Mother Faker: Chapter 21


Calling out of work, pulling Winnie from school, and packing up my kids to hightail it to my brother’s house might have been dramatic, but I’m pretty sure I can never face Beckett Langfield again.

At the moment, hiding out in my brother’s bachelor pad for the foreseeable future sounds like my best option. He shouldn’t mind, right? Three kids and his sister totally won’t cramp his lifestyle.

Who am I kidding? Outside of my kids and me, the only people my brother spends time with are the guys at the fire station. And since he’s the chief, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t even spend that much time with them—he just grunts and commands.

No wonder I’ve become secretly obsessed with my husband—he reminds me of home.

Declan is one of my favorite people, even if he is a grouch. There’s just something about a man who softens for only the people he cares about.

See? I’m delusional. Why the hell would anyone think that kind of behavior is sweet?

“Ahh,” I groan, leaning back against the driver’s seat.

Finn inspects me through the rearview mirror. “Why so mad, Mommy?”

“Not mad, Finny. Just tired.”

On the passenger side of the back seat, Winnie is silently watching the scenery outside the window. Even Dylan didn’t have any luck pulling her out of her funk. I’m at a loss for how to make her feel better, and that only makes me feel like more of a failure.

How do I teach my girl that it’s okay to be upset when people let her down? How do I show her that I’ll spend my life fighting like hell not to be one of those people, but I can’t promise that her father will do the same?

A father should protect his child. Put her first. Or at least that’s how I always imagined a father would be. Declan and I never had a father, so maybe the image I’ve created in my mind isn’t all that accurate. Our mother worked even longer hours than I do to provide for us, and then Declan joined the fire department and helped put me through college.

To me, family means putting each other first. Once I finished college and landed my job with the Langfields, Dec and I worked to pay off our mom’s mortgage so she could work a little less. To this day, my brother helps her around the house and with her bills. For a long time, I treated her to special things periodically, like spa days, but now that I’m divorced, neither she nor my brother will let me help. They’d rather I put any extra cash away for the kids.

That’s how families take care of one another. We show up, and we’re there when we’re needed. That’s why I’m heading home with my tail between my thighs—or whatever the saying is—because while my friends are always there for my kids, I can’t possibly stick around the house and face Beckett this weekend and I know my brother will help Winnie out of this funk.

“Win, you okay?”

She sighs and nods, but she doesn’t turn from the window. “Yup.”

“Who wants to stop for ice cream before we get to Uncle Dec’s?”

Finn throws his hands in the air. “Me!”

Winnie only shrugs, and Adeline babbles, shooting me a toothy grin from her car seat.

I’ll take that as a win.

All three of my kids are sticky, happy messes when we pull into my brother’s driveway. I texted this morning to tell him we were coming, then again when we left the ice cream shop, so he’s outside waiting for us. He scoops my sticky kids up one by one and takes them straight to the hose before they enter his house.

Looks like my husband and my brother have another similar trait—they’re both neat freaks.

“Did you guys have breakfast before Mommy loaded you with sugar?”

I hold my phone up to check the time. “It’s almost lunch.”

Declan laughs and shakes his head. “A real meal it is. Come inside. Tell me what it’s like living with all those people.”

We make it twenty minutes before Finn brings up Beckett.

“Then there’s Bossman. He’s the bestest. He lives in Mommy’s closet.”

“Who the hell is Bossman?” Declan growls.

Dammit. Did I really marry a man just like my brother? I’m beginning to think there’s something wrong with me.

“Oh no, Mommy. Uncle Declan owes a thousand dollars.”

“A thousand dollars?” my brother croaks.

With a grimace, I nod. “That’s the fine for cursing in our house.”

“Who the he—eck,” he says, glancing at Finn, who nods, silently acknowledging that heck is an okay word, “can afford to pay a grand every time they curse?”

“Bossman,” Finn says. “And his brothers.”

“Okay, we’re going in circles here.” Declan’s still grumbling when the doorbell rings. He holds up his finger. “We aren’t done with this conversation.” He disappears then, but a second later, he calls for me. “Liv, could you come here for a minute?”

I check on the kids, but they’re all happily entranced by the cartoon playing in the living room. Might as well face the music and tell Declan all about Bossman and the latest debacle I somehow got myself into.

When I step into the entryway, my brother is standing at the closed front door, his jaw locked and his eyes hard. “What the hell is your asshole boss doing at my front door?”

My stomach plummets. “Beckett’s here?”

Shit. Shit. Shit. I can’t face him. Why is he here? Shit! He’s probably going to fire me for watching him do what he did. Of course he is. Who does that? And why the hell can’t I get the image out of my head? The groan that rumbled out of him, followed by the growl that sent shivers down my spine. The way his hand moved over his cock, and how he fell against the wall as he came so freaking powerfully, all while he looked at me.

My cheeks are on fire, and my tongue is too thick to speak.

“Since when do you call him Beckett? It’s always been Mr. Langfield this, and Mr. Langfield that.”

Said man knocks on the other side of the door, more loudly this time.

“I can hear you talking about me. The least you could do is say it to my face.”

“Oh God,” I groan, dropping my chin to my chest and squeezing my eyes shut.

Declan huffs, but he steps away from the door. Resigned and defeated, I pull it open and hold my hand out, signaling to the sexy as hell man on the other side to come in. “Hi, Beckett.”

“Why the hell are you inviting him into my house? Can’t she take a sick day without being hounded? Did you show up here just to drag her into work? Un-fucking-believable. Grow a backbone, Liv, and tell this guy to go fly a kite.”

“Declan,” I hiss.

“Watch your tone when you’re talking to my wife,” Beckett growls.

My brother’s eyes go wide and wild and he sputters nonsensical noises. Before he can regain his composure and lose it on me or on Beckett, Finn appears.

“Bossman! You came to play with me here too!”

Without hesitation, Beckett smiles and drops to his knees, prepared for the next moment, when Finn hurls himself into his arms. Then he hoists him up as he stands. “Couldn’t let you guys have all the fun without me. What are we doing today?”

“Bossman?” Declan mutters, watching me.

Looks like the cat is out of the bag.

“Dec, I’ll explain everything in a few.” I sigh, already exhausted, and it’s barely midafternoon. “Can you entertain the kids while I talk to Beckett?”

“Actually, I’m good. I brought this bracelet kit. I thought Bear and Huck could help me make some,” Beckett says, holding up a pink case filled to the brim with beads and string.

“Yes! Please, Mommy? Can I play with Bossman?” Finn pleads.

I close my eyes and count to four, taking deep breaths as I do. I have no idea what this man is up to, but I’m not opposed to avoiding the inevitable conversation a little longer. I still have no freaking idea what to say to him, anyway.

“Fine,” I say, resigned.

“What the hell is going on?” Declan grits out. “Who are Bear and Huck? And why is your boss holding your son like that?” He waves an arm at the most adorable sight.

“Uncle Dec, that’s another thousand,” Finn warns.

Beckett backs him up with a nod. “I find the word duck is an excellent replacement. Really gets the point across. Say it with me. What the duck is going on?”

The vein in Declan’s forehead is pulsing, and his jaw is locked so tight it looks like he might break a tooth.

I push Beckett and Finn toward the dining room. “Winnie’s watching TV. Make yourself comfortable.” Then I grab my brother and drag him out the front door. I’m not sure what to tell him, but I better start talking soon.


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