“I didn’t think about it. But you made me. You made me see it. And this wasn’t some random person, it was Vince. He was important to me and he was your cousin. Your family. That’s supposed to mean something. You want everyone to have unwavering loyalty to you, Mateo, but you don’t give any back. Not a drop.”

Now he looks a little like he does want to kill me. “Do you have any idea how much work I had to put into getting you back here? How much I risked? I’ve done everything in my considerable power to keep your meaningful relationships intact, to make this as painless as possible for you. The only person I couldn’t work around was Vince, and that’s because he’s so fucking difficult! I tried. I would’ve let you keep him around, but he was too goddamn stubborn. Too possessive. Too unbending. I kept everything else in your life the way you wanted it—everything but the loose cannon. You’re my fucking masterpiece, and you want to punish me.”

That’s a super weird thing to say.

That knocks me down a few pegs. I sit back on my legs, frowning at him.

“I have risked everything for you,” he states. “Everything. And I’m sure I’ll do it again, before all is said and done. Now, tell me again how I have no loyalty to anyone, Mia. I fucking dare you.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I say quietly.

“I know you don’t,” he says, apparently annoyed by it. He rolls his eyes, shaking his head at me. It’s one of those occasional instances where I realize how much smarter he is than me, how far out of my league he is on every level, and it makes me a tad uncomfortable.

Climbing off the bed, he begins to undress. It’s not where he usually undresses, so his chair isn’t over here, but he’s off-kilter anyway from our fight.

“You have class in the morning. Let’s just go to bed.”

I don’t even argue this time. He’s confused me, thrown things at me that I don’t understand. Even though I meant everything I said tonight, after I turn out the lights and climb over to my side of the bed, I wait to see if he still wants to hold me. He obviously doesn’t appreciate being lectured, maybe especially by me, and I’ve clearly aggravated him this evening because he never yells at me.

But he still pulls me into his arms. He still snuggles me, dropping a brief kiss to the nape of my neck before settling in.

Maybe he’s settled, but I’m not. As he holds me tonight, I feel decidedly unsettled.

And the most unsettling thought of all is that I may never know what the hell he’s talking about, because he’ll probably never tell me.

Chapter Twenty

Meg

“You can be a ballet princess.”

I watch from my post on the folding chair as the girls prepare for a fashion show. Ju is taking a much-deserved break while Mia plays with us today. She’s already been on the tour de Paris; the girls took her shopping (I was the cashier) and dragged her into the townhouse. She’s a little too tall for it, but she’s not pregnant, so she can crawl and twist herself to fit into tiny person spaces.

Now she’s part of the fashion show. The first run through, the girls were the fashion girls and we were the audience. Then Isabella decided Mia had to be a model because she’s so pretty, and since she doesn’t have a little Morelli making her waist disappear, Isabella’s little pastel tutu stretches enough to accommodate Mia’s tiny waist. Isabella slaps a pair of purple rhinestone encrusted sunglasses on her, and boom, she’s a ballet princess. She looks ridiculous, but it doesn’t matter.

“All right, should I hit the tunes?” I ask, my phone at the ready with their Taylor Swift song of choice.

“Yeah!” Isabella and Lily say, almost in unison.

Lily is physically possessed and has to jump around like a lunatic once Swifty’s voice blasts out of my phone, but Isabella stays focused, prowling down the catwalk. Mia has no idea what she’s supposed to do, so she just bounces a little with an absurdly exaggerated duck face and waits for Isabella to tell her what to do.

“Lily, come on, it’s your turn,” Isabella commands, once she gets to the end near me.

Lily comes bouncing down the walk now. Her version of dancing is mostly jumping and flailing her arms, so she does that down the catwalk and we call it a success.

“Your turn!” Isabella says, signaling Mia.

“Sure,” Mia says, prancing down the catwalk with her hands on her hips, sashaying dramatically. Then she gets to the end, where Lily is still bouncing along to the song, and Isabella can’t resist the Swifty either, so it turns into a dance party. I don’t join in, since I’m not all about jumping in my second trimester, but I grin and bounce my foot along to the music in solidarity.

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