Badd motherf cker, p.14
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       Badd Motherf*cker, p.14

         Part #1 of Badd Brothers series by Jasinda Wilder
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  I blinked up at him, absorbing everything he'd just said to me. Which, despite the roughness of it, was incredibly sweet, and as honest and upfront as you could ask for. If he'd declared his undying love, I'd have laughed in his face, but that wasn't what he was offering. He wasn't saying he'd be able to change his nature, but he was willing to try. Because he "felt shit for me." Was that enough for me? Was it even what I wanted?

  I didn't get a chance to reply, though.

  "Now, what are the chances of you coming back home with me so we can continue this somewhere a little drier?" He jerked his head back toward the bar.

  Apparently I didn't reply quickly enough, because he scooped me up in his arms and started walking back down the dock. I laughed and slapped him on the shoulder. "Put me down, you big idiot. I can walk."

  "Will you be goin' in the right direction, though?" he asked.

  "Yes, yes, I'll go with you. Just put me down. I'm not a fucking invalid."

  "I'm wet and getting cold and you weren't answering," he muttered, setting me on my feet. "And I just put myself out there and you haven't said dick about it in return, so I'm getting a little antsy, here, you know?"

  We'd reached the man whom Sebastian had said was Brock--one of his brothers, I assumed--and he heard Sebastian's last statement.

  "Give the girl a minute to process, would you?" He extended his hand to me. "I'm Brock."

  "Dru," I responded, shaking his hand, and hated how stunned I sounded.

  Because holy mother of shit, if I thought Sebastian and Zane were hot? Brock was...Jesus. The man was gorgeous, in a neat, classical, lean-and-wiry sort of way. Similar features as Zane and Sebastian, the same rich brown hair and liquid, expressive brown eyes, but where Sebastian was rough and wild and rugged and Zane was cold and dangerous and brutal-looking in a scary sexy way, Brock was just...beautiful. Male, definitely, not at all effeminate, just truly beautiful. I had no idea what Brock did for a living, but if he said he was a model, I wouldn't have been surprised.

  Which only made me wonder what the other five looked like. Holy hell, five more Badd brothers?

  I elbowed Sebastian. "Are all your brothers this good-looking?"

  He grinned down at me. "Nah. The rest are ugly."

  I frowned. "That's what you said about Zane, and I wouldn't classify him as ugly by any stretch of the imagination."

  Brock laughed. "Along with punching, insults are his way of showing affection."

  "It's the only language you uneducated gorillas understand," Sebastian said.

  And for some reason, Brock thought this was hilarious. "I'm surprised you managed all those syllables in the same sentence, Bast. I'm so proud of you!"

  Sebastian growled. "I can still choke you out, you little prick."

  Brock just laughed again. "Yeah, I'd like to see you try, you big macho fuckstick."

  I watched their easy banter. Despite the harsh words, neither seemed truly insulted or angry. Weird. If anyone had said that kind of thing to me, they'd wake up in the hospital with false teeth and pins keeping their bones together.

  Brock eyed me, apparently noticing my unfamiliarity with their brand of playfulness. "We're only kidding, you know."

  Sebastian shoved Brock toward the water, and the younger brother barely managed to avoid taking a swim. "Speak for yourself, ding-dong. You'd still be unconscious if you hadn't spotted Dru."

  "Excuse me?" Brock stopped and then took a step toward Sebastian. "I think you were the one about to pass out, actually."

  And they were about to face off again. "Um, boys? Can we not?" I said, stepping between them.

  Sebastian grinned at Brock. "By the way, in case you get any funny ideas...Dru here took Zane down in two moves."

  Brock gave me a look of shocked surprise. "Damn, girl. Takes balls to go after Zane."

  "Nah, just a knee to the balls," I said.

  "How did this come about?" Brock asked.

  Sebastian shrugged. "We didn't exactly start off on the best foot, you might say."

  I snorted. "If by that you mean 'about to tear each others faces off', then yes, that would be an accurate statement."

  "It wasn't that bad," Sebastian argued. "Just a...disagreement."

  Brock shook his head. "You two argue more than Corin and Canaan. It's pathetic."

  "Wasn't my fault. He went in on me about the ten grand Dad left me."

  "And let me guess, you said something about being stuck here in Ketchikan, and he took it personally, and then you were trying to beat each other into toothpaste like the muscle-bound ape-men you are?"

  I laughed at that. "Pretty much exactly it. You're funny, Brock."

  He winked at me. "That's me, the funny one."

  "What are your other brothers like?" I asked.

  Sebastian answered. "You've met Zane. He's serious, intense, and a little hard to get used to. But he's cool, if you can earn his trust. Brock here is the funny one--"

  "And the smart one, don't forget," Brock put in.

  "Nah, that's Xavier. He makes even you look like a numbskull," Sebastian said to Brock, then glanced at me. "Xavier is the baby. He's seventeen, national high school soccer all-star, got a full academic ride to Stanford and offers from a couple other Ivy League schools for that and soccer. Baxter is back at the bar already. He plays football, and that's really all you need to know about him. He plays in the CFL for now, but I guess there's been talk of going pro. Wouldn't surprise me, honestly. The kid is a monster."

  Brock spoke up. "Well, there was talk of going pro. This will of Dad's puts a crimp on that."

  Sebastian sighed. "Yeah. It puts a crimp on a lot of shit for everyone."

  Brock's teasing humor was gone, now. "Yeah, but Bax and the twins have the most to lose from this year in Ketchikan business. Bax basically has to put his career on hold, and the twins have to skip an entire year of touring. Zane took his discharge papers for this, in case you weren't aware, and who the hell knows what Lucian is doing. I can easily skip a year of air shows, so it doesn't bother me all that much."

  Sebastian frowned at his brother. "Zane left the Navy?"

  Brock snorted. "No shit. He had to. If all of us don't show up for this year of brotherly bonding, no one gets the money."

  "I didn't think about that aspect of it," Sebastian said.

  "That's why I'm saying something," Brock said, clapping Sebastian on the shoulder. "But I mean you have to know there's going to be some tempers flaring in the near future. But just remember, we're all doing it. For Dad, yeah, but for you too."

  Sebastian stopped and glared at Brock. "For me? What the fuck does that mean?"

  I felt like an outsider, listening in on this. It was obviously a very touchy, difficult subject.

  Brock sighed, and took a minute to formulate his thoughts. "We should probably have this conversation another time." He glanced at me. "Not because of you, Dru, it's's a tricky subject, for all of us. Dad's death is still fresh for us all, Sebastian. But none of us have forgotten how you stepped up, and that you've been running the bar alone since Dad died. We all took as much time off for the funeral as we could, but..." He shrugged, for once at a loss. "Then we got the call from that lawyer about the terms of the will, and we knew we had to come back. Not much choice. Not for any of us."

  "Wait, wait...did you guys talk about this already?" Sebastian asked.

  Brock hesitated. "Yeah, sort of."

  "Of course you did." Sebastian pushed ahead, his long legs swiftly carrying him away from Brock and me.

  "Not like you're thinking, though." Brock jogged to catch up. "Bast, you're not understanding. All of us have our careers. We don't really need the money. So we talked about doing the year and then giving Dad's payout back to you."

  Sebastian stopped, anger on his face. "I don't need the fuckin' money, asshole."

  "Yes, you do. But it's not about the money."

  "Then what's it about?"

  Brock grabbed Sebastian's shoulders. "You."

  Sebastian shook his hold off. "I told you, all that bullshit about the way things were after Mom died...that was what I had to do. No more, no less."

  "How you feel about it isn't the point," Brock said.

  Sebastian threw up his hands and kept walking. "Then color me fuckin' confused." He jerked open the door to the bar and vanished inside.

  Brock let him go, and turned to look at me. "He's a stubborn motherfucker, but he'll come around. You can't ever really take Sebastian's first reaction at face value. He tends to give in to knee-jerk reactions, and then after he has a chance to think things through, he comes around. know, just give him a chance."

  I nodded, but my mind was going a million miles a second. "Sounds like things are getting complicated for you guys."

  Brock quirked an eyebrow up. "You could say that. Our dad passed away three months ago, and his will stipulated that all of his kids--meaning the seven of us who left home--have to return here for a full year to work in the bar with Sebastian before we get any of the money from his estate." He pulled the door open for me, and we went into the still-darkened bar. Sebastian was nowhere to be seen, which meant he was upstairs, I assumed. "Which, yes, complicates life for pretty much all of us. It's about time, though, if you ask me. Sebastian has had to deal with way more than his share of the burden around here for too long. So we all decided to come back and do what we had to do, for Sebastian's sake. Except he's too damn stubborn to accept that, so he's gonna be a grunty caveman about it until he decides to come around to our way of thinking.

  "And yeah, all eight of us fully grown Badd brothers living and working in this little bar?" He chuckled with dark amusement. "Oooooh boy, it's gonna get super interesting around here, let me tell you. Between Zane and Sebastian posturing about who's the most badass, Baxter acting like his usual bull-in-a-china shop self, the cat-and-dog fighting of the twins...holy shit, man. The next year is going to be fun. Especially for me, since I'm the mediator most of the time."

  "There's eight of you, right?" I counted off the names I knew. "Sebastian, the oldest, then Zane--"

  Brock took over. "Then me, then Baxter, the football player, then Canaan and Corin the identical twins, who are currently in Germany on tour with their band, then Lucian, who's kind of a weird and mysterious guy, but cool if you can get him to open up, then Xavier the baby."

  "And they're all coming back?" I asked.

  He nodded. "I guess Lucian is going to take a while, since he was halfway across the world doing god knows what. Xavier should be here within a few days, and the twins in a couple weeks. They had a series of shows in Europe they were committed to, but they've canceled the rest. And that's the lot, as they say." He said the last sentence in a passable British accent.

  I leaned against the bar. "And there's me, in the middle of it all, fucking with Sebastian's head."

  Brock wobbled his head side to side. "I don't know, actually. I'm not sure I'd say you're fucking with his head. I mean, I've only been here an hour, but he's obviously hung up on you, and I've never known him to ever get hung up on a chick before. He needs a good kick to the status quo. He's been stuck in a rut, I think, and the only way he'll ever get out of it is if someone forces him out of it."

  "And you think that's me?"

  Brock just shrugged. "That's up to the two of you, whether or not he's willing to actually man up and let you in, and whether or not you have the patience to put up with his emotionally-stunted nonsense." He slapped the bar top with his palm. "And I, for one, hope you do, and hope he does."

  "And if he doesn't?"

  Another lift of his shoulder. "He'll asshole his way out of having to be vulnerable. I've seen him do it any number of times. He doesn't like it when things get real, so he puts up these spiky death rays of asshole behavior, to just sort of push people away. Doesn't work on us, of course, since we're his brothers and we see through it, but for women...? He's a bad boy, you know? Like, true-blue, down to the bone bad boy. Chicks love it, short term. But trying to push through the asshole to get to the truly decent guy lurking beneath it takes more than anyone's ever been willing to put up."

  A big booming voice broke the skin of the quiet discussion. "Quit boring the lady with your girly psychobabble bullshit, Brock! Time to do shots!"

  The man accompanying the voice must have been Baxter, according to Sebastian's description. Big, burly, thick, bull-necked, full of blustering thunder and power. Same as Sebastian, Zane, and Brock, Baxter had brown hair and brown eyes, but like each of his brothers, he wore it differently. His arms were so huge I found myself wondering how he even managed to wipe his own asshole, and his chest was actually some kind of tectonic plate, but his waist was a trim wedge hugged by a green and yellow University of Oregon T-shirt. He occupied a huge physical space, but as he left the stairwell and swaggered across to the bar, it was clear he was also one of those people who just dominated any room he was in, through virtue of sheer volume, bluster, bravado, and power of personality.

  He slid behind Brock, trailing his fingers along the bottles of booze lined up on shelves. "!" He tapped a bottle of Johnny Walker, Jack Daniel's, Wild Turkey each in turn, and then at the word "mo" stopped on a bottle of Patron Silver.

  Brock whacked Baxter on the shoulder. "It's noon, moron. We're not doing shots of tequila."

  Baxter ignored him, poured three overflowing shot glasses full of tequila, rummaged around under the bar for a tray full of sliced limes and a salt shaker. "It's always time for tequila, you little bitch!" He set a shot glass in front of me, grabbed my wrist, licked it, shook salt onto it, tossed me a lime. Held up his glass to me. "To my brother Sebastian--asshole extraordinaire, and owner of the meanest right hook I've ever fucking felt; and to you, Dru, for being woman enough to get even his tightwad panties in a hell of a bunch!"

  He clinked my shot glass with his, spilling tequila all over my hand and his, and then he slammed his glass against Brock's glass who, despite his protest, was doing the shot with us. We licked the salt off our hands, did the shot, and then sucked the limes, each of us doing the requisite post-tequila shot grunt.

  I noticed, then, that Baxter had a shadow on his jaw, too. "Wait, Sebastian punched you, too?"

  Baxter poured another shot and downed that one, no salt or lime or gasp. "Yes, he did. The fucker. I always forget how hard that bastard can hit."

  I frowned. "Why'd he hit you?"

  Zane appeared, then, grabbed the bottle of tequila and stole Baxter's shot glass, did two shots in short order, forgoing the salt and lime. "Because the dumbfuck had the balls to ask Sebastian why he had his panties in a bunch."

  "To which Sebastian replied 'not wearing any panties, cocksucker,'" Baxter said, rubbing his jaw, "and then he decked me."

  I looked in turn at Zane, Baxter, and Brock, each of who bore some kind of mark from Sebastian's anger. "So he's clocked all three of you..." I grabbed the bottle and did another shot, but I went with salt and lime, because I clearly wasn't on the same level of hard-drinking badassery as the Badd brothers. "Which leads to tequila shots at...twelve-oh-nine on a Monday afternoon?"

  Zane nodded. "Yep. I mean, I don't know about these fuckers, but I haven't been to bed yet. Took an overnight from London to LA, and then connected from LA to Seattle, and then from Seattle here, and that was the short leg of my journey. So for me, it's basically still Sunday, according to the ancient rules of staying up all night."

  "And I got cheated on, on the day of my wedding," I said. "Which was two days ago--and then I met Sebastian and had him mess me up in all kinds of ways, so I feel a little entitled."

  "And we've both been punched," Baxter pointed out, slugging Brock in the shoulder, "which gives us a good excuse. But you know me, I don't really need an excuse to get shitty, na'mean?" And then he promptly did a third shot.

  I was feeling my first two, so I held off. "Why is Sebastian going around hitting everyone?"

  "I told you," Brock said. "Because he'
s an emotionally stunted caveman."

  "Oh," I said.

  Baxter laughed. "And because he's an idiot. Thinks we're gonna just let him get away with hitting us because he's all pissy about things."

  I glanced from brother to brother to brother in turn, once more, and noticed each of them had the same expression going on...and Brock was doing a second shot too, and then a third. They were all looking at each other, exchanging those meaningful glances in which men who know each other well have a tendency to do when they want to communicate.

  "I'm guessing you're not planning on letting him get away with it?" I asked, warily.

  Zane chuckled darkly. "Hell no."

  Baxter corked the bottle of Patron, replaced it, and then slammed his fist on the bar. "Ready, brothers?"

  Zane and Brock answered in unison. "Ready."

  All three swaggered off toward the stairs, Zane going up first, Brock second, and Baxter third. Baxter reappeared almost immediately, eyeing me. "Dru? If I were you, I"

  I blinked at him, and then he was gone, and I heard his feet on the stairs. A few moments of silence, and then a wordless bellowing roar from Sebastian...

  Thuds, bangs, the crash of something breaking, more thuds so hard and loud the walls shook...

  And then several pairs of feet stomping on the stairs, more thuds, and then Sebastian's voice shouting and bellowing and cursing.

  "LET ME GO YOU FUCKING ASSHOLES!" I heard him shout, and then Baxter and Zane appeared, each holding one of Sebastian's thrashing arms, and then Brock with his feet.

  They carried him across the bar, and he was kicking and thrashing so hard they were obviously struggling to keep hold of him. Baxter had a bloody lip, Zane's nose was trickling blood, and Brock's shirt was ripped...and they didn't even have him outside yet.

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