Brighter Than the Sun Page 57

Joe grinned. “Of course we do. You didn’t think we were serious, did you? Jesus. And risk not only your ire but yours, P.J.’s and Allie’s? One of you is bad enough, but all three of you on my ass or anyone else’s ass? Like I said, I prefer my good looks intact. Not rearranged along with my balls.”

“Besides, he’s practicing for the next time we’re all grouped together and not having to watch a boring as fuck bomb presentation,” Nathan offered. “He figures if he says all that shit in front of Allie, then anything else any of us says or laughs at will pale in comparison.”

“An unexpectedly devious plot,” Skylar said admiringly. “I approve. Gotta admit, though, I had a moment of flash rage when you started spouting all that sexist-pig shit. You’re lucky you’re far enough away from me that I didn’t insta-react and put you on your ass and serve up your balls in my palm.”

“And she wonders why I keep my mouth shut,” Joe muttered. “Well, most of the time.”

The rest of his team’s laughter, snorts and snickers were muffled by a variety of measures, eliciting suspicious looks from the rest of the assembled KGI members.

Joe?

Joe was immediately alert, all earlier signs of laid-back and joking vanishing instantly. He struggled for a brief moment, trying to coordinate and direct all his focus down the narrow mental pathway that connected him and Shea.

What’s wrong, sweetheart? Even as he asked the question, he glanced at Nathan in his periphery, but Nathan was completely relaxed, arms crossed over his chest as he watched Allie wrap up her instructional lecture. Do you need help?

Her soft laughter set him at ease and he felt her hug of reassurance. He never could quite wrap his brain around how she did that. The communicating was weird enough by itself, but how the hell could she make it feel as though she were physically touching him when they were not even in viewing distance? It was as mind-boggling as her ability to not only block pain from the person she was telepathically connected to, but to also take it on herself, redirecting not only the injury but the actual wound and pain that ensued.

I’m sorry. I tried to think of the best way to talk to you without you thinking the worst but, well, there just wasn’t any. But I’m fine. I promise. I just wanted to know if you could do something for me?

She sounded uncertain and a little hesitant as she said the last, causing Joe to frown.

Of course I will, honey. You have to know that. You know, or you should know, that all you have to do is ask. Now what’s the problem and what do you need me to do?

He felt as well as heard her little sigh of relief. Crazy woman. He was going to have a serious come-to-Jesus meeting with her later about coming to him when she needed something. No matter what it was.

Her soft laughter invaded his mind again. You do know I can read your mind when we’re connected like this. You may as well have said it. Thinking and saying are the same thing.

He mentally rolled his eyes. God help him with smart-ass women. It seemed he was plagued with them today.

She giggled again. He glowered, making sure she was on the telepathic receiving end of it in the process.

Nathan said he was going to be held up after the meeting for a while. Something to do with digging you out of a mess so you could go home and focus on your female problems. His words, not mine, she hastily amended. Anyway, any other time you know I wouldn’t mind, Joe, but I need him to come straight home. I have something . . . special . . . planned. There’s something I need to tell him, and I wondered if you could maybe make sure he didn’t hang around after y’all’s meeting today?

With her words came a flash of insight, or rather a view into her thoughts. He felt her smiling and joy flooding him, or rather he was feeling her joy, and then the image of Shea with a protruding belly, her hand resting protectively over the swell as she whispered softly to her unborn child.

Holy fuck. He glanced sideways at his brother again, barely able to contain the smile from taking over his face. Nathan was going to be a father! His twin was having his first child. Holy shit, this was epic!

Then he sobered. Honey, are you happy about this? Was this planned? Were y’all trying? Left unsaid was the fact that Nathan had said nothing to Joe about the possibility and eventuality of Shea becoming pregnant. Wouldn’t Nathan have shared something that momentous with the person he was closest to on earth next to his wife?

He didn’t tell you because it wasn’t final, Shea said gently. It’s difficult to put into words. She laughed at the unintended joke. Or rather thoughts, I suppose. We have talked about it, yes. But he was worried that I wasn’t ready and that he was projecting his own desires onto me, so he stopped talking about it completely. But he definitely wants a child—I want a child, she said, conviction lacing her words.

I just want to make sure you’re both happy, Joe said warmly. After all, you’re my two favorite people on earth. Congratulations, little mama. I’m so happy for you and my brother. And yes, I’ll make sure he gets his ass home right after we finish up here, which should be in the next two minutes.

Thanks, Joe. You’re the best. You’re going to be this baby’s godfather, you know.

His heart swelled with a myriad of emotions. Love. Gratitude. Pride. And hope. So much hope. Not only for his brother and sister-in-law but for him as well, that in the not-so-distant future, this would be his life. With Zoe.

You’ll get there, Joe. You have to believe that. If you love her, then never doubt her or you or the eventuality of a life with her.

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