“I think you’re wrong, Allen. I think Jessie is your miracle. You just need to give her a chance.”
“You’re right, Ana. She is my miracle. She pushed my memories away and it was great, even if it was for only one night. But Jessie… She deserves a man at her side she can be proud of. She deserves better than an ex-addict with memories that still manage to leave him lying in his own sweat and filled with disgust in the middle of the night. She deserves only good and happiness in this world. The last thing she needs is me. So let it drop, will you?”
“Stubborn. You always were such a stubborn man, Allen.” I give her a half smile and she kisses my cheek. “I love you, brother,” she whispers in my ear.
“Love you too, sis.”
“In case you didn’t know, Allen, I’m proud you’re my brother,” she says and for a minute I feel like I’ve been sucker punched. There’s no way I can respond; it hurts too much to even breathe.
She pulls away and squeezes my hand before going into Roman’s office. I close my eyes against the pain and the memories she’s unearthed. I beat them back down. That’s what I do.
That’s how I survive.
“Roman, we need to talk,” I announce when I get inside his office.
“Nice to see you too, Pet,” he says, standing up.
I sigh and then walk into his arms, hugging him. “It’s always nice to see you, Roman. You know that. I’m just upset.”
Roman—being Roman—takes me into his arms and pulls me down with him as he sits in his chair. He kicks out from the desk enough that we have room, and then settles me in his lap. I lean against him, still hurting from my conversation with Allen.
“I knew this was coming,” he says.
“Ana, of course I did. We’ve been together for a while now, Pet. I don’t want to brag, but I think I know you pretty well these days.”
“I never could pull the wool over your eyes,” I tell him, reaching up to smooth the wrinkle on his brow.
“Except for that time you were trying to destroy my empire,” he jokes and even after all this time I blush.
“That wasn’t exactly what I was doing,” I grumble.
“No, you were too busy becoming my empire,” he murmurs so sweetly while kissing the side of my face. His fingers push through my hair and I close my eyes at how good this feels.
Allen was right; Roman is my miracle. He saved me, found me when I didn’t even know I was lost. I want that same miracle for Allen. I have a sneaking suspicion that Jessie can give my brother that.
“I love you, Roman.”
“I know, Ana, and I love you, more every damn day.”
“Me too.” I grin and reach up to kiss him.
“So, you want to go back to St. Augustine,” he says, proving that he did indeed know what was coming.
“Pet, I know you love Allen, but this is something he has to work through.”
“Allen won’t, Roman. He’s recovered a lot over the years, but inside he’s still that same lost kid you found who doesn’t think he deserves any good in his life. He feels…”
“I get it, Pet, I do. But you need to let him work it out with that girl. You can’t fix everything. Relationships are complicated. It needs to be the two of them that work this out.”
“Are you forgetting how I was delivered on your doorstep?”
“Or in what shape you were in?”
“Damn it, Ana,” he growls, because he knows I have him. He remembers—we both do.
“Or that Allen was one of the men who helped us work things out?”
“I can’t get away from business for at least a couple more days, Pet,” he says resignedly.
“Send Bruno with me.”
“You know I don’t like you going anywhere without me, Ana.”
“It’s only a five-hour drive, Roman. If I leave now I’ll be back late tonight. I can have Maria watch Rome,” I tell him, trying to soothe him.
“It’s a ten-hour drive if you count coming back to me.”
“Exactly, but I can leave in the morning and like I said, I’ll be back before you even get in bed, my love.”
“Damn straight you will. I told you once long ago, I’m not sleeping in a bed without you. I can’t.”
“I’ll hurry, I promise.”
“You go straight to the shop, and you come straight home. Understand?”
“No shopping?” I grin, knowing I’m pushing it.
“You can shop with me, or in Miami when you’re not hours away from me—hours that I can’t get to you if you need me.”
“I’ll come straight home, worrywart,” I laugh.
“Good,” he answers, clearly not happy. He picks up the phone and I turn to look at him.
“What are you doing?”
“Calling Bruno,” he growls and I smile. My man is overprotective but I wouldn’t have him any other way. I squeeze him to me and close my eyes, drinking in the smell of his aftershave.