There was a long moment of frozen shock then, as if they had rehearsed the move a hundred times in some distant past, both men lunged forward and began grappling. Lily and Katy dodged out of the way, meeting behind the sofa, wide-eyed at the sudden turn of events. Taurin started toward Valentine and Cantrell, but Mickey put out a hand to stop him. “Let them be, Warden.” He smiled broadly as he crossed his arms over his chest, eyes sparkling. “Grant me this, if you please. I haven’t seen a good donnybrook in a long while.”
Wincing at the sound of slamming fists, low grunts and hissed insults, Katy grabbed Lily’s hand, though didn’t take her eyes off the two men who were now brawling in the hallway, both trying to force the other into the wall. “What’s going on, Lil?” Katy asked. “Who are these guys?” Her gaze darted toward Mickey and Taurin. “And why is your grandfather here?”
“I hardly know where to start, but first we need to stop this ridiculous fight.”
“Are you all right?" Katy asked, then said in confusion, "Why are they fighting?”
“I'm fine. Mostly. And I think they're fighting because there’s some bad blood between them, though I doubt Daniel realized just exactly how bad.”
“But, Dom told me he doesn’t have any siblings.” Katy jerked at a particularly hard punch Dom took to the midriff, reacting painfully by tightly squeezing Lily’s hand.
Pulling free before Katy crushed her fingers, Lily flexed her hand, then said, “Daniel was raised as an orphan. I’m sure neither of them expected to hear they could possibly be related.” She glanced at Taurin. “If it’s true.”
“Granddad!” Lily yelled as Daniel took a sharp right cross to the jaw that snapped his head around and made him stumble and fall to one knee. She started around the sofa as blood ran down Daniel’s chin. Absently wiping it with the back of his hand, he surged to his feet, tackling Dominic around the waist and plowing him into the front door. At the loud crack that echoed through the apartment from the much abused door, Lily glared threateningly at the two Wardens. “Stop this. If you won’t, I will.”
“Lass, tis better to blow off the steam than wait for the kettle to explode,” Mickey said.
Lily growled with anger at the folly of men, and marched toward the fight, though before she’d taken three strides, her grandfather barked, “Hold girl.” With Taurin at his side, they quickly stepped past her and managed to pull the fighters apart and drag them into opposite corners of the living room.
Chest heaving, Daniel roughly shrugged out of Taurin’s grasp and again wiped the blood dripping off his chin. Eyes hot, burning with the promise of more violence, he glared across the room at Cantrell, pleased to see the same heavy breathing and a nasty purple knot swelling over the bastard’s left eye. Dom returned the look as he shook out a hand with bruised and painful knuckles, then started to spring forward at the come on gesture Daniel made with his fingers.
Taurin spun Daniel around and pushed him toward the kitchen as Mickey slapped a hard palm against Dom’s chest to hold him back. “Enough lads, enough. Time to settle things down now.”
“Everyone into the kitchen,” Lily ordered. “I’ll get the first aid kit and Katy, can you make a pot of coffee?”
Mickey smiled as Lily brushed past him on her way to the bathroom for the medical supplies. “Just like your Gran,” he said quietly, “efficient and effective.” He chuckled when she shot him a black look. “Aye, just like her.”
Daniel stood apart from the group in the kitchen, and kept his back to the room as he stared at the wall of family photos. Now that he had time to think, to catch his breath, he couldn’t keep his mind from racing. Was it true? Could Dominic, of all fucking people, be his brother? If what the Wardens said was true—that Cantrell was a demon lord named Razeph—what did that make Dominic? Shaken by the direction of his thoughts, he closed his eyes for a moment. What did that make him if there really was a connection?
Before she said a word, Daniel knew Lily had come into the room. He turned from the happy, smiling faces of family and watched her set a wooden box on the table, the size of a small suitcase, then walk to the sink and dampen two clean washcloths. Giving one to Katy, she went back to the table, opened the box, and handed Katy bandages and a small blue jar. Lily slid the box down the table, gesturing impatiently for him to come and sit down. Daniel would have smiled, but his lip had finally stopped bleeding.
The two men sat at opposite ends of the long table glaring at each other whenever their eyes met. Lily snorted and pulled on his shoulder until Daniel swiveled on the bench away from the view of Dom. “Your lip is swollen and the cut is pretty bad, but at least your teeth are still in your head,” she murmured as she carefully wiped the blood off his chin and neck. “And your shirt is ruined.”
His face was lifted to hers as she worked, eyes focused on her face, so he noticed the curl that flashed at the corner of her mouth for a brief second. “Are you laughing at me?” he asked softly.
Meeting his gaze, she answered just as softly, “You seem to have trouble with your shirts, Daniel.”
“Only since I met you,” he replied. When she grinned, he couldn’t help grinning back, then hissed at the pain when his lip began to bleed again.
“Sorry,” Lily said, reaching behind him to grab a gauze pad from the first aid supplies. “Press this on your lip for a few minutes, and don’t talk or smile.” When he opened his mouth, she glowered. “I mean it. Nod your head if you understand.”
When he narrowed his eyes, she laughed. “Just behave. Your opponent is doing a much better job of it than you are.”
He turned his head at her words and frowned down the length of the table. Dom had also been cleaned up. He had a patch of gauze taped above his eye, bandages across a few knuckles, his shirt was ripped and hanging off one shoulder and he had a long scrape across his jaw. Daniel really wanted to smile. Until he watched Dom pull Katy onto his lap and possessively wrap his arms around her.
Lily noticed when Daniel stiffened and followed his scowl. She gently turned his head back toward her and dabbed a sweet-smelling salve into a small cut on his chin, one on his temple and another on the edge of his cheek. She told him to carefully lift the pad off his lip, then lightly touched the cut with a drop of something that stung for a moment, then seemed to numb the pain. Leaning very close, Lily whispered in his ear, “I don’t know what to do. Is this man with Katy a demon? Half a demon?” She pulled her head back and met his gaze, velvet brown melding with mossy forest green. Her breath softer than a whisper, “Do you think he’s really your brother?”
Daniel could see the strain on her face, the worry in her eyes. “I don’t know what to think,” he murmured. “I know I hate the guy, and we just found out his father is some kind of evil demon freak, but I just don’t see any way we could be related, no matter what Taurin says.”
The coffee maker finished perking with a series of soft, perky chirps. Dom stood with Katy in his arms and walked to the kitchen counter before setting her down in front of the machine. As she told him where to find the mugs, Lily moved the first aid box and quickly wiped the surface of the table while Mickey grabbed the sugar bowl and took a small creamer out of the fridge. In short order, everyone was back around the table taking their first sips of the strong, mellow coffee.
Katy and Dom sat across the table from Daniel and Lily, Mickey sprawled at Lily’s side and Taurin sat next to Katy. For several moments no one spoke, then Daniel took a deep breath, lifted his head and locked eyes with Dominic. “Did you always know your father was a demon?”
When Katy gasped, then sputtered in outrage, Dom lifted her easily onto his lap, never taking his eyes off Daniel as he slowly ran a hand up and down her cheek as if he were stroking a cat, or taking comfort from the silken warmth of her skin. The kitchen clock sounded too loud in the taut silence.
“No.” Dom settled Katy tighter against him. “Not until I was a man. When I was a boy, all I knew was that my father murdered my mother.”