Daddy’s Little Warrior by Lila Fox
Drake stepped off the elevator to his brother’s condo and dropped his bag to the side. He was tired, and all he wanted to do was sleep or go back to the cabin in the middle of nowhere. At that moment, the thought of being around people was still hard for him after coming back from Afghanistan.
He’d spent the last nine months in the little cabin he built with his own two hands. It gave him something to think about besides the war and what he lost and left behind, and he could take out his aggravations, pain, and fury on it.
When he heard a giggle and then a squeal, he looked up. He almost smiled when a young woman raced down the hall in a man’s shirt and nothing else. She was laughing so hard she could barely breathe.
She slid to a stop when she spotted him and then she screamed.
His first thought was maybe he got the wrong condo, but then he knew there was no other condo he could get into in the building because they each had their own code.
“Fuck, do I look that bad?” he said to himself. He rubbed his hand over his jaw where a full beard was. He knew it probably looked scraggly, and his hair was a few inches past his collar, but he hadn’t thought to get cleaned up before coming to see his brother. Now, it would be a priority to get the beard off and hair cut.
He thought he should have checked in more with his brother because he had no idea who the little woman was.
He grunted and huffed when his brother raced out in pink boxers and a gun.
Drake was sad at the shock, concern, relief, and hopefulness he saw in his brother’s eyes.
“Holy shit.” Devon set the gun down and came to him. He pulled Drake into his arms, and they stood that way for a long time before thumping each other on the back.
Drake had to fight to hold back the pounding emotions racing through him because he was close to losing it.
Devon looked him up and down as if cataloging the changes. They hadn’t seen each other in a year and a half, and that visit was brief, only a few hours.
“Fuck, Drake. I’m so glad you see you.”
Drake felt terrible at the worry he’d caused in his brother’s eyes. He’d been off-grid longer than he thought he’d be. But he had more control over his emotions now, and he didn’t feel like every breath he took burned his lungs, or he would like to haul off and deck someone if they looked at him wrong.
“I’m sorry, brother.”
“No, I’m just glad you’re here now,” Devon told him.
Drake’s mouth tipped up on one side, and he looked down at Devon’s midsection. “I like the skivvies.”
Devon looked down and then threw back his head and laughed. When he calmed a bit and could finally talk, he turned and held a hand out to the woman.
Drake watched her timidly walk up to his brother and take his hand.
“Drake, I want you to meet Emma. Baby, this is my brother I’ve told you about.”
Something twisted in his heart when a smile of joy grew across her face, and she ran to him and wrapped her arms around his waist.
“I’m so glad you’re back. Your brother worried about you so much.”
He stiffened. His first thought was to move her away from him because her hugging him was bringing him back too many emotions he’d rather not deal with again. He hadn’t been physically touched for so long it felt alien to him, and between her and his brother, he was getting caught up in it. Fortunately, it didn’t hurt or feel as bad as he thought it was going to.
He caught the look of concern in his brother’s eyes and hugged the woman gently, afraid he’d hurt her. “Thank you, honey.”
She looked up at him with such innocence and sweetness it made him want to howl in pain.
“You’re not going to leave again, are you?” she asked.
Drake shook his head. “No. I’m here to stay.”
“I’m so glad.” She released him and walked back to his brother, then pressed herself to his side like they’d been doing it for years.
Drake cleared the emotions from his throat. “So, isn’t it a little too early to go to bed?”
“We were actually getting dressed. She likes to take naps, and when I can, I lay down with her. When I got dressed, I found the pink boxers, and she was running from me because I was going to paddle her ass.”
Drake almost smiled when Emma started giggling again and hid her face against Devon’s chest.
“She did it on purpose.” Devon looked down at her. “Didn’t you, pet?”
She pressed her hands to her mouth, trying to hold back her laughs, but it wasn’t working.
Although watching her was bittersweet, he found himself smiling, and that was something he hadn’t done in so long.
Devon just shook his head. “Go get dressed. We’ll talk about this later.”
“You won’t forget about the spanking, will you?”
Drake thought she looked excited about the punishment instead of apprehensive.
Devon snorted. “It’s not likely I’d ever forget that.”
Emma grinned. “Okay, I’ll be right back. I want to make lasagna for Drake’s homecoming. We have to invite people. Oh, my God. This will be great.” She turned and ran back down the hallway, making the shirt back fly out, showing her naked ass.
“Does she realize I can see her bare ass?”
Devon chuckled and shook his head. “Not at all. And when she realizes it, she’ll turn beet red and not be able to look you in the eyes for a day or so.”
“Hey, if you’re not up for a crowd, I’ll tell her to hold off.”
“Nah, I know I want to see the guys.”
“Jonah and Dustin are here already. The others are either on their way or will be coming soon.”
Drake nodded. “Good. I’ve got a lot of questions about how this business is going to work with so many owners.”
“We’ll get more into it later, but there will be different divisions, so we don’t have to be in the same building. Cason, Eli, and Kane, who you’ll meet later, are actively looking for buildings like these to buy. The one next door to us is already ours. The bottom floor will be a non-profit that Cason’s little is starting.”
“Something else we have to talk about. For right now, don’t be shocked if some of the women refer to their husbands or men as Daddy.”
Drake was confused but intrigued. “I'm anxious to know what it’s about.”
“Tonight, after everyone has left, if you feel up to a couple of beers and a short talk.”
“I’d like that. We have a lot of catching up to do.”
Drake pulled his brother into his arms again. “I’ve missed you.”
Devon pounded on his back. “I’ve missed you, too.”