Deadly Chemistry (Entangled Ignite)
have his fingernails pulled out with hot tweezers before he let anyone know what a sap he was. Instead, he shoved the stuff in the hall closet and made a kitty latrine.
    By the time he got the litter box set up and convinced Possum to leave her new favorite scratching post—his truck—it was fully dark.
    “Come on,” he told her while she transferred her claws to his shirt. “You know, if I have to get clawed, I’d rather it be by my own species.” Lauren’s elegant fingers came to mind, and then her long, trim body. He thought about her digging her nails into him as he went into her. The cat growled and fought to escape his hold, breaking his fantasy. Just as well. He had some internet research to do before turning in for the night, and he needed to get his mind back into the head on his shoulders.
    Behind him, he heard the familiar screech of brakes on Dylan’s bike. Mike turned, and for once, Dylan’s face wasn’t folded into a sneer or, worse, flatly expressionless.
    After dismounting, Dylan hitched his backpack higher on his shoulders and stared at the near-bald yowling ball of nasty in Mike’s arms. “What’s that?”
    “I adopted a cat. Or signed up to be a foster person.”
    “That’s cool.”
    As his brother got closer, Mike was assaulted with an overwhelming wave of— “Dude, did you get a new cologne?”
    “Yeah. You like it?”
    For an instant, the cool bravado that Dylan wore like armor slipped, and Mike masked his reaction to the god-awful scent. “Um—”
    Possum yowled. Saved by the cat .
    Dylan reached a hand toward Possum, who hissed and took a swipe at him. He jerked back and laughed, a sound nearly foreign to Mike’s ears. “Okay. I’ll let you get settled. What’s his name?”
    Seeing the smile on the kid’s face made Mike doubt his suspicion that Dylan was in trouble.
    “ Her name is Possum.” At Dylan’s raised eyebrows, Mike said, “Long story.” Dylan followed him up the sidewalk and into the house.
    “What did you do with my shit?” Dylan asked, scowling at the space currently filled with a litter box.
    Of course he’d immediately focus on how this cat would inconvenience him, even though the stuff Mike had moved hadn’t been used in years, as far as he could tell. “It’s safe, don’t panic. I put it in the closet.”
    “I wasn’t panicking, I just asked a question. Christ.”
    “Don’t swear. And don’t be so defensive.” Mike realized as soon as it came out of his mouth that he shouldn’t have said that last part.
    “Okay, Mom ,” Dylan said. “I just asked a question. You’re so worried about everything I say and how I say it.”
    “You don’t want to go there,” Mike said. Less than two minutes together and they were already at each other’s throats. He might not trust his brother, but he’d promised their grandmother—on her deathbed—that he’d look out for his siblings. Evan hadn’t needed Mike in a long time, but Dylan had, and Mike had failed him—miserably. He sighed. “Look. I didn’t mean anything by that.”
    “Whatever.” Dylan opened the refrigerator, and then closed it again. “We need groceries.”
    “We always need groceries.”
    “Why didn’t you get food when you picked up the cat supplies?”
    “I didn’t want to leave her alone in the car for too long. Do you want to order a pizza?”
    Dylan walked to the freezer and opened it, displaying a half dozen frozen pizzas.
    “I bet Evan’s got roast beef and fresh organic green beans tonight, or eggplant parmesan and tofu muffins. You could call him.” Mike tried to keep the defensive tone out of his own voice.
    A reluctant smile crossed Dylan’s face. “Yeah, but then I’d have to listen to a lecture on the decay of modern society as a result of poor hygiene and video game-induced ADHD.”
    “True that. See how lucky you are to be stuck with me?”
    Dylan shook his head. “As long as I can keep ignoring you, and you keep ignoring me, we’ll probably be

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