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The Wedding Pact (The O'Malleys #2)

By´╝ÜKatee Robert

Chapter One

She wasn’t here.

James Halloran drank his beer and did his damnedest not to look like he was searching the dance floor below for someone specific. Just like he hadn’t shown up here five nights a week for the last four months, even though he was needed elsewhere. With his old man in the slammer and his little brother causing more problems than he fixed, all of James’s attention should have been on getting his people back onto stable ground.

Instead, he couldn’t get her out of his head.

Carrigan O’Malley.

He didn’t know what he would say to her if he did see her. Apologize? Considering the last time they’d seen each other, he’d kidnapped her, tied her to his bed, and his father had been a few short hours from killing her…Yeah, there wasn’t a fucking Hallmark card that covered that.

He scanned the club again, this time telling himself he was looking for potential enemies. The ruling families of the underground might technically be at peace, but that didn’t mean he wanted to come face-to-face with one of the O’Malley men. He understood why they wouldn’t hesitate to try to take their pound of flesh out of him, but that didn’t mean he was going to play whipping boy. They all had their roles to play—Sheridan, O’Malley, and Halloran. He couldn’t have changed things, even if he’d wanted to.

When he let himself think about it, though, he regretted the fuck out of Devlin O’Malley’s death.

He reached for his beer, only to realize it was empty.

“Want another?” The short bartender didn’t look old enough to drink, but she was good enough at her job not to give him shit for showing up, having a single drink, and leaving. Over and over again.

“No, thanks.” She wasn’t coming tonight, just like she hadn’t come any night since the one where she’d blown his fucking mind in a supply closet. Before he realized exactly whose ear he’d been spilling filthy words into. Before she said her name and everything changed. Before he made the decision that labeled him just as cold a bastard as his old man.

Carrigan O’Malley. The daughter of the enemy. The one woman he sure as hell needed to keep his hands off.

Her absence made sense. If he had sisters, he would have gotten them the hell out of Dodge before shit hit the fan, and he would have kept them somewhere safe while things played out. The power situation wasn’t stable in Boston—not like it had been a year ago—but it was evening out. It had to. He was all too aware that war among the three families was the least of their concerns if some outside threat decided to take advantage of the power fluctuation. He knew the Sheridans and O’Malleys—knew how they thought, knew what they wanted, knew how they’d react to a given threat.

Better the devil he knew than the devil he didn’t.

He’d been in talks with Colm Sheridan and his daughter, Callista, about securing peace. She, at least, wasn’t willing to let the past get in the way of the ultimate good. The reluctant admiration he’d first felt when she turned herself over to him, admitting that she’d pulled the trigger that ended his older brother’s life, had bloomed into full-fledged respect. Teague was a lucky son of a bitch—and so was everyone under Sheridan protection. Callista Sheridan was a force to be reckoned with.

Somehow, James didn’t think Carrigan would be as willing to let the past go. She was prickly and prideful and had a furious temper—and he knew that after having been around her for less than three days.

Enough of this shit.

He pushed to his feet and headed for the spiral staircase leading down to the main floor. Since it was a Tuesday night, the place was far from packed, but there was still a cluster of dancers sweating and grinding in the middle of the floor, and plenty of people standing around the lower bar, waiting for drinks. He scanned their faces out of habit, not really expecting anything but disappointment.

His gaze landed on familiar green eyes, and he stopped short. He had to be seeing things. It had happened before—he’d been sure it was her, only to approach and realize he’d been projecting her image on some other pretty brunette. But then she shook her head, like she was trying to dispel his image, and he knew. James took a step toward her, still having no fucking idea what he was going to say.

She turned tail and bolted.

He was giving chase before making a decision to do so. The voice of reason piped up to point out that running her down wasn’t going to do a damn thing to reassure her that he wasn’t up to no good, but it wasn’t like he had another option at this point. She wasn’t going to sit there and let him approach her.

That didn’t stop him from hauling ass through the doors and out into the street. He looked left and then caught sight of her further down the block, making impressive time considering the six-inch spike heels on her feet.