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Losers: Part II: Chapter 48


2 Months Later

The property was about an hour’s drive outside of New York City. But there was a railway station in town, which Vincent proudly brought up multiple times, and Manson insisted the commute felt much faster than it was.

“I drove it myself to make sure,” he said. “Even during rush hour.” But mentioning rush hour made him wince. “Well…it isn’t great all the time. Some times of day are really rough.”

I was just happy they’d found a house they were all so excited about.

This was our second trip to New York in the past couple months. The first time, I’d hunted for apartments in the city as the boys toured houses in the suburbs. To say that the rent prices for apartments were shocking was an understatement. Even with the sizable raise my boss gave me, I still cringed at the expense. The boys didn’t have an easy time finding the right house either, and the clock was ticking for all of us.

Their old house had multiple interested buyers. Fortunately, Reagan had caused no major damage, although the stench of gasoline lingered in the kitchen for weeks. But the headlines the incident generated actually brought a lot of positive attention to the property. If the place was good enough to commit multiple murders for, it was worth buying.

The criminal trial for Reagan would likely drag on for months, but Manson was staying positive about it. It seemed like it was a relief for him to finally have an opportunity to ensure his father was permanently removed from his life. Despite how long Reagan went to prison for, at the least he would no longer know where any of us lived. His ability to torment us was gone.

Alex’s family had been ready to fight tooth and nail to prove their son’s innocence, but the security footage of him grabbing and restraining me made that significantly more difficult for them. Another wrench was thrown in their plans when Nate admitted everything, including telling the police that Reagan had offered him money to pursue Manson and Lucas at the sideshow.

They were now trying to enter a plea deal in hopes Alex would avoid time behind bars. My own mother was ready to go to war with them though; having her daughter’s life threatened had made a world of difference in her behavior. She wasn’t perfect, by any means; her desperate want to be in control still led to unnecessary arguments. But she’d finally accepted that I was dating the guys and no longer gave me a hard time about having them come over to the house. It was a step in the right direction.

But I spent little time at my parents’ house anymore. I spent almost every day with the boys, and nearly every night at their house. Frankly, it made looking at studio apartments depressing. Everywhere I could afford in the city was so small, barely more than a glorified walk-in closet. How was I supposed to fit all my men into a tiny apartment when they came to visit?

Ashley teased me endlessly that these were the “horrible” problems I had to deal with.

“Oh boo-hoo, how will you fit all your men in your tiny apartment?” she said, while I was out for drinks with her the previous night. “God, I would kill for your problems.”

At least we’d all have plenty of room at the new house. Jason had brought up multiple times how big the place was, and when I finally laid eyes on it, he was right.

The house sat on a small plot of land in a quiet, older neighborhood. It was a classic Queen Anne Victorian, the exterior flawlessly restored. As we parked the rental SUV along the curb and got out, I was immediately enamored with the wrought iron and brick fencing around the manicured yard, shaded by mature maple trees. The beautiful red and yellow leaves had blanketed the grass and the sidewalk where the real estate agent was waiting for us.

“Hello! Manson Reed?” She held out her hand for him as we walked up, shaking it enthusiastically. “And this must be your…”

“Family,” he said, motioning to the rest of us as he introduced us. If the realtor was confused, she was careful not to show it. She kept a big smile plastered on her face as she led us up to the house, gushing about the decorative details on the wrap-around porch.

“As you can see, the previous owner took its restoration very seriously,” she said. “But you will find modern upgrades within the home, particularly in the kitchen.”

“Fuck yes, that’s what I like to hear,” Vincent said. “I need to check out that kitchen.”

Stepping into the entry hall took my breath away. The interior of the house stayed true to its structural roots, but the decor was modern. Stained glass windows around the front door cast patterns of multi-colored luminescence across the polished wooden floors and beautiful curved staircase. There were large windows in every room, filling the house with light.

“As you can see, natural lighting was truly embraced in the home’s design,” the realtor said, her heels clicking across the shining floors. “Twelve foot ceilings throughout, and the rooms are spacious.”

There was a massive fireplace in the living room, and as the realtor went on about how cozy the room would be on a cold night, all I could think about was how there was more than enough room to have an orgy in front of the fire. I whispered my idea in Jason’s ear, and he looked at me like I’d promised him his own personal candy store.

“Sold on the place already, Jess?” Vincent said, having overheard my suggestion to Jason.

“As if I wouldn’t be,” I said. “You all knew I’d fall in love with this place!”

Vincent shrugged innocently. “We didn’t have the slightest idea. There’s nothing special at all about this house.” I could only shake my head at him.

The realtor encouraged us to have a look around and explore as we wished. Deciding to investigate the upper floor, I wandered through the bedrooms on the second level. They were spacious and most had doorways connecting them directly to each other, rather than simply to the main hall — a common feature in these older homes.

Manson was in the room at the far end of the upstairs hall. It was the primary bedroom and it looked down into the backyard through four arched windows. He heard me come in and smiled as he turned, reaching out his arm to snuggle me beneath.

“What do you think of the house?” he said.

“It’s stunning.” I wrapped both my arms around him. “But I think you already knew I’d love it.”

“You love it?” He swelled with pride when I nodded. “Better than your apartment?”

“Ugh, don’t rub it in,” I said. “I’ll be living in a shoebox, but at least I’ll get to visit this place. If you guys decide to get it, of course.”

“We already put in an offer.”

He was grinning widely. My mouth dropped open in shock, excitement that this place could actually be theirs rushing through me. “You did? Seriously? When?”

“We found this place online a few weeks ago,” he admitted, looking out onto the leaf-strewn lawn. “It was a really good deal, so we put in an offer before we were able to visit the place. Now that we’re here, I’m glad we did.”

Through the windows, I spotted Lucas in the yard, checking out the detached garage. Leaving Manson with a kiss on the cheek, I made my way out onto the back porch and jogged across the grass to join him.

“Is this going to be the new shop?” I said as he greeted me with an arm around my waist and one hand squeezing my ass.

“Only for our own personal cars,” he said as we wandered around the garage’s interior. It was smaller than the shop they had now, but big enough for their own vehicles. “Manson and I decided that we shouldn’t have our workplace on the property. Given that we both have such a hard time taking days off as it is.”

“No more working on weekends,” I reminded him. “Weekends are for debauchery only.”

“Are they really?” He pressed me to the side of the garage as we walked back outside, covering my throat with kisses and bites. “Well, would you look at that: it’s Saturday.”

He kissed me until my knees were weak and heat seized me. I made him stop only when the realtor spotted us and awkwardly ducked back out of sight.

“Let her watch,” he growled. “Hell, she could join in if she wants…”

Laughing as I smacked his arm, I said, “Don’t scare the poor realtor! She’s confused enough trying to figure out who’s with who.”

We wandered across the yard, the leaves crunching under our shoes. “I love how big these trees are,” I said, looking up at the sprawling limbs of the maple tree that shaded the backyard. “We could totally build a treehouse up there.”

“I think we’re too big for treehouses, Jess,” he said. But there was still longing in his eyes, as if he wished he wasn’t, as if building a treehouse again was simply too tempting.

“Well, even if you’re too big for it…kids would like it,” I said as casually as I could, smiling and shrugging as I turned to go back inside. “I’m going to go find Jason and Vincent. I heard this house has a basement? If y’all don’t turn it into a dungeon, I’m going to be disappointed…”

I’d only gotten a few steps away before he called to me and I glanced back.

“Kids?” he said. He sounded both terrified and hopeful at the same time.

“Yeah, you know, little miniature versions of you…Manson…Jason…Vincent…” His eyes grew wider with my every word, and I couldn’t help laughing at his expression. “I bet they’d like a treehouse.”

His mouth opened and closed several times before he managed to choke out, “Yeah, I bet they would.” With his hands in his pockets, he looked blankly into the distance for a moment, a nervous smile on his face. “They’d like that a lot.”

Maybe I jumped the gun there, but I no longer made a habit of hiding what I wanted.


There was just enough time for us to get ready for dinner after touring the house. The boys had made the reservation and refused to tell me where since they wanted it to be a surprise. All they told me was that I should dress up nice, so I hadn’t been able to resist picking up a new dress for the occasion.

By the time I emerged from the bathroom, they were ready to go. All wore fitted slacks and button-up shirts — even Lucas, who hated buttons with a particular passion. The sight of them all dressed up made my stomach do somersaults.

“Damn, you all look hot,” I said, my heels giving me enough height to kiss Vincent without him having to bend down.

“You still put us all to shame. Look at you.” Lucas circled me, nodding in appreciation. My dress was ruched yellow satin that barely touched my mid-thigh, and it made my ass look incredible.

Manson kissed my neck, trailing his finger over my dangling diamond earring. “You do look absolutely stunning,” he said.

Jason took my hand, giving me a twirl as Vincent whistled. “Now, how do you expect us to leave the house with you looking like that?” Jason said. “I think I’d rather stay here and take all this off you.”

“I promise that fucking Jess will be even more enjoyable after a Michelin-starred dinner,” Vincent said, putting his arm around my shoulders as he steered me toward the door. “We’ve had these reservations for weeks, I’m sorry, but I might die if I don’t get to try their roast duck.”

“Better be a damn good duck,” Lucas said. He gave my ass a squeeze, his voice a growl in my ear as he said, “I knew you’d be wearing a thong under that slinky little thing.”

“Thong?” I gave him an innocent look. “Oh, you think I’m wearing underwear?”

Lucas stopped abruptly. “Vince, the duck isn’t worth it.”

Vincent had to carry me out of the house over his shoulder, like a dangling carrot for the others to follow. Jason drove, Vincent took the passenger seat, and I sat in the back between Manson and Lucas. They each rested a hand on my bare thigh, and those hands kept wandering as we drove. Soon, they had teased me into such a frenzy that not even the music could cover my whimpers.

“Don’t fuck up her makeup before we’ve even gotten there,” Jason said, grinning at us in the rearview mirror.

“Counterpoint: do fuck up her makeup and let her squirm in front of the waiters,” Vincent said, peering over his seat with a wicked grin.

They’d told me the restaurant was “nice,” but it was far more than just that. We were seated near the windows, where we had a beautiful view of the sunset over the trees. A pianist, seated at a massive grand piano beneath an elaborate chandelier, played Chopin as two bottles of champagne were brought to our table.

“I don’t think I’ll ever look at a champagne bottle the same way again,” I said, earning myself four smoldering looks.

We raised our glasses in a toast, clinking them together as the flickering candlelight made the bubbles sparkle like tiny fireworks. The food was delicious, and I thought I was too full to consume another bite until I caught sight of the dessert menu. It didn’t take much convincing to get Vincent to split a slice of Tiramisu with me.

The moment the waiter turned away from delivering the slice, the boys all exchanged a look.

“So what do you think?” Manson said. “Do we ruin her makeup now?”

“I still think we should have done it earlier,” Vincent said. “Trying to be patient is torture.”

“She’s ready for it,” Lucas said, giving me a wink that made my entire body tingle.

“Let’s do it,” Jason said.

“What the hell are you doing?” I hissed, trying to keep my voice down. “We can’t mess around in here!”

“Who said anything about messing around?” Manson said.

He reached into his jacket and withdrew a small black box tied with a silver ribbon. He set it in front of me, tightly clasping his hands together as he said, “No messing around, Jess. This is serious business.”

“What’s the occasion?” I said, looking between them as I loosened the ribbon. Vincent looked like he would literally burst out of his seat. Jason’s leg was tapping repeatedly under the table, and I swore Lucas was holding his breath. I laughed. “Is this some kind of prank? Is a snake going to jump out at me the second I open —”

The ribbon drifted to the floor as I opened the box.

Inside was a key…and a ring.

The key was shiny, clearly new. The ring had five gems set in a platinum band, with two diamonds on either side of a pear-cut pink sapphire. It was stunning. It caught the light beautifully, casting shimmers as the box shook in my hands.

As I lifted my head, I found them all staring nervously back at me. Manson cleared his throat.

“We got that house, Jess.” My eyes were stinging with tears as I gasped. “It was a hell of a fight to get a high enough bid in but we closed on it yesterday. We told the realtor not to give it away. That’s your key.” He cleared his throat again. “There’s a note in there. I figured, uh…well…I figured we’d all end up a bit tongue-tied so…”

My hands were shaking so hard I could barely unfold the note neatly tucked above the ring.


We’ve been pushing each other’s buttons since we were hardly more than kids. You’ve seen us at our worst, and been there to see us become our best.

This key opens your haven: a place where you can be who you are, where you can grow, change, and live how you want to without fear. We want to share this place with you, we want our home to be your home. Even one more night spent without you would be too much.

Our family may not be ordinary or easily understood, but we want you to be a part of it.

We know marriage isn’t exactly an option for us, at least not in the legal sense. But that doesn’t change what this ring means to us — we want to be with you, loving you and supporting you. Our lives are intertwined like the stones in this ring. They may be brilliant alone, but each supports the other. If any of them were missing, the balance would be off.

You took a chance on something you didn’t believe you should have, and we did the same. That chance was worth it in every possible way, so we decided to take another.

We love you, Jessica, far more than words could encompass. We’ve spent all our lives reaching for the light, and you burned through us like fire. We’re the luckiest men in the world to have you in our lives, and you’d make us even luckier if you accepted this.

The key is a promise of home, safety, comfort, and support. The ring is a promise of love and devotion, a bond that won’t break.

Will you say yes?

They’d all signed their names. The paper shook in my hands, sinking into my lap. It was as if that ring were squeezed around my heart, stopping my breath, aching and heavy in a way that felt too beautiful, too blissful for words.

“Jess…” There was unmistakable nervousness in Lucas’s tone. “If it’s too much all at once, you can tell us so. We’ll wait. Or we’ll figure out whatever arrangement works for you —”

I lifted my head. My makeup was ruined; I wasn’t crying pretty and perfect.

“Of course, I’m saying yes,” I choked out, and the smiles I was met with made me hiccup with a sob. “Of course I’ll move in with you, I – I don’t ever want to go back to living without you. Ever. The years we were apart, I — I wasn’t living. Not how I wanted to, not how I needed to. I needed —” I hiccupped again, and Vincent put his arm around me, holding me until I could compose myself.

“I needed you all,” I said, when my voice was finally steady enough to speak. “I love you…I love you all so much.”

It must have been quite a sight, all of them gathering around my chair as I tried to stop weeping — holding me, kissing me. But I genuinely didn’t care how we looked. I didn’t care if every single person stared, because with them, I was in my own little world.

Our world was what we needed it to be. No one else got to decide, no one’s judgment could determine how we felt. We had found our own way to surround ourselves with love. We had found safety and comfort, even when some had been determined to take it away.

Lucas held my hand as Manson slipped the ring on. Jason kissed my forehead as Vincent teased me and wiped away my tears. The only thing more distracting than those sparkling gems were the men they represented.

We’d fought for our love. Fought with ourselves, with each other, with those who wanted our love to not even exist. But this was our victory.

This was our forever.


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