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Bonus Scene: Appropriation, a Rome Alternate PoV Scene for Brutal Fighter

Brutal Fighter hitting 200 reviews seemed awful quick. As I’m writing this, it’s only a little over 90 away from hitting 500. Chances are you’ll be waiting on that NEXT bonus scene as well. That’s fine. I’m trying to stay ahead of the curve here, but I digress.

The first bonus scene for Brutal Fighter was actually pretty easy to decide on. I’d already chosen it before I even released the book. So, if you’re wondering to yourself, Heather—if you decided on the scene already WHY wasn’t it in the book?

Well, there’s a few reasons why some of these scenes don’t make it in the books. Sometimes, they slow the pacing down. Sometimes they aren’t more than fluff and they don’t push the story forward. Sometimes, I just don’t think about it until I’m done.

I’ll let y’all figure out which one this is. *winks* Standard disclaimers here, if you haven’t read Brutal Fighter, this will definitely contain spoilers.


“Do I want to know?” Starling’s eyes were huge. They reminded me of a startled animal trapped by oncoming lights in traffic. I’d never let anything hit her though.

Not as long as I was there to stop it.

“Probably,” Liam admitted with more than a sigh. My other half was tired. But he needed her more than he wanted to confess. It was good that we’d come here. Both for Starling and for him. “Ezra is there.”

“Lainey’s Ezra?”


I almost wished he wasn’t. I’d like to keep Starling here for a while. Let them both rest.

“Does Lainey know?” Worry chased another emotion across her face.

“No,” I answered. Vaughn did. I did. He was Liam’s problem.

“Is he in trouble?”

“To be determined,” Liam said. “Your call, Hellspawn, what do you want to do?” While my brother could be guarded and careful of his thoughts, he made no such effort at the moment.

We wanted her to know us. To trust us. She needed us to trust her. So, no more secrets. I liked that.

Liam and I had no secrets. If I wanted to know, he would tell me. The same for him. Now for Starling. She bit at her lower lip and frowned. I didn’t like when things bothered her. Especially when she seemed on uneven footing.

“We need to go back then?” The question was for her, not for Liam. If Starling said no, we would stay here. He could deal with Ezra or not. The man would be fine where he was in the meanwhile.

At least, he wouldn’t get shot.

She sighed. “We should.” Then she glanced down at her bare feet.

“Go change,” Liam suggested. “We’ll wait for you.” He didn’t glance at me but I heard the unspoken “we need to talk too” but Starling just cast us both a smile, tremulous though it was.


“You’re not getting rid of me,” Liam informed her. “Ever. Get used to it.”

Then her grin turned real and she pivoted to head for my room. As soon as she disappeared, I went into the kitchen. If we were going back, now would be a good time to pack up the coffeemaker.

Like my shadow, Liam followed right behind me. “What happened after I left?” I unplugged the machine and removed the water reservoir. “What the hell are you doing?”

“Starling likes fancy coffee.”

“And?” The testiness in that single word gave me pause and I glanced at my brother.

“She will like having this there.”

He scrubbed a hand over his face. “I’ll buy her one. Put it back.”

“We have this one.”

“We do,” he agreed, taking the reservoir out of my hands. “It’s mine. I like it. She’ll need it when she’s here.”

That was a fair point.

“So I’ll buy her one.”


He let out a laugh, though it sounded more like a groan. “Yes, today.” After he plugged the machine in, he added, “Can you look at me for a moment?”

Though he asked rarely, I didn’t mind meeting his gaze. When he did ask, I always complied. “Yes?”

“You really are okay with me and Hellspawn?”

“She’s ours.” I shrugged. “She always has been. There is nothing to be alright with. You care. I care. She cares.”

It was the simplest answer.

“The other guys?”

“They are our brothers.”

Liam dropped his chin.

“They are,” I repeated. “We kept the truth from them. They know now. They will forgive.”

I’d never liked the lie, but I’d understood. Liam never asked me to lie to them directly, only to not explain and to keep quiet. I hadn’t cared for that either.

“You have a lot of faith in them,” he murmured.

“So do you,” I reminded him. “You protected even when they thought you weren’t. You chose this path.”

“Ouch,” Liam grunted and then backed up a couple of steps. He glanced out the kitchen door and I knew he was listening for her. I was too. “It seemed the right thing to do at the time. Still does.”

“Then trust them. They know. They care about her too. She’s ours. All of ours. We will keep her safe.” Then I spread my hands. “We will keep you safe too.”

“Focus on her, brother mine, focus on her. I can watch my own back.”

The door to my room opened so I brushed past him, but paused only long enough to smack the back of his head. It was a maneuver he did often when someone said something stupid.

I didn’t comment. Didn’t have to.

His laughter was confirmation enough.

“Ready?” she asked.

Yes. We were ready.

Coffeemaker, then Ezra. Maybe we could forget the second.

He wasn’t as important as the coffee.

(c) Heather Long 2022

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