“I can take him,” Nicole said.
“I’ve got it,” Rafe said. “Just point me in the direction of the closest bathroom.”
“Down the hall to the left,” Bella said.
Nicole watched after Rafe as he led his son down the hallway. “It’s hard to believe how quickly he has adapted to being a great father.”
“You shouldn’t be surprised,” Damien said. “The Medici men are overachievers in every area.”
Emma leaned her head against his shoulder. “So true. I’m sure you’ve noticed that about Michael,” she said to Bella.
“Fishing, fishing,” Michael said under his breath as he slid his hand behind Bella’s back and led her into the den. “Forgive my lovely sister-in-law. She may look sweet and demure, but she slayed the dragon known as Damien. Does anyone else want to wash up? There are three more bathrooms on this floor.”
Moments later, the group took their seats at Michael’s beautiful antique dining room table. Gary served the meal while Michael and his brothers caught up on their business activities.
Afterward, Gary served her cake for dessert.
“Delicious,” Emma said. “You must give me your recipe.”
“Me, too,” Nicole said.
“So, you found a woman who can cook,” Rafe said.
“It’s news to me,” Michael said, meeting Bella’s gaze. “But I shouldn’t be surprised. She’s a multitalented woman.”
“She worked for a charitable organization overseas for a year, is a licensed esthetician, and—”
Embarrassed by the attention, Bella stood and interrupted. “Does anyone want anything else?”
“More cake,” Joel said, his face covered in chocolate.
Nicole laughed. “Maybe tomorrow. Bedtime, now.”
“Mom,” he protested.
“May I read him a bedtime story?” Emma asked.
“I’m sure he would love that,” Nicole said then glanced at Bella. “Would you like to join us?”
“Sure, thank you,” Bella said and watched as Nicole and Emma cuddled Joel. Emma read a story, then Bella read another before the boy fell asleep.
“Only a two-story night. He must have been tired from all the excitement,” Nicole whispered as they left the room.
“Between Damien and Rafe playing with him, I’m surprised he didn’t fall asleep during the meal,” Emma said.
“Joel was very well-behaved during dinner for being so tired,” Bella said. “Would the two of you like to go to the den or the keeping room?”
“Keeping room?” Emma echoed. “What’s that?”
“A cozy little room off the kitchen with a fireplace. I suspect the men have taken over the den and are watching a game,” Nicole said. “I vote for the keeping room. I noticed Damien really seemed to enjoy Joel. Rafe wondered if the two of you are getting interested in having a child of your own.”
“He used to say never, then he progressed to maybe. Lately he says later.” Emma smiled as Bella led the two women toward the kitchen. “I’m perfectly happy taking our time. I’m happier than I ever dreamed possible with Damien.” She turned to Bella and sank into an upholstered chair. “What about Michael? How does he feel about children?”
Bella blinked. “Children?” She shook her head. “I wouldn’t know. We haven’t discussed them, but I know he’s happy to be an uncle.”
Nicole nodded. “How is Michael doing, really?” she asked. “Rafe has been concerned about him.”
“So has Damien,” Emma said.
“Really,” Bella said, surprise racing through her. “His businesses are doing well and in terms of his health, he works out every morning.”
“Yes, but—” Nicole hesitated and sighed. “He’s really struggling with the investigation about Leo.”
Bella nodded, but she wasn’t sure what Nicole was talking about.
“Damien says the latest news from the private investigator really shook him up,” Emma said.
What news? Bella wanted to ask, but felt foolish for not knowing. “Michael is a strong man,” she said. “I can’t imagine anything defeating him.”
“I just hate that he continues to torture himself about this. I almost wonder if it would be easier if Leo were pronounced—”
“Don’t say that,” Nicole said. “Rafe suffers, too. And now knowing that Leo survived the train crash and could have been raised by an abusive man—” Nicole shuddered. “I pray every night that he will be found whole and healthy.”