Fake (Madison Kate #3) - Tate James



"Congratulations, Mrs. D'Ath. Welcome to the family."

My brother's words hung in the air like a death knell. Damn, they were exactly that because there was no way in hell she would forgive me for this.

I couldn't look at her. My head refused to turn and see what was sure to be horror and betrayal passing over her beautiful face. I didn't need to. Not when Kody's tortured expression said it all as his gun arm lowered and his eyes pleaded with her.

She wasn’t looking back at him, though. I knew her better than I knew myself some days. The staggering silence that followed Zane's words told me how she would react to this new development. She wouldn't yell or scream or punch me... no matter how much I hoped she would.

From the corner of my eye I caught her stooping to swipe the folded papers off the step. She didn't look at them, just stuffed them into her back pocket and gave a short nod.

"Thank you for letting me know," she told my brother, and the ice in her voice was like a jagged blade straight through my heart.

Zane's brows shot up in surprise, his eyes shifting to meet mine once more. He didn't know her, though. He couldn't sense the cold, acidic fury coursing faster through her veins with every passing second. He hadn't witnessed her highs and lows, and he had no idea that this was worse than all of those lows combined.

I was fucked. Totally, completely, utterly fucked.

But I would still do it again. Given the same choice, offered the same opportunity to buy her, to own her and all her assets? Yeah, I'd do it again. In a fucking heartbeat.

"MK, it's not what it sounds like," Kody started to say, his voice threaded with panic and his gun at his side, forgotten, as he implored the girl he'd fallen in love with.

She wasn't listening. The second Zane had dropped his truth bomb, she'd shut us out. All of us... because regardless of the fact that it was me who'd purchased her like a fucking prize cow at market, both Kody and Steele were complicit. They’d known all about it, about how deeply intertwined our lives now were, and they’d kept my secret.

In that light, their betrayal had to be so much more cutting. They'd made her care for them... They'd fallen for her in return. That, surely, was a bigger crime than what I'd done.

At least I’ve never fucked her.

Anger burned through me as I eyed my brother, ignoring everyone else for a minute. They'd directly violated the rules of our agreement, and crimes like that couldn't go unpunished. I'd proven my point to Zane over and over, but apparently all it took for him to forget those bloody lessons was a pair of great tits and some silken pink hair.

"Boss," Cass said quietly in his damaged voice, "we should go."

Smart move. Cass had known me since I was a kid; he'd been there as my grandfather put me through training. Hell, he'd been through it himself. He—even more so than Zane—understood what I was capable of. He'd sensed the shift in my mood and recognized the impending danger.

Zane gave me a small, cruel smirk, and a growl of anger burned through me. He claimed he was doing this for some debt he owed Kate's dead mother? I called bullshit. He was doing this to hurt me, and it was working. That motherfucker.

Cass and Zane climbed back onto their motorcycles, kicking the engines over. Kody shot me a confused look, and I knew exactly what he was asking me. Was I going to let them leave unharmed? Probably not. But it was more fun to leave the illusion of freedom, only to shoot out their tires right before they exited the property. Then? Well... then I dare say my big brother was well overdue for a lesson on exactly why I was a bigger, badder wolf in Shadow Grove than anyone else.

"Wait," Madison Kate shouted, her voice like a bucket of ice water over my bloodthirsty plans. She stepped over the bloody heart—the one stalker gift I was glad to see—and approached the two Reaper leaders. "I'm coming with you."

She didn't wait for permission, just climbed onto the back of Cass's bike like she fucking belonged there, linking her hands around his waist in a way that sparked my anger to murderous levels.

Cass was a fucking dead man.

"Hellcat, don't do this," Steele pleaded, his silent resolve cracking.