Contains bad words and sex-y scenarios. Mature (18+) audiences only.
“One day, you will be great warrior, rybka.”
“Little fish?” Mo leaned against the doorjamb in the nursery entryway. Giorgio was on his back next to their son, Aleksi, who was wiggling on his belly on the room’s carpeted floor. Giorgio’s jean clad knees were bent while Aleksi garbled next to him, kicking his legs in his footed onesie.
“Your Russian is good, Bez.” Giorgio looked down his chest at her in the doorway. “And he is like fish. Look. His mouth.”
She crossed into the room and lay on the carpet on other side of their son. “What were you telling him?”
“Is, how you say, ‘no girls allowed.’”
Mo laughed, holding her stomach. “Girls rule and boys drool, Gio.”
“Is true. Always drooling, our little one.”
She turned onto her side at the same as he did. There was concern and sorrow on his gorgeous face, anger in those shark’s eyes. Giorgio and the group had been called out after they’d been blessed with four uninterrupted months with their son since his birth. Now, he was set to leave for the airport in less than ten minutes.
“Is impossible, lyubimaya moya.”
“I know. It’s hard now, with the baby.” A blush crawled up her face like ivy on a brick building. A man known around the world as das Biest was calling her “his love.”
“You think to leave you, Bez, is easy?” His brow rose, pushing the scar that slashed through it into his hairline. “I do not like to be away from you.”
Mo played with one of Aleksi’s little feet, keeping a count in her head of how much more tummy time he had left. “I know this.” She put on her best a Russian accent. “I try to make better.”
He smiled. “You want other baby.”
“Not so soon.”
“Your mouth saying Russian words, using Russian tongue . . . it will give you other baby.”
Mo gently flipped Aleksi onto his back. “There you go, little fish.”
Giorgio’s gaze fell to their son and lingered. She watched him and allowed the moment to imprint in her memories like the clay footprint they’d made of Aleksi’s foot not long after he was born. With each trip the men took, it increased the likelihood of them not returning, and although Giorgio was one of the most skilled people she knew, if not the most, he wasn’t invincible. He wasn’t impenetrable. One wrong move, one lucky insurgent or missile or bullet could take him away forever. And she was completely uninterested in a life where he didn’t exist by her side as her husband and son’s father.
She swiped the back of her hand over her eyes. “I hate when you leave.”
He rose, lifting Aleksi in his arms, kneeled in front of her and took her chin. He slanted his mouth over hers but she could barely engage in the kiss. Her lips trembled and tears gushed from her eyes. One of his hands cradled the back of her head, and they remained frozen in place until the doorbell rang downstairs.
“You are strong.” He leaned back and touched a kiss to the soft, wispy strands of hair on top of Aleksi’s head. “The two of you.”
They went downstairs to let Gage in.
Mo drew Gage in for a hug the minute he stepped into the entryway, more than just in greeting. She knew he needed as much comfort as she did. “Hey, Gage. How are Tayler and Grey?”
Gage cleared his throat, his green eyes misting over. “Managing.”
“Not good, love.”
She gave Gage another long, tight hug and then turned around to find Giorgio looking down at Aleksi, his lips moving but his words inaudible. Then, he touched his forehead to his son’s, graced him with another kiss too tender than the monster people often took him for, and handed him to Mo.
“I’ll be in the car,” Gage said, motioning to the open front door. “We don’t have much time, but take your time, big man.”
She cradled Aleksi against her chest and rocked him, swaying gently from side to side while Giorgio watched Gage leave over her head. When Giorgio’s gaze lowered and their eyes connected, her tears returned, in abundance.
She nodded, could barely speak. “Mhm.”
“I am sorry.”
“It’s not your fault, Gio.” She firmed her chin. “Plus, you’re gonna come back.”
“Da. I will not leave you. For my life, I will not leave you.”
He lowered his mouth to hers. Her hand first cradled the side of his face and then slipped into the hairs at his nape. This time, she tried her best to will her mouth to move, to indulge in the sweetness that was her beast, her lover, her husband. He nibbled on her bottom lip, the index finger on one hand still swiping tears while his other hand held her as close to him as she could get while holding their son.
When they parted, it was like she’d been harpooned through her heart, the weapon now, slowly, being removed.
“You will be safe, Bez?”
She nodded. “I will.”
“I will check for you. Until you are sick to hear from me.”
A laugh sputtered between her lips. “I could never get sick of hearing from you, baby.”
He kissed her forehead. “You will go to Tayler?”
“She’s coming here with Grey.”
“Tell me how you feel, Bez.”
She gave him the best smile she could. “I love you, Gio. With every single part of me.”
“And is still not more than how I feel, for you and for our little fish.” He took her hand placed it over his heart. “This where you live, Bez.”
He kissed her again and moved to the door where he stood in the doorway for a moment, watching her in the morning sun in her black tank top and pajama bottoms, Aleksi kicking and babbling in his father’s direction.
“Ya lyublyu tebya, Mo.”
“I love you too, Gio.”
When he started off, she closed her eyes. In the event something happened, her last image of him was not going to be his back as he walked away.
“Das Biest is a father. You have heard?”
The woman around the table looked up from her poached pears. “A child?”
“How do you know?”
“I hear things. The black woman is the child’s mother.”