I laughed. “That’s what Bibi said. But it’s cute, don’t you think?”
His arm snuck around my waist. “It is. I thought you didn’t know if it was a girl or a boy?”
“I didn’t, but Bibi wanted to buy matching onesies. She was really hoping for a girl, so her daughter and ours could be best friends. She’ll be beside herself with excitement when I tell her.” I paused. “Have you told your parents that it’s a girl yet?”
Dante frowned slightly. “I talked to my mother last night after you fell asleep. She’s excited for us.”
“But your father isn’t?”
“He didn’t contact me yet. He’s probably trying the silent treatment as a way to show me his displeasure.”
“Really? It’s not like it was our choice to have a daughter. And I hate this fixation on boys anyway. A girl is worthy too.”
“You don’t have to convince me,” Dante said. “But boys are seen as something that strengthen the Outfit while girls only mean a weak link the men need to protect. It’s the way it’s always been. I can’t see it changing any time soon.”
“Do you know if there’s ever been a woman inducted into any of the Familias in North America and beyond?”
Dante smiled wryly. “That would be news to me. And it won’t happen. I wouldn’t want my daughter to be part of the Outfit. I want her safe and protected. I don’t want blood on her hands and death in her dreams.”
“But you want that for our future son?” I asked softly. Dante brushed a strand of hair back from my shoulders. “It’s the way things are, Val. I will protect all of our children for as long as I can, but eventually our son, at least, will have to brave the dangers of our world. But he’ll be strong.”
“My father always treated my brother Orazio with brutal harshness and your own father tortured you to toughen you up. Sometimes I don’t want a son because I worry that he’ll have to suffer through the same things.” I didn’t think I could stand back and watch Dante treat our son like that. Even my mother had protected Orazio occasionally when Papà had been too strict. Not that he’d ever abused Orazio as Fiore had done with Dante.
“I will have to be stricter with our son, but I won’t be like my father, I swear.”
I nodded. I believed him.
I could tell that I was starting to tire already, although I’d hardly done anything. “I should grab a shower now. I’m supposed to lie down again soon.”
Dante followed me into the bathroom, his eyes on me as I stepped out of my shoes. I reached for the zipper in the back of my dress but Dante beat me to it. His thumb traced the bumps of my spine as he pulled the zipper down, and I could feel it all the way down to my toes. The dress pooled at my feet. Now there were only my tights. Dante eased them down my legs, then let his gaze slowly travel up my body as he knelt before me. I wanted nothing more than to fall in his arms and feel him inside me.
Licking my lips, I whispered. “This is going to be hard.” Dante straightened, his expression confirming my words. “Take a shower. I’ll wait here in case you feel faint.”
“You could shower with me,” I said.
Dante looked hesitant, then he nodded. He got out of his clothes and when he turned to me I could see he was already half erect.
“I thought you have self-control,” I teased.
Dante steered me toward the shower, steadying me. “I have, or my fingers would already be delving into your wet heat.”
He turned the shower on, letting the warm water rain down on us before he closed the shower stall and turned to face me, hands on my hips. “How do you know I’m wet?” I asked in a challenging tone.
Dante picked up the sponge and rubbed it lightly over my breasts and stomach. Then he leaned close until his mouth was against my ear. “Because I could see it when I knelt before you. You were wet for me.”
I was. I didn’t think I’d ever wanted him as much as I wanted him now that we weren’t allowed to sleep with each other. We washed each other with the sponge, occasionally kissing and our breathing was coming faster with every passing moment. Dante’s erection was hard and red. “Do you want me to blow you?” I whispered as I was pressed up against Dante. He groaned as my fingers curled around his shaft, but then his hand stilled my motions and he pulled my hand away from his hard-on. “No,” he rasped. He didn’t sound very convincing. “I’m fine.”
He turned me around so my back was pressed against his chest and his erection was sandwiched between his stomach and my back. His arms came around my belly, palms pressed against my skin and he kissed my neck lightly. “I think we should get out. You need to lie down.”
I didn’t protest. All the naked kissing was making it more difficult to suppress my desire for him. Dante helped me dry myself and he looked almost relieved when I was finally dressed in comfortable satin pajamas and stretched out on our bed. Dante and I would have to deal with our desires in the next few weeks. Our baby was more important than anything else.
Dante cradled me in his arms as his fingers raked through my hair. “Thank you for never giving up on me, Val.”
“I knew my stubbornness would come in handy one day,” I said with a small laugh.
Six weeks later the doctors decided to perform a C-section. It was still eight weeks too early but the risk of an infection had become too great. Dante didn’t budge from my side as they cut open my belly. His presence, his steady gaze, the utter control and strength he emanated helped me tremendously. With Dante at my side, I knew nothing would go wrong. As if by the sheer power of his will he could make things turn out okay. Dante could make you believe that he was in control of the situation even when he wasn’t.