“You seem very sure of yourself,” Alessandro comments as we sit at the table.
I nod. “I know he loves me. It might take time for him to trust me again, but even if he doesn’t, there can now be peace between our families.”
Alessandro shrugs. “I’ve reached a point with this family that I fucking give up. You all fall in love with random people who we’re supposed to be fighting with, not making babies with. But at least he’ll know.”
I grin and pat his arm. “Like you’re any better.”
He snorts, but he doesn’t say I’m wrong.
I push my glasses up the bridge of my nose. It’s a little-known fact that I need contacts or glasses to see. I even hid it from Ivan.
The door opens, and my breath catches as he walks in. I forgot how handsome and intense he is. He looks surprised to see me, or maybe surprised I have glasses on.
He hesitates, then slowly sits down. “I don’t see how bringing her here can help settle peace between our families.”
His words hurt, but I deserve it after what I did to him. Alessandro nods. “I am sorry about that, Ivan. We weren’t thinking straight. We just wanted revenge. Tori tells me you hired specialists that saved my uncle’s life.”
Ivan looks away, and my cousin continues. “I should never have let this go down the way it has, but I think what we have to offer will compensate for that. It was Vittoria’s idea.”
Ivan looks at me, and I push two pages to Ivan. Two simple, straightforward contracts. Ivan picks them up and reads them, his eyebrows knitting together. He sets them down and looks at Alessandro. “These are excellent offers, but I’m confused. Why is this going to my next-born child? I’m not planning any more children, so does this go to Ana?”
“Ivan,” I say quietly, and he looks at me. He’s trying to be cold, but it’s hurt, I see in his eyes. I swallow my pride and continue, “Ivan, I am so sorry. I wanted to prove a point to my family. I wanted to get revenge for them and let them see how useful I was. I didn’t expect to honestly and genuinely fall in love with you. I didn’t know how kind and generous you and your family are. I didn’t expect you to love me the way you did, and I didn’t expect to fall pregnant with your child.”
I leave that last sentence hanging in the air, and I see the surprise on Ivan’s face as his eyebrows raise and his eyes widen, “I… I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to make any hasty decisions. There will be a lot to be discussed. I need time.”
He stands up suddenly, takes the contracts, and leaves. I hug myself and look at Alessandro. “If nothing else, there will be peace,” he says quietly, rubbing my back.
I know Alessandro’s trying to comfort me, and I don’t know what I expected. For Ivan to forgive me and be in love with me again? What I did was dog dirty.
Alessandro takes me home, but I can’t sit still. Kira is overseeing an important meal at the bistro tonight, our cousin Bella’s first date with some politician. I decide to head there and keep her company.”
I arrive, and I find Miguel there. He and Kira are sitting in one of the back booths having drinks.
“Tori!” Kira smiles and stands up, her belly protruding far ahead of her. I hug her and smile. “Soon, I’ll look like that.”
“God, I hope your baby arrives on its due date. We’re five days over, and I can really have this baby now.”
I sit down with a smile, but Kira’s face falls, and I turn to look at what she’s seen. Large armed men are filing into the bistro. I recognize some of them as Evgeni’s men, and I realize Aleks is one of them.
I get up to my feet to face Ivan as he walks in. I don’t make him come to me, but I’m nervous as I slowly walk toward him. I’m unsure of what his intentions are.
He stops in front of me, gazing down at me. “Vittoria.”
“Ivan,” I say quietly, hating that he’s using my full name.
Our eyes are locked, and I can taste the tension in the air. I’m about to apologize again when Ivan holds up a hand. “It’s my turn to speak, your turn to listen.”
I nod obediently.
“What you did to my family, that’s unforgivable. You betrayed our trust after everyone tried to make you feel welcome. It’s unforgivable,” he repeats, then pauses. “For now. You took responsibility for your actions, paid tribute to keep the peace, and did it favorably for the family. You did the right thing.”
I swallow hard, tears forming in my eyes.
“I don’t know what the right decision is in this case, but I’ve spoken to my family, and we all agree on one thing. I love you. I haven’t loved anyone since Mila, and the love I have for you is indescribable.”
I look away, but he tilts my face back to him. “I want you to know I can trust you again because I love you. You’re my family now too. I want you to come home.”