Jinx (Cerberus MC #16) by Marie James



Synopsis




Fake relationships have no place in an adult’s life.

Until they do.

It was one kiss.

One trick to convince her ex she’s in a happy relationship.

One kiss is all it took.

Captivated isn’t a strong enough word.

Haunted is a little closer.

Obsessed fits the bill.

I’m obsessed with Reagan Dunn.

Only Reagan isn’t looking for that happy relationship.

Until she needs me to pretend again.

Pretending is perfect.

Pretending gets me closer.

It gives me the opportunity to prove that we are the perfect combination.





Chapter 1


Jinx

“You don’t have to pull that weapon out of your arsenal,” I tease, but River’s bottom lip continues to wobble as fresh tears roll down his cheeks. “It’s okay.”

Before I can carry the little guy to the bathroom, he starts to gag again. At least this time, we make it to the toilet before he gets sick again. I pat his little back, doing my best to ignore the stench of vomit on my clothes.

He sobs as he pukes. It isn’t the first time he has suffered from a stomach virus, but he doesn’t seem to remember being like this before. I know he’s very confused about what’s going on. He only wants to watch television and eat breakfast, but he can’t keep anything down.

“Incoming!”

River seems to be finished—thank goodness—so I pull him out of the way just in time for Drew to hang his son, Andy, over the toilet.

I grin as he turns his head, gagging at the sounds his son makes.

“Where are they hiding all of it?” Drew complains before gagging once again.

“At least it’s only—” My mouth snaps shut when River’s stomach gurgles. “Oh hell.”

“Is that—?”

I nod. “Things are about to get worse.”

Both boys are still in diapers—River closer to being potty trained than Andy, who is nine months younger—which I guess is a good thing, but that only applies if they hold up to what’s about to happen.

Andy whimpers, spit dripping from his chin, and I wet two washrags, handing one off to Drew after ringing them out in the sink. We wipe the boys’ faces, and I force myself to think back to the good times when my son wasn’t sick, when making sure I tire him out with games and fun activities before bed was all I had to worry about.

No one talks about these times, the hours spent worrying about illness and showering in cold water because those helping had already encountered their dose of toddler puke and got to clean up first. No one talks about the cramps in your arms from rubbing whimpering little backs, or irritated skin from scrubbing your child’s breakfast out of the living room carpet. People keep all of that a secret because who would want to have children if it was spoken of? I’d never wish away my son, but fuck, this is the worst.

“I need help,” Drew says, but he’s not complaining, merely admitting defeat. “Come on, big guy. Let’s go find Mommy.”

River blinks up at me, tears staining his chubby face.

“You’ll be okay,” I promise, but at the same time I wonder if I will be.

River’s eyes dart to my shirt before looking back up at me. He points, his little nose scrunching up.

“Yeah, buddy. I know. I’ll get cleaned up soon.”

“How’s he doing?” I sigh in relief at the sound of Simone’s voice from the doorway.

“I’d say better, but I thought that twenty minutes ago. On a side note, chicken nuggets were a bad idea.”

She sighs, and I know that sound. I’m very familiar with her irritation today. Normally, she’s pretty laid back, but we’re all exhausted, and her ability to let things slide vanished about three hours ago.

“Saltines and flat lemon-lime soda,” she sighs, holding her hands out for me to pass River to her.

“I know,” I grumble. “But he wanted chicken nuggets.”

“Who’s the adult?” Her eyes betray her snarkiness, still shining even though they’re puffy.

“Today is one of the times I wish I wasn’t,” I say as I pull my soiled t-shirt over my head. “I need to shower. Did you leave me any hot water this time?”

I honestly feel like we should all be wearing hazmat suits because showering four times a day is absurd.

“There was some left when I got out, but Callum was still in the shower.”