His Brother's Mate

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Chapter 12

The storm beyond the window swirled and danced as it beat against the glass. Those unfortunate flakes that caught against the window slowly shifted and changed as the warmth from the interior melted them to mere drops. By morning, they would crystallize to some intricate yet beautiful pattern as it cast its spell across the once tormentor. Retribution in all its beauty, and very feminine in its elegance.

Reaching my hand out, I let my fingers move from one melted flake to the next. Beauty in the small things, though sometimes that beauty gets complicated and prickly. Being here felt just like that…complicated and prickly.

Moving away from the window, I moved to where soft sleeping noises came from my son. Smiling, I pushed a swatch of hair away from his face. The innocence that played over his features was beautiful, and reminded me once more how much I missed even something as simple as watching him sleep.

Just as I pulled the covers back to lay next to him, a gentle knock on my door sounded into the room. For a second, I thought about not answering. It was gentle enough that I thought the one knowing might have been under the assumption that I was sleeping. If I just ignored it, maybe they would go away.

Hesitating, I waited. “Cat, I know you are not asleep. You going to let me in or am I going to have to huff and puff and blow your door in?” I smiled as Devon’s voice echoed boldly into the room.

Evan’s eyes groggily opened briefly before he turned on his side and fell back asleep. That made my mind up. I had to answer before the man woke my son up.

“I mean it, Cat!” Crap!

Hurrying across the room, I tried to make my footsteps fall quietly against the floorboards. When I made it to the door, I snatched it open as quiet as I could to prevent this man from further waking Evan.

“Shhh!” My shushing could certainly be heard down the hall, but I needed to impress on him my meaning. “You are going to wake Evan!”

Devon gave me his patent goofy look. “Got what I wanted, didn’t I?” He lifted his brows and smirked at me.

I crossed my arms over my chest. “Really, Devon?” I chuckled and shook my head. “It’s too late for me to deal with your humor.”

“Pfshh,” he interrupted. “It’s only..” he took a quick glance at a silver watch that dangled loosely around his wrist. “Eleven o’clock.” He lifted his gaze back to meet mine as he smirked. “It’s still early yet.” His smirk became a full on smile. “I’ve got a surprise for you!”

One of my brows dropped as one corner of my lip lifted in complete doubt. “Sorry, Devon, but as tempting as that sounds..”

Starting to turn back to my room, I felt his hand reach out to grasp my arm. My eyes moved to where his hand rested gently on my arm, then I glanced up to his face. “I’m guessing this means you have something to say?” I let a playful stern look take over my features, letting my eyes narrow on him. “After all, you wouldn’t want a grumpy mamma bear ripping you a new one because you kept her from her cub.”

This comment made the hall fill with jovial laughter, and I had to clamp my hands over his mouth to prevent the booming nature of it from waking my son. The man continued his laughter as he tried to speak in a muffled voice behind my clamped hands.

“If I put my hands down, are you going to be quiet?” I whispered the words harshly. If he woke my boy, I would go mamma bear on him!

Devon nodded, and I slowly let my hands drop from his mouth. “I mean, if you wanted to shut me up…”. He let his voice trail off, and I let my brows lift with a shake of my head.

“You can take the boy out of the player, but you can’t take the player out of the boy.” I shrugged.

Devon smirked as he leaned himself against the wall next to my door. “Can’t blame me, Cat. I mean, look at you.” He cast his eyes over my entire form, and that is when what I was wearing became apparent.

“Hey!” I snapped my fingers in front of his face. “Eyes up here, buck-o!”

Giving me a sheepish grin, he continued to let his eyes glance over me before turning them once more to my face. “You can’t blame a guy.” He indicates the shorts and camisole set that was left in the room for me. Another of Cordi’s “gifts,” in addition to the other clothes she left for me.

I dismissed the look on his face, and the conversation. “So, why exactly are you at my door at eleven at night?” Devon’s eyes sparkled with mischief. Before he could respond, I leaned against the door frame and gave him a warning look. “And this better be good, Devon.”

“Well,” he started, and for a brief second I saw a flicker of doubt cross his face. He lifted one of his hands and ran it through his hair as his other sought refuge in his pants pocket. “You see, Cordi...well, she has been planning something...for you, and well, the rest of us since we are kind of stuck here.” Shifting on his feet, he stood to his full height and slid both hands into his pockets. “Well, I am to escort you there.” His head nodded sharply as if to emphasize his meaning.

It was my turn to chuckle. “That was such a poor attempt of asking me out!”

In reality, I knew that was not his intent, but watching the man blush and get flustered was too good to pass up. “That isn’t...I mean, I wasn’t trying to…”. He stumbled a few more times before he fell back into his easy charm. I started to laugh harder at his discomfort before I smiled at him. “You got me!”

I smiled at him and gave him a quick wink. “I’d say I did.” Putting my hand on the door knob, I sent him a questioning glance. “So, what does Cordi have planned?”

“A party, of course. Drinks, dancing...just a way to blow off some steam after being cooped up here.” He grinned. “I was sent to escort you, but…” his gaze slipped down my form, but quicker this time lest he be reprimanded once more. “I am thinking if you show up in that, heads would roll.”

Frowning, my nose wrinkled up at the expression. “I thought the expression was heads would turn?”

Devon chuckled and shook his head. “Not if Gavin decides to make an appearance.”

I scoffed. “He has no bearing on what I do or what I wear!”

Devon let a slow smile spread across his face. “Maybe not you, but I would feel bad for any man, or woman, that dared look at you with even a hint of interest. And that includes me, so go and change and I will wait for you here.”

Giving him a bit of a sneer, I glared at him. “First, your brother is engaged, which means that he needs to keep his focus where he has obligated himself.”

Devon just continued to smile at me as he interrupted. “It’s not that easy, Cat. You can’t tell me you don’t feel it.”

I waved my hand in the air to dismiss his comment. “And second,” I continued. “I never said I was going in the first place.”

His chuckle would normally have irritated me, but I suddenly felt relaxed as the waves of emotion that swept over me when talking about Gavin seemed to drift away as easily as they came. “You have to come,” he practically whined at me. “If you don’t, Cordi will be pissed,” I frowned when he cursed, turning my head to the closed bedroom door. I knew Evan was fast asleep, but it was a hard habit to break. Devon smirked, but continued. “And, if you don’t come, who will I hang out with?”

“Cordi,” I said flatly. “Or any of the other women that show up that catches your fancy.” I smirked at him, feeling myself scoring yet another point.

He shrugged his shoulders. “Maybe, but my point was that I wanted to hang out with you.” The smile on his lips was the same smile I could imagine on a cat as it prepared itself to playfully pounce on a laser pointer light flashing across the floor.

The mood felt even lighter, and I smirked at him. “Fine,” I agreed reluctantly. “But I need to find someone to check on Evan.”

His eyes lit up like a child at Christmas. “Got it all sorted!” I glanced at him warily as I opened my door and moved back inside. “Darla.” He gave me a cheeky grin, and I shot him a momentary death glare. “What? She loves him as much as I do, and she would protect him with her life.”

“Yeah, right,” I mocked in disbelief.

I grabbed some clothes from the closet in my room and headed to the restroom to change. Before I could close the door, Devon responded. “There is not a man or woman here who would not lay their life down for you and Evan, and that’s the truth, Cat.”

I felt there was something there he was trying to tell me, and I thought I knew what it was. Shaking my head, I started to close the door once more. “I’m not staying, Devon. Get it out of your head!” Then, I shut the door closed to finish changing. Maybe a few drinks is exactly what the doctor ordered to dull the ache I felt at saying those words.

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