Isabella grabs Mia’s hands and they bounce together, Mia bobbing her head like a goofball. Lily tugs on Isabella until she faces her again, and then Mia’s on her own and she glances at me for direction.

“Disco!” I call out.

Mia laughs, but then she does a mocking little disco dance.

“No, dance with us,” Lily says, realizing they’ve lost her attention to me.

She goes back to just jumping around with them while she sings along, since we all know Shake it Off.

I need to pee. I wonder if I could slip out without them noticing for a minute. I hate to interrupt the dance party, but pregnancy bladder is no joke.

I glance back at the doorway, and I’m a little startled to see Mateo standing there. He’s leaning against the door frame, arms crossed, watching the dance party. There’s a rare look of unguarded affection on his face, one that quickens my heart and goes right to my gut. Because he doesn’t see me. He sees Mia. The look is for Mia.

He does love Mia.

It’s not like this is a shocking revelation. He told me that himself. But it feels awkward to see it so plainly on his face. Maybe just because I’m left out—again.

Now he notices me. At least he doesn’t dim, like I half-expect him to. He shares the tender look with me, lets me into the moment, and my heart opens up like a flower basking in the sunshine.

This is what I thought it would be like. This. Him happy. Us happy. Everyone happy.

Mia hasn’t seen him yet though, and that’s the only reason this moment is remaining happy. He understands this, too, so he backs out of the room.

“Mia, can you stay here with the girls a minute?” I ask. “Pregnancy bladder.”

Mia is still jumping along to the song, but she spares me a nod. I put the phone down on the chair so they don’t lose their soundtrack, then I slip outside the room with Mateo.

“Hey, you,” I say, winding my arms around his neck.

“I see you girls are having fun,” he says, wrapping his arms around my waist and tugging me closer. The bump is a little in the way, keeping us from molding to each other the way I want to, but he put the bump there, so I guess I can’t complain.

“So much fun. We should take the girls to actual Paris one of these days. Isabella’s a little shopper already, she’d definitely cost you some money.”

“I can’t wait until she’s a teenager,” he says dryly.

“Family Paris vacation. Just throwing it out there.”

“Sounds hectic,” he remarks. “Two little ones in Paris?”

“Um, I think you mean it sounds awesome,” I correct him, raising an eyebrow.

Whether or not he agrees, he shrugs. “Maybe when Mia’s not mad at me anymore. I’m sure Mia and Isabella together in Paris would put a dent in even my bank account.”

I grin up at him. “Our little shoppers.”

He gives me the kind of smile that feels like a direct reward, but I’ll take it. I haven’t decided if I like the way he’s trying to train me, but I guess I’ll let him get away with it. I can’t be trained. I don’t have to tell him that. It’s cute how he tries.

“What?” he asks, since I’m smiling a little mischievously.

I shake my head. “Just you.”

“What about me?”

“I just love you.”

Dropping a kiss on my lips, he assures me, “I love you, too.”

“You know what I think we should do?” I ask, my heart kicking up a couple speeds, but I keep my face light and breezy.

“What do you think we should do?” he asks.

“Quickie. You. Me. Some kind of surface somewhere. A wall. A chair. A sink. I’m not picky.”

He laughs, glancing around the hall. “A quickie, huh?”

I nod once, then drop a few kisses along his neck to further my cause.

I know he can’t tell his answer is going to make or ruin my day. If he turns me down again, it’s going to sink me. I won’t let him know, because fuck that, but it will. I almost expect it at this point, though.

But Mr. Unpredictable laces his fingers through mine and tugs me down the hall. “Let’s find a room.”

I feel like I could fly.

I haven’t lost him.

He still wants me.

Everything is going to be okay.

Chapter Twenty One


Another week passes.

Mateo still comes to my bed every night. Until Friday. Friday he doesn’t come.

And of course I notice. That’s not surprising.

But I miss him. That is.

I’m used to him already. I’m used to falling asleep in his arms, whether I want them there or not. Most nights he fucks me, and I try to convince us both I don’t want him to. A couple nights he just holds me. We don’t fight again like we did, but I sort of want to dig back into that. I want to know exactly how much work went into getting me here. I want to know how I’m his masterpiece. I want answers that maybe he’ll never give me, and that frankly I shouldn’t ask for, because that will only make him think I care.