The guys and I were piled into a large, black, SUV as Delgado drove us to the hospital so I could check on Nicola.
As happy as I was that we had found each other, it was still going to take some time to get used to.
“So what exactly happened when I didn’t come back from my meeting”, I asked the way too quiet car. Luka, Aidan, Colt, and Greyson all looked to be in various stages of deep thought and I was worried that they all felt similarly to how Colt did.
“When you didn’t check in with me by 5”, Delgado said from the front seat, “I tried to call your cell to make sure everything was alright. It went straight to voicemail, and I knew that Gio had finally made his move, so I put everything we had planned for into action and waited for your tracker to get activated”.
“You know I thought you were a creep when I first saw you”, Luka said. “Normally the tenants get alerted when a new concierge is hired, and you didn’t seem to fit that role”.
Delgado laughed from the front seat. “You’d be right about that. It’s too much smiling for me”. “Why did you tell us what was going on?“, Aidan asked suddenly. He had been staring at the window so intensely that I thought he wasn’t listening to the conversation.
“Emilia made me promise to alert you guys if she had been taken. Although I wish she would have told you all more about this so it wouldn’t have taken so long to convince you I was the real deal”, Delgado chastised.
Five pairs of annoyed expressions aimed at me, causing me to cringe in my seat. “I’m sorry. I should have handled it better, I thought that I was doing the right thing”. Another thought crossed my mind from Delgado’s earlier statement. “I didn’t instruct you to bring them with you though”, I said pointedly.
“That’s our fault”, Greyson said. “We wouldn’t let him leave without taking us with him to go get you back”.
My heart melted a little as an image of the four of them forcing an annoyed Delgado to bring them with formed in my mind.
The red neon lights of the emergency room sign filtered through the windows as Delgado pulled the car up to the curb. The four of us filed out of the backseat and started making our way to the sliding doors.
“Emilia”, Delgado called out. “Don’t forget our deal”.
I turned back to him with a rueful smile on my face. “How could I? You saved my ass tonight”.
“Stay out of trouble kid and keep me in the loop”, he laughed before rolling the window up and driving off. He came across as a hard-ass but overall, he was a good guy and I knew he wouldn’t call me in until I was ready.
“What’s he talking about?“, Colt asked as he walked at my side. The other three were fanned out around me, but I could tell they were waiting for my answer too.
It would have to wait.
“Excuse me”, I said to the receptionist. “We’re here to see Vera Bianchi. Do you know what room she’s in?“. I wasn’t sure if she would have been going by Nicola yet. I had made the right guess when the nurse raised her hand to gesture down a hallway to her right.
“She’s been asking if she’s had any visitors yet. Down that hall and take your first left, her room is number 136”. She smiled at us before returning to whatever she had been working on at her desk before I interrupted.
When we filed into the room, Nicola was laying on a bed with her eyes closed. I didn’t want to wake her up, but I also didn’t want to leave without letting her know we’d been there. I found a piece of paper and pen and decided to leave a note with her, telling her that I’d be back in the morning. I also left her with Delgado’s number in case she needed a way to get in touch with me.
“Come on”, I whispered. “Let’s let her rest and come back in the morning”.
The guys followed my lead as we left the room and made our way outside to go back home.
“Delgado and I made an agreement when I reached out to him again”, I said as we settled down on the couch.
When we had gotten back to the apartment, the normalcy of it all hit me like a ton of bricks. A few hours ago I had been tied up and beaten, but I was stepping into my apartment like I had done a hundred times before. I excused myself to take a shower and none of the guys objected.
I think they had known how close I was to finally freaking out. Now, we were all assembled back in the living room so I could explain to them the promise I made to Delgado.
“What kind of agreement?“, Luka inquired as he rested his forearms on his knees.
“Delgado was a part of the original team who helped me escape from the Moretti’s. He was the one who brought me in to speak to the diplomat, he testified at the trial, and he helped me get set up with a new name in a new city. Before we parted ways, he tried to convince me to train at the FBI academy. He said his team could use someone with my knowledge and skills. I turned him down at the time because I needed to get away from all of that”.
“When I started noticing signs that the Moretti’s had likely found me”, I continued, “I reached out to Delgado to ask if he could help me. He placed discreet security details on us, posed as the concierge for our building, and outfitted me with the tracking device I used tonight. About a month ago, he called me to let me know that Gio had escaped from prison and hadn’t been apprehended yet. I think we both knew that he was coming to find me again, so I asked him something that I wasn’t sure he could give. I asked him to let me kill Gio if he did make a move for me”.
“And he just agreed?“, Grey asked incredulously.
I laughed. “Nope. Not exactly. The rest of the Moretti’s were either in prison or lacked the power and resources to rebuild. Gio though... I knew he wouldn’t stop looking for me no matter how many times he got locked up. Delgado finally agreed to let me handle this my way if I promised to join his team from time to time and help them with field assignments. He said there was no way he could have gotten me out of trouble without procuring something for the FBI in exchange”.
“So that’s what the sneaking out was about? You were meeting Delgado?“, Luka asked me.
I gave him an apologetic nod and shifted in my seat.
“And the random phone calls”, Aiden said. “That’s who you were talking to”.
“That would be correct”, I confirmed.
The guys were quiet as they took in what I said, and I was reminded of the first time I sat in this room and opened up to them. They hadn’t let me down then and I knew they weren’t going to start now.
“Well I don’t know about you guys, but knowing that Lark is sort of a secret agent now is giving me a raging boner”, Luka joked as he broke the silence.
“Dude”, Grey admonished. “Read the room”.
Luka stood up and crossed the room to pull me into his lap. “I did the read the room. And what I’m seeing is five people who love each other and are safe and happy in our home. I think we can leave it at that for the night”.
He kissed me gently then, testing to see if I was up for it. When I raised my arms to wrap around his neck and deepen the kiss, I hoped he got the message loud and clear: I was okay.
I pulled away from Luka and stood up.
Everything that had happened over the last 24 hours seemed to flash across my mind in a macabre slideshow. I didn’t want to think about that though. I wanted to be here in this moment with the men I loved.
“Sleepover anyone?“, I asked. The puzzled looks on their faces made me smile.
“Baby we already live together. I think we’ve been having sleepovers for a while now”, Colt said. “Sleepovers are when everyone sleeps in the same room, not just under the same roof. Come on it’ll be fun!“, I pleaded.
Aidan surprised me when he stood up to brush a kiss against my lips. “Come on Colt”, he said as he started walking towards the stairs. “Let’s go get your mattress and put it down here so Lark can have her sleepover”.
Colt groaned as he got up to follow Aidan. “Why does it have to be my mattress? Do you know how much that thing weighs?”
“Exactly. Yours is the only one big enough to fit everyone on it”, Aidan laughed.
“How many pillows do you want?“, Greyson asked before he started to walk away. I caught his hand before he was out of my reach, pulling him in so I could kiss him. I felt him smile against me as I slid my tongue into his mouth. “All the pillows, you got it”, he said before squeezing my hand and taking off.
“Guess that just leaves you and me to scrounge up blankets”. Luka took my hand, and we made our way to the linen closet where the guys had a ton of extra blankets stored away.
When we came back to the living room, Colt and Aidan were trying to maneuver his giant mattress down the stairs. The sight of it made me laugh.
“You’re lucky we love you, Lark”, Aidan called down to me.
Yeah. I was.