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This was bullshit.


If I thought I could get away with it, I would murder my brother. It would take planning and determination, but I could probably get the job done with no one the wiser.


“Oh, come on, you cranky bastard. You can go to one family dinner without sulking, can’t you?” Frankie chided, focusing on the potato in his hands before he skinned his fingers off. “Look what you did. You got us put on kitchen duty. You know how much I hate peeling potatoes.”


Amending my plans to include torture, I tied my hair back and donned an apron. “Fuck off, Frankie. It’s not my fault that stupid mutt keeps pissing in my seat. And no one made you chase Ghost around the house, waiving my seat like a lion tamer’s chair, you idiot. You got yourself in this mess, not me.”


Ghost was the bane of my existence. After Nico yanked my father’s wolf from him, the damn thing had made it his mission to dick with me at every opportunity. Liminal being or not, if he didn’t quit it, I’d figure out a way to skin him and wear him like a coat. Which is precisely what I’d told the little shit. That—and the knife I threw at him—is what got me put on kitchen duty next to Frankie.


It wasn’t so bad. If I could get my little brother to shut up for five seconds, it would be positively peaceful.

Chopping vegetables was easy work. It got me out of the line of fire of my sister’s questions.

Why don’t you come home anymore? What we smell? Why don’t you eat with us? You know Mom misses you.


Ugh. It was one guilt trip after the other. Add in Nico… I didn’t want to look at Nico’s face and relive my own bullshit. My other little brother made me look like an advertisement for uppers.


I couldn’t blame the guy. A decade ago, I’d been in his shoes. A lost mate, healing a broken heart, trying to survive every day on half a breath and half a reason to live. Hell, I was still like that. And looking at him made it so much worse. I kept wondering when he would snap, when he would break, and if our pack would survive it when he did.


But ignoring Frankie was out of the question. The little shit just would not stop talking. “I was looking out for my big brother. Honestly. It’s like you missed the concept of loyalty.”


“What I miss is the concept of being an only child. Why don’t you worry about your own vegetables and stop irritating me.” Tough ask. Frankie’s mission in life was to irritate the fuck out of me every chance he got.


“You might as well have asked me to drain the ocean with a straw, Brother. You are inherently cranky, in case you weren’t aware.”


“Fuck off, Frankie,” I grumbled, getting to work on the celery and carrots. Mom was making beef stew for dinner, and if I didn’t get on this, I’d get the eyebrow.


Catia Acosta was famous for that lone eyebrow. It was like a weapon or something. It signaled immense disappointment and a sort of disillusionment that made me feel about three inches tall. I’d already gotten it once today, and I’d rather stab Frankie than get it again.


“If you can’t appreciate my comedic gold, then you can peel your own damn vegetables.”


Frankie was immune to the eyebrow. Asshole.


“Perfect. I’ll peel all the fucking vegetables on the planet if it means that I get five seconds of peace from your idiot mouth.”


I ducked as Frankie threw a half-peeled potato at my head, plucking it from the air before it could do some real damage. I knew better than to throw it back at him. We’d been brothers for sixty years, and even though we had been adults for most of that time, Frankie still acted like a child.


And because I didn’t get back at him right away, he damn well knew the next pack run, he’d get the brunt of my revenge. Smartly, he turned tail and ran, trying to escape from under my gaze, hoping I’d forget soon.


I wouldn’t.


And even though I was stuck doing dinner prep by myself, at least I didn’t have to hear my idiot brother anymore. I was in the middle of chopping carrots, occasionally staring out the kitchen window, when a head full of blonde hair caught my eye. She was a tiny thing, fine-boned and too pale, but she made it work. She was laughing with my sister Dayana, head tilted back, hand to her chest, full-on belly laughing, and it was so fucking beautiful I thought I was being twisted from the inside out.


But the laugh didn’t last, and when her mirth died out, her expression seemed a little lost. She took a seat in the courtyard as my sister moved on, and I watched as she wilted once no one was looking at her. Something about that made my chest ache just a little, and I was so busy watching the tiny blonde that I sliced into my finger instead of one of the carrots.


Hissing in pain, I rinsed my finger under the tap, watching as the skin healed almost instantly. There were a few advantages to being a wolf, and the near-instant healing was one of them. But something called to me, shoving me out the door and into the courtyard.


Think of something smooth, Theo.


“You’re a hell of a lot prettier when you smile.”


Did that just come out of my mouth? Yes. Yes, it did.


The blonde lifted her head, her cornflower-blue eyes sparking with righteous fury as she gave me a mirthless chuckle. “And I think you’d be a lot prettier with your entrails on the floor, but I keep my thoughts to myself.”


That had me stuttering to a stop, and honestly, it made me like her a hell of a lot more. “Fair enough.” I held out a hand for her to shake. “Theo Acosta. Forgive me. That was incredibly rude for me to say, and I’m kind of loving that you called me on it.”


Eyes still narrowed, she stared at my hand like it had toxic waste on it. Slowly I pulled it back, giving her a nod. “Very well. Do I at least get the name of the woman who’s parked in my family’s courtyard?”


Nico chose that particular moment to interrupt, the little shit always having the absolute worst timing.

“Fiona. There you are. Come on. I think we’ve got everything you said you needed for the cell.”


“Cell? What are you talking about?”


We already had cells in the dungeon. What this girl would do with one of them didn’t make a single bit of sense.


“Fiona is going to alter the cells so that when we finally find that Fae bastard, we can stick him in one. He will be a hard nut to crack, and we’ll need a way to hold him.”


At my confused stare, Fiona pointed to herself. “I’m a witch, genius. It’s kind of my job. You were the benefit of an amulet of mine when you went to go dick around with some illusion mages a while back. You’re welcome, by the way.”


A witch. Perfect. Like we need another one of those around here.


“And since you have been ducking the pack at every opportunity, you have yet to meet Fiona. Fiona, this is my idiot eldest brother Theo. Theo, this is Fiona Jacobs, Wren’s best friend, badass witch, ABI agent, et cetera.”


And that’s around the time that my gut went cold. The name Jacobs set my teeth on edge. A Jacobs witch had ruined my life. Had taken everything from me. And now I was looking at one of them.


How easy would it be for me to just rip her throat out, right here, right now? To snap her neck?


A growl fought its way up my throat, but I managed to swallow it down. “You wouldn’t happen to be a member of the Jacobs Coven, would you?”


Fiona’s blue eyes narrowed once again, her spine ramrod straight. “As a matter of fact, Josiah Jacobs is my father. You got a problem with it?”


Oh, if she only knew. 

Want more of Fiona & Theo?


If you would like to see more from our favorite enemies to lovers duo, stay tuned for Hexes & Hijinx and all the crazy, witchy shenanigans that is to come.


I hope you’re buckled in to see Fiona contend with the aftermath of her visit to Kentucky, life as a Jacobs Coven outcast, and her sinfully hot, mate.

Want more of Darby & the gang?

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