Liam’s Lily

Prologue

Liam O’Brien peered out the garage window, watching as Brandon parked nearby. Rory and Michael stood at Liam’s side as they watched their friend Brandon arrive with Kasha. They’d heard from Ice how crazy things got while saving Bullard and how it had ended up with another of their own finding a partner.

“Told you, Liam. Our unit is all here,” Michael said quietly.

“And, except for you, Liam—and North—we’re all taken,” Rory added to Michael’s comment.

“And it’s a good thing too,” Michael said. “We were all lost long enough. I never thought to find anyone who’d accept me or put up with me. But it’s all good.” He slapped Liam on the shoulder.

“I’m not sure I’m ready for this,” Liam admitted. “It’s one thing to be a part of this family connection you guys have going on, but it’s a completely different issue to be standing on the outside and looking in. I’m not sure there’s a place for me here. And, even if there is, I have no idea how to fit in.”

“That’s the thing. None of us did before we arrived. You have to trust you’ll find your way.”

Just then Brandon got out of the truck and stretched.

Damn, he looked good. Liam had been close to him—Rory and Michael too—but there’d always been an extra connection between Liam and Brandon. And to see his buddy looking so happy, … so fit—both emotionally and physically—well, it was a joy.

Liam would love and accept Kasha for that alone. They’d all had a hell of a last year with Levi and Ice establishing their new business—each member hiring on and finding their own perfect partner. Or almost everyone. Liam and North were both unattached. Then they were brand new to the team.

Brandon and Kasha, the happy couple, laughed and talked as they moved toward the kitchen door. Liam could hear their conversation.

“It’s a good thing we took a week off before coming here.” Kasha beamed at Brandon.

He chuckled. “In truth that week was like a mini-honeymoon.”

Liam grinned at the flags of color blooming on Kasha’s cheeks, but she didn’t hide them. Instead she nodded. “It was indeed. It was also nice to see my family.”

The huge double garage doors opened then. Liam glanced at Levi, who was manning the controls. Levi waited for the doors to lift fully, then stepped out.

“So much for being here when I arrived.” Liam grinned at the blank look on Brandon’s face before it lit up in joy.

The two men hugged each other.

Brandon stepped back to study Liam’s face. “When the hell did you get here? You said you were considering it, not that you’d made up your mind.” He slugged Liam on his shoulder. “Damn, it’s good to see you.”

“You haven’t missed me at all,” Liam scoffed, nodding to the stunning woman at Brandon’s side.

“This is Kasha.” Brandon held out his arm for her. She stepped close enough that his arm slid around her shoulder. “Kasha, this is my good friend Liam. He and I were in the same unit in the navy.”

The smile Kasha flashed his way was both delightful and compassionate. Enough for Liam to know Brandon obviously cared a lot about this woman, especially if he’d shared some of these last few years’ events.

Liam shook her hand. “Nice to meet you.” He’d heard plenty about Kasha and Bullard and the nightmare Levi’s team had gone through as they’d flown over to help out in Africa. “Too bad I didn’t meet you first,” he said in a teasing tone.

“There’s a reason I overwhelmed her with my charms so fast.” Brandon laughed. “You have a reputation with women …”

Kasha laughed. Liam gave her a lopsided grin, and her eyes widened. “Wow, that’s a lethal smile.”

Brandon tugged her close. “See?” he complained. “Women drop at his feet.”

She sent Brandon a sideways glance. “I’m still standing.”

He leaned over and kissed her. Then they both broke out laughing.

Just then Levi and Ice walked over. Ice smiled and said, “About time you two got here. We’ve got a crapload of work to do.”

More of the clan arrived to greet the newcomers. Liam still struggled to remember everyone’s name, and he’d been here a week already.

But Kasha walked in confidently, shaking hands with those she didn’t know yet as she introduced herself.

“A lot of new faces around here,” Levi said to Liam.

“It’ll take me time to learn everybody’s name,” Liam replied.

Levi finished the introductions. He turned to both Brandon and Rory and asked, “You guys up for work? We weren’t kidding about the jobs. We’ve caught several hot ones this morning alone.”

Both men nodded, their faces brightening with interest. “We are so ready.”

Levi turned to Kasha. “Are you on field duty or office work?”

She snorted. “Am I dead yet?”

Ice laughed. “That’s my girl.”

Levi gave her a wide smile and said, “Welcome. And goodbye. All three of you are leaving in the morning.”

Liam looked from one to the other with a big smile. “What about me? Do you have something for me?” He’d done one short security job for Levi since he’d arrived, but, other than that, Liam had been setting up the new security-alarm-system side of the business. That had been fun, as he’d gotten to know several of the locals and had enjoyed being around the animals at Anna and Flynn’s place. The puppies at the compound were adorable too. He was afraid to care and get his heart broken when they were adopted out—if they were adopted out. Something he knew Alfred and Bailey were fighting pretty hard against.

Levi chuckled. “If you want to go out on this one, you’ve got it.”

Liam nodded. “I’m in.”

“Be ready to leave by six a.m.”

A collective groan ensued but not from Liam. He was energized. “That’s awesome. Where are we going? Somewhere exotic, like Thailand? Maybe a sandy paradise, like the Sahara? How about foggy Scotland?”

Ice, standing in the doorway, called out, “How about a big-animal reserve in Texas?”

He turned to her. “But we’re in Texas now. There’s nothing exotic about that.”

She grinned. “Just you wait. Something very exotic is ahead for you.”

On that cryptic note, she walked back inside, leaving Liam staring at her. He wasn’t sure what she meant by that.

Levi smacked him on the shoulder. “Don’t worry about it. Ice is good at this sort of stuff.”

Liam looked at him suspiciously. “What sort of stuff?”

Levi had already stepped inside the house. He tossed back, “You’ll find out soon enough. Just keep an open mind—and heart—and you’ll be good.”

At the open-heart comment, the others grinned, then laughed.

Liam stared at them. “What the hell did he mean by that?”

Everyone walked away, some laughing, others whistling.

Liam glared at Brandon, waiting for clarification.

Brandon shrugged. “Trust me. Like Levi said, you’ll find out soon enough.” Then Brandon walked inside with Kasha, leaving Liam alone to contemplate what everyone else already knew and what he had yet to find out.