nanny I hired when you didn’t respond to any of my calls.”

Reeling, Kyle tried to gather some of his wits, but they seemed as scattered and filmy as clouds on a mild spring day. “Thanks. That’s... You didn’t have to. That’s above the call of duty.”

Liam crossed his arms, biceps rippling under the sleeve of his T-shirt. “They’re great babies. Beautiful. And I didn’t do it for you. I did it because I love them. Hadley and I, we’re planning to keep on taking care of them, too.”

“That’s not going to happen. You’ve spent the last ten minutes whaling on me about not coming home to take responsibility for this. I’m here. I’m man enough to step up.” He set his jaw, which still throbbed. “I want to see them.”

The atmosphere fairly vibrated with animosity as they stared each other down, neither blinking, neither backing down. Something flickered through Liam’s gaze and he gave one curt nod.

“Fine.” Liam called up the stairs off the kitchen that led to the upper stories.

After the longest three minutes of Kyle’s life, he heard footsteps and a pretty, blonde woman who must be the nanny came down the stairs. But Kyle only had eyes for the pink bundles, one each in the crook of her arms.

Sucker punch number two.

Those were real, live, honest-to-God babies. What the hell was he thinking, saying that he wanted to see them? What was that supposed to prove? That he didn’t know squat about babies?

They were so small. Nearly identical. Twins, like Kyle and Liam. He’d always heard that identical twins skipped generations, but apparently not.

“What are their names?” he whispered.

“Madeline and Margaret Wade,” the woman responded, and the babies lifted their heads toward the sound of her voice. Clearly she’d spent a lot of time with them. “We call them Maddie and Maggie for short.”

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