Cody Martin was a good attorney. Never appreciated at her job, she still never wavered in her loyalty. And when she was suddenly fired for no reason, she found it would be the perfect opportunity to start a business with her brother Matt.
Layton Tate was also an attorney, but he and his brother Loren were bogged down with cases and needed to hire a new firm to help with their caseload. Cody would make a good candidate as her stellar reputation proceeded her. He reached out to shake Cody’s hand. The blast sent them both reeling to opposite sides of the room and shocking the family. Layton and his wolf both knew what that meant.
Cody wasn’t stupid, she knew what Layton was to her too, but she had to make sure the ground rules were straight before she’d have anything to do with him. No one would be pushing her around, mate or no mate….
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Caitlynne’s job was difficult. Doing what she did for the government not only put herself at risk but any friends or family she had could become a target. When her sister was hurt, she blamed herself even though it had nothing to do with her directly. It didn’t matter. It was time for her to quit before someone she cared about ended up dead.
Joel Tate had been in the building to meet with Becca Jacobson when she was attacked. To save her, Joel had to change her into what he was, a wolf. More or less guarding her in the hospital, Joel met her sister, Caitlynne, when she was brought to the hospital to see her sister. As soon as Caitlynne was close enough to him to get her scent, he knew she was his mate.
Caitlynne’s disappearing act from her job started things rolling. Her boss wasn’t taking I quit as an answer. When they tried to kill her by setting her apartment on fire, Joel thought it was time to take the situation into his own hands….
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“Dad, we can make this work for us.” Cody was getting frustrated with her father. He was just too wishy-washy for her today. Well, most days of late. When he walked around the store they were thinking of buying for them to change into an apartment for the two of them, she sat down on the wire wheel that had been brought in by a construction company just this morning. She had three messages and several emails. Cody wouldn’t answer the emails or the messages unless it was either from her sister or brother. She was on her own personal time, and she didn’t do work when she was enjoying her time off. But her family should be here with them.
The two of them had set this up for Dad. Answering the one from Paige, she asked her what she wanted. All the message said was, Get back to me. Instead of messaging her back, she simply called her. “Yes? What is it now, Paige?” Her sister huffed at her. As her older sister by only ten months, Paige was acting more like their grandma all the time. “I’m at the mall thing with Dad. Do you have something to add to this? Other than you can’t tear yourself away for an hour to come here?” “Why are you so snotty with me all the time?” She didn’t bother answering her.
“Grandma was just here. She’s pissed off because she wasn’t told about any of this.” “That’s funny. You told me that you told her and even marked it on her calendar for her.” Paige huffed again. “Did you or did you not tell her? Because as sure as shit, I’m betting she’s on her way here now.” “She is, and no, I didn’t tell her. Grandma will have opinions that don’t matter, and then she’ll insist that she help with the remodeling. I don’t want her to be involved. Her tastes don’t run along the same line as mine do.” Cody told her that her opinion didn’t matter either since she wasn’t living there.
“And I suppose you would decorate it the way you like. You have an odd taste in everything, Cody. Why would anyone want to live in a bohemian apartment like you must have?” She didn’t bother correcting her sister. Paige only heard what she wanted to hear. Not that she was nasty or anything—not that she couldn’t be—but Paige was way old before her time. Paige asked if she was still on the line. “I am. I was just thinking that you’ve never been to my apartment, and I’ve no idea what you think a bohemian place would even look like. What is wrong with you today? You’re acting like someone shit in your oatmeal or something. Is Brian giving you a hard time about your spending? I wouldn’t blame him if he cut you off.”
Now that was something that Paige did well. However, it was rarely for herself. She’d buy up pallets of diapers and bottled water to have set aside for some huge catastrophe. Not just that, but she’d also have hundreds of dollars worth of gift certificates to hand out to the people hurting from one tragedy or another. She had a good heart, even if it was her sister. “Grandma is on her way there. She left here in a huff after leaving the kids, so wound up, it’s going to take me hours to get them calmed down. She didn’t even have to give them candy or anything.
She just has a way about her.” Cody remembered that well about her grandma. And Cody also knew that Grandma had slipped the kids candy too. A great deal of it, if she had to bet on it. “I have three meetings today. The first one is with the school board at the private school the kids go to. Then there is the meeting I have with Kelly’s teacher. She said she’s falling behind. I want to figure out what is going on with her.” “Is she behind or bored?” Paige told her what she thought was going on. “Could be that. But didn’t they tell you she didn’t need a tutor? I mean, that was a huge meeting, if I remember correctly.”
“It was that ended in me giving in. I also think she needs glasses. She said there isn’t anyone else in the class that wears glasses, and Kelly refuses to get them. I swear, she acts more like you daily.” She thanked her sister. “That was not meant as a compliment, Cody, and you well know it.” “I will take it where I can get it.” She looked at the front door of the place she and her dad were in. “I can see Grandma now. I’ll let you go so I can tell her you’re a snob.” “Cody Martin, I swear, you’re such a bitch.” Laughing, she hung up on her sister and went to hug her grandma. “Paige said you riled up her kids.
Good for you.” “They’re stuck in that house today because it’s raining. When you were little, you’d strip down to your panties and run right out in it. Where is my son? I think I might just have to talk him into buying a bigger place so I can come to visit the two of you a lot. Or buy one for me too. What do you think?” Dad came out of the backroom then and said he’d feel better if he knew someone here. Cody told him that he’d know her. “Oh, Peashaw, Herby. You’re a grown assed man. I’m sure you remember how to make friends.” “As pleasant as ever to see you, Mom.” He kissed her on the cheek when it was offered to him. “I think I’ll take this one.
It’s not too large, and I am liking the back room of it. There is already a nice sized bathroom back there. It’ll need some decorating to make it look less like an industrial one and to add in a shower, but it’s nice.” “They said we can have walls put in as soon as you sign the contract.” Cody looked at her grandma. “Let’s go and find you a place. Unless you’d like to live here until you decide. Dad and I were just talking about how he was going to put in three bedrooms so you could.” “Do that, Mom. I’d love to have you staying here with us. Or me when Cody is away.” He made it sound like she was gone for days at a time when she only worked at the law firm in town.
“We could have fun like we did when my Beth was alive. Say you’ll live here with me.” “I don’t know, son. What will you do when I have a gentleman friend over for a night of wild, loud sex?” Dad said he’d listen at her door for input when he had someone over. “Oh, go on with you. Herby, a mother couldn’t have asked for a better son. Trust me, I’ve asked. All right. If you’re serious, I’ll do it. And if you cramp my style, well, I’ll just bury you in the parking lot and be done with you. Now, out to dinner after we sign the contracts, and it’s my treat.”
The contract was straightforward and what she had expected. There were several loopholes in it, mostly in her dad’s favor, but he was all right with that, he told her. Once he wrote out the check for the entire asking amount, they were on their way to dinner. Her dad had money to spare. She did too, but not a great deal. Being an attorney for a small law firm had gotten her some good money, but she’d been paying off her student loans since she’d gotten out of college, and that was taking a great deal out of her checks. Paige’s husband was an attorney as well, but for a very large firm. His name was on the door, Peter Brown, while Cody barely made a blip on the radar for the people she worked with.
Paige had been a housewife, a title Paige detested since they’d been married. Matthew, their brother, was an architect. He didn’t design houses like most of the people in the firm where he worked but worked on things like solar panels for houses. Water in the home that could be used for other things once it was used in the shower or such. Matt, in his spare time, designed furniture for kids’ rooms. Like her, Matt was single and didn’t date all that much. But for different reasons. Paige had his entire line of children’s things. Cody would, too, if she ever found a man to stick around long enough for her to want to marry him. Cody knew she was hard on men. They’d try and bullshit themselves into something more than they were. Little did they know that Cody ran a background check on anyone she dated.
Dad said she was smart for doing that. Paige told her she took all the fun out of getting to know someone. So far, she’d been nearly on a date with a pedophile, a drug dealer, as well as a man that had very scary tastes in sex—painful and violent sex. There were other men she had dated, but they were either too boring, lazy or thought since she was an attorney, she could represent them for free. Nope, not going to happen. Matt was able to join them for dinner. Paige arrived late but did have dessert with them. Peter, she told them, had had to work late, and that was why she’d been late. Cody didn’t say anything, as she doubted very much that her sister would hear what she had to say. That her husband was having an affair with his secretary. And it had been going on since before he’d married Paige.
“The board is going to look into some things that could improve the kind of teachers that we’re getting to apply. I was hoping for some that were new out of college, but they want older, more stable teachers. I don’t even know what that means.” Grandma said they wanted women that didn’t have children in the middle of the term. “Well, that’s not fair. We have a good school there that pays well. The students that come out of there go on to college and succeed too.” “Be that as it may, they have how many teachers out now on maternity leave? One of them is a spouse to a woman that is out, correct?” Matt looked at Cody when Paige answered his question. “How about you? You ready to settle down and have a houseful of kids so I can spoil them and be the world’s greatest uncle to them?”
“When you have a baby, I’ll think about it.” It was an ongoing joke for the two of them. Everyone at the table knew Matt was gay. No one cared. In fact, Grandma was the one that had had a talk about it with Matt when he’d been about fourteen. Turned out she was right, and he no longer went around with a long look on his face. “Oh, there is a toy company expanding in town. I know you’ve talked to the owner before, but I think his daughter is now running the place. I don’t know a great deal about the woman that runs it, but she is recently married and has a baby on the way.
They’re also good friends with the people who own Tate’s Crossing.” “I remember them.” Grandma had to think a moment. “Yes, the father is Joseph, and his wife…let me think…was Lorraine. She died some time ago, I think.” “That’s right. She was hit by a car as her wolf. Back then, there was another pack master, or they both would have been immortal.
Joseph took over when most of the others left and only had to govern himself and his boys. Sad state of affairs that.” Matt laughed as he continued. “I’m sorry to bring this up now, but they’re the biggest men I’ve ever seen. Each of them played sports in high school. No one would beat them. Also, if I remember correctly, the youngest one isn’t with the firm but is a kindergarten teacher. A good one, too, from all accounts. Paige, you might want to recruit him. He might be a good fit for the school.” “He’s been a teacher since he got out of college. The oldest son, Joel, is recently married as well. They’re all well respected, as a whole and personally. They bought the old church in their town and are changing it into a venue to hold weddings and receptions.”
Grandma asked Cody if she’d done a background check on them. “Yes. They also own the mall development project that Dad is going to be staying at. I needed to know it wasn’t a fly-by-night group that was going to take his money and run.” “Good for you, honey. I feel much better just knowing you’re taking care of me.” Paige said she was as well, and Dad patted her on the hand. “I know you do, baby. I know that. Oh, before I forget to tell you, there will be a playground put in, as well as a garden area that, as residents, we can use.
I’m very excited about getting into gardening some.” “You’ll have to teach them how to grow things in your garden, Dad. The kids will love working in the dirt with you. Maybe you can wear them down a lot before you bring them home.” The rest of their meal, dessert anyway, was spent bantering back and forth about everything. Cody did notice that Matt was very quiet. He’d speak and answer questions, but he wasn’t his usual self. After they were gathering up their things to go, she stopped him. At first, she wasn’t sure he was going to tell her what was wrong, but when everyone left them there, he finally spilled the beans. “Don’t do anything about it.
You have to promise me you’ll stay out of this.” She didn’t even blink at him. “I knew you’d do that. I’ve been found out at work. They’re ‘looking into things,’ I was told this morning. I’ve been thinking about it all day, and I’m about ready to join you in the law firm we’ve talked about for years.”
“I’ll find us a building tomorrow.” Matt laughed. “Hey, I’m not going to give you time to change your mind. We’ll work well together. Like we always do.” “I’m worried someone is going to come forward and say something about me that will get me fired.” She asked if he thought they’d pay someone to say something. “Forever my hero, aren’t you? You didn’t even think I might have done something wrong, did you?” “I didn’t. Matt, you’re too nice of a guy for that sort of shit. Don’t shit where you eat is something you’ve told me all my life. I know you well enough to know you’d practice what you preach. Can I at least look into things for you? Not publicly, but enough that I can give you a heads up if they’re making shit up?”
“Yes. I’d like that. So long as you don’t make more waves than I have right now.” She said she’d not do that to him. He was her favorite brother. “I’m also your only brother. Speaking of which, do you know what’s going on with Peter? I’m sure no one works that late when they have their name on the firm’s stationery.” “He’s fucking Shelby.” He nodded, and she knew he’d figured that out as well. “I’ve not told Paige, but I will if he keeps this up. If she finds out I knew and didn’t tell her, she’ll be pissy with me.
But it’s not something you can just say without making her feel bad. Like it’s her fault or something.” “She would think that too.” They both made their way out to their cars. “Just be on the lookout for my job, and I’ll look into Peter’s life. I don’t mind telling her, either. Like you said, she’s going to have to know. I’m just really glad you had him sign that prenup when they married. You never told me how you got him to sign it.” “I told him I knew what he was doing, and if he didn’t sign it, I’d make sure the wedding didn’t happen.
He only wanted to marry her because she was pregnant with Kelly at the time. There is no love between the two of them.” Matt said he didn’t think so, either. “She’s going to take it hard no matter who tells her. I was thinking I’d let it slip to Grandma and have her tell her. She’d not hold back, but at least she’d know.” “Yes, she would.” Matt kissed her on the cheek and then hugged her tightly. “I love you, little sister. More than I think I love anyone else. Just be yourself, and I know you’re going to go far.” “I’m going to find us a building, Matt. All right?” He nodded and got into his car, and drove off. There was more she’d bet on it, but she’d wait to find out. Matt was her big brother and her biggest supporter. She wasn’t going to allow anyone to harm him.