Authors: Natasha Thomas
Staking Her Claim…
Book One in the Patricks’ Brothers Series; By – Natasha Thomas
Copyright © 2015 by Natasha Thomas
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof
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eBook Published and any subsequent printing done and developed in Australia
First Released, November 17
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This book is a work of fiction and is written to be taken as such.
Characters, names, nicknames, clubs, places, businesses, towns, events, and incidents are a product of the author’s own thoughts, and imagination. As such, any resemblance to persons living or dead, actual events or incidents, in the past, present, or in the future, is purely coincidental and is not in any way intended to offend, upset, or disturb person/s reading its content.
This book is intended for mature audiences aged 18 and over only. It contains content that may be viewed as disturbing for some readers, graphic sexual scenes and references, coarse language, violence, and abuse be it physical, mental, or emotional.
It is at the reader/s own discretion they purchased this book, and by doing so they agree that they are aware this book may contain disturbing content, and hereby agree that his/her decision was informed and they're own at the time of purchase, borrowing, or lending this book.
Firstly, and as always, I would like to thank my devoted husband, Sven. Without your endless support, encouragement, and belief in me, I wouldn’t have made it this far on my journey as an author. I love you more each day, and never forget that even when I’m unbearable, irrational, and temperamental. xxx
To my babies; Sarah, Christian, and Chloe, who I love unconditionally, thank you for not driving me crazy as yet because I don’t think my readers would appreciate the lack of content produced if I was locked in a padded room, with no laptop, and no internet access. All jokes aside; I love you and you mean more to me than all the stars in the sky, and the number of times the sun will crest the horizon.
Another lady worth more than a mere mention, my cover designer, Monica Langley Holloway. Your support means to me than I could ever hope to express. And remember, no matter how far we are separated geographically, you are never far from my thoughts. Thank you for always brightening my day, sometimes that’s all I need to see through the clouds.
Now, to my two favorite, kickass BETA readers; Jamie and Linda. You ladies as always, ROCK! Your honesty, feedback, and emails continue to inspire me and keep me focused, and for that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I couldn’t do this without you, and I wouldn’t want to either. It takes a lot of time to sift through my endless emails and make sense of them, and it also requires a special kind of woman to have the patience to do it. So, bless your hearts, because sometimes even I’d hate to be walking a mile in your shoes.
To all the bloggers, reviewers, and to my readers; thank you. Without you, none of this would even be possible. The time you take to share my page and teasers, comment on my statuses and leave reviews is priceless and I can’t begin to explain how truly grateful I am because you do.
Lastly, I’d like to make mention of a special lady who has been an avid reader of mine since the very beginning of Devil’s Spawn MC, my first series; Char Nolan. Every comment, every like, and every kind word you write is a gift. I have a lot of readers who make me smile or give me a reason to keep writing every day, but you are one of the very few, who without fail, make me feel special with every click of your finger. Thank you for being you. A beautiful person with a heart of pure gold…
Strength is defined not by our actions in a moment of weakness. But, by the way, we battle through times of great hardship.
To my friend, my confidant, and an inspiration to all women who need strength in times of adversity, Roxanne.
May your road from here on out be paved with nothing but the kindness, compassion, and understanding that you’ve shown others. May the people who cross your path see you for the beautiful woman you are. And may you find your anchor to weather the storm.
With great hardship comes great understanding, and there’s no one else I know who is more understanding than you.
Table of Contents
Before I begin telling you about the phenomenally crap-tastic day I’m having, I’m going to fill you in on a few things about me. Important things. Things I think might give you some insight into the kind of a woman I am. Not that you wouldn’t work these things out for yourself soon enough, but I’ve always believed it’s important to start a relationship with nothing but complete honesty.
First of all, I’m not a particularly patient person. Truth be told, I’m probably the most impatient person you’ll ever meet. I don’t like waiting for things to be done when I could have done them faster myself, and I despise people who take astronomical amounts of time to make decisions about the simplest of things. And that does not bode well for the day that’s unfolding in front of me.
Secondly, when I’m frustrated, annoyed, or angry as I most definitely am now; I’m not an especially pleasant person to be around. In fact, I’d go as far as to say; I’m a freaking nightmare to deal with. Seeing as I have seven brothers, all of which bring out one of the above emotions on a daily basis, multiple times if I'm honest, this also doesn’t bode well for them or me in the imminent future.
And lastly, and this is the biggie. When I’m livid, I may have a slight issue with controlling my temper and what comes out of my mouth. In most circumstances, this isn’t necessarily an issue. God knows, my brothers need a verbal smack down every now and again, but today, sadly, is not the day for my temper to get the best of me. I need to be calm and in control. Something that isn’t going to be easy considering the audience I’m facing. However, never let it be said I wasn’t willing to give it my best shot.
How did what I’d hoped would be a productive day go so wrong you ask? It started out like any other regular day, in the midst of what felt like an average week, but everything went downhill from there. My day became akin to that of a sinking ship; stranded, slowly sinking beneath the surface without any hope of salvation.
I woke up this morning for the first time in forever before my alarm, which is somewhat of a miracle in and of itself. I am not a morning person. I managed to finish my shower before the crappy pipes in my apartment gave up the ghost, rattled in protest, and refused to produce any more blessed hot water. And I dressed in something other than sweats or yoga pants, which is another minor miracle.
I’ve been laying around in my comfy attire for weeks now, and while I would have loved to continue doing just that, and would have if it wasn’t for being summoned to the office today, I can’t show up dressed like that. Brookes would hand me my ass for coming in wearing anything less than something that screamed pure professional. So sadly, I donned my best jeans – no, it’s not a pants suit but he’ll just have to deal – a button down, capped sleeved blouse, and my cropped, vintage leather jacket.
Okay, so I might have exaggerated when I said the dress code needed to be professional. Brookes implements that for everyone other than me, because frankly, he’s given up bothering to haul me over the coals for how I show up at work. After no less than five million, six hundred, and eleven company dress code infractions, Brookes simply doesn’t give enough of a shit to tell me to go home and change anymore.
Granted, I started dressing this way just to piss him off, but it what can I say? I enjoy watching the steam come from his ears and his face go bright red while he tries to restrain himself from throttling me. Call me stupid, but what sister wouldn’t enjoy getting a rise out of her pain in the ass older brother?
Anyway, back to the point. When I was called in to work at the ungodly hour of seven o’clock this morning, the last thing I was expecting was an intervention Patricks’ brother’s style. Not that I’d have any cause to expect one because I’ve never been privy to one before.
I’m sure my brothers have indeed instigated these from time-to-time with other employees before but just not with me, and not with every one of my siblings present. But me being the trendsetter I am, I should have figured it would be me that would be able to claim I was the first to make them feel it was necessary to intercede on my behalf. Such is the life of an only sister.
I suppose I should consider myself lucky my Mom isn’t here to partake in what I’m sure will be a delightful conversation, intermingled with a good deal of yelling and cursing. Because while I have no doubt, she would try to intervene to make things better, in reality, she’d only making them exponentially worse.
Not that mom would let my brothers get away with the cursing part of the conversation for long, but the yelling component, she has no control over and never will. God bless her she’d try to control her son’s, but she’d fail dismally at reining in their tempers.
The first thing I noticed when I walked into the ‘War Room’ as my brothers like to call it, (it’s really a meeting room, but whatever floats their boat), is that all the chairs around the conference table are filled. Now, this isn’t uncommon when we have meetings to discuss cases and divvy up work for the week, but it is strange when my youngest brother, Liam is still in Blackwater with the MC.
This means that at least one seat should be empty, and more importantly, I’d have one less brother ready to kick my ass. However, no such luck on that front either.
Worse still, I notice two extras chairs have been positioned at the head of the table next to Brookes’ usual seat, and these are filled with posteriors that have no place here in a family discussion that I’m sure will turn majorly hostile. Not that I’m saying I’m always right, because that’s just implied, but I doubt these two will have any pearls of wisdom to add. No, these two party crashers will more than likely only make things worse not better.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, though. This little gem is something I’m taking note of carefully and filing away for future use. It is absolutely not beneath me to use this information to pull myself out of the fire either, best friend or not.
My best friend in the entire universe, one of my only
friends, Harper Cox, is sitting in our conference room glaring at me with the same pissed off look on her face as the rest of the assholes gathered around the table.
While Harper’s current attitude issues don't particularly concern me, it is giving me the distinct feeling impending doom is near. This isn’t a something I’m accustomed to feeling directed at me. And it’s a look that definitely does
give me warm and fuzzy thoughts, but I’ll have to deal with her later.
But by the looks of it, I’ve got more important things to worry about. Things like the men currently piercing me with menacing glares.
oody assholes as I affectionately call them are, in fact, my seven brothers. In this case, only six of them are actually here, but it seems they’ve called in a ringer to fill Liam’s unoccupied seat for today’s festivities. They aren’t really assholes, more like overprotective, super alpha males with far too much testosterone and permits to carry concealed. Big concealed weapons at that.
All of which makes them extra freaking annoying when you’re an only sister who wishes to have a life that isn’t planned out for them. I should be grateful I’ve got them to look out for me, but in the grand scheme of things they tend to be more trouble than they’re worth. This being one of those times.
That aside, what is an interesting development in the ongoing saga that is my friend, Harper’s life, is that she’s giving me a look that clearly communicates woman-you’re-gonna-get-it-from-me-T-minus-two-seconds, and she’s giving me this sitting next to the one man she actively avoids.
Something made hugely difficult seeing as she’s his personal assistant, but that doesn’t stop her from trying to prevent all contact with him, and when she can’t, just blatantly ignoring him instead. Unfortunately for her, Harper picked the one man she can’t pretend doesn’t exist. Our King and leader, who likes to think he is all knowing, all seeing, and the self-imposed head honcho of, EyeSee, my oldest brother, Brookes.
Her sitting next to Brookes by choice, without breaking out into hives should make for an interesting conversation later over Tequila and nachos, but for now, I’m happy to sit by and watch how this all plays out.
I have no doubt she’ll spill all the gory details about how this intervention came about tonight, because if there’s one thing I know about Harper, it’s her zero ability to keep anything secret from me for long.
Sighing I flop down onto my regularly assigned seat, the one at the very end of the twelve-seater table, and wait for the ass chewing I know is coming. It takes all of three seconds not the two I was anticipating, so that’s something at least, for the first rapid fire burst of shouting to occur. And it comes from the person I knew was bound to lose their cool before anyone else did. I told you she couldn’t help herself.
“Have you lost your freakin’ mind?” Shaking her head to herself, Harper throws up a hand saying, “No, don’t answer that, I know you’ve lost your marbles. How could you not have told me? I mean, a gunshot wound, seriously?”
Pushing out of her chair almost violently, her seat slides back nearly a foot hitting the wall behind her. Standing now, Harper starts to pace back and forth clearly agitated.
She does this all the time when she’s angry. Pacing is the way she works off the excess energy that she lets accumulate. It’s better than her taking it out physically on innocent objects, trust me.
“You told me this was an easy job; it was only information gathering. I believe you said it wasn’t flipping dangerous.” Insert sarcasm here, just in case you didn’t pick up on the inflection in Harper’s tone.
“Why do I ever believe you when you say this shit? Tell me, Aly.” That was a rhetorical question by the way. “Why do I go about making plans for pedicures and the like when for all I know next time you’ll come home with no feet, hence no toenails to paint?” Again, rhetorical. It’s best not to interrupt her when she’s on a roll. “I had the prettiest shade picked out too, salmon blush it’s called. It would have looked fah-reek-ing amazing with that new white slip dress we bought last month at Nordstrom’s.”
Something to know about Harper, when she’s upset she talks about clothes, shoes, hair, nails and makeup. I’ve got no clue why your guess is as good as mine, but it’s what she does and I let her do it.
Somehow it calms her down, and far be it from me to make things worse in this situation, so I let her ramble on.
“You promised, Aly,” she says softening her tone. “You promised we’d do all the things we’ve been missing out on doing for years when you got home from this one last job. Then I get a call from Finn telling me you’ve been shot, and he says you told him
elay the message to me that you wouldn’t be able to make our spa date,” she shrieks.
Her chest is heaving now as she begins working herself up again. All of her anger and disappointment aside, I can see the tears forming in her eyes. Harper isn’t saying any of this because she’s actually upset about me missing out on some stupid spa date, though. It’s what the spa appointment represented she’s so angry about. For years I promised Harper that once I was out of the Army, I’d be here for her more often. We talked about all of the things we’d do together once we were older. When we were adults.
We craved freedom, me from my overprotective brothers and her from her intensely overprotective single dad. I promised her things when I was younger, and I broke those promises. To her, this was just another thing I hadn’t kept my word with, and while I understood where she was coming from I didn’t have anything to say that would make it better. No amount of I’m sorry and I’ll try harder next time was going to make up for this latest screw up.
Looking at each of my brothers, I see that they notice Harper’s tears threatening, but a fat lot of good they are. None of them are saying a word, and currently, they all seem to be finding the wood grain of the conference table highly fascinating. Betraying bastards. Where is the family loyalty these days? That being said, they’re used to this sort of thing between the two of us, or I should say they’ve come to terms with this is just how we are and have learned to live with it.
So in an attempt to disarm the ticking bomb that is my best friend I whisper,
Throwing up her hand again, she barks,