Moon Kissed

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Gator Bait Bar

New Orleans, Louisiana

Myles looked through the receipts from the night before from his seat at the end of the bar. While he tallied their profits and balanced the books, his younger brother, Kane, was going through their liquor supply to place another order.

A shout from the pool tables interrupted Myles as he was inputting numbers in his laptop. He turned his head to the side and glared at his other two brothers – Solomon and Court – who were enjoying their daily pool game, making it difficult for him to do his duty as their CPA.

The games began when Court was barely tall enough to play properly. Solomon was the one to teach Court the game, beating him soundly every time. It was a LaRue trait that once they set their minds to something, they didn’t relent until they had whatever it was they wanted. For Court, that had been beating Solomon. When it had finally happened, Solomon had been unprepared, thinking he still had years of winning ahead of him.

From that day onward, there had been few things that disrupted their daily games, and that included hurricanes.

“You’d think they would’ve ended the rivalry,” Kane said without looking up from his clipboard as he wrote down numbers.

Myles watched his brother closely. After the fiasco with the daughter of the Devil himself, Delphine, and their cousins in Lyons Point, Kane hadn’t been the same.

Then again, who would be unchanged after being cursed by a Voodoo priestess out to annihilate your family?

“They’ll be using walkers and still playing pool,” Myles said. He closed his laptop. Kane was tense, too tense. “You know, you’ll have to talk about what happened one day.”

Kane was in the process of replacing a bottle of Ciroc vodka on the shelf when he froze. There was the slightest tightening of his shoulders before he turned his head and glowered at Myles with his bright blue eyes – eyes that every LaRue had.

“I’ve done all the talking I’m going to,” Kane stated in a hard voice.

Myles didn’t respond as Kane turned back around. Everything about Kane was perfectly tailored, from his golden blond hair to his shirt tucked into his jeans down to the laces of his shoes exactly the same size when tied. This was not the Kane of old. That Kane would roll out of bed with his messy hair, throw on a tee shirt and jeans, and flash a smile that stopped women in their tracks.

This new Kane was too uptight, too…controlled.

“It’s not your fault.”

Kane whirled around, his eyes blazing with fury, but there was no shouting from this new Kane. His nostrils flared, his hands fisted. “It’s my fault I caught Delphine’s attention. Wasn’t it bad enough that one of our ancestors screwed with a Voodoo priestess and caused us to be werewolves? Apparently, not for me. I thought I could do whatever I wanted. Delphine wanted to teach me a lesson.” Kane snorted derisively. “She wanted Ava killed, and who better to do it than the cousin of the Chiassons who were protecting her?”

“You didn’t kill her,” Myles pointed out.

Kane rolled his eyes. “It’s a good thing too, or Lincoln would’ve skinned me. And I would’ve welcomed it. We know what we are, who we are when we shift, but if I had killed Ava, all of my memories would’ve been wiped. I’d have been a monster. Just like those we hunt.”

“It’s why we called our cousins, remember? We couldn’t come after you because we’d captured Delphine.” Myles always wanted to scrub himself in acid after he thought of that vile bitch. It had taken almost every trick they knew to confine Delphine, and then it nearly backfired on them.

Kane braced his hands on the bar and let out a deep breath. “I was reckless, Myles. I didn’t just put our family at risk, I put our cousins’, as well. If Ava hadn’t been with them…” he trailed off, unable to answer.

It was a feeling each of them experienced. Kane was dealing with nearly losing himself to the wolf within, but he had no idea how the events had changed the rest of them. And Myles wasn’t about to tell him.

It hadn’t been just the curse from Delphine or even capturing her, it was Court sprinkling the goofer dust around them so none of Delphine’s people could get to her. It was Solomon ready to kill every last one of her followers. It was Myles with his fangs around Delphine’s throat, ready to clamp down.

That night, all three of the brothers had been prepared – and willing – to do anything and everything to save Kane.

“It’d been too long since we saw the Chiassons. Both sides of the family have been so busy fighting the supernatural that, we forgot each other.” Myles shrugged with a grin, hoping to take both of their minds off Delphine. “You changed all that.”

Kane shot him a look and tossed a towel at him. The softening of Kane’s mouth was as close to a smile as they would get, but it was enough for Myles.

Since it wasn’t yet ten in the morning, all four LaRues were surprised when the door to the bar opened and a woman with hair so brown it was almost black walked in. She shoved the long hair over her shoulder as the door shut behind her and looked around the room with bright blue eyes.

Myles slid off the stool as he realized he was looking at his only female cousin, Riley Chiasson. He stopped in front of her and smiled. “The last time I saw you, you were in pigtails and running roughshod over your brothers.”

Riley’s smile was slow, showing a dimple in her left cheek. “I wondered if you’d know who I was.”

“With eyes like that?” Solomon said as he set down his cue stick atop the pool table and walked to her. “There’s no denying our family. What brings you to our neck of the woods?”

Riley swallowed and looked at each of them until she met Myles’ gaze. “Since you so graciously pointed out that I was a little girl the last time we saw each other, names put to faces would be great.”

Myles pointed to Solomon. “That’s the jackass who thinks just because he’s the eldest, he can make decisions for us.”

“Solomon,” Riley said with a nod at him.

“Next up in the order is me,” Myles said, waiting to see if she would know.

Riley raised a dark brow. “Then you’re Myles.”

“Very good,” he said. “The scowling one behind the bar is next.”

Riley’s smile slipped as she shifted her gaze. “Kane.” They stared at each other for a heartbeat before Riley turned her head to the pool table. “Which leaves the youngest, Court.”

Solomon crossed his arms over his chest. “Now that that’s settled, why not tell us why you’re visiting.”

When she hesitated, Myles wrapped an arm around her and walked her to the bar where Kane filled a glass with ice and then water. She sat on one of the stools and closed her fingers around the glass.

Myles exchanged a look with Solomon. By the way Riley was acting, it was obvious she hadn’t told her brothers where she was.

“Do you know I was sent away?” she asked, her gaze on the bar. “Vin said he didn’t want me to be a part of the family business.”

“You’re his only sister. I’d have done the same,” Court said as he joined them.

Riley shrugged. “I’d have liked to have some say in it. All of my brothers agreed with Vin, even Beau. The day after I graduated high school, Vincent drove me to Austin. I’ve lived in Texas for years. Going to college, working. I wanted to go home.”

“Did you tell Vin that?” Solomon asked.

Riley shook her head. “I thought it would be okay to go home since Vin was marrying Olivia, and Lincoln and Ava were together.”

“You just showed up, didn’t you?” Kane asked softly.

Riley looked up at him. “Olivia and Ava knew what I had planned. They told me how Beau had met Davena. There were three women at the house now. I figured that meant Vin wouldn’t keep me away.”

“But you didn’t know about everything that’d happened,” Myles guessed.

Riley snorted and said, “The Chiassons and LaRues have been fighting the supernatural since before I was born. My mother had five children and still fought beside her husband. I should be able to go home.”

“Your brothers just want what’s best.” Solomon took the stool on her left. “Surely you understand that.”

“I do, but I haven’t seen my home in over four years. They always seemed to have some crisis or another around my breaks that prevented me from returning.”

Myles saw the desolation and unhappiness in her gaze, a look he recognized all too well in Kane’s eyes of late. “So what happened when you showed up?”

“There was no big, happy family reunion as I’d hoped,” she said with a laugh, her lips in a tight smile. “Vin was furious. He and Olivia got in a huge fight because she tried to convince him to let me stay. It didn’t take long for all of them to begin arguing. That’s when Vin told me to go back to Texas. I told him to kiss my ass and I stormed out to my car. Then I started driving. Before I knew it, I was here.”

Court leaned his forearms on the end of the bar. “I spoke to Christian yesterday. He filled me in on Delphine’s appearance in Lyons Point. These are dangerous times, Riley.”

“They’re always dangerous. Riley’s a Chiasson. She knows how to fight,” Kane said to Court. He then turned his gaze to Riley. “What’s your plan?”