When You're Mine (The Gallaghers) by Layla Hagen

“Not the subject change I was hoping for,” I confessed with a groan.

“He’s right, though,” Ryker said.

And didn’t I know it? These two used to have a completely different outlook on life before they were married. Their perspective was much like my current one, only I wasn’t planning to change it. After a long-term relationship, I proposed to Lina, who turned me down, saying she wasn’t sure I was the one. I later found out she’d been seeing other guys behind my back. I’d been burned once, and it was enough for me to learn my lesson.

I finally got around to choosing two wine bottles from the fridge and uncorking them. Isabelle took out seven glasses, and I poured white wine in all of them. As I picked up my drink, I felt my smartphone vibrate in my back pocket.

I took it out, reading the new text.

Unknown: Hey, Mr. Savior. I got your note. I’m feeling great. Thanks for checking on me.

Dylan: Glad you’re doing okay. Are you home?

Melanie: Yes. Thank you again for everything today. You’re a white knight, truly.

Dylan: And an excellent secret keeper, right?

Melanie: That depends. I’ll wait until next time I see Isabelle to pass judgment on that.

Dylan: Think I’m going to rat you out? That’s how little you think of me?

Melanie: Not at all. It’s just that Isabelle’s told me you’re close.

Dylan: Really? What else did she say? It seems you know more about me than I do about you. How about you level that playing field?

She didn’t answer right away, but I saw the dots indicating she was typing on the screen. When she finally answered, my face instantly cracked in a smile. It was completely unexpected.

Melanie: I only spill secrets face-to-face, Mr. White Knight.

Dylan: I’ll remind you about this next time I see you.

There was another pause before the next message.

Melanie: OH THAT SOUNDED FLIRTY. I’m sorry. I’m enjoying a glass of wine.

I burst out laughing, typing back quickly.

Dylan: You’re still not off the hook.

“Is it just me, or does Dylan look like he’s up to no good? And maybe even a bit guilty?” Tess asked in a fake whisper we could all hear.

I looked up from my phone to find everyone staring at me. I wiggled my eyebrows. “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

“Yes, we would,” Isabelle said.

Laughing, I shook my head. “Why don’t you take a guess?”

“Ha! Game on,” Isabelle said.

“Man, why did you do this? Now she’s like a dog with a bone,” Ian said. “But hey, you dug your own grave.”

“I always do,” I admitted, but I lived for the small pleasures in life, like teasing my sisters.

Tess was half right: I was up to no good. But I wasn’t feeling guilty about it at all.

Chapter Four


“My brain is fried,” Ian declared.

“Mine too.” We’d been brainstorming ways to improve the code on project Z for the past two hours.

“I’m going back to my cave to try some of the things we discussed, see if I can get it right.”

I nodded as he rose to his feet. “I’ll try the same.”

“By the way, should we check on Isabelle? She’s been radio silent for the past three days. I thought she’d ask us over to pack the rest of their things.”

I chuckled. True, our sister usually liked to text us at least twice a day, but she had a lot on her plate.

“Nah, don’t butt in. They’ll ask for help if they need it.”

Brayden was home for a break between legs of the tour, and they just wanted time for themselves.

“Butting in? No one in this family appreciates me,” he muttered before leaving the office.

I spun in my chair, looking outside. Our office was in a building overlooking the Hudson River. It wasn’t far from my apartment, so I lost zero time commuting. I loved efficiency—it allowed me to focus on the essential things, like project Z. We had other projects going on too, but those were running like a well-oiled machine, bringing in a lot of revenue. Project Z was something Ian and I needed to do.

It was challenging and pushing my limits, but I loved every second of it. I'd always been looking for ways to prove myself. I always wanted challenges that made me see beyond the narrow scope of software programming. I'd gotten into it by mistake in high school when I became a hacker and roped my brother into it too. We lurked around without breaking the law... most of the time. Now we put our skills to better use. And after an intense day of programming, I needed to blow off steam. It was necessary, or I'd go insane. My favorite way of blowing off steam was working out. Before joining Genesis, I mostly jogged, but I wanted a more intensive workout.