“I want to be surprised.” That wasn’t true. I was curious. I’d been from the moment I’d found out I was pregnant, but I wanted Dante at my side when the doctor told me the sex of our baby. I wasn’t sure that was ever going to happen though.

“I don’t know how you do it. I’m way too curious,” Bibiana said.

Ines nodded. “That, and Pietro desperately wanted to know if he was getting a heir. I guess with twins we really had the perfect result for both of us.” She laughed, then quieted when she saw my face. “Did my parents bother you? I know my father is eager for Dante to have a son that can become Capo in the future. Don’t let them pressure you.”

“I don’t see them very often,” I said. “But of course they asked me about the gender. Your father didn’t seem very happy when I told him I didn’t want to know.”

“Men. I’m really surprised Dante isn’t more interested in finding out if he’ll have an heir soon. But he’s always been laid back about these things. Many men would have found a way to produce an heir elsewhere if their wife was infertile, but Dante never blamed Carla. He stood by her even when our father urged him to find a mistress to impregnate.”

“That’s horrible,” I said. There was still an odd pressure in my lower abdomen, but it seemed to get better now that we weren’t walking so much anymore.

“It is. Father suggested Dante and Carla could bring up the child as their own, but Dante refused to do it.”

“Maybe because he worried it was him who didn’t deliver,” Bibiana said quietly. I shrugged. I didn’t want to talk about this in public. Dante wouldn’t be happy if he found out. Of course, now we knew that it must have been Carla who was infertile, even if Dante and I hadn’t talked about it again since our major fight.

“So what do you say?” Bibi asked with a bright smile, still holding up that onesie with the cute quote.

I nodded with a resigned smile. “Okay. I’ll get it. Even if I’m having a boy, maybe next time it’ll be a girl, so it’s not like I’m wasting money.”

Ines touched my belly lightly. “I can’t wait. Nothing’s better than the scent of a newborn and those tiny toes and fingers.”

“True,” I said as I peered into the stroller where Ines’ little girl was sleeping deeply.

Bibi and I both bought the onesies. Then we said goodbye to Ines who headed back to her car with her own bodyguard, while Taft trailed after me and Bibi as we walked back to the Mercedes. He pretended he wasn’t there. For which I was grateful. When I was married to Antonio, I often went out of the house on my own, but that was a thing of the past now.

Taft drove us back to my house. Bibi and I wanted to spend the rest of the afternoon together, browsing books with baby names and eating the delicious Italian almond cake Zita had baked this morning.

The slight discomfort in my belly I’d felt all day increased as we walked up the few steps to the front door and entered my home. Taft excused himself quietly and would probably return to the guardhouse now that he was no longer needed. It was quiet in the house, except for the distant rumble of male voices. Dante was probably still in a meeting.

“Come on. Let’s take our purchases upstairs. I want to show you the lamp I bought for the nursery,” I told Bibiana.

I put my foot on the first step and froze. A sharp pain shot through my belly. I dropped the bags I’d been carrying and clutched my stomach immediately as my other hand shot out to hold onto the banister. Something warm trickled down my legs. I looked down my body in horror. My beige pants were quickly turning darker. Did my water just break? It was too soon. Way too soon. It didn’t seem like enough water, but what did I know?

Bibiana let out a shocked cry. I was too stunned to utter a word. “Valentina? Talk to me.”

“It’s too soon,” I said quietly. Fourteen weeks too soon. I began shaking as I clutched my belly.

“You’re bleeding,” Bibiana whispered. She was right. My pants had a light red tinge. My vision swam.

“We need an ambulance,” Bibiana said. Then she shook her head. “We need to call Dante.”

My legs started shaking and I had to lean against the wall or risk falling. Dante was in an important meeting. And I wasn’t even sure if he wanted this child. He probably still thought I’d cheated on him to conceive. “No, Dante is busy.”

Bibi gave me an incredulous look. “The hell he is. Help! Help!” she started screaming.

I was busy staying on my feet, so I didn’t try to stop her. The door to Dante’s office was ripped open and Dante charged out, gun in hand. My father and Rocco Scuderi were behind him, their own weapons drawn. Dante’s fiery eyes settled on me, and the fury slid off his face and was replaced by worry.

“Valentina?” Dante said as he rushed toward me, already putting his gun back in his holster. “What’s happening?”

“It’s nothing. I didn’t want to disturb your meeting.”

Dante wrapped an arm around my back as my legs gave away. His gaze traveled down my wet pants. I’d never seen that look on his face. Was he really worried about me? I gasped as pain sliced through me again. My father appeared in front of me. “Valentina?”

“We need to get her to a hospital,” Bibiana said sharply.

Dante nodded and lifted me up.

“Your shirt. You’re getting it dirty.”

Dante held me even tighter and carried me outside. At once, Taft and Enzo stormed in our direction. “I want you to make up the front,” Dante ordered. The calm efficiency was replaced by something urgent in his voice. They nodded before they rushed off. My father held open the passenger door of the Mercedes and Dante gently sat me down.


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