I’m not handling this kidnapping and Mafia existence well.
In the hospital I might have accepted Maximus but once the shock wore off… let’s say I haven’t left my apartment or answered Maximus’s calls.
I mean, Maximus runs an actual mafia. I’m supposed to raise a child with a man who sells guns? Why would I want to be with someone whose enemies kidnapped me, beat me and would cut my child out!
That’s not a life, that’s a horror story.
Closing my eyes, I took slow breaths, my mind focused on the present where I’m laying in my bed with my hand on my stomach even though I don’t have a bump.
The mattress shook making me shoot up and scowl seeing Cody on the bed.
“What the hell you scared the shit out of me!” I said hitting his chest trying to get my heartbeat back to normal.
Good thing I’m wearing a turtleneck to hide my bruises.
Cody grinned. “Sorry momma.” I pushed him off the bed making him land with a thump. “Too soon, got it.”
Turning over I grab my comforter, placing it over me wanting to burrow deeper in my bed. “I need to take away your key. Go away.”
“You and I are getting lunch. But is Anthony and I the reason you are getting security for your apartment because that won’t keep us out.” He pulled the comforter off me making me glare at him.
Rolling out of bed, I continued to glare. “Let me mope and what security?”
He threw me my purse ignoring my request. “The one people are setting up outside your apartment. Come on.”
Is that Maximus’s doing?
I grabbed my jacket and headed out of my apartment. Even if I want to stay in bed all day I’m starving.
“Uh who are you?” I asked stopping when I closed my apartment door looking at three men with gadgets while Cody gave me an ‘I told you face’.
The three men bowed their heads making me take a step back. “Maximus sent us to install security systems. We will need access into the apartment.”
Sighing I didn’t even fight it and passed my keys when walking past them. There is too much on my mind right now that needs to be processed. I’ll deal with this on a later date.
Soon enough Cody and I were sitting outside at a cafe, an egg sandwich in front of me with a side of heavenly fries.
Taking a bite, I let a moan out doing a little dance making Cody laugh. “You are such a dork.”
Flipping him off I took another bite. “What are we doing here anyway?”
I’m not complaining though; this sandwich is amazing and I need the distraction before memories of the kidnapping resurface. Right now, I’m burying the incident, I know that’s unhealthy but I’m not ready to face it.
“I wanted your blessing.” Cody said nervously taking out a ring box, sliding it over to me.
My eyes widened snatching the box and opened it to see a titanium wedding band in there. “You’re asking him!”
Cory smiled. “Hope to.”
I nodded dancing in my chair. “I one hundred percent give you my blessing, you two are perfect for each other. Now take the ring back before I start to cry over it.”
“Well thank you, means a lot.” Cody ducked his head. “Not sure when I’ll do it.”
I shrugged. “You’ll know when the time is right.”
“Have you talked to your hot baby daddy?” Cody asked putting the ring box back in his pocket.
Sighing I reached into my bag taking out a ring box and placed it in front of me. Slowly I turned the box to him and opened it. In another circumstance watching Cody’s eyebrows rise to his hair line and his eyes jump out of their sockets would make me laugh.
But not today.
“Holy fuck.” He muttered.
“Haven’t spoken to him in a few days and he sent me this today.” I picked up a fry and nibbled on it. “I can’t accept it.”
Cody shook his head to recover from the shock of the large engagement ring and I turned it to me, the giant diamond sparkling in the sunlight. “You sure? That’s worth a house.”
“Look at it Cody! I mean how do you even wear it. The ring you got Anthony is perfect, it matches him. I don’t know Maximus and this ring proves he doesn’t know me.” I mumbled snapping the ring box closed to stop it mocking me. “And marriage? I don’t even know if I want to see him again let alone be his wife.”
Cody hummed in thought. “Get to know him.”
I spotted the SUV that no doubt holds my body guards, shaking my head I turn back to Cody. “No. His way of life, what he does for a living, I don’t even understand it or know if I ever could. I don’t want that life, I want safety.”
“And what life is that?” Cody tilted his head and I knew I put my foot in my mouth.
I shrugged. “International travel and business.”
Cody chuckled. “I don’t know the guy and yeah this ring isn’t you but have you considered he is freaking out? He hasn’t heard from you so he sends this giant ring to prove he is serious about you and the child. The ring also shows that he can provide for you.”
I rubbed my arms; the fear of dying came back making tears swell up in my eyes. I never want to feel helpless and alone ever again.
“Hey it’s okay to not know what to do, there is a processing time alright?” Cody reached over taking my hand making me laugh.
What’s the processing time for when your baby daddy is mafia?
Taking my hand back I wipe away my tears. “God why am I crying?”
Cody laughed. “Pregnancy hormones. I better be your child’s paediatrician.”
Rolling my eyes, I ate another fry. “I will never get rid of you guys, will I?”
“Nope. Now woman up. Call your baby daddy and find out if he is worth taking a chance on. Do it so Anthony can enjoy my proposal and not worry about you.”
“So, this is about you huh?” I asked chuckling at Cody simplifying my options, if he only knew what the past week had been, I wonder if his response would be the same. “Get to know him??”
Cody smiled. “I get it, he has mystery all over him so yeah there are reservations. But you don’t know him to make a choice yet, call him, get to know him personally then give yourself a deadline to make the choice by. Don’t worry about raising a child alone, you know Anthony and I are here to help.”
I excused myself from the table, bent to kiss his check and walked over to a tree for privacy. Leaning against the truck I took a sigh needing to woman up. Taking out my phone I dialled his number needing to do it now or I will chicken out.
“Stella.” Max’s way of saying my name felt as if I was given a blanket, a feeling of safety wrapping me even if it was over the phone.
Looking at a flower I jumped into the conversation. “I have conditions.”
“Yes conditions. First, I don’t know anything about the mafia world but if there is some bullshit where I have to follow specific gender roles where I can’t talk to men because it’s not my place or I can only do what you tell me in public then me and our child are gone. I don’t stand for that bullshit so if that’s the mafia then we will work visitation out.”
I let that hang in the air fearing for the worst. “Women are highly respected in my family and other mafia families we work with. I will respect and will never degrade you. You would be my equal and my family will do the same.”
Nodding my heart fluttered from his voice and his words comforted me. “Okay. Second condition. We try this, we try and see if we can be a real thing for our child. My parents didn’t, they drop me the second I was born and yeah things are drastically different for us but our child deserves us to try.”
“Third, no sex.” I wince at my own condition remembering what he feels like against me.
I ran my hand through my hair feeling my cheeks blush. “We need to focus, I need to focus and still process this and I can’t get confused on how I feel about you if…”
He let out a light chuckle, the sound making my heart flutter again. “Are you saying that you would fall in love with me based on my skills in the bedroom?”
Feeling the heat rushing to my cheeks I groan. “I’m saying that I want to focus on getting to know you. I don’t want anything misleading me if I enjoy your company, god that doesn’t make sense. I want to focus on you since I already know that part of you. Us having sex could complicating things and ah fuck I’m going to stop explaining.”
He softly chuckled, the sound of glasses clinking in the background. “I can agree to getting to know you outside your body, it won’t be easy.”
Smirking I played with a loose hair. “Well work on your self-restraint.”
He growled into the line. “Woman when it comes to you I’m always working on my self-restraint.”
Biting my lip, I nodded trying to picture him right now, mostly likely unbuttoning his blazer. “Four.”
“Four dates where you and I get to know each other and see if this is something that can work. I choose two, you choose two.” I finished with a deep breath, my heart beating rapidly thinking that four chances in his dangerous world is too much.
The seconds ticked by before he said anything, my feet began to pace nervously. “Just four?”
“It’s a start.” I whispered. “I just, I’m… I don’t know what to do here Max. What happened the other day, what you said could happen to me and our kid even before they are born. I need to take it slow. Four dates are what I can give.”
I took a breath looking up the tree and blinked the tears away, fuck these pregnancy hormones, I cannot be this emotional.
“I will do whatever you need me to and I’ll work on proving you can trust me. Please know that you can talk to me about what happened Stella.” He said softly, my lips quivering at the sincerity of his voice and the memories I still don’t want to deal with.
I shoved the emotions aside. “How about I choose first? You can stop at my place tomorrow, say five?” I asked touching a flower on the tree, focusing on the natural beauty to help ground me.
“I will be there. Any last conditions?”
I fought a shiver when Carnellio’s face flashed in my mind. “If I feel unsafe, I won’t give you another chance.”
Silence blared from across the line. “Words cannot express how much I regret you getting hurt because of me. I swear I will protect you. Might I ask what you think about the ring I sent you?”
I glance over to Cody who is not ashamed to be resting his head on his chin watching my conversation, my hand going up to flip him off. “How about we talk about that tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow then. Tell Cody I appreciate his push.”
Stuttering I look to the SUV. “Are you watching me?”
He chuckled. “No, your guards are, they called wondering about you having a lunch date with a man who slid you a ring box. One of them sat in the area to make sure it was either Anthony or Cody.”
I scowl at the SUV. “They thought I was whoring myself on the side, great, I got judging guards.”
“In order for them to do their job right, they must know everything. Good day Stella.”
“Oh! How’s Sebastian?” I rushed before he hung up, I kicked myself for not asking about the man who saved my life.
Maximus chuckled on the line. “He’s got a few gunshot wounds but don’t worry about him, he’s soaking up the attention.”
Hanging up the call I walked back and scanned for the body guards. My gaze stopped on someone who looked familiar and by their wink I got the confirmation of who he was.
“Well?” Cody asked once I sat back down.
I rolled my eyes. “He told me to thank you for pushing me.”
Cody laughed and I started eating again.
Giving Maximus a chance is a big risk. Ideas of what to do and how to get to know Maximus spun in my head for tomorrow.