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Mother Faker: Chapter 13

Beckett

I cannot believe you brought him,” I grumble to Brooks, stomping up the steps of the brownstone I’ll be calling home sweet home for the next few months.

Gavin hops up onto the porch and smirks. “Wouldn’t miss this for the world.”

Brooks runs his hands through his long brown hair. It has a little curl to it at the ends that women go nuts over. At games, he keeps it tied back in the tiniest fucking bun. I’d make fun of him endlessly if I wasn’t worried I’d jinx myself and my hair would start thinning. So far, I’ve been blessed. I’m over forty, and it’s still dark and thick.

“You’re thinking about your hair right now, aren’t you?” Gavin jokes. God, it’s annoying how well he knows me.

Brooks sighs when I glare in his direction. “Technically, he’s my boss. What was I supposed to do?”

“What are you doing?” a woman asks from inside the house. I can’t quite make out whose voice it is.

“Just watching the men argue over Bossman’s hair.”

I smirk at the nickname and the voice. It’s Huckleberry. Kid is awesome.

“He just call you Bossman?” Gavin mouths.

The door swings open to reveal a very pissed off Medusa standing in the dark entry. Why the hell don’t they ever turn that light on when they answer the door?

“There are more of you. Fantastic.”

Now, I’m not saying my brothers and I are the hottest men to ever grace this earth, but we’re definitely in the top ten in the city of Boston. We’ve taken turns being the most sought-after Langfield brother over the years, and currently, that title belongs to Brooks.

Even at thirty, he’s still got that baby face that makes it impossible to hate him. His mug is on billboards all over the city because he’s the good boy of hockey. Never curses, never does anything wrong, always smiles at reporters and answers their questions politely. Anyone can be an asshole to me, but Brooks… it’s like his DNA alters others around him and forces their politeness. Except when it comes to Delia, it seems. If she’s not impressed by him, there’s no hope for the rest of us.

What the hell is wrong with this woman?

“Medusa,” I growl, “these are my brothers, Gavin and Brooks. They’re here to help me move in.”

The responding twitch of her eye calms me. We’re in a battle of wills, and if she’s not going to like me, then I might as well enjoy pissing her off.

“Bossman, you have brothers?” Huckleberry’s awe-filled voice has both the guys beside me chuckling.

“He sure does. I’m Gavin, and this is Brooks.”

Huckleberry points at Brooks. “I’ve seen you in your underwears.”

In unison, the three of us burst into laughter. Yes, Brooks is on quite a few billboards wearing nothing but underwear. And I have the unfortunate luck of knowing that they don’t stuff them to make him look like he does.

Brooks kneels to Huckleberry’s level and fist bumps him. “Nice to meet you, little man. What’s your name?”

Huckleberry throws a thumb in my direction. “Bossman calls me Hucklebewy, but the name’s Finn.”

“It’s Huckleberry. We gotta work on those Rs, kid.” I chuckle.

“Giving her kids names already?” Gavin gives me a knowing smirk.

I return the look with a glare.

All my siblings had nicknames growing up too. I no longer use them, but it’s my thing. I only did it with Liv’s kids to keep me from having to remember their real names and to remain unattached. It doesn’t mean anything.

“You going to let us in?” I ask Medusa, who’s still blocking the doorway with her hands on her hips. Her blond hair is pulled back in a ponytail so tight even it looks angry.

“Them, maybe,” she says, pointing at my brothers. “You? Definitely not.”

“Oh, more hot men!” Dylan cheers as she stands in the dim entryway behind Medusa.

Two down. Where are the others?

Her curly red hair bounces, and the bracelets on both wrists jangle as she waves us in. “Oh, I like the colors on this one,” she whispers to Medusa as Brooks steps over the threshold onto the plywood floor. “Becks, you didn’t tell me your brothers were moving in too.”

Gavin eyes me and mouths, “Becks?”

“It’s Beckett,” I growl.

She bites her lip like she’s fighting back a smile. “We’re not doing this again. Hi, boys. I’m Dylan, but to my bestie Becks over there, I’m Dippy Do. We have a thing.”

“We do not have a thing,” I grumble.

She merely shoots me a disapproving look.

“Fine.” I sigh. “We have a thing.”

“What kind of thing?” Shayla asks.

“Okay, seriously, how many people can fit in this foyer, and where the hell is my Liv?”

Beside me, Brooks slaps me in the gut and chokes on his laugh.

Gavin mutters, “My Liv. You owe me fifty bucks, Brooks. Told you he already broke.”

I clear my throat. “Liv. Where is Liv?”

“Coming,” she calls from somewhere in the house.

My face must respond in some inappropriate way, because Gavin shoves an elbow into Brooks’s ribs, and my little brother doubles over, laughing. When Liv appears with Adeline on her hip, my heart spasms. She’s wearing yoga pants and an oversized black shirt that falls off her shoulder. Her hair is up in a messy topknot, her face fresh of makeup. Just the sight of her has my insides rearranging themselves. I don’t like messes or lots of people, but any time she’s near, a wave of relief washes over me and I feel strangely at ease.

“Oh, hi, guys,” she says, her face flushing. She brings her free hand to her cheek, as if she’s self-conscious about not being done up in her normal skirt suit, perfect makeup, and bun. Dropping her hand, she gives me a stern look that I interpret as a threat to my life. “I didn’t know you were all coming.”

Shayla reaches for Adeline as Dylan singsongs, “It’s moving day. He brought movers!”

Liv bites her lip. “Right. Come in.”

I step up to Medusa and eye her until she moves out of our way, then I close in on Liv. It’s not like I have much of an option—I have to walk past her to get inside anyway—but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to touch her. Besides, we’re supposed to be happily married in front of my family, right?

But right as I head toward her, ready to pull her close, even if only to run my hand against that bare skin on her shoulder—maybe press my lips there, too—Huckleberry tugs on my pant leg.

“You’re movin’ in with us?”

Looking down at him, I’m hit with a reminder of Liv’s rules. The kids can’t know.

“Sorry,” Liv says, her voice soft. “I wanted to sit everyone down before you got here, but Adeline thought I’d look good wearing her breakfast so…” She lifts a shoulder sheepishly. “It’s crazy here sometimes.”

“All the time,” Medusa mutters. “You should run. Far.”

Ignoring her theatrics, I crouch so I’m eye to eye with my pal who’s still waiting for my attention. “Can you get all the kids and the moms into the living room for a team meeting?”

“Team meeting.” Medusa snorts.

Beside me, Brooks rubs his hands together. “Oh, I miss Beckett’s team meetings.”

Gavin bounces on the toes of his Gucci sneakers. “Haven’t seen him like this in years.”

Hauling myself back up, I snort to hold back my laughter.

My brothers both shoot me looks of amusement and surprise. It’s rare that I laugh or smile, especially in front of this many people. Poker nights with Jay Hanson? Yeah. It’s impossible not to laugh at that asshole. But just being in this house makes me feel lighter.

Which makes zero sense since its complete chaos—the antithesis of what typically comforts me.

But when Liv’s brown eyes meet mine, my body warms, and the constant buzzing in my ears, the unease, melts away.

I probably should see someone about that. Not today, and certainly not anytime soon, but once she’s not in my everyday life⁠—

No. I lock those thoughts down quick. I can’t think about what will happen when this arrangement is over. Besides, she’ll still work for me, even when she’s not my wife. It’ll be fine. It’s all going to be fine.

Or you could just keep her.

“Thought you said team meeting?” Gavin grins at me. The fucker knows precisely what I’m looking at and what I’m thinking.

Dropping to my knees, I look Huckleberry in the eye. “What’s the best way to get everyone’s attention?”

He smiles. “Living room.”

I throw a thumb over my back in invitation, and without needing any explanation, he gets my drift. He hops on and bounces a bit until he’s situated. Hauling myself up, I wink in Liv’s direction.

She’s been watching our exchange closely. I don’t miss the way her bottom lip practically dips in surprise. I consider pulling her chin up as we pass her, but I’m following the rules. No touching Liv when we’re in this house.

It’s for the best anyway. If I touch her, I’ll want to keep touching her. It’s why I chose a booth over my usual table last night. If we were on display for the world to see, I’d have taken the PDA up a notch, because that’s what we were supposed to do. But touching Liv, even in the most innocent ways, will only leave me wanting to touch her in other places.

And maybe I wanted her undivided attention for a bit. To not be bothered every five minutes by a child or a colleague. Two hours at dinner in a corner booth with Liv? It was like hitting the jackpot. Thank fuck she agreed to the Friday date night stipulation. It means last night wasn’t a one-time thing.

Idiot. I really shouldn’t be so desperate for her.

“Ova there.” Huckleberry points to the corner once we’ve made our way to the living room.

“Here?” I question, spinning to take in the empty space.

He tugs on the collar of my shirt, guiding me closer to the wall, and knocks on the chipped plaster. “If you yell into the vent, everyone can hear ya.”

The kid has yet to let me down, so I press closer to the corner and shout, “Team meeting. Everyone in the living room. Now.”

In an instant, it sounds like a herd of elephants is loose in the house.

My brothers both eye me nervously. “Exactly how many people live here?” Brooks asks.

“Let’s see…” Huckleberry starts counting out names and holding up his fingers. “Mommy, me, Win⁠—”

“Bear,” I tease.

Liv lets out a scoff, and Gavin’s eyes dance.

“Baby Addie, Auntie Shay, Kai, the twins.” He forgets to hold up two fingers here, but I’m pretty sure he’s lost count by now anyway. “Auntie Delia, Auntie Dylan.” That name brings a sweet smile to his face. “And Liam. So that’s… Wait, I rans out of fingers.”

I snort. “It’s eleven. Add me, and that makes twelve.”

Without a sound, the Shining Twins appear in the doorway, wearing matching blue dresses. I swear to God they do this shit to fuck with me.

Brooks follows my line of sight, then does a double take and lets out a shrill scream. “The fuck!”

“That’s going to cost you,” I mutter under my breath.

One of them—I can’t tell which since they’re dressed identically—turns to Medusa and holds out her palm. “Mom, we need your phone.”

“Why?” she asks.

“Judging by that”—she points at Brooks, who’s backed up a few steps but hasn’t taken his eyes off the girls—“I doubt they brought enough cash to pay all the fines they’re going to rack up. I’m going to give him the QR codes before we start.” With her mom’s phone in hand, she takes a step toward Brooks. “Do you prefer using Venmo or Zelle?”

“Is she for real?” Gavin asks, leaning in close but keeping his attention fixed on the creepy kids.

“Unfortunately,” I mutter.

“How much are we talking here? Dollar bill for every curse?”

I bark out a laugh. “Thousand dollars a pop. They got ten out of me in an hour at dinner the first time. I’ve learned to use ducking since they got fifteen out of me when I babysat on Thursday night.”

“Fifteen thousand dollars?” Brooks asks, his eyes bugging out.

“We’ve already turned that into forty-five thousand. It’s all about the right investments,” one of the twins explains.

Gavin is still staring at me, his face etched with real concern now.

“It’s fine,” I reassure him. “I can handle them.”

Medusa laughs her man-hating laugh. “No, you absolutely cannot. But it will be fun watching you try.”

“As entertaining as this is,” Liv says as Liam and Kai, the last of the kids, find their way into the living room, “we have things to discuss.”

The lot of them squeeze together on the couches and chairs situated in the living room. Once again, this should make me anxious. The crowd and the noise. The couches don’t match the chairs. There’s a bin filled with toys in the middle of the room. The lid is missing, so the brightly colored objects spill onto the floor around it. Magazines, books, and what looks like random game pieces are strewn about on the coffee table, and the fireplace is filled with candles of varying sizes—which is, for sure, a fire hazard.

But I’m not anxious. Not in the least. All because I’m seated beside Liv.

What the hell is wrong with me?

When I warned my brothers that we weren’t letting the kids know about our marriage, Gavin grumbled “because it’s fake” under his breath, while Brooks nodded and added “we’ll do whatever you want, man.” Because that’s how Brooks is, the good guy, unlike the pain in the ass he brought with him.

In mere seconds, Liv blossoms into the businesswoman I’ve always been in awe of. “A few months ago, we all moved into this house because we needed the help, right?”

She shoots an appreciative smile in Dylan’s direction, and when the redhead smiles back, I grow to like her even more. I like that Liv has people. Though I could do without Medusa, who is still glaring at me from her spot on the couch.

“Well,” Liv continues, “Mr. Langfield⁠—”

“Bossman!” Huckleberry shouts from his spot on the floor.

She laughs and rolls her eyes in my direction. “Yes, Finn. As it turns out, Bossman,” she says in an adorable, exaggerated tone, “needs help too.”

“He does?” Kai asks from his mother’s lap, his big, dark eyes assessing me.

She shushes him, but I give him a nod.

“I do.”

“He doesn’t have anywhere to stay for a few months, so he’s going to live with us,” Liv says, wearing a big, fake smile and scanning the crowd.

“I’ll allow it,” one of the Shining Twins mutters, lifting her chin high and scrutinizing me. “He’s good for our bank account.”

“So that’s how you’re selling this?” Liam snarks from where he’s leaning against the wall. Unlike the rest of them, he’s perched about five feet away, arms crossed like he’d rather be anywhere else.

From the other couch, Dylan gives him a look over her shoulder. “We’re not selling anything. Beckett needed a place to stay, and the universe provided him with this opportunity. Who are we to say no to the universe?”

In a turn of events I didn’t expect, he grumbles, “We aren’t.”

Gavin’s grinning, and Brooks is still watching the Shining Twins like if he looks away, they’ll curse him with some witch spell.

Beside me, Liv nudges my arm and widens her eyes in a silent help me expression.

I push my sleeves up to my elbows and scoot forward on the cushion. “Listen,” I say, making a point to lock eyes with each kid in the room—except Liam, who’s got his head tipped back against the wall and his eyes closed. “I’ll be an excellent roommate. You’ll barely know I’m here because I travel with the team so much. Except on Thursday nights, when, apparently, I’m in charge of you kids.”

“Because that’s what the universe wants,” Dylan sings cheerily.

“No, that’s what we need,” Medusa grumps.

“Exactly,” Liv says. “We’ll all benefit. Since Beckett is moving in, he’s going to help us out with some of the repairs. Just consider him another… er—” She trips over what to call me, and I know it’s because she doesn’t want to say parent.

Dammit. I made it abundantly clear last night that I didn’t want kids, and now she’s stuck.

“He’s Bossman, Mommy,” Huckleberry says, smacking his forehead like he doesn’t understand what’s so hard about the concept.

“Right. Consider him another boss. Like the moms.”

Gavin snorts. “Always thought he looked good wearing a skirt.”

Huckleberry bounces on his knees, his whole face lighting up. “I love tutus! You wanna wear tutus with me, Bossman?”

“Not sure they make them in my size, Huck, but we’ll see what we can find.”

“Yes!” He pumps one arm and grins so big it almost hurts to look at him.

Liv eyes me, her expression full of a combination of hope and trepidation. As conflicted as the look makes me feel, I like her eyes on me. I like her family. And if I’m not careful, I’m going to like this entire temporary situation a bit too much.


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