“You know how I feel. I’m standing in front of you telling you I will raise this kid with you—”
“I don’t need your help. I don’t need your protection or your money. I need the man I love to love me back. That’s all, Balto. That’s all I’ve ever wanted from you.”
He bowed his head slightly, sighing to himself.
“You really hurt me. The day you dumped me—”
“I didn’t dump you,” he hissed.
“Whatever. That’s how it felt. I said I loved you with my whole heart, and you pushed me away. You cut me with a knife and let me bleed everywhere. Then I came to your place to tell you I was pregnant and scared, and you wouldn’t let me say a fucking word because you were too busy telling me that you didn’t want me, that you wanted me out of your sight for good.”
He rubbed the back of his neck. “I shouldn’t have—”
“And now it’s two months later, and the only reason you showed your face is because I was dating some other guy. You have no problem breaking my heart, but once some other guy shows interest, you act like I’m yours—and you’ve made it very clear you aren’t mine. Fuck you, Balto.”
His eyes shifted with the insult.
“You have no idea how difficult that first month was. I hardly ate, I didn’t sleep, and it was so hard…”
“It was hard for me too—”
“Obviously not. You could have made it end whenever you wanted. You couldn’t have been suffering much.”
“Don’t tell me how I feel, baby. You have no idea.”
I ignored what he said. “And these last two months have been terrible too. I’m in a better place now but still just as heartbroken as I was before. All of this heartache could have been avoided if you’d gotten your shit together. But you know what? You didn’t. Your feelings are insincere. You’re only scared because I’m moving on, moving on with this baby and my love life. That’s not how I wanted this to be. I wanted you to want me the way I want you. I refuse to settle for less than what I deserve. I’ve spent so many years with the wrong men, and I’m done with that.” I stepped around him so there would be space between us. “Leave, Balto. I’m done talking to you.”
He stayed rooted to the spot, facing the opposite way. His breathing had increased as he digested all the emotions inside his chest. He slowly turned around and looked at me, his eyes focused on my face with sadness.
I didn’t want him this way, and I wouldn’t change my mind. I wanted the Balto I’d had before, the man I had fallen for months ago. He was protective and attentive, giving me his fidelity long before I asked for it. He always made me feel wanted, always made me feel like the only woman who mattered. But then he threw all of that away without looking back. The last three months had been torture, and they’d happened because of him. I waited for him to tell me the three little words I wanted to hear—but they never came. I headed down the hallway to my bedroom so I wouldn’t have to look at him anymore. “Let yourself out.”
I held the cool glass against my temple so the ice would numb my migraine. The scotch was supposed to do that for me, but my tolerance was so high, it was completely ineffective. The bar was quiet that night because it was a Wednesday at one in the morning.
My brother drank beside me, his eyes glancing to the TV in the corner. “Now that it’s over, you ready to move on?”
I stared at my glass, oblivious of the TV and the few people in the bar. They had nowhere to go, no one waiting at home for them. I wasn’t any different. “It’s not over.”
Heath turned back to me as if he hadn’t heard me correctly. “Huh? I think she made it pretty clear she wants nothing to do with you.”
“But she still loves me.”
“What does that matter?”
“It matters.” I drank from the glass. “Chicken Boy can’t compete with that. I can get her back. I know what I have to do. I’ve just been too much of a coward to do it.”
“It’s three little words, Balto. You say them to me all the time.”
“Not just that. I have to leave the Skull Kings.”
He shook his head. “That’s a risky move. You could lose everything and not even get her back.”
“Trust me, I will. I won’t give her a choice. I’ll pack up her shit and move her back in with me. What’s she going to do?”
“Get pissed,” he said with a chuckle. “Like, really pissed.”
“Well, I think she looks sexy when she’s pissed, so that’s fine with me.” I finished my drink and left the glass on the table. I could order another, but I had the strength to cut myself off. Drinking like a thirsty bull was a habit I had to break, especially if I was going to be a parent to Cassini’s kid. “I’ll appoint you as the next king. The men will vote on it. But Vox will oppose you. I promise you that.”