Grasping For Air (Adair Empire Book 6)



It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I was the good guy. Too good. When I was sent undercover, I never imagined I’d get twisted around. My co-workers used to joke that I was Mr. America. My allegiance and conviction for the justice system were so strong. I was always firmly planted in the world of black and white. There were no grey areas for me.

When the Justice Department asked me to go undercover, they said a few months at most, then it was a few years quickly turning into ten. Timothy McCray was the worst type of human being on earth, and there were many times I wanted to kill him. It’s because of him that I learned I had a darkness lurking inside of me, and right now, I wish I didn’t.

I wish I could fucking move on and be done with this shit. Start a new life somewhere. Gain a fresh perspective.

Fucking King Adair won’t let me.

As much distrust and hate they held for me at first, they’ve come to rely on my expertise and opinion. They say I’m part of the family and won’t tolerate me moving on.

Now, we’re sitting in the hospital, the same fucking one my life was shattered in, and Lil is in labor. Only she’s having complications. King’s going crazy, Luther is demanding better specialists be brought in, and the maternity ward looks more like a mafia meeting than a celebratory place.

“If she cries out once more, he’s going to kill that doctor,” Talia worries in Cas’ lap across from me.

All of ‘em, these women, strongest I’ve ever seen, are fucking knocked up and likely scared shitless.

Meadow stands—the only one who isn’t pregnant; not for lack of trying on Carver’s part, either—and comforts her friend. “She’ll be fine, Talia. All of you will be.”

Unable to stand the sight before me, I have to get out of here. All this fucking worry and sickening love feel like lead in my gut. Stepping into the hall, a door swings open, and I catch a glimpse of King leaning against the wall, head in hands. More broken than anyone has witnessed before.

Slipping past the closing doors, I stand beside him. I don’t say anything at first because I know he’ll not only brush me off but won’t believe me.

“They’re trying to turn the baby in her belly,” he finally says, standing taller. “So she can give birth naturally instead of a c-section.”

“That’s good, right?”

“The doctor has half his fucking arm up in her.” His growl is part whimper because that sounds painful as fuck and part vengeful because another man is touching his woman.

“Motherfucker!” is screamed from Lilith’s room, and King slams his hands against the wall next to the door.

“If I go in there, I’ll fucking kill him.” His words are deadly.

Stepping around him, I enter the room without a word. “Dimitri?” Fuck Lil looks bad. Pale, sweaty, pain lines her face. “Is he okay?” Lil asks while breathing harshly as someone moves a wand around her stomach.

“He will be.” I’m not sure that’s true. “How you doing, gorgeous?” Grabbing her hand as I stand beside her, I see the fear in her gaze, and I know she needs King. “You almost done, doc?” I snap at the man.

“Yes, just a little more,” he answers without looking up at me.

“Good.” I stare at one of the nurses. “Go find a female doctor.” She stands there staring at me dumbly. “Now!”

“Listen, I’ve put up with enough of you guys and your bullying attitudes,” the doctor tries to argue.

“Yeah, I’m sure you have. But unless you want to actually die, you won’t be here when Lilith’s ready to give birth because if her man sees you, he’ll rip your fucking head off for not only having your arm inside his woman but causing her so much pain.” The doctor pales but nods to the nurse.

“Oh God!” Lilith cries and squeezes my hand hard enough to make me cringe. Woman’s got the strength of any man. Fuck!

“Here we go, Mrs. Adair, just one last turn.” Tears run like a river down her face as he manipulates her body further.

“King!” She screams loud enough that I’m shocked the windows don’t shatter. Her man comes storming in the room, and everyone freezes as he darts straight for her, his eyes not looking anywhere but at her face.

“Doc, you got about fifteen seconds,” I warn because I can see King’s about to blow a gasket.

“Done. You’re ready, Mrs. Adair.” The man stands triumphantly until King glares at him, and he scurries away as a female obstetrician takes his place.

“Are you ready to push?” The woman smiles, ignoring the tension surrounding her.

“No,” Lilith whimpers, and that’s when King turns into the softy we only see when it comes to her.

“Help me out, D.” He waves towards Lil, motioning for me to lift her forward. As soon as she’s positioned upwards, he slides in behind her, cradling her to his chest.

“Just wait, sweetheart, wait till you hear his cry. That first sign of life. Hold little man in your arms, cuddle him to your chest. We’re right there, my queen. All you have to do is push. Just a little more. I ain’t fucking leaving.” Damn. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this ruthless man so compassionate before as he whispers in her ear.

“Okay, King.” She smiles up at him, exhausted. “I’m ready.”

* * *


Life is miraculous. It’s all-consuming. Heartbreaking. Incredible.

Watching my queen bring life into this world has been the biggest fucking turn on I’ve ever known. Watching her waddle around the house these past few weeks, knowing she’s giving me this most precious gift has left me both horny as fuck and angry as hell.

Realizing I could lose them in the same fashion as I almost did a year ago is a fear I’ll never let go of. But now, seeing Lil sleep with Holden in her arms, full from suckling on her breast, I know I won’t allow anything to happen to them. They’re protected and loved like royalty.

Vibrations from my pocket force me to leave the room as I answer a call in the quiet night. “Adair.”

Privet drug, pozdravleniya!” Vashchenko says.

“What do you want, Viktor?”

“To wish you congratulations, of course.” There’s something in his voice.

“Thank you. Now, what do you really want?”

“I assume your koroleva and detka are doing well?” I’m not up for his bullshit.

“Lil and Holden are fine. They come home tomorrow.” I have to grind the words out because I know he won’t get on with it until he’s checked on them. Fucking polite-ass Russian.

“Good, good.” He’s quiet a moment; I almost wonder if the line dropped. “I have a favor. I need help finding my sister.”


“She went home. To Moscow. Serdtse razbito nad Daniel. Now I can’t locate her.”

“Fuck sakes, Viktor, English!” I hate talking to this big bastard.

“Apologies, friend. Daniel, his death, it hit her…hard.” Daniel? Dead. He has no fucking clue.

“Viktor, Daniel isn’t dead.”

* * *


My head pounds as pain alerts my body to wrongdoings. Kinks and bruises can be felt as if I were tossed around like a sack of potatoes. It doesn’t feel like I’m moving, but my stomach is so queasy. I know I’m going to throw up.

I don’t fight the feeling as I roll to my side and vomit all over someone’s shiny shoes beside me. “Was zum Tueufel?” What the fuck? the man spews in German.

“Sorry,” I croak just as the tip of his puke-covered shoe hits my gut. “Fuck!” I can’t stop the scream. Thankfully, my stomach seems to be empty, and I don’t upchuck again and risk another strike.

Hure.” He spits on me before leaving the room. Whore? Me? I don’t think so, but I keep that to myself.

I’d like to say I don’t know what’s happening, but I do. I came home for a reason, a purpose. The need outweighed the risk. After losing Daniel, I only wanted to feel…connected. To something, someone. I thought I would find it here.

The church where these men abducted me from was the same one my parents married in, where they had me and Viktor baptized. It holds memories I can only dream of recalling. Being there, if only for a moment before I was taken, settled my heart in ways I didn’t know had been left cracked open.

For years, Viktor had warned me that coming home was a bad idea. The country is unstable, and a Vashchenko may be stalked by the Germans. Men who have issues with our family for reasons that make no sense.

I let my stubborn pride take over my common sense, and I’m going to pay for it now.

As the door opens and light filters through, I blink rapidly, trying to lay eyes on my captor. “Ahh, she’s awake!” He shouldn’t sound so damn happy about it.

“Go away,” I groan, knowing full well he won’t leave.

The man walks over to me slowly, not nearly as menacing as the last guy until he grabs my bound hands from behind me and twists a finger until I feel the snap. “Ublyudok!” Motherfucker! I scream out. The nauseous feeling is back as I breathe through the pain.

He chuckles, actually laughs at my pain. “Solch schlechte Sprache für eine junge Frau.” My German is rusty, but I think he just reprimanded my language.

“You’re going to give me shit about language when you just broke my finger? Fuck. You.” I can’t hide the venom in my tone.

“It’s no wonder Viktor doesn’t want you! Such a filthy mouth! You’ll fit in the brothel well. Our men can taint a pretty thing like you.” His accent is thick as he speaks, and I want to punch him.

“What do you want?” I bark as I grit my teeth through the pain. Why does such a tiny bone hurt so damn much?

Smiling, my captor stands and backs up as another man approaches with a demented grin contorting his scarred face and a blade in his hand. “Fuck.” When I came to Moscow, I knew this was a definite possibility. I knew I was playing with fire. I knew…and yet, I came.

Now I’m going to pay for it.

My only thought before this new man bends down and grips the front of my shirt is that maybe I’ll meet Daniel in the afterlife. Maybe I’ll find the peace there that I was never able to attain on earth.