“You do?” he blurted. “I didn’t realize you were seeing people.”
“Well, this is my first date. He’s a friend of my brother’s. We’ve known each other for a few years.”
“I’m sorry, Heath. I loved Balto with my whole heart. I told him even when he didn’t say it back. I risked my life to save his because I couldn’t live without him. I can’t count the number of times I asked him to reconsider. Then I went to his house with my heart on my sleeve, and he stabbed me in the gut. It’s time for me to move on.”
“And don’t expect me to feel bad for him. This is happening because of him, and whatever pain he feels, I feel it a million times worse.”
“Nervous?” Case drove me to the restaurant even though it was walking distance. We left the pasta factory and drove through the narrow streets.
I wore a pink sundress with a jean jacket, my long hair curled and down my shoulders. It was obvious I was pregnant, but my jacket hid most of my belly from view. I wore nude pumps, ready to enjoy the warm springtime. “A little. I can’t remember the last time I went on a date…like a normal date.” Having dinner with Balto that one time didn’t exactly qualify because of the shootout.
“Alessandro knows this is your first date in a long time, so he’ll keep it light. I laid out my ground rules.”
“What kind of ground rules?”
“I told him not to kiss you or try to sleep with you. Only a handshake is permitted.”
I rolled my eyes. “If I don’t want to kiss him or sleep with him, I can just tell him that myself.”
He pulled up to the curb in front of the restaurant. “Or I can do the dirty work for you. Now, have fun.”
I got out of the car and approached the patio where the tables were. A short white wall surrounded the area, allowing a view from the street. I spotted him sitting there, wearing a collared shirt and dark jeans. He had dark hair, a thick shadow across his jawline, and he had deep brown eyes that resembled espresso. He was lean and fit and obviously handsome. It surprised me that he would date a pregnant woman when he could have anyone he wanted. “Hey, Alessandro.”
He smiled when he saw me and rose to his feet. “You look beautiful.” Just as he promised my brother, he greeted me with an awkward handshake. “I would hug you, but Case said that was out of bounds. I hope a boring and stiff handshake is good enough.”
I chuckled. “It’s a little excessive, but since he’s probably watching us, let’s just go with it.”
He smiled then pulled out my chair for me.
It was a gentlemanly move I hadn’t expected since I’d never been with a gentleman. Evan, Lucian, and Balto never did those things.
He sat across from me, still smiling. “Pregnancy definitely suits you. You know that glow everyone always talks about? You have it.”
“Aw, thank you.” I smiled and grabbed my menu. “Other than the morning sickness and back pain, it’s been pretty wonderful.”
“How far along are you?”
“Five months now…approaching six.”
“So, the baby will be here soon. Are you ready?”
I chuckled. “I don’t think any first-time parent is ready. And I’m definitely not ready for labor. I wish they could just put me under and then take the baby out.”
He chuckled. “You and every other woman in the world.”
“So, enough about me. What’s new with you?” It was surprising that Alessandro didn’t care about my pregnancy, but it was even more surprising that he wanted to hear about it. I thought it would be smart to change the subject.
“Work is the same,” he said. “I still live here in town. The most interesting thing going on in my life is Case telling me that you’re available. I’ve had a thing for you since…” He shook his head slightly. “Since I laid eyes on you. So I’m really happy to be here, to sit across from you and see that you’re still just as beautiful as I remember.”
Speechless, I just stared at him, surprised that a man could be so affectionate and sweet. He wanted me so much that he didn’t care I was knocked up by someone else. He didn’t care about my crazy story. Nothing seemed to matter at all. Meanwhile, the man I loved was too stubborn that we’d spent the last three months apart. I was pregnant with his baby and alone, and if he dropped his bullshit, he would actually see that.
And if he didn’t drop his bullshit soon, he would be too late.
He might already be too late.
I finished my workout and showered. I’d laid off on the liquor for the last few days because I was starting to feel sick, sick enough that I couldn’t perform if something really serious happened to the Skull Kings. I felt better after the detox, but I also felt lost without booze.