“Ava, can we talk to you please.” Maceo asked as soon as me and Zade stepped through the door.
“Of course.” I nodded, making my way over to Chris and pulled him into a quick hug since I haven’t seen him in a while.
I followed behind them towards Maceo’s office. I caught the reflection of myself as we passed a mirror, I looked exactly how I felt, tired and a plain mess. My hair in all directions and heavy eye bags under my eyes but I didn’t care. Expectations of a girl or young woman are way too high, looking picture perfect isn’t in my books right now.
I sat and waited for one of them to say something.
“I know it’s wrong of me to ask because this isn’t your responsibility but I trust no one other than you to take care of her.” Maceo started off as he hung his head.
“Just get to it.” Carter cut in before Maceo could continue.
Maceo and Chris flinched at Carter's harsh tone.
“Don’t push your luck.” I gave Carter a look of disapproval.
“Sorry, irmãzinha.” He muttered before sinking back into his seat.
“Will you take care of Beau while I handle things with Zaden? I know it’s a lot, and I honestly tried to think of other ways but came back with nothing.” He pleaded.
“Can’t you leave her here with Judy and Nadia?” Chris asked.
“Beau’s attached to Ava and Zade, they’re the only two who can settle Beau other than myself.” Maceo shook his head. “I can’t take Beau with me, it’s too dangerous.”
“Judy will come with you and help you. You won’t even need to do anything really.” Maceo ran his fingers through his hair.
“Can we call Judy in here? I just want to ask her a question.” I asked and Maceo nodded, picking the phone up.
Seconds later Judy popped her head through the door. “Yes?”
“Can you come in please, I just have a question.” I smiled, gesturing to the free space next to me.
“Of course hun.” She nodded, sitting down next to me.
“They’ve talked to you about coming with me and Beau?”
“Yes.” She nodded.
“I know you have a husband and a son, do you genuinely want to come or would you prefer to stay here?” I asked.
“I’d prefer to stay but it’s my job to help with Beau so I have no choice.” She smiled half-heartedly.
“You’re staying, I’ll be fine with Beau on my own.” I gave her hand a reassuring squeeze.
“Ava, we can’t put the burden of taking care of Beau on you full-time.” Maceo shook his head.
“Beau isn’t a burden. We’ll be fine. As long as you come and see her regularly than me and you won’t have a problem.” I said sternly.
“Are you sure about this Ava, it’s a big responsibility.” Maceo searched my eyes for any doubt.
“I’m more then sure, Beau is a good kid, we’ll be fine.” I gave him reassurance.
“You can leave now.” Carter pointed at the door for Judy.
“Of course.” She stuttered.
“Thanks Judy.” I called out before she left.
“Can you wipe a record clean?” I asked Carter.
“Have you spoken to him yet?” He asked, flicking his hand, dismissing Maceo and Chris.
“No but I’m about to ring him, can you wiped his record clean and maybe change his last name, I just don’t want him dragged into this.” I pleaded.
Carter knew exactly who I was talking about.
“Of course irmãzinha.” He pulled me into a tight embrace.
It was a brief explanation but Carter knew exactly what I meant and who I meant. Grayson no longer would have any association with me or my parents on the records.
“Let me handle it and go ring him, he needs to know everything.” He let me go and pushed me towards the door.
Blowing Zade a kiss as I left the room, I caught the sparkle in his eyes before I disappeared out of sight.
“Mummy are we going on a holiday?” Beau jumped at my legs.
“We are.” I scooped her up and handed her back to Judy who was currently chasing her around the family room.
“Let’s go play outside Beau.” Judy laughed, walking out of the set of floor to ceiling doors.
I rushed to mine and Zade’s room, grabbing my phone, I dialed my brother's number and waited for him to answer.
“Hi, Av.” His voice filled my ear.
The sound of his happy voice tugged at my heart.
“Hi, Gray.” My tears fell, I’d give anything to hug my brother right now.
“Don’t cry big sis, you’re okay. Tell me what’s wrong Avy.” He used the silly name our parents called me when I cried about something.
I laughed at the memories and blew my nose loudly.
“Yuck Av.” He joked.
“I miss you.” I half cried and half laughed.
“I miss you too, now tell me what’s wrong Avy.”
I told him everything, from start to finish. He stayed quiet until I got to the part of us having a half-brother.
“What the fuck!” He yelled.
“I know.” I blew out a breath I didn’t know I was holding.
“So our families are three big Mafias, we have a half-brother named Carter, your boyfriend is the long lost Salvatore Don, whatever the fuck that means. You have to moved to Brazil with Carter because they dragged you into this bullshit and you have to leave me.” His voice cracked at the last statement.
“Grayson, don’t.” I shook my head even though he couldn’t see me.
If he broke then I would, I can’t break, not now.
“I don’t know how you’re doing it big sis.” He took a shaky breath.
“Me neither Gray.” I sniffled.
“Come on Avy, you’re okay.” He tried reassuring the both of us.
“Grayson do you want to come?”
“You know how much I want this, I know it’s selfish and I do want to be there for you Av.”
“Don’t beat yourself up. To be completely honest, I couldn’t be happier. It keeps you out of all this.” I sighed, relief flooded me.
“Shows how much of a brother I am.” His voice broke.
“You’re the best brother I could ever ask for, don’t stress over this and focus on school, I’m so proud of you Grayson.” I smiled into the phone.
“You say that a lot big sis.” He chuckled.
“And I mean it, 16 and have floored every other kid in Colton. Who’s made it to the elite team this fast? Only Grayson Vice.” I grinned.
“Do you want me to get you a manager?” I joked.
“Very funny Av.” He laughed along with me.
Letting him know I’ll ring him once I sort things out properly. I said a goodbye and hung up. If Grayson choose to come with me, I’d respect his decision but it wouldn’t mean I’d like it. Talking to him about everything felt like a weight on my shoulders was lifted. He probably doesn’t know the full extent of what Mafias do or how they run on power, money and illegal things. And I’d like to keep it that way.
I showered and stood under the water for what felt like hours. Slipping on a plain maroon long-sleeve top and black jeans, I let my hair out and slipped on a pair of black socks before heading out of Zade’s room. Messiah was stationed at the door and followed me down to the family room.
"Rei and Zaden are still in the office discussing some things.” Messiah informed me.
“Okay, when are we leaving?” I asked as Beau came waddling towards me.
“In a couple of hours, you should start packing for the both of you Ms. Vice” He nodded down at Beau.
“I should.” I agreed, picking Beau up off the floor.
“Tired beautiful?” I chuckled at her drooping eyes.
“Yes, I was looking for you.” She yawned, wrapping her hands in my hair.
“I’m here now, go to sleep.” I sat down with her in my arms.
“Hey.” Nadia sat next to me, resting her head on my shoulder. “How are you holding up?”
“I’m fine.” I huffed softly. “How are you holding up? Did you handle everything with him?”
“Yeah, he’s happy now but I can tell he’s still in shock which is normal, right?” She seemed unsure.
“It’s normal for him to be in shock yes, you two will be fine Nadia.” I assured her.
“We haven’t told the rest yet, I mean how do you with all this going on?” She waved her hand around.
“You’re right, how do you? Good luck.” I winked.
“Not helping.” She scowled playfully.
I chuckled, lying Beau down on the couch.
“Come help me pack.” I helped her off the couch.
We had the boys bring up suitcases for mine and Beau’s things, first, we started on Beau’s room. We packed everything we thought Beau might need from summer to winter clothes, boots to sandals, her little jewelry boxes filled with jewelry you only wished to have, her favorite stuffed bears and her favorite blanket, we pulled some photos from her walls of her and Maceo, Zade, Nadia and the rest.
Once we were done, three suitcases were filled with Beau’s things. We headed into my room to start on it, my things were easy and fast, Nadia cleared out my bathroom and filled a suitcase with my makeup, hair products, and my photo frames. I worked on my closet and threw everything into the suitcases messily.
“It’s going to be different without you and Beau here.” She sniffled, pulling me into a tight embrace.
“The amount of crying we’ve both done these last couple of days is unbelievable.” I chuckled, responding to her hug.
“Were such girls.” She laughed.
“We’ll take your bags Ms. Vice.” Felik and Zion zipped them and hurled them down the stairs.
“I wrote you this letter, you can’t open it until you get to Brazil though.” She handed me a pristine white envelope with Ava Catia Vice written on the front.
“Why can’t I open it now?” I raised a questioning brow.
“Because I said so.” She sassed, bumping her shoulder with mine.
“Okay, thank you.” I gave her a side hug.
Entering the family room, Carter and Zade finally came out of the office.
“I’ll be back in a little and then we’ll leave for the airport irmãzinha.” Carter announced.
“Okay.” I replied sadly and responded to his hug.
“Is this house wrapped up?” Carter asked Messiah.
“Of course Rei.” Messiah bowed.
“Get our men off this property, I’ll be back in an hour or so.” Carter demanded and left out of the front doors.
“Hey.” Zade wrapped his arms around me.
“You and Carter get along well.” I smiled up at him.
“Hardly.” He laughed, pulling at my jeans pocket.
“Let’s go back to our room.” He threw me over his shoulder.
“Zaden!” I wrapped my arms around his broad build.
He shut the door behind us and flicked the lock before taking long strides into his walk-in.
“The closet? Really?” I teased.
“You’re right, bathroom it is.” He ran his hand up and between my legs teasingly.
“Was it necessary to rip my underwear and bra Zaden?” I scowled, searching his draws for a new pair.
“Sure it was, I can’t get enough of you.” He bit at my ear, wrapping his sheets around my naked body.
“Right back at you mister.” I tugged on the underwear and bra I finally found.
“I’m going to miss you.” He spun me around to face him.
“Not as much as I’m going to miss you.” I snaked my arms around his neck.
“Ms. Vice we’re leaving.” Messiah’s voice called out through the door after knocking.
We quickly dressed and straightened ourselves up. Running my fingers through Zade’s hair before we opened the door, we walked out casually and acted like we didn’t just have goodbye sex in his bathroom.
“Yay mummy, we’re going on a trip.” Beau giggled, running over to me and Zade.
“Are you excited?” Zade scooped her up.
“Yes, Zaee.” She laughed, clapping her little hands.
My heart broke at her excitement, if only she knew the real reasons, the reasons I’ll probably have to explain once she starts asking questions after she finally realizes that she won’t be seeing Zade or Nadia and the rest for a while.
“Ready irmãzinha?” Carter smiled sadly.
“Yeah.” I zipped up my knee high boots and tied Beau’s little vans up while she sat in Zade’s arms still.
“Put this on please, it’s a little chilly outside.” I held out a knitted sweater to Beau.
We all made our way out of the house, and out to the waiting cars. No one said anything or made a move to say goodbye.
“Bye everybody.” Beau waved.
Everyone broke out into laughs and said their goodbyes to her, I made my rounds, starting off with Kenna.
“Take care of yourself.” I told her, pulling her into a warm hug.
“You too.” She pulled me in tighter.
I gave the rest of the guys a hug and gave Silas a few words to take care of Nadia.
“I will, that’s a promise.” He smiled, kissing my cheek and pushing me over to his weeping girlfriend.
“It’s okay Nards, we’ll see you soon.” I smiled. “Keep me posted.” I winked, pulling her into a tight hug, she clung to me like her life depended on it.
“I will, expect a video call from me and the boys everyday.” She laughed through her tears.
“I’ll hold you to it.” I hugged her one last time.
“Don’t be a stranger.” I hugged Chris.
“Me? Christopher? No way.” He laughed, wrapping his arms around me.
“I’m sure me and Maceo will see you soon.” He nodded towards Beau and him.
Maceo pulled me into a hug with him and Beau. “Thank you, for everything Ava. You complete our family.” He cried into the top of my head.
“Don’t cry, you’ll make me cry.” I rubbed at my eyes.
He laughed and straightened himself up before giving me a final hug.
I rushed into Zade’s waiting arms and cried into his chest.
“I thought you said you weren’t going to cry.” He tightened his arms around me.
“I lied.” I laughed into his neck.
“I don’t like it princess.” He murmured, wiping my tears away. “I got you something.”
“You didn’t have to get me anything.” I shook my head.
“Yes, I did.” He pecked my lips and held out a red little box to me. “It was for your birthday but I’ll give it to you now.”
I stared at his hand and tried to figure out what it was.
“You can’t know what it is if you just stare at it Av.” He laughed, handing it to me.
“I can try.” I joked, pulling at the little ribbon and taking the lid off.
Written in his neat handwriting a little note sat on top of the tissue paper.
I read and placed the little note into the lid for safe keeping. Pulling the tissue paper aside, there sat a ring. The details were familiar, two roses twirled around a princess cut diamond, the roses almost looked identical to the ones tattooed on my hip. The silver ring showed every delicate detail of the pedals and vines that wrapped the diamond.
“Zaden, it’s too much.” I sniffled, staring at the small ring in awe.
“Nothing's too much for you Ava Catia Vice.” He kissed the side of my head. “It’s a promise ring.”
He pulled the ring out of the box and slipped it onto my ring finger. It fit perfectly.
“What’s your promise?” I blushed, wrapping my arms around his neck.
“It’s inside the ring, I got it engraved.” He smiled into the top of my head.
About to pull away so I could read the promise, he stopped me and kept my arms in place.
“Ah ah ah.” He chuckled, holding me flush against him. “You’ll have all the time in the world to look at it.”
“Let’s get going irmãzinha.” Carter called out.
“Thank you for my present, I love it Zaden.” I clung to him and breathed in his masculine scent.
“Happy Birthday, I love you princess.” He whispered into my ear.
“I love you more.” I kissed his lips.
“Bye mi amor.” He wiped my tears and let me go.
I walked to the SUV that Beau was already buckled in and slipped in next to her.
Messiah closed the door softly after I was settled in. I sniffled and spotted the small ring on Beau’s finger.
“Look mummy Zaee gave me a pretty.” She showed me her finger.
“It’s very pretty, can I see please?” I smiled through my teary eyes.
“Otayy mummy.” She nodded handing over her hand.
I pulled off the little silver ring and studied it. Engraved in the inside was a small promise.
‘To Be flower girl -Zaden’
What does that even mean? I thought, slipping her ring back onto her ring finger.
The car started moving and I finally built the courage to read my own promise. Slipping my ring off my finger, I flipped the ring and read the little cursive writing inside of the band.
‘One day I’ll make this ring official, Love always -Zaden’