“Thanks, Dad. Speaking of Mom, is she going to be okay?”
“Yeah, she will. I think the weight of the society stuff has really had an effect on her. Believe it or not, your mom’s not great with secrets. But she’s agreed to counseling for her anger issues and swears she’s done drinking.”
“So what now?”
“Well, of course you’re welcome to keep staying with us. Although judging from the rescue squad that showed up for you today, I get the feeling that things are even more serious that I believed them to be. Is it true you’re engaged to the oldest boy, Vincente?”
Heat floods my cheeks as I realize there are still some things my parents don’t know, and I hope they never find out in a million years. I don’t know how strong those secret society bonds are, but something tells me they have limits. I can’t imagine my parents would really be that cool with me being in a poly relationship.
“Yeah, sort of,” I mutter. “I kind of got myself tied up in a situation, and he stepped forward to protect me.”
“Well, kiddo, this might surprise you to hear, coming from me, but you could do worse.” With a wink, Dad climbs into his car. “I’ll see you tonight! Just text me if you need something, okay?”
“Will do, Dad.”
After he pulls away, I head back inside, where I find my mom busily starting preparations for dinner. The guys have moved into the living room, picking up the baseball game my dad left playing on the TV.
I feel as if I’ve entered a parallel universe.
“Sloane?” My mom’s voice is hesitant, and I turn to face her.
“I’m really sorry, baby. I know that doesn’t make it right, but I just want you to know it.”
“Thank you, mom. I know you are. I… just need some time.”
She nods, wiping away a tear. “I understand. I promise I’ll stop being so hard on you, but just know that if you ever want to talk about anything, I’m here. Okay?”
The guys never leave. My siblings arrive home, and my mom introduces the guys as my friends who’ve come to join us for dinner. By the time she heads off for work, the tension has eased enough that I can give her a tiny hug goodbye, and she nearly bursts into tears on her way out the door.
The guys wait while I put the kids to bed, and then we watch Game of Thrones episodes (to the good-natured grumbling of Sandro, who loudly expresses his preference for the Astros game) until my dad makes it home.
And then we pack.
The guys quietly and efficiently help me collect my wardrobe, with minimal teasing as we empty my underwear drawers, and I pack everything that is necessary to get me through the week.
I’ll continue babysitting for a few more weeks to help my parents while they find a better solution. But we’ve all decided that it’s time for me to grow up and move out on my own.
I retrieve my Tiffany bracelet and take one last look around my room before I flick the light off and head out to my new home.
The guys all drove here in Vincente’s Porsche Cayenne. Elian hops in my old Nissan to keep me company, and we head toward the city lights together.
“Good morning, my darling.”
Soft lips press to my forehead, and I pull myself tighter to the warm body beside me. My hand wanders lower under the sheets.
“Oh no, don’t start that, or you won’t make it to work on time. I’ve already hit snooze twice. I thought you were the one insistent on keeping your job?”
“Mmm…” right now work doesn’t sound nearly as enticing, compared to the opportunities that lay at my fingertips.
Vincente groans and I know I’m about to get my way. Smirking, I pop up on my elbow and claim his mouth for a kiss, allowing my hand to continue exploring.
Unsurprisingly, he isn’t content to let me take charge. A sudden push, and he rolls me over with a yelp. Now I find myself on my back while his head disappears beneath the sheets. My eyes close and I lie back, luxuriating in the fluffy pillows while Vincente’s lips leave an electric trail of kisses over my skin.