"We had a drunken one-night stand, " I say quickly, holding my hands up in a placating gesture before they attempt to leave. "Hold on boys, before you go castrating him, we are just friends now. That one-night stand clarified that we work better as platonic friends. He is also living with us temporarily. Our mothers are a couple," I say, and the guys relax back in their seats.
"So you guys are step-siblings, " Weston states with an adorable, confused look on his handsome face.
"Pretty much, " I affirm with a shrug.
"Besides, he is in love with his childhood best friend. His three friends are in love with her too, but I've only ever met Jensen and JT. I've never met Carter because he didn't work at the ranch with us," I say.
"What guys are currently outside with him now? The two you know?" Arson asks.
"Yep. Jensen and JT are my casual sex partners," I chirp, goading Arson in retaliation for his lunchtime debacle.
I'm thankful Lachlan and Weston both dog pile on top of Arson to keep him from leaving the loft in his anger. I laugh at him, however.
"The three of us are just platonic friends now. Surely the five of you know how to scratch that particular itch for me," I tease laughingly.
Jase considers me carefully with his sharp golden eyes on me. He is leaning in his seat with his elbows perched atop his knees and his head resting on his tattooed fists.
"You've changed. You seem to be a fiery, smart-mouthed, confident woman compared to the meek girl you once were," Jase says, not judging me, but as if he is stating a fact.
I sober up quickly. "I realized there is no point in pretending to be someone else just to please other people. What matters is if I'm happy with myself. Other people's opinions of me are none of my business. I love who I am. I make no apologies for being myself."
"It's about time!" Lachlan exclaims. "It's time for other people to see what we always have in you."
My Chaos Boys are now smiling at me with my feelings lighter. I freed myself from the guilt of deserting them.
"You're our queen. You belong only to the five letters whose last names make up the acronym C.H.A.O.S.," Jase states. The Chaos Boys are still mine.
"Being our queen means no more secrets amongst us six, baby girl," my sweet Weston says.
"Well, you finally claimed us, so what are you going to do with us?" Arson questions.
I don't understand what he is asking me. I don't want to do anything, other than just be with my Chaos Boys. I cannot believe I'm currently living my own reverse harem fantasy, not just reading about someone else's.
"What do you mean by that, Air?" I ask him curiously, but with caution at the same time.
"If you don't know, Carls, I'm not going to spell it out for you," Arson snarks at me.
"Air! Don't be a dickhead," Jase snaps at him.
"You'll understand soon enough, sweetheart," Jase assures me. It's interesting how his sharp, authoritative tone softens only when he is addressing me.
Jase's all-telling gaze focuses on me. "Here's the thing, Carley, if you're going to be with us, you have to be all in. We can no longer afford to keep you out of C.H.A.O.S. business. By being with us, you'll have a target on your back. I'm sorry for that, sweetheart."
"Okay," I say. "I'm tired of being kept in the dark like I was in the past. I wasn't strong enough then, but I am now. Give me that crown you promised me before Carson died. I will be the Chaos Queen you always wanted me to be."
"I wanted to hand you that crown at lunch when you dominated me and staked your claim on us, " Arson jokes, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively.
I blush. "I still cannot believe I did that," I say softly aghast at my actions. "The old me would have just sat there at the table. I should have, but the moment I saw that girl touch you, the only thoughts in my head were that you are mine," I say, looking at Arson and then at Jase.
"All five of you are mine," I say to him.
Then I look around at the other boys. " I know I disappeared for years without a word to heal myself mentally. I don't have a single right to any of you anymore. I don't know the men you all have become, and you don't know me anymore. You were all my closest friends, especially Ransom."
"Stop!" Jase snaps. The words whip off his tongue, echoing off the walls of the barn like a gunshot. "You finally took care of yourself instead of the rest of us and your mother. As far as not having a right to any of us, sweetheart, we've all been in love with you for more years than we can remember. C.H.A.O.S. is your empire."
My loyal Chaos boys. I've loved them for so long that it doesn't matter how much they have changed or what made them these hard men before me.
Who does that? Who falls in love with five boys so equally that she could not choose one even if she wanted to? Me, apparently.