Mission: Cavanaugh Baby

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Authors: Marie Ferrarella
“Now I’m suddenly a fellow officer.”
    “With one hell of a chip on your shoulder,” he observed.
    Her eyes met his defiantly. “Nothing I haven’t earned, trust me.”
    “I’d like to,” he told her with feeling, surprising Ashley. “I’ll be there after my shift. Join me if you want to. Don’t if you don’t.”
    And that was all he said on the subject.

Chapter 6
    “Y ou keep watching that door as if you expect it to fly open any second and do tricks,” Declan Cavanaugh observed, glancing over his shoulder at the tavern entrance.
    “No, I’m not,” Shane protested with what, even to his own ears, sounded like just a tad too much feeling.
    It was obvious to him that he hadn’t convinced his older brother. Declan continued to eye him over his glass of beer, amusement clearly reflected in his expression. That was the bad part about having such a large family, Shane thought. Everyone believed they knew you better than you knew yourself.
    What was even worse was when they were right.
    “Something you care to share with the rest of the class, brother?” Declan coaxed after taking another long sip of the house beer.
    Shane tipped back the half-finished glass of dark ale, then laughed harshly. “It’s hard enough sharing a drink with you, let alone a secret—”
    Declan grinned triumphantly. “Ah, so you do have one. Just as I thought.”
    He really had to watch how he worded things, Shane warned himself. Most of his immediate family was still tiptoeing around his feelings. Declan was of a mind that his feelings had to be kicked to the curb, his past relationship forgotten about so that he could go on with his life.
    And, from the way he was talking, Declan was assuming that it was already a done deal.
    “You didn’t let me finish— if I had a secret to share,” he told Declan pointedly.
    Shane spared the entrance a quick side glance.
    She wasn’t going to show.
    He had no idea why that bothered him so much or why he kept the fact that he was waiting for someone he’d been forced to interact with today to himself. By keeping quiet about it, he was giving the whole thing far too much importance, much more than it actually deserved or merited.
    He supposed it was because he didn’t want to seem like a fool in anyone’s eyes, least of all a member of his immediate family, which was the way he thought of his father and the seven of them: Tom, Kendra, Bridget, Kari, Logan, Declan and himself. The others were family—newly found family, at that—and he was still adjusting to the fact, as were some of the others.
    Tom and Kari would have embraced anybody who professed to be part of the family, no matter how distant, but he and the rest of them would take varying degrees of time to come around. When he’d first learned the news, he couldn’t just stand there, have someone wave a wand over him, declare him to be a Cavanaugh, not a Cavelli, and be instantly okay with that.
    Acceptance, as far as he was concerned, took a little more time.
    “Well, Pinocchio, as much as I’d like to sit around watching your nose grow, I’ve got to hit the road.” Putting his empty glass on the counter, Declan pulled a five-dollar bill out of his pocket and left it on the counter for the bartender.
    “Oh?” Shane moved his stool so that he could get a better look at his brother’s face.
    “Yeah.” There was a rather careless shrug of his shoulders as he elaborated for Shane’s benefit. “I’ve got a date.”
    “‘A date,’” Shane repeated somewhat incredulously.
    Declan pretended to look around, as if to pinpoint where the sound was coming from within the center of the din.
    “Strange echo in here, Shane. Sounds just like you,” Declan said drolly. “Yes, a date,” he confirmed. “You remember dates, don’t you, Shane? Things that involve you and a smaller, softer human being.” His expression grew more serious. “God, but that witch really did mess you up, didn’t she?” Anger momentarily

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