“A whiskey for your trouble.” Mel set a glass out of the way of the red-hued dyes Cory was mixing in a bowl.
“If he—” Danny started, only to be cut off by the groom himself.
“I want to.” Aidan grabbed the last whiskey off the tray and plopped into the salon chair.
“Semipermanent again?” Cory asked.
Last year, Aidan had dyed his hair red, his natural color, for an undercover gig, but it had only been temporary, both the cover and his hair.
Aidan took a bigger-than-he-should gulp of fifty-dollar-a-glass sipping whiskey. “No, permanent dye this time.”
Danny whistled. “Jamie’s going to lose his shit.”
“That’s the point,” Aidan said with a wink, some of his confidence restored. “Besides, what else am I supposed to get him for a wedding gift?”
Mel sank into the other chair, crossing one leg over the other as she enjoyed the first citrusy sip of her cocktail. She lowered the glass and tapped a nail against her lips. “Let’s see... Maybe you could get him more than a couple months off the almost-killed-again roller coaster?”
Danny choked on his drink, and Aidan shot her a teasing glare. “You’re one to talk.”
“At least you’re behind a desk now.”
“Didn’t stop you from doing fieldwork on occasion.”
She shrugged one shoulder. “I didn’t have a husband at home.”
“Hey!” Danny squawked, nudging her arm with his dangling foot.
“Then,” she added with a smile.
“Hasn’t stopped you now either. Not that I’d want you to.” Danny traded the vanity for the arm of her chair. “I rather like being married to a certified badass.”
Her turn to lift a cheek for a kiss, and the thread between their hearts thrummed as light filled her from the inside out. She still didn’t know how she’d been lucky enough to find a partner who understood her so well, who loved her so well, and who never tried to put her in a cage. In her best friend’s little brother, no less. Danny let her be who she was, in all respects—made her better in all those same respects—so she tried not to give him too hard a time when the Don Juan side of her husband came out to play. As long as it was with her. And on the occasion they shared, it was together, on terms they agreed. Truth be told, she had come to love the fun, flirty Danny as much as she loved the responsible one who ran the family company and the dedicated one who would do anything for their friends and family, including risking his own neck.
Jamie understood all that about Aidan too; the Talley boys were more than a little similar despite their ten-year age gap. She laid a hand on her husband’s thigh as she smiled at Aidan. “I doubt Jamie expects you to live behind the desk either.”
“No, he doesn’t. He understands too.” Aidan shared her smile, happy and content, before he flapped a hand at his dyed blond locks. “But I ain’t dying this shit again,” he added, the Southern tell he’d picked up from Jamie doubly hilarious with his Irish lilt. “Other than to keep the gray out, so no more undercover gigs.”
Cory stepped between the chairs, bowl and brush in hand. “You keep going on TV with your future husband after ball games, and everyone will know who you are anyways, no matter your hair color.”
“He’s right,” Danny said. “No one likes a camera hog.”
Mel swatted his leg, but in good humor, all of them laughing.
“Cut it too?” Cory asked, running a comb through Aidan’s longer than usual strands.
“Just a trim. Leave it long.” A devilish smirk spread across his face.
Mel knew that look, something else the Talley boys shared, though Mel didn’t want to know anything about it on the elder one’s face.
“Seriously, though,” she said after another swallow of her drink. “How are you handling the SAC’s chair?”
“It’s fine. You trained me well.” He polished off his whiskey and started to lean forward, only to have Cory jerk him back.
“We gonna go through this shit again?” Cory said, scissors and comb held aloft, a near miss at an ill-timed whack.
“I’ve got cuffs if need be,” Mel said with a wink.
Sputtering, Danny leaned forward and took the glass from Aidan, who seemed as desperate to move on from her remark as she had been from his earlier one. “It helps having a friend in the US Attorney’s Office,” he said.