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"About time you got your lazy ass here," Eric said with a wink.

"Eric Parish!" Alice said, sounding more shocked than she really should at this point.

"Yeah, Eric," she said, sticking her tongue out like a two year old.

As she passed him on the way to the fridge he swatted her on the ass. Hard.

"Eric!" Alice snapped.

"What?" he asked, looking and sounding innocent.

Joe just barely resisted the urge to rub her ass. Damn that stung, but she wouldn't give him the satisfaction of knowing it did. Their relationship was complicated and admittedly very weird.

She put the ice cream away and palmed an ice cube.

"Sweetie, this is Nathan's girlfriend, Caitlyn and this is my friend Camie," she said, not mentioning Camie was meant to be Eric's date. No doubt the man would outright bolt if she did. He didn't want to date anyone right now or at least hadn't found anyone he liked.

"It's very nice to meet both of you," Joe said as she casually walked behind Eric. Quickly and discretely, she shoved the ice cube down the back of his pants.

She heard him suck in a breath and had to smile. Immediate retribution was always nice.

"Camie, Caitlyn, this is our Joe," Alice said, gesturing towards Joe before she gave her a quick hug and a kiss.

Joe walked past Eric just barely missing another swat on the ass as he stood up to rid himself of the ice. She walked over and gave Nathan a big hug and a kiss and shook Caitlyn's hand.

"So, you're their sister?" Camie asked, eying Joe up and down.

Nathan chuckled. "She's mom's favorite brat, my pain in the ass sister, and Eric's bitch."

Caitlyn covered her mouth to hide a giggle. No doubt she already knew the whole story behind their family. Camie looked really confused and mom's face went completely red.

"Nathan Parish!"

"What?" Nathan asked, still laughing. Joe playfully swatted him.

Eric shrugged unconcerned. "It's true," he said simply. He pursed his lips up thoughtfully. "Actually, if anything I'm her bitch."

Joe sighed and nodded. "That's true. You are my bitch."

"Josephine!" Alice said, obviously fighting back a smile. "You're going to make them think I raised you like this!"

Nathan blinked. "You did."

"I did not!"

"Oh, come on, mom. No need to pretend. Everyone knows you raised the three of us to be foul mouthed little bastards," Eric said, egging his mother on.

Caitlyn laughed while Camie looked utterly confused. If Joe had to guess the woman didn't have a clue they were all joking. It only took two minutes after meeting Alice to know she was a down to earth wholesome woman. She raised the three of them with more love than anyone could ever hope for.

"So...." Camie began. "I'm really confused."

Nathan and Eric sighed at the same time. Joe decided to set the table and leave it up to the guys to explain their odd little family.

"Okay, I'll explain our little family dynamic since I get a kick out of it," Nathan said cheerfully.

"Oh, brother," Alice muttered with a fond smile.


Eric settled into a chair safely away from the woman his mother was trying to throw at him. He seriously had to question her mental status on this one. Not one single woman he dated, not even Beth, the woman he'd been engaged to, was anything like this. This woman was too focused on her clothes and appearance to know anyone else existed. She'd already sent Caitlyn a dismissive look and a look to his mother he didn't particular like. To top it off she wouldn't stop staring at him like she owned him. It was really annoying and a bit frightening. He was half afraid that if he turned his back on her that she'd brand his ass.

He sat back in his chair and let his eyes roam over Joe. He definitely hadn't missed the nasty look Camie sent Joe when she walked into the kitchen. His upbringing was the only thing that prevented him from tossing her out on her ass at the moment.

Women could be such bitches sometimes. Not all of them, but women like this one definitely were. It just pissed him off when women gave Joe a dismissive look because she wasn't dressed in the latest fashion and didn't pray at the altar of cosmetics. Joe was beautiful, hell, she was sexy in her own right. She was distinctly female and perfectly curved in his book. She might not wear the latest fashions, but she always managed to make his blood boil, probably always would.

He let his eyes roam over her hair that she left loose, it teased her shoulder blades as she moved. He nearly cursed when she took out an elastic and put it up in a messy bun, but she still looked good. He let his eyes run down her slender neck to the tight black blouse she wore that ended above her belly button. He liked that flat athletic stomach of hers. It was perfectly defined with a hint of muscle thanks to their job.

When she faced him, smiling, he licked his lips as his eyes took in her high firm br**sts, perfect for his hands, not that it would happen. He took in her figure, just perfect. Absolutely perfect. It really was no wonder women hated her. She was magnificent.

"Earth to Eric," Nathan said, pulling him out of his thoughts. Great, was he drooling? He sure as hell hoped not.

"Yeah?" he said, looking at his brother who simply rolled his eyes. "You want me to tell the story?"

"Knock yourself out," Eric said, dropping his head back to stare at the ceiling. No need to get caught ogling Joe again. She'd tease him mercilessly and tell him he needed to get laid. No doubt he did. It had been too long. Way too long.

After what happened the last time it was going to be a long time before he tried again, a really long time. That kind of shit really messed with a man's head.

"So, one day when Eric was eight, dad gets a call that some bully had not only beaten up his baby boy, but that bully made Eric eat a handful of worms," Nathan started.

"That's awful!" Camie said, looking thoroughly disgusted. It had been pretty gross, he had to admit. The worms weren't too bad, but all that dirt had been nasty.

Joe laughed once again, drawing his attention. He liked her laugh. It always soothed him.

"It gets better," Nathan promised. "I'm a year older so dad had me dragged out of class with the intention of having me beat the snot out of the bully. We walk into the office, looking for this big bad bully only to find these two scraped up and covered in mud. Dad demands to see the little boy who beat up his son and talk to his parents only to be told that this adorable little girl was the culprit."

"Hey! He started it by shoving the worms down my dress!" Joe argued, laughing.

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