By: Maya Banks

chapter one

Jace Crestwell tapped Gabe Hamilton on the shoulder and when Gabe turned, Jace grinned.

“You’ve hogged my sister long enough. It’s my turn to dance with her.”

Gabe didn’t look happy with the interruption. He and Mia had been solidly glued to one another for

the past hour, but he grudgingly took a step back and Mia smiled radiantly as Jace took Gabe’s place.

The entire ballroom of the Bentley Hotel was decorated for Christmas, a nod to the fact that above

all else, Mia loved Christmas, and it was also a well-known fact that Gabe would do damn near

anything to make his new fiancée happy.

And, well, Gabe moved fast when he wanted something, if nothing else. He’d started planning the

engagement party the moment he got his ring on Mia’s finger. Almost as if he were afraid she’d

change her mind unless he got the ball rolling immediately.

It was pretty funny for Jace to see his friend in knots over a woman. The fact that the woman in

question was Jace’s sister was a little weird, but Mia was happy and that was all he could ask for.

“Are you enjoying yourself, baby girl?” Jace asked as he turned her around on the dance floor.

Her entire face lit up. “It’s fantastic, Jace. The whole thing. It’s positively magical. I can’t believe

Gabe pulled this off so fast. It’s just . . . perfect.”

Jace smiled back at her. “I’m glad you’re happy. Gabe will be good to you or I’ll kick his ass. I

already made that clear.”

Her eyes narrowed. “If he isn’t good to me, it’s not you he has to worry about. I’ll be the one

kicking his ass.”

Jace threw back his head and laughed. “That I have no doubt about. You made him work for it. I

gotta admire that.”

Mia’s face became somber and Jace frowned, wondering what could have possibly made her so

serious on a night she should be over the moon.

“I know you gave up a lot for me,” she said in a quiet voice. “I always wondered if the reason you

hadn’t married and had children of your own was because of me.”

He stared at her like she’d lost her mind.

“Maybe now you can stop worrying about me so much, and you know . . .”

“No, I don’t know,” he said. Then he shook his head. “You’re a nut, Mia. First of all, just because

you’re getting married doesn’t mean I’m going to stop worrying about you and looking out for you.

That’s just a fact, so get over it. Second, don’t you think if I’d gotten married before now, especially

when you were younger, that it would have made things easier? For both you and me? You would

have had a mother figure instead of being stuck with an overbearing, overprotective brother as your

sole source of support.”

She stopped mid-dance and threw her arms around him, hugging him fiercely.

“I don’t regret a single thing about the way you raised me, Jace. Not a thing. You did a wonderful

job and I’ll always be so grateful for all the sacrifices you made for me.”

He hugged her back, still shaking his head. Nut. Total nut. She was aglow with happiness over her

impending marriage to Gabe, and now she wanted everyone she cared about wrapped up in that same

glow. God help him. He and Ash should probably be ducking and running.

“It was no sacrifice, Mia. I don’t have a single regret either. Has it ever occurred to you that I

didn’t want to get married and have kids?”

She pulled back with a frown and then her gaze skirted sideways to where Ash was standing across

the room with Gabe. “Yes, I suppose it did.”

Jace barely suppressed a sigh. It was obvious Mia had a very good idea of his and Ash’s sexual

proclivities when it came to having threesomes with the same woman. It wasn’t exactly something a

brother wanted his sister to know about his sex life, but there it was. He wouldn’t apologize for his

lifestyle, but neither was he going to get into a conversation about it with his baby sister.

“Play hard and live free,” he said by way of explanation.

Mia frowned and cocked her head upward.

Jace chuckled. “It’s our motto. The three of us, Gabe, me and Ash. Only you changed the game for