To say Killian Walker was shocked when he discovered that not only was his father not married to his mother, but he had three half-brothers in the same situation. Facing each other for the first time at the reading of Dusty Walker’s will, the atmosphere could best be described as hostile. The terms of the will didn’t help matters. Spending a week in Red Creek, Kansas in Dusty’s house and Dusty’s business was just not on his agenda of things to do. But if he wanted the money to start his own ranch, he’d have to grit his teeth and man up. Lexie Choate had big dreams about success in the world of art. Her teachers at Savannah School of Art praised her talent and told her she was a shoo-in to win the prize of a gallery show of her own. The last thing she expected was for the man who stole her heart to also steal the prize from her. She ran back to Red Creek, to heal her broken heart and recover from her disappointment. As the owner of Heart Starter, the popular coffee shop in town, she was busy building a new life for herself, while she continued to paint in secret. Hope never dies. When Killian walked into Heart Starter the chemistry between the two of them was instant and explosive, but neither of them was looking for anything long term. She wanted to get back into the world of art. He was planning to build his ranch and not in Nowhere, Kansas. One week, they agreed. One week to enjoy each other, then goodbye. Funny thing, though, just when you think you’ve got everything planned out, life has a funny way of turning your life upside down. Lexie and Killian is created by Desiree Holt, an EGlobal Creative Publishing signed author.
The office could have been straight out of another century, with its massive desk, huge carved furniture, and lingering scent of cigar smoke. The most modern things were the four men seated across from the desk big enough to sail a battleship on.
Killian Walker shifted in his chair and wished, not for the first time, he had his familiar length of rope to play with. Maybe the comforting feel of the twisted strands in his hands would calm his jumpy nerves and ease his anger. This was definitely a what-the-fuck situation, and he wasn't one bit happy about it. If wishing worked, he'd be back in Montana riding fence instead of sitting here with three strangers who looked like him and an old man who had facilitated this situation.
Stanley Benner, Esquire, attorney for the late Dusty Walker-his father, of all the fucked-up things-leaned over his desk and plopped a folder of papers in front of Killian and the three other men sitting in a row with him. Killian slid a glance at them, not for the first time, and swallowed a chuckle. There they sat, like four penguins in their suits and ties, all appearing as if they'd rather be any place but here.
And that was another thing. The damn suit was driving him nuts. Or maybe it was what it implied that he resented. If not for his mother's insistence, he wouldn't be wearing it. If not for his mother's insistence, he'd have shown up in his jeans and work shirt and been a damn sight more comfortable.
Brothers! Damn! Who the f**k would have thought he had three brothers, anyway?
The one introduced as Jackson Walker adjusted the gray tie he wore as if it was choking him. Killian held back a snort. It probably was. He wondered if they were all as uncomfortable in them as he was.
The lawyer's gaze rested on each face in turn. Was he taking in their similarities? Even though the four brothers had never laid eyes on each other until five minutes ago, they sat silently, letting the man have his fill of staring. His three half-brothers had to be as gobsmacked as Killian was. He kept his gaze forward, not ready to take in the three faces proving his dad was a rat bastard.
The gray-haired lawyer unbuttoned his suit coat and sat, pushing his wire-rimmed glasses up on his nose. "Incredible likeness. Your father never mentioned it."
Their father sure hadn't mentioned a whole hell of a lot of things, like the fact he had four sons, each of whom had no idea there were three more just like him in other parts of the country.
Killian sat forward in his chair. "Are we quadruplets? Were we separated at birth?"
The attorney shook his head again. "Absolutely not. Each of you is your mother's biological son. You are each about a year apart in age. Mr. Walker...uh...Killian."
Jackson gave a rough laugh. "Since we were all four Mr. Walker, the man must have realized he needed to take a different approach."
"Killian," Benner continued, "you're the oldest at twenty-seven, and Dylan, you're youngest. It must be a very strong DNA strain in your father to have produced men who look so similar."
Besides different eye and hair color, their faces and bodies could have been stamped from the same mold.
"When I arrived at your homes last week with the news your father had died, I was under strict instructions not to mention you had brothers. It was among your father's last wishes you learn of your siblings' existence by bringing you together." The attorney picked up a sheaf of papers. "I apologize for bringing you to Kansas under these circumstances."
Killian had spent the past week peppering his mother with questions about how and what and where and every other damn thing. To say he was shocked was the understatement of the year, especially at his mother when he discovered she had been way less than forthcoming. She had known the situation from Day One. While Killian had thought his parents had been married, his mother finally confessed to him she'd known Dusty had a wife back in Kansas and she'd also known the state of his marriage. But she loved him desperately, and it had given her real pleasure to bear him a son. She took his name to avoid gossip in town. Killian felt betrayed by both of them. His father had spent very few weeks with him every year, and now he-all the sons-knew why.
How he'd anticipated those infrequent visits, cherished every minute of them. The man not only had a wife, but three other families. The time their dad did spend with him he said was to prepare him to one day run the family business. They poured over contracts for regional mineral rights, surveyed land, and interpreted tests to determine if there was value in the acreage. When he was younger, he hadn't been all that interested, but he'd do anything to be with Dusty.
Killian treasured the time his father had spent taking him on trips to mineral leases and meetings with geologists. While it didn't replace horses, the business still fascinated him, and he felt honored Dusty wanted to share it with him. He'd believed the bastard when he'd said Killian was so very special to him and he wished he could spend more time with him. Maybe if he hadn't been so busy screwing every single female he hooked up with, that might have been possible.
His mother had been much less concerned with the legitimacy of the situation than she was with how he now viewed his late father. She'd hauled out photo albums, pointing to the pictures of him and Dusty and telling him how much his daddy loved him. And her. Her! Yeah, what a laugh. Her and at least four other women, including his wife. All the pictures in the world wouldn't ease the hurt he felt now. Or soften the fact she'd known about Dusty's wife and the situation all the time. Had the business he'd set her up in and the beautiful house he bought for them been enough to buy her silence? He wasn't sure he could ever forgive her for that.
He did feel sorry for her on one count. It was obvious from the questions she'd asked the lawyer she'd thought she was the only "other woman" in Dusty's life. Although she hadn't voiced her feelings, Killian had seen the shock and dismay as well as the sense of betrayal evident in her eyes. But she'd kept her feelings to herself, urging Killian not to let it affect how he viewed his father.
He hadn't even wanted to come today, but his mother had insisted.
"Dusty wanted you to have his name," she kept repeating. "He was proud of you, and he acknowledged you in his will. Substantially. If nothing else, you'll get closure."
Closure. Yeah. Six feet under. Oh, wait. The old man is already there.