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Damaged Like Us: Chapter 32


AS LILY’S EX-BODYGUARD, I consider myself fairly versed in all things Hale. And for as many conversations I’ve had with Lo, her husband, I’ve never been apprehensive or afraid. Never broken a sweat.

But I’ve also never been alone in a kitchen with him, cooking an easy pasta meal for Luna’s birthday. While carrying a loaded secret: I’m not just protecting your son. I’m sleeping with him. Oh, we fucked this morning, and I even gave him the best blow job of his life. He said so.

I manage to act casual, not cagey, but I stand on an edge I’ve never neared before. It’s a new feeling, for sure.

I fill a pot of water.

Lo lights a gas stove. “How are you and your father getting along?”

“We’re not.” I shut the faucet. “I haven’t talked to him in two and a half years.” I place the half-full pot on the stove.

“Huh, well I think eventually he’ll come around.” Lo rests a comforting hand on my shoulder. Dr. Keene has been loyal to the families for a very long time. See, they hope my father and I can mend whatever we tore, but that’s only going to happen if I leave security and work as a doctor.

And I’m not leaving Omega.

I’m not leaving Maximoff.

He drops his hand to pour tomato sauce in pan.

“Dad.” Maximoff enters the kitchen from the living room, where the rest of the Hale family watches a sci-fi show before dinner. “I can help with

“No, no.” Lo points a spatula at the door. “Out.”

This is the fifth time Lo has shooed his son out of the kitchen. Maximoff narrows a glare onto me like, do something.

I lean on the counter. “You can’t be a part of everything, wolf scout.”

“Says you,” he refutes. “I say can.”

“At least now we know who’s smarter.”


“Farrow and I have this under control,” his dad cuts him off. “Him and me—we’re talking. Go spend time with your mom. The one who nudged you awake when you slept as a baby. All because she was afraid you weren’t breathing.”

“Alright.” Maximoff straightens up and shoots me a look like don’t let him know we’re together.

No shit.

After he disappears, Lo asks me, “How’s the security working next week with the tents?” He means at the Camp-Away. One week left.

I removed my radio tonight, but Donnelly has been counting down to the raffle’s closing. We’ll have randomly chosen the 300 entrants by midnight. Then, we all have the arduous task of vetting them in seven days. I’m of the mindset that if any fucker slips through, we’ll handle it at the camp.

Preferably with no fists.

I’ve already had four bodyguards tell me, “Better get ready to grab Maximoff,” believing I’ll need to drag him out of a fight. Everything’s now shaded in a new light. I’d drag my boyfriend away from a fight. Not just my client.

My boyfriend.

I sense an emotional current racing through my veins. At a much higher voltage.

I shake salt into the pot of water. “Since Maximoff, Jane, and Sulli are the only ones attending the Camp-Away, besides the raffle guests, we’ll put most of the security on those three at night,” I start explaining the sleeping arrangements to Lo.

“How?” He stirs the sauce, his concern apparent in his daggered amber eyes.

“Their personal bodyguards will be inside their tent at night

“So you’ll be sleeping in Maximoff’s tent with him?” His voice is edged. Normal for Loren Hale. But I pause, shoulders tensed up, and I study his sharp features.

Shit, I’m caging a breath right now. I never hold my breath. Not unless I’m having mind-blowing, eye-rolling sex with his son.

I comb both of my hands through my black hair. “Yeah. There’ll be another bodyguard from Alpha outside of the tent. No one can unzip it unless they want a broken wrist.”

Lo stirs silently and then nods several times.

“We’ve coordinated everything down to the tiniest detail. It’s all taken care of, Lo.” I sense his overwhelming parental concern. I turn to Maximoff’s dad. “I promise you that I’d never let anything bad happen to him.”

I’m falling in love with your son.

“I trust you, Farrow,” Lo says with ease.

It simultaneously knots my stomach and relieves me. Our heads swerve as Lily slips into the kitchen, a Star Wars Wampa cap on her head. Three years on someone’s 24/7 security detail is like a decade of time.

“Farrow.” She smiles.

“Lily.” I hug one of my favorite people in the world. Not bending down to her height, I straighten up, arms wrapped around her, and her feet lift off the ground.

Lily clasps my cheeks in two strong hands. “How are you? Are you eating? Have you hydrated?”

My lips rise and set her on her feet. “Hydrated, well-fed,” I assure. “All is well.”

Lily beams at my choice of words. “All is well—did you hear that, Lo?”

“I heard, love.” He glances affectionately at his wife.

Lily claims a barstool and splays her hands on the counter. “Moffy hasn’t been too stubborn, has he? He doesn’t mean to be. He just likes to take on all the responsibility.”

“I’ve noticed,” I say, and right on cue, Maximoff enters and sits on a stool beside his mom.

“What are we talking about?” he asks.

“You,” I say matter-of-factly.

He flashes an agitated smile. “Can’t figure out any other subject?”

“Don’t be mean to Farrow,” Lily says, elbowing his side.

His brows pinch. “Mom, he’s being an ass to me.

I lean on the counter. “Listen to your mom, Maximoff.”

Lo dumps spaghetti in the pot. “Question, why’ve you only been calling him by his full name?”

“Ask your son that.”


His shoulders square. “For Christ’s sakes, I like my full name, and I’m not kid.”

I nod slowly, the answer finally coming. You didn’t want me to see you as a child. He’s twenty-two, but I used to only call him Moffy when he was younger.

Lo pretends to be shocked. “You’re not a kid? Jesus Christ, when did that happen? Lily?”

“I didn’t do it,” she says. “I wanted him to be young forever. Like Peter Pan.”

“Peter Pan doesn’t have parents,” Lo rebuts. “You’re taking us out of the picture, Lil.”

“A Peter Pan with parents then.”

Maximoff watches their interactions with fondness, then he looks to me. He wishes for that. He’s letting himself yearn and long for the soul-bearing love and admiration his parents have.

I want to give it to you. All of it.

“Farrow.” Lily’s voice draws my gaze. “Are you seeing anyone new?”

I force myself not to glance at Maximoff. “I am, but it’s…complicated.”

“Been there, done that,” Lo says.

Maximoff frowns and motions to his dad. “What the hell was so complicated about you and mom? You were best friends who lived next door to one another.”

Lo looks at his son like he’s grown hooves. “We were addicts who enabled each other.”

“We were doomed from the start,” Lily notes.

“You persevered,” Maximoff tells them strongly, wanting them to believe their worth, but Lo cautions his children about addiction by using their failures as what not to do. “You overcame everything,” Maximoff continues. “You’re goddamn

“Lucky,” Lo finishes. “Doesn’t erase the hard parts, bud.”

Lily stretches over the bar counter towards me. “Do you have any friends you could introduce to Moffy?”

Maximoff looks whiplashed by the abrupt topic change. “Mom.”

I cross my arms loosely, my smile in a laugh. I wish this could go on all night. “You don’t want me to introduce you to my friends?” I ask him.

“You have friends?” he shoots back, sarcastic.

“Moffy!” Her mouth drops. “You’re a Hufflepuff. Be nice.”

Maximoff wraps his arm around his mom. “Farrow is my exception, Mom, and he hasn’t even been sorted

“Your mom sorted me last year.” Her love for Harry Potter runs deep.

Lily nods firmly. “He’s Gryffindor.”

I blow a mocking kiss to Maximoff.

He licks his lips, trying to layer on a grimace, but he fails. Lily observes us for another second, then she asks again, “Do you know anyone that maybe would like to date Moffy, maybe?”

Maximoff groans and sighs heavily. “We’ve talked about this.”

She’s always wanted him to stop having one-night stands. Her past is riddled with casual sex partners, and as a sex addict, she fears a destructive path for her son. Just based on her own experiences.

Before I can speak, Lo wipes his hands with a dishtowel and asks me, “How old are your friends?”

I hang on the fringe of most “friendship circles” that I accumulated in college. I always preferred the other guys from Studio 9, but in this hypothetical scenario where he isn’t my boyfriend—I know more than a few people who’d be willing to date the hottest celebrity in town.

I want to say, he’s mine.

He’s mine, and I’m not sharing him with any fucking man or woman. I grit my teeth once and play along, “Around my age, twenty-seven.”

“No,” Lo says flat-out. “That’s too old.”

My jaw tics. “It’s only a five-year gap

“And my brother married a young girl with a seven-year age-gap—it comes with too many complications. Gotta nip that before it starts.” He points at Maximoff. “Heed the advice, bud.”

He wants easy for his son.

I make his everyday easier, but if we were together in front of his family and in the public, I’d be one of the most complicated choices of his life.

But I remember I’m with a steadfast, unshakable guy. Maximoff stares right at me with resilience and finality that says, want you.

Only you.


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