Li made a rude noise, like a cross between a fart and a raspberry. “Tell me about the hot chicks at the farm, okay? I’m looking for something a little homegrown, ya know?”
“Says the head techno-geek.”
“Hey, now. Have you ever watched Dukes of Hazzard? Mm-mm. I’d love to get me some of that.”
“See, I always knew you were like that. Which one did you want, Luke or Bo?”
Li snorted in amusement. “Boss Hogg.”
Raven burst into laughter.
“What? I like a little jiggle in my wiggle, you know what I mean?”
Raven had to grab onto the porch railing. He could just picture Li’s demonic grin. “I had no idea Boss Hogg was a bottom.”
“Shows what you know. I bet Roscoe P. Coltrane was one hell of a secret top.”
Raven shuddered. “And thank you for giving me that image. I’ll be going now. I have to break out the brain bleach.”
Li chuckled. “I’ll see you in a few days, dude. And don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” Li’s voice, a light tenor in his Seeming, deepened into the more familiar tones of Big Red, the name he was known by amongst Oberon’s Blades. “At least not in public.”
“I look forward to seeing you again.” And strangely enough, he did. Raven didn’t have many friends, but in the short time he’d known Li they’d become close. Closer than Raven had ever felt toward his brothers and sisters, that was certain.
They said their goodbyes and hung up. Raven pocketed his phone and took a deep breath. He was about to do something he’d rarely done willingly.
Spend time with family.
Raven knocked on the door, half prepared to bolt if anyone other than Robin or Michaela answered the door. While he’d found the Dunnes to be warm and welcoming, it still felt odd that anyone wanted to spend quality time with their relatives. For him, it often meant pain, followed by a drugged haze, followed by…
Ugh. Raven shuddered just as the door opened, the memories riding him hard. He preferred not to think about his forced couplings with Titannia, the Dark Queen, the first Leannan Sidhe.
The very first vampire.
It had been brutal, degrading, a torturous blend of fucking and feeding until he’d been drained physically, emotionally and psychically. Then she’d toss him out of her bed without a thought, sending him out into the world naked and afraid with whatever orders her whims had demanded. If he tried to deny the Dark Queen, it wasn’t Raven who would pay the price, it was his mother.
So Raven had complied, cringing inside as his soul was slowly chipped away, whittled down to next to nothing. He’d thought his ultimate fate would be dying at her fangs, but instead he’d been freed by the man who had claimed him and named him as his own.
The man who now stood in the doorway, his bright red hair flowing in the wind of Raven’s arrival, his bright blue eyes dancing merrily until he took in the look on Raven’s face. “What ails you, my son?”
And with those words Raven was brought back from his horrible memories to the present, the reality that he was, indeed, the son of Robin Goodfellow, aka the Hob. Dark Court fae whispered his name, frightened their children with tales of his revenge. White Court bowed to him out of fear of his wrath.
Michaela Exton, the once-mortal bondmate of Robin, had no problem goosing the infamous Hob on his ass. Robin jumped, causing Raven to laugh out loud.
“Move. I want to say hello.” Michaela leaned around Robin, her gaze filled with affection. “Hey, Raven! You finally made it.”
“I’m not late, am I?” Raven looked at the thick-banded watch on his wrist, well aware he was perfectly on time but wanting to admire one of the gifts his father had given him. Robin made a point out of showing affection to Raven, daring any and all to say anything negative about his son in the Hob’s presence. Needless to say, so far none had dared.
“No, my son.” Robin stepped out, allowing Michaela room to give Raven a hug hello. While Robin seemed to have gotten over some of his issues with Raven’s crush on Michaela, he still didn’t allow her to linger in Raven’s arms. He pulled her close, cradling her against him, her back to his front. “Now. What was the cause of your displeasure when I opened the door?”
Raven knew if he mentioned what he’d been thinking about, his father would go ballistic. Literally. It wouldn’t be the first time the Hob accidentally knocked down a building or three. “Nothing, just bad memories.”
Robin’s gaze cleared. They each had their regrets, not least of which was Robin’s failure to discover his lost children. At least Raven was with him now, and it gave them both some comfort. “Ah, I see.” He smiled and inhaled the scent of his bondmate, something he often did when trying to calm himself. “Are you ready to meet the chaos?”
Just as Raven was about to ask what his father was talking about, feminine shrieks sounded from inside the house. The thunder of multiple people running down wooden steps assaulted his ears. “What the hell?”
Robin quickly stepped aside as Ruby Dunne, Moira Blackthorn, Akane Dunne and Amanda Pierson, the blonde he’d been dreaming of, came thundering out of the house, laughing and yelling at the top of their lungs.
Robin watched the whole thing with an amused expression. “What, pray tell, is the problem, ladies?”
“Spider!” Ruby shuddered, rubbing her arms so hard they began to turn red.
“Big one.” Moira gagged.
Akane, one of the most dangerous Blades on Robin’s roster, held her hands out about a foot apart. “Huge.” Her strange eyes were wide with fear.
Amanda was gasping with laughter. Behind the other women’s backs she held up her thumb and forefinger about an inch apart, indicating the actual size of the terrifying arachnid that had sent four strong women screaming for the front yard.
Raven shook his head. “Want me to take care of it?”
All three of them nodded. Amanda merely shrugged. “I said we could take it out with the can of hairspray sitting nearby, but they didn’t believe me.”
“It wasn’t hairspray, it was feminine deodorant spray,” Ruby replied.
“It was?” Moira lifted her hand to her hair with a wince. “Fuck me.”
“This is what happens when you have five women trying to put makeup on and do their hair in one bathroom.” Akane rubbed her hand over her baby bump. “I knew I should have gone to Shane’s workshop to get ready.”
Amanda rolled her eyes. “Can someone please go kill the horrible beast in the bathroom so I can get Huey, Dewey and Louie back upstairs?” She clapped her hands together sharply. “C’mon, people. I’m aging here.”
Raven was utterly charmed. Amanda didn’t seem the least bit fazed by the dirty looks Akane sent her, or the way Moira was whimpering about the spider. Ruby was shaking her head at her friend, and Michaela?
Michaela watched the whole thing with a wistful expression that immediately made Raven take a step closer in concern. “Are you okay?”
“Mm.” She snuggled closer to Robin and offered Raven a soft smile. “I’m missing my family, that’s all.”
Robin stroked his hand down Michaela’s hip. “Hush, my darling. They’ll be here tomorrow.”
“I know.” Michaela patted Robin’s hand. “But watching them play—” she pointed her chin toward the other girls, “—reminds me it’s been a while since I spent some time with my brothers and sister.”
“Why is Amanda here?” Raven winced. He hadn’t meant to make his interest in the blonde so obvious, but cutting in on Robin and Michaela’s quiet moment was sure to clue his father in.
“She’s my wedding planner. Ruby recommended her.” Michaela laughed as Ruby flailed her arms at Amanda, who watched her with bemusement. “Isn’t she great?”
Robin quietly laughed. “She’s something.”
“Yes, she is.” Since the first moment Li had brought Amanda’s image up on the screen, Raven had dreamt of meeting her. Now here she was, surrounded by the women Robin loved best in the world. It spoke well of her that all of them had welcomed her with such warmth. “When is Cassie getting here?”
“When Oberon does. They’ve got some Court stuff to deal with that’s way over my pay grade.” Michaela turned in Robin’s arms and gave her bondmate a kiss. “We have to go if we’re going to make it on time.”
“Snod will be with you at all times, my dear.” Robin couldn’t take his gaze off of Michaela.
Raven wanted that. He wanted someone to focus on, someone who would love him unconditionally. He was more likely to get eaten by a unicorn, but that didn’t mean he craved it any less.
Leo Dunne stuck his head out the front door of his parents’ house. “The spider’s been released into the wild. You can all come back in now.”
“Finally.” Amanda marched past him, the others trailing behind her. “Let’s get crackin’, ladies.”
“I have to rewash my hair,” Moira sighed.
“Nah. You smell fresh as a daisy,” Ruby said with a laugh.
Akane grunted. “I swear, babysitting these guys is going to kill me.”