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Feel Me by Cecy Robson

Updated: Apr 15

Feel Me

by Cecy Robson

Published by Cecy Robson, LLC

Book 4 in the O'Brien Family Series

Declan O’Brien was always driven to take his place among Philly’s elite,

working hard for everything he’s earned, including the title of Assistant District Attorney. He’s won seemingly impossible cases, so he’s furious when he’s assigned to lead the one unit he doesn’t want.

Melissa Fenske was born hearing impaired to a neglectful mother, finding solace when she was adopted by a young attorney, now Declan’s boss. As the current Director of Victim Services, Melissa’s livid when Declan is placed in the main unit she oversees. She can’t forget their disastrous first encounter. Or shake how he makes her feel.

Declan considers the assignment another step toward his political aspirations, despite that he can’t get Melissa out of his mind. Melissa sees Declan as egotistical and self-serving, kicking herself for how fast she’s falling for him. Someone as hot, smooth, and perfect as Declan isn’t supposed to want her.

In another situation with any other woman, Declan wouldn’t hesitate to take Melissa to bed. But she is the boss’s daughter, and for once, Declan finds himself wanting more than just a one night stand.

Neither counted on each other. Both just met their match.



Mentions of sexual abuse, child abuse. Living with a hearing apairment.


Feel Me by Cecy Robson is the 4th book in the O'Brien Family series, and is written from the second eldest son's POV, Declan O'Brien, a highly successful Assistant District Attorney, and on the fast track to being mayor, and Melissa Fenske, Director of Victim Services.

I have been waiting to read Declan and Melissa's story since book one in the series, where they first met in a diner, after Declan bet Curran that he could get any woman Curran picked out for him, using his charm. Curran points to Melissa, an attractive woman, yet not Declan's usual size 0 model type, and Declan goes to introduce himself. Only she ignores him. When he sat down in front of her, he asked "What are you, deaf? I'm trying to tell you you're beautiful," not realizing, that in fact, she is hearing impaired. She storms up embarrassed and angry, and Declan felt like an ass, and felt truly bad. He seemingly forgot about the encounter, until his boss introduces him to the D.A's office newest director of Victim Service, and his daughter, Melissa ... the same woman he failed to pick up, and insulted.

So their first meeting didn't go well. As you can expect. Melissa had no issues telling her Dad what happened, and she thought Declan was an asshole. We also get a glimpse of their working relationship in Wren's story, in book 3. They were in a meeting, when Curran and Wren show up to talk to Declan. Declan thanks Melissa for her help on a case, and tries to use ASL to tell her to go home and go to bed, as she has been working hard. Only problem, he does it wrong, and instead tells her to go home and go fuck herself ... earning him another "you asshole", and her storming out embarrassed and upset again.

Their disastrous encounters were entertaining, so I couldn't wait to dive into this story. Their story is a good one. Her father, the current District Attorney, is forced to take a leave of absence, and wants to make Declan acting D.A. in his absence, much to Melissa's objection. He also places Declan as Director of her unit, where she will need to work closely with Declan on sensitive cases. After working together for several weeks, they grow from enemies, to friends. Their attraction to one another grows, until they end up dating.

This leads me to my ONLY issue with the book. I feel like there was a lot of time jumps. Whereas with the past three O'Brien books ... hell, even the Shattered Past series, you get to experience what these characters are going through, and their conversations that slowly take them from friends to lovers. I kind of feel like this book skipped out on that. We went right from Melissa not wanting to work with him, to several weeks later, learning that them working together made them closer, as friends, and an attraction formed. Before they even have their first date, she loves him. It's not that the characters don't have chemistry together. The story is great. I just wish we got to see more of the in between stuff that gets these characters where they end up.

I really liked Melissa's character. I love that she is described as the complete opposite of Declan's usual super model body type. She is more of a Marilyn Monroe with brown hair. I love that she owns her curves, and Declan ends up loving them just as much. She is kind and intelligent. I loved her quirk, her love of cheesy erotica novels. I loved that she has a disability, because it adds a depth to her character, makes her vulnerable, and brings awareness to how hard to world can be to someone who is hearing impaired. And I really love that Cecy Robson didn't make her some inexperienced woman, who never been with a man because of her hearing impairment ... Melissa might not be able to hear, but it didn't get in the way of having an active romantic life.

I liked Declan too. He is not my favorite of the O'Brien family, but I liked him. He is obviously passionate about his job and goals, intelligent, and charming. I love him around his family, when he can truly be himself. He was truly confusing though, and I understand why Melissa walked away when she did. Why stay with a man who says he loves you, but doesn't believe in it?

This is when we come to another time jump, a month later, and Declan has decided he believes in love with her and tries to get back together with her. I'm glad he realizes this ... but I would have liked to see his struggles in that month, and how he finally came to that realization.

In the end, I loved the story itself. The romance, and the tough as hell cases were intriguing, and I found myself not being able to put the book down (I finished it in a day). The time jumps that skip over their building feelings for one another, and skips over Declan finally figuring out how he feels and accepting it, bums me out though, and I found it surprising that Cecy Robson skips over this. Her past books have many moments of emotional intimacy, so I was sad we didn't get a lot of it in this book. I do still recommend it, but sadly, it's the weakest of the O'Brien series to date.



I rap on the door.

Tess: "Just a minute!"

There's some fumbling.

Tess: "Come in."

Declan: "Hey, Tess."

I roll my eyes when I realize who's here. No wonder she needed a minute.

Curran: "What?"

I shut the door behind me

Declan: "Curran, what the hell?"

Curran: "You have a problem with me kissing my wife?"

Declan: "She's at work."

Curran: "I haven't seen her since I left for my shift yesterday. You act like we were fu-"

Tess: "Curran. Declan, I would never engage in the activity your brother suggested at the office. I take my job seriously and will only behave in the professional matter you've come to expect from me."

Declan: "Oh, I know you wouldn't engage."

Curran: *laughs* "You calling me unprofessional?"

Declan: "No, I'm calling you a horny bastard."

Curran: "I'll give you that."

Tess: *groans* "God, it's like I married a teenager. Behave."

Curran: "You're either going to be at each other's throats or in each other's beds."

Tess: "Curran."

Curran: "What? Just speaking the truth, angel face."

Declan: "What makes you think we'll end up in bed? We work together for hell's sake."

Curran: "Been there, bro. Remember? You see, when two hot bodies spend that much time together, it doesn't take long before the sexy broad throws herself at you, so taken by your wit and ruggedly handsome face she can't see straight, and begging you to please her with your super-sized masculine regions and whoop-whoop-whooping when you finally do. *he holds out his hands* What can I say? Professional or not, I am a man - A generous man who couldn't leave that sexy broad hanging, especially when she's clawing off my clothes and leaping onto my lap like a seasoned gymnast. Isn't that right, babe?"

Tess flips the page, not bothering to glance up when she answers.

Tess: "I may have to beat you to death."

Declan: "Christ."

Declan: "Boobs? Did you seriously just use that word? What are you, twelve?"

Curran: "Well, technically she signed 'tits' I think. But Tess says I'm not allowed to say that word because it's vulgar and demeaning. Unless of course we're fu-"

Tess: "Curran!"

Declan: "How the hell did you end up together? You're going to fucking drain the class right out of her."

Curran: "I'm classy."

Tess: "Of course you are, my beloved."

Declan: "You think you can draw something for me?"

Rosana: "You want me to draw you a picture?"

Declan: "Yeah. Why not?"

Rosana: "What do you want me to draw?"

Declan: "How about me?"

Rosana: "You?"

Declan: "Sure. Draw me as you see me. Or, I don't know, on a white stallion with the sun setting behind me. Just be sure to catch my right side. It's my best side."

Interpreter: "Oh, D.A. O'Brien, you're so funny!"

Rosana: "This is the guy who's gonna save me?"

Melissa: "Just be sure to catch his good side."

Melissa: "I just never expected you to be so ... You."

Declan: "You say that like it's a bad thing."

Melissa starts to blush.

Declan: "Are you blushing?"

Melissa: "I don't blush."

Declan: "I don't know. I've made plenty of women blush in my life ..."

Melissa: "Oh, I'm sure you have, counselor."

Declan: "... and I'm pretty sure that's a blush you have going on. Hmm, it might be one of my best ones yet."

Melissa: "Is there something you need help with Assistant District Attorney O'Brien? I'm very busy."

Declan: "No, I just came in here to see if you're mad at me. Nice to know you're not."

Declan: "My Lusty Highlander. My Pirate, My Lover? The Naked Cowboy who Deflowered Me? You -"

He pauses, as if gathering his words. But when he swallows hard enough to bounce his Adam's apple. it's clear he's trying not to laugh.

Declan: "You like this sort of thing?"

Melissa: "Of course not!"

Declan: "Then why do you have them?"

Melissa: "I picked them up at a used bookstore."

Declan: "They sell crotch-less panties at that bookstore?"

Tess: "What are you doing here, cop?"

Curran: "Watching you get me hot."

Tess: "Curran, I'm at work."

Curran: "What? It's not like I grabbed your ass like last time."

Melissa: "I like that wife of yours."

Curran: "I do, too. She's perfect."

Declan: "What did you mean when you told her physical appearance shouldn't matter? Are you saying she only talks to me because I'm pretty?"

Melissa: "You think you're pretty?"

Declan: "You don't?"

Melissa: "Fish for compliments much?"

Declan: "I don't usually have to. I know that shocks you."

Melissa: "Nothing really shocks me about you, Declan, except for your ongoing love affair with yourself.

I return to my pad of paper, adding "must kick Declan's ass" to my to-do list.

Declan: "So are you going to tell me?"

Melissa: "Whether or not I think you're pretty?" I ask, underlining the ass kicking and adding a star. "You don't need me to, do you? I'm sure any one of your groupies would be more than happy to tell you between bows."

Declan: "Next question. How do you know so much about being dominated?"

Melissa: "I've spent a few nights at Club Hurt."

Water spews from his mouth, drenching the plastic takeout bag in front of him. I rush around the desk when he starts to choke, smacking his back a few time.

Melissa: "Are you okay?"

Declan: "You've seriously been there?"

Melissa: "I have. Tricia asked me to go so I can understand her lifestyle. Those things I said, about being stimulated and sexually freed are more or less what she and her Doms told me."

Declan: "Just so I'm clear, you went to Club Hurt and watched Tricia get spanked?"

Melissa: "Whipped."

Declan: "Whipped?"

Melissa: "That's her preference. But I only went because I wanted her to trust me and open up."

Declan: "By whipping her?"

Melissa: *laughing* "I didn't whip her, Declan. And I didn't watch either. I simply met privately with her and her favorite Doms. No one was in leather, in fact, one of the Doms was dressed in flannel."

Declan: "Why?"

Melissa: "It was cold in the office."

Declan: *laughs* "You know what I mean. Why did you meet with her and her buddies?"

Melissa: "I told you. So she'd trust me. A woman in Tricia's position wants to be understood, but given her history, she has some serious trust issues. She wanted me to be sympathetic to her lifestyle before she's open up. So I went. The ball gag made it a little hard to breathe through, but I did okay."

He laughs again, but then quiets the longer he watches me.

Melissa: "Before we get back to Tricia, I need to -"

Declan: "About your dad."

Melissa: "Yes?"

Declan: "He's - look, there are seven of us kids in the family. Six boys, and one girl who could kick out asses if we pissed her off enough. My mother raised us in a tiny three bedroom row home. She owned her own dry cleaning service and worked herself to exhaustion to put us through Catholic school. She's take us to church every Sunday so God wouldn't strike us dead for all the sins we'd commit Monday through Saturday. If it wasn't for her, none of us would have made it out of the neighborhood we were raised in alive. We barely knew our father. When he wasn't working his part time job at the post office, he was in bed with his mistress. Those baseball games dads take their kids to? It was our mother who took us, and paid for our popcorn and drinks because that's all she could afford. Those sports we were all in, the ones fathers are supposed to attend and cheer you on at? That was my mother yelling, and my brothers and sister cheering. Ideally we're supposed to have parents, a team that works together for their kids. But sometimes the team sucks, and only one parent steps up. That's okay. You have one good one, you can take on the fucking world. That's what your dad and my mother were to us."

Melissa: "Declan. I know Tricia is a challenging witness and somewhat hard to like."

Declan: "Hard to like? She asked me if I've ever taken it up the ass when I asked her to explain what happened when Morris entered her apartment. You heard that, right? And when I tried to redirect her she told me how she'd have fun shaving my boys."

Melissa: "She wasn't in a good place today."

Declan: "I don't know about that. She offered to buy me my first butt lug."

Melissa: "Declan ..."

Declan: "That was nice of her, don't you think? Oh, but the real treat was when she told me she'd get one with my birthstone on it."

Melissa: "I realize -"

Declan: "My fucking birthstone, Mel. I didn't even know they bedazzled that shit. Did you? If that doesn't say welcome to SACU, I don't know what does."

Melissa: "I thought you didn't date women you work with?"

Declan: "I'll make the exception for you."

Declan: "So when are you going to have dinner with me?"

Melissa: "I thought we decided it wasn't a good idea."

Declan: "No. You said it wasn't a good idea. I'm saying it is. I know I'm not one of those half-naked cowboys on the cover of those naughty books you like ..."

I bite down on my bottom lip to keep from laughing.

Declan: "Or a pirate on the seven seas, my bare chest exposed to the wicked winds. And if you want the truth, I don't even own a kilt.

I cover my mouth.

Declan: "But I'm not so bad. And if it's the kind of thing that turns you on, I'm sure I can find a place that rents ass-less chaps."

Melissa: "No need for ass-less chaps, I assure you."

Declan: "What about a parrot and an eye patch? Are pointy nipple pirates more your style?"

Melissa: "No. I like you just the way you are."

Melissa: "Dad, behave. You're already in trouble with ,e. Cozy dinner my Aunt Fanny."

Miles: "You hear how she treats me? You'd think after all those dates I gave up to take her to the movies, and door to door selling those damn cookies, she'd show me a little respect.

She crinkles her nose, laughing, although she's trying to sound annoyed.

Melissa: "You never gave up any dates. If anything, you used your sweet little innocent daughter to get them."

Miles: "Bull shit."

Melissa: "Okay, we'll let Declan be the judge."

Declan: "Oh, no. I'm only here for a delicious drama free meal."

Melissa motions to her breasts

Melissa: "Okay, you might have guessed I hit puberty a little young. Dad was oblivious. 'You don't need those things', he said when I asked him to take me bra shopping."

Declan: "Those things?"

Miles: "Declan, I was more prepared to fly a plane around the world than I was for puberty. You'll forgive me if I wasn't exactly jumping up and down."

Melissa: "He was mortified. At first."

Declan: "Oh, yeah?"

Miles face reddens as he chuckles.

Melissa: "Mmm-hmm. And I honestly felt bad for making him take me. But turns out, if you want to pick up women, all you have to do is take your little daughter to Victoria's Secret and tell the horde - that's right horde of sales associates who rush you - and all the single mothers shopping there with their daughters listening in - how you don't know the first thing about lingerie. And how tough it is being a single dad and trying to do right by your daughter -"

Miles: "She's exaggerating."

Melissa: "Am I? How many phone numbers did you get the first time we went there?"

Miles: "Six, maybe seven."

Melissa: *rolling her eyes* "More like nine. His social calendar was booked for the next month. By your third date, I no longer believed you were hanging pictures in your bedroom."

Declan: "Hanging pictures?"

Melissa: "It's how he explained all the banging coming from his bedroom."

I almost spit out my water, making Miles crack up and hang tight to his side.

Declan: "How many women were you taking home?"

Miles: "There weren't that many women. But enough that warranted an excuse, however pathetic."

Melissa: "He used to sneak them out in the morning before I'd see them. But I knew those tramps were there."

Miles: "They weren't tramps. At least twenty-two to twenty-eight percent attended church on a regular basis."

Melissa: "Nice, Daddy."

Declan: "I see your point. But everything I've come to know about Melissa shows me you did a damn good job."

Miles: "Hopefully, but as a parent you always wish you could have done better, said something a little differently, tried a little harder, and opened your mind a little more. She's my greatest gift, but one I don't think I've given enough back to."

Declan: "Miles, Melissa couldn't have asked for a better mother or father than you."

Miles: "God, I hope so."

With a sigh, she reaches for her phone.

Declan: "What are you doing? We're just getting started."

Melissa: "Don't worry, this will only take a minute."

Holds up phone.

Melissa: "Hi. It's Melissa Fenske ... No, nothing's wrong. I'm having dinner with my dad and Declan. Is Curran home?"

All traces of humor immediately dissolve from my face.

Melissa: "Hey, Curran. Declan is here asking my father about my ex-boyfriend. But I don't want him to feel left out, seeing how we're only talking about me and not him. Care to share any interesting stories about his past girlfriends or hook-ups? ... You would?"

She bats my hand away when I try to reach for the phone.

Melissa: "Great, I'll put you on speaker."

Declan: "For shit's sake."

Curran: "Her name was Wrestling Rhonda Signaterri also known as Rhonda the Wrangler."

No ... no ... Fuck.

Melissa: "What an interesting nickname. I wonder how she acquired a name like that."

Curran: "Wonder no more. So Rhonda was hot - a slutty kind of hot - but still hot. She liked to wrestle, as in got off on it. Oh, can your dad hear me?"

Miles: *laughing* "Yes."

Curran: "Good. I don't want him to miss a thing. Anyway, so Declan, of course, challenges her to a wrestling match, trying to get her worked up so maybe they can wrestle afterwards with their clothes off, if you know what I mean."

Melissa and Miles: "Oh, we know"

Curran: "Anyway, Declan wins, or so he thought. Rhonda's breathing fast and so is he. They run back to our house knowing the house is empty and our mother is at work. But me and my brothers were curious to see if Deck gets the job done, or in this case, Rhonda done. We sneak back to the house only to find Declan tied to Ma's bed, spread eagle wearing nothing, but a pair of tighty-whities and a grin. All our shit - out TV, our sound system, everything is gone. Turns out while he was sleeping off the experience with Rhonda the Wrestler, her brothers Patrick the Prowler and Theodore the Thug robbed us blind."

Melissa and Miles aren't laughing. They're howling, and so is Tess in the background because why not?

Curran: "I don't think we're there two minutes before our Ma walks in. Angus, our oldest brother, tries to give Declan a running start and cuts him free. Deck barely rolls off the bed before our mother snatches him off the floor by his throat. The rest of us run for our lives. Oh, but that's nothing. Wait till I tell you about Tina the Tramp ..."

Melissa: "It was hard. I pushed through and survived. But because I know what it's like to grow up and live with special needs, and because I've seen how cruel people can be, I don't want my babies to struggle. That doesn't mean that I'd love my child any less if he or she had issues. I'm only saying I wouldn't wish that kind of heartbreak on anyone."

Declan: "Neither would I. But like you said, everything you went through, good and bad, helped you become who you are. And I think you're fucking amazing."

Declan: "Look, I have something to tell you."

Wren: "Holy shit. *voice cracking* Ma's dead, isn't she?"

Declan: "What? No, listen."

Wren: "Finnie! Ma's dead!"

Finn: "What?"

Wren: "Declan says Ma's dead!"

Declan: "Christ, Wren. Ma's not dead. That's not why I'm calling!"

Wren: "Ma's no dead? You sure? Is she sick?"

Declan: "No! I just talked to her the other night when she came in from Bingo."

Wren: "Then why would you make me think something's wrong? Jesus Christ, you sounded like hell. It's okay, Finnie, calm down. Ma's not dead."

Finn: "Then why he'd make you think she was?"

Wren: "God only knows, you know how he gets."

Finn: "You're an asshole, Declan."

I am. An asshole for calling this nuthouse.

Declan: "Look Wren, I need some advice."

Wren: "About cars?'

Declan: "No."

Wren: "Trucks?"

Declan: "No."

Wren: "How to dress like you actually have balls?"

Declan: "Just because I won't wear that damn biker jacket you bought me for Christmas doesn't mean I don't dress like I have balls."

Wren: "I paid good money for that jacket."

Declan: "Lord help me."

Wren: "So what's up?"

Declan: "If you were single, what would you want a guy to bring if you invited him to your place for dinner?"

Wren: "Take out. You know I don't cook."

Declan: "You've been on your own for like ten years and are fucking engaged, and you still don't know how to cook?"

Wren: "Just because I'm a woman doesn't mean I have to learn how to cook. Bit I have to say, Finnie's gotten pretty good at it. The other night he has us over for Shepard's Pie. I'll be honest, despite the crust being harder than a drill sergeant's nutsack, it was pretty good."

I hang up and call Tess.

Melissa: "Declan ..."

Declan: "Don't say anything. I just want to kiss you, and I really need you to let me."

Her hand slides down my shoulder to rest over my heart. It's something I notice her do during sex and once we settled into bed. I glance down at her hand and cock a brow.

Declan: "You like it there?"

Melissa: *laughs* "Yeah."

Declan: "What are you doing?"

Melissa: "Feeling you."

Declan: "There are better places to feel me. Just saying."

Melissa: "There are. But this is my favorite."

Declan: "Why? So you can push me away if I piss you off?"

Melissa: "No. Because I can feel your heart.

I don't move, losing my smile. She scans my face, a trickle of sadness shimmering her gaze.

Melissa; "Don't be embarrassed. It's a good heart, strong and honest, but tender when it needs to be just like its owner."

Declan: "Look. Jealousy isn't something I'm familiar with."

Melissa: "No?"

Declan: "Not even a little bit. It's an emotion I've never bothered to entertain. When some asshole got ahead of me in school, turned in a better grade, or scored an extra few points playing ball, it never made me jealous. All it did was drive me to be better than him next time. I used that drive to become who I am. SO me and jealousy, we don't know watch other."

Melissa: "Okay."

Declan: "Why are you smiling?"

Melissa: "Because I think it's cute that despite how you're not a jealous person, you might be when it comes to me."

Declan: "You think it's cute?"

Melissa: "It really is. People see you like I think they used to see John F. Kennedy, suave, brilliant, a born leader - someone they support and rightfully believe in. You've taken on cases that have garnered you international attention, and you're not even thirty-five yet. Declan, politicians and members of the city's most exclusive circles not only know your name and reputation, they consider you one of them. You must know this."

Declan: "I do."

Melissa: "You met the governor once. Yet you held her attention and earned her respect from that single encounter. I don't have to tell you she's hard to get close to. Just like I don't have to tell you that you charm everyone else in the same manner. So do I think it;s cute you're a little jealous, of men from my past who'll never come close to the man you are? Oh my God, yes. It's good to know you're human after all."

Declan: "Do you ever feel jealous?"

Melissa: "You mean of all those perfect pretty women who turn to ogle you when we walk down the street together? Or of the ones who lea to their feet the moment they see you? Every day."

Her nails skim lightly again my arm, stimulating every nerve cell along the way.

Melissa: "What are you thinking?"

Declan: "That you have nothing to be jealous of because you're the hottest woman I know."

Melissa: "Do you remember the first night we became a family?"

Miles: "Of course. I still have the scars to prove it."

Melissa: *laughs* "Sorry, I bit you."

Miles: "Yeah. It shows."

Melissa: "I'm surprised you didn't send me right back into foster care."

Miles: "Oh, believe me, I thought about it more than once."

Melissa: "Daddy!"

Miles: *laughs* "It's not that I didn't love you right away."

Melissa: "It's that you didn't like me."

Miles: "Yeah, you kind of sucked."


Melissa: "When did you know we were going to be okay?"

Miles: "You'd been letting me tuck you into bed for a while. Do you remember? I'd sign to you that it was bedtime. Like a good little girl, you'd stop coloring, or whatever you were doing, and follow me upstairs. I'd watch you brush your teeth - by the way you kind of sucked at the teeth brushing thing, too."

Melissa: "Oh, the truth finally comes out."

Miles: "And your taste in clothing was only so-so."

Melissa: "Dad, I was six."

Miles: "Anyway, I'd wait for you to get into bed and lightly place the blankets around you. But I wouldn't get too close, and avoid direct contact. One night, I took a chance. I signed, 'goodnight, I love you' like always, but this time I kissed your head. Your eyes widened like you were scared. I walked out, thinking I made a big mistake and probably set us back. But in the morning when I woke, you were lying asleep beside me. That's when I knew we would be okay."

Melissa: "It's because I didn't know what love was."

Miles: "What?"

Melissa: "I didn't understand love. I knew the word by signing it because it was one of the first words you asked the ASL teacher to teach you. But I didn't know what it meant until you showed me."

Miles: "Oh."

Miles: "How's Declan handling it?"

Melissa: "He's doing really well."

Miles: "Good. I knew he would."

Melissa: "And we're sleeping together."

Oh, and there's that dramatic pause I was expecting.

Miles: "That's great, honey." he says slowly

Melissa: "Dad..."

Miles: "No, really, it's what every father wants to hear."

Melissa: "Daddy."

He reaches for the remote and flips the channel.

Melissa: "Are you seriously going to watch ESPN now?"

Miles: "Yup."

He turns up the volume.

Melissa: "You wanted this. Okay, maybe not all the sex."

He makes a face

Miles: "All the sex? "

Curran: Get this, me and Tess went to her OB the other day. She's been going alone because I'm usually working or with the baby. But this time I had the day off and wanted to go, seeing how I've been missing out and because I never missed one when she was pregnant with Fiona. So I show up with her and in walks this dude."

Seamus: "Her doctor's a man? And you didn't know?"

Curran: "The moron's name is Dr. Rosey. Rosey. Would you think that name belongs to a man?"

Brothers: "No."

Curran: "So at first I'm just in shock. So I shake his hand like a dumbass. But then he pulls out these stirrups -"

Finn: "Pants?"

Curran: "No. Worse. They're these things at the end of the examination table used to spread a woman's legs open.

Brothers: "Jesus Christ."

Curran: "I know, on the table my woman is laying on! I'm standing there watching her put her legs in these things. But it's when good ol' Dr. Rosey slaps on the rubber gloves that I completely lost my shit."

Declan: "Did you tell him to get away from her?"

Curran: "Of course I did. Do you think I was going to let some man feel up my wife - my pregnant wife - in front of me? Tess was all mad, saying I embarrassed her and blew things out of proportion But you know what? Now she has a new doctor and this time I made damn sure she's a woman"

My brothers all nod in agreement.

Angus: "You did the right thing."

Curran: "I know I did. You're fucking Melissa, aren't you?"

Declan: "No."

Seamus: "Liar."

Declan: "You don't even know who we're talking about."

Seamus: *laughs* "Maybe not, but we know whoever she is you're fucking her."

Declan: "Watch your mouth."

Finn: "I saw that coming a mile away."

Declan: "You didn't see shit."

Finn: "Didn't I tell you it was only a matter of time?"

Curran: "I'm the one who told you, asshole."

Declan: "Will both of you shut the fuck up?

Killian: "You like her, don't you?"

Declan: "She's nice."

Killian: "Nice?"

Declan: "Yeah."

Curran: "Damn. Tess was right."

Declan: "What do you mean Tess was right?"

Curran: "She said she knew you were going to fall for Melissa. That anytime she was around youz, it was like she was intruding on something personal."

Declan: "She said that?"

Curran: "Those were her exact words. Guess she knew what she was talking about."

Guess she did. I rub my eyes. God, kill me.

Curran: "You're in trouble aren't you?"

Declan: "In more ways than I can count."

Declan: "Are you saying I should invite her to Thanksgiving?"

Curran: "Yes, Declan. Why are you making this harder than it is? You sound like a goddamn pussy."

Curran: "Hell, Deck. Man up. Melissa is a good girl, but she's not stupid. You start acting like you don't want her around, you won't have to worry about leaving her. She'll dump your ass and you'll fucking deserve it."

Declan: "This is Melissa and her father, Miles. Show some class for once in your lives and be nice to them."

An array of "fuck you's" "I have goddamn class" and other such colorful references overpower my hello.

Wren: "Thank Christ you're not another skank."

Angus: "Look, and she actually has an ass."

Finn: "What are those?"

Tess: "Vegan egg rolls."

Finn: "Vegan? What the hell? Hey! Tess fucked up Thanksgiving -"

She rams an egg roll into his mouth and keeps walking.

Wren: "I used to date a guy who was hearing impaired. Biggest, hairiest balls I've ever seen. I'm not sure how he could even walk straight and was convinced he was fathered by Bigfoot. He tried to deny it, but that shit wasn't natural, you hear what I'm saying?"

Curran: (signing) Hey, Melissa. Glad you could come. I hear you and Declan are going at it like gorillas in the fucking mist. Good for you.

Declan: "What's wrong?"

Curran: "I just told her that I'm glad you're doing it like gorillas. Oh, and that she could spend Thanksgiving with us."

Tess: "Curran!"

Ma slaps Curran upside his head

Tess: 'Get back in the family room before your mother kills you."

Curran: "Sorry, Ma."

Wren: "You enjoying your iced tea there, Ma?"

Ma: "I would be, me darlin', if my only daughter would give me the grandchildren I deserve."

Wren: "Ma, Evan and I are engaged. What more do you want?"

Ma: "Grandchildren."

Wren: "Christ."

Finn: "Too loud for you in there?"

Melissa: "It's a little overwhelming."

Finn: "Yeah, I think I've heard that about us once or twice. You should have been there when we met Tess - or better yet, when Evan met us. I'm surprised they didn't run away screaming."

Melissa: "Was it that bad?"

Finn: "Worse. Evan wasn't even dressed."

Melissa: "Oh."

Finn: "Yeah. Poor bastard."

Evan: "How's your evening?"

Wren: "Awesome. Ma's already asking when I'm popping out our first kid."

Evan: "Perhaps we should assure her we can't wait to start."

Wren: "Don't tell her that. I swear she thinks my ovaries will turn to stone or some shit."

Declan: "I'm sorry I hurt you."

Melissa: "Why did you? I don't understand what I did wrong."

Declan: "You didn't do anything wrong. If you want the truth, you've done everything right. I want to give us a try, I couldn't stop think about you, or wondering what it would be like to kiss you, to touch you. So I did. I just never expected to feel this way."

Melissa: "And what do you feel?"

Declan: "That I might be in love with you."

I don't swoon, go weak in the knees, or fall all over him like I'm supposed to. Not when he whispers these words like they're a bag thing and not when he stands so rigid against me.

Declan: "I didn't expect things to get serious especially this fast. You met my mother tonight, Mel. The last girl she met was on prom night my senior year of high school."

Melissa: "I only met her because you asked me to be there. But it's like you're punishing me for agreeing to go with you. Did you want me to say no? Is that what you were hoping for?"

Declan: "No. I wanted you with me."

His stare is so intense I can barely find my words.

Melissa: "Then why are you making me feel like I've forced you into a corner, or somehow manipulated you? You didn't have to introduce me to your family, no one needed to know we were together. You did this, Declan. You. I never put any pressure on you, so don't stand here acting like I did.”

Declan: “That’s not what I’m saying. But I need you to be honest with me. Did you expect us to be where we are? We’ve been together what? – Just over two months, and we’ve barely known a night apart.”

Melissa: “No. I never expected this.”

Declan: “Neither did I. I wasn’t ready for any of it.”

Melissa: “Do you think this was a good time for me to fall in love?”

My eyes well when he turns his head away in pain.

Melissa: “It’s not. My dad isn’t getting better, Declan. In another few months, I’m probably going to walk away from a career that I love to take care of him in his final days.”

Declan: “Mel.”

Melissa: “You came and made everything better by being with me, and I’m grateful to you because of it. No matter how scared I was that I was in over my head, I loved every moment of it. Until tonight.”

Declan kisses her.

Declan: “Don’t go. Please … don’t leave me. I don’t believe in love. And I’ve never wanted to settle down. But with you, it’s like I have to.”

Melissa: “I don’t understand.”

Declan: “When we arrived and my family came up to you, it’s like right away, you belonged. With the exception of Sofia who’s she’s known since she was a little girl, Tess who’s an ivy league grad and the mother of her grandchildren, and Sol who brought Finn back from the edge, my mother never considered anyone good enough for her sons – and don’t get me started on Wren. Evan’s company makes billions, but it’s what he did for Wren that proved his worth. She asked you to call her Mama. She immediately knew, what I’ve known all along, that you’re the best thing to ever walk into my life. Sofia sits on Killian’s lap and all I think is, Melissa should be sitting on my lap. You swept in and out of the kitchen making food, smiling and engaging with my family like you’ve been a part of it forever. But when I saw you holding the baby, it’s like I saw the future I wasn’t supposed to have. You’re always there to tell me when I’m out of line. You cook for me, you take care of me. You listen to me – when I just need to be heard, or ranting because I’m ready to punch someone’s face in. You came into my life because you were forced to, but stayed when I needed you most. You’re the one, Mel, there’s no doubt in my mind.”

Melissa: “But you’re not ready to have me.”

Declan: “No. I’ve never been ready to have you. I wasn’t supposed to feel this way. And I’m not sure I want to.”

Melissa: “Why?”

Declan: “Because I don’t believe in happily ever after. I only believe in the drive that’s taking me to the top, the hard work that’s brought me where I am, and the goals I still need to accomplish. I don’t believe in love. But if I did, it would be what I feel for you.”

Melissa: “Based on my past, and too many friends and lovers who have hurt me, I didn’t believe in trust. It’s not something that comes easily for me. But I took a chance and I trusted you. You didn’t want to love me, but you’re forgetting that I didn’t want to trust you. My father, the man who does love me is dying. He wasn’t supposed to develop cancer. He was supposed to walk me down the aisle when I found someone who could promise me forever, and I was supposed to give him grandchildren to keep him young when he was old and feeble. My dad is probably not going to walk me anywhere, and he’ll likely never hold his grandchildren here on earth. But at least he was brave enough to love, and someone who could value my trust."

Declan: “Mel … Don’t walk out of my life.”

Melissa: “I’m not walking out on your life. We work together, Declan. I’ll still be there come Monday.”

Declan: “That’s not what I mean! Don’t do this. Please.”

Melissa: “Let me go, Declan. Give us both the space we need.”

Declan: “I love you.”

Melissa: “I thought you didn’t believe in love.”

Declan: “There was a lot I didn’t believe in before you.”

Declan: “I know I fucked up. And I know that I hurt you. I’m sorry. God, I’m sorry. But when I say, I love you, I mean it, and I only mean it for you.”

Melissa: “I love you, too. I just don’t know where we go from here.”

Declan: “From here we show the world.”

Declan: “Shit. We’re almost there.”

Melissa: “Oh, no. Do you know where my panties are?”

Declan: “Nope. Haven’t seen them since I ripped them off with my teeth.”

Melissa: “Declan!”

Declan: “You sure you need underwear?”

Melissa: “It’s the governor’s ball. I’m not walking in without panties.”

She reaches into her purse, passing me some mints after popping a few in her mouth.

Melissa: “I think we both need these.”

Declan: “Why’s that?”

Melissa: *covering her face* “Declan.”

Declan: “Because you went down on me?”

Melissa: “Don’t –“

Declan: “While I was going down on you?”

She slaps my ass

Melissa: “You’re not helping.”

I can’t help my grin or wink at the sight of her reddening cheeks.

Melissa: “Does this look all right?”

Declan: “When you say, ‘all right’, do you mean suggestive and wild, like we just had sex in the back of a limo?”

Melissa: “Oh, God.”

Declan: “If so, we nailed it.”

Melissa: “Stop making me blush.”

Declan: “I can’t help myself. You get me hot.”

Melissa: “Where are we going?”

Wren: “The bathroom.”

Melissa: “You have to go to the bathroom?”

Wren: “No, you have to go to the bathroom and give Declan a minute to cool down. It’s either that or have sex with him. It’s what women do when their men go all alpha. Trust me, I know.”

Melissa: “Does, um, Evan frequently go alpha?”

Wren: “Oh yeah. But you won’t hear me complain. When I met him, he was like a pent-up beast locked behind a cage of pinstripes and prestige.”

Melissa: “And now?”

Wren: “Now the beast gets to come out and play.”

Tess: “Behave as the consummate professional I know you are.”

Declan: “I’m behaving. He still has all his teeth, doesn’t he?”

Curran: *nods* “He does. Not that he should. Asshole’s lucky you didn’t break his Goddamn jaw.”

Tess: “You’re not helping.”

Curran: “Babe, did you see him? He was all over her – nothing against Mel, Deck. She was trying to get away from him. You should have beat his ass then handed it back to him on a plate of hors d’oeuvres or some shit.”

Tess: “Curran, seriously?”

Curran: “I’m just saying, if any guy was to touch you like that in front of me, they’d be hauling him out on a stretcher.”

She points to her bulging belly.

Tess: “I think it’s safe to say you have nothing to worry about.”

Angus: “Congratulations. So glad she looks like you and not numb-nuts over here.”

Tess: “Nice, Angus.”

Declan: “You had another girl.”

Curran: “I know. What the fuck am I going to do? I already want to point a gun at every male who looks at Fiona.”

He edges away and climbs into bed with Tess.

Curran: “You were supposed to give me a boy. We discussed this.”

Tess: *smiling* “I’ll try harder next time, cop.”

Tess lifts off from Curran and starts to unsnap the front of her gown.

Brothers: “Whoa – Wait – what the fuck?”

Tess: “Can we at least try and watch the language?”

Finn: “It’s not like Clodagh can understand us.”

Tess: “That’s what you said about Fiona. And look at all the words that have flown out of her mouth.”

Curran whips around when he realizes she’s one button away from freeing her breasts.

Curran: “Everyone out except Wren and Mel. No one gets to see my wife’s goods, but me.”

Evan stands, motioning to the door

Evan: “Gentlemen.”

Seamus: “Is he talking to us?”

Wren: “Yes, dumbass.”

Finn: “You know what Wren recently said about you?”

Declan: “No, but I can’t wait to hear it.”

Finn: “That you’re the shepherd in the family.”

Declan: “The shepherd?”

Finn: “You know. The guy with the big stick.”

Declan: “I know what a shepherd is. But what the fuck does that mean?”

Finn: “No, that can’t be right.”

Declan: “Good, because it sounds –“

Finn: “You’re the sheepdog. That was it, which makes total sense cause you’re acting like a little bitch.”

Declan: “What the hell, Finn?”

Finn: “Hear me out. We’re the flock, the seven of us with Ma. Yeah, that’s it. So we’re in the field, eating grass, playing with the cows, and jumping over fences and some shit, you hear what I’m saying?”

Declan: “I hear it. I just don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.”

Finn: “But it’s like, all this time you’ve been biting our heels, barking out orders, keeping us in line, and being a dog, you forgot to look at the rest of the pasture.”

Declan: “The pasture?”

Finn: “Yeah. And it turns out there’s like this whole farm.”

Declan: “With a barn full of crazy?”

Finn: “No, with like other pastures. And in one of those other pastures there’s another sheepdog, looking out for the flocks of ducks.”

I just blink back at him.

Finn: “Melissa. Melissa is the other sheepdog. The one who looked after you, took care of you, even though she was still looking after the chickens, ducks, and goats. She was the sheepdog you needed, the one you shared your bed with, the one you introduced your flock to, the one who showed you how good the rest of the pasture is and everything you weren’t seeing on that farm. Believe it or not, it sounded good when Wren said it.”

Declan: “Are you trying to tell me Melissa showed me everything I missed out on? That where I looked out for everyone, I didn’t look out for myself as I should have – in the way that mattered most?”

Finn: “Close enough. Oh, and that maybe you should have puppies.”

Miles: “Don’t cry, Melissa. If it’s my time, I’ll go willingly.”

Melissa: “And if it’s not? Will you fight and stay with me?”

Miles: “I’ll always fight for you.”

I force myself forward, despite how his presence seems to cement me in place. I stop suddenly when I realize that on each step is a paperback novel with a shirtless man gracing the cover.”

Declan: “I thought about bringing you roses. But I figured you’d prefer Scots in loincloths to posies and petals.”

Melissa: “Dem Scots don’t wear anything beneath their kilts.”

Declan: “Thanks for the visual.”

I lift the next book and examine the cover.

Melissa: “Classic Fabio.”

Declan: “Yeah … That one was on clearance shoved between a few packs of edible underwear. The lady at the store said it’s a collector’s item. That’s bullshit, right?”

Melissa: “Are you calling the woman who sells these babies and cherry-flavored panties a liar?”

Declan: “How did you know they were cherry-flavored?”

Melissa: “You made Wren buy these, didn’t you?”

Declan: “Oh. Hell yeah. I wouldn’t be caught dead buying this shit. By the way, she wants to borrow Lord of My Loins when you’re done. She said it reminds her of Evan. I don’t want to know.”

Declan: “If you don’t believe me, feel me. Feel my heart. It hasn’t been the same since you left me.”

Beneath my palm, the strong steady beats increase in speed, matching mine as it races ahead.”

Declan: “I’m tired of being apart. Of trying to be something, when I’m nothing without you.”

Melissa: “Declan, I’m never going to be everything you need.”

Declan: “You already are, Melissa.”

I breakdown, and it’s that ugly, awful cry that women hate. Declan doesn’t care, bending forward and kissing my lips.

Declan: “I know you’re afraid you’ll lose your family if you lose your dad. But so long as you want me, I swear to Christ you’ll never me alone.”

Hearing Screener: “Okay. We’re all done, passed in both ears.”

Melissa: “There’s nothing wrong?”

Hearing Screener: “Not at all. She’s perfect.”

Declan: “She’s perfect. Just like her mama.”


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