‘No, they don’t,’ he said firmly. ‘There are certain things that only a doctor knows.’

*

Well, Shay Healy. Time to face the music.

Shay had seen his brothers angry before. There was the time he ate their Easter eggs. And the time he dropped them in it with their ma after they ditched school to spend time with Tammy before their finals. And of course, there was the epic shitshow that happened after he accidentally on purpose spilled Dr. Pepper on one of Conor’s rugby shirts. That particular shitshow had gone on for weeks, and Shay had suffered so many verbal barbs from his brothers that for a while it had felt as though their relationship might never recover.

But somehow, it always did.

Usually, Shay ended up apologizing profusely. He never admitted it, but his brothers seemed to understand why he acted up: he was jealous. Even though his brothers loved him, and he lovedthem, he would never be as close to Finn and Conor as they were to each other.

They shared everything, for feck’s sake. Toys, food, hobbies (mostly), and even a girl. They’d never spoken to Shay about whether or nothemight want share with them. Nope. Conor and Shay lived their one life, and Shay lived his separate one.

On top of that, he wasn’t a talented sportsman like Conor, and he wasn’t an artist like Finn. No. He was just solid, reliable, faintly weird Shay. Over the years, he’d discovered that he was a pretty decent chef, but that was about it.

No matter how bad things got between Shay and his brothers when they were younger, though, they never came to blows. It was an unspoken rule. Every time things got really bad, one of them would back down. But that wasn’t going to happen today.

‘What the feck were you thinkin’?’ Conor’s face was twisted in a mask of hatred. There was no reason, no measure – just pure, unbridled emotion.

‘Her dad has a right to know where she is.’ It was a crappy excuse, and Shay knew it.

‘Are you kidding?’ Finn was stepping up to Shay now, prodding him in the chest. ‘You know as well as we do that her dad doesn’t have her best interests at heart. She ran away to Liberty to get away from that asshole. And you brought him right to her?’ Finn shook his head, clearly unable to process why Shay had done what he’d done.

Truth is, Shay knew that bringing Vincent to Liberty was a bad move. In fact, he knew that bringing him here probably meant the end of his time at the sanctuary. No doubt, any second, Haze was going to come storming out and demand that he leave. He deserved it.

But he didn’t have any choice.

For about the millionth time, he wished that he could tell his brothers the truth. The real reason he’d lied to them about Tammy all those years ago. The real reason he’d engineered their move to New York. The real reason that he’d brought Vincent to Liberty.

Trouble is, if hedidcome clean, their lives would be ruined. Not just their lives. The person who had the most to lose of all of them. Tammy. He had to protect her. Just like he always had done, even if it cost him almost everything.

‘He’s her father,’ he said weakly. ‘He was worried sick.’

‘Oh bullshit,’ Conor said, putting his hands on his hips. ‘All that fucker cares about is whether or not the patients in his surgery are gossiping about where his daughter’s gone.’

‘It’s even worse than that,’ Finn said. Shay could see him balling his fists, his knuckles whitening as the tension increased. ‘He wants to control her. Wants to dictate every fecking part of her life. Like she’s his pet.’

‘And what doyou twowant to do?’ Shay had to convince them; he had to make this seem real. ‘Two so-called Daddieswho want to set her rules without a contract.’

‘That’s different and you know it,’ Conor spat. ‘You’re a feckin’ Daddy Dom too. You know that the sub has all the power in a D/s relationship. That’s not what her father wants. He wants a good girl who won’t embarrass him in front of his snooty friends.’ Conor ground his thumb into the palm of his other hand. ‘He wants to rub away everything that makes Tammy special. Dull her mind with pills. Crush her spirit with cruelty. And you’re trying to help him do that.’

Finn looked out the window, toward the surgery. Tammy was in there with her dad right now.

‘We should be in there with her,’ he said, turning back to his brothers. ‘I’m going back there to stop this madness. Tammy needs an advocate.’

Shay stood firm. ‘No. She’s a grown woman. She should make her own decisions. We’ve got to let them hash this out.’

‘Hash this out?’ Conor roared. ‘You don’t know how hard I’m working to not hit you right now, Shay. You push me again an—’

‘Conor, calm it,’ Finn said. ‘We don’t do this. You’re better than this.’

‘Fuck it,’ Conor growled. He pulled back his fist.

Shay steeled himself. The agonizing thing was, he knew he deserved this — at least from his brothers’ perspective. He waited for the blow — the strike that would forever destroy his relationship with the twins.

But it never came.

‘Stop!’ It was Tammy, tears streaming down her face. Her father was next to her, shaking his head.


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