Now I felt like shit. My brother had done so much for me, and I wasn’t showing my gratitude. I had an enormous secret to carry, but I obviously wasn’t doing a good job pretending everything was normal. “Case, I’m sorry. It’s just…” I spun my pasta around without any intention of taking a bite. I wasn’t ready to share this information, but keeping it a secret would just make it worse. “There’s something I need to tell you.”

He looked up from his food, all of his anger gone as he sensed the pain in my voice. He set down his fork and gave me his full attention, staring at me with the same green eyes I possessed. When he was focused, he looked just as intense as Balto. They shared the same kind of silent aggression.

“I’m struggling to deal with it, and I’m scared. I was going to keep it a secret as long as I could, but it’s not the kind of secret I can keep forever.”

“Alright…you’re scaring me.”

I exhaled the breath I was holding. “I’m pregnant.”

The only reaction he gave was with his eyes. They widened slightly in surprise, but the reaction only lasted seconds before they returned to normal once more. He didn’t take a single breath, frozen into place by what I’d said.

“I’m two and a half months along. I’ll start to show pretty soon.”

He slowly leaned back against the wooden chair, the furniture slightly creaking under his shift of weight. His arm rested on the table, and he stared with that empty expression, like he had no idea what to say about the revelation.

I didn’t blame him. “It was unplanned, obviously. Now I don’t know what to do.”

“You don’t know if you want to keep it or not?” He cocked his head slightly, still reserved in light of the news.

That wasn’t what I meant at all. The thought had never crossed my mind. Even if the baby’s father was a crime lord who wanted nothing to do with us, we were in this together. We were already a family. The pregnancy was unplanned and stressful, but I wouldn’t change anything. I could handle it on my own…once I finally calmed down. “Of course, I want to keep it.”

“Even though Balto is the father?”

Especially because he was the father. I loved that man, so obviously I would love his son or daughter. “Yes.”

He leaned forward and crossed his arms on the table. “I don’t know what to say, sorella. That was the last thing I expected you to say. Based on your figure, I had no idea.”

“Give it a few more weeks, and my figure will be gone…”

“How do you feel about it?”

“I…I’m not sure. It’s overwhelming, to say the least. I had no idea I was pregnant. It wasn’t until you got me those tampons that I realized I hadn’t had a period in a while. Everything has been so hectic lately, it just slipped my mind.”

He nodded slightly. “How do you think he’ll react?”

I stared at Case blankly, surprised he even asked the question. “I’m not sure if I’m going to tell him.”

My brother stared at me in restrained surprise, one eyebrow arched while his hand reached for his wine. He pulled the glass toward him but didn’t take a drink. “Why wouldn’t you?”

“He was pretty straightforward when he said he didn’t want a wife and kids. He made it abundantly clear that he preferred to spend his life as the Skull King, not as my man. He doesn’t want this baby, and the last thing I need is to hear him say it.” I already expected his dismissal, but if I had to watch it or listen to it, it would be a million times more painful. He’d tossed me aside and broke my heart. Being subjected to that again would be torture.

“Even if that’s his reaction, this is his kid. He has the right to know.”

“Even if—”

“It’s his decision to make. Let him make it.” He took a drink of his wine and licked his lips. “I’m not looking to be a father either, but I would want to know if I knocked up some woman. I’d want to know that my son or daughter was out there.”

“Because you would be a father to them. Balto has no interest in that.”

He shrugged. “Maybe he’ll feel differently when he knows you’re pregnant.”

He’d already told me he couldn’t have children because it would be too dangerous. If he wanted to be part of our baby’s life, he would have to leave the Skull Kings. Since that was the last thing he wanted, he would just resent me—and our child. I wanted that man more than anything, but I didn’t want him here just because I was having a baby.

“Cassini.”

My eyes met his.

“You have to tell him—for better or worse.”


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